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I have been stupid productive this last couple of weeks. No – really. I’ve made a set of spring scarves and gotten them up on Etsy, I’ve redesigned the Doublebunny store, done a ton of art, written some press releases, finished fundraising* for Rabbit Heart Poetry Film Festival and issued a venue challenge for it, done some writing for a pet project with a good friend, led a collage workshop, put down the bones for a website for another pet project, and did I mention, I’ve made a ton of art? I’ve made a ton of art.

I blame it on Edward James Olmos. Well, the Admiral.

See, I got home from a fantastic retreat feeling energized, and reading Stephen Cope’s The Great Work of Your Life, which I had picked up while away. When I hit the part about focus, I sorta lost my shit for a week, and everything started to fall apart as I thought myself into a corner.

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Good morning, and welcome to Pretty Pretty Princessland, winter edition.* I am currently blogging it up in my pjs and bathrobe, with a nice hot cup of coffee, IN BED. Yes, sister, I am blogging in bed.

And really, what’s that about? you may ask. I might spend some sweet space justifying purchases here, but, really, let’s cut to the chase: teenagers today (the delightfully nerdy ones, at least – you know, my favorite ones) don’t use the phone so much as talk for hours over Skype while playing together on the same Minecraft server, and recording it for YouTube, and I share a desk with Our Man Cub. Which is to say, it can become a touch noisy at my desk. And I payed down the Best Buy card from the winter holidays last week. So a Chrome Book? Yes, please. I joked that I would blog in bed, and so here I am test driving that business, in bed, cup of coffee, big orange cat purring up a storm beside me, and all up in some soft blankets. Also, I sat in my studio the other day and collaged like a badass while watching Netflix. SO MUCH WIN.

SO! I’m trying to indulge myself more. Does that sounds ridiculous so early into the year? I know everyone’s all about getting back on the stick and losing weight and being more disciplined about their exercise regime, and cutting out sugar and all that – it’s resolution time, still, after all. But I’m so totally into indulgence tight now.

Honestly, I’ve been working like a dog since about mid-November. With the museum where Will Dearest and I work(ed)** closing down and then the cleaning and moving and consolidating, I’ve been on my feet constantly, and not taking very good care of me terribly well. And I discovered something important: when I don’t pour enough sugar on the everyday, when I come home exhausted and eat junk food and zone out, just waiting for it to be late enough to go to bed, and then get up and do it all over again, I don’t like being me so much. When I operate like that, even my weekends go to the dogs – I spend a ton of time just sitting still and feeling sorry for myself over how much energy I’m expending for someone else (no mind that I’m being, you know, paid for it, and that I really like the people I work with, and that I actually like the work I’m doing there) and how I never get enough time to do my stuff and blah blah blah whine whine whine oh, my feet. Yeh, I don’t like living in that headspace. It’s like moving a 9′ metal horse through a 7′ door – you can do it, it’s just really hard and involves a lot of heavy lifting.

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Ok, so I’ve been awol for a couple weeks, right? Here’s the scoop (anti-scoop, maybe?) –  I’m working on a project that I can’t talk about just yet (it will be revealed over the weekend, and then I can talk about it), and it’s just killing me. I’ve actually been picking away at this for about a month now (ok, almost two months), and it’s all I want to talk about, but I can’t, so instead I haven’t been talking about much of anything. Except the day-to-day business of being around here, natch, and that doesn’t feel really blogworthy. But then I realized that, indeed, things are happening. So let me tell you about things that are happening (that I can talk about)!

I made them a fanceh logo!Let’s start with the part where I got adopted by a slam team. Nono, I didn’t make it onto a slam team.* The 2013 Worcester Slam Team asked me to be their coach, and I couldn’t be more honored to work with such an osm group of poets. Watching them come together with their writing has been really great. Also, I would love these people, even if they weren’t writing super poems – they’re just really great people, and I love being in their presence. I feel a little gifted, really – two of them are housemates, and three of them are the ladies with whom I meet to write on Monday nights. It’s been lovely to reconnect to the slam while not having to actually compete – totally fun!

And I’ve been working on a scarf thing. So I saw this really sweet scarf on Pinterest, right? All made up of tiny little crocheted hexagons – so dainty! So pretty! And I was hoping for instructions at the pin’s website, but alas, it’s a picture of something that a blogger had just purchased. And I don’t know how to make hexagons. So I started to dig around to learn how to make hexagons, but in the middle of researching** I had this (somewhat related) idea that I could make a scarf from different sized circles.

And, whoa – surprise! This has been the Most Relaxing Thing Evar. See, I have issues with relaxing, across the board. I always feel like I should be doing something.*** And having something to do with my hands while Screwing Off On Purpose (what most people call Relaxing), calms that business down like no other thing. Guilty pleasure admission: I love to watch teevee and do needlework. So I’m making this scarf, and all of yesterday was spent in front of Hulu, watching episodes of comfortable junk-food teevee like Merlin, and crocheting circles. I’m about half way to Scarf, and plan on showing it off like whoa when it’s all done.

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So after 22 months at the temp job, I was unceremoniously released with no reason furnished. Maybe they just didn’t want to pay the agency’s fees anymore, who knows. So I packed up. That’s what you do with temp jobs, you pack up and don’t ask questions, and then you call the agency.  Within a few hours I had another part-time temp job (not related to my agency), and was answering the email to HR. Also, I came home that afternoon to a note that I had been accepted as an instructor for a night-life class next month. And I had a high school fiction workshop to lead for the next day. I am grateful – I got out of a job I kinda hated, and I had some things lined up, as well as a few days off to manage my emotions and re-do our family budget. The Universe, clearly, is taking good care of me.

So I re-did the family budget, and we’re going to be ok, but it’s going to be super tight until I get some things rolling. The new job has fewer hours than the last job (many fewer, unfortunately), and pays less, but it’s a steady little something, so I’m thrilled. Also, it gives me time to look for another job. While I’m shifting through Monster and Craigslist, tho’, I thought this might be a good time to put out into the Universe and to you, dear reader, some of the things that I’m good at. For example:

♦ I lay out a brilliant chapbook. I can make your poetry gorgeous and ready to sell at readings. I do these at very reasonable rates,* and at the end can either send you a ready-to-print pdf, or assemble and package them up for you in pretty paper so it feels like Christmas when you receive them. I can also lay out a newsletter, set up post- and greeting cards, posters, flyers, cd packages, and other pretty paper things. You can check out my services here.

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Oh, November, how full you have been!

The biggest part of the month, of course, has been the annual gathering of the family at our place for Thanksgiving. As a blended family that isn’t terrifically religious, it was fairly easy to split up the holidays when Will Dearest and I got hitched – his family would get Christmas, and my family would get Thanksgiving. When my brother lived in FL, it made the most sense for our little household to get our bags packed and head down for a long weekend, and we’d all share a dinner together there. But then my brother moved up here, found the love of his life, and they had kids, and travel became a little less simple across the board. Now it’s much easier for our parents to fly up here and our auntie in NJ to drive up. Also there are perks to this arrangement – when my family comes into town, it means that Will’s family, who are all local, can join us too. It’s a mighty bit of something, a table for 18 (when all the kids are accounted for), and I’m pleased to make it.

The nicest thing about this year was that the cousins are all in the same age range, and all pretty much out of the parallel play dynamic. So there were four of them, and they were all able to really sort of meet each other this year. And by “meet,” I mean to say, run around the open-layout apartment, squealing at each other and giggling their little heads off. They had so much fun, I’m tempted to set up a play date for all four of them at our house again.

This beautiful sort of coming together is the highlight of autumn for me. I look forward to it, really, from August*, when I start the planning. I really like looking across the big tables that we set up in the living room/office, and looking at everyone together over the meal. I love that things have worked out so everyone is together, when we’re a little scattered and living our own separate stuff all the rest of the year.

So coming back together has been a big part of things this month. Can we talk poetry for a minute? Because it’s happened there for me, too.

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When I cannot hold my shit together, which has been known to happen a time or two, I turn into an escapist like whoa. I read books that take place on other planets. I cook things I don’t generally cook. I buy new first person shooter videogames or binge on MI-5 episodes. I watch Serenity for the umpteenth time and then follow that business up with the whole Firefly series over the course of a week. I listen to the score from The Elder Scrolls IV Morrowind while I do anything that actually has to get done. I go through my file folder of torn-out articles about Iceland and get daffy over the fantasy that I will one day actually have a passport* and go there.

I totally collect pictures of places. And when I get stressed out, I flip through them. Hello, Pinterest. This is where I go at least twice a day during the working day – feel free to browse and sigh too. For example:

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I know that no one lasts forever, and that death is a fact of life. But it’s still no fun to hear about the passing of an artist who demanded one’s deepest respect. This morning’s news brought word of the passing of Ray Bradbury, and I am seriously bummed.*

When I was growing up, there was The Bookshelf in my father’s office.** The Bookshelf reached almost the ceiling, and when I was really little and still monkey-limbed, climbable.*** And on The Bookshelf was all kinds of business – everything from my mother’s college textbooks, to a big set of books on how to take and develop photographs, to a full set of World Book Encyclopedias (you remember when encyclopedias were on paper and bound in fancy covers and took up a bunch of space, right?)  And nestled into the shelves was my father’s science fiction collection –  Heinlein, Asimov, Robert E Howard, Anne McCaffrey, Ursula K LeGuinn, Ray Bradbury, and a bunch of others. I made it my task to gobble up as many of those books as I possibly could, while avoiding the Conan the Barbarian paperbacks, because they seemed a little sketchy to me.† I like think that I got a right good education from that Bookshelf.

My favorite, from an early age, was Bradbury. Dark They Were, and Golden-Eyed, originally published as The Naming of Names in the book The Martian Chronicles, literally changed my life. From the moment I finished that story, my perspective  was different – I wanted now to find mystery in ordinary things, and sought it out at every chance. I also made it my business to read as much Ray Bradbury as I could possibly get my paws on.

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Ok, so that sewing kitty gif sat up on the blog for over a month before I felt like I had something urgent enough to talk about to actually write up an entry.* It’s been that kinda of spring, so far. Thank goodness sewing kitty is adorable. Also, if you’ve come to this blog, according to my stats page, there’s an eighty percent chance you’re hungry,**  and there are plenty of recipes on the site, so really I haven’t been terribly worried, right?

Anyway! It’s not just that the rain has had me a little bit slow (holy, carp, I’m tiring of the grey weather!) it’s more than that. I’ve been working on some stuff that has my head in other places, and some days it’s really hard to hone myself to a clear focal point for the blog. Aside from the fact that soccer season is back in swing and I haven’t really adjusted to the schedule change yet, I’ve been working on another book.***

And this book is new to me – loosely, you could call it sci-fi, or urban fantasy (there are no spaceships, but there’s both tech and magic in it), and outside of a handful of short stories, I’ve never really delved into trying to put something like this on paper. I’ve always wanted to (one day I’ll write dragon fic!) but haven’t ever figured out how to navigate the doing. This is seat-of-pants stuff, and as a task-oriented person, and as someone who really likes to have a clear vision of what I’m doing, a little harrowing at times. (Also, I’m one hundred percent sure that this is not a book that I could show to at least four people whom I love very much, as they would cough at the content.)

Which is to say, the going has been slow – I think I started this thing some five years ago as part of a NaNoWriMo attempt.† I put it down for a year someplace in there, when I got stuck. I’ve been picking at it intermittently for what seems like a dog’s age, and cussing at it occasionally. There was a whole summer when I sat in bed and whined something to the tune of, “If I only knew what my staaaaatement iiiiiiiiiis – wahhhhh!”†† I wrote three short stories that happen in the same world, after sitting down to work on the novel and getting sidetracked. I made file after file of drafts, and made a bunch of print-outs. I sat down and made a synopsis. And then another one. I had an idea of the ending, but was fairly hopeless about the execution of said ending. And then I put the thing away again, and didn’t touch it for a while – four months, five months, maybe. Incidentally, that’s kind of a long time for a project  to sit, y’all.

But listen – something has shifted. Someone once described writer’s block to me as the time when your imaginary friends stop talking to you. Well, all of a sudden, they’re talking to me again \o/ And they’re rather chatty, actually. I’ve been nosing into my google docs while on break at work. I’ve been toting a paper printout and a notebook to the soccer pitch when Our Man Cub has a practice. I’ve been keeping a notepad on the bedside.

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Have you read The Hunger Games yet? One of the nicest things about Our Man Cub being thirteen now is that we not only read together*, but we can share books independently. I read the book (well, books) after hearing about it for probably a year from all my friends. I have no idea why it took me so long to get around it it – prolly ‘cos I was buried in  the Song of Fire & Ice books for the better part of three seasons, right? But anyway, Hunger Games, the whole series (there are three books), was wonderful – a page-turner, and a quick read as well, and I passed the books on as I finished them, to Man Cub, who devoured them, and then passed them off to Jaquelyn, who also loved them. Her beau listened to them on audio book, too, so all of us wound up chatting quite a bit about these books after we’d all caught up – a merry little book party, for sure!

Well! When it was announced that the first book is being made into a movie, we all got pretty excited. It’s coming out on the 23rd, and I’m keeping fingers crossed that it’s done well,** and planning to pick up movie tickets in advance. We are stoked =D

Also out soon (June 22nd) will be Brave, a Disney Pixar film that looks pretty fantastic. It appears we finally have a Disney with an actual girl hero \o/ The trailers give me chills, both with the content and the beauty of the whole thing (also the score sounds gorgeous). Look! Look!

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I’ve always been a little bit fascinated with armour – maybe it’s all the sci-fi and fantasy that I read and have read since I was little, maybe it’s just a preoccupation with fashion, but I just think the stuff is terribly neat-o. As you may or may not know, Dear Will works at the Higgy as the conservator, and I worked there briefly, in education, a while back.  So I’ve managed to learn bits and pieces about the stuff over the years.

So in 2oo8 when Man Cub wanted to be a knight for Halloween, I dug in with gusto. He and I discussed the matter at hand (fashion!), and decided on some fanceh scale armour. I researched, asked a ton of questions, and then  I cut about a zillion pieces of black craft  foam into chevrons, pulled an old long-sleeved tee out of the closet, and fired up the glue gun.

I fashioned the shoulders by molding them around a small pumpkin, and scaled up the shirt from the bottom up, and when I got most of the way around, I ran out of foam chevrons. So, um, I made him a cape and called it a day. Will finagled a helmet and a wooden sword, and our man cub brought home much candy that Halloween. That costume actually made it through two Halloweens (the second year spray painted gold and, “blood” spattered) before it was too small. I believe he would have worn it a third year had it not gotten tight.*

I loved the process of building the costume – the shaping and molding, and even the cutting out of chevrons was kinda meditative. And ever since that costume, I’ve been wanting to build another armour.

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