malinaldarose: (Default)
I seem to have survived another week of LJ Idol. Good ol' Sal Alarra. I'm beginning to wonder if I should write her whole story; I actually have pretty much the whole thing in my head. I've never written sci fi before, partly because of the "science" part. Not sure what sort of research I'd have to do to make Lightcastle Station work properly -- would watching Deep Space Nine and Babylon 5 constitute research?

They actually started handing out W2s at work yesterday -- two whole days ahead of when they absolutely have to. I had already printed mine from the online site where I now have to retrieve my pay stubs, which means I can do my taxes this weekend. I may or may not; depends on whether I want to mess with them. The software I use makes them simple, but it still takes up to two hours.

According to an email that went out late yesterday afternoon, we're not only supposed to sign a form stating that we received our W2s from the payroll clerk (if we do), but we're also supposed to sign something giving them permission to not give us hard copies next year. They intend that from now on, we'll only retrieve them online.

I am not thrilled about this. Paper always boots. Well, unless it's a really, really, really hot day, but if the temperature is higher than 451°, then we've got other things to worry about.

Speaking of which, I have ordered my copy of 1984. I had to get it from B&N since Amazon was sold out and PaperbackSwap didn't have any copies left, either. I have actually read it; it was one of the required books when I was in high school. I don't remember much about it other than I loathed it...but I loathed almost everything that was required reading. The few books I have since reread, I actually enjoyed. I have also ordered a copy of Brave New World which I haven't read before.

Having finished one '70s television series, I have gone back to another that was a childhood favorite: The Six Million Dollar Man. It's a bit silly. There was an episode, for instance, where to escape the Bad Guys (a bunch of pro football players) with his friend (another pro football player), Steve and the friend (played by Larry Csonka, who was also in an episode of Emergency!) had to play football against them. It was ridiculous. Also, I've noticed that Steve's bionics are as powerful or not powerful as the story requires. And now that I'm so much older, I have questions like "How does his organic torso stand the stresses put on it by the use of the bionics?" and "Why didn't they armor the back of his skull while they were at it since he gets hit over the head at least once an episode?" This hasn't stopped me watching, mind you, and while I wait for the two final seasons to arrive, I'll either go back to the beginning (it's been a year or so since I watched the first two seasons), or I'll start The Bionic Woman (yet another childhood favorite -- I even had a Jaime Somers doll when I was little), since I've had the first season sitting around for a couple of years.

Also, now I want to see Steve Austin go through the Stargate. Can you just imagine Col. Austin and Col. O'Neill? The snark alone would keep the Goa'uld at bay.

The lake effect storm warning for the weekend seems to have been downgraded to a watch. They were talking about feet of snow for the weekend total, though that would have been in ski country, not around here -- though we could still have had enough snow to make me very unhappy. Well, we still could, I suppose, but I'm hoping not. (Ha! Originally typed "noping," which is clearly "hoping not.")

The only thing planned for the weekend other than a lot of goofing off is dinner out with BFT this evening. We've both had awful enough weeks that the only cure is ice cream in vast quantities....
malinaldarose: (Default)
Jack seems to be over his indisposition -- although he woke me up this morning at 4:30 by hacking up a hairball. No, that's not quite accurate. I was already awake, having forced myself to wake up as a dream tornado was bearing down on me. (I find tornadoes to be the scariest natural occurrence, probably due to seeing The Wizard of Oz as a Very Young Child.) It was actually about ten minutes later that Jack yarked. So I cleaned that up, and decided there was no point whatsoever in going back to bed for twenty minutes, so proceeded with the morning routine.

Jack also yarked his pills this morning, but didn't yark his breakfast, so I gave him replacement pills a little bit ago.

I am going to work this morning. In fact, I am going in early, and I am going out right now to get the car started and warmed up -- it's 9-fucking-degrees-Fahrenheit out there -- but at least there's no wind. Right. Back now.

Jack keeps following me because he understands what the turning the radio on and what the ironing board both mean. Woman is Leaving. Probably Forever. Woe. But may if I follow her everywhere she goes, she'll take me with her!

Yeah, not so much.

Yesterday was, as expected, a quiet day. Also as expected, my brother did not get my message telling him not to bother bringing the Gecko down...and when I explained to him that I was staying home so as to keep a close eye on Jack, he even admitted that the Gecko would be useless as "her face is always in her game." (She has some handheld gaming system which is always on, even when her face is stuck in her laptop.)

I had hoped to be able to write a leisurely LJ Idol entry yesterday (the deadline is this evening), but instead, my brain was eaten up by a fic I'd been working on -- plus, this week's topic (a Wayne Gretsky quote) wasn't easy, and I didn't want to do something as obvious as write about hockey...since I included baseball in the brushback pitch topic. Eventually, after considerable worrying at it, I thought I might be able to do a Sal Alarra/Lightcastle Station piece about how Sal knew the station well enough (having been a maintenance worker for years) to know what was going to fail during the war and shore it up, but that didn't really work even in my head. And then, just like lightning -- say, 1.21 gigawatts' worth -- my brain put together a few words from the quote, along with something I saw on Tumblr (that I think originally came from Twitter) about 2016, and the damned thing fell out of my fingers in fifteen minutes and I posted it right away -- too fast, as it turned out I did have a typo in one spot and a wrong word in another, both of which I corrected.

Weird how that works sometimes.

So that means I don't have to think about it today while I'm working, but can give my whole attention to the thrice-damned case I was going to work on yesterday. I want to get that sucker on my supervisor's desk by the end of the day. By noon would be better, which is part of the reason I'm going in early. If I can get some of the daily routine work out of the way, then I'll have a chance of finishing that case. It's probably not as complicated as I'm fearing; most of the work has already been done; I really just need to do the final calculations and the letters and write out the data entry.

At least...that's what I'm hoping, anyway.

Right. Time to go clean the car off now that it's been running for a few minutes.
malinaldarose: (Default)
I am annoyed with myself. I spent two hours or more today going through all my old fiction files -- paper files in a filing cabinet and various boxes -- trying to find a story I wrote at work about eight years ago. (I only know it was that long ago because I found the first few paragraphs posted to my journal. I had hoped that I had posted the entire thing, but no.) The thing about this story was that it was a retelling of Cinderella from the fairy godmother's casenotes, and I typed it on the same paper we use at work for case notes. I can't find it. I found all sorts of things that I had forgotten I ever wrote, but not the one thing I was looking for.

I used to write a LOT. And I have files for short stories, all neatly labeled with good manuscripts and notes on the front of the folder as to where a story was submitted and whether or not it was sold. (That's mostly Marion Zimmer Bradley's Fantasy Magazine and NO.) I have folders for at least three of my NaNoWriMo attempts, each containining a floppy disk with files, in addition to printouts. Notes and stories from the small writing group to which I used to belong...some of it so old that I can't even tell whether I wrote it or whether it was HTWIWM or one of the others. Research for my Atlantis project and my Robin Hood project. All kinds of things...except the one thing I wanted. Since I wrote it at work, there is a slight possibility that it's stuck in my "personal" folder in my cube; I'll check on Tuesday. But I'm afraid it's lost -- which irks me a great deal. Sure, I can rebuild it, because I remember the gist of it, but still. Grrrr.

In other news, I was supposed to take Niece to see Fantastic Beasts today, but since BFT and I have decided to see it on Saturday, I will just take her then. Since the forecast was for snow and lots of it over the next few days, I went out this morning to get groceries, and was pleased with myself that I didn't have to go out again until Saturday...until J1 reminded me of BFT's graduation dinner tomorrow evening. Since I handed over her graduation gift with her Christmas gifts, I had completely forgotten that we had another dinner planned, so I'm glad she said something.

There hasn't really been that much snow today -- just showers, really, without a great deal of accumulation -- but I nevertheless took great delight in wrapping up in a fuzzy blankie, and taking a book into the backroom (where it is chilly, but where there is light enough to read without having a lot of lights on) with a mug of hot chocolate, and finishing the book while the snow came down outside the windows. So that's 79 books for the year, and I just need to finish one more to reach my goal. I might do it -- I might even have done it today had I not spent so much time digging through old papers....
malinaldarose: (Default)
  • I am glad that this past week is over. Unfortunately, another one just like it looms.

  • My grandmother had her toe amputated on Thursday. One of her toes had lifted and was rubbing on the other and hurting her terribly. It is hoped that once the incision heals, she will be able to walk without [too much] pain again. It was an out-patient procedure done with a local anesthetic, so she was ensconced in her chair by midafternoon.

  • I hauled a few more things from the basement yesterday. I found Yet Another Server down there, and it's too heavy for me to move on my own -- though perhaps I should see if I can get at it enough to take it apart like we did with the other one, since it's undoubtedly the power supply that is the problem. On the other hand, it makes a nice endcap for that section of the basement, so perhaps I won't worry about it.

  • I finally found the back corner of the basement yesterday, and what I found there was...nasty. The main sewer pipe runs along the back wall of the basement to the corner, cuts across the corner (so as not to make a right angle), then heads for the street along the north wall. I discovered, when I moved all of the things stuff into the corner that one of the cats had walked along that broad pipe, hung her butt over the side, and pooed in the corner. For quite a while. There were two piles of mummified poo there. When I first saw the curls of...stuff back there, I thought I'd finally discovered the mouse nest, as it looked in the dim light to be dirty insulation piled up. But then I got a flashlight.... Ugh. I didn't wear a mask when we were clearing out last weekend, but to clean this up, I did get a mask and rubber gloves. It was long-dried, so the easiest way to clean it up was just to pick it up and put it in a bag. Which I did. It's in the dumpster now, along with the mask and gloves.

  • I said "her" because I believe it was Princess Nimue Isis Morgana who did it -- it was nowhere near fresh enough for Merlin, and Kethri is not that agile.

  • I met the girls for dinner last night at my favorite restaurant. The place is popular, and we had to stand in line for twenty minutes or so. Before the J-sisters got there, BFT and I were in line in front of a woman who insisted on speaking to us. I really hate having to make small talk with friends, let alone strangers. Fortunately, once the J-sisters got there, she didn't try to speak to us again. We had a good time, but I can see that I'm going to shortly have to advance my ideas of what I want to do on our next trip or it'll be planned for me. For instance, the trip is suddenly England and Scotland, and I don't recall saying that was what I wanted. Ah, well. No matter what we end up doing, I'll love it. And there was talk of making Iceland our next trip after that, though J2 mentioned that she'd like to go back to Assisi, and I want to go back to Venice.

  • Today...I have to do at least one load of laundry. I also have to finally clean up the oil slick in the garage, which I plan to do shortly. There are a few more things that need to go into the dumpster before I declare it officially full and call them to come pick it up. They will likely include the pieces of the filing cabinet that HTWIWM was supposedly building for me and just never found the time to work on; I think that's what's piled in one corner. It's supposed to be dry today, so I should probably try to mow the yard/mulch the leaves -- my backyard just looks brown right now because of all the leaves out there, but the oak is only about halfway finished and the maple has barely started. There'll be more mowing to do. I may leave it until tomorrow or Tuesday after work.

  • I started to read my Robin Hood manuscript (which I wrote, oh, fifteen years or so ago) this morning. Oh, ye gods. Talk about painful. Wow. I hope I write better than that now, and I'd like to apologize to the Empress (my writing/lit professor; I asked her if she wanted me to call her "Doctor" and she said she'd always wanted to be an empress) for making her read even the first chapter. I had not-so-vague thoughts of posting it to AO3 as an AU (which it is), but there's no way I would inflict that on anyone else.

  • Right. Time to go find some clothing I don't care about getting oil on....
malinaldarose: (Default)
It is going on midafternoon. Other than the laundry, which is running, my chores are done. The photos I took yesterday and this morning are edited and posted to various venues. I am getting ready to sit down to run the last edit on a rather lengthy bit of writing which is due tomorrow.

I'm taking bets on how soon my parents show up.


Apr. 27th, 2014 04:58 pm
malinaldarose: (Default)
Has my mother got some sort of sixth sense for when I'm writing? I spent most of the day today engaged in other pursuits, but I sat down to write a little while ago, and just as I was getting into the groove, there came a pounding at the back door followed by, "Helloooo, anyone home?"

Really? RLY?

I mean, I wasn't writing War & Peace or anything, but that's three weekends in a row.
malinaldarose: (Default)
I am up. I am cold. These things will pretty much go hand in hand until next June or so.

Yesterday was quieter at work, which was nice, but I am feeling totally out of control again. Part of this has to do with my supervisor going into my cube while I was uptown the last time and neatly ordering my stacks of mail...and not sending me any. So I had a week's worth of mail stacked up when I returned. Also, we have recently lost the clerk who was going through bank statements and flagging large transactions for us so that we have to slog through them ourselves, which takes a while, and I have a few of those backed up. Plus I have had new applications come in that I haven't had a chance to go over and we're supposed to get an acknowledgement letter out within five days. And it's payroll, recerts are due, and I don't have the information I need to complete a few of them, including the one that was actually due last month that I extended because I didn't have time to work on it because I was out two days being sick from the damned shingles. (Which are cleared up completely, though I still have discoloration on my skin where I had the rash/blisters.)

All of which means that I shouldn't be taking this afternoon off, but I am. I have a dentist appointment this afternoon (just my semi-annual cleaning), which just...normally these appointments are scheduled first thing in the morning, which is far easier for me. Late afternoon just doesn't work, for a lot of reasons. I also have to go out to the vet's office and pick up Sheila's monthly supply of Rimadyl (if you can hear that whimpering noise, that's my checkbook), and I should probably finally go and have my eyes checked, since I've been having trouble focusing (bifocals, here I come!) for months. It'd be nice to be able to do some cross-stitch again....

I have been thinking about NaNoWriMo. I'm not going to do it. I have done it before, and won it, too, so I know that I can do it, should I choose. Actually, to be more accurate, I've been thinking about writing again. I...feel better about myself, I guess, when I'm writing. I have worlds in my head, I just don't have stories to go with them. I was thinking about taking a look at one of the things that popped into my head during LJ Idol. It was one of the pieces that garnered the most comments and with which I was most pleased. Well, we'll see.

I have been having a difficult time lately. Yes, it has been years, but...well, partly, it's fall, which is never an easy time for me. In some ways, winter is easier than fall. And partly, everywhere I look, in all these unfinished rooms, there are reminders of his presence, or lack thereof. I suppose there always will be, and I just have to suck it up and deal. But one does get tired of having to....
malinaldarose: (Default)
It's Sunday. I'm supposed to be lounging in pajamas on the couch watching movies or reading books. Instead, I got up at 5:45 this morning with the idea of finishing a draft of that writing assignment, and four and a half hours later (with one break to bake a loaf of pumpkin bread (Pillsbury Quick Bread mix, so it wasn't that lengthy a break)), I have a draft. I have sent it to a friend to read. Next up, I need to bake a batch of Toll House cookies, which will mean sitting in the kitchen guarding the counters from the depredations of the Starving Domestic Feline Beast(s) until the cookies are cool enough to bag and freeze.

Speaking of Starving Domestic Feline Beast(s), Princess Nimue Isis Morgana has -- after eight years or so -- discovered the shelf over the basement stairs. I went downstairs to feed the Entire Collection of Starving Domestic Beasts the other day only to find that Nimue had already gotten a start on her dinner. She had jumped up on the shelf, knocked everything hither and yon and opened a packet of soft kibble that was stored up there. She apparently didn't like it, though, as it was not finished (and was, in fact, what Sheila had for dinner). I moved the kibble into a closed cupboard, but she has been up on the shelf twice since. Between that and Merlin jumping up on the table a dozen times an evening -- sometimes when I'm in the middle of my dinner, no less -- I am about ready to invent a Feline Launching Device. I have had to refill Mr. Squirt Bottle twice this week.

Maybe after the cookies are done I can do some Serious Lounging....
malinaldarose: (doctor and donna)
  • I bought Real Food -- vegetables and such -- and made beef stir fry for supper. Although instead of "beef" stir fry, it should perhaps be called "snow pea" stif fry because it's mostly snow peas. This is one of my favorite recipes. I also bought the ingredients to make turkey chowder (another favorite) and a new Crockpot to make it in.

  • Frozen ginger gets mushy if you let it thaw...

  • ...on the other hand, it's easier to slice, but I wouldn't try grating it.

  • I finished reading The Kingdoms of Dust at dinner. Lovely, as always.

  • Writing movie- and TV-based fanfic makes me happy. It's one of the few things that does these days. Though I occasionally feel like the writing equivalent of a ridiculous granny in teeny-bopper clothing.

  • The vet approved antibiotics for Merlin, though I am to call for an appointment if he doesn't improve in three days. I'm sure he will. He was not, however, pleased with me that I interrupted his nap to shove a pill down his throat -- especially since I missed on the first try. Merlin doesn't know what to do with Pill Pockets or other treats, so he has to be pilled the hard way.

  • I saw a variety of used Caravans at a variety of car lots on my way to and from the vet's office...I have to pass almost every car lot in town on the way. It's beginning to look like a new van will be happening before the Italy trip after all.

  • Princess Nimue Isis Morgana informs me that it is Dinner-time For Cats...and this time, she is correct. She has been informing me of this for the past ten hours, however....
malinaldarose: (dark_stormy)
It's always there. Always. A teasing tickle in the back of my mind.

I feel it when I brush my teeth. When I drive to the office. When I talk to clients. When I go to meetings. When I go to bed at night.

The tickle becomes a niggling itch that I can't scratch. I try to ignore it, but when I brush my teeth, I hear the clink of heavy chains. When I drive to the office, the car's radio cannot overpower the sound of short, sharp breaths. My client's whining voices are transmuted in my mind to screams. In meetings, the pen in my hand becomes the smooth, shiny metal of my implements. My dreams are splashed with crimson.

When the itch becomes an agonizing burning along all the nerves of my body, I know it is time once more to pack my kit and go hunting.
malinaldarose: (pb_fly)
Comment Sheet
Case Number PC438

Application received for fairy godmother intervention. Client is the third son of royal parents; per Prophetic Services match, eldest brother will inherit kingdom, and second brother will marry princess of neighboring kingdom. See case record for PSM printout. Client therefore has no prospects and is eligible for services. Case number (PC438) and fairy godmother (Thorn Honeywhistle) assigned.
[signed] Fern Lumpfish

Site inspection performed this date. Site is standard royal castle with usual amenities. Client currently resides in nursery with elder brothers and usual nursery staff. Nursery Services worker Flora Pond assigned for bedtime stories and attitude coaching.
Thorn Honeywhistle

Preliminary reports received from Flora Pond. See case record.

Annual report rec'd from Flora Pond. See case record. No change.

Annual report rec'd from Flora Pond. See case record. No change.


Per status change report from Flora Pond (see case record), client has received first toy sword and will begin training with it. Request to Arms Unit for Wandering Swordmaster to be sent to site.

Request approved. Swordmaster assigned. Form WSM-001 completed and submitted to Accounting.

Per annual report from Flora Pond, Wandering Swordmaster has arrived and been installed. Client progresses well for a child of his age. Swordmaster is also coaching client's elder brothers; form WSM-002 completed and submitted to Accounting to increase swordmaster's stipend.

Annual report rec'd from Flora Pond. Client is now ten years old and progressing well. FP states that he is beginning to show an interest in music. Request to Minstrel Services for Wandering Minstrel.

Per Minstrel Services, current Swordmaster has previously fulfilled that role as well. Notice to Swordmaster and form WSM-080 submitted to Accounting.

Swordmaster reports that he does not have an instrument available at site and requests that lute be delivered by next peddler. Per schedule, next peddler is due at site in three weeks. Supervisor approval for lute delivery requested.

Lute delivery approved. Appropriate forms completed and submitted to Accounting and Peddler Services.

Per annual report from Flora Pond, client has been removed from nursery to his own quarters. Nursery Services support terminated; responsibilities transferred to WSM. Appropriate forms completed and submitted to Nursery Services and Accounting.

Annual report rec'd from WSM. Client progresses well with both musical and arms training. See case record for full report. No other changes.


Annual report rec'd from WSM. Client is now 18 years old and ready for adventures. WSM reports that he is handsome, well-educated, well-mannered, musical, and a formidable swordsman. (See case record for full report.) Client has achieved status of Prince Charming. Case closed, though it may be reactivated should client require assistance in winning princess.
malinaldarose: (wordsmith)
I do not get along with numbers. I am not one of those people who sees the beauty of the universe in a well-ordered equation. Oh, I can balance my checkbook, but I do so with the aid of an adding machine, and I do not trust myself with even the simplest of calculations.

This inability is nothing new to me, but has plagued me for as long as I can remember. In second grade, it manifested as difficulty with any addition involving numbers larger than one hundred. For some reason, I could add anything in double-digits, but add that third column and I was lost. In third grade, I could manage multiplication, but fractions were my bane. My scary fourth-grade teacher kept me after school one day and tutored me until I finally grasped the concept of long division. And the list goes on: square roots, algebra, geometry, trigonometry, pre-calculus.

Now words, on the other hand...words delight me. I can string words together like nobody's business. I grasp grammar and spelling almost intuitively. In first grade, I was always ahead of the other kids in our little Dick, Jane and Sally readers, and I wrote my first short story -- with crayon on construction paper. In second grade, I was beginning to read novels that my classmates would not read until two years later. In third grade, I was in the special reading group. I was the spelling bee champ at my elementary school when I was in sixth grade; I still regularly consult the dictionary that was my prize. I began writing short stories in earnest in junior high school.

Words. I like words.

My inability to grasp mathematical concepts also affects my relationship to the sciences. While I got along perfectly well in biology, chemistry and physics were mostly mysteries to me. I made it through my high school physics class because of a great teacher and a good lab partner. When I had a chance to ditch math classes in my senior year, you'd better believe that I took it. Hell, I dove at it.

But then....

My high school ambitions were three-fold: I wanted to be an astronaut, a novelist, and a musician. Obviously, my problems in math and science meant no soaring to the stars in my future. Becoming a novelist was always a possibility (and still is), but I planned to go to college to study music. I was even accepted by one of the better music schools in the state. Not the best, mind, but a good one, nonetheless. Unfortunately, it didn't work out (and believe me, there's a long and bitter story behind that), and it appeared that I would not be going to college at all until one late spring afternoon of my senior year when my guidance counselor pulled me out of my last class of the day (band practice, as it rather ironically turned out) and told me that I was the only applicant for a particular scholarship. But to win it I had to be enrolled in a four-year college.

She sent me to see the admissions director at the local university straight after school. He, in turn, took me right to the financial aid director, who then and there set me up with one of the university's private scholarships. Between the three of them, I was enrolled in college before I knew what hit me.

And what was my first class at 8:30 a.m. on a Monday morning in late August 1985? Calculus. Because I had enrolled myself as a computer science major, which meant that aside from studying everything there was to know about computers, I would also be back in math classes. I struggled through three semesters of calculus (highest grade: C in Calc II) and one of Linear Algebra (passing grade: D) before I realized that Math had done it to me again and I went to see the dean about changing my major.

"But why did you declare such a math-intensive major if you knew you had problems with mathematics?" he asked.

I shrugged. "Stupid."

"Well, at least you're honest about it," he answered, as he signed my change form, freeing me at last from the tyranny of Mathematics.

I went on to graduate with a bachelor of arts degree in French with a minor in Latin, and even achieved a 4.0 GPA in my final semester. (See? Words.) But it seems that Mathematics is not done with me: my current job involves determining financial eligibility for state aid programs, which makes me, for all intents and purposes (though not, alas, paygrade), an accountant.
malinaldarose: (tomorrow people)
It's cloudy out this morning; there's not even a pretense that there's going to be sun today. There isn't supposed to be, anyway; the forecast is calling for snow showers. But still relatively warm, which puzzles me. Seems to me that at that temperature, snow showers should be rain showers. But I'm hardly a meteorologist. (Why does a meteorologist study weather and not meteors?)

I looked out my front window at the sky long about 4:00 yesterday afternoon, noted the way the clouds were formed, and thought to myself, "Self, this would be a good day to go get those sunset pictures." And myself said, "Yeah, probably. Let's go get a snack." So that was the end of it. Turned out I was right: the sunset was glorious. At one point when I looked out, the bellies of the clouds were orangey-mauve, while the upper reaches were dark grey. And I missed it. Part of the problem is that I am not entirely familiar with the road and the hills south of town; I don't believe I've ever driven them myself, but have always been a passenger, and it's been years since I've gone that way. So I'm not entirely certain where the lookout point is. I know it's up there; I know it's past the park, but I'd be just as likely to drive right past it and I don't think there's a good place to turn around afterward until you get all the way over the hill again.

Yesterday was not a day for accomplishments. I dug out some stuff I'd written when I was thirteen and spent some time reading it. Ouch. About all I can say for it is that the grammar and spelling are what one would expect of me; I've always been good at the technical aspects of stringing words together -- though you wouldn't know it from some of the constructions I manage here. The ideas are...okay. The execution of those ideas? Wow. All I can say is I remember being thirteen (and a bit older, judging by the way the penmanship improves) and writing these masterpieces. I remember, too, feeling so superior to my classmates because I was a writer and they weren't. I remember, too, feeling so darned accomplished because I had written -- long-hand, on wide-lined notebook paper -- forty-five page stories. Which to be utterly fair to my teenaged self...when you're thirteen, that really is an accomplishment. I will confess that they are fan fiction based on The Tomorrow People, a British sci-fi show from the early '70s. (I will also confess that I had no idea about fan fiction at the time; this was pre-Internet days.) By the time I saw it on Nickelodeon, it had already been canceled, but I didn't know that. Anyway, these stories introduce new characters, are serial in nature and seem terribly concerned with weddings. I married off Mike and Hsui Tai, married Andrew to a new character, and probably married someone else off before I was done. I used Tricia Conway a lot, too, oddly, since she only appeared twice and was never really a Tomorrow Person until the very end of her storyline. I remember having the vague notion that if I practiced enough, I could become a writer for the show. I even have notes on new aliens and such. Pity I missed it by about ten years....

Whatever one thinks of fan fiction, it is true that by the end of my teen years, I was writing original stuff, and I started submitting it not long after I finished college. Odd to think that I'm back to writing fanfic after all these years.

Today -- soon, in fact, as I've already wasted an hour at my computer -- I really need to get busy on the walls. There are only two that I'm planning to actually scrub: the stairwell wall below the stairs, and that freakin' paneled wall at the other end of the L. In fact, if you look at the L of my dining/living room, the stairwell wall is at the very end of the bottom leg and the paneled wall is at the upper end of the upright leg. The rest of the walls are not finished enough to scrub, being either drywall and joint compound or just joint compound, so they will get swiped with a damp cloth to get the dust off and called good. There aren't many nail holes left, so the spackling shouldn't take very long. (You'd think I'd've done it already, but I've left what little art I've had up in place, because that's really the best place to store it.) The hardest part of scrubbing the stairwell wall is that's where the TV and all it's paraphernalia are, and moving that is always a pain in the ass. Huh. As long as I'm going to be back there, I should see about rewiring my electronics stack. (I probalby won't, of course, but I should think about it.)

It seems that I have gotten really, really good at breaking huge tasks down into tiny ones and doing only one tiny thing at a time. I could've been doing many of these tasks at the same time or on the same day, but I accomplish one thing and stop for the weekend. Of course, I do a lot of other things every weekend, and still manage to have a bit of downtime, so I guess it's all good. Right? Right.

There are odd thumping noises coming from the other room. I'd better go see what stage of taking over the world the cats are at this morning.
malinaldarose: (queen isabel stars)
There is a price, my child, for traveling with the Travesty. Are you prepared to pay such a price?

I was just twelve years old when I ran away to join the circus -- younger than you are now. Oh, such a grand thing I thought it! I remember the hullaballoo when they paraded through our dusty little town, their caravans brightly painted in all the colors of flame and sea and sky, the horses caparisoned in silver and gold, with high white plumes on their heads. The caravans alone made our town seem like a tired old dowd in dusty browns and muted greens; the glowing plumes just seemed to point out that the paint was peeling off the town hall in strips and the grass in the common was dead. Curlicued letters on the caravans' sides proclaimed the circus to be The Traveling Travesty.

Was it the golden letters that caught your attention? You'll see so many more amazing things with us.

And the folk! You never saw such folk! Women in silks and gems, with the bearing and grace of queens. Men on stilts who seemed taller than trees. Boys and girls in jewel-bright costumes tumbling and dancing about. One of them caught my hands and pulled me along to dance with her, my braids flying behind me. I remember the brilliant emerald of her eyes, and thought that I wanted a gown of that color when I grew up.

Did someone dance with you, too? Ah, I see you've noticed the little ornament on my ankle. You'll have one of your very own soon.

The barker was the grandest of the lot in scarlet velvet -- trousers and long-tailed coat and all -- but his hat was a green so dark that it appeared black until the sun caught it just so. He invited the entire town to visit, his voice rich and deep and somehow warm and furry like the little cats that the Widow Hawthorn kept.

Did his voice beguile you too, my lad? There, now, just a quick snip of your hair.

When the emerald-eyed girl released my hands, laughing and scampering off with the others, I found myself in front of the church, with my father standing in the door, staring at me. My father. The Reverend Mortimer Palk. If my father had ever known joy, he had apparently seen it only from a distance, and then only a quick glimpse. I had never known him to smile, and he had never, ever told me that he loved me. I sometimes thought that my mother must have dried up and blown away under his stare.

He was watching the circus performers, a look on his face that presaged ill for someone. Before I could sneak away, he turned his dark eyes on me. I had hoped that he had somehow missed me dancing in the parade with the emerald-eyed girl, but those eyes that could see sin through closed doors and shuttered windows, missed nothing that happened on a public thoroughfare. "Come," was all he said, all he would say in public. No one in the town knew the ugly things he called me in private, nor would they ever see the bruises the birch rod left on my back.

It's all right, child. It was a long time ago. But not so long ago for you, eh, my lad?

The circus set up in an empty field. Though my father glowered, there was naught he could do; the field did not belong to anyone, and had been traditionally left empty for the use of travelers. I could not see the jewel-bright caravans, or the striped canvas tents from the house, but I could hear, all day, strains of music on the wind, until my father shuttered all the windows and sent me into the kitchen to scrub the floor and recite prayers. This, of course, was after he had beaten my back bloody with his birch rod. He stayed with me, too, to make sure that I did as commanded.

Give me your hand, child. There, shhh, it's all right. Just a quick jab with my brooch, soon forgotten.

All that long, painful day, as I recited my prayers and scrubbed the floor, with my blood soaking into my dress and ruining it -- so I would eventually be punished for that, too -- I held the memory of the bright colors and those emerald eyes close like a talisman. By the time my father allowed me to stop so that I could cook his meal -- his, not mine, for I was not to be allowed to eat for the next few days -- I knew what I would do.

You know, too, don't you? You did the same thing...and here you are.

"Please," I said to the barker when he answered my timid knock at his caravan door. The emerald-eyed girl peered at me from behind him. "Take me with you."

He looked down at me, and I expected him to tell me to go home. "There is a price for traveling with the Travesty," he said instead in his furry voice. "Are you prepared to pay such a price?"

"I am," I answered. The emerald-eyed girl smiled in delight.

Oh, of course I didn't know what I was getting into any more than you do now. But it's not a hard bargain, truly. The Travesty hid me from my father, and healed my back, and gave me a home and a family and a chance to see the world. Such things I've seen, little one! You will be amazed! And the chain is so thin and fine that you'll hardly notice it. Ninety-nine years, you'll find at the end, is such a short time for such a marvelous life. Come, now, child. Lock of hair and drop of blood for the binding, and there's the Master locking the chain about your ankle...and now you're one of us, my dear! Welcome home.


Special thanks to [ profile] bethynyc for her help as beta-reader.
malinaldarose: (Default)
I came to with a chorus of jackhammers pounding away at my brain. It took me some time to realize I was tied to a chair in my office. Not even my own chair; that was occupied, I saw when my eyes finally focused, by Mr. Jackson Marlett. Marlett was one of the more unsavory gentlemen in town, but though everyone seemed to know the sorts of things he got up to, no one could ever prove it. No one still living, anyway.

"Ah, Mr. Church," Marlett said. His voice was deep and quite pleasant. For a gangster. He leaned back in the chair and folded his hands over his belly. "Welcome back."

"Thanks," I answered, wishing I could rub my throbbing head. "I don't suppose you'd care to pass me a couple of aspirin? Top drawer to your right. I seem to have developed a headache."

Marlett smiled slightly. "Yes, I do apologize, Mr. Church, but Waldo seemed to think you wouldn't receive me willingly, and I have so been wanting to have a chat."

Waldo? Where the heck was Waldo? I turned my head -- a mistake, I discovered, as the jackhammers crescendoed -- but saw no sign of anyone else.

"Oh, don't worry, Mr. Church. Waldo isn't meant to be privy to our little conversation. He's waiting for us in the outer office."

For a moment, I worried about my receptionist. Tall, blonde, and stacked, Suzetta is the most gorgeous woman I have ever met. And she knew it. She could have been a movie star, yet here she was working for me. Or, not working at the moment; I'd sent her home on time this evening, which explained why she wasn't handing Waldo his head. Or any other body parts. There were those who saw Suzetta's surface and immediately dismissed her, thinking I'd hired her only for her looks. Most people never learned any different. But a select few -- usually those like my current guests -- discovered that the reason I'd hired her was that her aim was better than mine, and, in addition to the two guns I knew she carried, a fine selection of the sharpest blades was secreted about her person. My philosophy was this: If you hire a narcissist and make it so that anyone coming at you has to go through them, they'll keep you safe in the process of preserving themselves.

Suzetta agreed with my reasoning. It gave her a chance to legally shoot people.

They must've jumped me when I returned to the office with my dinner. Dammit. That excellent roast beef on weck would not be nearly as good cold. Even now, my mouth watered at the memory of the last one I'd had. I held to the hope that I'd get a chance to eat it later.

"So, Mr. Church -- may I call you Valentine?"

"Sister Margaret used to call me Valentine," I answered. "When I was ten."

"Ah. You go by Val, am I correct?"

"My friends call me Val," I answered.

"Well, then. Perhaps I should stick to Mr. Church," Marlett said, "as our relationship will be one of business."

"Not many of the people who I conduct business with knock me out and tie me up," I observed.

He smiled again. "Nevertheless, it is business we shall discuss. Where is the idol, Mr. Church?"

So that's why I was tied to a chair in my own office. It wasn't even really an idol. It was a bit of fossil that by chance resembled some saint or other. It had been presented to Sister Agnes who ran the Move Your Feet mission down on Thirty-Second, and it was she who had hired me to find it when it vanished a couple of weeks ago. She had found it utterly inconceivable that anyone should have wanted the thing as it wasn't particularly valuable. Or it wasn't supposed to be, anyway. I guess I should have asked more questions when Sister Agnes offered to pay my going rate to find something supposedly worthless, but, hey, the rent was due. Perhaps the idol wasn't coprolite, after all.

Nevertheless, I wasn't going to be that easy. "Idol? I don't know what you're talking about."

Marlett frowned slightly and leaned forward, his hands coming to rest on my desk. "Mr. Church, please don't play games with me. I know Sister Agnes hired you to find it." He sighed theatrically. "I really don't want to have to ask Waldo to come in here and break your legs. For one thing, that would make it all the more difficult for you to find the idol for me."

Being reasonably certain that it wasn't an idle -- no pun intended -- threat, I shrugged. As best I could, anyway, being still tied to a chair. "I don't know where it is. I haven't been able to find it. I have no leads. No clues. Nada. Bupkis, even." Admitting my failure to him was humiliating, but better than broken legs.

Marlett stared at me, and I stared back. Points to me; though his frown was deeper this time, he broke the stare first. "Very well, Mr. Church. I will give you forty-eight hours in which to track down the idol, and then I expect to hear three little words from you." He looked at me expectantly.

"I found it?"

"Indeed. And, please, Mr. Church, don't think that you can weasel out of this, and get the idol back to Sister Agnes. Not even the formidable Suzetta will be able to save you if you double-cross me. Now, good night."

He got up, came out from around my desk, moved past me and left, closing the office door gently behind him, leaving me to hope that Suzetta got in early in the morning.
malinaldarose: (emma xmas lobster)
Hobbits have a passion for mushrooms, surpassing even the greediest likings of Big People. [J. R. R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring]

What is food to one man may be fierce poison to others. [Lucretius]

The little girl hated mushrooms, and her mother knew it. Nevertheless, the mother had commanded the child to remain at the table until she had choked down all the mushrooms on her plate.

It wasn't a case of just turning her nose up at them. She had tried, but the slimy, rubbery, nasty, disgusting things made her gag as soon as they touched her tongue. Her brother, on the other hand, adored mushrooms. Had their parents been eating in the living room while the kids ate in the kitchen as usual, she would have passed them to him. But with her grandparents visiting from out of state, they had made a family dinner of it in the kitchen.

She loved pizza. While her father's homemade pizza was definitely inferior to pizzeria pizza, it was infinitely better than having no pizza at all. While the family laughed and joked through dinner, she had gobbled the hot pizza, slowing down only for the spicy pepperoni and to pick off the detested fungi.

Now that neat little pile looked as unconquerable to her as Mount Everest. She had already been sitting there for half an hour after everyone else had left; they were all in the living room watching the news.

She stared at the brown-grey slivers of ick, occasionally poking them with a fork, wondering if she dared bury them in the trash. Sometimes her mother checked.

And then, miracle of miracles, the dog wandered into the kitchen. A minute later, the little girl got up from the table and joined the rest of the family in the living room.


If music be the food of love, play on.... [William Shakespeare]

Monday night was rigatoni.

Her husband was already sitting at the dining room table; he put aside his book as she set the plate in front of him. She took her own plate down the length of the oval table and looked dispiritedly at her meager portion. She'd likely have a snack later, but for now, there were only six pieces of rigatoni and a tablespoonful of sauce. She didn't like Prego, but it was all he would allow her to buy.

"You didn't turn on the stereo." He got up and did it himself; as the music came from the speakers, she sighed quietly. She detested Paul Simon in general and Graceland in particular, but she had learned to remove her own CDs from the stereo before he got home.

She had defied her parents in order to marry this man; he was only two years younger than her mother. She had never dreamed that it would be like this. Embittered by the failure of his first marriage, and taking advantage of her youth and naivete, he had told her that he would not compromise on certain things, but would insist on them being done his way. She had not thought that "certain" things would come to be "all" things.

She picked at her cold, rubbery pasta, listening to Paul Simon blaring from the stereo, wondering yet again if on his weekly trip north to see his son, his car might not spin out of control on the treacherous winter roads. She knew it was wrong, but she dreamed of a brisk knock at the door heralding a state trooper with bad news.


Two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions, on a sesame-seed bun. [McDonald's commercial]

They sat chatting in the front seat of his car outside her apartment. They had gone on a last summer camping trip the prior evening -- strictly as friends -- but now were strangely reluctant to part.

"I'm hungry. Want to grab some lunch?" she said. "Or I could fix some sandwiches or something."

"Mickey D's?" he suggested.

She wasn't fond of Mickey D's, but readily agreed.

McDonald's smelled ever so slightly of grease, but it wasn't a disagreeable odor. Not in small doses, anyway. They ordered at the counter and carried their trays to a table in the back.

They continued to chat about everything and anything that occurred to them, trying to delay their inevitable parting. They both realized how ridiculous that was since they were planning to go camping again in just a few hours, though this time, with a few more people.

She watched him while she wrangled her Big Mac. She hadn't liked the tangy "special sauce" when she was a kid, but really, it was the only reason to get a Big Mac these days. The problem with a sandwich like this was that it was slippery with grease and sauce and the bottom half of the bun never managed to stay put. Somehow, more of the bottom got eaten than the top so that eventually, the sandwich, which steadily showered shredded lettuce onto the tray, simply fell apart.

At last, they were both finished and it was time to go. In years to come at this same McDonald's they would park in the same spot under the tree, sit at the same back table, and eat the same meal, but this was the first time, and while the food was nothing special, the day was one she would remember forever.


Nov. 22nd, 2011 07:37 am
malinaldarose: (bilbo_set_pen)
Apparently, I wasn't meant to be writing what I was trying to write last night, as something else just fell out of my fingertips this morning, and I have a draft. Huh.

Now I can get ready for work.
malinaldarose: (icon of rassilon)

Excerpt from the journal of Dr. Ernst Littlefeld, 21 April 1903

I have done it at last. The machine works. Time travel is no longer a pretty fiction; I shall be able to see how accurately Mr. Wells predicted the future; perhaps I will bring him back a token. But not today. No, my first journey will be into the past. The machine is cramped, so I will take only the instruments necessary to obtain samples for scientific analysis, a weapon, and, of course, the lucky watch my beloved Anna presented to me. How proud she would be to know of my achievement! But I cannot let thoughts of the dead keep me. I must away to, if I may borrow a phrase, "the undiscovered country."


"Dr. Miller?"

Adam Miller prayed for patience and looked up from the undergrad papers he was grading. One of his grad students stood at his office door, an odd look on her face, and a sheaf of papers in her hand.

"Yes, Penny?"

" know that load of fossils we got in from South Dakota last week?"


"Well...there were numerous coprolites in the shipment, and Dr. Zimmerman asked that we analyze them and send her back a report first, and...well, we found something...odd."

"Odd, how?"

She approached his desk and extended the papers. Dr. Miller accepted them, passing over the photo on top without looking at it in favor of the data beneath, but what he read caused him to sit up straight in his chair and flip back to the photo.

"It's a joke," he said. "A fake."

Penny shook her head. "No, it isn't. Josh had a Photoshop guy look at it...and besides, the original piece is here in the lab."

"But this is impossible," Miller said, shaking his head in denial as he stared at the photo.


"All right, class, settle down, please." Miss Shepherd waited patiently while the class, fresh from the noon recess, sorted themselves out and took their seats. "As you all know, we would normally have our history lesson after lunch, but today, we're having a special guest instead. I want you to be very good and pay close attention to Captain Anne Brooks of the Chrononaut Corps." Miss Shepherd smiled at someone in the back of the room and the children turned as one to watch the green-uniformed chrononaut move to the front of the classroom.

"Good afternoon, class."

"Good afternoon, Captain Brooks," the class chanted.

The captain smiled. "So, who here can tell me what a chrononaut does?" Several hands went up and she chose a student at random.

"Chrononauts travel in time!" he exclaimed enthusiastically. "I want to be a chrononaut when I grow up!"

Captain Brooks smiled again. "Make sure you get very good grades, then. All right, can anyone tell me who invented time travel?" This time she chose a little girl.

"Dr. Ernst Littlefeld," the child proclaimed proudly.

"Yes, indeed," Captain Brooks said. "And does anyone know what happened to Dr. Littlefeld?"

"He was eaten by a dinosaur!"

"And how do we know that?"

"Because some scientists found his watch in some dinosaur poop!"

"Very good. You kids really know your history, don't you?"

"Yes, Captain Brooks!"

"All right. Now, I'm going to tell you a little bit about the Chrononaut Corps and what we do...."


Note: I borrowed the name "Ernst Littlefeld" from the Stargate SG1 character Dr. Ernest Littlefield, partly because the name was stuck in my head, and then Dr. Littlefeld refused to be called anything else. The rest of the names were made up with the help of the bookshelf a foot away from my right elbow.
malinaldarose: (Default)
Today's do-list is really pretty long. I don't think too much of it is really going to get done, though. Since I was up before the sun, and have already hauled two months' worth of garbage out to Friend P's dumpster¹ and shopped, I have two cross-offs before I even draw up the list -- and with this much work, I need a list just to remember all the tasks. Usual Saturday chores must be accomplished since I wasn't home yesterday, then I need to swap out the screens for storm windows, there's more sanding to do on the patched corner, and since it's the third layer of mud after that for the corner, I may as well go on and do the first layer of skim coat (there will only be two). And I still haven't retrimmed the hole for the living room/front porch light switch. I guess I won't be painting next weekend after all. The gutters need to be cleaned; I can see leaves piled in them -- oak leaves from the back of the house have skittered over the roof and piled up in the gutter in front. Of course I only have a five foot ladder, so only the ones I can reach will be cleaned. The rest will have to wait until the siding gets year, I suppose. What else? Oh, I brought home all the shire tablecloths; they need to be laundered.

And there are, of course, more leaves to be mulched. Perhaps I will do that this afternoon and leave the gutter-cleaning and/or window swapping until tomorrow evening after work. The good weather is supposed to last through Wednesday. I'm thinking that I won't go shopping on Wednesday after my squishygram, just come straight home. That'll get me back into town by midafternoon, giving me time for some more tasks; maybe I'll leave the mulching until then -- and maybe the maple tree will be finished by then.

Finishing things up for the year is all very complicated.

The other thing that I absolutely have to do today is this week's LJ Idol entry. Given how busy I've been, and given how...difficult the topic is, I could have taken a bye (free week), but dammit, I rose to the challenge of "homonecronymphobestiality" when I joined some friends in their writing group many years ago, and I can get through this, too. I even have the beginnings of an idea, but I really, really want to get the cat waxed² some of the chores done before I sit down to write. Besides, that'll give me time to work it out a bit better in my head, which will make it flow better when I'm ready to type. Right? Right.

Oh, and by the way, when I say up before the sun, I meant it. It's only 8:30 a.m. right now....
¹ There's nothing quite like the feeling of having loaded the car up (and bags of kitty litter are heavy!), driven several miles in the fresh, crisp fall morning with the sun just rising over the hills so that the far hills are painted in shades of gold, but the nearer hills are still in shadow, boosting all the garbage (and bags of kitty litter are heavy, as I may have mentioned before) into the dumpster, and coming home find a single, lonely, forgotten bag of trash lying on the grass in the backyard. *sigh*

² Speaking of which, I also need to brush Sheila, dose her with flea stuff, and clean her ears; she's flapping them a lot again.


malinaldarose: (Default)

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