a garden in riotous bloom
Beautiful. Damn hard. Increasingly useful.
fresh cuttings 
2 January 2019 02:03 - "On the up and up"
rosefox: A woman saying "Am I, I? Or am I not I?". (identity)
Hi, new people and friending meme visitors! Here is a little bit about me, as of January 2019.

Who, what, where, when )

Why

Why I use Dreamwidth: to keep a record of my thoughts, feelings, and experiences, and to participate in a community of people who like working at slower speeds and longer lengths than most social media permits.

Why I choose to keep existing: because as grim and awful as this world can be, it's also amazing and wondrous, and has such people in't. I try to pay attention to all the ways things are better than they were ten or twenty or thirty years ago, and to use that as fuel for hope in—and working toward—an even brighter future.
rosefox: A man's head with a panel open to show gears, and another man looking inside. (examined head)
I dreamed that there was some sort of live-action Yuletide and J was so compatible with the person he matched with that they ended up hooking up. The rest of us kept saying "He does this every year! How does he do it?!" in that half-impressed, half-vexed way.

I told him this and he said, "So in your dream I was a... fanfic playboy?" And I said that was basically correct.

Brains are very odd.

I went to bed at 10:45 p.m. and slept for eleven hours, and my nose is congested even after doing a sinus rinse with steroids. J made me a big breakfast of bacon* and eggs and toast, and I drank the last of the orange juice, and now I want to nap even though I just got all that sleep. I can't tell whether I'm fighting off a cold (AGAIN). On the other hand, this was a week of vastly insufficient sleep and food, plus a small emotional storm yesterday. Hopefully that's what's wiping me out and I'll feel better once I've caught up on sleep a bit.

* My traditional Shabbat treif.

X and Kit are napping, J is watching TV in his room, and I'm lounging on the couch. I can barely keep my eyes open. Maybe I'll drink this mug of honey ginger tea and then lie down for a bit, just to be on trend. I had some notion of going to Shabbat Shira services this morning, since I got up so early, but all I really want is to be at home getting rest.
rosefox: Origami boxes. (helpful)

[personal profile] melannen posted: Signal Boost: SignalBoost✔ bookmarklet

[personal profile] astolat shared a javascript bookmarklet that automates the (existing custom of) DW-style signalboost/linksharing! It looks like the above part of this post. I think it will be very useful for people who use Dreamwidth differently from me.

And the first comment on it was somebody hoping people would check for access lock when using it, and, well, my coding fingers were itchy (they get itchy about every six months, which is not actually often enough to build skill, sadly), and [personal profile] astolat gave permission to modify, so here's a modified version that automatically warns you if you're about to link to a locked DW post. (I think it would probably also work on locked LJ posts but I haven't accepted LJ TOS, so I can't test that.)



I got a lot of 1105 errors when I tried to use it on a page that was styled in my custom style, but with format=light on, it worked just fine. There's an improved version in the comments on that post that doesn't give me errors at all. Hooray!

Yay people being helpful! I really like this approach of "We'll keep doing things the DW way, but we'll make it easier to do so that new people have an easier time adjusting to the local culture".

(If you haven't seen the posts and discussions about Tumblr-style reblogging on DW, [personal profile] doctorsidrat has a rundown of those and other meta conversations. See also this explanation of what "reblogging" means for DW users concerned about their text being copied.)
17 January 2019 15:29 - "Once upon a time"
rosefox: A fox writing book reviews. (writing)
Hypothetical fic meme via [personal profile] moetushie:

Give me the title of a hypothetical fic (and fandom/characters/pairing if you like*) and I will:
-tell you what it's about
-recall my favorite or least favorite parts
-possibly attempt to write an excerpt of it

* If I don't know the fandom/characters/pairing you suggest, I will fake it.
15 January 2019 06:05 - "Yell in vents the intelligence"
rosefox: Me looking out a window, pensive. (thoughtful)
There is a very low-key Dreamwidth friending meme here. No need to write a profile; just comment "yes" and let other people look at your public posts and decide whether to subscribe to you. I have commented, and maybe tomorrow I'll have five free minutes in which to look at other folks' DWs and add a few.

=====

Earworms, nail polish, dance logistics, PT )

=====

Kid stuff )

=====

My work schedule has shifted in a way that distributes my tasks much more evenly across the week. You'd think that would help me go to bed earlier, but it has not. I suppose what will really help is Kit getting over this cold, at least to the point where they sleep through the night without much coughing. When they were an infant, I took the night shift, and that habit is still deeply ingrained in me; the thought of leaving X to deal with any coughing fit bad enough to wake them up through the wall (as happened the other night) just feels wrong. The night shift is what I'm for. X and J can only sleep at night. I have other options.

I can't just blame Kit being sick, though. Last Thursday I told my therapist that sleeping 6 a.m. to noon was my new normal, and I don't want that to be true but it's true. Maybe someday it will be less true. (Maybe tomorrow it will be less true, since my PT appointment on Wednesday is at noon...)

Kit has mostly stopped coughing, and J is awake. Night shift is over. One more listen through "Brooklyn Meditation" and then I sleep.
rosefox: My lace-gloved hand and lace fan. (dancing)
I meant to stay off chat on Shabbat, but then I wrote a little thing that I wanted to share with [personal profile] aris_tgd, and then Aris and I got to talking about music, which led me to digging up a recording of John Denver singing "The Ballad of St. Anne's Reel" (no offense to Mr. Denver, but [personal profile] wcg does it better), which led to me thinking about English country dancing.

Apparently I miss it a lot )

I was not expecting to wist this hard. I will have to think some more about this.

(BUT NO VOLUNTEERING, SELF. NO CHAIRING BALLS AND NO BEING ON THE BOARD. LET US BE VERY CLEAR ABOUT THAT.)
7 January 2019 03:41 - "The rain was unstoppable"
rosefox: A dark elf saying "Do I even need to be here for this? Can I go now?". (weary)
Since taking my break from chat, I've been really productive... except today, when I dithered and dilly-dallied and did everything except work and laundry, which was what I really needed to be doing.

Finally I realized that I'm exhausted. I barely slept last night, got up early for Kit's birthday party, and then there were lice )

At least the party went well, as did J's birthday yesterday, and realizing that tiredness was the issue let me push through it and start getting work done. And X and J are now much more inclined to agree with me that we need to cut Kit's hair soon. The curls are adorable when we take care of them, but we just don't have the time or energy to do a lot of combing and oiling and the like, and then they tangle and mat up and it's no good, even without the bug factor. We'll keep their hair pretty short until they're old enough to take care of it themself.

When can we catch a fucking break, is what I want to know. We had one (1) nice day of everyone feeling well, which fortunately was J's birthday, and now it's back to grossness. I will undoubtedly feel less pessimistic and miserable about this once I get some sleep.
5 January 2019 01:36 - "Sparkle sparkle!" "Sparkle!"
rosefox: Me snuggling a giant teddy bear, entirely contented. (happy)
Quick notes on the day and thoughts for next week )

"Quick", hah. I spent 40 minutes writing this. But now it's out of my head and I can go to sleep.
rosefox: Two small glass candleholders with a green and blue tree design cast a tree-shaped shadow. (Judaism-peace)
Tonight I did candles and juice and bread with X and Kit (who thinks it's great fun to cover their eyes and then uncover them after I light the candles, though they pay no attention to whether I've finished or even started saying the blessing) and then dashed off to shul for Kabbalat Shabbat led by Miriam, the second candidate to be our next rabbi. I was late, but not too late; I got there just before the dvar Torah, which was a delightful discourse on trees in advance of Tu B'Shevat (which is, very suddenly, in two weeks... so much for my notion of planning a Tu B'Shevat seder! Maybe I'll manage it next year when it comes in February). Then we sang "Lecha Dodi", a song for welcoming in Shabbat personified as a queen or bride. ("She's fashionably late," Miriam said cheerfully.)

Just as we reached the last verse, when everyone stands and faces the door and bows to the incoming Shabbat, a longtime member of the congregation came in. She uses a cane, and someone hurried over with a chair for her, so she sat right by the door and grinned as we sang welcomes and bowed as though directly to her. We kept singing, but we were laughing too. After the service, several people complimented her on her timing and asked her whether she enjoyed being the Shabbat queen.

I suppose there are some other congregations where this might be seen as sacrilegious somehow. I'm glad to be part of a congregation where it's just hilarious.

Now I'm home, and the candles have burned down, and I'm reading God in All Moments: Mystical and Practical Spiritual Wisdom from Hasidic Masters. Its overlap with texts on Buddhist mindfulness is striking. Musings ) I'm certainly never converting to ultra-Orthodox Hasidism, and if I'd been raised in it I'm sure I'd have fled it just like my ancestors did. But I'm glad to have books like this that give me access to Jewish mysticism and mindfulness (and even silent meditation!), and leave it up to me to decide how and when to apply it.
rosefox: Me looking out a window, pensive. (relaxed)
Being away from chat has been very good for me. I get a lot more done (because I'm less distracted) and I'm less anxious. I dipped a toe into Slack tonight, and at some point I'll go back to Discord, but right now I'm remembering what quiet is like, and what simply existing is like, and it's great. I think I should start making this part of my Shabbat practice.

I've been noting what kinds of things make me want to go into chat, and mostly it's wanting to narrate my life (especially sharing things I did or said that I thought were funny or interesting, or random look-at-this things like "why does our block now have a Popeye's across the street from another Popeye's") and share pictures of Kit and the cats, with a bit of wanting hugs and sympathy around challenging things. I'm trying to let go of the performative urges rather than seek external validation, and be present for the witty lines and cute kid moments rather than distracted by wanting to share them or preserve them for posterity. When I think "I miss everyone, I wonder how they're doing", I glance in, read the scroll, and close the app again. At some point I expect I'll feel something more genuinely social and go actually hang out again. I probably need to sleep more first, though.

(Of course, as I write this I'm alone at the office at nearly midnight and feeling lonely, and it's very tempting to open up Discord just for some company. But I will put on music instead.)

(EDIT: Music was a great idea! I forgot about music! I've got my Dream Theater collection on random and it's nice to encounter all these old favorites. Maybe I will put listening to music on the hobby list.)

I have done no writing at all so far this year, nor even thought about things to write. It's so great to no longer have that 120-day deadline hanging over my head. I've decided not to sign up for Chocolate Box; I'll just treat, and maybe pinch hit. Letting go of all the effort associated with sign-ups (deciding what to request and offer, writing a letter, etc.) and releasing myself from the obligation of writing an assignment feels very relaxed, or relaxing. Freeing. It feels the way I've felt in the past when defaulting on exchanges, actually, so that makes me extra glad I'm deciding not to sign up rather than defaulting a month down the road. I have no regrets at all about not being able to request the things I nominated; if someone else likes my nominations, they can request them or write them, and if not, there's always next year. Sometimes I like the external structure of having assignments, but right now it feels much more important to be able to do as much or as little writing as I like.

Also liberating was declining an opportunity for a more intense Kolot volunteer commitment. I'm flattered to be asked, but no thank you.

Meanwhile, in hobbies I do want to get more invested in, I've put the Wanikani kanji study app back on my phone and reset my account. I was at level 14 when I went on "vacation mode" in February 2015, but four years is a long time and I figured it was best to start over.

I'm so excited. I'm really doing this. :D I keep finding blog posts where I mention wanting to go back to kanji study and I'm thrilled to be making time for it at last. I'm very very very tired and underslept today, so I'll probably wait until tomorrow to start it.

Last night I watched Desk Set and folded all the unfolded laundry (which took most of an hour) just because I felt like it. This "free time" thing is wild.
rosefox: Me looking out a window, pensive. (thoughtful)
I'm taking a week off from Discord and Slack, and not commenting much or replying to comments on DW. I was starting to get that agitated labile feeling of must talk and talk and talk until people like me and that usually means it's time to step back and take a deep breath or three.

I also want to think about how to approach this year with intentionality. I had some goals for 2018, but I sort of flailed and flopped my way toward achieving them, or I went too far in the other direction and made excessively specific plans that I could not possibly stick with. I want to take this week to do some happy medium planning for 2019, to create some tools and structures and also leave room for improvisation and serendipity.

And honestly, I need a week to recover from the vacation that wasn't. To cap the year, J caught the norovirus from X and Kit and all of them are still having some lingering symptoms, so I have been the primary functional adult in the household for the past couple of days. I am washing my hands so much. I have the alphabet song stuck in my head because I sing it to myself to know that I've scrubbed with soap for a full 20 seconds. I need everyone to get better, and I need us to have good birthday parties for J and Kit this weekend, and I need some time of there being three functional adults and one healthy child in the house.

We did have a nice start to the new year otherwise. My first meal of the year was cold rotisserie chicken with ginger fig jam and whole grain mustard. I gave Kit an oatmeal bath and got them dressed, and we Skyped with Graham for a little while and then went out to get the last bit of sun. They pushed their doll stroller all the way to the park! I promised them pizza after, forgetting that the pizzeria would be closed for the first of the year; fortunately we had a small dairy/wheat pizza in the freezer for Kit and a larger DF/GF one for me and X, so I baked Kit's in the toaster oven and ours in the oven and we put on Tom Petty and had a pizza party. We goofed around for a while and then they had the second half of their pizza and allowed us to put them to bed.

For dinner I made extremely simple chicken soup with two cups of pre-chopped mirepoix, the breasts from the rotisserie chicken*, and two boxes of broth, plus a pack of GF spaghetti that I'd forgotten we had, and all three of us actually ate a homemade dinner at the table together for the first time in approximately eons. I wrote up my year-end posts, X and I watched the latest Steven Universe episode, I went out to the store for a snack, and then I sat on the couch and ate potato chips and drank hot chocolate and contemplated the future.

* For ages we've made chicken soup with rotisserie chicken by boiling up some broth and throwing some chopped-up chicken in it. Somehow the chicken always feels dry even when it's wet. The other day I realized that dry doesn't mean not wet but not fatty. I tested this by simmering some shredded cooked chicken in salsa and olive oil before putting it in tortillas, and the oil made a huge difference to the texture and flavor. So tonight I sweated the mirepoix in olive oil until it was soft, added some ground ginger and thyme and dill, and then added a big additional glug of olive oil and stirred in the chicken. As it soaked up the oil and the liquid from the vegetables, it became silky and tender. I made sure the oil was thoroughly absorbed before pouring in the broth, adding a splash of soy sauce, and bringing it to a simmer. It was waaaaay better than any rotisserie chicken soup I've ever made. Definitely doing it this way from now on.

The dishwasher is done, the washing machine is done, I'm not on chat, and it's very quiet. I needed quiet. I'm glad I'm finding ways to get it.
rosefox: "Joy through making things happen" (accomplishment)
I did it. I fucking did it. I won [community profile] getyourwordsout. 120 writing days (days in which I did at least 20 minutes of writing-related tasks), 61,586 words of fiction written on 33 projects.

/keels over

Implications for writing in 2019 )

The other thing I learned from doing this is that I can find 20 minutes almost every night to do something that isn't work or family or housekeeping. That leads to the question of what I want to do with the 245 days that aren't writing days. I've been pondering that question for the past month (and with reference to my earlier thoughts on monthly focus extracurriculars), and the list is pretty short.

Thoughts on other hobbies for 2019 )

Speaking of sleep, I really hope that being out of writing crunch time means fewer nights of staying up because I had to do just one sprint and then I got sucked into it and spent two hours writing and another hour tweaking what I'd written and another hour winding down and oh look it's getting light out. Perhaps sleep will be my fourth hobby.

So in theory, in 2019 I'll do 120 days of writing and 245 days of reading, handicrafts, Japanese, and/or saying "fuck it" and going to bed early. I don't have individual goals for any of those, though I will probably track them in some descriptive-not-prescriptive way. In practice, I expect there will be some overlap. On a day when I commute to the office, I might read a book on the way in, knit in a meeting, and run through some kanji flash cards on the way home. There will also be days when I don't want to do any of those things and I end up watching a movie or baking a cake or something else random. That's fine. I don't have a goal for any of them except writing. It's just good to have an established short list of options for when it gets to be midnight, I'm wide awake, the current load of laundry won't be done for another two hours, and I'm looking for something to do.

I'm just so, so glad to be done with "write something on 28 of the next 31 days, go". It might take me a few days to adjust and realize that now I can just say "fuck it" and go to bed early, guilt-free. (And then I'll have to do my Chocolate Box sign-ups and letter, but I've already got my original work sign-ups mostly chosen, which is always the hardest part.) I'm incredibly proud of making my pledge goal and smashing my 50k wordcount goal—over 60k, unbelievable—but that is entirely eclipsed by being so happy that it's done. DONE. I DID THE THING AND IT IS DONE. \o/
28 December 2018 01:30 - "Do not want"
rosefox: The words "Je ne veux pas! Je ne peux pas!! Je ne dois pas! NON NON et NON!" in a comic book speech bubble (no no and no)
What this vacation really needed was for me and Kit to get a cold and then for X and Kit to have norovirus. MERRY CHRISTMAS etc.

Somewhat gross, but nothing too detailed )

At some point I will have some feelings about our beautiful two-week staycation being entirely consumed by people being sick or dealing with medical worries. Right now I'm too tired. I was sick for our entire April staycation too, so J says he's never taking a vacation again, and I know how he feels; the idea of staycations carries trauma now.

I needed this break from work so badly. I needed to sleep. I needed to fix my room up and fix the house up and catch up on household paperwork. I needed happy cuddle time with my partners. I needed to feel relaxed and happy. I have gotten none of those things. I still need a vacation and it's going to be months before I can take another one. I'm terrified of going back to work in this state, without a moment's pause to really rest; I'm worried that I'm going to burn out hard, and angry that I poured almost half my annual leave down the drain. And I could have rolled that vacation time over if I'd known that December was going to be a horror show—though of course then I'd have been working on top of this. So... yeah. Lots of feelings. But I can't think about it or I will just fall apart and there is no one for me to fall apart on because we are all absolutely trashed. No therapy this week either, because holidays. He's sure going to get an earful of my woes next Thursday.

I wrote some stories for Yuletide and I got some stories for Yuletide and I beta'd some stories for Yuletide and there are some great stories in Yuletide but I have zero spoons to make rec posts or anything. I left kudos and brief comments for my kind authors and I hope that is enough. I'm so glad I can wait until after author reveals to reply to my own comments. I haven't even posted about my Disney Animated Movie Exchange stories and gifts yet, and that was more than a month ago. I'll do that too once I sleep enough to be able to focus.

Comments disabled so I don't stress about being too wiped to reply, but your well-wishes are assumed and appreciated.
rosefox: A silver spoon labeled "my very last, very small spoon". (exhausted)
My fandom stocking is up! Since reveals aren't until January 6, I'm going to stay focused on Yuletide for now.

I've done less than half the amount of Yuletide beta reading this year that I did last year, but I've been a bit distracted. I did get a couple of treats done in addition to my assignment and pinch hit, so that's good. Finding a title for this post is hard because I have an earworm that would give away one of the stories I've written, so it can't be a line from that but I can't think of anything else.

There, that'll do.

I am still so exhausted. Hope I can sleep tonight.
22 December 2018 01:58 - "Not today, Satan"
rosefox: A severed head saying "Thanks.. I needed that". (relief)
Yay, I don't have breast cancer!

That's the important thing )

I didn't make it to Kabbalat Shabbat tonight because I didn't get home until 6:45 and then I had no interest at all in going out again (and the service started at 6:30 so there was really no point), but I'm about to go to bed so I can go to morning services tomorrow. I don't usually haul myself out that early—I tend to feel that alarm clocks are not Shabbosdik—but I am feeling a very strong urge to go say birkat hagomel and be uplifted by my faith community. And then, more family time and more hugs and more sighs of relief.
rosefox: Two small glass candleholders with a green and blue tree design cast a tree-shaped shadow. (Judaism-peace)
I went to Kabbalat Shabbat services last week, and an acquaintance gave me one of those looks and said, "And when are you going to give a drash?" And I'm skipping afternoon Torah study this week (which has been the main reason I stopped doing parsha posts—less need to ruminate on my own now that I have people to ruminate with). So here's the drash I would give on Parashat Vayigash, if I were going to give a drash.


We were lords in Egypt )
15 December 2018 03:11 - "Miss Polly, put her straight to bed"
rosefox: A dismayed person looks at the calendar on their tablet, which is full of events and has flames coming out of it (busy-bad)
Week in review in very brief:

Writing and other hobbies )

Home )

I did a lot of work.

I didn't get a lot of sleep.

I got a manicure: tenoverten Grand (fine pewter glitter) with Deborah Lippmann Flat Top matte top coat. I'd forgotten how great matte over glitter is; my nails look like brushed steel.

Body )

Today Kit started running on the way home (on a nice long stretch of empty sidewalk, totally safe) and I chased after them, calling "I'm gonna catch you!" When I caught them they laughed and exclaimed "Gat me! Gat me!" and took off running again. We played "gat me" all the way down the block, sometimes with me chasing them and sometimes with them chasing me ("Gat you!"). Kit only tugged my sleeve and said "walking" when they realized we were getting close to home and they didn't want the fun to stop. I wish we could have kept running all night through the rain, laughing and playing around with how scary-good it feels to step apart and then be reunited.

Readercon and Kolot )

I need to get some work done on Sunday night, and then I'm on vacation through the end of the year and it will be glorious.
rosefox: A half-man, half-dog hauling a set of matched luggage. (baggage)
The nice thing about being an advice columnist is that I can answer a lot of my own problems if I phrase them as letters to an advice columnist.

Dear Avuncle Rose,

I keep bumping things later and later on my to-do list—things that don't have deadlines but are important for life maintenance, like unpacking from a trip I took a month ago and throwing away the dead plant on my shelf—because I don't want to do them, and then putting them off even further because I'm ashamed of not having done them. How do I break the cycle and get them done?

—To-Do Lost


Dear To-Do Lost,

Sit down with someone you trust, take a deep breath, and confess. Say out loud what you just wrote to me, not only the bumping later part but the shame part. Do whatever helps you work through that shame, and lean on someone who can reassure you that you have not grievously erred.

Also think about what might be worrying or upsetting you about the idea of those tasks being done. Are you anxious about what you might find in the pile of mail? Are you daunted by the thought of all that clean floor, or cynical about the likelihood that you'll clutter it up again? Are you sad about the plant dying, or guilty because you couldn't keep it alive? Is change, even positive change, scary and hard? Your supportive person can help you grapple with those feelings too, and remind you of the upsides of having paid your bills, made your room beautiful, and planted some new seeds.

Finally, get some company for doing the tasks, less to hold yourself accountable and more to help distract you a little from your churning thoughts. Invite a friend or partner to sit on your bed and read a book while you do your things, chatting with you occasionally about what you find or how you're doing. They're not observing you; they're just hanging out, in a chill companionable way.

As always, this will be easier if you've got a good Maslow's baseline going: sleep, eat, hydrate, and give yourself a calm, supportive environment in which to tackle these hard things. And they really are hard! It may seem silly to be so het up about something so small or easy—it's going to take you, what, 15 minutes to get that suitcase dealt with?—but sometimes small things carry outsize feelings. Your literal baggage has metaphorical baggage. Unpacking the second will free you to tackle the first.

Cheers,
Avuncle Rose


(Now I just have to take my own advice, which is always the hard part...)

Hilariously, the first time I used the mind.wiring.negotiation tag, almost exactly 13 years ago, it was for these competing urges:

Urge to write: "I should go do more [things related to an original fiction project], because it's fun."

Urge to meet deadlines: "I should start on the Yuletide piece, because it needs to get done soon."

Urge to sleep: "I should sleep, because I'm a zombie and wouldn't be able to string three words into a sentence if someone gave me needle and thread."


And the most recent time:

Oh right, being kind and compassionate to myself, I forgot about that.

Plus ça change, plus les word-for-word identical journal entries.

I am intrigued that the inner place I look for the kind and compassionate voice has shifted from "mediator" to "my wife" to "advice columnist". I think the mediator was sort of a rough first draft of the advice columnist. My wife is still tremendously important to me, of course, but is more on the emotional support side. The advice columnist is more practical: they take me at my word that I have a goal I want to achieve, and talk me through achieving it. I have a deep, longtime, complex relationship with my wife. The advice columnist is more distant, not entangled with me, and so maybe a little more free to call me on my bullshit and poke me where it hurts. Both very good entities to have in my mental arsenal.
13 December 2018 01:32 - "But merry ain't in my vocabulary"
rosefox: A half-completed game where one organizes jumbled dots. (untangling)
A question for the non-Christian parents: how do you talk to your young kids about Christmas? Kit is old enough to be fascinated by the lights and shiny things, and curious/puzzled about the iconography (mostly things like Santa, reindeer, and candy canes—they haven't encountered the more directly Jesus-y things like Nativity scenes). They're also being taught "holiday songs" at daycare, which of course is 95% Christmas carols. The daycare is trying very hard to be inclusive, but Christianity is still the default. (And they are so, so clueless about Judaism. They didn't put their chanukiah up for four days because they wanted to put up all the holiday decorations together, but they forgot to account for Hanukkah being early when they started planning their tree and snowflakes and so on. And now they still have it out and lit even though the holiday is over. It's not offensively wrongbad, it's just... sigh. And I'm personally a little bummed because Kit and I are usually the ones who light the chanukiah there when I pick them up, and we only got to do that on one night this year. So we got a tiny droplet of our holiday, and meanwhile there's this heckin' big tree that will be up for an entire month.)

I've gotten as far as "Christmas is a holiday that some people celebrate" and "that thing you're seeing/hearing is traditional for Christmas". I also sometimes say "Our winter holiday is over but Christmas hasn't happened yet". Kit really loves the National Geographic Holidays Around the World books about Rosh Hashanah and Hanukkah (because they're full of photos of kids doing fun and interesting things), so I've requested the Christmas one from the library. I assume that will cover things like "Christians believe that Jesus was the son of God, and this is a celebration of the day Jesus was born" and "there is a traditional figure called Santa, or St. Nicholas, who is said to bring presents" and "people go to church and sing songs and then have big parties". That part is all fine and I'm comfortable discussing it.

What I'm caught on is how to explain that this is a thing that's all around us, but not ours. This is complicated by X being ex-Mormon and still having some fond feelings about some cultural aspects of Christmas. So in that sense it is part of Kit's heritage... but insofar as they're being raised in a faith, it's Judaism, and as a Jew I have particular feelings about the way the U.S. does Christmas and gets it all over everything else.

The other day the daycare teacher proudly told me that they expanded the idea of "you're being watched to find out if you behave well or badly, and if you're good you get presents!" to include Hanukkah presents as well as Christmas ones! And they emphasize it by pointing to the security camera in the classroom! You should have seen my face. I told her I didn't want my child raised in a surveillance state, and then I turned to Kit and said clearly, "There are no bad babies." But to the teacher, moral judgment is indelibly attached to holiday presents, and it didn't occur to her that Jews might not be so keen on it. (Yes, I know about the Mensch on a Bench. Jews aren't a monolith. But there is no traditional Hanukkah equivalent of the lump of coal in the stocking.) It's that kind of thing that I don't know how to fight, or prepare Kit for, or prepare myself for. If X wants to share their love of red and green with Kit, then I will find a way to cope despite 40 years of associating red and green with cultural aggression and erasure. Inside the house, we can negotiate and navigate things like that; it's part of having a family that comes from diverse traditions. Outside the house, it's all just very daunting. And with a minimally verbal kid, "wait until they ask" doesn't apply.

Help?
9 December 2018 21:28 - "Barchuni l'shalom"
rosefox: A bearded man in a yarmulke shouting L'CHAIM! (Judaism)
Tonight we had an absolutely glorious eighth night Hanukkah party. We inaugurated our beautiful new eight-quart Instant Pot with some of the best pot roast I've ever had, and turned five pounds of potatoes into excellent gluten-free latkes, and got our vitamins from maple ginger thyme carrots and pan-fried Brussels sprouts. Meg and Will and Gina and SJ came over and filled the house with merriment. It was just the right number of people for our house (and for the number of chairs, with SJ sitting on adults' laps). We got all the food to the table reasonably hot, at the same time, and lit candles with some haste so as not to delay the eating—though we took the time for a heartfelt Shehecheyanu.

Recipes:

Instant Pot pot roast )

Gluten-free latkes )

Maple ginger thyme carrots.

I feel that much light has been brought into the world tonight. And now, renewed and fulfilled, we rest.
7 December 2018 15:33 - "More sufganiyot?"
rosefox: A bearded man in a yarmulke shouting L'CHAIM! (Judaism)
Guy at kosher bakery, to everyone else: Shabbat shalom! Chanukah sameach!
Guy at kosher bakery, to me: Gut Shabbes! Happy Hanukkah!
Me, cheerfully: Shabbat shalom! Chanukah sameach!

(Yes, I leaned just a little on the ch.)

Living in Crown Heights as an idiosyncratic non-Orthodox Jew is a little weird sometimes. Being around lots of Jews has definitely influenced my feeling of Jewishness! I love being able to get challah rolls for Shabbat and dreidel cookies and donuts for Hanukkah! But I am super duper not their kind of Jew. So we end up in this place where they politely treat me like a gentile (unless they're trying to convert me) and I politely make it clear that I am very the fuck not one (and am not going to convert to Orthodoxy either).

One of these days I'm going to wear a kippah into that bakery and see what happens.
7 December 2018 13:16 - Dear Time Traveler letter
rosefox: A fox writing book reviews. (writing)
Dear Past Imperfect writer/artist,

Thank you so much for offering to make something for me!

If you want a five-minute fandom, "The Mesopotamians" is the one to go with. Here's the official video, which I love. It's about a shitty band that happens to be four Mesopotamian kings. It makes about as much sense as you'd expect it to given that. You can set the fic/art in ancient Mesopotamia or in the present day (or in the 60s/70s because they're sort of a Beatles parody) or do whatever the hell you want with it. Have fun. 

The first Chitty Chitty Bang Bang book is very quick and fun to read. You can read a scanned digital version through Open Library. If you prefer print or a standard ebook, Google Books has links to purchase it (and if you have the Chrome Library Extension, you'll see links to borrow it at your local library too!). You can get used copies on AbeBooks for pennies. 

The character Jadis only appears in the book The Magician's Nephew, so if you don't want to read the entire Chronicles of Narnia, why not you can just grab that one. Any library will have it.

Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory and Mary Poppins are both very strange and wonderful movies with some parts that are spellbinding and some that make you grateful for the fast-forward button. If you have time to watch a movie, they're both worth watching. Libraries will probably have them, or you can watch them for a few bucks through the streaming service of your choice.

Regarding the "is a Time Lord" trope, I don't need detailed knowledge of the Time War or anything like that; I'm just looking for the general concept of "is a near-immortal alien who periodically regenerates into new bodies, has a transportation device that goes through space and time, whimsically acquires human and nonhuman companions for adventures".

Detailed prompts:

Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971)
Fanfiction - Relationship, Fanart - Relationship, Willy Wonka, Character Is a Time Lord
 
Willy Wonka is a Time Lord, the Glass Elevator is a TARDIS, Charlie and Grandpa Joe are (optionally) his companions, and everything is great. Show me their adventures anywhere and anywhen!
 
Incorporating elements from the books is fine, but I am very specifically thinking of Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka as a Time Lord, in a sort of "American Tom Baker" way.

Art ideas: Willy Wonka meeting aliens and defeating them with a hose that sprays melted chocolate or escaping them with the help of Fizzy Lifting drinks; Willy Wonka with a sonic screwdriver; the Great Glass Elevator comparing notes with Doctor Who's TARDIS and/or Willy Wonka and Doctor Who (preferably Two, Nine, or Ten) comparing notes on their respective TARDISes.
 
Canon-specific DNW: canonical racism (please treat the Oompa Loompas as real people and not just orange-painted caricatures of black servants/slaves), sexual content of any kind.

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang - All Media Types
Fanfiction - Relationship, Fanart - Relationship, Group: Caractacus Potts & Mimsie Potts & Jeremy Potts & Jemima Potts, Accidental Time Travel To The Future, Accidental Time Travel To The Past, Accidentally Built A Time Machine, Abusing Time Travel For Petty Reasons, Everyone Gets One Chance to Change The Past, Parallel Universes, Character Is a Time Lord, Time Travel for Historical Research
 
I have only read the book, not seen the movie, but I think they're pretty similar, so if you're only a movie fan, write what you know! (The book is great, though, and I recommend finding and reading it if you can.) Obviously "accidental" applies to the Pottses more than to Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, who knows perfectly well what she's doing. I am also totally here for Mimsie Potts as Time Lord, with optional Caractacus as also a Time Lord, and Chitty as their extremely independently minded TARDIS. They could have great original Doctor Who–style adventures in the past meeting historical figures, or in the future fighting Daleks, or... whatever, honestly. Just have fun with it.

Art ideas: travel into the past, travel into the future, meeting aliens, the kids enjoying fantastical futuristic candy.
 
Canon-specific DNW: sexual content of any kind.

The Mesopotamians - They Might Be Giants (Song)
Fanart - Relationship, Fanfiction - Relationship, Group: Sargon & Hammurabi & Ashurbanipal & Gilgamesh (The Mesopotamians), sent to the future, Character Remembers Probable Future Events, Accidental Time Travel To The Future, Time Shenanigans - Ghosts of the Future, Person from the past has issues with the way their time is portrayed by historians, Adjusting to a Different Era, Fish out of Temporal Water
 
I can't explain why I'm so taken with the idea of these four kind of hapless guys in their shitty band going on a road trip to the future, but I am. Maybe they end up in 1970s New York and try to get a gig at CBGB. Maybe they go head to head with the Beatles. Maybe they go to a museum and read about themselves and hate it, or are thrilled that someone has in fact heard of their band. Maybe they finally acquire a groupie or four and have an awesome ridiculous orgy. Maybe they just try to get home in their beaten-up Econoline van.
 
I know the entire TMBG catalog, including the old and obscure stuff, so any references to and crossovers with other songs are welcome.

Art ideas: something in the style of the video; the Mesopotamians being turned away from/kicked out of CBGB; a battle of the bands with any band you like; turning their Econoline van into a time machine, and tinkering with it because it's always breaking down.

Crossover Fandom
Fanfiction - Relationship, Fanart - Relationship, Group: Willy Wonka (Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory) & Mary Poppins (Mary Poppins), Group: Mary Poppins (Mary Poppins) & Caractacus Potts (Chitty Chitty Bang Bang), Character Is a Time Lord, Time Travel In Order To Fight A Specific Enemy
 
They are Time Lords; they do adventures.
 
See my other prompts for Willy Wonka and Caractacus Potts Time Lord ideas. Mary Poppins: Is she a Time Lord or something else entirely? She certainly isn't human. Feel free to make her the spooky villain; that & doesn't have to be friendship. Maybe she's the Master-equivalent for Willy Wonka's Who-equivalent. Or vice versa.

It occurs to me just now that Wonka and Potts are both makers of unusual sweets, so feel free to connect them in that way! Maybe they're different incarnations of the same Time Lord? Anyway, feel free to combine them in some fashion.

Art ideas: Willy Wonka or Caractacus Potts facing off against Mary Poppins, or teaming up with her to take on another villain; a very strange tea party.
 
Canon-specific DNWs: sexual content of any kind.

Chronicles of Narnia - C. S. Lewis
Fanfiction - Relationship, Jadis | The White Witch, Character Can Travel Through Time At Will, Character From a Dystopia Time Travels to a Utopian Past, Character From a Dystopia Time Travels to Utopian Future, Parallel Universes, Trapped in the Past
 
I would love to see the past and/or future of Charn, but I'll take anything that involves Jadis chewing ALL the scenery.
 

general likes and DNWs )
6 December 2018 03:06 - "An odd duck"
rosefox: Green books on library shelves. (Default)
Five questions from [personal profile] rushthatspeaks:

1. What's the significance of your default DW icon? It looks very specific and very pretty, but is there more to it?

Not really! It's cropped from an image of books in a library, so it's green, it's books, and it's orderly. Therefore, it's me.

2. Listened to any good music lately?

Right now I have TMBG's "The Communists Have the Music" in my head. (CN: mentions of fascists.) I just downloaded their new album and I'm looking forward to listening to it.

I was also blown away by this a capella Hanukkah version of "Bohemian Rhapsody" by Six13, which is a) musically very tight and b) a really splendid vowel-matched filk. Just superb. Do not miss.

3. Any tips for circadian rhythm adjustment?

Ha ha ha I don't know why you're asking me. But here's what I know )

4. What's your favorite color?

The dark green in my default userpic.

5. What's the most memorably bad food you've ever had?

Oh man. I really try not to remember bad food! Maybe Big Red chewing gum, which triggered almost instant and very violent nausea the one and only time I tried it, which must be at least a quarter-century ago but is etched indelibly upon my mind. If that doesn't count, I think the metallic pumpkin pie filling from my pumpkin pie disaster is the most memorably bad thing I've ever cooked. It took me quite a while to find the Sylvester-sucking-alum image needed to illustrate that post, but it was so perfectly apt.


I'm slightly less overwhelmed than I was the last time I did one of these, so anyone who wants five questions, feel free to ask for them! I can't promise I'll provide them but your odds are better than they were.
5 December 2018 03:48 - "and brought us to this moment"
rosefox: A bearded man in a yarmulke shouting L'CHAIM! (Judaism)
[I wrote this over on Pillowfort, which is finally back after two weeks of outage while security holes were patched. DW folks are equally welcome to leave catching-up how-are-you comments!]

Welcome back, Pillowforters! I like Coy's "pillbugs" for all of us, heh.

I missed this site a lot. I kept wanting to take photos to post to the Weather community and then being sad that I couldn't.

I hope you all had a good couple of weeks. Nothing hugely exciting here: X and I went to Montauk, I got a cold, we had a good Thanksgiving weekend once I got better, Kit got taller again (they're about to turn three and we just ordered a 5T coat for them because the 4T no longer fits), I wrapped up a couple of big work projects and orchestrated our end-of-December staycation, we bought an Instant Pot but haven't had time to cook anything with it yet.

It's been a nice Hanukkah so far: first night at my mom's place, second night at a party for my shul's queer and trans members, third night at home with the chanukiah Kit painted. "Me did that one painting!" they said proudly. <3 They held the shamas and I held their hand and we lit candles together, and I sang Shehecheyanu for the occasion. And then we had a fire safety talk because the shamas lighting the other candles is the perfect way to open a conversation about how fire can jump from one thing to another (and also because Kit was waving around the paper plate from their pizza and it got a little too close to the chanukiah).

(Why I spell it Hanukkah but chanukiah, I could not tell you.)

What's new with you? What are your favorite pressure cooker/slow cooker/Instant Pot recipes (gluten-free and dairy-free, please, or easily de-glutened and de-dairyed)? If you've observed or are observing or intend to observe any holidays, how did it go/what's your plan? Are you, like me, counting the days to solstice and feeling an urge to lick any stray sunbeams off the window in hopes of getting an extra hit of that sweet sweet vitamin D?
22 November 2018 01:23 - "And then, whoosh, I'm in a tiara!"
rosefox: Steve Martin wiggles his eyebrows and says "REALLY" (skeptic)
I keep getting kudos on my She-Ra fanfic because the new show is making people interested in the old show, so I watched two episodes of the new show.

Uh. Does it get... good... at any point?

Spoilers for episodes 1 and 2, I suppose; CN for brief mentions of war, school shootings, and child abuse )

Verdict: I'll pass.
rosefox: Me looking out a window, pensive. (relaxed)
After a couple of very intense work months for both of us, X and I got our annual weekend away in Montauk. It was lovely. It would have been lovelier if I hadn't slept very badly and then come down with a cold, but we still had a good time and did all the important things: driving out to Montauk Point to walk on the beach in the cold, buying random souvenirs and gifts at the general store, doing a jigsaw puzzle while listening to Great Big Sea, cuddling and watching a silly movie (this year we went with What We Do in the Shadows on a friend's recommendation, and loved it), making video calls home to share Shabbat and Havdalah candle-lighting with Kit and J, cooking impressively good meals in the motel apartment kitchen (bringing herbs and spices from home upped our game considerably), definitely giving those deer plenty of space to cross the road, improving our plan for next year.

This was our fifth time out there, so the plan has been pretty well refined by now. We're at the point of organizing our food shopping list by the Southampton Stop 'n' Shop aisle number, and having a specific cab driver to call in Sayville. (Her name is Eva, her wife drives a school bus, her mom tells her not to go out in the rain, and she's hilarious.) We know not to bring a puzzle with more than 500 pieces because we'll never finish it, and to bring a lamp because the table we do the puzzle on isn't well lit. We like room 6 at the motel better than room 5 and joked about storing things in the cabinet over the fridge to find next year. Another year or two and we'll have our routine absolutely perfected, and then we can simply enjoy ourselves without needing to think about anything.

I took photos of Montauk Point as the sun was going down.

I feel like the trip went by really fast this year and we somehow had less time than we usually do. I guess I slept in a little on Saturday, and then the cold walloped me on Saturday night and I lost a couple of hours to feeling blah. And a four-hour trip each way is a lot for a weekend. Maybe someday we can take an extra day or two. On the bright side, our current slightly ridiculous travel plan of cab, train, cab, rental car worked very well in both directions—to the point where we left lazily late and still caught an earlier train home than we'd planned.

Sometimes I think my dream is for us to spend a whole week there: three days with J and Kit joining us, and then drive them to the train and get four days on our own. But I go back and forth on that. I love them and I want to share good things with them... and I love this just being our place, our thing that we do on our own and don't share with anyone.
rosefox: A necklace that looks like a piece of rainbow layer cake (me and xtina)
Posted in response to birds's question about intimacy:

Today I was telling my therapist about the annual weekend trip that X and I take to Montauk. It's a beach town, but we go in November specifically so it'll be mostly deserted. We rent a motel apartment with a kitchen, and cook all our meals (pretty much the same menu every time). We do a jigsaw puzzle and listen to Great Big Sea. We walk on the beach with our winter coats on and pick up pretty shells and rocks to bring home. We shop at the little general store. We watch old movies. We cuddle and then go to sleep in separate beds, because our schedules and temperature needs are too different for bed-sharing and we both need our own spaces to retreat to at the end of the day.

"Is it romantic?" he asked.

"Not in the rose petals on the bed kind of way," I said. "It's... it's time to inhabit the ways that we're basically the same person, without having to explain it to anyone else."

He nodded. "It sounds intimate," he said. And I said that was exactly right.

So that's what intimacy makes me think of today.

Maybe I should add that we aren't ace or even demi, but it's just... really low on the priority list for us in the context of our dyadic relationship. Other forms of intimacy rank much higher. That was true even when we lived 3000 miles apart and only saw each other once a year; most people in that situation would immediately leap into bed, and we immediately leaped in the car and went off to shop at Goodwill and the local yarn store. Part of our personality overlap is a really strong tendency to live in our heads rather than our bodies.

J is the opposite, and he reminds us both (like, literal "HELLO DO NOT FORGET YOU LIKE THIS" out loud voice reminders, which are welcome and appreciated and also hilarious) that we enjoy smoochy times too, and we do! They're great! But when he's not around to catalyze it, we'd almost always rather eat soup and play cribbage and crack terrible jokes.

I think the only thing you can generalize about intimacy is that it is contextual.
14 November 2018 20:32 - "Fwoosh"
rosefox: A dismayed person looks at the calendar on their tablet, which is full of events and has flames coming out of it (busy-bad)
I didn't know I needed a new busy-bad userpic until I saw today's Robot Hugs.
13 November 2018 23:47 - "Misc."
rosefox: A small black cat with yellow eyes watches a toy spin around and around. (silly)
Emoji meme via [personal profile] celluloid_jam.

Long and rambly )
13 November 2018 01:41 - "Stir stir stir"
rosefox: A cheerful chef made out of ginger. (baking)
I was in the mood to bake, so we got Empire apples at the farmer's market and I made apple cake. It's the first time I've baked this cake with GF flour; at first it was a little dry and gritty, as GF cakes often are, but after a couple of days of sitting tightly wrapped with foil, it miraculously hydrated thanks to the moisture in the apples, though it still tended to fall apart a bit. We baked it with two cups of apples and 1 tsp cinnamon; I think it should be three cups of apples, chopped finer than we did it, and 0.5 tsp cinnamon. A fourth egg might help the batter hang together more. Maybe I'll try that next time.

I'm including info on making cider syrup to glaze and hydrate the cake, though I don't think it's strictly necessary. It just sounds yummy. I considered replacing half a cup of the GF flour blend with almond flour for more moistness, but I think the additional apples plus the resting time will take care of that.

The coconut oil was much better than canola oil—there was no greasiness to the cake at all.

Updated recipe )
8 November 2018 01:44 - "No more sunlight, please"
rosefox: A fox writing book reviews. (writing)
I received three wonderful gifts for [community profile] trickortreatex! One Prydain, two original work.

So shiny! )

I also wrote nine stories for Trick or Treat, because I apparently don't know how to leave well enough alone.

Fandoms: the Addams family, Good Omens, "Jolene" (yes, the Dolly Parton song—I could not begin to explain why this fandom always pops up in multifandom exchanges, but such great stories get written for it that I can't complain), She-Ra: Princess of Power, A Song of Ice and Fire, and original work. Ratings and moods and themes vary extensively. Links follow, with commentary.

Nine is a lot )

I'm slowly working my way through the archive, but there is so much good fic and I don't have a ton of reading time! Maybe I will read more of it when X and I are in Montauk in a couple of weeks. Fic is always good vacation reading.
2 November 2018 23:28 - "Everything is OK"
rosefox: A half-completed game where one organizes jumbled dots. (order)
[personal profile] nwhyte linked to this article about how to configure your phone as "a tool, not a boss". There are aspects of the article that I find tiresome: unnecessary snark, advice that makes no sense. ("If necessary, go get a pet. Dogs are best (74% of people like dogs, while only 41% like cats)." I'm not a percentage of people, I'm one person who likes cats and doesn't like dogs.) But most of the advice is pretty sound. There are some iPhone-specific things, but a lot of it can be applied to Android.

The rest of this post is mostly me thinking out loud about which parts of this make sense for me, mostly so I can close the tab with the article in it.

Unlikely to be of interest to anyone who isn't me )
rosefox: Two small glass candleholders with a green and blue tree design cast a tree-shaped shadow. (Judaism-peace)
I finally took Kit to Shabbat Sheli tonight. J met us there and helped immensely with Kit-wrangling. We sang and danced and clapped and Kit only fussed a bit at being expected to ever sit still, but I assured them that they could get up and run around as much as they liked, even during the quieter storytime parts, so they did that a lot.

I shared hugs with several people I know—the kind of hugs you give at funerals, where you take a moment to really be there for each other and offer mutual support in a hard time. That alone was worth the trouble of getting there (45 minutes of subway-and-bus each way). No one said anything directly about Pittsburgh, or about the anti-Semitic graffiti that's been scrawled all over the city this week (including in Union Temple, where I go for singing Shabbats), but the shadow loomed over all of us.

J held Kit during the mourner's kaddish so I could focus on that, which I appreciated a lot. Kids were still running around and being noisy, but that's fine and to be expected at a children's service, and it felt good to have all our generations there together for that moment. Sometimes kids laugh while adults grieve. We need both halves of that to cope with sorrow.

Transit was kind to us, and we got home and got Kit to bed only a little late. Now all the week's everything is catching up with me. I've actually slept correct hours for the last two nights, 3 to 11:30, and I still feel absolutely crushed by exhaustion. I'm going to put food in my face and fall over.

Shabbat shalom, my friends.
30 October 2018 01:37 - "A day in the life"
rosefox: A dismayed person looks at the calendar on their tablet, which is full of events and has flames coming out of it (busy-bad)
iimpavid@pfio asked what people were up to today, and I replied:
Today I had lunch with a friend visiting from out of town, got work done, took a lovely park walk with another friend and her toddler, picked up my toddler from daycare, had a nice hour with them, called in to a shul committee meeting and got lots of praise for a project I worked very hard on (one of the many, many things I love about my shul is how generous everyone is with compliments and public recognition), had a nice walk and snuggle time with J, wrote up proposed safety procedure changes for the convention I volunteer with, started a much-needed load of laundry, and beta-read some fanfic for a friend. I was hoping to phonebank but didn't get a chance. In a bit I'll get more work done, fold/sort laundry, and write another ficlet or two for the Trick or Treat exchange (300-word minimum and there's a community challenge to have two gifts per participant). A good day. I'm determined to make this a good week, one way or another.
That's my entire life in a nutshell right there: family, friends, volunteering, housework, writing, and barely a moment to breathe.
rosefox: Me hugging a giant teddy bear, very sad. (sad)
Vote like lives depend on it.
rosefox: A sci-fi landscape and the words "DISSENT IS PATRIOTIC". (fandom-dissent)
My experiences of harassment, and organizational mismanagement of response to harassment, at the Boston-area science fiction convention Arisia. ) Five and a half years later, I'm still angry and sad. And now, seeing all those other comments, thinking about all those people who've been driven away from a space they used to love and be dedicated to, I'm angrier and sadder. What a waste. What a fucking waste.

Do better, fandom.
rosefox: Me looking out a window, pensive. (relaxed)
More questions, from [personal profile] phi:

Looking back, what expectation (or fear or anxiety if you like) about parenting turned out to be completely incorrect?

I thought I was going to hate being the parent of an infant, and that Kit was going to think of X and J as their "real" parents and see me as secondary. I actually found a lot to appreciate about parenting an infant—though it's not a thing I want to do again—and Kit is extremely clear on all of us being equal parents in their eyes.

What new recipe have you tried recently and how did it go?

I always pan-fry leftover mashed potatoes in olive oil and get oily potato mush, which isn't what I want at all. I finally decided to look up a recipe for making mashed potato patties. I mixed in an egg, some flour, and some chopped-up bacon and spinach, and they turned into a lovely dough and fried up beautifully. Recipe here. That came after a long long spate of not cooking, and it felt so good to cook, even if all I was cooking was leftovers!

What books (if any) do you come back to and re-read?

Patricia Kennealy-Morrison's Keltiad books. Love love love them.

What does your platonic ideal reading nook look like and what is in it?

It's a broad window seat by a big picture window, with plenty of pillows to nest in, room for a snuggly cat, a blanket to cover my feet, and a safe place to put a drink. The window faces south and is up on the second or third floor to get plenty of sun, but is partly shaded by a big tree. It looks over a moderately busy city street. I've had various aspects of this at various times, but never all of it at once.
rosefox: Two small glass candleholders with a green and blue tree design cast a tree-shaped shadow. (Judaism-peace)
I'm late reading Parashat Lech Lecha, and the story begun there concludes in Vayera, so this is a two-for-one post. (The two together span Genesis 12–22.)

Who's testing whom? )
rosefox: Two small glass candleholders with a green and blue tree design cast a tree-shaped shadow. (Judaism-peace)
So. Parashat Noach (Genesis 6:9–11:32). It sure is full of lots of things. Wickedness everywhere! The flood! The ark! The dove with the olive leaf! The covenant! Noah getting drunk and cursing Canaan! The Tower of Babel! (Which, I was startled to realize, gets seven entire lines in the actual Torah—everything else that's thought of as the Babel legend is commentary.) Ten generations pass in the blink of an eye! And then along come Abram and Sarai and we have the opposite of last week's cliff-hanger, the brisk recap slowing down and focusing in preparation for the much more leisurely (but no less intense) story to come next week.

On a fallible, relatable, singular God )
9 October 2018 16:23 - "Oh so pretty"
rosefox: Nine icons depicting different items of clothing. (clothes)
While looking at Zulily's current crop of tunics (with cowl necks! and long sleeves!) and admiring one that has a flower pattern along the sleeves, neck, and hem, I thought, "It's like the dress has tattoos!" And then I realized that wearing clothing with patterns can be like wearing temporary tattoos, pretty and easy to take off and always coordinated with whatever else I'm wearing.

I can't believe it took me 40 years to figure out that I can decorate my body this way. It's so freeing.

Maybe I'll try actual temporary tattoos next.
9 October 2018 04:33 - "O wizard O wise one!"
rosefox: a stethoscope on a manuscript (story hospital)
Hey, remember that Story Hospital blog I started a few years ago, providing advice of all kinds to writers of all kinds? It's still going! Every week I answer a letter from a writer who's struggling, or write a post on some topic related to the craft of writing or the emotional and psychological challenges of being a writer. Story Hospital is entirely sponsored by my patrons on Patreon; with their generous support, I just about break even on the time and effort I put into the site.

If you haven't looked at Story Hospital before and want a sample, here are some popular craft posts:

And some about the emotional and psychological side of writing:
Thanks as always to the letter writers and others who inspired these posts. (If you're a writer, ask me questions! Your letters are vital to keeping Story Hospital going.)

It's October, and that means it's time for the third annual Story Hospital patron drive! As always, if we meet the patron goal, I will make four extra posts in November for NaNoWriMo. I love writing these posts and am already pondering topics.

However, there's a challenge. I'm no longer on Twitter, and I have never used Facebook. These choices are what's best for me personally, but they do make it challenging to spread the word about Story Hospital. Therefore, I'm hoping you can help.

My October patron drive goals are 120 patrons or $300/month. (We're currently at 105 and $267.) I think these goals are entirely attainable. But for a handful of new people to pledge support, many more than that need to visit Story Hospital's Patreon page.

If you'd like to support the patron drive, between now and the end of October, please share that link with at least one writer you know who you think would benefit from Story Hospital's advice. Don't spam anyone; make the connection personal. Share some specific posts, on storyhospital.com or on Patreon, that you think this writer would find useful. And if you're a patron, tell your friend why you think Story Hospital is worth supporting—including posts landing in your inbox two days early, an invitation to the Story Hospital Slack community of writers, and a patrons-only queue that puts your letter at the top of my stack.

If you do use social media or hang out on writing forums, feel free to post Story Hospital links there too. But sharing directly with a writer you know is the best way for you to support the site.

Writing my weekly Story Hospital posts is one of the great joys of my life, and patron contributions make it possible for me to keep doing it. If you're a patron, thank you so much! If you aren't already a patron but you read and enjoy Story Hospital, please consider making a pledge of just $1/month. If patronage is not for you for whatever reason, thank you for reading, linking, and commenting. Even if all you do is make my hit counter go up, I see that and appreciate it.

120 patrons. $300 a month. I think we can do this. Let's go!
6 October 2018 20:30 - "zikaron l'ma'aseh b'reishit"
rosefox: A half-completed game where one organizes jumbled dots. (order)
One of my goals this year is to read the parsha every week and write something about it. I'll be tagging these ideas.religion.judaism.parashot for easy blacklisting if you're not interested, or easy finding later if you are. My primary translation is my pre-publication copy of Robert Alter's The Hebrew Bible: A Translation with Commentary, and I also use Sefaria a lot.

Simchat Torah, the new year of the Torah, was a few days ago, so the cycle of Torah readings begins again with Parashat Bereishit, Genesis 1:1–6:8. Technically, the on-deck parsha moved ahead around midday Saturday, but it took me a while to find time to write this out. I'll try to get next week's done earlier for those who are, as it were, following along in the Book.


Shabbat and the Creation story )

What will I bring order to this week? What lines will I draw and what boundaries will I respect and defend? What will I create? I don't know yet, but I think, whatever it is, it will be good.

Shavua tov!
rosefox: A dismayed person looks at the calendar on their tablet, which is full of events and has flames coming out of it (busy-bad)
I have been stuck in this "If I just plan right, somehow I will be able to do all the things. But I keep planning and I keep not being able to do all the things" place for a while. I said this to my therapist, and my therapist said, "No, I don't think there is such a thing as the plan that lets you do all the things you want to do. I think it just is not possible."

Which... I think I really needed to hear.

So I am going to try to pick two or three extracurriculars that are the focus extracurriculars for the month, and then reevaluate the following month and change it up if I want to. For October, it's writing (at least 10 minutes a day spent on something related to fiction writing), studying the alef-bet (no vocabulary, just practicing reading and writing Hebrew letters—I put a flashcard app on my phone for this today, so it's easy to do instead of a phone game), and reading the week's Torah portion and writing a short interpretation/response every Friday night. If I keep thinking "I wish I had time for [some particular hobby]", or if something is clearly Too Much and getting in the way of important things like sleeping, then I can put it on the list of things to consider for November.

I hope that this will help me shift my perspective from yearning after things I can't have to accepting I can't have them, with the time-bounded part helping me remember that "not right now" doesn't mean "never".
rosefox: An anxious woman and the words, "She needed a plan. Preferably one that didn't suck." (planning)
lilian@pfio made a post asking people what they want and I started to reply but got so depressed by the exercise that I deleted my response before I'd even finished drafting it. All I was listing was things I want and can't have (anytime soon or ever), and that's not good for me.

So here is a slightly different question: What do you want that is within reach, if you reach for it? It could be anything from a candy bar to a career. What do you want that you can get right now, or make a plan to get? What do you want where the only thing stopping you from having it is you?

If you would like help making that plan or overcoming that inner hurdle to get what you want, ask for help in your comment. Offering help (along the lines of "if you would like help with this, I have relevant resources, feel free to PM me") is also fine. Otherwise, this post is an advice-free space.
30 September 2018 22:49 - "Where did the end of the rope go"
rosefox: A cartoon figure slipping toward a gaping hole in the paper. (slipping)
Said in chat after venting about how much there is to think about and keep track of in my life right now:

Rose: i guess i just feel like i'm failing at juggling all these flaming chainsaws
Rose: and that is a reasonable thing for a person to fail at, even one who is generally an ace chainsaw juggler
Rose: but what if i just... lie down here and let flaming chainsaws rain down on my head, would that really be so bad


Nothing is individually terrible. There's just so much.
rosefox: "I like difficult. I like impossible. I like New York." (New Yorker)
I was at work late, so I took a cab home. The cabbie was very friendly and we struck up a classic New York cab ride conversation: first talking about work, then international politics, then religion. Usually I would be wary of talking about such fraught topics with a total stranger, but it was such a wonderful relief to have a conversation that wasn't about Brett Kavanaugh that I dove right in.

He told me he was an Egyptian Muslim, and I mentioned that I'm Jewish. "Islam is Christianity and Judaism too," he said. "You read the Torah, you read the Bible, you read the Qu'ran, it's all the same thing plus a little more. Like the iPhone 4 and the iPhone 7, you know, it all comes from the same place, just with a little more added."

It felt good to laugh that hard. I think I haven't had a lot of belly laughs lately.

He said I should go to the Middle East and learn about my history and my roots. I surprised myself by saying that I would really like to do that someday. I guess I'll put it on the bucket list, right after visiting the Wieliczka salt mine.

What a lovely little interlude that was.
27 September 2018 19:42 - "And he called for his fiddlers three"
rosefox: A fox writing book reviews. (writing)
Via Laridian:
Comment on this post with one word, and I will respond to your comment with a sentence from one of my WIPs that contains that word, unless that word does not appear in anything I have written.
I reserve the right to quote from one of my posted or published works, as I don't have a lot of WIPs going at the moment.
24 September 2018 02:30 - "Cool as a cucumber"
rosefox: Batman is holding a baby while a woman says "Don't you have ANY idea how to hold a baby?" (baby-anxious)
I'm in Somerville with Miriam and Alex, taking overnight shifts with tiny baby A. The baby is eight weeks old and working hard on sleeping through the night, but not quite managing it yet, and Miriam and Alex really need some sleep. Since I don't sleep am comfortable staying up late enough to catch at least one and sometimes two of A's wakeups, I'm helping out. Miriam visited us when Kit was about the same age and was tremendously helpful; I'm glad to return the favor.

Parenting without anxiety )

Caring for an infant is still not my favorite thing in the world, but it's a lot more fun when I feel calm and capable while doing it. Miriam thanked me for bringing some much-needed chill into the household, and I'm very glad I can do that for them. A little emotional distance goes a long, long, long way.

The other hint that I'm less anxious in this specific circumstance, rather than in general, is that if I think about Kit I immediately start to fret that something bad will happen while I'm gone. I've been making video calls home every night, and I'm eavesdropping on the household Slack as X and J trade off childcare duties. It helps.

Kit doesn't seem too fussed about me not being there; they give me one big smile and then mostly want to see A on the video. Yesterday they pointed to A and said "Mine!". They will probably be disappointed that I'm not bringing a baby home with me. Personally, I will be very glad to get back to my mobile, chatty toddler—who is going to seem even more enormous than usual by comparison.
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