rmc28: Rachel smiling against background of trees, with newly-cut short hair (Default)
2017-10-08 11:39 pm
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Dear Yuletide Author

THANK YOU for signing up to Yuletide. I'm really excited to be involved again this year, and looking forward to reading whatever you write. If you already have a story idea in one of my fandoms, and it doesn't hit my listed dislikes, please go ahead and write it. If not, I've tried to put some ideas against each fandom and hopefully one of those will ping something for you.

Likes: teamwork, competence, friendship/affection, people valuing each other and working together, people communicating well, people being awkward and embracing it anyway, optimistic or hopeful endings.

  • endings without hope
  • humiliation/embarrassment (I avoid a lot of comedy due to this; otoh I am a sucker for really good farce)
  • harm to children
  • extensive graphic violence (some canon-typical violence is fine)
  • extensive focus on pregnancy or childbirth (brief mention of either is fine; care of babies and children is fine).

cut for length )
rmc28: (rmcf+fcdf)
2017-10-06 07:56 am
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Charles is 11

He very kindly waited until 7am to wake me up to open presents, which for reasons were stored in his brother's room. He is now assembling toys in the centre of a drift of packaging, while Nick builds an unbirthday Lego set on his bed and I catch up on email / dreamwidth on my phone. School has a teacher training day & I have the day off work and am taking both children to see my mother for the long weekend  (at Charles's request).
rmc28: Rachel smiling against background of trees, with newly-cut short hair (Default)
2017-10-04 10:21 pm

Morris dancing

Earlier this year, one of my colleagues was in a play at the ADC, An August Bank Holiday Lark, which is set in a Lancashire town before, during and after the First World War. Morris dancing features extensively, and the play's programme credited Manor Mill Morris for teaching the actors.

I was thinking vaguely about taking up a new exercise of some kind once my degree was over, and I love group dancing e.g. ceilidhs when I get the opportunity, and here there was a women's side, practicing very close to my home, late enough I can reasonably get there after collecting and feeding children, best joined in the autumn ... it felt like the universe shouting at me HERE TRY THIS.

I missed the first two possible weeks, due to boring family logistics, but I finally made it to practice this week, and I enjoyed it very much. It's hard in exactly the right way - I have so much fitness to gain and so much to learn, but I know it's the kind of thing I can learn - and it has all the extra joy of dancing in a group and getting that buzz when everyone ends up in the right place at the right time. The social aspect felt good too - I was the youngest by some way and it has been a very long time since I was either the youngest in a group or in an all-women group, let alone both - and one of my neighbours was there too.

I'm kind of really excited and in love with my Shiny New Activity, and a bit worried that something will go wrong and I'll end up dropping out and then feeling stupid for being so excited about it. But mostly the former.
rmc28: (boozing)
2017-10-01 10:37 pm

Oh hey, it's 1st October

I'm too tired right now to make a year review post, but that's TWO years of being alive thanks to The Wonders Of Modern Medicine etc.
rmc28: Rachel smiling against background of trees, with newly-cut short hair (Default)
2017-09-30 10:19 pm

I can see the books on my bookshelves!

... instead of the piles of clothes that have been obscuring them.  I think about 18-24 months' worth of outgrown children's clothes, plus a lurking stash of rags, and a surprise stash of clothes which I must have put aside for Nicholas to grow into - they happen to fit him perfectly now, hurrah!  He is very excited about them.  I filled 2.5 Really Useful Boxes with size 8-10 years clothing, have several packages to send to smaller relatives, another bag of recycling, and a half-full Bag For School which can go in on Friday week.

Sorting out the clothes was a blocker on the big job I really want to get done this weekend, which is moving Nicholas into what was our spare room.  Sharing a room is triggering a lot of arguments between the children, and we always intended to give them a room each eventually, we're just advancing the timetable. But so much stuff to move around to make it work, ugh.
rmc28: Rachel smiling against background of trees, with newly-cut short hair (Default)
2017-09-29 01:59 pm

I'm contagious!

Thanks to [personal profile] ceb I have joined a large pandemic research exercise in the UK (downloaded an app and am letting it know my rough location at intervals).  More details here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p059y0p1
rmc28: Rachel smiling against background of trees, with newly-cut short hair (Default)
2017-09-28 10:32 pm

2 milestones

I finally completed the Memrise Beginner's Finnish course, so now in theory I know 550 words in Finnish.  I promptly found and started 2 more: (Basic Finnish & Finnish Street Phrases).

I drove a car this evening for the first time since Before Cancer. There was a meeting about transition to secondary school on the other side of town, theoretically cyclable but not really on top of a work day. So I got the zipcar. Mostly it was fine, although it turned out halfway back I'd managed not to put my lights on :-(
rmc28: Rachel smiling against background of trees, with newly-cut short hair (Default)
2017-09-24 01:13 pm

Five things make a post

1. I was just saying to my boss this week that I was quite proud of keeping my migraines under control more lately; guess what I got yesterday? So annoying, especially as I'd been looking forward to a friend's party that I ended up missing.

2. I am very slowly beginning to tackle the backlog of Stuff I Kept Putting Off While Studying; this week has been all about the clothes / fabric. I have assorted piles of worn-out clothes and out-grown clothes accumulating around my room. I pulled out all the actually worn-out stuff, and bagged that up to go to recycling. I bagged up two sets of bedding we never use for the charity shop. I bought myself some underwear that doesn't have holes in, and added all the ones that did to the recycling bags, along with my oldest & least useful bras. I sorted through my socks, and chucked a good few pairs in the recycling bags, and a few others into the charity bag. Finally I ended up sorting through my stash of pretty scarves and wraps and kept only the ones that I really love and may actually wear more than once a year. (I sort of aspire to be someone who routinely wears pretty scarves etc but in practice I am never that put-together very often.)

3. I took the charity bag to the EACH shop, and came back with a very shiny pair of not!DMs and a metallic blue stripey hat. (Amusingly, I had been whinging this week about needing new shoes for winter, and hating shoe shopping, so that was very well timed.)

4. Last Saturday I watched Robocop with [personal profile] fanf . He was inspired by this post (linked by [personal profile] andrewducker ), and I'd never previously watched it - not on purpose, just never got round to it. It's very very Paul Verhoeven isn't it? Gratuitious mixed-sex shower scene, gory violence, horrible-future-media & horrible-future-adverts. Although my reaction to the project manager with the huge glasses was a. love those glasses b. you are really enjoying imagining watsisface having his hand broken c. please tell me watsisface dies horribly after forcing a kiss on you and taking credit for your work (spoiler - he does). Watsisface really is a walking example of the unwarranted confidence of the mediocre white man.

5. Nicholas saw Trolls at holiday/after school clubs and asked for his own copy. It's not awful, and I like the music, but after sitting through it with him three times in less than a week, I think I have had enough of it for now. The trailers on it include Home (based on The True Meaning of Smekday) which I've been meaning to watch, and Nicholas is keen to do so too, so hopefully I'll enjoy that more.
rmc28: Rachel smiling against background of trees, with newly-cut short hair (Default)
2017-09-20 10:35 pm

Reading Wednesday

What I've read: short fiction
Actually read this week:Some of the backlog (all DSF):

What I've read: long fiction

Banishment by M.C. Beaton, which is the first of six apparently-fluffy Regency romances about six beautiful sisters and a malevolent stately home, recommended as a Yuletide fandom (thanks [personal profile] ceb for the pointer!)  This one was indeed the promised fast, lighthearted read, in which the family lose their beautiful stately home and much of their wealth, and (some of them) begin to learn Important Lessons About Not Being Awful To Other People.  And the first of the beautiful daughters finds true love, etc.  The remaining five in the series are now on their way so I can find out just how malevolent the house gets ...

rmc28: Rachel smiling against background of trees, with newly-cut short hair (Default)
2017-09-13 09:21 pm

Reading Wednesday

So, it has been nearly 5 months since I last did one of these.  This is necessarily incomplete because I didn't keep notes, and also because where I did keep notes (e.g. Daily Science Fiction stories), I have way too many to post all at once, so I'll dribble them out over the next weeks.

What I've read: poetry
I Speed Toward The Moon by Constance Hanstedt
At The Forestry Institute, Hanoi by Pepper Trail
Father Son Haiku by Kelvin River
Fallers by Alex Harper

What I've read: short stories
The Family Ghost by Jamie Lackey
Vervain, Grasshopper, Sun by Marissa Lingen
The Thing About Heisenball by Stewart C. Baker
Last Long Night by Lina Rather

While we were in Helsinki I noticed that Lois McMaster Bujold had another Penric novella out - and that it was in the middle of the existing novellas so she'd renumbered the series.  I enjoyed it very much, both for the plot in itself and for the additional worldbuilding about the shamanic and sorcerous magic systems. Then I reread my way through the entire series:
Penric's Demon
Penric and the Shaman
Penric's Fox
Penric's Mission
Mira's Last Dance

What I've read: long fiction
Bookburners: Season 1 by Max Gladstone, Margaret Dunlap, Mur Lafferty and Brian Francis Slattery.  If I'd read this as it was published weekly at Serial Box, I'd probably have listed each episode up in the short-fiction section.  Instead I read one collected ebook with all 16 episodes. A New York police officer ends up getting drawn into a secret society of magical book collectors operating out of the Vatican, and joins the team in hopes of helping her brother.  The overall arc plot gets resolved satisfyingly while leaving an opening for more, and I note that Series 3 is currently unfolding on Serial Box.

I finally read A Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers and found it pleasant enough but less amazing than some of the hype had led me to believe. It's a good found-family series of minor adventures (in fact, in that sense it reminds me quite a bit of Bookburners) and I'm glad I've read it and will happily read more by Becky Chambers.  But it didn't grab me in the way that e.g. Ancillary Justice or All Systems Red did.

Bewitching Benedict by C.E. Murphy came out last week. It's a historical-romance comedy of manners, which I really enjoyed, especially the grand farcical climax. I am hoping it does well so that the author feels like writing the books to pair off the rest of the eligible bachelors she's introduced here.

Listen to the Moon by Rose Lerner is another in her Lively St Lemeston series, this time focusing on a valet and a housemaid who have lost their jobs due to events in the previous books.  There's a good job for both of them in the local rectory, but the vicar insists he only wants a married couple in post. Luckily they fancy each other like mad; it takes them a bit longer to figure out how to solve some trickier conflicts.

What I'm reading next
Well, now my degree is done, anything I like!  Ahahaha. 

A Taste of Honey by Rose Lerner just came out and is waiting on my kindle, which is what prompted me to read Listen to the Moon first. From my long-neglected physical to-read pile, I've pulled out The Scientist in the Crib by Alison Gopnik and The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande. 
rmc28: Rachel smiling against background of trees, with newly-cut short hair (Default)
2017-09-11 07:22 pm
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I took my exam this afternoon, and unless I completely failed to understand the requirements, I should have passed comfortably.  So now it's all over bar the marking and formal graduation. 

Apart from the specific course content, I have learned:
  • I love to learn new things when I actually sit down and do so
  • I default to deadline-driven when it comes to other people's deadlines
  • but I can manage to do 'a little bit most days' and I'm happier when I manage that
  • blocking out specific times to get a little bit done most days works a bit more than 50% of the time
  • given the choice between producing 'good-enough' and 'truly excellent' work with 25% more effort ... I will do good-enough work and spend the 25% extra on something else
I have ceremonially deleted my recurring daily 'study' reminder.

Now for all the things I have been neglecting for the last few years, especially this last year ...
rmc28: Rachel smiling against background of trees, with newly-cut short hair (Default)
2017-08-28 08:00 pm

Home again

We were away just under 22 days and we've been home a bit over 48 hours, and work / holiday club start up again tomorrow, plus I have to go get a bone marrow sample (bleh). We got the unpacking and post-opening done Saturday evening.  Yesterday and today we have been mostly going splat and chilling, with a shopping trip for me and the children this afternoon. (Build-A-Bear, new school shoes for Nicholas, and then a bunch of new sleepwear for both of them because they were smitten as we walked past on the way to the shoes.)

The holiday was much harder on the children than I'd expected, to keep changing location so much.  The journey legs themselves mostly went well, all with their share of Children Are Bored, but also all with a fair share of Children Finding It Exciting.  The bigger problem was that settling into a new place to sleep every few nights was Too Much for them, and Worldcon was too big and intimidating. They were stressed, which stressed the adults too. So we did a lot less tourism and a lot more chilling-out and going-swimming than I'd envisaged, and I did a whole lot more emotional labour than usual (from each according to their abilities, to each according to their needs, etc) and everyone got home a bit tired and fed up with each other and very, very glad to be back in our own territory.

In terms of lessons identified:
  • Charles doesn't want to go to another convention again unless he's sure it's on topics that interest him. Unfortunately most of the children's track at Worldcon didn't work for him, and by the time we realised that, he was in a place where he didn't want to engage with me trying to find things of interest to him, he just wanted to stay away from the con.
  • While the rail-trip approach works for me and Tony, the children really just want to go to a place, stay there, do a gentle mix of touristing and chilling out, and go straight home afterward.
  • Three weeks was probably too long for everyone, though it's hard to separate that from the problems of moving too frequently. Two weeks is probably a good maximum for future family holidays.
  • Multi-room apartments with self-catering capability is definitely preferable to hotel rooms, and Airbnb worked well for us. (There was some difficulty getting into our flat in Stockholm, which is its own story, but the Airbnb customer service were helpful and supportive and once we were in, everything ran smoothly.)
  • When I'm not working, and not studying (much), even with the extra load of looking after my over-stressed little family, I have SO much energy. I only had 2 migraines the whole time away (one during Worldcon, one on our last day) and both were controlled by sumatriptan. In another two weeks I'll have finished studying entirely (for now).
I'm glad we went.  If I were to plan it all over again I'd do it differently, but I didn't know then what I know now.  I particularly want to go back to Copenhagen for longer, and to see more of Stockholm than we managed.