cafenowhere: frog, arms crossed, sitting on a rock (chillin)
May is always a hectic, though usually pleasant time for our family. Last week, we attended the Rainbow Graduation ceremony at the university where JJ works. We didn't know anyone graduating, but we went to be supportive and to show our kid some positive role models. Ash was suitably impressed and is now working with eir school's gay-straight student alliance to organize some special recognition for the queer 8th graders "graduating" this year. Ash also turned 13 last week, so we took em to dinner and gave gifts. Eir school had its last dance-party of the year on Friday, so e went to that. Then over the weekend, we had a party in the park so Ash could celebrate eir birthday with friends. Then there was niceness on Mother's Day, including Ash's gift to me: a white elephant sculpture about 7 inches high.

This gift was especially meaningful because, on Friday, I finally got back to work on the historical elephant prose-poem-whatever I've been blocked on for months. As of this morning, I've drafted two of four (possibly 5) sections. It feels more "itself" than any previous version, so I'm hopeful that this time I've got it right. I may be able to get a complete draft by end of week, barring any more allergy-induced headaches.

This afternoon I have a dermatology appointment. Because at some point previously I decided I would FIX ALL
 THE THINGS WRONG WITH ME.  I am no longer so enthusiastic, but I suppose it's for my own good.  

cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (Default)
I've been scarce this week because my home internet access has been squirrelly AF. Also, I've been dealing with a mild cold and major headaches that are probably hormone related. But today I managed to sign a contract (sorry, can't share details yet), send some emails, and revise a poem. Also, when I can focus on the page, I've been reading Carlos Hernandez's short story collection, The Assimilated Cuban's Guide to Quantum Santeria. It's delightful.
cafenowhere: frog, arms crossed, sitting on a rock (chillin)
The light today is dim, but more colors are emerging as spring trundles on. The raspberry pink blossoms on the neighbor's butterfly bush, his newly planted orange marigolds; in my yard, the twin purples of creeping charlie and bluebells, crayola-yellow dandelions. Yesterday I had JJ fill our various critter feeders, but so far we have no visitors. The world looks strangely still and I wonder if I missed the memo re: impending doom.

Actually, no, I got the memos from both state and federal government. Iowa is hellbent on outdoing the evil of Trump. I'm astonished and super-super grateful we've not lost the marriage equality that stunned so many outside the Midwest when it first passed.

I have some good news that I can't talk about yet. What I *can* talk about feels pointless.

cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (Default)
It's a gray day here in southeast Iowa.

Last night, perhaps too amped up by the excitement of returning to my daily routine, my body decided sleep was "so passé." But I think I came up with a title for my second poetry collection: Now Departing.

From my office window, I can see the boldly rising leaves of lilies, a lot like the bushy potential of daffodils in the front yard. They are persevering despite the lack of sunlight. So shall I! And we all will hope not to have our buds bitten off by rodents.

How's everyone today?


Feb. 27th, 2015 11:28 am
cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (whiny Cas)
Something really weird happened last night.

I ate chicken. On purpose.

I've been a vegetarian for over 10 years. I backslid a bit when I was pregnant, because it made me feel more secure about getting all the nutrients I needed. I've also made nice and eaten tiny amounts of meat when I ordered badly in restaurants.

I've been vegetarian because of my concern for animals. That hasn't changed. What has changed is my health. For almost a year, I've been suffering stomach problems of one kind or another. I can't count how many hours of sleep, work, and family time I've lost due to stomach woes. I've tried a lot of things to be healthier. When I was on prescription-strength acid reducer, I felt pretty good--which meant I only felt wretched for a few days once a month, rather than a few days every week. I'm on non-prescription meds now, and I'm maxing out the daily dose and still having symptoms. So I'll have to go back on prescription.

When some people first consider going vegetarian, they worry a lot about nutrients and protein and minerals. Usually much more than they ever did when they ate meat by default. I find myself on the opposite side now: I could stay veggie, but I don't have the spoons to do the differential equations necessary to achieve the balance I need if I don't want to be in constant pain.

I don't know that incorporating small amounts of meat into my diet will solve my stomach problems, either, but it could solve some, and frankly I'm nearing the end of my rope. If I could just not eat anymore, period, I might do that. It's that bad.

So, I ate chicken last night. And it was nasty. But I'm only in slight discomfort this morning, not pain, and I'll take it.
cafenowhere: teacup brimming with mysterious violet liquid (psychedelic tea)
The galaxy-print, glow-in-the-dark dress I bought to wear to my sister's wedding celebration arrived this afternoon. It is swoonworthy blue, with a good lining and a suprisingly nice belt. (I say surprisingly because a lot of these super-skinny belts are flimsy. This one is well constructed and covered in the same fabric as the dress.)

It is too big, but I suspected it would be. I got the only size that was left and figured I'd make it work. I'll take it in about an inch and a half on either side of the bust, and JJ has offered to hem it using the sewing machine. I'll also have to add a hole to the belt, so I can cinch it to fit, which might involve a tad of velcro to keep the belt "tongue" from wagging.

Normally I'd not be up for all the extra work, but it's a really nice dress. I wish I'd thought to buy a crinoline to go under it.


Jul. 15th, 2014 05:24 pm
cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (scheming)
Revisions done for the day, I can now blog about my Minnesota vacation. I planned our trip around a trip to the International Wolf Center, for Tweetie, who loves all animals, but notably wolves.

Click Here for Highlights and Pics )
cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (coffee wtf)
...I met on vacation.

Probably the highlight of our family vacation to the boundary waters of Minnesota was visiting a bear sanctuary, where we got to see more than 20 black bears. More details later.
cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (chevy)
I'm so gratified to see how much traffic my post about WisCon is getting. This means people are reading talking thinking strategizing & hopefully mobilizing to get WisCon to adapt & live up to its reputation. I am currently on my summer women's retreat in Colorado, so I have been slow to respond to comments. This is no reflection on the conversations themselves. If you're a new friend, please check out my user profile to learn more about me. At some point, probably when I've returned home & recovered, I'll add a sticky note that provides a fresher introduction to me and how I use this journal. :)


Feb. 5th, 2014 11:15 am
cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (lennon cat)
Tweetie's school had a two-hour delay this morning, on account of snow. I got up at the usual time anyway, because I was so stuffed up and thought it'd be nice if I could breathe. What coffee, meds, and a shower couldn't quite accomplish, the walk to-and-from school--twice, once with Tweetie, once with her violin and music stand--has. I can breathe now and, yes, it IS nice.

I'm wearing my wrist braces most nights, and often during the day, too. Because of wrists and depression and a trial membership of Amazon Prime, I've been watching way too much tv. I finally got to see the first season of Vikings. I'm most of the way through season 1 of Copper. I'm zooming through Parks and Recreation. I watched season 4 of Justified and season 5 of Sons of Anarchy. I tried Lost Girl. I've been rewatching season 2 Buffy. ALL THE TV GIVE IT TO MEEEEE!

I've roused myself from my self-pity enough to pick up another book to read, Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie.

Writing time is devoted mostly to the next novel, with occasional breaks to work on a short story for a Secret Thing or to provide extras for recent or upcoming poetry publications. I hope to get back on track soon with the Writing Latin@ Characters Well series, but we shall see.

How's everybody else doing? It'd do me good to focus on somebody else for a change.
cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (coffee wtf)
Hello, friends. Thank you for your well wishes. I apologize that I can't reply to them individually.

I've had some improvement in my hands and arms. I'm tweeting a little more, but I'm trying to save my spoons for writing work. So no Facebook, no Tumblr, and reading-not-posting/commenting on LJ. Responses to emails and DMs will probably be slow. But I continue to cheer you all on from afar!

Have an excellent weekend!
cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (coffee addicted)
I had a good weekend, despite the headache that finally caught up with me on Sunday afternoon/evening. On Friday night, J and I made up a recipe for baked acorn squash with chorizo and apple stuffing. The stuffing was good enough that I enjoyed it again last night for dinner.

On Saturday, we ran errands, which made me feel accomplished. Unfortunately, while we were in Target, our car got hit in the parking lot, marking the third time this vehicle has gotten rear-ended. I tell you, her butt is just too bodacious. Later that afternoon, one of my poems was accepted for publication. And that evening, JJ and Tweetie attended a wedding reception with an elaborate Indian dinner and Bollywood-style dancing. I opted out, not feeling up to socializing. When they got back and Tweetie was in bed, J and I watched Cloud Atlas, which was okay in the moment but has been pissing me off ever since.

Sunday we visited friends for lunch, and I finally got to see their beautiful new home. But like I said, the headache that had been threatening since Thursday(?) caught up with me after that. Luckily it wasn't a migraine, but it still knocked me out for most of the evening. I did rouse myself enough to watch episode 2 of Sleepy Hollow. Ridiculously good fun.

Today I would like to:

--send out a poetry sub
--ready some outgoing mail
--make applesauce
--read more of the Deleuze/Guatarri essay [ profile] asakiyume turned me on to
--get flu shots for me and Tweetie
--continue research for the Mexican Lovecraftian novel

And you? How was your weekend? What do you want to accomplish today?
cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (domestic)
Friday night, JJ took Tweetie to the school carnival. This is a tradition of theirs, since I don't enjoy being around all those people and being "on." Later that night, J and I watched Life of Pi. It was okay. A bit too much spoonfeeding for this viewer.

On Saturday, I did some housecleaning and we took a bunch of stuff to the consignment shop and a charity shop. I am loving the less clutter-more space look of the house. Tweetie had a friend visit, and JJ was "on call" for them while I read in my room and then took a nap.

Later that night, we made a delicious white stew. It had baby potatoes, cauliflower, parsnips, leeks, carrots, and Quorn. I worked on my puzzle of Munch's The Scream while it simmered. Tweetie rediscovered the raccoon tale JJ made for one Halloween, and then she remembered her gray cat tail and put that on to sing and dance around the house. She ended up wearing the cat tail for the rest of the weekend.

Saturday night, I dreamt that [ profile] asakiyume was telling me about job opportunities. JJ woke me up when he entered the bedroom and closed the door behind him. I looked at the clock and tried to understand what time it was, and who this person coming into my bedroom was. I realized it was JJ but I thought I'd only been napping and he'd come home unexpectedly during a workday. I asked him, "What are you doing here?" And he, to his credit, did not say, "I live here" or "This is my bed." He came to bed and re-oriented me, and then I laughed at myself for my earlier question, which still makes me laugh when I remember it now.

Sunday morning we took care of our recycling, and in the afternoon, we visited SarahP and picked two sacks of apples from her overflowing tree whose branches are breaking from their bounty. We also met her goats and admired Sarah's garden and the pond. Tweetie loved playing with the dogs, and Fin bolstered her arguments for why we should have a dog by sitting at her feet and being the sweetest boy despite the fact that he's big enough to eat her.

Sunday evening I worked in the yard, trimming back the rose bushes, cutting down the maples that are trying to grow in our front lawn and collecting sticks. Later, J and I made stuffed roasted eggplant and it was divine, especially with the garlic yogurt on the side. Sooo tender, and very filling. We'd make it again, though we'd probably continue to substitute a quinoa-rice medley as we did this time.

Tonight, we'll bake some of the Prineii apples.
cafenowhere: frog, arms crossed, sitting on a rock (chillin)
The skies were good for stargazing on two of the four nights of our retreat. We could see the Milky Way, and the first night, I spotted four or five shooting stars, plus what I suspect was the ISS, because as it trucked along its path, it flared really brightly for maybe 15 seconds. I thought it was getting ready to crash to earth. While I was trying to decide whether to run for my life, it dulled down and continued on its way. I'd never seen a satellite do that before, except for artists' renderings in science vids.

A distant owl hooted its way into our raucous, often-raunchy conversations. Busy bats swooped past us on the deck. I appreciate bats, but their sudden, erratic movements startled me every time. The crickets were loud and multitudinous.

midnight crickets
a chirp for each star


I decided to make it a detox weekend for myself, which mostly meant I didn't drink any alcohol. I also ate better than usual, but it was the liquor I was really avoiding, since I wanted my mind clear for writing and revising. My decision was initially met with surprise and disappointment by the other ladies, but they accepted it. (One of these buddies doesn't drink at all, ever, but she knows most-all my vices, so she raised an eyebrow, too.)

My room was on the lower level, which also had the entertainment center, hot tub, and a small bar. I noticed that the bar's open shelf was stocked with pint glasses and other tumblers/cups, so I investigated its other cubbies--just out of appreciation for its fine craftsmanship!--and discovered a quarter-full bottle of Jägermeister. Stop fucking with me, universe. I showed the other ladies, and one of them exclaimed, "How do you just find bottles of liquor?!" like I have 70-proof radar or it falls out of the sky for me.

56 forbidden fruits
herbs and spices


The Midwest is being scorched by a heat wave that has the public schools dismissing two hours early every school day. This is why it is ridiculous to begin the school year in August.

Because I am not entirely human until I've been awake for a couple of hours, and because the retreat is my chance to sleep in late without judgment, I twice ended up taking my walk down the gravel roads at blazing midday. Hence the sunburn and blistered toes (my sneakers are cheap and ill-chosen). But it was fun to watch the roads come alive with grasshoppers at my approach, and to see butterflies tiptoeing on thistles and bees working the giant clover. During one trek, I encountered a city limits sign for the next town. Wikipedia lists the town's population as a whopping 253 souls, but from my visit, I'd guess those 253 are swallows and barns. On one walk back to the house, I found a pretty feather on the side of the road.

turkey feather
tucked into her hair
rare bird
cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (chevy)
Home, safe and sound, if sunburned. Feet blistered. Tired. Satisfied.

I won't be trying to catch up on social media, so feel free to tell me what I missed. :)
cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (chevy)
Tomorrow I head out for my annual women's retreat. We're returning to a place high atop the Mississippi River bluffs on the Wisconsin side. It's a great location for stargazing and has enough bedrooms that we can all spread out and enjoy some space.

Supposedly there's internet access, but I don't remember that from last time. I'm not counting on it. I know cell phone reception is iffy up there, too. So I'll probably be out of reach until Tuesday.

Which is probably a good thing, because, in addition to reconnecting with my friends, I intend to get some writing done. My first priority is to tackle novel revisions. I'd also like to write (or finish writing) things for a couple of anthology invites. And, I have some poetry that people would chide me for not having submitted anywhere yet, so I will look at my files and try to put together some submissions for when I return.

I am almost done overpacking. (I am only taking one book! And it is novel relevant!) I just need to pack my cooler and my computer bag.

Don't be good while I'm gone. ¡Hagan desmadre!
cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (I need coffee)
When we moved into Limoncello, one of the first neighbors we met was Nan, a woman in her seventies who still lived on her own, mowed her own lawn, and played golf. She was kind to me and Tweetie, always stopping her yardwork to chat when we strolled by. Once we were making our way to the bus stop in the snow, and she gave us a ride downtown. Another time, she gently noted how many steps Tweetie had to take to keep up with my longer stride, and rather than piss me off, it reminded me to slow down, take a breath.

Nan put her house up for sale earlier this summer, and we were sad. We'd been seeing her less and less. But it wasn't until Monday night, when we returned from the school's ice cream social, that I realized she was gone. Her house must've sold while we were in Niagara, because the sign was gone from her yard and a different car sat in the garage, new people tended the bushes. I was aghast to have missed Nan's departure, to not have gotten a chance to say goodbye.

When we moved into this neighborhood, it was an "older" neighborhood. Adults with no children or grown children; only a few had grandchildren, and they rarely visited. Now the population is getting younger. We inherited a plastic slide from our next-door neighbors soon after we'd moved in. Their grandkids were too big for it and were getting up to hijinks using it and the pool, so they passed it on to Tweetie. A few weeks ago I decided Tweetie was too big for it now, so we washed it and put it on the curb. A couple of days later, we spotted it in a yard down the street. Hopefully it's making the toddler at that house very happy.

It's bittersweet, watching these changes unfold. Especially since, given the recent birth of my second niece, I've realized Tweetie will remain a singleton and this house is much too big to keep for long after she leaves.

Dreams changing, realities shifting.


Today is Tweetie's first day back at school. She's more than halfway through elementary now. O_O She still spends an impressive amount of time pretending to be a dog, cat, or wolf every day. Today I will spend time pretending to be an adult with a writing career.
cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (sugar in my coffee)
Yesterday I was pleasantly surprised to receive a formal acceptance of my poem "Riveted" from the editors of the forthcoming Flying Higher anthology, [ profile] michaeldthomas and [ profile] shadesong. I knew they would be including my poem about Rosie the Riveter, but the anthology is a non-paying, for-the-fun-of-it collection of mostly silly superhero poems. So I did not expect to receive such a professional response from the editors, which included an explanation as to why there would be no contracts issued and a copy of the anthology to proofread before it goes online. Color me impressed! When Tweetie and I return from an event at the public library this afternoon, I will review my poem and endeavor to be as cool to Shira and Michael as they have been to their contributors.

And that's pretty much how I expect the next month to go for me: squeezing writing and revising into the few chunks of time remaining between family obligations. Tweetie has an afternoon camp that runs all next week, so I might have a couple of hours when she's there. The week after that, we are meeting up with my sister-in-law's family at Niagara Falls. Then we have a week before Tweetie returns to school in which to run ALL the errands. Then she starts school the same day JJ goes out of town for business, then it's his birthday, then I have my women's retreat in Wisconsin. And thus I will tumble into September.

Did I mention my carpal tunnel/RSI is acting up? Yeah, so that's a thing, too.

cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (chevy)
The view as we walked toward Yavapai Point on the east end of the South Rim, where we'd watch the sunset.

grand canyon butte

A view from somewhere between the midpoint and west end of the South Rim.
grand canyon view from bright angel

Lookout Studio, near Bright Angel lodge. That's Tweetie looking down at Papa through her sunglasses.

bright angel bright sky

A contemplative squirrel near Hopi Point. He'd periodically look over his shoulder at us tourists in annoyance, then return to the view and heave a sigh of appreciation. The squirrels in the park are completely inured to tourists, so much so that there are signs everywhere warning us not to feed the squirrels, no matter how cute or begging, because they have fleas and will bite--and might have plague.

zen squirrel

Also at Hopi Point, my little critter looking terrified, though it's a stunt shot. She's not actually on the edge of the Rim, but on a tier above and closer in. It's no wonder though that the pose made her dizzy. I got vertigo at times, too. Just before we took this photo, Tweetie was talking to two scientists who were observing the condors. They let us look at a nesting spot through their snazzy telescopes. Later, on the shuttle ride back to the Village, we spotted a condor just sitting on a stump in a wooded area beside the road.
grand canyon pics

I think these are elk. They're browsing in front of one of the lodges. Later, as we ate dinner in the nearby Arizona Room, a much bigger elk ate on the restaurant's lawn. When tourists got too close, hoping to have their picture taken with him, he tossed his head--and his impressive antlers--at them to warn them off. According to our waitress, last month he knocked a tourist's camera out of hand and over the side of the canyon.

mule deer or elk
cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (coffee wtf)
The full con schedule is now available at the WisCon site.

Stop Killing All the Minority Characters!  Fri, 4:00–5:15 pm
Panelists: Na'amen Gobert Tilahun, Lisa Bradley, Lauren K. Moody, Nisi Shawl

Why are so many women, people of color, and queer, trans*, and disabled folk killed off in our fiction? Is it because there are so few of these characters represented in the first place, or that they are less likely to be main characters and thus more likely to be red shirts? Are the writers all bigots who enjoy killing off minorities—or is something else going on here? What books or TV shows do a better job at keeping their minorities alive, and how do they do so? Are some stories that are blamed for this also killing off just as many straight cis able-bodied white men, and, if so, does that even make a difference? How do these killings reflect real life and in what ways do they reinforce that reality?

Open Secrets, A Speculative Poetry Reading  Sat, 2:30–3:45 pm
Members of the Secret Poetry Cabal (a speculative poetry group) will read their work. Readers include Amal El-Mohtar, Gwynne Garfinkle, Nancy Hightower, Kathrin Koehler, Shira Lipkin, Alex Dally MacFarlane, Elizabeth R. McClellan, Julia Rios, S. Brackett Robertson, Sofia Samatar.

Spindles and Spitfire  Sat, 4:00–5:15 pm
Join us for a reading packed full of sinister whimsy, hidden hearts, folkloric sensibilities and SNACKS! Lisa Bradley dances with the skeletons in her closet. Shira Lipkin will apparently write anything if you dare her to on Twitter. Alex Dally MacFarlane works at a spindle of bones and gold. Patty Templeton writes hellpunk in a handbasket, full of ghosts, freaks and fools.

Passing: Self-Care and Embracing Who You Are  Mon, 10:00–11:15 am
Participants: Mary Anne Mohanraj, Lisa Bradley, Courtney, Shayla Dunn, Kathrin Koehler

In some situations a person can choose to pass (hide their oppressed status); in others a person passes unless they choose to purposely identify their status. And sometimes a person has no ability to pass. When we have a choice, it's often a difficult one. We're often encouraged to embrace and disclose who we know ourselves to be, and trying to pass as something we're not (white, cisgender, etc.) can be a source of great pain. But passing as something we know we're not is sometimes the only safe way to live. Passing can be a matter of self-preservation. How can we decide whether we're being self-indulgent or taking good care of ourselves? How can we make these choices with more social consciousness and self-acceptance?


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