not a real dog question

Picture of a dog on lined paper background; thought balloon says, “Do ALL flavors go together?”

January bike commute achieved!

Traveling, then coughing for a few weeks…even though the weather has been mild, I barely got one January bike commute in. And at that, my bike spent the weekend at the office. But today I pedaled home and preserved my bike commuter identity.

Not Commute Graffiti #1: (photo by Madi Carlson)

Sharrow with painted snake

Not Commute Graffiti #2:
hand-painted wooden sign: “Be where your hands are.”

When I pulled up at home, I thought for a sec my brakes were squealing, but the sound continued. Raccoons were having a screaming match in the holly tree two doors down. We just heard them again; kitty’s staying indoors this evening.

Donkeys; plus Monday Magpie, disability & neurodiversity representation edition

Yesterday I happened to see an announcement for a Paideia class to be held on the front lawn of the college, about packing with donkeys! I had been planning to take a walk down there anyway, so Sang and I went to see some donkeys. They were wonderful! Vera and Hattie, mother and daughter, did not want to be more than a few yards away from each other. They accepted as much petting and brushing as they could get and let people lead them around. Donkeys, their human Jessica said, are a good “starter equine” because in place of a horse’s instinct to spook and run, their instinct in the face of fear or uncertainty is to brace their legs and stand still until it’s sorted. They’re unlikely to buck or kick or rear, and can carry 80 pounds each pretty easily.

Vera is named after Vera Katz, the Portland mayor who signed the ordinance allowing livestock in city limits. Two donkeys per household is the limit in Portland, and really the minimum non-zero number as well, since a solitary donkey would be sad and lonely. Unfortunately, this climate is a bit wet for them– the lush green grass will give them something like diabetes, and standing on wet ground all the time is hard on their feet. They need dry quarters and hay to eat, here.

I was so glad I went! The rest of the weekend was good too– Bookherd hung around the house with us, and we watched all of season 3 of The Good Place in two days, and ate winter foods like tuna mac and scalloped potatoes.

This morning the ALA Youth Media Awards and American Indian Youth Literature Awards were announced. So many books I haven’t read! But I did know a few:

  • Dreamers, by Yuyi Morales, won the Pura Belpré Illustrator Award. Her amazing photo essay about how she made the book
  • Hey, Kiddo, by Jarrett J. Krosoczka, won the YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults. He did the ink washes and digital spot color in burnt orange himself because the book was so personal and he wanted it to be all by his own hands.
  • Front Desk, by Kelly Yang, won an Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature. I have a soft spot for books about kids living in a hotel/motel. And the way this kid gets things done is cheering despite the slightly unrealistic ending.
  • I didn’t realize the AIYLAs were every two years. Marrow Thieves, by Cherie Dimaline (Metis), was published in 2017 and won the Young Adult category.
  • Darius the Great Is Not Okay, by Adib Khorram, which I think I’ve already talked about here a couple of times, won the William C. Morris award (debut book for teens) and an Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature!

My Monday Magpie selections, geared toward writing and representation:

  • The Fries Test: Does a work have more than one disabled character? Do the disabled characters have their own narrative purpose other than the education and profit of a nondisabled character? Is the character’s disability not eradicated either by curing or killing?
  • Autism From the Inside. Katherine May nails down why first-person narratives of autistic characters written by non-autistic people have come out so untrue. Short list of books by autistic authors at the end.

Snowflake Challenge: Three Fic Recs

Day Two: Rec at least three fanworks that you didn’t create. Leave a comment in this post saying you did it. Include a link to your post if you feel comfortable doing so.

I went through my Ao3 bookmarks looking for a matched set, but I think these three unmatched ones appeal to me more today. They’re all long, and in fact I need to reread them– but I trust Past Grrlpup’s bookmarking enough to list them now.

  1. Perfect voices! One of the few fics I subscribed to as it was published, and I always made time for it immediately when a new chapter appeared.
    The Best Of It (73580 words) by dollsome
    Chapters: 20/20
    Fandom: Gilmore Girls
    Rating: Teen And Up Audiences
    Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
    Relationships: Paris Geller/Rory Gilmore
    Characters: Rory Gilmore, Paris Geller, Lorelai Gilmore, Luke Danes, Emily Gilmore, Richard Gilmore, Madeline Lynn, Louise Grant, Jess Mariano, Kirk Gleason
    Additional Tags: Fake/Pretend Relationship
    Summary:Paris outs herself and Rory during a televised argument with Michele Bachmann. Peskiest of all is the fact that Paris and Rory aren’t actually dating. A documentary crew wants to make Paris And Rory’s Modern Stars Hollow Family anyway. Meanwhile, Rory goes slowly and quietly nuts. (And doesn’t like Paris like that — why would you even suggest such a thing?? Not that … anyone did.)
  2. I love The Woman in the Wall so much, its deadpan surrealism and domesticity. How fortunate that there is this excellent sequel fic.
    A House For Me (12120 words) by psocoptera
    Chapters: 1/1
    Fandom: The Woman in the Wall – Patrice Kindl
    Rating: General Audiences
    Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
    Relationships: Anna Newland/F | Francis Albright
    Additional Tags: Post-Canon, Growing Up, Chicago (City), romance between stepsiblings
    Summary:How Anna Newland made herself at home in Chicago.
  3. This is the one I most need to reread. But I’m a sucker for most things Susan Pevensie, and love her appearance here with Mary Malone’s academia.
    The Ivory Horn (12811 words) by kaydeefalls
    Chapters: 1/1
    Fandom: His Dark Materials – Pullman, Chronicles of Narnia – C. S. Lewis
    Rating: Teen And Up Audiences
    Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
    Characters: Will Parry, Mary Malone, Kirjava, Susan Pevensie
    Additional Tags: Yuletide, recipient:Tris B., challenge:Yuletide 2007, Crossover, Coming of Age, Action/Adventure, Plotty
    Summary:If there’s a way back out of this world, Will is determined to find it. At any cost.


My towel!

two women, one holding a towel with a picture of an elephant and the other holding a towel with a picture of a tiger

Sanguinity and I flew to Colorado for my mom’s 80th birthday. Mom was unwrapping some stored picture frames and found my tiger towel, and my sister’s elephant towel! They were gifts from my aunt, but I don’t remember that– in my memory I always had this towel, or at least since I was an infant with the towel that had a pocket in the corner to make a hood. Tiger and elephant hung in the bathroom.

That’s all there is to this story. I’m excited. My towel and I, reunited!

and now to speak ill of the dead

(Note: the following is 100% negativity! If you skip it you will not miss out on news of my life. I may not respond to comments. I am grateful for the Americans with Disabilities act, and Bush41’s support and signature of the ADA is the one thing that mitigates these sentiments.)

I hate Presidential funerals. When I attend services for friends, family or community members, I feel like afterwards I know the deceased better, know more stories about them, better know the hearts of their other people. But so far, the funerals of Nixon, Reagan, and Bush41 mostly leave me with cognitive dissonance and disbelief, like the memory of what the years of their administration felt like is being denied and overwritten. (With the exception of Nixon, whom I don’t remember firsthand. But whew, whiplash between what I heard about him before his death versus immediately after.)

Here is what the Bush41 administration felt like to me: a continuation of Reagan, which is to say a continuation of warmongering, contempt for the non-rich, destruction of the environment for oil profits, and indifference to suffering. Bush may have been a less intense version, but in my perception they had the same masklike face and blaring voice. When Reagan was elected to a second term, I was in ninth grade and felt fear and despair at the prospects of nuclear war. (I mean, The Day After had aired in 1983.) When Bush was elected, I was in college (a very liberal college), and felt disbelief, that people would sign up for more of this.

The fear of nuclear war had faded, but 41’s administration was the first time I witnessed war being declared in my name. I remember sitting around tables in a conference room with other students, trying to figure out what we could do. Send a message of support to “the troops” that was basically “hang on, we’re trying to get you out of this?” Monitor non-U.S. news media because our own was treating this like a video game and might not be trustworthy? We were kids, fumbling around, and probably ended up doing none of this.

Those kinder gentler words that are being quoted all over the place sounded a lot different back then, depending on who you were. “A thousand points of light” seems harmless now, volunteerism is nice. But in the context of Reagan-era defunding of the social safety net and deregulation it had a “let them eat cake” ring– the churches (many of which vocally hated me) will pick up the slack, the respectable rich will look after the respectable poor. Everyone else invisible, Ryan White the first AIDS victim worth talking about, et cetera.

Bush never stepped outside the status quo and now everyone’s kissing his ass for not being Reagan or Trump? How depressing. I start to wonder if I am just deluded and hateful, but then I think about who his other people are. Besides Ronald Reagan, they are Dan Fucking Quayle and Clarence Fucking Thomas. And one son who started a war based on lies and then laughed about it, and another who made it a major part of his life’s mission to stop gay people from marrying or adopting kids.

So although I grudgingly acknowledged the National Day of Mourning, seeing the flag at half-staff for a FUCKING MONTH makes me feel a little more alienated every day.

DTWOF. Clarice: Who does Bush think he is?! The people don't want war! I'm gonna IMPEACH his death-worshipping ass! Toni: Hon, don't overcook the pasta. Clarice, throwing pasta against ceiling: It's just right. IMPEACH his ass!

Thanks, DtWOF #102, glad to know it wasn’t just me. (Bechdel, 1991)

Friday Five: Books

This Friday Five popped up at just the right time!

1. Do you enjoy receiving books as holiday or birthday gifts?

Yes, very much! Even if it’s a miss, a book gift illuminates what someone thought would interest me. And they’re easy to keep and easy to pass along.

2. What book are you reading (or, what is the last book you read)?
3. Are you enjoying (or, did you enjoy) that book? Why or why not?

It’s so good. A YA novel called Darius the Great Is Not Okay, by Adib Khorram.  Darius is a teenager who loves tea and lives in Portland– his mom is Persian, his dad is white, he has an adorable younger sister, and the whole family goes to visit Iran because his grandfather there is ill. The writing is SO smooth and funny and true. The author is great at introducing bits of Farsi and Persian cultural notes and character notes, and using them thereafter effortlessly with zero didacticism. Darius and his dad both have depression, for example; it manifests differently in each of them, they take different meds for it, and this is all just how it is– it never feels like “and now this story (or even this page) is About Depression.” I’m on page 78 of 312 and so far it’s exceeded all my expectations.

4. About how many books do you read in an average year?

100-120, somewhere in there.

5. What are some of the books on your to-read pile (or list)?

I want to finish my reread of Octavia Butler’s Xenogenesis series before the end of the year, so Imago is next on my list. I also have some fun SF that’s not gonna renew for me at the library– Martha Wells’ Rogue Protocol and Becky Chambers’ Record of a Spaceborn Few.

A day is not wasted if a cake is baked

a homemade pineapple upside down cake; photo has a red filter

Sometime in the past year or two Sanguinity saw a large jar of maraschino cherries. Her heart leapt with joy at the thought of having so many, so we bought the jar. Also, we said we could make pineapple upside-down cake at some point. The cherries sat in the top of the cupboard for a long time, but at some point we did also buy a can of pineapple rings to sit there with them.

Sometime in the past week or two Sang made an agar jasmine dessert from a packet– much like the opaque white jello-y dessert that dim sum places have. It was tasty. The picture showed it served with canned fruit cocktail, so we opened the jar of cherries. Once the remaining cherries were in the fridge and vulnerable to snacking, the clock was ticking on the upside-down cake.

Today was cake day! It is so sweet that the cherries are the tart part.

I took a terrible photo with my phone and while I was trying to improve it via LunaPic, which I quite like for my simple photo-editing needs but which does not seem to have a one-button “improve this photo” option, I accidentally saved a filtered-red copy over the original. I did in fact make this cake in an ordinary kitchen and not a photo darkroom.

morning bike commute notes and Monday Magpie

morning bike commute notes:
I was cyclist #498 westbound at Tilikum Crossing– usually I’m a half hour earlier and in the 500s. It’s a shame, because it’s a beautiful morning with a touch of frost and more than a touch of sunshine.
today’s theme: people unexpectedly in suits, like, while jogging (not just to the bus stop), or with a backpack.

Monday Magpie:
ahahaha, Gifaanisqatsi

First of December

At this convergence of the death of 41 and World AIDS Day, Bob Rafsky’s Bury Me Furiously curse is on my mind.

I pulled out the first sentence for each month in this blog for the traditional First Line Meme, but many are unsatisfyingly memes themselves, or the title of a book I already wrote about, and so on. So here are facts, updates, or other riffs on them instead. I was silent in February, April, and November.

  • Number of books currently checked out from the library: 97. Currently reading: All You Can Ever Know, by Nicole Chung. Also due back within a week and not renewable– I may or may not get to them: Geek Out: A Collection of Trans and Genderqueer Romance; My Year In the Middle; The Perfection of the Paper Clip: Curious Tales of Invention, Accidental Genius, and Stationery Obsession.
  • I just asked Sanguinity if we need our “it’s getting dark” walk now. It is a few minutes after four p.m. I generally need to get out under the sky second thing in the morning (after coffee & internet) for mental health; Sang can go later in the day, but doesn’t like to witness the gloom gathering in the  house.
  • I maintained once-a-week bike commuting in November. I get off work early on Wednesdays, so I can have a ride home that’s not in the dark. Soon the mornings will require supplemental lighting. When I bought my helmet I was between two sizes and went with the larger one; now I’m glad because the hood of my thin hoodie fits underneath, keeping rain off the back of my neck and warming my ears.
  • Logging my mileage on foot at Dailymile has become quite spotty– I don’t like having one more thing to fiddle with online. But I still want to keep track for the Million Mile Ultra, at least until I complete the 10,000-mile fun run (it will be a few years). So maybe….paper? Also, I was poking around the NaNo forums, and Dunx has logged a million words over the years!
  • language_escapes alerted me to The Claudia Kishi Club, a documentary in progress now raising funds on Kickstarter.
  • Most recent convenience-store purchase: sugar wafers, because they were 99 cents and everything else was $1.29 or more.
  • I daydream about painting a lot, but hardly ever do it.