~~ "She has so many aliases, you'd think she was a spy!" ~~

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

On the road again...

So, I’m on a plane to Toronto. How often do my posts start with me being on a plane, or in an airport? And why do I seem to get more work done on planes and in airports than at home sometimes? I have to mention, I totally heart Canada Air. They have electrical outlets at all their seats on the plane. Anyway. Styxfest is finally upon us, and soon it will be over and I’ll have something resembling a life again. Hallelujah, praise the gods.

Oh, the event itself will be fine, if not even fun, but I’m going to be very, very happy when it’s behind us. Afterwards, we’re headed to NY to visit my parents for a couple of days, and I’m also getting interviewed by the local newspaper. I e-mailed a friend of mine who’s a reporter (I used to write for the paper as well, ├Žons ago, but he’s the only one I’ve kept in touch with), and he told the editor (whom I remember) that I’m a bigshot author now. Hah! But it’ll be fun. Between that and pimping A Little Night Music at Styxfest (I have copies for the band, and one to put in the auction, and ran an ad in the yearbook), I’m starting to wonder if I can write this whole trip off on taxes…

Of course, the best part of all this is that I get to snuggle with my beloved for a week. He had to fly to Boston for work, but he should already be in Toronto as I type this.

What I said a while back was that I’d commit to one major volunteer project a year. There might be little things here and there, like being Quartermaster for the Shire, or making award cords, or speaking at a writer’s meeting, but only one big project/commitment. This year, obviously, it’s been Styxfest (and given that Tani, Sheri, and I first met about it on April 1, 2006, it’s been a year plus). I thought perhaps next year (again, meaning my year’s start somewhere midstream) I’d run Black Oak Lodge, our Shire’s weekend event, but I volunteered only if nobody else wanted to do it, and I hear there are at least two sets of people interested.

My new plan is that this year will be the Year of House and Craft Stuff. Morgana and I went to the fabric district recently and I got gorgeous acorn-and-oak-leaf Morris-esque fabric for living room and dining room curtains. I also ordered a sari, of all things, for bathroom curtains. Many more rooms need proper curtains, but I haven’t found the right fabric yet. Then there’s scraping 40-year-old ugly rubber things out of the original clawfoot bathtub, and maybe some paint removal, and… I’ve always got one weaving project or another going. Then there are sewing projects (besides the above-mentioned curtains). I’m making a whole new outfit for Pirate Tournament this year, and some of those pieces will also work with a new faerie outfit. I finally found the sleeves for a cotehardie I’ve already beaded, and I’m back to work beading those. Hell, we still need to get the sewing room in order! (Once Ken’s home for a stretch, he and I and Morgana will be going through every single tub of fabric and culling ruthlessly.) And I’m also planning a project for Ken’s birthday, which I shan't mention here in case he reads this (but if anyone else wants to know what it is, e-mail me for details).

All that should keep me busy for a while, don’t you think?

<>-<>-<>


Now, a brief catch-up on why I’ve been so lax about updating here.

I blame it on April. April…happened.

First there was my birthday, which was quite pleasant. In defiance of last year, I went to the gym and worked with my trainer. A few friends and I went out to dinner, and then everyone came over for cake (chocolate ganache tort) and champagne and presents.

I did write this in my journal then: I swear, the best part of my birthday is getting the automated birthday message from the Styx Lounge “signed” by the band. I get a goofy smile on my face every damn year. Even if it does arrive at 11:10 p.m. the night before my birthday. :-)

The following week was three Shaw-Blades shows, followed the next day by the Moscow Cats Theatre, followed the next two-and-a-half days by our house being fumigated. Ken was home for the shows and fumigation prep, and then I stayed at Morgana and Brian’s while the actual tent was on. (Grimoire and Eostre handled the whole transition marvelously well, BTW.)

The upshoot of all of that, though, was that I ended up behind on absolutely everything. Writing, work, e-mail, life… I felt like Sisyphus, and correspondence was my rock. It’s only in the last week or so that I’ve felt as though I can breathe again, and that’s with all the final work on Styxfest on my plate. Go figure. I’m hoping this trip won’t put me so far behind the eight ball again, and I rather expect it won’t. I’ll write on the trip, and I’m down to my final work project which, will it’s a messy one, at least has a pleasant author attached to it who’s responsive and conscientious. I’ll have a couple weeks until I head up to Oregon for a bike trip, and then I don’t leave again until mid-July for RWA National Convention.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. In late April, I went to the EFBC’s Twilight Tour with Kelly, Richard, and Tomi. I’ve been trying to go on that tour for several years now, but every time, something else was already scheduled. The benefit of the tour is that you get to go into areas not normally open to the public. What I learned: The EFBC has a lot of amur leopards. They also had baby fishing cats! (And I’m sorry this journal doesn’t have sound because you’re really missing out on the high-pitched glass-shattering squeal by the end of that last sentence.)

Ken came home in early May, and we had a few days at home before we headed up to Cambria on the bike for a conjugal weekend (and motorcycle group outing). On the way up, I brainstormed a few stories, and we stopped at a Japanese restaurant in Santa Maria (mmm, sushi). We stayed at the Bluebird Inn, which my brain kept stubbornly referring to as the Bluebird Inn of Happiness. The main part of the hotel is an 1880s house, although the actual hotel rooms are newer and not terribly interesting. They have fabulous gardens there, though.

Of course, all of Cambria is gorgeous. I’d forgotten how different the central coast is from our area; how much more lush and green and cool. We spent Saturday strolling through the charming sunny town, wandering through gift shops and garden shops and antique shops. All I ended up buying was an assortment of flavored green teas, though. We went for a ride through the hills, and I saw a turkey in a field, a turkey vulture in a field, a crane in a field, and lots of turkey vultures in the sky). We had Mexican with the group that night, and on Sunday took a longer ride home, actually heading north up the coast before cutting into the hills. We stopped to see the elephant seals, who congregate en masse on a particular beach every spring. It really is an amazing sight. The parking lot was filled with cheeky squirrels who’d gather ‘round you and eat out of your hand. Or stomp away in a huff when they realized you didn’t have any food for them.

We stopped in Atascadero for lunch (garlic chicken pizza with a white sauce) and then went to the Charles Paddock Zoo. It’s small, but utterly charming. We stumbled upon it years ago when we were on another trip, and it was so lovely. I took a couple pictures in the aviary, but then completely forgot I even had a camera, I was so enthralled with the animals.

Loreena McKennitt finally toured again, and being on her mailing list, I was able to snap up four decent tickets when they went on sale (knowing that Morgana and Brian would want to go, too). Because Ken couldn’t make it home, I invited our friend Julie after finding out that she and her husband considered one of Loreena’s songs “their” song. Her husband died last year, so it was really no question that she had to come with us.

Julie has MS and uses a wheelchair, and going into the theatre she was taken down in a couple of small elevators (kind of like locks, actually). After the show, a security lady came over to say that one of the elevators had broken, so we’d have to go out through the backstage entrance on the other side of the theatre. Okay, no problem. They brought us out into a courtyard, and Brian went off to get the car (which was now far away from where we were).

(I’m going to pause here to say, I heart Air Canada even more, because their hot tea is actually good. This is a very civilized airline.)

Morgana, Julie, and I looked around, and noticed a few things. The bar. The buffet. The nicely dressed people. The door over there to the backstage.

And we realized we were at the backstage party.

Someone offered us water, which we accepted. Then our security lady came over. “You know you’re at the backstage party, right? Have a drink, have some food. The sandwiches are really good.” We said we were just trying to be inconspicuous… “Nah!” she said, flinging out her arms. “Mingle!”

We didn’t mingle, although we did see two of Loreena’s musicians. Then Brian showed up, and someone offered to lead us out to the exit, and we realized that we were driving through the back lot of Universal Studios and we hyperventilated all over again.

I can’t even describe the concert. “Breathtaking” might come close. “Stunning” sort of touches on it. To be honest, I’m getting teared up just remembering it. There really are no words to describe it…which perhaps is how the very best music is.

It’s going to be years before Loreena tours again, and I’m already pining for it.

This past weekend was our Shire’s annual Anniversary Tournament, and I was smart and didn’t volunteer to do a damn thing (because of Styxfest), although I am co-Quartermaster, so I had to get things checked in and out of the shed in our backyard. I spent time with so many people I haven’t seen in ages, and learned Viking whipcord braiding, which I’m utterly addicted to now. The next day was a tea at Albra’s and a loose Herbal Guild meeting, but some of us who are also in the Textile Guild sat in a corner of the garden and discussed cross-pollination with the Woodworkers Guild to make the proper weights for Viking whipcord braiding so we can do it at Pirate Tourney in July.

And that brings us up to now, and you can see why I got so behind and crazy and my writing suffered for it.

June, boy howdy, is going to be writing month. And I promise to never say “boy howdy” in this journal again.

<>-<>-<>


In honor of all my travels, I give you the picture above: the picture from my very first passport, which my mom gave me when I was home. Damn I was cute! (I was 6, BTW. There are two visa stamps, for Iran and Greece.)

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Currently Reading: Three Fates, Nora Roberts
Lately Listened To: Celtic Woman
Recently Watched: Blood Ties, Painkiller Jane

Monday, May 21, 2007

Damn you, faint praise!

Novel rejection: “You’re a talented writer, and this story really had some compelling elements. Unfortunately, though, it just did not catch fire for me in the way I had hoped.”

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Acts of kindness

My faith in humanity has been restored with one amazing act of kindness.

I came out of Albra’s this afternoon, where a group of us had been enjoying tea and sandwiches and melted chocolate and things to dip into the chocolate and so forth, to discover that someone had dinged my car. Not a horrible ding, but white paint/scratches and a small dent. My new car. The one that I haven’t even been able to register yet (long story. Not going into it. I do finally have all the paperwork and bits I need, but I’m doing it after I get home from Canada and NY.).

I wasn’t exceedingly upset; I figured there was nothing I could do. I assumed that the person had just taken off.

I was wrong. There was a note beneath my windshield wiper; a phone number, “please contact me,” and “SORRY.” I was stunned.

When I talked to him, the poor guy was so apologetic. Another car had been turning around in the cul-de-sac and he’d backed up to get out of its way, and he said he’d felt so horrible, especially when he saw the car was new. I told him I was so touched by his honesty, that most people would’ve just left. I almost felt a little bad taking his insurance info, and even apologized that his rates would go up.

Really, he could’ve left and I never would’ve have known who did it. But he was honest and kind and decent and honorable, and while it’s a little sad that I expected the opposite, I’m overwhelmed knowing that people like that still exist in this world.

(I do know that people like that exist—I’m blessed with amazing friends. I think the fact that this was a stranger is what truly touches me.)