One of ours is lost to that struggle.
She would have turned 16 in a few weeks.
You may have met lee_hawk through blogs posted by her stepmother, shadowwolf13. She might have crossed your LJ path via therealljidol
I only had the pleasure of meeting the young woman once, at Shadow's wedding several years ago to Lee's father. She was poised. Beautiful. Quiet. Young. Too young to be suddenly gone.
Shadow has written a lovely tribute to her stepdaughter here: http://shadowwolf13.livejournal.com/
Lee's family has put together a GoFundMe to help with funeral costs here: https://www.gofundme.com/ourtalesia
If you feel so moved, there's also a donation fund to Lee's favourite charity here: https://www.gofundme.com/talesia-byrds-
...I want to be eloquent. All I can bring myself to do is love the young women in my life even more than I already do. So...go do that, y'all, and if you can help Lee's family, or boost the signals for these funds, that would be fantastic, too. <3
If you’ve attended a science fiction convention in the past 20+ years on the east coast, your path is very likely to have crossed with this man’s..
…Yes, he travels with that chair.
…….Ok, not really. But he totally could, and no one would question it.
Why, you ask?
Because this gentleman is Hugh Casey, one of the finest people you’ll ever find in (or out of) the world of science fiction fandom. As his bio states, Hugh is…
A long-time con-goer, he’s been a member of the Philadelphia Science Fiction Society (PSFS) since the early-’90’s, where he served, at various times, as President, Vice-President, and on the Board of Directors. He’s also served as Chairman and Vice-Chair for PHILCON, Philly’s regional SF con, as well as it’s head of programming for several years …. He is a filmmaker with his own production company, Parents Basement Productions, and his short films “Teddy’s Big Escape” and “Young Geeks In Love” can be found on YouTube. He is also a writer, director, actor, blogger, photographer, event manager and promoter, and more. He tries to live by Clarke’s Law, “Specialization is for insects”.
(His bio neglects to mention, of course, that Hugh was a Guest of Awesome at Pi-Con in 2010. Perhaps no one has earned that title more than Hugh!)
Now, east coast fandom hasn’t seen as much of Hugh in the past few years because of his fight with, and now recovery from, cancer. To help out with his financial needs, a bunch of his friends have organized…HUGHCON!!
“What izzit what izzit WHAT IZZIT???” you ask?
HUghCon is a fundraiser where all proceeds will go to Hugh! Throughout the day/evening, attendees will be treated to the music of Philadelphia’s own Star Trek tribute band, The Roddenberries, as well as the musical tapestry that is This Way to the Egress! (If you’re not familiar with them, there are some music links at the bottom of this post.)
Attendees will also have the opportunity to bid on some fantastic silent auction items such as a copy of the book Who Killed Amanda Palmer (signed by photographer Kyle Cassidy, writer Neil Gaiman, and musician Amanda Palmer!), a first edition of the board game Conquest of the Empire (unopened, circa 1984), a geektastic gift basket of goodies from the Pennsylvania Browncoats, and much more! Book, jewelry, and garb vendors will be on hand for your gift buying needs, with a portion of those proceeds going to Hugh as well.
SO MUCH STUFF, Y’ALL!!
Admission for the event is $15 pre-sale ($16.20 with tax), $20 at the door. The best part of this event? You can buy a ticket even if you can’t go to the event, and that money goes directly to Hugh!! So even though I can’t go because of prior obligations and, ya know, Philly being 12 hours away, I’m delighted I could still purchase a ticket and help support this love-filled event for this fantastic man.
You should, too! It’ll make you feel good! Go HERE! http://hughcon.brownpapertickets.com/
For the most up-to-date information on HughCon, check out their Facebook event page – https://www.facebook.com/events/
Thanks for reading. Please share if you’re so inclined! And, really, go take a peek at the FB page..there’s so much awesome being planned to support Hugh, one of the best people and brightest stars in fandom.
The Roddenberries music: https://soundcloud.com/the-roddenberries
This Way to the Egress music: http://thiswaytotheegress.com
Books were a major element in the story of my childhood/young adulthood. And many of those books crossed my path because of my mother.
One of these, Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda, became profoundly significant to me. Beyond the look into a world that is so incredibly foreign, it was a book of possible magic. It was also a glimpse of a non-western religion, which fascinated me, and I was equally fascinated by the realization that there were people in my every day life that defined themselves as Buddhist rather than Christian, Jewish, or pagan.
My mother was one of those people.
She had a statue of Babaji, the deathless avatar, in her home, and I think that out of all of her belongings, it is this humble figure that I associate the most with her. It's not that we discussed Babaji, or Yogananda, or even the book very much, if at all. Our spiritual discussions were much more about Ramtha and Shirley MacLaine. Still, she gave me a copy of Autobiography, and it's one of my 'comfort-food' books, always possessing a spot on my bookshelves even when most of my library lives in boxes.
Recently, I discovered there was a documentary about Yogananada on Netflix. The name of the film is Awake, and the trailer is at the top of this post. I've been pleasantly surprised by the list of people I know that have watched Awake, and know about Yogananda. When my mother brought up the film in a conversation, though, it was not the conversation I expected to have with her.
"Have you read the book?" she asked.
I was floored.
"...Yes. You bought me a copy," I reminded her.
She had no recollection of that memory.
I accepted, a long time ago, that there's a long list of experiences my mother has forgotten over the years. She's told me repeatedly that I have an amazing memory - and I do; I still remember living in Florida when I was 3 or 4 - and that she doesn't remember varied parts of our history.
But to not remember this was a shock.
Perhaps it is as simple as we all hold varied things to varying levels of importance. It's certainly true that I've had people tell me, "You said something kind to me once and it meant the world to me," and I don't remember that exchange.
Once Upon a Time, having our histories not mesh would have thrown me into a tailspin of confusion and unsureness about what to believe, who to believe, what stories to trust, because for a good chunk of my formative years, my mother was my fellow traveler along the path to enlightenment. She was my touchstone to sanity. Which is not to say I put her on a pedestal; I simply depended on her emotionally in a way that I've not seen mirrored in other mother/daughter relationships.
But. Things change.
A few years ago, I found myself in Yuma. "JZ Knight lives over there," my friend Sherry informed me with a nod of her head. It felt odd, to be in that place and not be there with the person that bought me the white book. I wonder now if, had I called my mother, if she would have remembered that shared history, or would it be another question of oh, have you read that book?
I can't capture in words how weird this all feels, how odd to realize that my spiritual path has been solitary for longer than I realized, how startling it is to discover that the relationship I thought I had wasn't as profound as I thought.
So. This is the state of me, on shifting sand.
I am sadder than I want to admit.
― Jalaluddin Rumi
I have so much I want to write and I have no idea how to write it.
So let’s start with a present.
“I have a present for you,” Chris said, somewhere around 1993, and handed me this little plaster Day of the Dead sculpture. “Bazil made it. He made a bunch for a gallery in Chestnut Hill, but when they told him they were gonna sell them as authentic Mexican art, he said no and took them back, so…this one’s for you.”
When I think about Bazil – Sean – this story always comes to mind. I didn’t know him well, but I knew he had strong convictions and would not only stick to them, but would also make sure the people around him did as well.
Sean was one of the iconic actors at my beloved haunt, Grisly Gothic Gables. He joined the cast to help him learn how to talk in front of crowds (or so I’ve been told), and perhaps one of the reasons I can’t think of Grisly without thinking of him is that he proposed the haunt’s name to the owner, Allan, during a brain storming session. His butler character was funny-bizarre, vaguely slobby, definitely frenetic…my favourite haunt memory of him is him filling in for a clown scare, still dressed as a butler. When the time came to scare visitors, he rose out of a hollowed out bed holding a fake butcher knife and announcing, “I’m not a clown, but I’ll kill you anyway!”
(Lesson: As long as you understand the scare and what’s expected of you, improv – even if it’s on the bizarre side – as long as it’s in the character of the haunt? It works.)
I suppose it helps to understand that I became a haunter not because I loved scary movies (which I did) or because I thought Halloween was pretty (which I did), but because the first time I saw Grisly Gothic Gables, with Bazil and Janice at the front of the house looking like everything I’ve ever wanted to see in haunt actors…well, I fell in love with the haunt, with the cast, and at the core of my haunter-heart you’ll still find that perfect visual.
You’ll still find Bazil.
Bazil was the one that helped my ex husband understand why haunting is fun. “Do you know what a pig pile is?” Bazil asked one day. “You don’t? Ok. So let’s say you enter a room through a door on the left side of the room and the exit door is clearly visible on the right side. How do you leave the room? No, you don’t go out the exit door, you jump on top of each other LIKE THIS!! and then you knock down a wall behind you and you leave that way.” Despite being jumped on and nearly knocked over, my ex agreed to come to Grisly to see what a night of haunting was like, and he ended up doing tag-team scares with Bazil.
At the museum where we all worked, Bazil did so much that most people don’t know, rather like at Grisly, where he did things like design several of our t-shirts with no credit claimed. He (along with fellow Grisly Peter Cook and Peter's wife Lisa) worked on a book about our dioramas that has been used extensively by the teacher naturalists there, and can now be found in the Drexel University library. He discovered a forgotten mummy by literally tripping over it in our collections. He restored Edgar Allan Poe’s raven, which now resides at the Philadelphia Free Library. He worked on the butterfly exhibit where I became a butterfly keeper, and helped create The Big Dig, an interactive looking-for-fossils exhibit I helped maintain over the years. He and artist Ray Troll worked together on several projects, including one at our museum. He was instrumental in creating the Crazy Critters Chuck Jones exhibit that I have…way way too many stories about working.
For someone who touched so much of my professional life at the Academy, you really would think we would have seen each other more. Alas.
Bazil moved on to work at the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science in Miami, where his resume is truly amazing. Like, amazing in a way that you look at and you think, ‘What couldn’t this guy do??’ I think I speak for many of us when I say that Bazil was the kind of person you quietly make a role model and you hope someday to be even a fraction as good at..well..ANYTHING as he was. Because he touched so many people’s lives and varied worlds, I’m sure there’s an incredible amount of stories and discoveries to come that will astound those of us that knew him. (Heck, just from the bit of research I’ve done here, I’m in awe of the man.)
Bazil is survived by his wife, Kat, and his daughter, Bridget…and he’s mourned by too many people to count.
Thank you for touching my life and for inspiring me, you most perfect Grisly.
More info about Sean:
I’m a little late this year, but heeeeey! Need some nifty $WINTERHOLIDAY presents? Consider the following! (And please note, as you read over this list, that a great deal of these fabulous people are doing good things with their profits…so purchases here really are a gift that does ongoing goodness.)
- Daddy Doesn’t Purr (But I Love Him Anyway) by Jason Michael – A charming tale told by a cat about what it’s like to be adopted into a new family. Proceeds of this story of a special sort of blended family are being donated to two animal charities in Virginia. This would be a lovely bedtime story book.
- True Haiku for You: A Daily Dose of Spiritual Growth by Jason Michael – A book for the adults! “Begun as therapy writing in 2001 after the death of his father, and inspired by watching Dr. Wayne Dyer’s PBS special, There’s a Spiritual Solution to Every Problem, Jason’s “Haiku Project” has amassed some 4400 haiku to date and there’s no end in sight. True Haiku for You is a collection of 366 haiku primarily on inspirational, motivational and spiritual themes designed to be a daily reminder of our self-worth, of our need to persevere, and of our innate ability to overcome any crisis. Meant to be read one haiku per day True Haiku for You strives to be a reminder that God is all around us, without and within.” (I also love this book.)
- Acting Out Yoga books by Danielle Palli – If you’re looking for new ways to get your youngsters moving around and trying new things, you should really consider buying one (or both!) of these two books. Harvir in the Amazon follows the adventures of Harvir the ferret in the Amazon rainforest; Anna in Paris recounts the journey of another ferret, Fondue, and his wanderings through Paris. Both ferrets make use of yoga poses throughout their travels, and kids are encouraged to try out these poses as well! The Acting Out Yoga series is an innovative introduction to yoga for both the storyteller and the story listener! An additional bonus is that portions of the purchase price are also donated to children’s charities – Harvir proceeds go to a nonprofit organization that provides much-needed school supplies and medical care to young children in the Amazon Jungle, and Anna purchases support the Healthy Start Coalition of Manatee County!
- Natural Charm – Julie creates affordable, beautiful jewelry and rosaries out of flowers, herbs, spices, candy, coffee (!!!), and tea. She also has several lines of map pendants – the You Are Here collection (which includes an option for putting two maps together, ideal for lovers separated by miles), the Halloween Town Maps collection, and – perfect for holiday gift giving! – the Christmas Town Maps collection! Buy your special someone a necklace that features one of 9 real cities with a Christmas-y name! I love Julie’s stuff so much..you will, too!
- Belethil – Home of the best dang elf ear jewelry you’ll find. Alanya makes absolutely gorgeous stuff and right now, she’s running a half price sale to help out a friend, so you should really go take advantage! (As of this writing, the store is active, but she’s going to be putting it into vacation mode in early December, so shop while the shopping’s good!)
- AFMetalsmith – Amanda’s focus has a strong Celtic leaning, and you won’t find better celtic critter knotwork pendants anywhere else. Dragons, owls, deer, bears, ravens and more…it’s all just beautiful, and available in varied metals. The store also offers trinket rings, wedding rings, scent lockets, enameled pieces…so much goodness!! (I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out her whimsical wingnut jewelry as well.) ALSO ALSO…Amanda’s knotwork can be found at ElectricCelt, where it’s been used to adorn wooden lightswitches and a truly lovely Ogham divination set.
- Celtic Art Store – I discovered this artisan at a local Ren faire last year. I was feeling completey overwhelmed by the crowd and the day, and when Erin invited me into her booth to trace a knotwork pattern with a small instrument, I had ZERO interest in complying. That said…wow, did it help my brain calm down and focus. A lot. It’s like walking a labyrinth for those of us that have no time and no access to a labyrinth. :) These bits of magic are called Mandalynths, and they’re truly great for helping with stress, anxiety, autism, ADHD and PTSD. (Click on the type of pattern to see which version is recommended for what ails ya.) You’ll also find a new-but-growing line of glass dome jewelry in this brand spanking new web store! Catch their sale prices from now until Dec 12th!
- Alternate Histories – A Pittsburgh-based company that I love madly! These guys take old images and maps and insert monsters into them, or twist them into reflecting a history where monsters and aliens are a common part of life in America. You can search their store by US regions, which is something I think is pretty great. Want proof there’s a creature running rampant in Sacramento? A lake monster in Cleveland? Do you suspect robots were involved in the Revolutionary War? Would you like a map showing exactly where the zombie outbreaks have been in Pittsburgh? Look no further! You’ll also find some of the most unique holiday cards on the market as well as a series of prints advertising why you should flee America‘s monsters.
- Jeanine Leclaire – Jeanine is selling varied types of prints and cards from her shop to help raise funds for one of the kindest people I know, Anthony Paino. I’m going to also say that if you are feeling extra special generous and would like to help Ant out directly, you can click on his name -OR- you can visit http://www.sokindregistry.org/registry/
7217 and choose a gift of varied price points to help him out. It’s a lovely way to send a Random Something to someone that so desperately needs some help.
- There Are Squirrels in My Head – I’m tossing my own hat into the ring this year. :) I have a Zazzle store! From holiday cards to blank cards featuring some of my photography, to items for that Special Someone in your life that is made of awesome and win and cookies, my store is small but growing. And during December, Zazzle runs all kinds of sales, so it’s a great place to do some shopping. (Thank you!)
OTHER AWESOME STUFF
- Shadow Elements – Mary creates some of the best cat beds out there. She uses organic buckwheat, and you can purchase varied covers to fit your and your kitty’s needs. Pair it up with a soothing travel dream pillow and case for your own snoozing needs! (The pillows are not currently listed, but let her know you’re interested and she’ll hook you up!) Mary also creates lovely stained glass pieces and an assortment of tote bags for your gifting needs! Be sure to check out her gallery at http://www.shadowelements.com/gallery/ to see what kind of custom marvels she can create for you. (Purchases made from Mary is a gift that helps her keep her house and pay her substantial medical bills from her ongoing fight against breast cancer.)
There is NO way I can list every awesome person I know that creates fantastic things. :( But this is a good start! :)
Hope the start of your $WINTERHOLIDAY season treats you gently! <3
With tuppence for paper and strings
You can have your own set of wings
With your feet on the ground
You’re a bird in a flight…
I can’t remember when Chris Silvia told us about his adventures in competitive kite flying in Japan. I’d known he spent time in that country – when I first ‘met’ him in 1998(?) via the online community Halloween-L, his nickname was “Isolated Loony” because he was living overseas at the time – but I had no idea he had a love of kite-making.
He described an incident in which he had been doing some synchronized team kite flying and an unexpected gust of wind had grabbed his kite hard enough to lift him out of his chair. “I just held on because I didn’t want to interrupt what we were doing,” he laughed, “so the kite dragged me across the beach until someone finally noticed. After that, I started wearing a seat belt so it wouldn’t happen again.”
It’s maybe my favourite example of how Chris was not limited by his wheelchair.
You can dance on the breeze
Over houses and trees…
Chris created beautiful costumes and haunt props. I watched him do demos on creating bleeding portraits and intricate foam tombstones (he was, in fact, the first person I’d ever seen work so much magic on sheets of pink insulation foam), and he inspired me to want to learn how to make props myself. Truth be told, he is the biggest reason I’ve been a pain in the ass about wanting to learn as much as I could about how to make things, and he’s the reason I’ve remained so frustrated at myself for not creating a mechanical prop or learning how to program a controller.
He also built the most amazing costumes that embraced his wheelchair. From being a passenger in a Doombuggy to being a wheelchair-bound werewolf, he not only created fantastic things for himself but for his partners in crime to wear as well. I don’t have photos to share, but rest assured each one was FANTASTIC.
It seems very fitting that, when I started driving, I literally drove to Salem the day after I got my license to meet up with a group of haunters that included Chris for an informal haunt gathering*. He inspired one to ignore limitations and, as the first handicapped person I knew, he taught me how to simultaneously not let yourself be limited even as you dealt with your limitations with grace and dignity. I stood next to him outside a historical building we had traveled to see and, when we realized he couldn’t make it into most of the building, he said, “I understand. And I’m glad I can see some of it.”
With your fist holding tight
To the string of your kite…
As an east coast haunter, my path crossed Chris’ often enough for me to define him as a friend. When the Transworld trade show started making it harder for haunters to score access to the show floor, I offered Chris a press pass if he’d write an article for me. This came as a surprise to my boss, who saw Chris’ badge and commented, “Oh? You work for me..?
“Yes he does,” I replied, and walked Chris over to the show office, where I had a vaguely heated argument with a security guard who wanted to know why Chris couldn’t get out of his chair and walk up the small flight of stairs in front of us. I may have never wanted to punch a security guard more than I did at that moment…but Chris was, as always, calm and rational and sweet, and within a minute we were given use of another access point.
I have a terrible temper. I really do. I’ve never admitted before that it was Chris that taught me to have a slower-burning fuse.
Up through the atmosphere
Up where the air is clear…
Something else I’ve never admitted, but I’ll whisper it here: I’ve been a tiny bit in love with Chris for a long time. Just a little. Just enough to follow his adventures via social media after I moved to Pittsburgh, and then to Michigan. Our paths crossed more and more sporadically at conventions and, with my usual awkward shyness, I became less and less willing to go over and talk to him because he always seemed to be busy. And so I’m not sure when I last actually communicated with him. I should, of course, have written to him, checked in with him. He’s never had any idea how much of an impact he had on me as a haunter and as a person. He is such a shining example of how much one person can influence another’s life and have absolutely no idea of the fact.
Chris passed away last night. It seems an impossibility. It was unexpected and as I write this, no details have been shared yet as to what happened. I was going to wait to write this until I had more information. I don’t have a right to be as sad as I am, because I was not a close friend. And yet. And yet.
Thank you, Chris. You were one of the kindest, sweetest, most creative and patient people I’ve ever known. You have been inspirational and amazing and I feel so lucky your life touched mine just a little.
…And I’m still gonna learn how to create a mechanical prop someday, dammit.
Oh, let’s go fly a kite!
* I still have a small pirate flag that he created for that weekend, as we were all running around Salem dressed as pirates for a good deal of the time. With all of my moves, all of my varied pirate things, and all of my jettisoning of stuff, I’ve managed to not lose that flag, and it makes me smile every time it makes an appearance…
I am working in the Live Animal Unit, having recently become a weekend manager. Behind me, I hear the sounds of someone walking into the room, talking as he enters.
I turn to see who he’s talking to, and am surprised to find that he’s more or less talking to me.
I stop working and watch him move around the room, talking the whole time as he checks in on certain animals, fiddles with other stuff, grabs some things he needs, and leaves via the back entrance to the room.
I blink. I’m not sure who he is, if he was allowed to be in here, or what exactly just happened.
This is my first introduction to Anthony Paino.
It’s Memorial Day weekend, and one of our skunks in the Crazy Critters exhibit is having a grand mal seizure.
I seriously have no damned clue what to do. I’ve crawled into the exhibit space and am cradling the unresponsive skunk. His name is Classic, I’ve helped raise him from a baby, and he’s in shock.
I might be, too.
Ant runs up. “I’ll go get a carrier.” He runs off do that.
Visitors are commenting on how nice it is that I’m keeping the skunk company.
I try to smile.
I’m so glad Ant is here to help me.
Our animal center’s coyote, Chinook, has gone to live in Maine, away from cities and concrete enclosures. Ant has put together a trip to visit Chinook in his new home. It is a frenetic adventure and of the four of us, only one will ever make this trip again. More than once. And that person is Ant, because he loves Chinook to drive into the wilds of Maine over and over again to check up on his friend.
Ant and I are walking to Starbuck’s to get a mocha before the museum opens for the day. He is not someone that one would say needs coffee; he’s always animated, always seems to be moving. But he’s introduced me to the joy that is Starbuck’s, and this quick walk down the street to get an overpriced mocha is maybe one of the best parts of my day, because he’s kind and friendly and makes me feel included in a way I generally don’t feel.
This is the Ant that lives in my head, in a snapshot of a world that no longer exists. If you’ve ever visited the Academy of Natural Sciences up to about 2011 or so, you’ve probably encountered Ant in Dinosaur Hall, doing a natural history demonstration, working with the Women in Natural Sciences program, or handling one of the myriad small jobs a museum manager encounters every day on the job.
A few weeks ago, I learned that he’s been struggling a lot. The doctors don’t know what’s wrong with him, but they suspect it’s a rare condition called chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy (CIDP) – his immune system is attacking his nerves, leaving him so weak he is struggling to do things as simple as eat, or stand up if he falls down. His health has deteriorated over the past few years and he needs help. A lot of help.
This is where you come in. :)
There’s a fundraiser for him here: https://www.youcaring.com/anthony-paino-
Tis the season, of course, where we are inundated with pleas for help. And honestly, too many of us are a paycheck or two, or just one health crisis away, from needing help ourselves. I’m boosting the signal for this request because Ant is truly one of the best, kindest, most dedicated people I’ve ever known. I have zero doubt that he would do anything in his power to help his friends. So we, his friends, are doing everything in our power to help him.
Because of Ant’s health, he’s been unemployed for too long. We all know how terrifying hospital costs are even if you *do* have a job.
So. This your daily chance to do good, y’all. Even donating the cost of a Starbuck’s mocha would help.
If you can’t help? Please consider boosting the signal.
Thank you. With all of my heart, thank you. <3
I've spent the past several weeks volunteering as a crew member for a local production of "Evita," as well as attending meetings for a future production. Because one of my meetings was the afternoon before a show, I had decided to go into town early, meander towards my meeting, and then explore a bit of the city before I had to be back at the theatre.
It's amazing how quickly plans can go wonky.
Bones dropped me off by a coffee shop and had just pulled away from the curb when the sidewalk apparently twisted away from my foot, causing me to wrench my ankle and fall to the ground.
Walking has never been my best trick.
I struggled back to a standing position. Tried to walk. Couldn't.
I clung to a wall and tried to figure out what hurt. The ankle absolutely hurt..but honestly? I've twisted my right ankle so many times and in so many ways that generally speaking it doesn't usually phase me for more than a few seconds.
This was something more.
The child that lives in my brain couldn't process what was going on. It felt like I had seriously hurt the muscles in the arch of my foot, making it wicked hard to put weight on my foot. The only time I'd felt pain close to this was when I thought I'd broken my left ankle several years ago. But hey, I didn't want to vomit, so I knew it wasn't that bad.
I frantically texted Bones as I kept attempting unsuccessfully to walk. He offered to come back for me, but I am stubborn and decided I would will myself to be ok. (...The texts Bones received were, of course, not nearly as confident as what I've just written here.)
So I stood, half leaning on the wall, half trying to figure out how to walk again. An older woman walked past me, stopped, turned, and looked at me. I prepared myself for the obvious question she was about to ask.
"Do you know where *mumble* Street is?"
Ok, so I didn't expect that question.
"I'm sorry, I don't have any idea," I panted at her. Disappointed, she walked away.
I took a deep breath and tried to put weight on my foot again. This time, I had better success. I texted an update to Bones and limped to the next open door, which happened to be an old school sort of used bookstore. Piles of books and cigar boxes (?) littered the shelves and floor. I looked around, sorta wanting to investigate, sorta afraid I'd knock things over, sorta wondering why there was no one else in the store.
"Can I help you?"
An older gentleman holding a laptop was in the doorway behind me.
"Um...no, not really. I just...wanted to look around."
He continued to stand there, looking annoyed.
I looked around the front of the store one more time. "OK! So. I....I'll be back later."
He stepped aside so I could hobble-escape past him. I decided this was quite enough adventure for one day, and so I started to make my way to my meeting, where a friend loaned me an ankle brace that helped me get through the rest of my evening.
Of course...of course...my friend Jenny and I had signed up to do a 5K that was scheduled for two days after my latest failure to walk. She suggested we might want to cancel. But, ya know. Stubborn.
Two days later, we headed to Lansing for the Race to Restore. This lovely little event is a fundraiser to help maintain tombstones in Mt Hope cemetery, and the 5K consisted of two loops through the cemetery. (I can't actually explain the expression on my face in the following picture.)
The first loop wasn't bad. I had warned Jenny that we would not be breaking any records today (which is a shame because there were so few of us that we maaaaaybe could have actually placed in our age groups had we not been hindered by my gimpiness). Jenny is a great friend and insisted she wasn't there to be speedy.
Which is good, because on the second loop, my ankle gave out on me and I fell pretty much flat on my face for - once again - no damned good reason whatsoever.
I was tempted to just...stay there for a while and feel sorry for myself. But. There's not much that is as motivating to me as looking up and seeing someone on a walkie looking at me worriedly, so with images of ambulances dancing in my head, I struggled to my feet and pretended I was ok.
As it turned out, now I had a gimpy right ankle and a tweaked left knee...and no medal. :( Our time was a glorious 1 hour and 9 minutes, which is...ridiculously bad. But! We finished. Because I'm stubborn.
The following is a bit of the text discussion between Bones and me:
..And this, y'all, is why I'm not an athlete.But! I have one more 5K this year, in a few weeks. I may not make my personal best, but at least I'm sure to do better than I did this weekend. :/
Yesterday, I participated in my second 5k walk…by myself.
Participants for this event are encouraged to dress up as superheroes. I initially planned to wear something I’d worn to a convention in the past..
…but found that (perhaps for the best) I’d finally purged the costume in a recent gathering of stuff to take to Goodwill. So I was left in a vague sort of need for something superhero-y. Alas, ‘superhero’ is of of those categories that’s not really punched out on my geek card, no matter how much I love the X-Men movies, and the only t-shirt I own that was even vaguely appropriate was a Hellboy t-shirt.
I asked the Book of Face if Hellboy counted as a superhero.
“Heck YEAH!!” was the unanimous response.
Okie dokie! But do I settle with just the shirt, or do I try to throw together a costume with whatever I could find around the house?
(…The answer should have been A.)
I had a wig that had ginormous horns attached to it. I tore those off the wig and played with a few different ideas for attaching them to myself securely enough to allow me to walk without losing them. Bones suggested having them come through a baseball cap. I tried that, wasn’t happy with it, tried attaching them to a hairband wasn’t happy with it, and then found a pair of goggles I’d bought years ago for an unrealized steampunk costume. Once I popped the lenses off, the lens bases actually fit very securely into the bases of the horns. I reinforced them with some hot glue, painted the horns more Hellboy-esque, and called it done. Bones had an overcoat that was close enough to what Hellboy wears to be more than acceptable for use. I had a soft sculpture kitty pin that I attached to my lapel as a nod to the character’s fondness for cats. I took a latex tail made by the now-defunct company Specter Studios and painted that red as well, making sure it would poke out far enough from the coat to be seen, and I decided to NOT paint myself red. (We tried to get a hockey glove so I could have a semblance of a huge left hand, but that particular plot didn’t pan out. Alas.
And, of course, no one got it. At all. Even with the t-shirt. I was pretty much just Satan at a family event. Woohoo!!! Thank heavens I didn’t bring a cigar as well.
The important thing, though, was that I walked faster than last time…I went from 58:30 to 54:53. I’m learning that first my shins will hurt. Then my ankles will hurt. And that will suck. A lot. But if I keep going, that will all go away and my right foot will be the only thing that hurts – specifically, the plantar fascia. And that will hurt for the next few days. (I am assuming this will get better as I lose some weight.)
I still can’t stay I enjoy walking. But! I’m happy that I was faster this time.
This Saturday, I do it again…in a cemetery. Without horns. :)
......Which is a whole lot less impressive than it sounds, I assure you.
Last spring, my friend Jeanne was talking about participating in a 5K run/walk, Alive and Running. This is an event for suicide awareness, which is near and dear to my heart, and so I tenatively said I'd probably very possibly maybe join her.
(Geminis are the consummate hedgers.)
I changed my mind many times over the next 5 months. I'm not a runner. I don't actually enjoy walking..I'd rather ride my bike. OTOH, I'm very goal driven, and when I was a kid, I used to do the CROP walk. I can't remember if I ever raised much money - probably not - and I definitely remember hating the last mile or there of the walk every year. (I remember it being, like, 20 miles, but I suspect it was only 5.) Still, by God, I did it, and so I should be able to walk 5K (3.1mi).
I drove to the event and instantly panicked because I couldn't find Jeanne and I felt completely out of place. I'm not a runner, I'm not an athlete, and I'm certainly not in the kind of shape I'd like to be. I'd been thinking a lot about this post by Kyle, and it helped me not get back into the car and go the heck home. But I didn't. Yay me. :)
Found Jeanne and her crew just before the start of the race/walk. Her husband was the only one of us that was running, which helped my brain...but goodness, I confess I struggled for the first half. Between my wonky ankles and my plantar fasciatis flare-ups, I was in a fair bit of pain. We slowed down a little, which helped, and pushing through it did help as well. Still, how frustrating. :(
Final time was 58:30; I came in 230 out of 262. I'm not sure where that puts me as far as walkers go; there's obviously room for improvement.
Still, I'm not unhappy with my results. And I'm planning to do a few more of these events this year.
...And I totally wore my medal all day. Which helped me not mind so much that I was icing my feet afterwards because ow.
A few weeks ago, I broke my glasses.
The fear of broken frames is why I wore metal frames for so many years. I went back to plastic because Bones suggested I'd look good in catseye frames, and he was right. I've not been gentle to these things, and I'm frankly surprised they didn't break sooner...although I'm incredibly grateful it didn't happen while I was in China last year.
Initially we thought we could repair them. This shows you just how long it's been since I've dealt with broken frames. The superglue repair worked for about 1-1/2 days.
My getting an eye exam and new glasses isn't a financial priority - at least, not for me. When you need bifocals, there's really no such thing as a cheap pair of glasses. I was pretty sure I could make due with contacts, my old glasses, and reading glasses.
I was very wrong.
My last exam, over 2 years ago now, put me at a -6.75 in my right eye and a -5.75 in my left, with a +1.25 bifocal adjustment. If you're over 40 and you wear bifocals, that all makes sense to you. If you don't, it's Greek, so let me explain. This means I'm pretty significantly nearsighted. Even with my glasses, I do not have 20/20 vision and I can't read street signs and such as well as other people. If I am wearing regular glasses, I can read only if I look under my frames. This is in part why I wear huge bifocals..it forces me to actually use the reading correction.
If I am wearing contacts, I can't read a computer screen, a menu, a book, without reading glasses. This means retraining my brain to NOT use glasses if I'm trying to see beyond the computer screen, which is more frustrating than it sounds. Also, there's a good chance most places will have to order my contacts because my script is *just* at the point of being uncommon enough to not be kept in stock.
If I am wearing non-bifocals, I can only read if I (a) look beneath my lenses or (b) put reading glasses on over my glasses. This doesn't seem to make sense, but it works. Mostly. I mean, it cuts back significantly on what I can see distance-wise. Thanks to computer screen settings, I can enlarge the font to allow me to mostly see without my readers..I think I was up to 170% and it still wasn't super clear but it was workable. Sadly, it means that if my computer opens a new tab, I'm back to not being able to read the screen.
What I learned was that my script has changed. Even with my glasses and readers, I was unable to do things such as see spilled beads and be able to pick them up. I didn't do very much cross stitching because I was struggling in general to see detail. I've had headaches and eye strain every night from my brain being taxed to process all these varied focal points. Because I don't wear contacts very often, my eyes had some issues wearing them every day. (Although hey, without having huge frames on my face, I was forced to actually look at myself in the morning - which I tend to not want to do - and that encouraged me to wear makeup. So! Small positives.)
After maybe a week of struggling like this, I ended up ordering some bifoclas via Zenni Optical, tweaking my script up to -7/-6/+2. They arrived last night and it is, frankly, almost making me weep to be able to see well again. I just had no idea how bad my vision really is. I feel much more compassion for people that struggle with problems more serious than mine.
I've spent a lot of time over the past few years wearing my old glasses while I cross stitch because that allows me to watch TV and still be able to see to stitch. My bifocals don't really allow me to see that much detail. And I've been struggling to even browse shelves in bookstores because the focal point is kinda weird. This is *heartbreaking* and it's not something I've admitted to anyone until right now. I'd probably do better with transitional lenses, to be honest, but that raises the price of glasses even more for me.
It's kinda hard to admit to my vision problems. I'm doing so because I've never seen anyone else describe what it's like to need bifocals beyond, "Oh, I put readers on over my glasses to get me through." This is a part of aging I didn't anticipate being as difficult as it is.
And if I ever leave the country again, I'm absolutely bringing a back-up pair of glasses. Because I can't imagine dealing with this while away from home.
This has been an intense few months...not just because of Halloween! My mother, Iris, had a recent surprise bout (and defeat!!) of a wicked rare form of cancer this year. She's had some health stuff pile up as a result of her surgery, and the bills are..impressive. Here's a pretty way to shop for $WINTERHOLIDAY presents and generate donations for her!
Some of you may have seen Bravelets - bracelets and necklaces in varied styles that bear the slogan "be brave." Money raised from these sales goes to varied fundraising efforts...and this one is very important to me.
Bracelets purchased on this page will generate donations to my mother to help her with her medical bills ...even with Medicare, that stuff is *expensive*.
Today, all purchases on the Bravelets page will generate ***$20*** in donations, not just $10! So if you're looking for a shiny present as a $WINTERHOLIDAY gift, please consider clicking and shopping here. That would be awesome of you.
THANK YOU!!!! (And yes, please consider boosting the signal!) #GIVINGTUESDAYhttps://www.bravelets.com/b…/help-iris-
- Daddy Doesn't Purr (But I Love Him Anyway) by Jason Michael - A charming tale told by a cat about what it's like to be adopted into a new family. Proceeds of this story of a special sort of blended family are being donated to two animal charities in Virginia. This would be a lovely bedtime story book.
- True Haiku for You: A Daily Dose of Spiritual Growth by Jason Michael - A book for the adults! "Begun as therapy writing in 2001 after the death of his father, and inspired by watching Dr. Wayne Dyer's PBS special, There's a Spiritual Solution to Every Problem, Jason's "Haiku Project" has amassed some 4400 haiku to date and there's no end in sight. True Haiku for You is a collection of 366 haiku primarily on inspirational, motivational and spiritual themes designed to be a daily reminder of our self-worth, of our need to persevere, and of our innate ability to overcome any crisis. Meant to be read one haiku per day True Haiku for You strives to be a reminder that God is all around us, without and within." (I also love this book.)
- Acting Out Yoga books by Danielle Palli - If you're looking for new ways to get your youngsters moving around and trying new things, you should really consider buying one (or both!) of these two books. Harvir in the Amazon follows the adventures of Harvir the ferret in the Amazon rainforest; Anna in Paris recounts the journey of another ferret, Fondue, and his wanderings through Paris. Both ferrets make use of yoga poses throughout their travels, and kids are encouraged to try out these poses as well! The Acting Out Yoga series is an innovative introduction to yoga for both the storyteller and the story listener! An additional bonus is that portions of the purchase price are also donated to children's charities - Harvir proceeds go to a nonprofit organization that provides much-needed school supplies and medical care to young children in the Amazon Jungle, and Anna purchases support the Healthy Start Coalition of Manatee County!
- Natural Charm - Julie creates affordable, beautiful jewelry and rosaries out of flowers, herbs, spices, candy, coffee (!!!), and tea. She also has several lines of map pendants - the You Are Here collection (which includes an option for putting two maps together, ideal for lovers separated by miles), the Halloween Town Maps collection, and - perfect for holiday gift giving! - the Christmas Town Maps collection! Buy your special someone a necklace that features one of 9 real cities with a Christmas-y name! I love Julie's stuff so much..you will, too!
- Capsulariums - Bones are pretty. Laurel's creations using bones are exquisite. From earrings that showcase smaller bones to necklaces that incorporate clock parts to showcase the art to pieces of artwork that really just must be seen to be believed, Laurel's capsulariums are one of a kind pieces that just amaze me.
- Belethil - Home of the best dang elf ear jewelry you'll find. Alanya makes absolutely gorgeous stuff and her stock fluctuates often..there's not a lot posted in her Etsy store right now, but watch that space, folks. And if you want something custom made, you'd best contact her ASAP..demand for her work is pretty heavy!
- AFMetalsmith - Amanda's focus has a strong Celtic leaning, and you won't find better celtic critter knotwork pendants anywhere else. Dragons, owls, deer, bears, ravens and more...it's all just beautiful, and available in varied metals. The store also offers trinket rings, wedding rings, scent lockets, enameled pieces...so much goodness!! (I'd be remiss if I didn't point out her whimsical wingnut jewelry as well.) ALSO ALSO...Amanda's knotwork can be found at ElectricCelt, where it's been used to adorn wooden lightswitches and a truly lovely Ogham divination set.
- Celtic Art Store - I discovered this artisan at a local Ren faire last year. I was feeling completey overwhelmed by the crowd and the day, and when Erin invited me into her booth to trace a knotwork pattern with a small instrument, I had ZERO interest in complying. That said...wow, did it help my brain calm down and focus. A lot. It's like walking a labyrinth for those of us that have no time and no access to a labyrinth. :) These bits of magic are called Mandalynths, and they're truly great for helping with stress, anxiety, autism, ADHD and PTSD. (Click on the type of pattern to see which version is recommended for what ails ya.) You'll also find a new-but-growing line of glass dome jewelry in this brand spanking new web store!
- Ego Likeness - You've rocked out to their music ...now bring them into your home. The majority of their art is done on old book covers and combines varied mediums into some truly interesting images. If you've seen the band in person, this is the art they're selling at their merch table. I'm not going to link to their art because there's too dang much to choose from. Just go to their store and start looking. (Sometimes there's jewelry available as well. There isn't right now, but if you like stuff that incorporates animal skulls, you should keep an eye on this space.
OTHER AWESOME STUFF
- Trilodeon - This unique Pittsburgh-based company uses alchemy-inspired art (and the odd trilobite or two) on its offerings of eye masks, pillows, patches, scented meditation pillows, prints, t-shirts, eye pillows, and hea/coldt packs. Lots of links because I love everything these guys make. Note: Shop on December 1st and use the code YAY20 to save 20% on your order!
- Alternate Histories - Another Pittsburgh-based company that I love madly! These guys take old images and maps and insert monsters into them, or twist them into reflecting a history where monsters and aliens are a common part of life in America. You can search their store by US regions, which is something I think is pretty great. Want proof there's a creature running rampant in Sacramento? A lake monster in Cleveland? Do you suspect robots were involved in the Revolutionary War? Would you like a map showing exactly where the zombie outbreaks have been in Pittsburgh? Look no further! You'll also find some of the most unique holiday cards on the market as well as a series of prints advertising why you should flee America's monsters. (And psst..use code TURKEYDAY to get 25% off your order until 12/1/2014!)
- Shadow Elements - Mary creates some of the best cat beds out there. She uses organic buckwheat, and you can purchase varied covers to fit your and your kitty's needs. Pair it up with a soothing travel dream pillow and case for your own snoozing needs! (The pillows are not currently listed, but let her know you're interested and she'll hook you up!) Mary also creates lovely stained glass pieces and an assortment of tote bags for your gifting needs!
There is NO way I can list every awesome person I know that creates fantastic things. :( But this is a good start! :)
Hope the start of your $WINTERHOLIDAY season treats you gently! <3
but this bell in my chest still rings
and it’s better to just pretend
that I can’t see you waving
can’t hear you call my name
Brains and hearts are complicated things.
I am married to my perfect partner. I am grateful on a daily basis that he is in my life...truly, he's everything I wanted, and all of the things I needed. For the first time in my life, I am completely committed to just one person.
Still, sporadically I have a sad.
I've never really stopped disliking that I have a divorce in my past. Divorce completely changed my life. There were people on the borders of my life that thought, honestly thought, I had my life pretty together. And in a slow crumbling that took a few years to complete, everything changed.
It was horrible. It was, in some ways, really necessary for other opportunities to happen. I lost my secure-but-brain-numbing job. I moved to the middle of nowhere and figured out how to not be Mrs. Poole. And how to survive on very very little. I had the opportunity for some truly amazing experiences. I learned how to date in a way that guaranteed no one would ever truly have my heart again. And then I learned, suddenly, that I was doing the dating thing wrong. That it was time to let someone past my walls. And when the timing was right and we had the opportunity to actually, finally start dating, it was worth...everything.
Still, I have a sad.
When my first husband first talked about divorce, he said he knew he was hard to live with and that he wanted to "give" me a divorce because he wanted us to stay friends. It's the gift I have most NOT wanted. And in the end, we didn't stay friends.
His name floated past my news feed today. I thought about us not talking, and that I'm still not sure why that is. I went back and read old emails, and I think I understand a little more of why we don't talk. I don't think I could ever really hear his pain about it all. I remember us talking and crying, a lot; but I don't know if, in the rubble that remained afterwards, if we heard enough or understood enough. He wrote that I shut him out. That's true. We were trying to live together but be separated, which is not something I recommend to anyone. It didn't work. At all. I moved out, hoping that trying something different would work. Obviously, it didn't. And in the end, we argued about money and what to do with the house, and I'm still not sure if that was the final argument that made further talking too much to ask.
We started hanging out and becoming friends because we wanted a movie watching buddy.
It's been about 10 years since our divorce. I think each year I understand more about what happened in my first marriage. And yet I've spent several years of that time wishing I had my buddy back.