purple peony

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The past few months have been quite stressful, especially in regards to my mom. Moving her was far more upsetting than I ever could have anticipated, and our calls, instead of being a source of support, leave me feeling drained. Her continued unhappiness is so unlike her. At least I know that she is in a wonderful place. Considering her black mood, the fact that her only real complaint is the view out her window (of a lovely courtyard--but alas, not hills)is reassuring.
purple peony

The Depressing Stuff

Right before Thanksgiving I flew out to CA to help my sister move my mother into an assisted living facility. The good news is that my sister found a wonderful place for her just a few miles down the road from where she lives. The bad news is that Mom did not want to go, did not think she needed to move for at least a few more years, and accuses my sister of "shanghaiing" her, to get her down there and moved out. The problem is, she probably could have stayed in her home had there been anyone near enough to check on her daily, at least for a little longer. But Mom's short term memory is failing badly. She is having great trouble remembering her medications, and more often then not cannot remember who has visited her (that day? yesterday? an hour ago?), who her caretakers are (I just let in whoever comes to the door), or other recent events (have you seen my new apartment? after I helped her move in)

It tears our hearts to see her so unhappy. Her most bitter complaint is that she has no view. Her apartment looks out on a lovely green courtyard with nice plantings, a lawn, trees, and a huge fountain, but there is a building on the other side, and she wants mountains, or at least a green hillside. That she cannot get, as the facility is in high desert country, another sore point.

On the plus side, she says the food is good, and residents are able to eat whenever they want, rather than having to attend set mealtimes. They can also keep pets, and some have cats or small dogs. People a very friendly and there are lots of activities that get people together. The lobby has several seating areas around a huge fireplace, a giant tv for movie night or watching a big game, a craft room, a piano, and many other amenities. They decorate for the seasons, and everyone has a niche by their door to fill as they please, making the hallways interesting and giving the rooms personality. Mom has no complaints about the place; her complaint is that she doesn't want to be there--she wants to be home.

To make poor L even more miserable, she just received a diagnosis of cancer for a sore on her leg that wouldn't heal. She had surgery Tuesday, and is trying to recuperate.

I took my baby with me, and managed to write almost every day. I'm so glad I had it. It was even better to come back home and have Thanksgiving with my children. We all went to see New Moon in an empty theater Thankgiving morning, and spent half the film laughing like hyenas at all the kitch. We enjoyed it thoroughly, especially because we could make snarky comments without disturbing a lot of people. In fact, when we started howling at one particularly "romantic" scene, the few other watchers cracked up, too. Good choice, K! Then on Saturday we all went to G F's resurrected Christmas Ball. So much fun to dress in our ball gowns and spend a night singing carols, eating treats, and dancing our favorite kind of English country dances to wonderful live music.

This year's points of interest included a period-costumed performance of a minuet, all mother/daughter combos having the mother and the daughter wearing identical hairstyles (okay, there were only two families with a mother and a daughter there, but still!!!), and all the men wearing skirts were straight (okay, so what if they call them kilts? as far as I could tell, the guys wearing them were all attached to women while the gay men preferred full colonial or Dickensian top hats and tailcoats.) Speaking of which, our host was so overcome with Christmas cheer, he kissed Earl on the cheek (whereas the kids and I only rated hugs. We were all much amused.) We had a wonderful time, and when I apologized to Kylie for dragging her to such a geriatric affair (she and the other girl and Alan were probably about the only people there younger than us) she said, "I'm not here to look for a mate, Mom. I'm here to dance." And it is SO MUCH FUN to dance with a minimum of teaching and a maximum of people who know what they are doing. Hummm. Maybe I'll make a New Year's resolution to get to more balls. Provided my feet cooperate.
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    calm calm
purple peony

Long Time No Post

Sorry all. Or few. Or none? One would THINK I would have more free time once achieving empty nest. And indeed, I had more free time, which I spent playing Gaia instead of writing. Ah well. I am still not rich, but my closets are bulging and my avi is happy. And in real life, I spent much less real money on real clothes I didn't really need because I was too busy spending virtual money on virtual clothes that my avi didn't really need. E is happy, because it's his real money I'm not spending!

Family news:

K has been doing really, really well. The first few weeks of college were rough, and we went down three times in the first five days to help her move in and to deal with problems. The goal was keeping her there. The worst problems that soaked up the most time on our part and tears on her part had to do with pharmacy mix-ups and computer problems. Oddly enough, I do not recall having any prescription medications nor personal computers when I started my freshman year, (perhaps because the latter had not yet been invented?) so it's difficult to tell my daughter she ought to be able to handle it all herself. Normal college problems like dealing with living away from home for the first time, classes, professors, a roommate, dorm living, etc. she has managed fine. She definitely chose the right school. Apparently they hand-pick roommates, and she got one she like so much that she sulks when the roommate goes home for a weekend. They are already planning to go to Anime Boston together this spring.

I am so pleased, not to mention relieved. The campus is lovely. I went down to pick her up for a visit home at the height of the foliage season, and all the trees surrounding the lake had turned color and the water was still as a mirror. K has an enormous room, complete with two walk-in closets that lock, (fully lit with floor to ceiling shelving) so she and her roommate each have a safe, personal space. Their dorm and furniture is old, but the bathroom is up-to-the-minute modern with toilet handles that flush up or down depending on if you have liquid or solid waste. When you add her dorm's "Harry Potter" theme this year, you know she's in the right place.

Meanwhile A keeps calling me bursting with happy news. He found a job for next semester (a necessity if he is to stay in school) working as an assistant to a reference librarian. As he has never done reference work before, this job will fill in yet another gap in his resume, making him more employable in the future. He also got accepted at a conference in Ohio(?) to present a paper, a scary but exciting first, and also something that will look good to future employers. He loves being back at school, has no problem with his roommate (the apartment is structured so they have little interaction), and can walk to all his classes. The only bad news has been his two ambulance rides to the hospital with kidney stones. It is very exciting to have both our children out in the world, doing well.

E continues to get more and more involved in both karate (as a black belt he is required to help judge tournaments, etc.) and his music group, which has done several gigs, a few of which were paying. We are also trying to get back to dancing more, which has been difficult with my recalcitrant foot. He has also been stealing my Baby when I am busy doing something important (like playing Booty Grab) on our desktop. Methinks it will soon be time to get him a laptop of his own, with all the bells and whistles he so earnestly desires.

Meanwhile, I am still writing. A little. Sort of. I've put aside both Tamarind's Tale and Troll Wives for the moment to rewrite Troll Prince, which I have not touched since Odyssey. Talk about suckage! I had no idea it was so bad. The thinking is that by starting over at the chronological beginning, I'll be able to achieve coherence, and make sure Tamarind's Tale incorporates any changes. I am making major changes, dropping certain POV's and expanding others, which requires a lot of new material.

Anyway, sorry about the blank months. The Halloween event on Gaia was beyond awesome, and I spent every waking minute playing. And yes, the rumor that I am sitting on a hoard of more than 3,000 orbs in zOMG is true. (And I used to think I had a lot when I accumulated more than 100!)
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    good good
purple peony

Empty Nest!

We have achieved Empty Nest! On Tuesday E and A drove two fully loaded cars to Rhode Island where A met his new roommate for the first time and settled who got which bedroom in the apartment A rented. The place is a real dive (though everyone assures me it's been cleaned up since I saw it), but the price was right and the location could not be better. It's only a five minute walk to campus! The apartment has two floors. The basement rooms are so low-ceilinged that A hits his head if he goes on tip-toe. The bedroom on that level is minuscule and claustrophobic, but luckily A's (shorter) roommate is taking it. To counter that, he gets the downstairs bathroom, which is larger and nicer. The kitchen is down there as well. Upstairs is a nice, small front room, which will be the roommate's study area. A's part includes a tiny walk-through bathroom, a tiny, dark, back room, and a decent-sized bedroom, all on the upper level. Definitely "student" housing. A is very excited and is really looking forward to some of his classes.

Thursday, E and I drove K to Mount Holyoke. The day started well. As we wandered around her dorm looking for the stairs, we noticed one of the function rooms was labeled "Slytherin Common Room". Another was labeled "Huffelpuff" and the biggest one with the grand piano was "Griffindor". The elevator was clearly labeled "Room of Requirement", and the dorm rooms had not only the girl's names on them, but which house they were in. On the third floor we found an otherwise unmarked door, behind which were strange humming noises. A boiler room? It's sign read "Department of Mysteries". At last we found K's room, and she was delighted to learn that she and her roommate were Slytherins. The building (and furniture) are old, nothing like the new things A had in his freshman dorm, but the room was actually spacious! It's at least 12' by 18', which is really nice for two. Plus it's a corner room with windows looking two directions toward campus with a nice tree just outside. What really surprised us is that there were two walk-in closets with floor to ceiling shelves! The closets lock with the room key, so K feels like she has a safe place (and plenty of room) for her things. There is also a small room with a sink and microwave just around the corner from her room, and the bathroom has been modernized and was very nice. Anyway, we are very happy with the dorm and room that she was placed in.

Naturally, she forgot stuff, and after seeing the room more things came to mind, such as a step-stool to help her reach the high shelving in the closet. I took her shopping while E spent hours and the usual amount of frustration trying to set up her computers and phone. He FINALLY got her desk computer working, but we never did get her netbook online (she has to take it into the library and have them do it), nor were we able to acquire a working phone number for the jack in her room. If she hadn't had the cell, we would have had no way to reach her, nor her to reach us. We were all exhausted, her period was rampaging, and she was close to losing it as time for us to leave approached and we went down to eat dinner. Then her One Card (which is both her dining pass and the entry key to the buildings) didn't work. She hurried back to the office where she'd got it, but they were closed, and Public Safety couldn't help, because they loaned their machine to the office that was closed. That meant K had no way to eat or to get into her dorm!!! Yes, they did give her food, but this was the straw that broke the camel's back. We had to leave with K in tears, terrified of being locked out and alone. So far, other than the resident assistants, there appears to be no other students in her building. She kept saying she wanted to go home.

This morning was little better. She woke me up to share her misery with a call on her cell phone, and sent several messages of woe via computer. However, she DID get her card fixed, she DID attend all the activities, and she took care of herself by deciding to forgo meals and just take some food up to her room and rest during lunch and dinner instead of trying to deal with the stressful dining hall. We are hoping that when her dorm's dining hall opens next week she will have a better alternative for mealtime. Skipping dinner meant she was able to get a PM to me through Gaia before the evening activities started, and I was finally able to phone her on the land line, as E had tracked down the right number by calling the school. Talking to us about her day (without worrying about using up her minutes) helped K calm down and see that it wasn't all bad, and when we hung up she sounded a lot better. It helped her to know that she wasn't cut off, and she was looking forward to meeting with the Lunar Howling Society in the amphitheater tonight to howl at the moon.
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    relieved relieved

Cirque de Soleil

Wow! We all went last night to see the Cirque de Soleil. What a wonderful show. A was eager to go, as he, like me, had heard good things about it, but E and K were less enthusiastic, especially as E does not much like circuses. This one is different. E was so enthralled he bought the CD at intermission, and today I've been enjoying the haunting music. So see it if you ever have the opportunity. Some of the acts were breathtaking. Literally. The show we saw was Allegria.
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Meijer Garden, red

Pictures Are Up!

At last K's graduation pictures are here for you to enjoy:

Can't see the pic? It's friends-locked. Get a live journal account and have me friend you to see. Just click on sign up. You don't have to put anything in your journal, but you need an account to get into friend's locked material. More pictures can be found here.  The thumbnails don't show the entire photo, so click on each one to see it properly.
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    accomplished accomplished

Summer where are you?

Yet another cold rainy day. Where is summer? In between horrible thunderstorms, we had one glorious sunshiny morning--for K's graduation. What luck! Pics to come. Have downloaded from the camera, but not gone over--too wrapped up in Gaia. K and I have been meeting online to adventure, and I have been having so much fun. Love my little avatar! I really enjoy shopping 'til I drop, especially when the clothes actually look good on me and I don't have to spend real money. Guilt free indulgence! What more could I want? Besides, I get to slay evil pink garden flamingoes. Anyone else want to come play?

In real life E's dad continues to improve, but slowly. Can move right shoulder and is gaining strength on left. Can hold book, but not feed himself. My heart goes out to E's mom. This is the season of weddings and deaths. The last six months have seen us invited to four weddings (all of which were too far away for us to attend) and two relatives and a friend's husband have died. Not to mention the four major health catastrophes. No wonder I want to escape to a fantasy world where the worst that can happen is I lose an auction or get dazed.

Finished all my writing chores, but no forward work on writing. Am reading Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass, and what he says makes a lot of sense, but is very discouraging in terms of my current books. Tamarind's Tale has promise, though I need another rewrite, but Troll Wives is a mess and would sink my career if it ever actually got started. Hope to get some ideas for it at TNEO, but suspect I won't get much done until fall, after the kids are gone. Perhaps I should just plan to take the summer off and play. At least I've been working on the tabards for the ren faire next week. Got the designs on eight or nine. My goal today is to actually finish some. We'll see. At least I've made substantial progress!
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    restless restless

A Belated Triumph

At least, belated in my opinion!  K has never won any sort of award for English, despite years of A+'s and gushing teachers, but finally, her senior year, she won the department award for Academic Excellence in English Grade 12, and received a nice plaque.  Very nice.  Graduation tomorrow, hope it does not rain!
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    grumpy grumpy
purple peony

Life and Stuff

E's father still improving, but slooowly.  Strength returning to left side, some movement of shoulder on right, plus when he attempts to lift his leg, staff can feel  muscles rippling under his skin--a good sign.  I am much encouraged.  His wife, L, is putting in place arrangements for him to come home.  She called and we got to talk a long time.

Finally got to talk to my niece, S, and nephew, D, on the phone while they were up in Alaska to support their mom.  It was so good to hear their voices, and everyone was doing better than I feared.  My sister, L, is still in that numb state of shock that allows one to function, but is exhausted.

My mom seems to be doing a little better, too.  At least her physical health is good.  Still a lot of trouble with the short term memory.

Meanwhile, I have been sucked into the virtual world of Gaia Online, and am having trouble focusing on anything else.  Have done NO writing since returning from MI.  I have, however, finished my round two critiques, and my round three submission, which is due tomorrow.  What I have not done is finish my synopsis, which is also due tomorrow.  Have started it.  Will finish or bust!!!

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    determined determined
purple peony

I got to Dance All Night! (and all day, too...)

This weekend E and I went to Across The Lake in Vermont, near the New York border.  What a fabulous event!  Imagine over a hundred experienced English country dancers (I counted 110) in a beautiful dance hall, with Bare Necessities playing and a good caller teaching us challenging, beautiful, and mostly-new-to-me, dances.  And that was just the afternoon practice session!  They had another hall for those less sure of themselves where they went over the dances for that evening's ball so the minority wouldn't slow the rest of us down.  Next there was a 10 course Chinese dinner where about 70 of us gathered and sat at tables for 10.  We met a neat couple from Ohio (?) that were hardcore SCA members and a lot of fun to talk to.  We discussed using a giant trebuchet to fling cabbages at a boat made up to look like a dragon in some lake.  Then, finally, the ball, where we all returned in our beautiful gowns, tuxes, colonial garb, kilts, or whatever to find the hall redecorated with flowers, plants, and fancy dance shoes to whirl the evening away.  Refreshments included florentine cookies that had been flavored with cherry (good) and cranberry (divine) and all sorts of other delights.  The ball room held about 150, and while it was definitely full, it was not overcrowded, just slightly tight.  We met dancers from VT, MA, NY, NJ, OH, PA, and Canada as well as a good sized contigent from NH.  What an event!  We will definitely be back next year.

The news from the foot specialist is that I have a very bad case of plantar fasciitis.  There is a large pocket of inflamation with an accumulation of fluid under my heel where I injured it, swollen to twice the size it should be.  I am thankful I didn't tear a ligament or need surgery.  He is making me wear lace-up, supportive shoes whenever I walk (even just down the hall to the bathroom--no bare feet), along with a foot brace to take my weight off my heel during the day, and a different foot brace to keep the plantar area stretched out at night.  Additionally, I must ice the area four times a day, and he's put me on prednisone (an evil, evil drug) to reduce the inflamation.  He really wants me to stop walking and stay off my feet, but he did allow me to go to the dance and walk some to try and keep off the weight.  Of course I couldn't wear sneakers to dance in, for fear of twisting my ankle, but the shoes I ended using work out all right, and I danced without pain!!!  Also, my feet felt fine the next morning.  I see the doctor again in three weeks.

I took my baby on the trip and got two critiques completely finished and typed up, one on the drive there, and the second on the drive back!  The line edits were easy enough to do with paper and clipboard, but my baby allowed me to type the final report in my lap while E drove.  I feel all high techy and stuff.  Plus we paid an extra $3 to get wireless at the motel, which allowed me to check my mail, play a little Gaia, and let E check Google maps when we decided to go to the Sunday Brunch part of the event for breakfast.  (He hadn't brought the GPS.)

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    bouncy bouncy