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April 24th, 2011
02:40 pm

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Chard!
It's the zucchini of springtime (along with fava beans). It's also almost like free food. I bought a six pack of bright lights chard (pretty red and yellow stems) about three years ago. As long as I let one or two go to seed, I have a neverending supply of it.

Frankly, the CSA also provides a very regular supply of it, so I tend to let the ones in the gardens go a bit wild until I need a large quantity for something. This weekend, I decided to make spanikopita, which requires a large variety of green leafy stuff (traditionally spinach, but most anything will work if it isn't too bitter).

So I hacked at the plants and hauled in a couple of armloads of the stuff. Then I realized that I *really* didn't want to stand at the sink for hours washing it one bunch at a time.

So I tossed it in the bathtub!

I'll get the pictures up eventually. A bathtub full of chard (yes I cleaned it first...and afterwards given the earwigs and snails hiding in the leaves and drowned in the tub), turned into two large bowls packed full. Steamed in the giant stockpot (adding more as the steamed stuff reduced in volume) with onions and a lot of oregano gave me enough wilty, squishy greens to mostly fill the 8 quart pan. After adding cheese and a bit of egg and pepper, it all stuffed into layers of phyllo dough in my large lasagna pan.

Chris expressed amazement that the bathtub full of chard now fits in that pan. :)

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February 21st, 2011
10:24 pm

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DundraCon
Click here for rambling and lots of parenthetical expressions.Collapse )

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September 13th, 2010
11:54 am

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The sick, I has it
The massive stuffiness I assumed was all allergy this weekend? Nope. Well, some of it was, certainly on Friday night and Saturday. I expect I picked it up at con last weekend and the allergies just weakened things enough to let it take hold.

I suppose that's a warning to all the folks who were around me at Ardenwood to stock up on their vitamin C.

And my awesome sweetie bought me a huge knob of ginger after I called him piteously from faire. So, much sitting on my butt, drinking tea, and dozing off.

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September 9th, 2010
11:15 am

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Putting it away
After almost two weeks of being too busy to pick things,  I pulled in two 5-gallon buckets full of tomatoes plus another basket. I'll bring a bunch of the cherries to Ardenwood and spent two hours last night processing the rest to cook down.

I think this year I finally need to learn to can things. Thankfully, tomatoes and pickles are the two things I can can without a pressure canner (and the higher cost-of-entry to that particular activity). However, before I go out and buy tools, I'm wondering if anyone has canning equipment they'd be willing to loan in return for some of the resulting canned goods? (or raw produce if you'd rather not gamble on the my newbie canning skills)

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August 27th, 2010
05:09 pm

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Harvest season
Definitely getting into that point of the summer where I'm going "how do I eat or preserve all of this?" Which leads to:

1. The tomatoes are finally starting to pour in. So if I've offered you tomatoes (which is pretty much anyone on this list and a few that aren't) let me know if you want some. If you want cherry tomatoes, I can bury you in them. :)

2. Today is harvest, tomorrow (Saturday) is processing. I'm making sauce and salsa from about 2 p.m. onward tomorrow. I'm open to the idea of visitors if anyone wants to come by and have a cup of tea while I take a break from bathing my hands in tomatoes, or wants to do some chopping and processing of their own with company, or wants to take home a container of salsa or tomato sauce. The latter probably requires a call to see if anything is finished enough to put in a container and haul away.

3. We're at the point of renewing our CSA. I love the campus CSA, but it can be a bit overwhelming. There are no different sizes, and they're often very good at providing lots of something C and I don't eat, or simply more than we can eat (the green beans have produced insanely well this year, for example). We've been thinking about switching, but the campus CSA is incredibly convenient and a very good deal. The other option is seeing if anyone wants to split the basket in some fashion. So, if you're in Davis and interested in splitting a very local, organic CSA basket, drop me a line. When my garden is producing, this will probably get you some extras along those lines too.

Even if you don't want to split a basket...if you like turnips, speak up and I'll shower you in them all winter. :p

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August 18th, 2010
03:29 pm

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Kitty hotel?
Short version: Looking for someone with space for an itinerant Maine Coon cat for two weeks at the beginning of September.

Longer version: A friend's coworker is moving due to a new job and can't take his 4 yr old Maine Coon with him. One of my coworkers is going to be adding cats back to her house after losing three of her four this past year (2 geriatric and one to poison).

The catch is that she's out of the country for the first few weeks of September, while the cat's current owner is leaving Sept. 1.

I'd take her in, but my  kitten is going through the feline equivalent of the terrible twos, causing geriatric cat and younger-but-sick-of -the-kid-already cat to show  some stress behaviors that I don't want getting worse. Adding a strange cat would probably be unhelpful.

So would anyone like to borrow a Maine Coon for a few weeks? She'd add glamour and excitement to any home. :p

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August 11th, 2010
03:14 pm

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Tomatoes!
So the email I got from the student farm today includes the following:

"Like last year, we have found ourselves with a bounty of tomatoes ripening in the field--more than will fit in your baskets or be sold to the campus Coffee House. If you or someone you know is interested in purchasing bulk tomatoes for cooking, canning, freezing, sun-drying, etc, we are now selling 20lb. boxes of both fresh market slicing and roma (paste/canning) tomatoes for $20.00/box."

My pasters are ripening late with the cool summer, so I'm likely to get a box of pasters to work with now and plan on another massive pile of processing next month when mine are ready.

1. if anyone else is interested in getting a quantity of tomatoes at $1/lb, let me know and I can pass you along to the powers that be over there. If you feel like coordinating, I can probably pick yours up when I get mine as well. Their slicing tomatoes are basic red and yellow tomatoes of medium size. Their pasters, judging from last year, are quite nice.

2. I'm just starting into the realm of 'too many tomatoes to eat before they go bad' from my own garden. So if anyone is interested in some from the garden, I'll be bringing some to practice. Likewise eggplants since I can never eat many of those.

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August 4th, 2010
11:01 am

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Summer bounty

Yeah, still kicking, if not terribly active online. I spent the past two weekends doing a lot of gardening, cooking, and freezing. I’ve got plenty of nectarines (thanks Groblek and Kay_gmd!), raspberries and strawberries frozen for my summer smoothie fix. The first pot of tomato sauce is nearly cooked down enough to freeze. And I’m really pleased with the batch of salsa I came a bit close to liquefying in the food processor (oops).

 

Our tomatoes look a few weeks away from tipping into the realm of too much to keep up with (at which point I start hauling some to practice). The salsa used up the huge pile of cherry tomatoes from garden and CSA plus the pile of CSA tomatillos. I’m also finding that hiding zucchini and eggplant in anything that goes through the blender works well. Then C and I will actually eat them.

 

Raspberries are producing like crazy out at Impossible Acres so I’ve been out there picking berries both of the last weekends. While wandering the orchards to see if there were any ripe stonefruit, I noticed an oddly shrubby tree in among the cherries. It turned out to have small, tart cherries on it. Since I love tart cherries for baking, I happily stripped the tree.

 

At first I thought they may have put in some pie cherries for pollination purposes. But with such small fruit, I thought I’d do a quick look at what kind of fruit cherry rootstocks produce. Bingo. Looks like they have a number of trees where the scion variety weakened or died back, allowing the Mahaleb rootstock to grow wild. Last weekend, I went poking among the cherries some more and found these scattered throughout the orchard, harvesting enough cherries to freeze for later use. I’m now officially sick of pitting cherries.

 

The cherries were starting to dry on the tree, so those are likely done. But the raspberries will be going like gangbusters for a week or so yet, at least, and there were a number of plum and apricot varieties that should be ripe this week and next. If anyone’s interested in a picking excursion, let me know since I’m considering getting one more batch of raspberries.

 

With all the fruit, it was also a good time to work on cordials. So I filtered the apricot and plum brandies, started strawberry, nectarine-raspberry, raspberry, and cherry vodka-based cordials as well as a cherry-chocolate whiskey. I need to pick up a couple of vanilla beans to add to some of those.

 

Hmm…turns out that mahaleb cherry seeds are used as a spice . Huh. Maybe I’ll see if we have any leftover from last year at work. It appears they’re a traditional liquor element as well. I may just have to see if there are a few non-shrivelled ones left this weekend. Yep, looks like I’ll be doing some picking for sure, probably Sunday since I’m accompanying C to a gig on Sat. morning.

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June 17th, 2010
12:37 am

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Six degrees or something of the sort
Up in Portland at the moment. Thanks to C's perusal of events going on this week, we headed to Biddy McGraw's to listen to an Irish group (Stringed Migration).

A group of four folks were up doing set dancing, and C and I did a two hand jig here and a waltz there. More interestingly, C ended up chatting with one of the local dancers a bit while fetching a pint of cider (mmm..Blackthorne) and mentioned that he'd learned at the Starry Plough. This got a response along the lines of "oh, don't they have this book of odd ceilidh dances that has things like a 5-hand reel in it?" Turns out, she'd been in the Bay Area at some point and heard at least a bit about Terry's book of dances. Small world.

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June 14th, 2010
11:02 am

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Quick Valhalla noise and some cordial crowing.
Weekend one:
  • warm..like 50 degrees as the low variety warm. eep!
  • C came up. Nice to do faire with my sweetie now and again.
  • Orchids Thai water ninjas.
  • Dessert and dance exchange with the Ottomans
Weekend two:
  • More Thai, including isolationist gulag and Murray Pranksters party of 15
  • More dessert and dance exchange-with added booze due to item below
  • Cordial competition (well, homebrew competition...more below) ifonlyuntil9 took top honors and our cadre of cordial makers had a good showing overall. Congrats are definitely in order.
  • Port + chocolate + fire = win
Despite some lack of communication (we found out entry requirements on Sunday morning!), there were 25 entries to the competition--24 cordials and one mead. I believe Pryankster cordialmakers entered a total of 10. Many of us were well short of the requested 10-12 oz, but they didn't turn anyone away. The judging ran longer than the hour allotted and we had to get to our stage show...kind of a pity because that meant they had a lot of non-present winners when they were announcing results.

The aforementioned winning entry was the only cream cordial...an amazing Irish Cream that had some really wonderful comments from the judges. It's pretty much sex in a bottle. It also had a very, very short lifespan after the contest as it was passed around at our visit to the Ottoman Traders. nom, nom, nom

Also in the top 5 that they chose the winner from were groblek 's apple spice, masterfiddler 's peach (2nd overall, I believe), and my cranberry orange (which, I think was 3rd overall judging by the tiny 3 next to my score tally). So yes, Pryanksters took four of the top five spots (sharing with the one mead). Congrats to the boozemakers! :)

Apparently the judges (professional types from one of the local bars) were impressed at the quality all around, and moreso by the fact that these were just indicative of the stuff that gets brought to faire for sharing all the time rather then something made specifically to work toward prizes.


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May 31st, 2010
03:16 pm

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Kublacon weekend update and stuffs
Trying to bullet point a bit to avoid the insanely long ramble this could be.

Thursday night: Kitten! Pictures eventually. Name is still in limbo.

Friday morning: Run errands, pack up car and kitten and roll.

Friday afternoon: Divide and conquer! I handled hotel check in, unloading, settling kitten safely while C. started our game. I joined in before the prelude scene was done and we handed GM duties back and forth. The highlight this time was the dueling groups of sneaky, and the fact that the split group saw each side with different pieces of the puzzle. The ghost encounter has still never been drawn.

Friday evening: Headed to San Mateo for dinner. The place we'd intended to eat was closed and we stopped at Bollywood Indian Restaurant. Really tasty, and provided leftovers for Sunday. Win! Flea Market for me to sell piles of stuff sorted out of the shelves last August. Made my table fee, plus enough to snag the used copy of Agricola the guy next to me was selling ($30! *happy dance*) and an extra $15. So that was successful. Sleep...punctuated by kitten hunting anything that moved and trying to nest in my hair.

Saturday morning: C and I both got into buffaloraven 's Dread game. Neat mechanic, particularly for con/one-shot games. The historical notes were welcome and added some poignancy to what could get a bit slap-happy at times. And the setup allowed for a lot of good-natured back-stabbery. loupyone 's character gave mine an unexpectedly poignant ending that I'm pretty sure the jerk didn't deserve.

Saturday afternoon: Nap! With more kitten escapades.

Saturday evening: Dinner out with C and filialunae at Tapas place. Food was good as remembered, but they had the music cranked up for some live tango dancers to perform to, and C was in the process of developing some variety of chest cold. So we were all a bit low-energy. Stopped by Sweet Breams for chibi taiyaki and called it a night.

Sunday morning: Sleeping in! The kitten's talent for running across the bed and onto the nightstand, then trying to stop on the slippery varnished surface resulted in us getting used to sleeping through a lot of *bounce, bounce, slide..thud.* We then found our way over to con for some board game demos. Mystery Express has a time component that involves looking through a stack of cards with clock faces on them and trying to remember which one has one less showing up. I'm not so good with the visual pattern recognition thing...so I gave that element up in a hurry. It did make me wonder how well anyone born in the age of digital clocks would do with it.

Sunday afternoon: Got into Todd's Unknown Armies horror game, which had a good group of players. It ended up powerful and affecting. Also, C and I got to play in it together....twice at one con is pretty unheard of.

Sunday evening: I'd gotten into the Risus/In Nomine game, but was feeling too wiped to play until 2 a.m. C was sounding worse with the chest cold too. So we opted to order pizza and chose Toto's based on someone's recommendation to seannittner . If you like huge quantities of not very good mozzerella...this is awesome pizza. Otherwise, it was way too greasy for us and we sort of ate enough to provide fuel and dumped the rest.

Monday morning: Breakfast with a bunch of folks. Sadly, the hotel restaurant appeared to have staff based on a normal, non-convention Monday. So service was insanely slow. It was nice to get to visit and linger a bit, but they kind of pushed it past the point where that could comfortably make up for the delay. Packed, listened to kitten whine all the way home.

the end :)

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May 8th, 2010
04:26 pm

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If anyone wonders what hermitting looks like.
I feel less like a slacker on days like this.

Started the morning by washing more clothes, moving some from last night off the line and hanging the newly washed...with breakfast in there somewhere.

Back garden: Removed the dead citrus and planted the variegated pink lemon in its place. Pulled out spent pea vines, collected about a half peck (peck = 1/4 bushel) of very mature peas in the process. I've neglected them the last couple of weeks after three weeks of picking barely ready peas to eat. Pulled out fava beans and collected about a peck of those. Watered everything in well, pulled a few weeds, and thinned some beets.

Back yard: Watered everything really well.

Then cut some roses and sweet peas for the house from the back and south gardens and got them into vases. Turns out my inherited geranium (came with the place) matches the deep maroon sweet peas that decided to grow. (I have very intermittent luck with sweet peas)--very pretty. And coral bells turn out to be adorable with roses. The coral bells are also inherited. I picked up a few new varieties this year but they aren't blooming yet. Dumped last year's huge bouquet of dried lavender in the compost because I needed the larger vase for roses. I'll make a new one sometime next month when the lavender is in full bloom.

Rest, do email, food, etc.

Off to the north garden. Pulled fava beans there, and got about a half bushel of beans. Planted two roses, three poppies, a dozen tomatoes, and a white sage. Dug four post holes and set the posts. Watered everything in really well. Thinned the ratty growth on the chard and used it to mulch the newly planted tomatoes.

Pausing a few minutes for tea and cool before heading to WEF. Then off to work to do a few things so that Monday isn't super nuts. I should cook when I get back, but may just fall over and read instead.

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May 5th, 2010
04:40 pm

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Shiny, shiny squirrels!
So, I get email with Shadowscapes updates because I love the art (thanks darkfuzzyheart for introducing me to her and her work).

First, the Tarot deck I've been waiting for is finally released. Yay! Not only that, but there's a special edition that I'll probably save up and splurge on because it includes a sketch done individually for each.

You'll also notice mention of the  Happy Squirrel Card. I just had to follow the breadcrumbs to see what that was about, since I even vaguely remember the Simpsons episode that spawned it. Happy Squirrel Card

Even more amusing is the semi-serious discussion of said card on a tarot forum (that I think I could spend some time browsing.) I don't get to read often, but I love collecting decks. It's a cheap way to acquire lots of fabulous art.

So yeah, lots of meandering and giggling in spare moments this afternoon.

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May 4th, 2010
10:14 am

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Free plants!
One of the perks of working for a plant-related department at the University is the occasional freebies. Every department that needs to propagate plants here ends up making more than they need due to the inherent uncertainty in how many will actually survive up to the point when they're needed for research/planting/etc. There's a largish percentage of people involved who are plant lovers, and therefore hate the idea of just tossing those extras. If you've ever picked up a grape plant at Picnic Day, those are usually our extras and leftovers (or occasionally...oops, we thought folks would want a bunch of these and they didn't--like the pile of Zinfandel vines they handed out this year).

Last week, someone here with connections to the Veg. Crops folks brought a bunch of extra starts over for folks to pick through. This week, the remaining ones were going to be tossed, because we don't want to have greenhouse staff wasting water on them. I decided to see if I could find homes for them. :)

If anyone wants them, I have cherry tomatoes (no, I don't know what variety, they are unlabeled), eggplant, and epazote. Feel free to post a claim. I should be at practice tomorrow, and could bring plants by then. (Reminds me..Temperance, are you planning to be there? I have a maple for you that could be handed off that way.)

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April 19th, 2010
05:05 pm

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Randomness
So, part of trying to eat a bit more intentionally involves actually packing my lunch to work so I have limited space to fill with food and have to think about what I'm taking. The side-motive is to avoid biking back and forth from work in the spring winds and have the habit well established before olives bloom and mean that I spend a couple of miserable hours of allergy ick on either end of the ride through a couple miles of olive-lined paths. This means I'm exploring some of the places around work, because eating at my desk is not very exciting.

Today I took lunch down to the creek. It's a nice not-too-hot day. Some kind of tree down there is setting loose fluffy little seeds, so it was rather enchanting, actually.

After eating and staring at the water a bit, I decided to bike down to the rose collection and see what was blooming. On the way, I spotted someone with a case set on their trunk, assembling what looked like a set of bagpipes. He was engrossed and I was fighting the wind, so I went on. On the way back, he was playing. Just hanging out by the side of the levee road droning away. :)

I think it counts as a Davis moment.

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March 19th, 2010
07:56 am

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Awww
Interrupting breakfast to post this for the geeky knitters. Knitted, plush Serenity. Squee!

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March 8th, 2010
12:05 am

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Garden time--long
Since I really ought to use the space for something that isn't venting once and a while.

I took advantage of the sunny day (and the fact that I didn't have anything scheduled-a rarity of late) to get some much-needed gardening done. I meant to take some pictures to document, but that fell by the wayside. Hopefully next time. I haven't been good about documenting the garden that way in a very long time. Like, prior to digital cameras being common.

I've been looking at the space behind our fence-and the row of pots there-since last spring and never quite getting around to working on anything that wasn't urgent. It's too early and too wet to dig up the main plots, so this seemed like a great time for the 'minor' jobs.

Started the day with C pitching in--starting with weeds. This was awesome because weeding is something I'm not fond of, particularly when I can see hours of other work in front of me. It also meant that I didn't have to describe how to do some of the other things, like rose pruning (I know it's too late to prune roses..they're tough little plants, they'll cope).

I started on the roses. For some reason I didn't prune the potted ones back when I hit all the rest, and two of the potted ones needed to be yanked from their pots and tucked into the north garden so I could use the large pots for citrus. So I hacked off about 3/4 of each one and wrestled them free of soil with C's help. this also netted me a pile of freesia bulbs (sadly destroying quite a few of the buds. That's what I get for leaving this task till March.)

Unsurprisingly, the next job was moving the lemon tree into one of the vacated pots. It looks rather sad after the frosts back in December. The new lime tree went into the other pot.

Then I found spots to plant the displaced freesias and decided that the pot of irises needed splitting. They're the result of purchasing a grab bag of very small irises at one of the arboretum sales. I decided to tuck them in a pot while I figured out where I wanted them. That was about 2 years ago and they were totally packed in the pot. They ended up in front of the beds I rearranged last fall.

Then, on to the rest of the pots. Several of the plastic ones have cracked and developed holes. Most needed more soil to top them off. All the mints were crammed tightly in their pots and needed thinning. All of them needed some shifting around and leveling on top of the bark mulch.

Another benefit of C's weeding job emerged. I've wanted to put some aggressive plants in front of the row of pots to keep the weeds from being so annoying, particularly now that cleavers have moved in. So as I thinned the mints, I could drop a few plugs into the newly-weeded ground in front of the pots. Yay!

A winter purchase of new pruning shears meant that I could get to cutting the low-lying branches of the pineapple guava. And since I was in pruning mode at that point, I took the small set and hacked off all the dead lemongrass bits (didn't like the frost) and crispy catmint twigs.

Lastly, I managed to repair and add onto half of the irrigation lines for the pots.

So, need to finish the lines, repot the bay tree in the really large pot I picked up tonight, and futz with the rescued milk jug I want to use to see about getting an early tomato in.

For now, however, it's time to fall over.

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February 27th, 2010
09:22 pm

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Reminder post for the interested
Sunday February 28, 2010 — 8:00pm
The Hub Collective
1819 23rd Street
Sacramento, CA 95816 [Map It!]
$6-$15 suggested donation
Don't miss the accompanying bake sale!

C and I are going (possibly a hair early to make a stop at Hina's Tea).

Hmm, and Consonance say's it's only an hour and a half away. That really does look like a good way to unwind after teaching next Saturday.

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February 18th, 2010
10:21 am

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Fucking livid--oh yeah...language warning
Goddamn fucking asshat sons of bitches.  Oh and...more of them.

So the only real health care 'reform' we're getting so see so far is that, far and wide, the damn abortion sideshow is not only being waved to distract and derail, but now has actually created a new angle for the folks who're all for forcing birth upon the unwilling to intrude further into deeply personal family decisions.

I mean really, I'm morally opposed to overpopulating the planet. But I have no interest in micromanaging health care so as to impose that on anyone else. (no taxpayer funded maternity care for women bearing their 3+ child? Because honestly, that's just as draconian,  misogynist, and fucked up.)

Yeah,  I'm finally venting publicly-like after reading far too much from this angle over the past year.

Back to your regularly scheduled lack of regular posting.

*grumble*

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February 16th, 2010
08:26 am

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Another one comes and goes...
Fun DDC weekend (until the very last bit..we'll get to that).

Friday: Ran into folks while getting signed in and so forth, but then headed back to the room to finish a few things for the game we were running at 8 a.m. Sat. This meant not looking at any of the Friday night games, despite there being several that I would have liked to play in. Ah well.

Saturday morning: Game went very well, feedback was positive. There was a loud and kind of annoying player, there was another who used his hubris to create some player discord, but it otherwise ran well. It probably should have been an 8-hour game to allow for one more creepy encounter. We hadn't really anticipated how much the group would use the professor's house as a base of operations. I think, even if we'd had the explosion turn the place into rubble, this would have been the case. *shrug* We ran with it. Short visit to the dealer's room, then off for food and waiting to see about the evening.

Saturday evening: C and I both didn't get into anything. Which is a pity, because the games I was most interested in were mostly set here. Ah well. We decided to head out for real dinner. Sadly we did so at the nearby Pasta Pomodoro. My dish was massively oversalted (and I tend to like salt!) and something tasted musty in Chris's Alfredo. Add in a forgotten drink and we weren't all that impressed. Ah well..it was fuel.

Sunday morning: Having my sleep broken by a couple of coughing fits meant not being able to drag myself out of bed for the 8 a.m. game I'd gotten into. On the plus side, I decided to just sleep in rather than see about crashing the game C and filialunae had gotten into at 10. They came back at noon having decided that it wasn't worth wasting another 4 hours sitting at such an awful game. Yike.

Sunday night: Got into Mike's Geist game thanks to my GM slip (apparently that one was filled with priority slips..wow). Good game, interesting concept. The solutions we came up with at the end settled my character against at least one of the others, but there was a compromise we could all go with.

Sadly the latter part of the game was marred by the onset of what turned out to be a rather nasty bout of GI illness. The remainder of the night was spent between bed and bathroom for both C and I. We slept in till 9:30 and got ourselves checked out on Monday without bothering to visit the con since we both felt like death warmed over. The first suspicion was plain old food poisoning. But a few folks who came down with it at the exact same time hadn't shared any food with us. We're now thinking virus. Feeling kind of human now, but still not quite 100%. So, a rather unfortunate end to a fun weekend.

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