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The Rambles of Spring
Jack of all trades, master of none.
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Bienvenue
Almost all entries are public. I've been posting half-finished half-assed half-baked (that's three halves, guys, a real deal!) sketches behind a filter; comment if you want added.

I play...

Music. Traditional fiddle tunes from Irish, Contra, and Quebecois repetoirs, alone and with my trio Pinniped, or more rarely the other trio, Otter's Holt. Folk musicians Are My People.

In the dirt. I'm trying to turn my entire yard into a garden -- a yarden. I may wax evangelical about the benefits of native plants and the evil of lawns.

At art. Graphic Design pays the bills, but illustration is more fun.

At writing.
Shades Of Mauve

I overslept a bit, as I so frequently do, and woke to find it pouring rain. My plan to bike down to yoga at 8:30 and then hang out downtown until an 11:30 meeting (with a design client), and I dithered a bit about going back to bed, but in the end I put on rain clothes and stuffed yoga clothes and street clothes into a panier and went downtown.

I was late to yoga.

I forgot my bike lock.

I seriously didn’t think I could get that soaked in 3 miles.

I stood there at the door of the studio, trying to decide whether I could handle biking back home through the pouring rain, up the hill, with my shoes so water-logged they squelched, and then just hauled my bike into the foyer (the building has a cement floor and I saw another bike in there so that’s okay). 

I really needed a towel changing into yoga gear, but I made do (I DID bring a dry pair of socks. I am not a total idiot. If you have dry undies and socks you can handle just about any damp clothes)… and then things started going up!

The lady yoging away next to me said “Oh, hello my friend!” with genuine kindness.

The instructor (who is one of the sweetest people in town, and I know some very sweet people) invited me to store my bike in the studio’s little kitchen for the hours I was downtown, where it’d be both dry and safe.

…she also confirmed that my band would play there for fall artswalk. :)

Yoga was gentler than last week and didn’t kick my ass. Whoo!

After yoga I poked at two shops looking for dresses for a cousin’s wedding, then parked in the coffee shop, planned my meeting questions, and drew people. And I THOUGHT they were out of my favorite lemon cake but it was just HIDING, so that was marvelous, too!

My meeting went really well. I think I”ll really enjoy working with this guy. Which is kinda funny, ‘cause he’s my highschool sweetheart’s dad, and I had no clue what he’d be like — in eight months of dating his son I think I saw him for ten minutes. 

On my way out of the shop, someone I could swear I’d never seen before called me by one of my meatspace nicknames (which is also part of the name of my business), leaving me totally confused… until I realized he was sitting with the printer from work. Turns out he’s the owner of the print shop we work with, and he’s seen my email address eighty bajillion times (the nickname is my first initial and last name, thus also my work email address), so it was kinda cool to meet him — and he invited me to stop by the print shop any time and check out their digital press and their letter press set-up. :D And he complimented my work!

Running into nice people just makes my day so much better.

garden
On Tuesday electricians came and replaced my electrical panel, all the cabling from the panel up to the weatherhead, and the weatherhead. They also fixed all but one of the little things I needed to do, like sinking the ground stakes a few inches farther and getting a cable clamp for the exterior outlet. It was awesome! ...I have to pay them a lot of money now, but it was awesome.

Calliope got very confused when the guy was under the house bonding to the water line. Where is that voice coming from? She's not a stupid cat; SHE knows voices don't come from the floor! So instead she looked in the reasonable places, like 'under the baseboard heater' and 'behind the shelf'. Y'know, places where a grown human male could conceivably hide. :P

Friday the electrical work got all inspected and I had a lovely visit with N, an older long-time musician friend of mine who's been struggling for awhile with not being able to play as much. She gave me a few pointers on a song she used to perform that I want to work up on my tenor -- the ostensible reason I went over -- but mostly we just had a nice visit.

I'd planned Saturday to be quiet, and full of writing and art, but I kinda forgot that my brother had promised me yard work for my birthday. When mom got fed up with him she brought him over, and since he was there and I really needed a plant moved (which gets more dangerous for the plant as spring progresses), we started in -- at 4 p.m. In the rain. The plant is six feet tall, my yarden is full of tree roots, and it took us three hours. In the mud. Now I'm just crossing my fingers that the darned thing lives.

Sunday dad came over and he started the last new circuit (240 to run floor heat) while I worked on low voltage. A lot of the day was spent buying stuff, but I've got the first two speaker wires cut and run, and the studio ethernet. By the end of the day I was tuckered and E and I bailed on the dinner I'd planned on making and went to the Thai House. I should be avoiding that kind of expense, but damn, I didn't want to stand up for another hour in the kitchen (and the Thai House is delicious).

It's really pretty exciting -- Dad's going to be gone or unavailable for the next three weekends, but there's a lot of work for me to do. I have to put up the rest of the heater circuit (he did the scary panel bit); cut holes for boxes for speakers and ethernet in the living room and ethernet in each bedroom; measure, cut, and run the cat6; and... damn, I think there was something else. That's enough for now, though. I've never actually fished wire through a wall, and cutting holes in the rooms that are finished is always exciting. And it involves wading through attic insulation! Always a fun time.

Oh, and brother and I also restacked the whole drywall pile this weekend. Twice.
2nd-Apr-2014 10:48 pm - And there's March!
Shades Of Mauve

You may note a great big red chunk out of the middle of 'art' and 'music' -- those were the days leading up to and following the giant St. Patrick's Performance Day of Doom. The art column in particular looks bad, but the daily averages are alright!

Writing: 598 words/day, up 71 from February (due in large part to two epic writing days, one of which logged almost 3000 words).

Music: 55 minutes a day, oddly enough down four minutes from February

Art: 32 minutes a day, up 6 from February. More importantly, a lot of that was solid work on the sheep commission. 

I have a particularly eventful Really Good Excuse column for March, starting with a big remodeling day, hitting highlights like "The internet visited!" and "marathon gig holy shit" and ending with that totally unassailable excuse "THERE WAS A GOAT SIMULATOR." No one can judge me for that day wasted, I think.

The next trick will be keeping any of it up in April. With the weather turning outside is looking awfully appealing, and I have high hopes we'll drywall the studio this month. I've also gotten off to a really slow start -- no art or writing the first two days of April, and nada zilch diddly today. No good excuses, either, just a normal workin' Wednesday.

16th-Mar-2014 10:09 pm - St. Patrick's Day Eve
Shades Of Mauve
Tomorrow is St. Patrick's Day, that wonderful time of year in which we celebrate players of traditional Irish music by giving them gainful employment while everyone else gets shitfaced.

Tomorrow is also the day I will be attempting the near impossible. Watch and be awed, ladies and gents, as yours truly attempts six, yes, I said SIX, hours of fiddling for your listening and viewing enjoyment!

We'll kick off with Tom Dulcimer, dad, and I at O'Blarney's in Lacey from 11 (ish) to 1 (ish), un-amped and quite possibly inaudible. Then for the main event and grand finale, Pinniped will play at the Little Creek Casino's Starlight Lounge from 6 to 10!

Having been some days in preparation a splendid time is guaranteed for all! (Henry the horse sadly not appearing).

In preparation for this stupendous feat, yesterday we played a house party (unamped) and managed a solid three and a half hours with energy to spare. The crowd was a known and friendly one -- we've played there the last two years -- and it was an excellent dry run. More than excellent, in fact -- yesterday was the first time when someone said "Where are your CDs?!" that I thought we really deserved it. A musician in the audience said "Last year you were fun, but this year you were tight."

So sit back and prepare to be astounded!

And if you don't hear from me by Tuesday evening, my arms have probably fallen off.
Shades Of Mauve
I had a really productive weekend, especially when you consider that westrider came down, so there was good visiting and I still managed to get things done (mostly because Westrider is Westrider and helped me with a space!tactics writing issue and didn't mind chatting while I was painting). It was a really good visit, too.

Between a highly productive Friday and some painting time while discussing tacts w/ Westrider (multitasking! W00t!) I finally got a solid start on my sheep commission, painted the numbers on my long-abandoned mailbox (which I'd been avoiding because freehanding 'em is awful) and poked at our pathfinder minis.

I'm still in 'struggling to catch up' mode rather than 'managing to keep pace' or, dream of dreams, 'getting ahead', but at least there's still movement. I'm not feeling terribly motivated, but I'm not as burnt out as I was two weeks ago.

Next weekend is the one before St. Patrick's day, so Saturday will be spent at a gig and Sunday afternoon'll be the final rehearsal before the BIG gig (and then Dad's b-day afterwards, and oh shit I've got diddly for gift ideas). After that we'll go back to once a week practices, which'll be really nice.

I need to call electricians and get quotes on the studio, but having it paused isn't hurting me. There are really only three time-sensitive things I need to do:

1. writing (so I can keep on schedule, which keeps me going)
2. balancing checkbook/doing taxes
3. painting commission

Oh, and 4. Get a B-day present for dad. Okay, so there are four, four time-sensitive things I need to do... whenever I start this it turns into the Spanish Inquisition sketch. :P

5th-Mar-2014 04:30 pm - A point about fanfiction
garden
I was cruising through the net, following the cold trail of one of the periodic “Is or is not Fanfic the Ultimate Literary Evil?” arguments that crop up regularly, and I’m now bursting to make a point that I never see made by fic defenders.

We’re all familiar with the normal defenses of fic: it’s done out of love, it’s training, it’s for fun. Those are all good and valid defenses!

But they miss something. They damn with faint praise. Because the thing is, when you commit this particular Ultimate Literary Evil you’ve now told a story. And stories are powerful. The fact that it wasn’t in an original world or with original characters doesn’t necessarily make it less powerful to any given reader.

I would never have made this argument a few years ago. A few years ago I hadn’t received messages from people who were deeply touched by something I wrote in fanfic. So what if it’s only two or three or four people, and I used someone else’s world and characters? For those two or three or four people, I wrote something important. You cannot tell me that isn’t a valid use of my time and expect me to feel chastened. I don’t buy it. I won’t feel ashamed. I will laugh when you call something that touches other people ‘literary masturbation.’ Apparently you’re not too up on your sex terminology.

Someone could argue that if I’d managed the same thing with original characters in an original world, it could’ve touched more people. They might be right! On the other hand, it might never have been accepted for publication, or found a market if self published, and more importantly I would never have written it because I didn’t realize I could write. The story wouldn’t have happened. Instead, thanks to fanfic being a thing, it did. And for two or three or four people it mattered. When we talk about defending fanfic, can we occasionally talk about that?

[x-posted from tumblr]
3rd-Mar-2014 12:38 pm - Studio & Electrics list
can we fix it?
I got a lengthy to-do list from the electrical inspector, and I'm going to try to get it in some sort of order, in hopes that it'll look smaller. And cheaper. (highly unlikely).

Easy and cheap
  • Buy and install missing romex connector for exterior outlet
  • tie gas line into ground wire. Purchased extra wire and stake clamp Friday, still need bonding clamp.

Moderate
  • Remove ALL the outlets already wired, wait until drywall, and replace them ALL with Tamper Proof outlets now required by code (contrary to what I was told at home depot when I spent money on normal outlets). Incredible stroke of luck/generosity: One of dad's friends had an old house totally rewired a year or two back, and after they moved in his wife decided she wanted black outlets instead of white (to match age of house), so he has a bucket of perfectly good tamper proof outlets he's giving me! Yay, 25-30 bucks saved!
  • Replace the existing 64 year old 12-2 cable to the water heater with 10-2 cable. 'Moderate' because it's thankfully all easily accessible.
  • Tie electrical system to water lain and drain(s). 'Moderate' because it requires mucking under the house. It may already have been done, or partially done, but if any sections of plumbing were replaced with plastic the system is no longer cohesive and doesn't count.
Hard and/or Expensive
  • Replace the 150 amp cables running from the meter into the back of the panel with 200 amp. (requires utility disconnect farther up the line, costing over $200 instead of $30 I was expecting for pulling meter)
  • Replace the old weather abused cables running from weather head down to meter (which I'd always assumed was the utility company's problem and didn't even realize was my responsibility, beyond being totally out of the scope of my project)
The inspector seemed to think that replacing the run from the weatherhead down was something we could do, and he reassured me that the material wasn't expensive, but my dad is understandably scared of messing with the giant cables supplying power to the whole house. I can't blame him. So it looks like I'll need to get a contractor in to do it, and anyone who's had a house knows that means the price just more than doubled. At least.

On the upside, mom came over Saturday and we got the exterior walls insulated (minus the studbay where I'm missing the romex connector and the one containing the electrical panel). The total cash-out for that was only about $35, because I already had half a bundle and it turned out I had money left on the Lowes gift card I bought awhile back (I bought it so I could send my brother back to the store for something without trusting him w/ cash or card).

Also, now that I've squirted disgusting orange fireblock foam into all the wiring holes I know where cheetos come from.

28th-Feb-2014 08:19 am - First Electrical Inspection imminent
can we fix it?
The electrical inspector is coming today between 9:30 and 10:30, which means it's unlikely dad can make it. I need to pretend to be reassuringly well-informed on electrickery so when I say "We're replacing the panel" he doesn't say "good lord, call a professional" and I don't sound like a little girl saying my daddy knows how to do it. Even though, um, my daddy knows how to do it. :P

(Technically I understand everything we've done thus far and what we're going to do next, but I'm not as solid on this as I am on general construction. We'll see).

The guy at home depot gave us an ace in the hole, but it was for inspector M and I'm getting inspector B... and it really required dad anyway, 'cause my "Talk about fishing" game is mediocre at best.

I should keep a list of these things, though. L&I Inspector M: Fishing. Head City Inspector: Irish Wolfhounds.

I WILL FIND YOUR SECRET SOCIAL WEAKNESSES.
26th-Feb-2014 02:10 pm - Pushing through the Crash
can we fix it?
The last week or two has seen a significant decrease in my creative output (as tracked on my super nerdy spread sheet!)  and, while there are some good excuses -- a trip to Seattle, working on the studio -- a lot of it is that I hit some serious stumbling blocks with my writing, and lost momentum summoned in the nigh inevitable crash. I do tend to a bit of a go-go-go-go-STOP cycle. I can be very happily almost overloaded with projects for quite awhile until I feel them all crashing down around my ears. I don't want to get stuck in the low spot, though, so I've been really, seriously working at pushing through.

Monday night I cancelled my normal game time with Emony42 and used the time to make a decent dinner with enough for lunches, fold some laundry, write, and practice voice for twenty minutes. It was only twenty minutes, but making myself get up from the PC and go do it was hard. That's the crash -- I don't feel bad, exactly, I'm just seriously craving real downtime, preferably in front of a video game. That's really all I want to do.

The spreadsheet is helping me push through, though, with that reminder that even fifteen minutes nets me a little bronze-star reward. It's what got me out of the chair Monday night, and what's keeping me pushing on with writing, especially over the rough spots.  I usually don't have a lot of writing-oriented self-doubt, but there's something different in what I'm doing right now -- it's more plot focused, with more changes to canon -- and I'm getting less of the motivating review-crack. More importantly, I'm now getting negative responses, especially this one over-zealous person who seems to want me to write an entirely different story. It's hard to stay motivated when that's the first response you get every time you release something new.

On t'other hand, writing the Giant Thing seems to help motivate me for other projects. It's probably related to the go-go-go-go-CRASH cycle -- when one thing's workin', everything's workin'. Episodic fiction also lets you get something 'in the can' regularly, which helps give little rewards for a long project, and those little rewards help push everything along. Which again explains why having the little reward fall through (either because something just didn't work or because of negative responses) is so demotivating, I suppose.

16th-Feb-2014 10:55 pm(no subject)
baby, music
Back in Oly after a lovely little Seattle jaunt. (Well, northish of Seattle. Then eastish. Not much time spent actually IN Seattle). Had an excellent PinniPractice. Tomorrow is a holiday, so dad and I are working on the electrics again.

No writing or visual art over the past two days, but lots of music and good excuses. :P

I'm very glad to not be going back to work tomorrow, but dreading Tuesday. I do remember not dreading going to work. Be nice to get back there someday.
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