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The Game has moved along in the last few days and we have been enjoying ourselves building our alter egos' personalities. Elizabeth walks to work, keeps shoes at the office which she rotates every week. She sees no reason to carry them because all of her work clothes go with all of her work shoes. Philip bikes to work and ruthlessly maintains his bike in perfect working order with just the right tools and no more tools than necessary. (He never falls victim to the "ohhh cooool" factor.) Their condo's locker is a marvel of labled tidiness and their car gleams inside and out.

They have celebrated several small triumphs over Great Aunt Ruby(GAR) and Great Uncle Jake's (GUJ)house: The laundry room and the two bathrooms.(Level one, as it were) HOWEVER, they are moving on to a somewhat more challanging level now: The Hallway. The hallway has two set of cases, bookcases and DVD cases. Fortunately the bookcases are empty of books right now. (They were pulled off a while ago because the cases needed to be cleaned and fixed and then never were.) So now they are covered in bits of crap, stuff that belongs in the bathroom, scraps of paper-reciepts, some for taxes, some not, phone numbers with no names attached, plastic lids, change, empty envelopes, unidetifiable bits of electrical stuff, probably for defunt electronics, jewellery, bug spray, and guitar picks. All easy enough to deal with until....

The two iron mice doorstops.

These are an entirely different kettle of... mice. they fall into the SENTIMENTALITY CATAGORY, level 5 at least. They have EYES. GAR and GUJ bought them because they were both cute and useful, however, they soon found out that anything on the floor is fair game for angry, territorial cats and the house itself is so damp that metal things rust so they were set up on the bookcase.

This was Philip and Elizabeth's first  encounter with SENTIMENTALITY and I must say they handled it well, after asertaining that the mice could not be used as bookends, they, with a bit of a struggle, (because GAR and GUJ chose that moment to call and "chat" about the house) put them in the Humane Society yard sale box. This was good practise for them because on the other wall are:

The DVDs.

DVDs are similar to BOOKS. BOOKS are powerful because they are stories and STORY RULES. STORY cannot be culled, it can only be Zenned. DVDs are also stories.

Philip and Elizabeth have they work cut out for them now.
Read a kind of ghoulish article on how to clear out your elderly realtive's homes. And on that note, we have come up with a roleplay for getting rid of all the same crap that is slowly accumulating in our own  home. It's called:

Philip and Elizabeth buy Great Aunt Ruby and Great Uncle Jake's House.

Part 1: The Laundry Room

We are Philip and Elizabeth. No one ever calls us Phil and Ellie, or Pip and Beth. Philip and Elizabeth. We are emphatic about that. We are accountants, or possibly economists. We have no kids, no pets and we DON'T collect anything. We live in a condo and we have a service come in and clean when we are at work.

We have just bought Great Aunt Ruby and Great Uncle Jake's house because they have gone into a nursing home.

We are a little bit appalled.

We remember them as two potty sweet always old people who we used to visit as children when they would host family gatherings. We have fond memories of them and so we will be keeping a few mementos. But that is IT!

Armed with plastic bags, brooms, and a mountain of recycling bins, we begin.

Aunt Ruby kept the plastic plant pots that her garden veggies came in-for when she planted seeds in spring-these never got used. OUT!

Uncle Jake collected the citrus tubs that Aunt Ruby emptied when she made fruit cake-to keep screws and nails in-these never got used either. OUT!

Any number of strange things had been allowed to fall behind the washer and dryer over the years: a bag of plastic tubs with no lids and lids with no tubs that turned upside down, several pretty Disney World plastic bags that have gotten rather brittle and covered in dust and lint, a plastic pillow holder-from when they bought new pillows- "This will be good for keeping the old pillows in for when we have company." The old pillows (which are also being tossed, Philip and Elizabeth's company deserved new pillows too) are in the old linen closet and not inside the plastic pillow bag, a mat for collecting kitty litter that was on the washer to be cleaned and didnt work all that well anyway, a rusty cast iron frying pan and two tea towels. All now either in the garbage or in the growingly full recycling bins. An exeption has been made for the tea towels because they are ACTUALLY useful and not "potentialy useful."

A Momentus Day

Today, St Patrick's Day, 2013. the day I first played the bagpipes. Sort of.

So,after nine months and ten days of chanter practice today I met with Susan our pipe major at: the other student who is of at my level but isn't really because he's been playing recorder for 35 years and can already read music the ginormous booger head henceforth known as Michael's house, for my first lesson with an actual set of bag pipes, how to hold them without the bass drone cracking you in the ear, all three drones flipping forward, the blowpipe shooting out of your mouth or you passing out. Not as easy as it sounds. oh wait, that didn't sound easy did it? Well it isn't.

It's actualy a lot like cradling an alien spider baby. That can't breath on its own.

But if the pipes fit you properly as Susan's fit me, you reach a sweet spot moment when it all works pretty well and the blowpipe is not trying to knock your teeth out and the bag is not trying to suck your breath like an angry demon-cat. That's when you think, cool, I just might get this after all, but that's also when you realize that Michael is now at the next lesson called trying to get a sound-any sound- out of the actual chanter part-the part you have a golf Tee stuck in and you are back to square one only more light-headed then you were before. And your left arm is hurting because you aren't as relaxed as the pipe-major keeping telling you to be.

Anyway, Susan has lent me her very own pipes-which is pretty damn scary on its own given the number of animals in our house. And I have given them the temproary name of: Alien Spider Baby. I asked them very nicely if that name was ok and did they mind coming home with me for a while and I'm quite sure they said yes as long as I kept them well away from the evil cats, even the one that loves the chanter so much that he lays on my music, wacks the chanter, or wraps his paws around my leg and bites me when I play.

Hmm. Maybe he doesn't actually like it.


Ad Astra Schedual

Just got my Ad Astra schedual. There were so many cool panels to choose from and I pleased to see that I got a bunch of fun ones. So:

Fri April 5 7pm: I have a 1/2 hour reading. Cool.

Fri 8pm: Serenity 10 years later. YAY! I get to talk about one of my favorite shows! I better go rewatch the whole thing again so I don't forget anything! YAY! Whoa, has it really been 10 year?. wow.

Fri 10pm: I Love to Hate You. Cool, lets get chatting about the best villians ever.

Sat April 6 10am: JJ Rules them All. Yes, yes he does. Except for what Joss Whedon rules. And what Peter Jackson rules. Hmmm... Tricky.

Sat 1pm: Books as Comfort Food. I get to talk about my mostest favoritest books ever? The books I clutch to my chest when I have to go to the dentist? Awesome. Hmmm... also tricky, so many books, so little time to hold them up and jump up and down...

Sat 4:30pm: Autograph session. Ok people, this is where everyone I know who's coming to Ad Astra has to come over and keep me company. (And don't let me spend the whole time in line waiting to get Jim Butcher's autograph.)

Sat 6pm: Star Trek mega panel. Again, very cool, especialy for someone whose be a fan since 1967. Whoa has it really been... THAT LONG? shi....

Sun April 7 Noon: Animal in Fiction. Again cool, partly because I love any excuse to write a dog into my work, but also because the very cool and very awesome Sandra Kasturi is on the panel with me.

So that's it. I imagine meals and some little sleep will be included in there somewhere and maybe a Firefly t-shirt might be available in the dealers room that I just can't say no to...



Happy Birthday Alex!

Bagpipe Progress

So I'm coming on to three months of sitting on the back porch playing scales and scales and scales and scales and SCALES and mangling Amazing Grace, Scotland the Brave and the The Green Hills of Tyrol and I'm pretty pleased with myself, I gotta say. That low G has finally worked itself out and I get it most of the time. Grace notes are, quite frankly... weird, and... challenging, yeah, lets go with challenging and did you know that if you blow too hard nothing happens at all--except possibly your face goes purple?

It took two weeks to get a grownup chanter and that took a while to get used to since the notes were even farther apart than the kiddie chanter, but so far the dogs have not gotten it, I haven't misplaced it, dropped it, spit food through it, broken the reed (ok its plastic that may be why.), or gotten bored and or frustrated and stopped playing it.  Go me.

And I have a plan.
Part 1: Be marching with the band (not necessarily playing but marching) by Robbie Burns Day in January.) Maybe sooner, I may not be able to wait that long.

Part 2: Be playing and marching with the band by Tamworth's D-Day memorial in June. Doable. And then buy my own pipes. Expensive but I've been saving since I started lessons so... doable.

Part 3: Have Amazing Grace down fluently to play at Uncle Albert's graveside next July on the anniversary of his death. Doable.

Part 4: Play my own pipes fully kitted out in memory of Granny and Mum at dusk somewhere romantic and cool like a hillside. Play it for Mama. (Who is still alive and I don't even know if she likes the bagpipes but I know she will be nice to me about it.) Doable.

Part 5: Become Pipe Major. Ok that'll take a loooong time, but hey, I'm patient. Yeah, ok, I'm not patient, but I will be. This time. Really.


Bagpipe Progress

So far I have had two official "Sitting on the back porch playing the chanter with dogs." I managed half a scale yesterday and a full scale up and down today--just as I was getting discouraged that I couldn't even manage the first note. The problem seems to be one of fingering. The flat finger thingy is hard to sort out and get eveything covered properly. Half way up the scale seems easier so if I can't get it at all for too long, I try E to High A and then go back down to try low G. Low G is a pain. I never thought I had particularly small hands. They are larger than average for a woman, but clearly not larger than the average child-piper apprentice.

Other than that I have been practicing fingering on my steeling wheel. That seems to work better than just air moving them.  Yeah, yeah, I know, I should be concentrating on the road.

Also I need to ask how often I should take the chanter apart and shake the spit out. As I rememeber them,the band  instruments in High School had little valves for dribbling it out onto the floor of the music room. That was cool. "Wow, I get to spit on the school floor. how... empowering."


I've always felt that the naughts were important to recognize somehow, not always with great fanfare, (let's face it I celebrate every birthday with great fanfare anyway) but with something. When I turned twenty I had a "kids" party with cake, ice cream, hot dogs, balloons, pin the tail on the donkey, that sort of thing. My parents hosted it and made me a giant cream puff cake covered with D&D mins. When I turned thirty Tanya threw me a surprise party and then we moved to the country. When I turned forty I started karate--and learning with a bunch of skinny teenage black belts was oh so much fun. 

Now I'm fifty and I have my black belt but the planter's fasciitis that began plaguing me in my twenties has come back full roar so it had been some months since I had been able to go to karate. But in the midst of my glumness I realized that I didn't have to give up my dojo and my sensei completely because he's also a tai-chi master, so back I went. He figures a year of tai-chi rehab and I should be back in karate. And as he pointed out, I don't HAVE to go to the black belt class. True. I can do my Tuesday morning tai-chi and then when my feet are better I can start going to the Monday night karate class. This frees up Thursday night.


So, while fifty is the year I began tai-chi, it is also the year I began.....


Yes, I did. There is a pipe and drum band in town that will teach anyone the bagpipes for FREE! I had my first lesson last night and guess what? I SUCK! Of course I do. Or rather I should say, I blow. It amounts to the same thing. I am of course terrible at it after less than a day.

They only had a child's chanter to lend me but I'm using it to start learning the notes on and will get a grownup one next week. Hmmm, the holes are pretty far apart on the kiddie one already, this is gonna be interesting. So:

Lesson one: relax your fingers or you'll get whooping cramps in them, DON'T look at you fingers, don't play with your fingertips, play with the pads, try not to pass out, and have fun, God Damn it, it's a fun game.

Task one: learn nine notes.

Challange one, two and three: don't scare the crap out of the cats, don't let the dogs get hold of the chanter (Teddy was already facinated by it-it's in my mouth, I guess he figures it should be in his.) and try not to irritate the Beloved TOO much. If possible.

(bwahahahaha..) cough. hm??

My Day

It's here, It's here, that bestest time of year, the time when singing songs to me magicaly appear.

hum hum hum hum, hepped up on sugar already, watching the Muppet show, hum hum, (I feel a wee bit sick) pace yourself! There's much more sugar to come! Beloved got me the Redwall Movie. Ttime to watch animated mice and eat cupcakes!!

The sun is shining just for me, the sky is blue just for me, hum hum...


And speaking of children...

It occurs to me that 2012 is a mometous year as the last of the 20th century babies celebrate their 13th birthdays and are children no more. The Pied Piper of Time will be very busy this year.