mishalak: A fantasy version of myself drawn by Sue Mason (Default)
When I was about four or five or so my absolute favorite book was The Monster at the End of This Book. I remembered it today because my co-worker and I fell to talking about our favorite Sesame Street characters and I recited lines from the book that I still remember nearly three decades later. And he laughed. It is a perfect book from beginning to end. The clever ways in which is breaks the forth wall and the way the writer, Jon Stone, captured the voice of a well known television character in in words.

"On the cover, what did that say? Did that say there will be a Monster at the end of this book??? IT DID? Oh, I am so scared of Monsters!!!"

I have not thought of this for years and I am suddenly nostalgic for it. I feel as though I should buy a copy of this book and give it to someone with a child of the right age. I think I loved the copy we had all those years ago to death.
mishalak: A fantasy version of myself drawn by Sue Mason (Beautiful Dreamer)
A Pointless Story

When I was young(er) I was very enthusiastic about counting, tracking, and categorizing. Partially it was a way of keeping myself entertained while riding in a car. If I didn't have a book to enthrall me I might even just start counting out loud out of boredom and, no doubt, annoy all the adults in the vehicle. I seem to remember counting to one thousand while riding with Grandma M out in San Diego. But as days turned colder as Christmas time drew nearer I would start to watch for lights upon houses during the long drives between Denver and our home in the country. I would judge them, I would sort them into good and bad categories, and I would try to count the strings of lights that were being used on every display.

I remembered this this as I was driving home the other night. Where once there were few houses and very few lights now they seem to cover every hillside. No longer would I go long minutes searching the darkness for the next isolated development. It is December and we are pushing back against the darkness with tiny points of light.
mishalak: Mishalak with long hair and modified so as to look faded. (Faded Photo)
A Pointless Story

I remember this day when I was going with [livejournal.com profile] armoire_man out to Aurora. We were talking about music and punk bands, I think I had a CD of tributes to The Ramones in my CD player. This was before I went out to San Francisco. So there we were talking about bands and we decided it would be cool to start a band. Get someone to play Theremin, I could do vocals, he could do guitar and we'd sing songs about things like the Permian Extinction. Or even better we could make up tee shirts for our band that would look really cool and not even bother with the music stuff. It was a really fun conversation, one of the best I remember with Richard. I wonder if there is a bad called Evolution.

For those who've not seen it before I call all stories about my past "pointless stories", because they haven't got a point, a moral, or sometimes they don't even have a proper beginning or end. They're just memories that come upon me suddenly.
mishalak: A fantasy version of myself drawn by Sue Mason (The Colorado Peach)
Firmer than Brie and softer than Gouda this is a cheese with a nice texture. It has a mild fruity sort of flavor with a touch of a sharp taste. I suspect that is from the thin line of charcoal in the center. I read about that part of its making later, when I bought it I had not idea what that line was, I just assumed it was supposed to be there. This isn't a cheese where one is supposed to eat the rind I think. It has an unpleasant fine sand like texture. (That's me learn by doing.) I do think this will become a regular cheese for me. I love the taste of this one and the price is not too bad, just about $8.29 at Sunflower market.

I tried it for the first time last night after I shut off my computer. The rain was coming down hard and the sky lit up with blue flashes. After I'd been outside with my crackers and cheese for just a little while all the streetlights went out and took a minute to come back on. It was a lovely experience to be watching the storm and eating a fine cheese.
 
mishalak: A fantasy version of myself drawn by Sue Mason (The Alchemist)
A Pointless Story

Like most boys machines and cars fascinated me. I collected "Hot Wheels" the little toy cars that are about six centimeters long. My favorite ones were always the older models, particularly cars from the 1950s and 60s. But while I thought them pretty cars also became more and more a bane of my existence. I had to help my dad work on our vehicles. He would regularly tune the family vehicles and starting when I was about five I helped him as much as a boy could.

At first I was often fascinated by taking whatever it was apart and learning how it worked. About fifteen minutes later I'd be bored out of my skull. Hold this, hand me that, my attention wandered. Particularly when I was young I had the attention span of a gnat. So while watching the timing light work was neat for a little while I'd want to wander off at that point, and I imagine I became much less useful to my dad.

As I grew up working on the family vehicles became an occasional chore for a warm day. Get out and change the oil with my dad. Lots of waiting then scurry around for whatever part or tool. This shaped my later opinion of cars as not particularly interesting. By the time I was a teen cars were a tool to get one to a destination and I no longer wanted a pretty car. Though if I had way too much money I might get a slightly more stylish car it just doesn't fit in my lifestyle even if I was making good money. Cars bore me.
mishalak: A fantasy version of myself drawn by Sue Mason (Default)
When I was a child I was terrified by the book The Gnomes. In it there was this horrible version of a troll that I became convinced was waiting under my bed to grab my leg. And then of course drag me off to feed my arm through a meat grinder.

On occasion I have wondered if this is why I react badly to being awakened in other than a nice way. Perhaps some not so rational part of my brain assumes that anyone cruel enough to tickle me while I'm asleep must be the 'orrible Snotgurgle and that's why I have on occasion taken swings at people without really being awake because they tickled me while I was sleeping on a table or whatever. One time I was hosed down with a water gun while in a sleeping bad and I leapt upon my attacker without even thinking about it and started pummeling him weakly.

So important safety tip around me. Do not awaken me by tickling, putting my hand in water, or otherwise. I'm likely to be in a bad enough mood to try and kill you in a very ineffective way if you try it.
mishalak: A fantasy version of myself drawn by Sue Mason (Default)
A Pointless Story

The question, "What is your strongest memory from childhood?" has been asked of me. While it is hard to quantify strongest I'd have to say it was my grandma's kitchen. I remember how walking in it would smell faintly of talcum powder and food. The clock in her old stove ticked very quickly, like a loud stopwatch. The yellow linoleum had a pebbled surface that I liked a lot, it was like flattened beach stones. There were a few spots where it was loose from the floorboards and I would poke at the bubble to get it to go down temporarily. It had these very high ceilings, probably higher in my memories than in life, with cupboards that went all the way up. We would have to get out a short stepladder when we wanted something down from them. The little breakfast nook had a linoleum-topped table with a rolled metal edge, very 1940s. There was a drawing that looked like an old black and white photo. I loved to look at it while I ate my breakfast of shredded wheat or oatmeal with her. It had a one of those round florescent tube lights, also something right out of the 1930s or 40s, in the center of the main part. The stove was a battered white enameled metal affair with rounded corners. I could draw a layout of it perfectly after all these years.

I think that's a good candidate for strongest. Working on the next request. If anyone else has questions answered or stories told, or whatever today is a very good day to ask.
mishalak: A fantasy version of myself drawn by Sue Mason (Default)
A Pointless Story
About a dream rather like one Angel had. I dreamed...

I see a mist ahead of me. As I get closer I can see a forest through the thin tendrils of moisture and I realize that I am falling. Before I got to this point it was calm and peaceful but now I realize I am moving very fast. The clouds fall behind me and I see the forest coming up. There is a dark grey cliff towards my feet, I'm falling spread eagle trying to slow down. But this isn't that sort of dream, it is brutally realistic. I know I'm not going much faster, but as I get closer my speed becomes ever more apparent and suddenly I am into the trees. I'm impaled upon the branches. I can feel them through my legs arms and torso. I can see my blood dripping onto the dark green tropical leaves.

I had this dream several times when I was young. And contrary to what I'd been told it really hurt. I frequently feel intense pain in my dreams and have quite a few nightmarish ones.
 
mishalak: A fantasy version of myself drawn by Sue Mason (Default)
A Pointless Story
One morning about a year ago when I had stayed up far too late I staggered to the shower to try to wake up. Usually the hot water of a shower revives me quite nicely and that's why I shower in the morning rather than in the evening. Into the shower and then something very, very strange happened. I was standing there swaying a bit and suddenly I was dreaming. I dreamed I was in Vorkosigan House. There were vague encounters and I fled up a chimney that then started to tumble end over end. That continued for quite a bit and then I was back in the shower again swaying under the constant rain of warm water. My fingers were very prune-y and I found much to my horror that I had been in the shower, dreaming while standing up, for around an hour. Since then I have not tried to get by on so little sleep.
 
mishalak: A fantasy version of myself drawn by Sue Mason (Default)
A Short Pointless Story
There is a spot on my right knee where I have no sensation of touch on the skin. It is like the spot has been permanently numbed without the half prickly sensation of novocain. This happened because of me being truly stupid on day back when I was 13. There was this ice cream place in town that I wanted to try out. So I rode into town on my bicycle and got an ice cream cone. Here's the part where I did bone headed stuff. I then tried to ride my bicycle while eating my ice cream.

I must have looked quite a sight riding on my yellow bike eating pistachio ice cream. Definitely a geek even though I didn't wear glasses yet. At the bottom I nearly dropped the cone and in trying to prevent that I drove off the curb. Then I lost control and ended up spayed out on the ground. So that's how I ended up in my worse bike wreak ever, purely my fault.

I did learn a good lesson from this. If it seems boneheaded, don't do it. Nothing terribly stunning there. Oh and never try to bicycle with less than two hands on the handle bars. It just doesn't work. Cost of the lesson? One destroyed pair of grey pants and some scars that have taken about a decade to fade on my knee and the joints of my right hand.
mishalak: A fantasy version of myself drawn by Sue Mason (Default)
Suggested by [livejournal.com profile] rvrjoe775

A Pointless Story
In about 1989, maybe a year later or earlier, my family went fishing to at a lake near Durango (the one in Colorado, not Mexico). This is was a terribly unusual thing as we often went on three camping trips a summer. We'd go on a weekend trips and sometimes a big one a week or more journal across the west.

By this time I had fallen into a routine in fishing. I would get up early in the morning at my dad's rousing. I'm not often the sort that rises without the push of someone else, be that a job or my parents. Though it is easier when camping since I have to go to bed the same time as everyone else for the most part. So awaked by dad to get dressed and head out with fishing pole and tackle box into the uncertain morning light.

Once out there I would bait my hook with floating bait, cast out, and settle back with my pole propped between two rocks. I'd sit on a log or large stone and when the light grew enough I would pull the book out of one of my coat's pockets. Then I would read with the tip of my pole just visible over its top edge. My dad didn't like this at all. He thought that I should pay more attention to my fishing and was sure that I lost fish that I could have caught if I had not been reading. What he didn't understand, what he may not still, is that while fishing is all right I'm not a victory driven as he is. I would catch a few then go back and he'd be frustrated that I didn't want to stay out for hours still.

I would go do other things, like looking at flowers and sometimes digging up a small one just before we would leave to take home. I had great success doing this and some of them or their decedents grow at my parents' new house. I loved being out in nature and walking about, but for me it isn't a challenge to be overcome. It is something to be experienced and I don't care if I have not caught the limit on my fishing license yet.

So what I remember best about this trip is it was the one that I got my Shooting Star Columbine on and it was the first one when I firmly put down my foot to my dad and succeeded. It was getting late into the morning and I decided it was time to go back even though I had not caught a fish. My dad wanted to go just a little longer and tried to get me to do it, but I just went back and had breakfast.

I would go still, but camping takes time that I now spend on fandom and the money I spend on that as well.
mishalak: A fantasy version of myself drawn by Sue Mason (The Prince)
Tonight Sirius, the brightest star visible from earth reaches its zenith. I made it. Sometimes I didn't think I would. But by just sort of putting my head down into the wind and slogging on here I am at the end of a year that's been both wonderful and atrocious. I hope I shall not have to do that so much in the coming year and I plan on getting my life another small increment towards something that I want. No big resolutions, just going to try to do better in the coming year at all my projects than I have in the year past.

Today it storms in the mountains, but it is calm down here on the flat. In a way I wish I was going to some blow out year end party, but no one to go with. Plus the people who have blow out parties seem to be boring personally. At least I've not met any here in Denver that are interesting.

So my star is rising and I'm going to go exchange a gift before it gets dark and then I'm going to go hang out with the geeks. They might not drink much, but they are a lot more fun to talk with.
mishalak: A fantasy version of myself drawn by Sue Mason (Default)
Today was a good day, as was yesterday. Today I went to brunch and was only 10 minutes late in showing up. Maya sat still for Sleeping Beauty and Kiska and the Firebird. And I have a new story all worked out in my head now. I just need to find time to write it down.

Then I came home and got a very nice phone call from [livejournal.com profile] thette right after I tried to call her in Chicago. The day kept on improving when I went out to the parents' house and helped mix up sausage filling. Educational experience and at least in my family it isn't true that one doesn't want to see sausage being made. We make very good sausage out of some fairly good cuts of meat. Well there is the whole sausage casing thing, but if you're not me you can just avoid thinking about that and not be grossed out. Me, I don't mind a bit knowing that sausage casings are small intestines of cows.

Yesterday Freehold Christmas was great! I got Neverwhere, Dracula, The Princess Bride, Brazil, and another copy of Sleepyhollow on disc. Life is good! I'll return Sleepyhollow since I already got a copy from my aunt & uncle and get a vampire movie instead, I think. Maybe Near Dark or Interview.
mishalak: A fantasy version of myself drawn by Sue Mason (Default)
A Pointless Story

My family’s Christmas traditions seem to be one part practicality and one part "We’ve always done things this way and we don’t know why". For example we have almost always opened our gifts to one another on Christmas Eve rather than on Christmas Day. I’m told this is actually the standard in many parts of Europe like Sweden, where some of my ancestors came from. The practical part was that my father often had to work around Christmas being an airline pilot, though he could often finagle having at least part of either one day off. That often was Christmas Eve. Travel is heaviest around the holidays so often airline families have to make compromises in the way they celebrate them.

First came dinner and the ritual I probably loved best. Getting out the good silver, the fine china, and the crystal glasses. How I celebrated in my heart when I was finally allowed to have one of these at about age seven. I loved to perfectly arrange every dish and utensil on the table. A Victorian Butler would have had trouble faulting my careful place settings. Dinner was almost a repeat of Thanksgiving with the occasional substitution of a ham for a turkey, and in one notable instance a goose, which I really enjoyed and so did the rest of the family.

After cleaning up we would all have a slice of our Christmas Bread and often a glass of eggnog with brandy. The Christmas Bread is something halfway between cake and bread with sultanas and a sugary cinnamon topping. It is lovely reheated with a little butter and making it is one of the big traditions in our household. It isn’t easy; it has a tendency to fall especially at our high altitude. When I was a kid we always were admonished not to run around so much when the bread was baking lest we disturb it.

Finally we would light up our tree, usually the tallest tree my father could find and fit into the house. He has a thing for doing thing big and many of us suspect that his new house was built with vaulted ceilings in the main area of the house just so he could have a 12-foot Christmas tree. It would have been decorated as much as a month before, on the reasoning that the trees on the lots were already cut and wouldn’t get any fresher by sitting out. My sister and I, and later on my younger brother, were often the most enthusiastic decorators. We weighed the tree down with lots of ornament, competing to find the most perfect place for particular favorites.

So with our tree lit up we would each take a present and open in turn. Often with my father snapping pictures of us as we did so. My sister tried to avoid having her picture taken, I have never totally understood why. The taking of photographs was really important to my father; he has several books of our family history through his very professional snapshots. A lot of our gifts were of clothes or other practical things, but there would be the one big gift that we’d throw up our hands in surprise at. A huge thing of legos, a beautiful doll, a book I really wanted.

Slowly things would wind down to either going to midnight mass or to bed. If we didn’t go to mass at midnight we would try to hit one of the early ones the next day trying (often in vain) to avoid one packed with one and twice a year Catholics. In the morning we would awake to find the red flannel stockings made and decorated by my mother filled with three things and an additional smaller gift. Inside we would find an orange, a bag of nuts, and a bag of hard candy. I loved the hard candy, it was usually the sort made into ribbons or with pictures like a crystalline button of sugar. The other present would often be something like an inexpensive watch or maybe a small toy. The rest of the day would be about relaxing and cleaning up any rubbish that had not been taken care of the night before and carefully repacking any ribbons, bows, or wrapping paper that could be used another year. We’re a thrifty bunch, our family.

So that’s Christmas in my mind.
mishalak: A fantasy version of myself drawn by Sue Mason (The Prince)
My parents are off at Christmas Eve Mass. We had a nice dinner, mostly together since my mom had to run off early to prepare. She’s like the choir director. (I know, I know, I was in the choir at one point too, how far I’ve fallen.) But I have had a just extraordinary time playing with my camera here. It has this astonishingly keen light amplification function. Not ten minutes ago I was taking pictures of Orion that look like they came off of some sort of telescope. Then I noticed the glow from the city and I took a picture of that through the clouds and a few bright stars showed up in that as well. And I took pictures of the Christmas tree all lit up in a dark room. Wow! The Lord of the Rings collectors edition still beats it out, but I’m thinking this camera is number two on the all time great presents list.

Well the family should be back in 15 minutes... I think I shall enjoy the rest of my time browsing what others have to say this Christmas Eve rather than writing about Christmases past. I'll do that tomorrow.
mishalak: A fantasy version of myself drawn by Sue Mason (Default)
A Pointless Story

When I was growing up my favorite book in all the world was The Lord of the Rings. The very first time I heard the tale of what happened to Bilbo's funny magic ring was when I was six. My mother read the whole tale to me over several months, a chapter each evening. My fondest memories are of my mother reading some of the greatest stories ever written to my sister and me. She read us Alice in Wonderland, with explanations of things like treacle, The Wind in the Willows with wonderful voice for Toad, Badger, Mole, and Ratty, and earlier she brought Winnie the Pooh to life.

But best of all were the fantastic tales by J.R.R. Tolkein. I loved the animated version of The Hobbit. I even have fond memories of animated travesty called The Lord of the Rings. But when she read it to me, ah. That was joy.

I read it on my own when I was nine or ten. I found a paperback edition of The Two Towers and jumped right in to the great river. I was overjoyed when I found the house copy of The Fellowship of the Ring and I even read the appendices when I got to The Return of the King. I read them all again a little over a year later. And I fell in love with the story.

One fine October day I was out with my grandmother at a used bookstore on Colfax Avenue (I loved that named too, it always reminds me of Shadowfax) when I spied a big red edition of all three books in one volume. Yes, the one bound in leatherette with the slipcover. I wanted this book the moment I saw it, but I didn't have enough money with me since the price was something close to $50. A small fortune for a child of twelve. But I gathered my resources and returned in two weeks with enough money to buy my prize... only to find it had been sold.

Christmas Eve two months later. We were opening our presents because we always open them on Christmas Eve, family tradition since my father is so often out of town on Christmas day. There is a picture of me with this lit up expression on my face because my grandmother had bought the book, the very same book, she was the one who purchased it before I could, and now it was mine the very best Christmas gift I have ever received. I don't love the tale of Frodo as much as I once did, but it is still one of my prize possessions.
mishalak: A fantasy version of myself drawn by Sue Mason (Default)
Well what do you know? This is post #250 since I started back in June. That means I'm currently posting at about a rate of 500 per year. Not bad. In the last week I've also gone past 1000 comments given and received, most excellent. I've freljed 92 people and 81 have done the same to me.

But what does it mean? When I started out I thought I might have a few people who considered me a cool frood reading me and some of the people who've met me and consider me a friend. So I must be more interesting than I heretofore suspected. Mustn't let this theory go to my head, otherwise I'll lose the quality people like in me. <grin>

Goals for the next six months. Get back into doing articles for Miffed, especially News of the Odd. Meet some new people, especially people who do SCA stuff locally and maybe some more people I can pull into fandom. And write a killer funny report about the DASFA Christmas party.
mishalak: A fantasy version of myself drawn by Sue Mason (Default)
Before our main feature I'm going to mention that I do feel better as long as I don't try to talk today. Though unless this totally clears up in the next few hours I think it would be a poor idea for me to inflict myself upon my friends at Freehold Thanksgiving.

The following is rated PG for blood and parts of animals that gross many people out. Don't read it right before you're going to sit down and have pot roast if you have a weak stomach.

A Pointless Story (Mostly)
A conversation sort of thing about meat and ethics has got me thinking about my own experience of adding and subtracting things from my diet. Like all kids I had things I didn't like to eat, e.g. Brussels sprouts. And on occasion, because my dad had a number of allergies as a kid, I would complain of an ailment and something my parents would try would be taking something out of usual fare. For example I went a week on rice milk when they suspected I might have a reaction to dairy. My sister is mildly allergic to chocolate so we had carob around the house for her and looking back I think I must be lucky to have not developed any noticeable allergies to food or pollens.

But sometimes I would be put off some foods for other reasons. I liked liver and then stopped eating it for a while when I learned what a liver is and saw some raw. I was totally grossed out one time when eating a piece of beef and I found a vein in it and I was forever nervous about eating pork after I learned of trichinosis.

I was really put off my feed by the first time I had to gut and clean a fish I caught up at Steamboat Reservoir. I got all grossed out by having to reach in with my hands and pull out the internal organs, though scaling it was not so bad. I really hated the whole slimy feeling and for whatever reason I felt horribly unclean reaching inside an animal where all those bodily functions happen. As I recall I could only manage to eat a little fish that day for lunch at my mom's insistence.

Another time my dad shot a deer in our yard with an arrow. Seeing at first I was doing okay but when I saw that mass of intestines and smelled it, that had me running into the trees to get away for a minute. I don't think I was that much help to my dad in the project.

But in the end doing things like this made me much less squeamish. I still get freaked out by bad things happening to eyes, but other than that I'm usually fairly blasé about things like cutting up a whole chicken.

But though it is no big deal I don't joke about it or throw away anything I can use. My feeling is that when a person goes about killing something living or destroying something inanimate it should be for a good reason. And the act should be done with respect for the life or the work that had to go into it. I don't demand it of everyone, since I’m hardly in a position to demand things. But I always try to encourage putting things to good use if possible.

Gah, that reminds me. I've got to figure out a better system to deal with aluminum cans. I don't produce enough, even at parties, to make it worth my while to recycle them. But I feel like I should figure out something to do with them.
mishalak: A fantasy version of myself drawn by Sue Mason (Default)
Wow, I never knew my luck had a reverse gear. Not me being unlucky, being lucky for someone else. When I was driving back to my apartment from the parents house I was near castle rock when I saw what looked like a guy walking in just a tee shirt down Founder's Parkway. For those of you who don't know it is twin lanes of concrete with few lights and no houses or shops until you get down near I-25. As I passed him I thought to myself, "What on earth can he be doing out here in the middle of nowhere on a cold night like this? With no coat!?"

So I turned back and I picked up a nice quiet young man named Juan. Guess where he was going? Littleton. He lives about 10 blocks away from me so I dropped him off at his apartment complex before heading back to my humble abode. So the very fact that it was so easy for me to help him makes me think my luck was working in reverse tonight. Also something, luck or instinct, made me turn around to pick him up. Oh and I have nice rations of turkey from thanksgiving, so a good day.
mishalak: A fantasy version of myself drawn by Sue Mason (Default)
A Pointless Story
I would climb trees a lot years ago. I suppose I still could if the impulse hit me. The last time I did was about four years ago. All the old skills in picking a route up a tree came back to me quite easily and I clambered from branch to branch without much trouble. Though I can no longer go quite as high as I did one time when I must have been 12.

I picked out a high tree on the southwest side of the property. It was hard to get up to the first branch of the tree, as it was at least ten feet off the ground. So I borrowed the stepladder from the garage. I thought this would be an excellent tree both because of the nice stagger of the branches and its size.

I remember having some trouble about 2/3 of the way up. There the branches turn tangled and I had squirm around and go back down to try the other side of the tree. I did have to break a dead branch to get past this bit. But I got past and suddenly I was there above all the rest of the trees. It felt like to scene in The Hobbit when Bilbo climbed up the tree in Mirkwood. Suddenly I was up in a whole different world. But instead of an endless sea of trees I was slowly swaying in a world bounded by snow capped mountains under a dark blue sky.

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mishalak: A fantasy version of myself drawn by Sue Mason (Default)
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