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Greetings from New Jersey!

I drove down from Ithaca this afternoon in order to kidnap my parents' dog, mwahahahaha!!!

Or, in less dramatic terms, to pick up Dottie so she won't have to spend the next two-plus weeks in a kennel while Mom and Dad are off gallivanting around Norway. (Dad is giving a paper at the 11th International Conference on the History of Chemistry in Trondheim -- his conference papers are often their nominal excuse for trips to interesting places -- but they will spend most of their time on general tourism stuff.)

We went out to dinner at Charlie Brown's, I have washed a bunch of laundry, and tomorrow I will head back north through A) rain, B) far too much roadwork, and C) god only knows how many families flooding into Ithaca to drop their kids off at Cornell for the start of classes on Monday the 21st.

And then I will have a temporary dog. Yay dog! :D
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1. Put away remaining laundry.

2. Took weekly photos of my vegetable garden, but forgot to post them. Ah well, next week!

3. Trimmed some overgrown bushes in my front yard, such that a person can now walk between the house and my car instead of finding the way impassably blocked by greenery. I must attack some other shrubbery this weekend, and possibly drag out my stepladder and give the lilac a thorough pruning.

4. Acquired cardamom and plain Greek yogurt in preparation for an attempt to approximate a Blue Apron recipe.

5. TOOK A NAP.

6. Took compost to bin. (I did this on several days, actually, but I am only going to list it once. Also the compost company finally came to empty the bin, and provided us with a new plastic liner bag which they'd neglected to do that last couple times they swapped bins.)

7. Remembered to bring a new box of tea to work, since my old one had run out.

8. Cleaned bathroom sink and toilet.

9. Called Cat Thursday afternoon and chatted for an hour and a half.

10. Cut my fingernails.

11. Vacuumed my apartment and did a little hand-dusting in awkward corners.

12. Volunteered for my church's recycling sale; I will presumably hear back from the organizers sometime this weekend.

13. Looked up hours of operation/donation for a few places I need to get to over the coming week.

14. Bought groceries (including almonds and dried currants for the previously mentioned recipe approximation attempt).

15. Backed up my computer files.

16. Began sorting my final coffee table storage box, which is full of I don't even know WHAT all kinds of completely unorganized stuff. I am taking a leaf from Cat's book and doing this in 15-minute increments, so I only take out small sections at a time and if I haven't figured out where they should go, I just put them all back in the box when I'm done. So far, I have sorted a handful of stuff into a permanent home in my nice new storage basket, recycled about twice as much, put two items aside to use a couple pieces and then throw out the rest, and set one thing in a place where I can't ignore it so I will finally get around to framing and hanging it properly. (It is a ridiculously twee baby's-first-cross-stitch project of a rearing unicorn that I sewed back when I was... I dunno, 10 maybe? which came with its own super-twee pink plastic frame, but dammit, it's adorable and I will display it with PRIDE.) And I stuck a bunch of other stuff back in the box because I have no clue what to do with it, so.

We shall see how that project continues.

17. Called my parents to discuss trips to and from NJ in August and September, and also to wish them a slightly early Happy Anniversary. As of tomorrow (Saturday 7/29/17) they will have been married for 43 years. ♥

18. Rescheduled a planned phone call with Vicky, because today turned out to be bad for her after all.

19. Posted two mini-ficlet prompt meme fills: How Easy All Can See (Rabadash talks to Ilgamuth about the political implications of courting Shezan) and Queen of the Night (Lucy decides that a queen of Narnia can set her own bedtime). Both went slightly diagonal to the prompts, but I think they turned out all right even if they're not what I meant to write. *wry*

And that is pretty much that for the week. :)
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1. Cut my fingernails and toenails.

2. Paid my credit card bills (and reconciled my credit statements).

3. Took kitchen compost to the communal bin.

4. Collected trash and took bag to the outdoor bin.

5. And then my parents visited! This was a business visit more than a family-time visit, but even so.

They arrived around noon, whereupon we had Chinese takeout for lunch. Then we drove over to Seneca Lake via a stop just north of Trumansburg to look around a farm to which I... may, kinda-sorta, have a pass to do a u-pick option on one afternoon and/or just collect one bag of produce? I am not sure of the details; the person who arranged it was unclear when she handed me the card, and there were no staff visible at the farm itself and I would have felt weird just stuffing random vegetables in a bag without giving anyone advance notice. But I got a phone number so I will try to call and see what's going on sometime later this week or next week.

Anyway, we continued on to Seneca Lake and stopped at three wineries -- Penguin Bay (which we all liked very much); Red Newt Cellars (which is VERY EXPENSIVE, and where Mom bought four wine glasses to replace my Aunt Cara's old set, which have broken over the years); and Chateau LaFayette Reneau (which we liked, but not as much as Penguin Bay) -- before heading back to Ithaca.

We went straight to dinner at Luna: Inspired Street Food, which is possibly the most hipster restaurant I have ever eaten at. I mean, the food is good! But so hipster. I had the pork belly bao bun, Mom got the fried chicken bao bun, and Dad got the half-portion of bacon smoked gouda mac & cheese. For reference, all the bao are deconstructed.

After eating, we drove back to my house, fed Dottie, and made sure we had all the recycling sale donations in the minivan, leaving the Camry with only the book sale donations (which I will drop off another day). We cruelly abandoned Dottie yet again and drove back to almost the exact place we'd just left, whereupon we unloaded all the donations. Dad and I got a bunch of them to the correct sale rooms, while Mom got one of the organizers to sign her charitable giving record sheets.

Then we came back to my house again so they could pack up their stuff and hit the road, which they did shortly before 7pm -- leaving me with the Camry, which I believe I will retain custody of until Thanksgiving. That will make my life logistically simpler in several ways. :)

6. Posted my weekly gardening report and accompanying photos.

And now I think it is time for bed, since I have to be at work tomorrow by 9am. *wry*
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1. Finished arranging transcripts for TC3. (One has not actually been sent yet, because the college in question is operating on an approximately two-week delay, but they have received both the request and the authorization and I should get an email when the thing finally ships.)

2. Photographed my plants and made my weekly post about them. Also added another batch of crushed eggshells to their soil.

3. Made weekly Facebook update.

4. Watered my houseplants.

more items under the cut )

28. TOOK A NAP.

29. Made weekly Facebook update.

30. Finished first mini-ficlet prompt meme fill! \o/

And hopefully I will remember to make these record-keeping posts a little more frequently from now on, because that was kind of ridiculous. *wry*
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1. Took weekly Monday photographs of my vegetables, but forgot to post them online. Ah well. I will do a two-weeks-in-one post this coming Monday.

2. Walked to the Cayuga St. bridge to watch my town's fireworks display at 9:45pm Monday night. (Ithaca usually does fireworks a day or two before the 4th. I am not sure when or why that offset started, but at this point it's a tradition and continues through sheer inertia.)

3. Wrote four fic DVD commentaries. :)

more items under the cut )

21. Applied to TC3! (I mean, I fudged some dates because I don't remember the exact end dates of my association with my high school and previous colleges. I can tell you month and year, sure! But exact day? Pfff, no. I assume they will understand and cut me slack on that front.) Tomorrow I will start arranging for transcripts. I believe I can do that online for the two colleges. For my high school, I think I have to make a phone call, so that will wait for Monday.

22. Emailed Vicky about some super-secret plans we may or may not be conspiring over. ;)

And that is that!

For the record? My productivity was wildly uneven this week. Points 1 through 8 took four days (Monday-Thursday), whereas points 9-22 were all done in a single day (Friday). This is because I knocked my sleep schedule completely out of whack and did not manage to yank it back on track for several days, during which I kind of zombied around doing nothing in particular. I can't even say I was relaxing and enjoying myself; I was mostly just going through the motions and hoping some spark of emotion/inspiration would light me up.

I really need to stop letting my sleep schedule drift. That is utterly devastating to my ability to be a functional person.
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1. Finished unpacking and put my empty luggage away.

2. Scheduled calls with Cat and Susan.

3. Called Vicky to chat about writing and general life stuff. There may be project news at some point in the future... *mysterious smile*

4. Bought groceries.

5. Boiled eight eggs.

6. Watered my houseplants.

7. Took kitchen compost to communal bin.

8. Checked up on my back porch vegetable garden, photographed them, rearranged them, and got rid of about half a million fallen mulberries and mulberry seedlings. (The last I have to do daily. I will be SO HAPPY when all the mulberries are gone for the year.)

9. Made some gardening posts.

10. Attended church and chatted briefly with the DRE. We ended up not actually meeting-meeting, since she's had some major life chaos this past week which will continue for the foreseeable future, but we have agreed to an email exchange on Thursday and we'll see what happens from there.

11. Changed linens.

12. TOOK A NAP.

13. Took recycling bins to curb for pickup.

14. Called Cat and chatted for about three hours, wow, where DID the time go???

And now I should really get to bed so I will be more awake tomorrow. :)
edenfalling: circular blue mosaic depicting stylized waves (ocean mosaic)
The thing about the island -- and this is both good and bad -- is that it's very easy to lose track of time because the rhythm of the days is very different from the normal workweek.

Anyway, on Sunday I don't think I did anything in particular, aside from finally finishing the edits and extensions to "Second Chances." No, wait -- Dad, Mom, and I collectively walked down to the east portage and then I peeled off to come home via the woods while they continued on to the south portage and walked home from there.

On Monday, we had pancakes and sausage for breakfast. Mom has also been feeding me clementines, which is nice; they are just about exactly the right size for the amount of fruit I want in the morning. I went down to the dock to get some reading done -- still working through Religion in the Japanese Experience: Sources and Interpretations -- after which I took a nap. Then I took the big hedge-clippers and did some trail maintenance along the east portage loop trail I'd walked the day before. It still needs a LOT of work, but it's slightly less dire so I feel I got something accomplished. And I got home in time for us to have steak (grilled out in the back yard) for dinner, so that was nice.

I also wrote and posted another installment of "Edmund and Ginny Go to Harfang," because why not.

Today we had soft-boiled eggs for breakfast, accompanied by the leftover apple-bran muffins from Friday. Then we walked all the way around Lake Windigo (the lake in the center of Star Island). That is a fairly decent walk, though we stopped several times to admire various views, and also to chat with two of our neighbors up at the north portage. (The portages are all from Cass Lake in to Lake Windigo, in case that was not obvious. The north portage is suitable for anything; it is very short, wide, and sandy. The east portage is suitable for canoes. And the south portage is not really a portage -- it is just a regular woodland trail -- though I suppose you could carry a canoe along it in a pinch.) The trail needs a bunch of clipping, though, and a few places really will need to be rerouted over the next few years because they are in danger of collapsing right into the lake.

When we got back, I took a nap (longer than I meant to, but I suppose that makes up for staying up later on Monday night than I meant to -- Dad and I were talking about this and that, got really into our conversation, and mutually lost track of time), and then went down to the dock to finish Religion in the Japanese Experience: Sources and Interpretations. So that's two reading projects knocked off, go me!

(I have signally failed to start reading Don Quixote, though. *sigh*)

I also picked a starship design for the Amber Lotus -- the Red Cross ship in "Intervention," aka my WIP Big Bang fic -- since my artist wanted a visual reference. That was a little annoying/embarrassing, since I had actually picked a starship type a year or two back... and then forgotten to write my choice down, so I had to recreate it from scratch today. *headdesk*

Hmm. Other things, other things...

I do most of the table-clearing and dish-washing at the cabin, since I find it meditative and also I don't help much with the cooking. I have obviously been doing a bunch of that.

Mom and I have also been working through a book of crossword puzzles I bought a few years ago for use on trips (sometimes crosswords are more my speed than a book; sometimes it's the other way around) and while most of them are pretty reasonable, there was one that had straight-up terrible clues -- hopelessly non-specific, and not even any clever jokes to resolve ambiguities. We had to cheat repeatedly to get anywhere, which is annoying since we have done harder-rated crosswords with much less difficulty.

And now I think I will go to bed, since I want to get through tomorrow without collapsing for a two-hour nap. *wry*
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Since Vicky got into writing M/M ebook romances, she's occasionally prodded at me to maybe file off the serial numbers from some of my fics or write something new specifically for profit. And mostly I make vaguely noncommittal noises because I am bad at schedules and also romance, but. I think about it now and then, you know?

So last night I was making a list of things that might be workable as novellas or short-ish novels, and it occurred to me that over the years there has been a slow but distinct change in the types of relationships I'm most interested in writing.

cut for length, etc. )

Anyway, I should get back to working on actual fiction.
edenfalling: circular blue mosaic depicting stylized waves (ocean mosaic)
I got up at 4:00am EST on Thursday, so as to shower, eat breakfast, finish packing, and set up my apartment before heading outside shortly before 5:00am to wait for my cab. In the event, the cab was about ten minutes late, but I still got to the airport and through security in plenty of time. The flight from Ithaca to Detroit went smoothly, and I made my transfer with several minutes to spare even though they were slow to unpack the plane-side checked bags. (These are bags that would be carry-on items in larger planes, but small jets have small overhead compartments so they basically wrap a tag around your suitcase handle, stash it in the cargo compartment with the actual checked bags, and then hand it back to you at the end of the flight.)

cut for length )

As for my reading: I got through the entirety of C. S. Lewis's The Problem of Pain, which was one of my "I am not entirely sure where I picked this book up, but I should probably read it before donating it" books, and another several sections of Religion in the Japanese Experience: Sources and Interpretations, a textbook composed of various themed excerpts from other works and brief explications thereof.

Lewis is, as always, infuriating because I disagree vehemently with a number of his assumptions, with most of his theology, and with a bunch of his implicit politics... and yet he keeps coming to conclusions about human experience and what a good life should look like that are unnervingly close to my own in some respects. So it's a constant swing between, "yes, exactly, that was beautifully put!" and "but HOW can a reasonably intelligent and well-meaning person be so WRONG?!?!" Some other day I should probably quote one of the passages I thought was most apt, and also take a stab at analyzing one point where I think he went most terribly awry.

(Also science has marched on and Lewis's chapter on animal pain and consciousness is consequently even more awful and wrong-headed than when he wrote it, though I think I would have considered it awful and wrong-headed even decades ago because he's arguing from a foundation of theological assumptions which I utterly fail to share. But that is something where I could point to actual science to prove that he is talking through his hat, whereas the other point is more of a philosophical/ethical thing, and thus less subject to hard proof... though one could probably cite various studies on criminal justice and prison reform which I believe tend more toward my side of the argument than toward his. Hmm. *makes note to look into that* But anyway, I'd want to do more research and marshal my arguments in logical order before venturing into that particular alligator swamp.)

And that is what I have been up to for the past three days. :)
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Mom had a small pile of stuff she wanted to give me, which she set aside in a safe place so she'd remember to bring all the items up to Ithaca last weekend when she and Dad visited. Of course this meant she forgot to bring them. *wry*

Anyway, yesterday I received a very carefully packed and taped box containing:

1. A current registration card for the Camry (Ardis's old car, which has become our family's pass-around extra car), to replace my expired one from last year.

2. Two small square bars of Erbario Toscana soap, one orange and one yellow, because I like fancy scented soaps for my bathroom handsoap and Mom had no use for them.

3. Various newspaper clippings she thinks I should read.

4. A bottle of vitamin E nail and cuticle oil, which supposedly helps with both brittle/fragile fingernails (not a problem I have) and overly dry cuticles and surrounding skin, such that they tend to spontaneously split and bleed (a problem I definitely DO have). Mom started using that this past winter and now swears by it.

5. Three pages of terrible poetry I wrote in purple pen and then gave to one of my grandmothers, probably when I was twelve or so. (I have no memory of the poems, but I was really into purple ink for a couple years in my early adolescence and I think my handwriting looks about right for that age.) I think Mom and Dad wound up with papers from all three of my grandmothers, so I'll have to ask to figure out who I inflicted this stuff on.

6. A white tablecloth Mom took to NJ after Thanksgiving to wash and forgot to give back until just now.

7. Two pairs of trousers and one t-shirt for me to try on.

8. A box of four Cadbury Creme Eggs, because they are my delicious and terrible downfall. :)

...

I kind of want to transcribe and post the poetry, just as a reminder to myself and the world that thirteen-year-old kids tend to get terribly overwrought about EVERYTHING. It's embarrassing in retrospect (and sometimes even at the time), but it's normal and over the years I've come to look back on my younger self with at least as much affection as pained winces. *wry*

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Elizabeth Culmer

October 2017

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