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1. Called Vicky Saturday evening and talked about various things for a hour or two.

2. Changed linens.

3. Bought Susan's birthday present. I started by going to the Farmer's Market down at Steamboat Landing, but they didn't have anything that really jumped out at me. So I drove up the west shore of the lake to American Winery and bought her three types of specialty fudge. I am mostly neutral on Americana's wines -- a few each year are pretty good, most are okay, a few are emphatically not to my taste -- but I have never yet disliked any of their fudge varieties, so. I got her Maple Bacon Chocolate, Amaretto Chocolate Swirl, and Dark Chocolate Covered Cherry. :)

more items under the cut )

21. Susan's birthday celebration! We met at the G family house around 7pm, where Cat and I admired Susan's kitten (Abbie, a gray tabby with white socks and a bit of tan around her ankles) and Susan opened our gifts.

Then we went to Yuki Hana, a local sushi place, for dinner. We got three items to share: unagi don, orange dragon rolls, and ume-shiso rolls; before the main course, Susan and I each had miso soup and Cat had the complimentary salad that came with the unagi don. We declined desert, but received a plate with three watermelon slices apparently just because, which was unexpected but tasty. I had to preemptively take a Benadryl because of raw avocado and cucumber, but it was totally worth it. :)

After dinner, we returned to the G family house and chatted for a while before Susan suggested we try some of the fudge I'd gotten her. Rev. and Mrs. G were invited to join in, and the general consensus was that fudge is good. (This is not a terribly controversial conclusion, I feel. *wry*) We enlisted Rev. G to take pictures of the three of us before Cat had to bail (since she needed to get some sleep before driving to Pennsic on Monday), and I am very glad we were able to get together like that. :D

22. Finished the beta draft of "Intervention" (my WIP Big Bang fic) and sent it to beta. \o/

23. Drove back to Ithaca. I should mention at this point that on both the drive down and the drive up, I was listening to a lecture series on tape: The Barbarian Empires of the Steppes, by Prof. Kenneth W. Harl of Tulane, which is part of the Great Courses series. There are 36 lectures in total, two per CD, and I have gotten through 17 of them. (I started on lecture 3, since Mom and I listened to some of them on a previous car trip and while I couldn't remember exactly where we left off, I knew it was past the first CD.)

I don't know why I never tried listening to nonfiction audiobooks or audio lectures on car trips before. (I specify nonfiction because I find fiction audiobooks intensely distracting; the voices never quite match what's in my head, and also the pacing tends to be indefinably wrong.) But listening to lectures while driving uses one problem to solve another in the most beautiful way. First, the lectures help me stay alert and focused on the road in a way that I otherwise find difficult -- caffeine is not infallible, and music gets samey after a while -- because I have to be paying attention to what the lecturer is saying, and relating it to previous lectures and my own general understanding of world history. Second, driving is a visual/kinesthetic task that eats up enough of my concentration that I actually CAN pay attention to the audio input, which is something I otherwise find nearly impossible and have had to resort to sewing projects or coloring books in order to listen to occasional podcasts that I decided were important enough to make the effort.

Anyway, I think I can get at least one more round trip to NJ and back out of this lecture series -- and then probably down to NJ again -- but after that I need to look into my local library's audio offerings, because I didn't get drifty even once on this trip, and I promise you it's not because I'd gotten any more sleep than usual. *wry*

...

And that is that, and I really have to remember to make these posts more often because covering ten days at once is ridiculous.
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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. Emailed DRE about rescheduling our meeting; have not yet heard back. I will email her again tomorrow.

2. Paid rent.

3. Texted Landlord Dude about the compost bin, which I pulled to the curb on Tuesday the 11th but which had not been picked up as of Friday the 21st. He said he'll look into it.

4. Photographed my veggies and made a special post about the rapidly-growing squash. :) I also harvested two of the squash and have made tentative plans for what to cook with them.

5. Arranged phone calls with Cat, Susan, and Vicky.

6. Changed linens.

7. Washed laundry, dried laundry, folded laundry, put away laundry, hung other laundry up to air-dry. (I also got stuck at the laundromat for half an hour after folding my linens, because a thunderstorm blew through and it rained buckets -- enough that I didn't even want to walk two blocks home to get my car and bring the dry laundry home that way. So I read fic on my phone, bought a bag of chips and a soda and called it dinner, and later had a small container of yogurt to sort of pretend that was a less screamingly un-nutritious meal than it really was. *wry*)

8. Bought groceries.

9. Watered my houseplants.

10. Boiled a dozen eggs.

11. Called Susan and chatted for about two hours. :)

12. Finished the rough draft of my WIP Big Bang fic! It needs so many revisions, but I have something TO revise, and that is the biggest part of the battle right there. Which I win. \o/

Now I am going to read fic for a while and then crash into bed, because I have been tired enough to hibernate for the past few days and I would really like to pay down enough of my sleep dept to feel like I have energy again.
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The problem with endings is that they have to thematically resolve the entire preceding story, which in this case is particularly tricky since I still have not 100% pinned down the thematic arc of the fic and once I do resolve whatever it ends up being, I will have to go back and make sure to write that into existence in the first place.

Um. That made more sense in my head?

But anyway, I think both [thing A] and [thing B] are out, because reasons, and I am not yet sure how to find a third option. Dammit.

...

I'm going to go do laundry and hope the break will let the back of my brain gnaw over the problem and figure something out, because my conscious mind sure as heck isn’t getting anywhere.

---------------

ETA, 10pm

Alas, laundry did not help.

However, I talked through the plot and my problems with my friend Susan on the phone this evening, and she suggested an option that works beautifully. She also made me take a closer look at a tertiary plot arc and realize it needs A) reworking and B) more emphasis, which I think will dramatically improve the story as a whole.

So... I have an ending!

I also have a metric shitton of rewrites, but still. ENDING! :DDD
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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. :)
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1. Started making paper fruit for a new counter display at the rental office -- by which I mean I chose line art from online, copypasted it into Word documents (and resized and tweaked until I had about six iterations per page), and printed it out on colored paper. Miss Cactus already started cutting some of them out and adding detail with thin-point Sharpie pens. I am not sure whether I will arrive on Tuesday to a finished display, or whether I will get to do some cutting and coloring myself during any slow periods.

2. Acquired a new houseplant. See, a tenant couldn't bring the plant with them to their new apartment, but felt bad throwing a living thing away, so they brought it to the office and asked if we wanted it. I said yes. I then transplanted it from the dinky plastic store pot into the slightly larger ceramic pot the tenant had been using purely as decoration because apparently transplanting is hard. *sigh* Anyway, hopefully I will manage not to kill it.

3. Put three nails into one side of my oldest bookcase, to hold parts of my paperclip collection. (Context: I string paperclips in chains of ten onto keyrings, 25 chains per ring, and then hang them up for display. All the paperclips must be 'found' items -- I can't purposely buy them -- which is why it has taken me literally twenty years to collect a thousand paperclips. Well. A thousand and three, as of Saturday.)

more items under the cut )

18. Called Vicky and caught up for an hour or so. :)

19. Chopped onions, summer squash, and a large bell pepper and made a batch of veggie sidedish. Tomorrow I intend to bake some chicken.

All in all, I think it was a fairly productive weekend.
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1. Took kitchen compost to communal bin.

2. Called Susan and chatted for an hour and a half. It was good to catch up!

3. Started moving my vegetables outside in the afternoons, to get them used to direct sunlight (instead of sunlight filtered through my kitchen windows).

4. Planted new seeds in three of my squash containers, since only one of my transplants (Meeny) survived. I have put two seeds per container, and will thin as necessary in a few weeks.

more items under the cut )

16. Trimmed the back of the lilac bush, which has to be done every year to make room for my air conditioner. (It grows right up against my front room window, you see.) I will trim the rest of the bush in late May, after it has finished blooming -- it has only just started blooming now, and while the flowers aren't very abundant, they are making a much better showing than in various years past. I definitely think the plant does better when I prune it regularly.

17. Did a smidge of editing work on "Second Chances," which I hope to finish by Monday night. *crosses fingers*
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Okay, regrouping and trying again with Susan's super-belated gift story. As before, constructive feedback is adored. :)

Here is what Susan and I have discussed since I scrapped my previous ideas:

-----

cut for lengthy email exchange )

-----

So in summary, I'm aiming for a story about a person whose secret involves doing stuff rather than just being something -- and preferably doing something socially responsible but which for [fill in reason] can't be done openly and must be kept secret from the general public. Which would tend to argue for either superheroes or an urban fantasy type thing where either there's a semi-functional Masquerade and anyone who breaks it gets targeted personally rather than just being at risk through random chance, or where anyone with supernatural powers gets considered a potential threat even if they're fighting on humanity's side (maybe there is a reason for that or maybe it's just prejudice, whatever).

I tend to think that superheroes are fundamentally kind of implausible? In that unless you have powers that specifically relate to finding crime (or reaching it really quickly, I suppose), or you have the money and organization to build up a team and a good communication system, you're mostly going to flail around being useless. Also I think the lone fighter thing works better if there really is some kind of societal prejudice preventing people from organizing, and Susan's request assumes a lone fighter without a support team.

So let's go with an urban fantasy thing where humanity is under siege from... I dunno, some magical threat, and there are a few people here and there who accidentally acquire powers from close contact with that threat and sometimes use them to fight back. But because their powers are tied to the threat, they are viewed with great suspicion by a lot of other people, which leads them to mostly fight anonymously.

Character A (secret-keeper) is one of those people. Her day job is... probably something with flexible hours, so, maybe consulting? Or some kind of remote work where she gets a project that needs to be done by Day X but so long as she meets the deadline she can work whenever is convenient for her. Character B (secret-learner) is new to town and meets Character C (love interest) at work. B discovers that C has been locked in this weird dance of "I like you but we never seem to get past a first date" with A and decides to get to know A to determine what the hell is going on because this holding pattern is not emotionally great for C.

B actually ends up liking A on a personal level, but is pissed off at A's persistent unreliability and emotional stonewalling. And then we have the dramatic reveal, where A has to save B's (and maybe C's?) life during an attack.

So. Scene breakdown as follows?

outline breakdown )

The End.

-----

I kind of want to make B female and C male, just because the standard codified version of this trope has two men conspiring to keep the truth from a woman and I enjoy flipping unnecessarily-gendered tropes. Also, that would allow for a genuinely platonic and mutually-supportive friendship between a woman and a man (B and C) which is sadly rare in fiction. So yeah. Let's go with that.

Now I just need to figure out the specific nature of this Magical Threat, what A's powers are and how they're connected to Magical Threat, what the hell B and C's job is, what activity B and A mutually like to do on Saturdays, and other details I skimmed over in the breakdown.

But that is for another day. :)

-----

ETA, 3/21/17: Susan requests that I switch scenes 1 and 2, and make two other minor tweaks, but I think we are finally in business! \o/

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Elizabeth Culmer

October 2017

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