Category Archives: family / personal chatter

Little finds

On occasion, we’ll go to the bottle shop to buy liquor – fruit or sweet wines, or vodka mixers are my thing, and sometimes a meal just isn’t complete without something that’s a little stronger than Coca Cola, especially if I’ve cooked up a heavy stew. I particularly enjoy Brown Brothers’ moscato, and they have a new low-alcohol content drink called Grape Tree, which is a fruit cider – grape cider- ‘inspired by apple cider.’ They have a variation that’s made of berries, which is quite yummy.

During our last trip out we spotted this interesting label, and I had to take a photo of it.

I don’t think Larry Correia drinks, and I don’t know if Jim Butcher or Jason Cordova do, but I figure this is something that might amuse them.

I also ran across this while sorting through books; this is one of the books my Dad bought, and from the date he scribbled in one of the pages, it was while we were in Europe. While we lived in Paris, I think.

My parents were voracious readers, and my habit of keeping a library comes from them. I wonder what my Dad would think, that I keep (virtual) company and call friends authors who are published by the house Jim Baen established, and that those authors, wonderful people all, are encouraging me to write? Certainly, I’m still get the awestruck ‘pinch me I’m dreaming,’ moment now and again, but nevertheless, I’m incredibly glad to know that these awesome authors are also wonderful, down to earth people who I can also get along with (and who don’t mind my brand of crazy, it seems!) I think Dad would have got along with them.

 

Dad’s death anniversary was on the 17th, and talking to Mom, the tenor of our missing him has changed. It’s not that painful “I wish he hadn’t died” but “I wish he were here to enjoy this too,” and “I wonder what he would say/think?” Mom and I are quite amused that his work as an Ambassador is still talked about, and praised, when he’s been dead for 9 years, and glad at the same time that his legacy of service to the Filipino people is not  yet forgotten.

 

The Worth Of A Fan

This started out originally as part of a comment over in Mad Genius Club which grew into a rant, which the little Rhys-chibi in my head looked at and said “My darling, that soapbox doesn’t go there.” So it has it’s own blogpost where I natter on because I can.

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A year

18th of January, 2015, Rhys and I had Brandon born by C-section. I still remember how he was lifted up, and he paused for a whole second before beginning to cry. It was a displeased cry, complaining, clearly communicating how unhappy he was that he’d been removed from his nice comfortable and warm womb, to this brightly lit strange place. Whyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy?!

He was tiny, so tiny. And unlike the warnings of the prenatal ward head doctor, he was a perfect, chubby little baby boy, and not thin and skeletal. He was cute, so adorable and cute, with a thick head of black hair.

He was clearly opinionated, and not afraid of letting people know what those opinions were. Those opinions were often negative; and in disagreement with the establishment. When he was brought up to special care, the doctor decided to give him a small amount of milk; not a full feed for his size. Brandon gulped down that little bit, then when no more milk was forthcoming, exercised his lungs and showed that this was not acceptable!

The doctor quickly changed his mind and had him given a full 35 ml feed.

Brandon definitely did not like being pulled from Mummy in the afternoons, to allow her to sleep for a couple of hours. He didn’t like being put up against his father’s prickly stubble, or bumping his head against Daddy’s collarbone. At first, when he felt this had become unbearable, he would suck in all the oxygen his little lungs could manage and then let out a long, enraged howl, which he would continue to do until he ran out of breath, gave a little cough, and then slump against his father’s shoulder, dizzy from lack of breath, followed with an expression that said ‘fuck it’.

I remember how I had to hurriedly put him down in the center of the bed one afternoon, because I desperately needed the loo. Brandon did NOT like that! He began to let the household know how he’d been so crassly and CRUELLY abandoned! 15 seconds later, Uncle Aff came into the room, to see what was up, and picked him up. Brandon immediately began to complain to him, telling on Mum’s being so unfeeling and not finding a way to take baby with her while she had to go pee!

I heard the unhappy baby talk ‘wa wa wa ma wa wa wa ma ma waaah’ and came out to see a very amazed Aff holding Brandon in his hands. “It’s like he’s trying to communicate!”

“He is,” I said. “He’s telling on me.”

 

We wanted to know what Brandon’d say, once he started to talk, but we never got the chance because he passed away in his sleep when he was 11 weeks old. We didn’t expect that the only photos and videos we had would be all we’d have to last us our lifetime. That what time we had with him was all we were going to have. All the memories.

Most of the photos we have show him scowling. Except in his sleep; he’d smile occasionally there; and Aff got a photo where Brandon’s sleepily smiling at the camera. The one time we saw him give a happy baby smile was while he was on skype video with Aff’s dad. Yep, the gummy happy smile with legs and arms wiggle.

Even so, all those photos we got showed that there was going to be a very fascinating personality in bloom. We got raised Spock-eyebrows, disapproving expressions, scowls, frowns, and ‘wtf are you doing?’ looks. On an infant. Yeah, it was going to be fun raising that little boy, we said. It’s going to be fun, interesting, hilarious, once he started talking. We bet that his first word would be ‘no.’

All we have are dreams of what if, and what might have been.

Even if that’s all we had, we wouldn’t have traded him, or the chance to know him. Brandon was a treasure. We enjoyed having him with us, loved having him with us, loved him. The thing we regret is that he’s gone, and we wouldn’t have the opportunity to keep experiencing what he’d show us of him as he grew. That we wouldn’t have fun with him any more.

Brandon died quietly, peacefully, and left a huge hole in our lives, in our hearts.

Yesterday, he would have been a year old.

Happy Birthday, grumpy thing. We miss you.

The Next Generation of Awesome

So, waiting the 30 minutes before New Year ticked over, we saw a short advert for Silver K Gallery’s current exhibition: Star Wars and Superheroes. So of course, being the huge fans of science fiction and fantasy art that we are, we had to go. Rhys and I took our kids with us, since they enjoy Star Wars and figured that they’d enjoy having a look at the art prints on display. After impressing on the children that they had to behave and not be wriggly energetic things, we paid the entrance fee and went in.

Vincent soon found himself upstairs, with his sister trailing behind, while we parents took a more leisurely look around. There was a delightful little print featuring Kermit the Frog and Yoda sitting side by side, which had me appreciating the meta joke, and several utterly breathtaking pieces that made me wish I had the money to buy the prints and room to display them on. I’m not a huge Star Wars fan, but I can appreciate the art. The pieces on display were limited signed print runs, most of them on canvas, and they’d also be framed for the purchaser.

Contrary to the limitation of Superheroes and Star Wars art, there were some pieces on display that weren’t from those franchises – there was a lone Firefly piece that would have been delightful on any fan’s wall, and a couple of Star Trek items that had my heart going doki doki doki – An Alex Ross signed artist proof’s print run, that had William Shatner’s signature as well. The Star Trek pieces were on the stairway wall, while the Firefly piece would surprise you on the way back out of the gallery.

Finally catching up to the kids, I approached Vincent and started to show him the flyer with the print prices on all of the displayed artworks, saying that people could buy them if they wanted to. He immediately turned to a piece and pointed. “How much is that one, Mum? I like it a lot.”

I looked it up and saw that there were two versions available: the canvas print version, which was on display, and the paper print version, which was much cheaper (more than half), and showed it to him. He was shocked at first, and taking my parental cue, I told him that’s why he has to be VERY careful and not touch or bump into the displayed artwork.

I went to look at a piece that Rhys called me over to see and admire. After a few minutes, Vincent came over and asked, “Can’t we get it? I really, really like it. Even if I gave up my allowance for it?”

I said, “We’ll see.”

Long story short and a lay-by plan set by the delighted curator, Colin, we were given permission to take a photo of a determined soon to be 9 year old who wanted to invest in artwork by Japanese Artist Mimi Yoon, next to the print on display. He is going to get the paper print though, because there was no way he could afford the canvas print.

Rhys and I were able to work out arrangements for prints we fell in love with and were able to talk ourselves into setting down payments for. I simply could not pass up this artist’s proof print of Alex Ross’ The Final Frontier, signed by the artist and William Shatner. (Numbered 14/15!)

Now, prints aren’t really a big thing of mine; but I do understand the value and why people would collect them. My reason for not collecting them has to do with considerations of space and expenses; which is why I prefer to collect figures and art books. That said, I’m very happy to find a place for this breathtaking print. Colin said he was able to request William Shatner to sign the artist proof prints at a convention here in Australia, which is why they’re double-signature prints. Fangirl mode engaged!

Rhys got himself a signed canvas print of Jerry VanderStelt’s Black Heart. Rhys isn’t a very big Star Wars fan, but he really liked this piece and felt that he’d not regret having it up on his wall. (I don’t think he really knows the character either!) But as a work of art it’s well worth having and I was being the bad influence and encouraging him to get it. Colin was very happy to work with us on that as well. I think though, in the long run, I think Colin’s a fan who is happy to work with people in getting an addition to their collection that they will truly enjoy. The impression I got of him was that he really enjoys what he does, and gets pleasure from seeing other people enjoy what he enjoys too.

With the day’s outing though, my greatest joy wasn’t in the obtaining of artwork, but in seeing Vincent carefully think about buying the print he wanted very much. I talked to him for quite a while about it, saying that he’d be without allowance for months helping pay for the print, and that he’d not have money for things like books and other nice things that he might want later on. He would go quiet for a bit every time, and think, then say “I’m okay with not having allowance for a long time,” or “they look really, really cool though,” and repeat that he really wanted the Bad Girls print, instead of say, the various awesome Iron Man ones there (which he is a BIG fan of.) It wasn’t something I expected him to do, and be so decisive about. In fact, both Rhys and I are very proud that he wasn’t bored at the gallery (there’s lots of cool pictures here!) but he lingered the most at the superheroes section of the gallery, and chattered away with the fine lady who was minding the door for entrance fees, who was also quite impressed that Vincent was so determined to own a piece of art. “You’re raising them right,” she said. Well, we are raising the next generation of people who will enjoy science fiction and fantasy; though we’re also pretty pleased with how this one’s turning out so far! (Big thank you for being patient with their chatty friendly selves!)

The prints we will eventually own will also be framed, and since it’s likely we’ll be back here by the time we finish paying it off, we’ll probably pick them up then too.

If I’d been rolling in pots of money though, I would not have minded picking up this,this, this and this, simply because having them up on the same wall would make for a striking and awesome display.

I plan to save up for this piece at some point though, because the juxtaposition of the classic Japanese themes and style, plus R2D2 shouldn’t work, but it totally does and tickles my brain in good ways.

The Silver K exhibit, at 1092 High Street, Armadale, Victoria, Australia, runs until March 13, 2016. They also have various prints of other popular art pieces, as well as a number of certified original animation cels from Warner Bros. and Paramount Pictures. They are open Wednesday to Friday, and on Saturday and Sunday. Check out their site for times (for most accurate and recent updates!)

He would have been two years old

Our son Damien had his birthday on the 5th of September. As he was also stillborn, it also counts as his death day. He would have been two years old.

http://cutelildrow.deviantart.com/art/Mourning-the-loss-559197694

You did not breathe, you did not cry
Not once did I
Get to hear the sound of your voice
This is not the choice
Not the dream I had for you, not my wish
If I could I would change this

In my womb,before birth
Before you came out to this earth
You closed your eyes, went to sleep
And to God went your soul to keep
How quiet was the birthing room
When finally you slipped out of the womb.

As our tears your face wash
our dreams for you turn to ash
So beautiful and peaceful in your eternal dreams
While we work through what this means
Broken parents’ hearts and the pain
of life without you until we meet again.

We imagine what could have been
The things you might have seen
the man you could never become
the future made more profound
by never being
without meaning.

You cannot speak, you never laughed
never cooed, never asked
for your favorite story, or for favorite food
never threw a tantrum or pouted in a mood
Not to have you is no reprieve
for your parents who only grieve.

So all our dreams for you we find
only broken wishes left in the mind
The empty crib and baby toys
symbolize lost joys
Of the life you could have had
If your birth-day had not been sad.

For us,your parents, the sorrow
Will be with us every day and tomorrow
The you-shaped hole in our heart
bleeds till the day we are no longer apart.

Save

Apologies for the delays in writing

The last few weeks have been quite horrible for me healthwise so far this month. I’ve had maybe 4 days of NOT being sick since the start of July. Gah. And I’ve been sick since before end of June.

First I had the monster flu that knocked me right off my feet for a week and a half, then I had the weird episode of feeling like I was burning up, but my temperature read thus:

We’ve got an Antarctic Vortex of cold blowing up from, well, the south. It’s so cold for us up in North Queensland that we’ve been getting temperatures like this:

My eldest son, Vincent, apparently has had a growth spurt, because the trousers we got him just a few months ago no longer fit. All of them. Except one pair. Vincent has that weird combo of sizes where he’s too thin for one size, and too short for another. He’s a skinny kid. So as much as possible I try to buy his clothes cheap; because he’ll suddenly outgrow clothes. So he caught a cold, and everyone has “noses that run like Kenyan Olympians going for the gold medal,” as per Aff’s oh so memorable description. (Sneezing and laughing at the same time hurts, I found that out the hard way.)

I don’t have this problem with my daughter. She has an immune system that gives sicknesses that takes out the rest of the household the bird and cruises along as normal. It’s still so cold though that I have the two children sleeping in Vincent’s room, to generate enough warmth to keep them warm. They’re bundled up in flannel PJs, and layers of blankets and two quilts. Me, because by myself I don’t really generate a lot of heat, am buried under a quilt, two fluffy thick throw blankets, and a cotton sheet. And am wearing layers of clothes.

Then a few nights ago I had a high stress event happen to me, resulting in this:

This was my BP an hour later.

Since it was coming down, albeit slowly, I decided not to call the ambulance and do what they would have done anyway: given me meds, told me to rest, and monitored my BP. I’m still recovering, but my BP is somewhat lower now, still a bit high for me though. (My normal is around 90/70.) I’m still having headaches though, and have been having problems keeping a train of thought steady. I’m familiar with this from when I was pregnant with Brandon though, so I just gotta bring my blood pressure down. I feel like I just went ten rounds as the practice throw dummy for a judoka, so I’ve been asleep a lot again.

Sincere apologies for the lack of follow-up essay. Hopefully I’ll feel less kicked-in the head soon.

Between This Essay and The Next

A few days ago, I retweeted something I saw on The Ralph Retort‘s feed and briefly wrote about how I stopped being a feminist in reply to that retweet. A brief discussion followed and I decided it would be best to expand on it. I guess it’s one of those ‘triggering’ things for me because whenever I flash back to that time, it always results in the same towering fury I remember having that pushed me to my feet and had me start shouting back. After all, all the hate they were spewing went against everything we ourselves had been taught about being good strong Catholic women. I decided to break it up into two parts because 1) I had to stop being angry because it really wasn’t doing good things to my heart rate and 2) I had to do stuff away from computer, namely lunch for the family. As it was I had to ask my daughter to handle the rest (just make sure it didn’t burn) because I needed to fall over into bed: I was burning up with flu and everything hurt. I’ve been bedridden since.

Ralph asked if he could feature it and I said yes.

While I was asleep it went up on his site.

I woke up today, fever broken, and went to check on the kids. My eldest boy, Vincent, was up already but Big Sis wasn’t so I sicced him onto her to wake her with cuddles, yelling “INVASION OF THE LITTLE BROTHER” at the top of my voice. Cue “KYAAAAA!!! What are you doing?! Oh, hugs.” The ruckus had Aff come out of his room where he was playing L2. I made coffee and sat down to look at stuff online. That’s when I saw that my account had gone up on The Ralph Retort, and saw retweets talking about a young girl/woman. My still fever-fuzzy brain thought “…I hope they don’t think this is current events.” (I’m still fever-fuzzy.)

 

That’s my graduating year ID – lucky it was where I remembered it was. I blacked out my ex’s surname – yes, I was married then to someone else; our marriage was on the rocks and we separated before I graduated and eventually divorced – He was American so he could divorce me; the Philippines does not have divorce for anyone who isn’t Muslim and that is a rant for a different day. I visited Australia in 2004 and Rhys and I have been together since. My ex and I still talk on occasion, and we both agree that we’re in better places than we were before and we wish each other happy.

This happened while I was still in college. I went for six years from 1998 to 2004, not because that’s the required time to put in, but rather because as an ‘irregular student’, I didn’t have the per-assigned hours and classes that regular block students did. I started in the second semester, not the first, of the last co-ed school ‘batch’ before Miriam fully reverted to being an all girl’s college. So I had to try grab the empty slots for my required major and minor classes if they were still available, or if they weren’t, I’d take them next year. This caused some issues as …I think it was calculus?… was dropped while I was attending (Miriam did not offer hard science or engineering majors at the time – that may have changed now) so other than Algebra or Statistics, there was no need for it – and it had been on my curriculum list when I entered. So I had the strangest schedule sometimes. The history classes were supposed to be spread across the first three years; I got them all on my second semester. Unfortunately I had a very boring World History teacher – one of those people who focused more on geography and dates and timelines as opposed to bringing the events to life in the classroom. Philippine history and Asian Civilization was fun, especially Philippine History, because that was taught by someone who became one of my favorite teachers ever. A tale for a different day.

I wrote as much as I could remember – this would have happened sometime between 2000-2002 or 2003, so I’m afraid that I don’t remember things like names any more. I’ve always been bad with them, so I’m sorry, I can’t point you to a particular lecturer, I remember only that the two Indian women were the most outspoken of the four or five guests up on that stage. They’re a lot like the typical militant feminist common today, just without the rainbow hair.

I forgot to include the parts where I argued extensively about how could they simply shove aside half the human population and dismiss them as rapists when surely all of us present knew of good men, were related to them, and had good male friends. How were we supposed to become good parents to sons, if we treated them with suspicion simply because they were born the opposite sex? I suppose most of the details have gotten hazy in the back and forth shouting. But I remember that fury, the feel of my sense of restraint breaking one chain at a time with each outrageous thing that the feminist lecturers were verbally heaping on our heads – and trying to crush our spirits with. In a way, they did us a favor by overplaying their hand; that particular batch of students were never feminists of the type that seem so prevalent today.

I have good memories, for the most part, of my college years in Miriam. I liked most of my professors and had problems only with the Statistics teacher and the hard-line socialist who was very upset that I didn’t paint a shining picture of glorious utopia after finding out I’d lived in East Berlin. In fact, I don’t really have bad memories of Women Studies classes either – and I know now I was very lucky in that respect. It was a lot more classical feminist than the fainting couch paternalism-encouraging Third Wave weaklings. The focus was more of being able to improve conditions for women and push for a more egalitarian outlook on a local scale. In some respects that is correct and indeed a good thing to advocate. In some other respects however, I don’t think it really applies to a lot of the Filipino outlook either honestly, but that’s the topic of my next essay, which I’m still in the process of writing.

 

First though I have to make sure I don’t relapse.

 

Pondering new projects

I’ve been getting lots of email and feedback in response to my essay, to please write more such essays, as well as to collect my anecdotes of living in a different time of history into a book.

I’ve been thinking about doing so, when I’m not either working on commission art, art in general, or writing the fiction books that I co-author with David / Aff, or am working on my own fiction.

To that end, I’m thinking that perhaps the rough drafts of the chapters will be published here; like a free eARC chapter by chapter, for the history, the fiction work. I’ll try to avoid typos and grammar errors, but as said, I was thinking these would be the rough drafts.

The reason why I was thinking of doing this is because of the way that Stjepan Sejic would originally post the roughs of Sunstone and other comics on his Deviantart accounts, errors and all, then publish them better cleaned up and fixed through Top Cow.

The reason why I haven’t is because of copyright issues and confusion around the issue between working with International copyright, Australian copyright and US copyright laws. It’s all very confusing to me so I’m looking at asking for more feedback and input before I try this. Mind, I’m still going to write these things anyway, the point of this is whether or not putting up chapters and essay roughs on the Net will cause issues later. This is supposedly not the case if there is enough of a difference between the rough on the ‘net and the finished published work but still. Things to consider.

I’m somewhat tempted too to use the Forums for this purpose if I go ahead with this (posting the rough online) because we seem to have far less issues there with regards accounts and comments than I do with WordPress. (Oh and browsing there by proxy or trying to sign up via proxy doesn’t work I’m afraid.) I’ll ask for my own subforum there (if there is enough interest in this and if there are no issues with regards copyright and publishing) and post in sections.

The thing is some of the fiction I’ve been thinking of writing may or may not have illustrations as per the Light Novel format. I wonder about this as a whole, as posting roughs versus nicely cleaned up work would be nice as well.

The whole thing I’m also considering is that this will make me work harder. I used to put out a chapter of Dragon’s Cycle back in it’s heyday, once a month – but in exchange for the long wait time between chapters, I had minimum standards for each chapter released – at least 8 pages, Times New Roman font size 11, 1.5 spacing.

One of the reasons why I’m thinking of shaking up my work like this is because honestly, my grief is downright crippling now. It’s almost 3 months since Brandon died, and it’s really starting to hit me hard. I’ll be working on a piece (mostly art of late) while listening to the mood-inducing music suited for the piece, and wham! out of nowhere, it is like I’m being sliced into shreds from within and tears are running down my face and that’s that for the rest of the day.

I’m aware of my own cycles of grief, and I was much the same way after we lost Damien. The pain REALLY hit me hard months later. I’m strongly aware of the way my body is reacting, the depression, the frequent mental blank-outs, internal thought-static, and the urge to use various forms of escapism to run away from the grief. There’s also the more frequent, vivid nightmares of late – familiar and unwanted dreams of losing everyone around me, my children, my darling Rhys, losing Aff. Rhys has had to wake me more than once already, and it sucks to have such a miserable sleep cycle. (I’m getting better at fixing that!)

And Mom, since I know you’re reading this, you’re not allowed to die, you hear me?! Not for at least another forty or so years! stamp feet (Love you Mommy. ;-P )

Things to think about.

 

 

edited to add: These are for future projects; not something that will happen in the near future. My project plate at present is full. ^^;;;

Sad news

I discovered today that a longtime online friend of mine passed away.

Obituary for Bruce E Durocher II on SF Site.

I first ‘met’ him on LJ as Bedii, and we got to talking about books; he was able to point me at a site that had some old East German books that my family had lost during a termite infestation at our house. We talked a lot about books at random, and he encouraged me to write.

We’d email each other little updates of life and health; and he’d often chide me about my tendency towards insomnia when working. I prayed for his health and would celebrate whenever he gave me positive updates. Our last emails were about his wife’s art, and I suggested a possibility if she’d be willing to do commissions for indie book covers. Bruce said he’d have a chat with her about it and thanked me for keeping them in my thoughts.

I’m going to miss him. Godspeed, Bruce. My prayers for you and your wife.

Surprising responses

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My essay, Nazi is not a term you throw around lightly got Instalanched, re-linked, and mentioned in lots of other places – a response I honestly did not expect. Larry Correia linked it, Sarah Hoyt linked it, Peter Grant linked it, Cedar Sanderson did as well… it’s been retweeted a lot as well.

I’ve read comments from other places, including at Instapundit and getting responses directly to email.

I honestly only expected to be mocked by the Anti Sad Puppies (ASPs), and some supporting comments from my friends and fellow Mad Geniuses. Larry’s busy writing (yessss) and Brad is in the Middle East now, if not in Iraq (stay safe, my friend!)

I’ve just run across your post here:

Nazi is not a term you throw around lightly

I’m having a particularly rough day after being accused of associating with a hate group by a potential customer.

Our sin? We advertise with focus on the family.

Your post bolstered me up. Thank you and God bless.

h.

That letter made me ridiculously happy. To cheer someone who was depressed by being falsely accused of hate, because of conducting their business in a way that meshes with their values and their faith, I am glad for. As a mother of two wonderful children, and two angels in Heaven, I know the importance of family, the value of family. To work with support and focus on the family is an expression of love, not hate. Families cannot be built or kept if there is no love.

Hello, Mrs. Modena.

Good post on your father and on Tor. I’m glad you combined them–mainly just because the story of your father is very interesting in itself, rather than because it’s needed for the Tor part. He’d be proud to be remembered that way.
I write now so I can become a small part of your post. Change “by the dictatorship and it’s cronies” to “by the dictatorship and its cronies”.

IHS

I grinned, leaned over and told Rhys that he’s Mr Modena now.

I write with my maiden name for security reasons. The first has to do with Rhys’ job as a fitter armorer for the ADF; the second has to do with the fact that I have a longtime stalker online who has been known to instigate others into doing his dirty work for him, so that if something happens to someone he is targeting, he isn’t ‘directly responsible’, and it would be difficult to prove.

I’ve been told that it would be a good thing to collect the stories of my experiences into a book, so that my family’s glimpse into history will not be lost. As it is, with my father already gone, a good chunk of that is lost! Fortunately, my mother now has working Skype and I will use it extensively, as long distance phone calls are very expensive. Thank goodness for technology!

I should also grill her for anecdotes of her childhood and youth, and the ones she remembers of my father. They were both fascinating characters, and their lives show a glimpse into a way of living that frankly would be quite alien to most of us now.

Speaking of stories, I saw this wonderful comment at Peter’s blog:

Shadowdancer Duskstar,

I not only found your essay on your father moving, but I found that it inspired me to write a short story. I have the outline down but I wanted to ask your permission to do so, since it’s obviously a very personal thing for you and I wouldn’t want to offend you.

I already gave permission that he continue with the story, and told my Mom about it. Then we joked that if Dad had been around he’d be all fluffed with pride and that we’d need to puncture his ego again.

I responded with this comment:

*grin!* You have no idea how pleased I am to hear that my little essay moved you to write. You’ve become the first to fulfil one of my dreams as a writer: to inspire others to write as well. Thank you so much.

I don’t aspire to award-winning writing, of the pseudo-intellectual elite. I want to write stories that people enjoy, and hopefully become comfort reads, the way I read and reread David Eddings’, Jim Butcher’s, Larry Correia’s, Anne Bishop’s, Tom Clancy’s, Matthew Reilly’s books to pieces and require new copies. I want my stories to be the sort where the prose doesn’t get in the way and instead, you’re ‘in’ the adventure with the character, in a mental cinematic experience of your own. I want the reader to start reading, and be surprised that they reach the end of the book, run out of pages, surface some hours later and blink at the clock, wondering where time went. I want them to think ‘and then what happened?’ and keep turning the pages.

At the top of my goals in writing, is to inspire others to write.

To have achieved that with my essay is the most surprising and most uplifting thing of all.

The nicest part is, it’s going to be a Sci-Fi story! I’m looking forward to this!

My mother’s response to all the reactions I’ve been getting was to be proud, congratulate me, then promptly go, “So, the next thing you write will have to top that.”

That’s the same thing she always told my Dad.

Over at Sarah’s I gave a little more background to how I found out about the erasure of World War II.

I didn’t include it in the essay, because it felt clunky, but the reason why I found out about World War II not being in the books was because of well, my being known in the whole school. I was literally the only ‘colored person’ there. EVERYONE knew my name.

The fourth graders were doing one of those class project presentation displays in the main school hall; and I was still new enough that while I could communicate in German, and read in German, some words eluded me, so I was often in the company of a teacher who spoke English. One day, a bunch of boys ran past, pointing at me and yelled “It’s the Panzerkreuzer Aurora!!!”

I was puzzled, so after scolding them and sending them off, the teacher decided to show me the class exhibits, saying I was too young for this part of education to be included in my lessons, and started talking about the Great War at the start of the century.

“Oh, World War I,” I said. “I’ve only started reading about World War II.”

“Excuse me?”

“World War I. The one that came before World War II.”

The teacher looked at me kindly. “Ah, I forget that the Philippines has been tainted by American lies. There was only ever the Great War, and they lost, so they have to make up that there was a Second World War where they won against an imaginary evil person.”

“Hitler?”

“That one. No German could ever be that evil. Don’t worry, you’ll learn the truth when you’re old enough.”

I, being 7 years old, said: “But I saw pictures.”

“Americans are clever at faking things. Its’ time for your class now.”

And I remember it that well only because I made a particular effort to remember it so I could ask my Dad about it. It REALLY stuck in my head.

The following comments are also worth a read. “Chilling,” Sarah said, and she should know as she lived in a very Socialist Portugal before coming over to the US.

For those looking to find out more about the Sad Puppies/Hugo/Tor controversy, I refer you to these links, randomly copied from open tabs.

http://bayourenaissanceman.blogspot.com.au/2015/06/well-well-well.html

This, That, The Other, Now With More Robots

The latest Sad Puppies related stuff

http://bayourenaissanceman.blogspot.ca/2015/06/anger-doubt-and-confusion-at-tor.html

http://bayourenaissanceman.blogspot.ca/2015/06/most-interesting.html

http://tlknighton.com/?p=7197

http://tlknighton.com/?p=7190

Sad Puppies Summary and Wrapup

Rant: You Can’t Shame a Puppy

Odd Lots

http://voxday.blogspot.com.au/2015/06/tor-books-stands-by-gallo.html

Sheepdog staring at the horizon

www.scifiwright.com/2015/06/irene-gallo/

For now, I’m off. Dinner calls, and I have a nice beef and Portobello mushroom rice porridge waiting for me.

Change of pace

I’ve been playing Lineage II again, and we’d been chatting about the computer I have, and Aff calls it “A small PC for a small person.” He’s not wrong – I’m only 4’8″ in height, and I have to sit cross legged in my chair because my feet don’t touch the ground.

Aff suggested I take pictures, and since he’s planning to hook up a third monitor for me to use, I decided that I should take pictures while my little system is conveniently displayed and decorated (those figures will be moved.)

Since I was at it, and since I have added quite a few new figures to my display, I took this picture. That’s the Cintiq, and I was working on a practice pic, basically to challenge myself with drawing a complicated pose. I’m not sure I fully succeeded but I’m glad with the effort anyway, since I stepped out of my comfort zones in this piece. There’s plenty of mistakes, I’m sure.

I’m not sure I fully succeeded but I’m glad with the effort anyway, since I stepped out of my comfort zones in this piece. There’s plenty of mistakes, I’m sure. Like I said, this was practice work, and I had fun trying the pose out, playing with colors, etc. It feels good to challenge myself, even if I don’t succeed in all my goals. I want to continue growing in skill, even if it’s little by little.

I got a parcel today – an artbook! It’s the leftmost one in this picture. I happily took a screenshot of my current set. I got really lucky that this artbook came back in stock. Lord of Vermillion III and Rage of Bahamut are games I don’t play (I think they’re Japan only since it seems like a CCG) but the artwork is gorgeous.

I paged through it and was happy to recognize some of Yamashita Shun’ya-sensei’s artwork. Here’s a pic.

I’m very fond of game artbooks; so when I saw that this was available, I scrimped and saved to get it. Art for the Final Fantasy XIV game!

Keeping occupied

I think the change of weather is going to have me sick for a few days.

I’m working on a piece to relax, just to challenge myself with a pose. Here’s the work in progress:

Mismatched stockings; that’s why only one is fishnet. The other one will be different. I’ll add in accessories later, because girls need accessories!

I like the outfit. I’d have worn something like this back in the day. I rather miss being able to use headphones as accessories. They’re expensive here in Australia; I used to buy cute headphones and use them as functional hair decs.

Heck, I used to wear cute gothy stuff to work back when I worked at AMDG as a GM, complete with cute corset.

Speaking of cute, Rhys bought this for me:

Little Dinosaur!

I miss my little one so much.

We’ve been playing Lineage II again, and that’s fun. They’ve removed the level cap I hear, and that there’s some people who are level 101.

Worth My Wallet

Rhys is the person who introduced me to Kickstarter, by showing me things that he backs. He’s backed several projects I’m aware of, including some movies and comics, some games (both video game and otherwise) as well as art books.

So when Larry Correia linked a Kickstarter for an anthology he’s participating in, I clicked the link.

It’s the list of authors that made me sign up for a Kickstarter account, and set aside money to add to it. There are several familiar names, which my brain associates with ‘Ooh, yay!’

Pretty much, there goes my book budget for the month (that screenshot includes shipping), and every time I look, my brain goes “Worth it!” So I hope that it gets funded in full. I went for a hardcover simply because they’re more durable and resist my rereading tendencies.

That list of names is sure to encourage lots of rereading. Those are some fine masters and mistresses of their craft there.


Rhys got me this charm, which I currently wear on a necklace as a pendant, during the weekend at Prouds (they were having a sale!) It reminds me of Brandon. I think I’d like to wear it on a bracelet eventually though; so I can add charms that remind me of my family. I got something there for Rune’s birthday; though her birthday isn’t for some months yet.

Brandon’s loss is really hitting me hard of late, and I recognize the stage of grief I’m entering, as well as why. He would be five months old soon, and instead, it’s almost two months since he died.

I miss everything. The feel of him in my arms, the softness of his cheeks, that euphoria-inducing soft sweet milk smell babies have, that intense, piercing gaze, that fierce personality of his, all the way to the squeaky noise he made when he was swallowing milk while he nursed: niyoop, niyoop, niyoop.

Brandon would have started to smile around now – as in, be able to pull it out at will. He would smile at random, usually while asleep, but he gave a happy gummy grin and baby wriggle once, when he heard Aff’s father’s voice, while Aff was showing him off. Since I was carrying him, I only saw it from the side, not in full. We didn’t get a picture, alas, because it was a skype call via Aff’s phone.

I hope I get Brandon’s pillow back from the coroner. When Rhys isn’t so swamped at work, I’ll see if we can drop by the hospital sometime, because they said they’d take footprints and such before Brandon went to the coroner. Every memento now is important, because it’s all we have left.

In recent conversations I’ve had (with Rhys and my mother), we talked about the boys’ different personalities, which were evident even while they were in the womb. Vincent is the happy charmer, Damien the quiet observant one who’d rather be left alone, Brandon the temperamental meticulous grump. They were all very cute boys though, despite the different temperaments, and cuddle-bugs.

Speaking of cuddly cute things, I guess the need to cuddle and care for something has been overwhelming me of late. I want a pet bird; a cockatiel or budgie, one of the hand-raised ones that sit on your finger or shoulder. I miss having a cuddly little bantam, honestly, but I have to hold off on it for now.

I got Rhys to take me to a pet shop to soothe that urge a little by looking at budgies. They didn’t have any hand raised ones that time.

Then, one afternoon, after he got home from work, Rhys showed me a picture he took while he was at work.

It looks like a budgie, but more colourful than any budgie I’ve ever seen! I want one!

I also want a book of Australian birds, so I can look these up!


Art by Era/Travelling Bird/Fishball

Regarding birds, I ran across this wonderful pool over at Danbooru (while looking up ‘scenery porn – the main reason I ever go to that site is the gorgeous, gorgeous landscapes – unwary beware though, there’s lots of porn as well, so if that’s not your thing, don’t wander away from the link!)

I Am A Pet Bird

It’s an illustrated story of a girl and her pet bird done by a Taiwanese artist who goes by those handles listed above. While the text is in Japanese, you can hover your cursor over the text and a translation pops up. Click ‘next’ for the next page in the story. It’s a sweet story, but also heartbreakingly sad – brace yourself for feeeeeeeels!


I’ve started playing Lineage II again; because Aff felt it would be a good idea for me to chat to folks; and it seems like we’ve been missed. So we logged in for a siege yesterday, and it was lots of fun. Later on, Aff told me about how Wulfric teased him later, saying, “What did you do, put up the bat-signal or something? There must have been twenty or thirty people who came back to game just because you did!”

They’ve made a certain area spawn really powerful mobs (level 100+) so we tried it out. There’s a specific guardian-type monster there that has a skill that oneshots most of the party.

I’d logged into Minecraft this morning so I could chat with Pixie-chan while I had breakfast. She asked me if I was going to log in, and I said I wasn’t sure because I had work to do. She said “Log in.” So I did and we played for several hours and before I knew it the kids were home, and Rhys was home and we needed to go out for grocery shopping.

I did the work I had to do while we were playing, so I wasn’t completely slack.

I restocked on jelly beans, because I ran out. I’m rather sad that Coles took out their home-brand gummi bears, because outside of the Haribo ones, they’re the best I’ve had. I hope they bring them back someday!

On something different

I just heard about the latest odd kerfuffle about the latest Avengers movie via Twitter, with complaints about Disney supposedly not having figures of Black Widow. I don’t live in America, and it’s been a while since I went into the toy section of a department store. Christmas, I think, in fact, when we went shopping for the kids.

I’m not going to talk about that though, but the mention of figures reminded me about something I haven’t done but was planning to do:

Write about one of my hobbies, which is collecting figures (and the related hobby, artbooks from Japan, and artbooks in general.) I originally planned this as an exercise in writing, and since it’s a good idea as well as to keep my mind occupied (instead of constantly missing my baby boys who are now angels), I figure (ha!) I’ll make it as something of a review. I’ll do that next time. For now I’ll just talk about these, because I got distracted by a Skype call between my siblings and mum and myself.

Since the chatter about Black Widow is what kicked it off, here’s my figure of Black Widow, based off of Yamashita Shun’ya’s artwork. (Fantastic artist, by the way; go look.) Released by Kotobukiya, you can purchase them via Amazon (I prefer to buy via a Japanese store; because the shipping is cheaper for me.)

In retrospect, she looks a bit like Scarlett Johansson.

Here’s another one done by him; Kitty Pryde! I had to jump on this one because Kitty was one of my teenhood favourite characters.

This one of Deadpool was a surprise; the figure displayed in the place I buy them from had a sword, or a hand gesture (It’s not flipping the bird and I can’t remember what it’s called – forefinger and pinky raised).

Unwrapping the figure when it arrived, there was a little whiteboard and a whiteboard marker. It was funnier, so I put that in his hand instead of the other katana. Because it’s Deadpool XD

I have him on a shelf, looking like he’ll pounce on Briareos.

Unlike most other figures, Deadpool is held in place by magnets; and his base is a metal plate. Out of curiosity, I stuck him on the magnetic whiteboard to the right of me.