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No pressure, no diamond. No grit, no pearl. No cocoon, no butterfly. All these clichés will be featured themes for you during the next 12 months. But I hope you will also come up with fresher ways to think about the power and value that can be generated by tough assignments. If you face your exotic dilemmas and unprecedented riddles armed with nothing more than your culture's platitudes, you won't be able to tap into the untamed creativity necessary to turn problems into opportunities. Here's an example of the kind of original thinking you'll thrive on: The more the growing chamomile plant is trodden upon, the faster it grows.

The card not shown but at the center of the cross, represents the atmosphere surrounding the central issue. Two of Rods (Dominion): Established power and influence over others. Setting goals and a vision for the future. Coming to grips with the impact of past decisions, considering the current state of affairs, and developing a plan of action. Responsible leadership.

The card visible at the center of the cross represents the obstacle that stands in your way - it may even be something that sounds good but is not actually to your benefit. The Magician: Mastery over word, mind, and matter. The ability to turn ideas into actions, handle problems, and control one's life. The initiation of new projects, great works, or a new way of life. Eloquent and moving communication. Arcane and eldritch technologies.

The card at the top of the cross represents your goal, or the best you can achieve without a dramatic change of priorities. The Judgment, when reversed: Procrastination and indecision. Disillusionment and the inability bring a matter to conclusion.

The card at the bottom of the cross represents the foundation on which the situation is based. Queen of Cups, when reversed: The dark essence of water, such as a deep and foreboding lake: Discomfort with the worlds of mind and matter, leading to a retreat to the spiritual. The embrace of negative relationships, driven by the desperate fear of being alone. Devotion to fantasies and daydreams, to the exclusion of practical skills or the pursuit of knowledge. Insecurity leading to dishonor, vice, and undue susceptibility to outside influences.

The card at the left of the cross represents a passing influence or something to be released. The Tower: Unforeseen catastrophe. An abrupt change, perhaps leading to a new lifestyle and enlightenment. May indicate a broken relationship, divorce, or failure in business or career.

The card at the right of the cross represents an approaching influence or something to be embraced. Five of Rods (Strife): An intense struggle motivated purely by the love of competition. A state of seeming chaos driven by endless small disputes and complications. A hotly contested race, debate, game, or other challenge. A stressful situation that brings out the best in the participants.

The card at the base of the staff represents your role or attitude. King of Pentacles, when reversed: The dark essence of earth behaving as air, such as a diamond: An unyielding businessman, with a gift for identifying weakness and exploiting it for personal gain. One well informed about material affairs, but ignorant of larger, more pressing issues. A blind devotee of business as usual, unconcerned with the unintended results, and contemptuous of new ideas. A person full of greed and avarice, easily corrupted by luxury or the temptations of the flesh.

The card second from the bottom of the staff represents your environment and the people you are interacting with. The Hierophant, when reversed: Authoritarianism. Inflexible and dogmatic thinking. A calcified old regime. Bad or incompetent advice. Inability to hear a higher or inner voice, or pretending to hear it for personal gain.

The card second from the top of the staff represents your hopes, fears, or an unexpected element that will come into play. Seven of Swords (Futility): An opportunity to withdraw from a hopeless situation and fight another day. Disengagement from a struggle you should never have been involved in. A desperate attempt to resolve a matter without conflict. The use of cleverness or outright deception to turn the tide in your favor.

The card at the top of the staff represents the ultimate outcome should you continue on this course. The Empress, when reversed: Stifling matriarchal influence. Unhappiness, selfishness, poverty and disruption of the home or family. Indecision, paranoia, and jealous rage. Sterility.


Mechanicalize something idiosyncratic
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• What are you reading?

The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August, by Claire North. I find Harry's predicament interesting, but not himself. I probably wouldn't finish if it weren't for SF bookgroup.

• What did you recently finish reading?

The Family Fang, by Kevin Wilson. Says interesting things about performance art.

• What do you think you’ll read next?

Even Cowgirls Get the Blues, by Tom Robbins, for Tawanda bookgroup, this Sunday. I read it decades ago, but I appear not to have a copy, and neither does my library. I suspect I will find that the Sexism Fairy has chewed through this book like a colony of silverfish.
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My dad died a few weeks ago. I didn't go. I would have wanted to forgive him, if he wanted to be forgiven, but more likely he would not have been able to resist one last opportunity to be cruel. He really enjoyed being cruel. And he never, when I knew him, ever wanted forgiveness.


Today [livejournal.com profile] siderea asked:
Quick poll for people who identify as geeky, engineers, scientists, and/or programmers:

Please comment:

1) How did you first get into geek stuff?
2) At what age?
3) At that time, what was your gender presentation, and if different your sex?
4) Your current age.

I answered:
My dad brought home The Hobbit, when I was five. He read me the first few pages and then gave me the book. Followed by a lot more fantasy and science fiction, and Star Trek, and Star Wars when it came out -- we didn't often go to movie theaters, but for that we did. I was a girl. I had an older brother and a younger sister, and we were all smart, but I was the precocious reader, and I was the one he shared his interests with. I am 52 now.


I loved him. I'm still angry. It's complicated.

tarot

Jun. 18th, 2016 11:28 pm
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Scorpio (October 23-November 21)
During the next 15 months, composting should be a primary practice, as well as a main metaphor. If you have been lazy about saving leftover scraps from your kitchen and turning them into fertilizer, now is an excellent time to intensify your efforts. The same is true if you have been lax about transforming your pain into useful lessons that invigorate your lust for life. Be ever-alert for opportunities to capitalize on junk, muck, and slop. Find secret joy in creating unexpected treasure out of old failures and wrong turns.

*

The card represents the critical factor for the issue at hand. Queen of Swords, when reversed: The dark essence of air behaving as water, such as a cold rain: A person gifted with both keen logic and natural intuition, giving them uncanny powers of perception and insight. One who easily sees the weakness in any argument, and savages friend and foe alike with biting sarcasm. Dry and vicious wit covering a hollow sense of isolation and dissatisfaction with life.



The most important thing is the thing most easily forgotten

thumb

Jun. 15th, 2016 01:29 am
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So Sunday I got stung by a bee, and the stinger slid all the way under my skin and I couldn't get it out. Monday the skin was tight and red and itchy. Tuesday it was more swollen and hot, so I called the doctor. She didn't have any openings, so she sent me to the Urgent Care clinic, which meant a $50 copay and more than two hours waiting, even though nothing much was going on. It continues to be the case that whenever I am waiting to be taken back to undergo a medical procedure, the soft-rock playing in the waiting room will include "Hotel California".

The provider numbed my thumb, sliced it open, removed the stinger, and prescribed cephalexin. I haven't filled the prescription, since it feels so much better now; I will if it gets worse again. I wanted to ask if I could keep the disposable scalpel for the next time this happens to me, but I chickened out.


[livejournal.com profile] randomdreams offers advice on not letting this happen to you: http://boxofdelights.livejournal.com/286473.html?thread=1619721#t1619721


At the taking-your-vitals stage, the nurse asked for the date of my last period. Started May 15, is still going strong.

Fucking bodies.
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The Fourfold Vision spread offers a progression of different ways of looking at an object, person, or situation. It is a powerful tool for gaining deeper insight into the specific subjects of other readings. The Phoenix Tarot is one of the most strikingly beautiful decks of the 20th century. Through vibrant colors and stylized images, it breathes new life into the familiar symbology of the Tarot.

The card on the far right represents the object being viewed, be it an idea, relationship, or the self. Eight of Pentacles (Prudence): Dedicating yourself fully to a task. Learning a new craft or skill. Applying painstaking attention to detail. Industriousness and the efficient completion of tasks. Sticking with a project long enough to see it through.

The card second from the right represents the physical vision: how the object is seen at a base or mechanical level. The Chariot, when reversed: Ineffective use of force. Might turned against the weak or the righteous. Senseless violence and warmongering. Lack of discipline and poor direction fan the flames of a situation already out of control. Advance without consideration of the consequences for others.

The card in the middle represents the mental vision: the object personified and seen through a humanized perspective. Five of Pentacles (Worry): Hard times brought on by addiction, wasteful spending, ill health, or an outside event. Rejection, loneliness, and the need for comfort. May suggest unemployment, a catastrophe in personal finance, or a turn for the worse in business.

The card second from the left represents the emotional vision: how passions and values are creatively stimulated by the mental vision. Queen of Wands, when reversed: The dark essence of fire behaving as water, such as steam: The natural embodiment of passion and sensuality, who will do anything to the be the center of attention. A seducer who calculatingly dons the guise of what others desire. A cocky and domineering person, who pushes anyone or anything aside to get what she wants. One who is vengeful and quick to take offense without good cause. May indicate infidelity and contempt for a relationship.

The card on the far left represents the fourfold or mystical vision: still viewing through the previous three, we now add a spiritual element, revealing unseen aspects of the object. Ten of Swords (Ruin): Crushing defeat brought about by idle intellectualism divorced from reality. Sadness and desolation in the aftermath of a catastrophic and total collapse. A decisive conclusion brought about through the swift and merciless application of overwhelming force.
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the nice thing about grabbing a bee while you are weeding is that it makes everything else that is bugging you dwindle for a while

i say bee though i didnt see a bee it could have been a yellowjacket but i think there is a stinger still in my thumb maybe there is a dark spot not raised above the skin as far as my old eyes can tell my thumb is not going to let the tweezers poke at it
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Packing for Wiscon. One carry-on, one laptop bag, one CPAP. No checked bag. Can fit a paperback in the CPAP bag.

For signing, I could take:

hardcovers:
All the Birds in the Sky, by Charlie Jane Anders
The Chaos, by Nalo Hopkinson
The New Moon's Arms, by Nalo Hopkinson
Liar, by Justine Larbalestier
Magic or Madness, by Justine Larbalestier

trade paperbacks:
A Stranger in Olondria, by Sofia Samatar
Midnight Robber, by Nalo Hopkinson
The Salt Roads, by Nalo Hopkinson
Brown Girl in the Ring, by Nalo Hopkinson
Skin Folk, by Nalo Hopkinson
Sister Mine, by Nalo Hopkinson
Elysium, by Jennifer Marie

Probably not polite to ask an author to sign more than two books.

What to bring for the book swap? Here, the problem is that most of my books are still at my husband's house, and that's where most of the books that I am ready to part with would be. I've got a duplicate copy of Karen Joy Fowler's Sister Noon -- perfect. I've got White Horse, by Alex Adams, which I thought was terrible but maybe someone else won't. If I ever want to read Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World again I know that I will always be able to find a copy. That'll do.
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My sleep schedule is whacked again. Right now I get up at a reasonable time to let the dogs out, but I'm still so tired I feel sick, so I go back to sleep for four hours, and then I can't make myself go back to bed until the wee hours are not even wee anymore. And tomorrow I have an eye doctor appointment at 10. I accepted the time a couple weeks ago, when my sleep was not so whacked, but I should have known better.

One good thing about bad sleep is that it lets me remember my dreams. When I go back to bed, I don't usually put my CPAP back on (because I kid myself I'm not going to sleep, I'm just going to rest for a few minutes). So when I fall into REM sleep I start to suffocate, and wake up while I'm still in the dream. And then I fall asleep again while I'm thinking about the dream, and go back into REM sleep, which builds the dream up in layers. This morning, I was living in a big messy house with five children, assorted hangers-on, and a malicious shapeshifter which had been let into the house by my youngest child and discovered by my oldest companion. At first, he thought it was a neighbor child that had crawled into my bed. When he realized it wasn't a child, it changed into a piglet and ran off to hide among the dogs. (That reminds me of that great Rita Rudner line, "I think poodles are space aliens that think they have disguised themselves as dogs.") It was small, and not very smart, and easily tempted with food. My companion (who looked like Harold Finch, so that was nice) wanted to lock it in a suitcase and leave it in a Left Luggage Office. I thought that would be storing up trouble. Maybe not more trouble, but surprise trouble. We grew a plant that looked like a tomato, but the fruits were sweet and sticky, somewhat like grapes and somewhat like peppermint candies. They were green and translucent but striped green and reddish-green on the outside. I was about to taste one when I woke up. Probably not a good idea: like a tomato but not a tomato means Solanaceae and the fruits are probably poisonous. They sure were beautiful though.

Tomorrow I have to take the peripheral vision test, which I hate, because I'm bad at it, which makes the eye doctor worry that I'm developing glaucoma, except that he has enough history now to see that there is no consistency in where my misses cluster; I'm just bad at it. My left eye is weak: when I ask it to work at anything for more than a few seconds, it starts jittering, and from that point on I have to try to press the button for each real flash while I ignore the afterimages of the black dots the machine uses to center your vision, which appear every time my eye moves, which is constantly.

I went to the eye doctor a couple weeks ago because I thought my retina was detaching. I saw the arc of flashing lights in my peripheral vision. It turned out to be just an extra-sticky blob of eyeball goo, tugging on my retina as it detached itself from the side of the eyeball, to float in my field of vision for a while, and eventually settle on the bottom. After looking at my retina, the doctor wanted me to do the peripheral vision test, even though the pressure inside my eyeballs was fine. But I couldn't do it right then, because my eyes were dilated, so I have to go back in eight hours. Hope I get to sleep. Hope I wake up in time.
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This is what I've got checked out from the library:

A paradise built in hell : the extraordinary communities that arise in disaster / Rebecca Solnit.
Dog tricks / by Deb M. Eldredge, DVM, and Kate Eldredge ; photography by Beth Adams.
MacBook for dummies / by Mark L. Chambers.
Waterwise landscaping with trees, shrubs & vines : a xeriscape guide for the Rocky Mountain region, California & the desert Southwest / by Jim Knopf.
Better living through criticism : how to think about art, pleasure, beauty, and truth / A. O. Scott.


Watership Down / Richard Adams.
Ex Machina. Book One / Brian K. Vaughan, Tony Harris.
Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell / Susanna Clarke ; illustrations by Portia Rosenberg.
Deathless / Catherynne M. Valente.
Go set a watchman / Harper Lee.
People of the book : a novel / Geraldine Brooks.
After Alice : a novel / Gregory Maguire.
Riding freedom / written by Pam Muñoz Ryan ; drawings by Brian Selznick.
Lagoon / Nnedi Okorafor.
We are pirates : a novel / Daniel Handler.
The good, the bad and the smug / Tom Holt.
Carol / Patricia Highsmith.
The horizontal man.
East of Eden / John Steinbeck

Deadwood. The complete third season [videorecording] / Home Box Office ; Roscoe Productions.
My old lady [videorecording] / Cohen Media Group and BBC Films ; produced by Rachael Horovitz ... [et al.] ; written and directed by Israel Horovitz.
Arrested development. Season four / Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation.
Labyrinth [videorecording] / Henson Associates, inc. and LucasFilm Ltd. ; producer, Eric Rattray ; story by Dennis Lee and Jim Henson ; screenplay, Terry Jones ; director, Jim Henson.
Masters of sex. The complete second / Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.
The man from U.N.C.L.E. [videorecording] / writers, Guy Ritchie, Lionel Wigram ; producers, John Davis, Steve Clark-Hall, Lionel Wigram, Guy Ritchie ; director, Guy Ritchie.
Orphan black. Season three / produced by Alex Levin, Claire Welland, Aubrey Nealon, Tatiana Maslany ; written by Chris Roberts, Alex Levin, Hannah Cheesman, Lynn Coady, Aubrey Nealon, Russ Cochrane ; directed by John Fawcett, David Frazee, Helen Shaver, Chris Grismer.

What should I read instead, given that it is less than four weeks till Wiscon?

bad news

Apr. 7th, 2016 02:17 am
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I got voicemail from my mom. (Chris is my brother, Jack is my dad, Vickydali is my dad's cousin.) Mom passed on some info about Chris's kids, then said, "...and I just talked to Chris, and Jack has been in the hospital, your dad, since Saturday, and Chris doesn't know how he's going to be, whether he'll get out of it or not. He seems to have quite a bad infection. He's got a septicemia and the flu, and they're doing a lot of tests on him, and Chris is spending a lot of time at the hospital with him. So, I told him that I would call you, and that he should call Vickydali and tell her, and he's been in the hospital for about five days, since Saturday, so he hasn't been doing too well since then but he's still lucid when he's awake but he;s in quite a bit of pain. And if I hear more, I'll let you know, honey. Chris is going to call me tomorrow again I think. So call me whenever you get a chance. Bye bye, sweetie. I love you. Bye bye."

I don't even know how I feel. The first time I listened to the message I thought maybe I should go to Seattle to say goodbye. But that's crazy. I haven't seen my dad since I was fourteen. And he stopped talking to me the year before that: he said that I had been changing, that he felt like a moved in and taken over my body, that he wanted his daughter back, but until I turned back into his daughter I was not to speak to him. And I never changed back! The monster is me.
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I went up to my husband's house to have dinner with him and his girlfriend. After dinner, we took the dogs out. We ran into Sharon, who used to live next door. She wanted to buy the place then, but the owner didn't want to sell, and when she moved back into town it stayed empty for ten years.

Sharon's nephew has just bought the place, and is clearing out the broken trucks and refrigerators that the previous owner left down by the creek, and figuring out whether to repair or replace the untended-for-ten-years mobile home. Sharon is staying there, in an RV.

As we were catching up on each other's news, Sharon said to R (Neal's girlfriend), "And you've certainly grown up!" Awkward!

R said, "I'm not the daughter." And we moved on to talk about what our kids and Sharon's daughter were up to.

That would have been so much easier if I had not been there! Though Neal would still have had to cope with the "Yes, this person is closer in age to my children than to me and yes, she is my partner."

a picture of dinner )
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Not asking which is better. Of course pie is better. Asking whether you think this recipe, which calls itself "Impossible Pumpkin Pie", counts as pie. It has no crust. You mix a little flour and baking powder into the pumpkin custard. It is more like pumpkin bread around the edges, more pie-like in the middle; Paul Hollywood would say it's raw but what does he know.
pix )

mean

Mar. 12th, 2016 12:47 am
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I walked fast to get to SF book group, because I thought I would be late. I got there early and a little out of breath. James asked if I was rushing to set the book on fire. "No," I said. "Why? No!" We read The Stars My Destination this month. Yes, I can see all the sexism I didn't notice as a teenager, but I still like it.

Then we went upstairs to where we talk. First we go around the room and say what else we've been reading, and whether we recommend it. I said I had nothing worth mentioning. Jacqie asked if there was anything I particularly hated, I said yes but it wasn't SF. She said she'd enjoy hearing what I thought of it anyway, so I talked about The Whip, by Karen Kondazian, and then asked, "Do you think of me as someone who is mean about books?"

Jacqie said no, she thought I was always interesting about books, but I think "Do you think I'm mean?" is a question you would not answer yes even in part unless you were really good friends and had had a chance to think it over.

I don't mean to be mean, but I do want to be funny, and if I have to choose between "not mean" and "funny", I will often choose funny.

If I've been mean to you, though, I didn't mean to, and I will appreciate it if you tell me and give me the chance to apologize.
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So the book group that is hosted by the library meets in August to choose books for the year. Everyone who attends that meeting gets to propose a book; then everyone writes down their top six choices, and we read the ones that get the most votes. I did not attend last August, so I didn't witness the selection, but we are going to read a book that was written by a member of the book club. He is also going to facilitate the discussion, since it is the custom for the person who proposes the book to be the facilitator, although one can ask the librarian who runs the book group to facilitate in one's stead.

I think this is a terrible idea.

Also I have no idea how to talk about a book in front of its author, even if I don't care about the author, which is not the case here, even if I like the book, which hmmm. I have developed a little skill at beta-reading, but that is different: there, you are criticizing only what the author wants criticized, in order to improve the work before she publishes it. Here, I don't know what he wants from the discussion but I don't think he's going to get it.
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Dogs claim that they have not been fed in years, but I have photographic evidence they were treated like royalty:

shepherd princess

jack russell princess
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I'm going to California tomorrow to visit the friend who moved away, with three other members of our mutual book group. I have been fretting anxiously all day that
1. I will not wake up in time
2. I will forget my CPAP, the CPAP's power cord, my phone, the phone's power cord, or my bite guard
(prescriptions and wallet are already packed, whatever else I'm forgetting is replaceable)
3. I will be miserable because of allergic reaction to cats, or because I can't sleep, or just because I can't stand being with five other people for four days straight
4. I will spoil everyone else's fun by being miserable or sick or too slow and achy, or by saying something stupid.

There is nothing more I can do about any of these worries, so I have been cleaning things. The little dog is all fluffy, except for the long hairs around his mouth, which look a bit like this dragon: http://vignette3.wikia.nocookie.net/dragons/images/5/59/Chinese-dragon-black.jpg/revision/latest?cb=20090603191055

The combination of rawhide bone and dog saliva makes a powerful hair glue.

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