Hammock

May 16, 2020 at 5:36 pm (Cat pics, general life)

I’m still alive, but spending a bit more time in the real world, which is not a bad thing. Thanks to Zoom, life is pretty good.

She is handling a leash and harness very well, so the other day Louisette and TJ and I took her into the backyard.

During the outside time she was mostly getting used to the usual smells and sounds of our neighbourhood, so it was the perfect time for Operation Hammock Kitten.

Sure, she doesn’t look comfortable. But that’s because of being outside rather than anything to do with the hammock. She’ll need to stay on the lead outside for many months to come, but she has no fundamental objections to the hammock so this is a win.

Then of course the kids each wanted a turn:

I’ve also been doing a foolish and irresponsible (but fun) thing, which is that when Zipper is very well settled and Zoom is sleepy, I pick up Zoom and move her over into a snuggling position with Zipper. Zoom doesn’t mind this at all; Zipper is not such a fan.

I know I shouldn’t push it, but it amuses me. (And Zipper doesn’t freak out and kill Zoom, which is of course important too.) Zoom has been with us two and a half weeks, and she’s looking distinctly rounded in the middle so I’m slowly cutting down the amount of food I give her.

Oh! And we solved the litter box problem by giving Zoom a second litter box. Strange but true. It was inspired by doing some reading and discovering that some cats prefer to have one litter box for solids and one for liquids. Zoom definitely uses both boxes for both (and Zipper has been pointedly adding her contributions too), and now I have two litter boxes in my tiny bathroom… but no more accidents. So, good.

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How am I?

May 11, 2020 at 11:16 pm (Fully Sick, general life, Mental illness, Mum Stuff)

First, some kitten content. Specifically, a rambling video of Zoom (and sometimes Zipper) playing.

And now for something completely different. The rest of this blog entry will be all about how I’m coping. Feel free to not read it.

Some restrictions have been lifted, and schools will be taking kids back from next week. It’s clear that a vaccine for COVID-19 is still a long way away, and that governments are under considerable pressure to pretend things are normal and safe before they actually are. A lot of people have been sharing a graph of the deaths from the Spanish Flu, showing a much bigger second wave (and then a rather large third wave as well). Others are pointing out that the restrictions are getting lifted not because things are safe out there, but because there is currently room for more patients in the ICU.

Also, I have diabetes (and an auto-immune disease or two) so my chance of dying is considerably higher than the norm.

Also, those who recover from COVID-19 are just beginning to discover that it has left them with major long-term health problems. Being familiar with long-term health problems, I really really don’t want more.

So no, I don’t plan to send the kids back to school, even though it’s so terribly hard to have them here. They’ll stay home for at least the rest of this term. Although I do plan to arrange some playdates—carefully. My family had a Mothers’ Day get-together yesterday and we joined them after lunch (on the basis that sharing food is extra hazardous), but didn’t see Chris’s side of the family. We’ll visit them for TJ’s 6th birthday day next month, and this coming weekend he’ll have a “party” with precisely 2 friends (held outside, while at the same time Louisette has 1 of her friends over, and they play together inside).

But. Still no school, and for a long time.

Zoom is, obviously, a fantastic source of fun, amusement, and cuddles. Feeding her three times a day (down from six now) is a bit of a hassle, and cleaning up her constant weeing in my bathroom is… not great. But as far as mental health goes, she’s an enormous plus.

I’m the kind of person who would do really well living alone and isolated for months at a time. But that’s not my situation at all. I have one kid who I barely see (luckily for my ability to care for her), and one who wants to be with me, talking with me, for most of his waking hours. So the funny, clever, energetic TJ is… a lot.

My plan for schooling is to set up and loosely supervise the half hour Zoom classes each kid has, plus a little bit of writing practice for TJ (he practises reading with Chris at night). He’s not missing friends too badly (in fact he refuses to speak to them on Zoom), and he’s so obsessive about computer games (including educational ones) that he’s way ahead on both reading and maths.

For Louisette, I plan to do some reading with her each day, and to keep up with her maths assignments.

I’m reasonably happy with how things are going with TJ, but I’m quite far behind with Louisette (who is the one who needs more schooling).

Having said that, one or two good days with Louisette could catch us up on the maths stuff.

So maybe I’m doing well after all. It doesn’t feel like it. I have an alarm set for 9:30am so I can be dressed ready for TJ’s 10-10:30am class (if I remember, I set up Louisette to do Cosmic Yoga at the same time). Then I typically fall asleep until my alarm goes at 1pm and it’s time to put my bra back on ready for Louisette’s class. But a lot of times lately I fall back asleep either during or after Louisette’s class, and I don’t do anything directly with her. Oh well.

Having written it down, I’m not all that far away from my goals. And sure, I’m not getting much done lately, but that’s life. I have tired/useless periods and I have other times when I do well. All I really have to do is wait until I have a good day and hope it lines up with a good day for Louisette.

And I’m missing doing writing, which is a good sign.

Wish me luck, and health. I also had a phone call today about my Disability Support Pension application, which means I had to focus on all my physical and mental issues. It’s exhausting, because I usually try not to think about stuff directly. And I suspect it will lead to more forms, which is terrifying and difficult. Oh well. One step closer, presumably.

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The Virus Diaries: Slowing Down

April 26, 2020 at 3:41 pm (Cat pics, Fully Sick, general life, Mum Stuff)

I’ve been blogging daily since beginning self-isolation on March 15th. I’m not technically running out of things to say, but I am running a little lower on the urge to blog. So I’ll stop doing daily blog entries soon.

It will be a long, long time before my kids go back to school. For me, that’s the main thing (assuming my loved ones and I continue to avoid the virus… which is a lot more likely the longer I keep the kids home). Term 2 officially begins the day after tomorrow and I get panicky whenever I think about it. Ugh. And it’s very likely that there will be a second wave of COVID-19 starting exactly 2 weeks after schools open. Yuck.

Anyway, here’s Zipper being annoyed at me for taking a picture.

Don’t panic if I don’t blog tomorrow (or even for the next week or two): it’ll be laziness, not illness, that stops me.

Art of the day: Have you tried interactive fiction? It’s like those Choose Your Own Adventure books from the 80s, but these days it’s usually digital (which gives it a glorious flexibility eg you can choose your gender) and sold as apps. There’s a huge amount of fantastic content available from Choice of Games (and their unofficial label, Hosted Games, which has published me several times).

My stories are the pirate adventure Scarlet Sails, the magical steampunk tale Attack of the Clockwork Army (which happens at the same time as my third steampunk novel, and features some of the characters), and the cozy murder mystery Death at the Rectory. I’ve also been part of two group-written games, the retro scifi comedy Starship Adventures, and the portal adventure Lost in the Pages.

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The Virus Diaries: Social Distancing is a Skill

April 25, 2020 at 12:10 pm (Cat pics, Fully Sick, general life)

It is really really hard to stay 2 metres away from people in public. It feels rude and even a bit insane. I’m not good at it, and my kids are terrible.

We’re all going to be a lot better with more practice, and there are a lot of things (like shaking hands) that will feel icky forever (which, according to Dr Fauci, is a good thing).

Correction: some people will get a lot better. Others will give up.

There’s considerable social pressure in both directions, and not in a political way—in a “getting through the day” kind of way. It’s a relief for me to stay at home where I don’t have to think about it until/unless I open the front door. But I’m trying not to give up the rest of the time.

Here’s Zipper looking heroic, by way of inspiration:

Art of the day: I’m now reading the Old Kingdom books, so there’s at least one person following my own recommendations.

Mishell Baker’s Arcadia trilogy is amazing. The main character is severely mentally ill, and has attempted suicide before the books begin. So, trigger warning. But I find it strangely therapeutic as the book is crammed full of people trying to cope with an array of mental health conditions. Also it’s a cracking good story.

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The Virus Diaries: 3 things I want

April 23, 2020 at 11:14 pm (Cat pics, Fully Sick, general life)

A lot of people are talking about how the world will change post-pandemic. Here’s what I am most desperately hoping for:

*Way more funding and resources for the World Health Organisation and for various stockpiles around the world. And, frankly, for science in general.

*Very tight laws to prevent people spreading misinformation, especially politicians, news-based sites and shows, and those with a wide reach (such as celebrities and talk show hosts). Yes, free speech is important and must be kept free, but that needs to be modified by NOT rewarding lies. And it needs to be done in an apolitical way despite the fact that one side of politics is way more tolerant of lies (and has a stronger ‘bubble’ of repeated misinformation) than another. This will be really difficult and a lot of people will hate it, but it really really needs to be done.

*Massive worldwide improvement in environment stuff to combat Climate Change, including way less car and air travel. (Of course I still want air travel to be cheap, as I have close and beloved relatives in Hong Kong. But it’ll probably get way more expensive.)

*More people reading for pleasure. (I may be a tiny bit self-interested there.)

What do you hope will change once COVID-19 is done?

Art of the day: I’m not aiming for kids’ entertainment any more (although I often read and love young adult books). The Old Kingdom books by Garth Nix. It started as a trilogy: Sabriel, Lirael, Abhorsen and now has a prequel Clariel and a sequel Goldenhand. I think it’s best experienced in that order but it’s very hard to say.

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Farting My ABCs: Chapter 15 (the end!)

April 23, 2020 at 11:12 am (Cat pics, Free story, Fully Sick, funny, general life, Mum Stuff, My Novels)

In which Louisette attempts to merge with a bush, and TJ performs a fart dance.

Well, there you go!

Today, Zipper ALMOST managed to get her collar off. But instead she got it stuck around both her neck and one leg.

I laughed when I realised, which did not help matters as she fled into TJ’s room. We all backed off, and soon enough she was in her cat box ready to be caught and freed. She’s fine now—not that she deserves it, the little punk.

Art of the day: Er… how about Farting My ABCs? I’m tired; shut up.

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Farting My ABCs: Chapter 14

April 22, 2020 at 7:33 am (Cat pics, Free story, Fully Sick, general life, Mum Stuff, My Novels)

In which I make lots of farting noises while a neighbour (not pictured) attempts to garden.

I stayed up all night and DID finish The Floating City, and sent it off the the publisher, who very graciously let me know right away that they had it. I also saw the sun rise, and gave my kids a good morning hug before going back to bed.

And yes, I feel amazing.

I know what to work on next, writing-wise, but I plan to pause for a week or two and try to steer my creativity towards household things for a bit.

Art of the day: Only Freaks Turn Things Into Bones, which is actually a gothic picture book, and an utter delight.

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Farting My ABCs: Chapter 12

April 20, 2020 at 1:48 pm (Cat pics, Free story, Fully Sick, general life, Mum Stuff, My Novels)

We’re in the home stretch of the story now. Four more chapters, including today.

I’ve been running several errands in the local area because of the food pantry (fetching and delivering food). My driving is terrible lately; I’m fascinated by everything I see outside of my own house. And then I’m shaky for an hour afterwards—much worse if I actually interact with a human.

A lot of people are developing obsessive-compulsive disorder and/or agoraphobia at the moment. Fun!

Anyway.

I officially finished my post-sensitivity reader edit of The Floating City, my interactive climate fiction novel. I’ll spend some time playtesting through the endings and then officially submit it. It is FREE HERE… and if you spot any errors let me know via fellissimo@hotmail.com and I’ll add you to the thank-yous.

Art of the day: I’m re-reading The Girl Who Drank The Moon by Kelly Barnhill. It is heartbreaking and beautiful and kind and fun.

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Farting My ABCs: Chapter 11

April 19, 2020 at 12:58 am (Cat pics, Free story, Fully Sick, general life, Mum Stuff, My Novels)

In which my attempt to get a view of the creek in the frame ends in blood and screaming (but can you see that little bit of brown sludge between Louisette’s rainbow dress and the bridge, behind the reeds and below the bushes? Totally worth it).

 

Anyway.

I am still attempting to lure Zipper into the hammock with me, and she continues to dance back and forth without getting up the courage to try it. However, she cheerfully jumped onto the trampoline with me (I was luring TJ inside as he clearly needed to burn some energy) yesterday, so perhaps there’s still hope.

She looks like she’s rolling her eyes here, doesn’t she?

We’ve been moving around some furniture in order to accommodate a desk in the master bedroom (so I can still lie down while supervising home schooling) so Zipper’s precious box is now somewhat elevated. She doesn’t seem to mind at all, and still spends much of her day there.

Moving furniture is SO exciting by the way. Try it at home today!

Art of the day: Have I mentioned Pamela Freeman’s Princess Bethony books yet? They’re great.

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Farting My ABCs: Chapter 10

April 17, 2020 at 11:19 pm (Cat pics, Free story, Fully Sick, general life, Mum Stuff, My Novels)

Here’s the chapter of the day:

There is a lot of scowling into the sun in this video. If you’ve been watching some “Jimmy Fallon” on Youtube (he’s running his late night show from his house) you see a LOT of his two lovely daughters being utterly unimpressed by his comedy. It’s a beautiful thing (although a little too relatable from where I’m standing).

I often drive past this bridge, and I’ve wanted to take the kids there for years. A few weeks ago, before restrictions became official, I was able to do it (while social distancing, of course).

A lot of people are trying out things they’ve always wanted to try: Baking bread, other cooking, home improvement stuff, etc. I am very jealous of all those very bored and/or very productive people. Parents are mostly just desperately trying to keep their head above water as they suddenly have to deal with all the fun of school holidays with no playgrounds, no shopping trips with kids, no play dates… and a crash course in home schooling. Fun!

 

Art of the day: A lesson for your middle grader.

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