It’s my birthday today! Happy birthday to me. As I was telling terracinque, I still love having birthdays, but I’ve reached the point where I find the numerical increment in age indicator something of a downer. Yeah, I’m conflicted by my birthday. But at least there’s cake.

fosteronfilm and I got back to Atlanta yesterday after a grueling 14+ hour drive, retrieved Hobkin, who has been a fuzzy lump attached to my hip (or haunting my ankles–which has made walking something of a chancy affair), from his godmother, and have made a dent in unpacking. We discovered several packages on our doorstep, and the mail person brought another one when she made her rounds. After resting and having our traditional Christmas feast (we always have our own, private Christmas after we get back from Illinois)–faux roast beast, mashed potatoes and onion gravy, and cranberry sauce–we opened the prezzies from our friends and the remainder of the ones to each other, and took a long soak in the hot tub. The perfect way to cap off the holiday.

This morning, I’m sipping some delicious Adagio apricot green tea which I brewed from the IngenuiTea infuser/pot, all part of the gift set that n_decisive gave me, while I peruse L’amber by Tanith Lee from teflaime as Loreena McKennitt’s new CD, An Ancient Muse, courtesy dean13, plays in the background. I’ve got on the new Victoria’s Secret sleep shirt the hubby gave me and am using the cordless, optical mouse that my mom-in-law got me to post this LJ entry, while Hobkin snoozes beside me.

It was a good Christmas, with periodic flashes of sadness as something remembered or said triggered memories of my dad-in-law. But I managed to keep from having a total meltdown and only got teary eyed a couple times. He is sorely missed, and his absence was a compelling but quiet presence–much like he was.

   


Writing Stuff

New Words/Editing:
- Cranked out another 600 words for my January Writing for Young Readers column, did several editing passes, and sent it off to my editor. And I got a confirm from her that it made it to her without problem this time. Whew.

Received:
- 92-day personal and complimentary pass from Paradox with invite to submit again. Also, by way of apology for the delay in response (I didn’t think it was that long, actually), an explanation that a bunch of submissions seem to have gotten delayed en route by the USPS. My manuscript, although mailed (First Class) in late September, didn’t arrive until mid-December. It seems other manuscripts were likewise delayed. Eep.
- Payment for my January column. Huzzah!

Published:
- The audio podcast of “Oranges, Lemons, and Thou Beside Me” is now up at Pseudopod, read by Paul S. Jenkins who, ye verily, has a sexy voice. Go listen, yo!
- “Addy in My Mind” is now up at Helix. This story is a stand-alone sequel to my Phobos-award-winning “All in My Mind.” Enjoy!

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas! I hope Santa brought everyone what they asked for and y’all are surrounded by loved ones.

They let us out of work at noon on Friday; the legislators scampered out to get an early start on their holidays, freeing us legislative counsel to as well. This week has been a delight at work–although the workload has been steadily ramping up (a foretaste of what’s to come), which has nudged me a bit behind on my December “Things to Do”/”Hamsters to Fling” list. Nearly every morning, I’d come in to find a little Christmas surprise on my desk: festive cards, a bag with gloves and candy, a tin of chocolate goodies, a lovely journal tied with a golden bow. Or one of my co-workers would come round that day with a thoughtful gift: Christmas socks, a platter of cookies. And we had a food day on Wednesday: cheesecake, cookies, cake, humus, stuffed olives. I’m so very fortunate to be able to work with such wonderful people.

fosteronfilm and I dropped Hobkin off with his godmother yesterday for Skunk Christmas Camp and made the grueling, 14-hour drive to Illinois to spend Christmas with his family. I expected there to be snow, but it’s been unseasonably warm. We drove through some rolling fog banks, and it’s rather cloudy here, but no snow. Hoping it stays that way, at least for the week.

Today we feast, and tonight we open prezzies. May everyone’s holiday be joyous and warm.

   


Writing Stuff

This is something of a working holiday for me. I’ve got much to wrap up before next week and the New Year as I prep for the beginning of the Legislative Session.

New Words:
- 900 words on my Writing for Young Readers column. The plan is to finish and email it off to my editor tomorrow.

Received:
- 7-day “nice writing but no grabbie” from JJA of F&SF. Alas, not the Christmas present I would’ve wished for from Hoboken, NJ.

Magic, fairy lights, and the warmth of family

Had a lovely weekend. fosteronfilm and I had intended to go see one of the many movies that’re out that we’ve been interested in, but we had a very slow and therefore late start on Saturday. After completing our final bits of Christmas shopping, we decided we’d prefer having a Christmas evening at home with Hobkin–who was looking a bit anxious and peeved at being abandoned for so long. So we stowed away our purchases–including a plush pooch with winter scarf and hat clutching a fleece blanket for Hobkin–and made cinnamon-glazed roasted almonds, had (faux) roast beast and onion gravy, cranberry sauce, and white chocolate & cranberry Harry & David’s coffee while watching White Christmas.

Vera-Ellen is one of my favorite dancers of that era. It’s sad that she never received the sort of accolades and acclaim that others did. She was so charismatic and effervescent. I remember the first time I saw White Christmas on the big screen. It was at the Normal Theater, the renovated art theater back in my old Midwestern stomping grounds. The first Danny Kaye/Vera-Ellen dance number had me utterly spellbound. Seeing them spinning and leaping together took my breath away and transported me to a simpler time where happiness was measured in graceful movement and sentimental songs.

Yep. I really love the holiday season. Magic, fairy lights, and the warmth of family snuggled close.

   


Writing Stuff

Editing:
- Did a couple final editing/rewrite passes on “Sinner, Baker, Fabulist etc.” and stuck a fork in it. And it’s off. Fly, little story, fly! Be brave and valiant, and come back with your shield or on it!

Received:
- Payment from Pseudopod for “Oranges, Lemons, and Thou Beside Me.” Very excited about hearing their podcast production of it.
- The autograph plates for the special hard cover edition of Aegri Somnia, which I spent a couple hours on Sunday applying my John Hancock to. There’s one plate which I think will make whoever gets it extremely amused. Three writers (myself included) drew self-portraits on it next to our signatures. Sending those back to jasonbsizemore in today’s mail . . .

Christmas 2005

Got back safe and sound from the plains of Illinois yesterday. The drive was incredible. It seems we brought the balmy Georgian weather with us when we went up. For the whole time we were there, it stayed pretty much in the mid-30s to low-40s. However, this resulted in the pea-soup fog of doom driving back. And then for several hundred miles around the south edge of Illinois, we drove through an extensive, breathtaking lightning storm. I watched, wide-eyed and awed, as brilliant, HUGE zags of blinding white arced from cloud to cloud, illuminating the night sky. And the weird thing was, there was no thunder or rain to accompany it.

fosteronfilm and I take turns driving the long trip from Georgia to Illinois and back–he starts late in the evening, and I take over at around dawn (6:30ish). When it was time for my shift, it was still dark, and the storm had been going for hours. About fifteen minutes in, the lightning started hitting the ground–often several bolts simultaneously. At one time I counted five bolts striking in the distance, in synchrony. These brought thunder and rain, although the rain was fairly brief, which I was thankful for.

It was overwhelmingly beautiful. Left me feeling all solemn and reverent.

Christmas was lovely with the folks, as it always is.

Although there was some stress. Matthew’s father is quite ill, and he’s going in for a test and surgery next month. When we first heard about it, it sounded like they were going to do open heart, which freaked me out, as his dad is over 70 and has been struggling with health problems for years now. He’s not exactly a good candidate to crack open his ribs and put on a heart-lung machine. We had lots of questions, which we expected to have answered when we got there. However, upon trying to find out what was going on, we got confusion and conflicting information. There’s some denial going on there from his parents, which I understand as this is a terrifying experience for both of them, but I was feeling pretty frantic, not knowing, and them apparently unwilling to ask the questions they needed to from the surgeon. His mom thought he was going in for a “corroded” artery and we needed to explain to her that no, the doctor was undoubtedly referring to dad’s “carotid” artery.

They had a pre-surgery appointment yesterday, and they were unprepared for any sort of Q&A. Fortunately, his mom found in an envelope (written by hand, not one of the handouts people are supposed to get before surgery!) the name of what his dad’s going in for–an angiogram. Armed with that information and a couple key words (thickened valve and catheter), I hopped online and researched both angiograms and treatments for valvular stenosis. I surmised that they were actually planning to do a percutaneous transcatheter heart valve implantation which is a much less invasive and stressful procedure than standard open heart valve replacement, which they’ll do at the same time as they perform the angiogram (after using the angiogram to ascertain their diagnosis). I also printed out a several page article on angiograms, valvular stenosis, and questions one should ask one’s doctor before going in for treatments like these, and gave it to his folks to read. And Matthew told his mother in no uncertain terms that he expected her to call us after the pre-surgery appointment and be able to explain clearly what was going on next month. With that to spur them to ask questions, they went in and did indeed find out what was happening (and called us to report after).

As it turns out, my surmisal was correct, which I’m quite relieved about, as it’s a much less risky procedure overall than the alternative. Still, his dad is pretty sick, and I’m very worried about him. I absolutely adore his folks, and I cannot stand the thought of anything happening to them. Meep.

On the light and fluffy Christmas side, the loot was bountiful:

My hubby got me a Targus docking station and a cooling pad for my laptop (which I am sending to HP today or tomorrow to fix the spontaneous power-down problem). And for fun, because I am a silly, vain thing and spent time gazing wistfully at it when we saw it at the store, he also got me a hair streaking tool. Hee! I shall undoubtedly end up looking like Frankenstein’s Bride, but it washes out in a single shampoo, so any hair tragedies can be quickly remedied. And he also got me . . . socks! A ridiculously cute pair with a cat on it.


His folks got me Next of Kin: My Conversations with Chimpanzees by Roger Fouts, Harry Potter: HBP, Hammered by matociquola, and socks–the cuteness continues with a dog face! His brother and his wife got me more socks (!) and got us a HUGE bottle of Bombay Sapphire gin. We also received a 4-piece luggage set, a pizza stone, and other useful and thoughtful prezzies.
A couple more Xmas pix

Midwestern festivaties commenceth

After a looooong drive, we are now in the Midwest, hanging with the in-laws and preparing for much holiday merrymaking. However, they are on dial-up, which is slower than a turtle with a sprained ankle. Luddites!

Fun things accomplished: 1. Programmed the folks’ home phone speed dial. 2. programmed mother-in-law’s cellular phone and introduced her to the magic and wonder of musical ring tones and voice-recognition dialing. I’m not sure how to make a call on any of their phones, but I know how to program them. Hee!

Hobkin is with his godmother, but he was a very unhappy lil skunkie. We dropped him off at the vet’s office (where his godmother works), and he equates the vet with evil badness. There was much clinging and he exuded “don’t-leave-me-here!” which was absolutely heartrending. I miss him already. I wish skunks weren’t illegal in Illinois so we could take him with us to visit his grandparents.

Happy Holidays – short version

Back safe and sound from the Midwest where we had a fantabulous Christmas with the folks. Details and in-depth commentary to come at a later date, but in brief:

- We were stranded in the middle of Kentucky on I-24 for ten hours on Wednesday PM/Thursday AM. I mean car in park, bumper-to-bumper, no movement either way, stranded. They called the national guard out and opened shelters for people who had plowed their vehicle into a snow drift. But overall, we were pretty lucky. We didn’t skid into a ditch or get stuck, plus we had brought munchies and filled up the tank with gas right before hitting Kentucky.
- Acquired many shiny prezzies.
- Hobkin had a great time at skunk camp but is delighted to be back at home. He’s currently asleep in my lap.
- We’re back home now. Matthew’s asleep on the couch. The world is good.

Going to try to catch up on my Friends List now. Try . . .

Hope everyone had a great Christmas/Solstice/Kwanzaa/whatever!


Writing Stuff:

Came home to:
214-day “good but not quite” from Weird Tales
and
125-day SALE to Cricket. Woohoo! Got my sales fix and notched a final end-of-year sale to my belt!

Christmas aftermath

Got back from Christmas in the Midwest with the in-laws. The house is still standing, and Hobkin was happy to see us. His Godmother gave him a slew of goodies during his stay at Skunkie Christmas Camp, including veggie cookies, a treat ball that we can record our voices on, and a little plush elephant that jingles. Hobkin has the sweetest fairy godmother! I’m so glad he can stay with someone as wonderful as her when we go out of town. It gives us such peace of mind knowing our little fuzzwit is being well cared for in our absence.

He was happy to see us, though. Spent all of yesterday curled up with or on me.

The week went by far too quickly. I’m trying hard not to dwell on the looming specter of returning to work tomorrow. Wah! But I loved spending so much time with Matthew’s folks. They’re such wonderful people. I really adore them; an occasionally quirksome feeling I must admit, since my relations with the biological side of my family dropped into “merely cordial” status a long while ago. It’s strange having such fondness for parental types. But strange in a warm and fuzzy way.

Also, my dad-in-law looked and sounded much better this year than last. I’m so relieved. And I again see where my Matthew gets his stubborn streak. Heh.

Can’t believe all the goodies received this year!

The Haul: