azurelunatic: Chickens saying "Cluck Cluck Your Mother's" (cluck)
Been a while since a proper update! This is not quite a proper update, but at least it's substantial?


"I found whistles, maracas, 5 hour energy, coffee mugs, headphones, and a cellphone charger, but I did not find the other webcam."


Faceblindness! It's fun for the whole family! I'm not sure if I've properly told the "some woman" story about my faceblindness on DW as yet, but it's become my go-to story for "no, really, Rev. Lunatic is faceblind" though to be fair, Mama says that it took seeing Tay walk (well, bounce) in the airport to recognize her, since she's changed a lot.

However, in compensation, I have a small non-face-related superpower. I had a really fun encounter in the past year-ish where lb showed me some photos from his mid-90s college crew, and I was able to identify lb in a group photo where lb himself wasn't quite sure which of two people he was. This was based on my knowledge of how lb stands, and another photo which established what lb was wearing. Read more... )

I cannot perform this party trick with just anyone, but I can usually spot Purple in very large group shots if I know vaguely where he was in the crowd. Sometimes it's based on a sneaker. (Purple wears white sneakers that trend increasingly towards grey and ragged until he gets replacements. He also lounges ostentatiously, Kirklike/catlike. I find both somewhat endearing, but I would.)


One of my forms of comfortgoogling is chicken pictures. Current small pet peeve: when any old picture of a hen on a nest is used to illustrate "broody". Broody is a very specific state of chicken, generally characterized by unwillingness to get off the nest and hoard eggs, and sit there until the chicks hatch. Broodies are cranky, will cut you, have flattened themselves on the nests with wings slightly out away from their sides, have their necks pulled way down into their feathers and their tails raised so usually the tail-bump is higher than the head. They make a characteristic rhythmic "clook ... clook ... clook ..." noise (similar to the syllable of the rapid "buk-buk-buk" tidbitting noise but more spaced out, and more relaxed than any part of the "buk-buk-buk-buk-ba-DAWK-et!" alarm call which often follows egg-laying, fox sighting, bush rustling, or Disturbance in the Force). If you try to steal their eggs, they will growl/roar and also try and cut you.


Fishie is finishing up sophomore year at college. (OMG, how time flies.) She'll be 20 soon. She's majoring in computer science now, and doing things like acing the midterm where the median grade was ... not super great. The teacher for that class will be pleased to write her an academic recommendation, and says that she'll be able to do anything she puts her mind to. I am so proud of her. She works so hard, and she's getting so much better at picking her battles. She has been figuring out her summer activities: after finals, she goes to her internship Down South. After that she may wind up going to see her grandma, and after that, spending time with a friend in San Diego.

The concept of "like 5, 6 nice" has entered our dialogues because Fishie's Terrible Mom #yamappendix would make a big deal like "I AM BEING THE NICEST PERSON EVARRRR BECAUSE I LOVE YOU SO MUCH" when doing normal and expected things. So when Fishie encounters people who are being genuinely kind, she is equally floored by small kindnesses that don't inconvenience others, and big kindnesses which do inconvenience others. It's all pegged at like 10 nice for her, when someone with a scale that isn't at "Mommy is an abusive fuckwad Read more... )" might view it as maybe a 3,4 nice.


For those who don't dwell anywhere near Silly Valley and also aren't tapped in to the latest tech tat, "hoverboards" have been A Thing for a while. It used to be that there was just the one dude at work who rode one around, and he was proficient and discreet except for how he was going pretty fast and kind of gliding. Now, of course, many tech bros with more money than sense either have one of their own, or have access to one. Thus it was that one dude who I IRC with wound up in the ER one fine evening after doing a wipeout on his hoverboard while at work. In a subsequent all-hands at his company, there was a safety admonishment about unwise hoverboard usage.
Tech Bro 1: "haha bet I know what happened."
Tech Bro 2: "hahah yeah I heard about that."
Tech Bro 1: "sucks that K had to go to the ER tho."
Tech Bro 2: "wait, K had a wipeout too? I was talking about X."
Tech Bro 1: "Oh, what happened with X?"
Multiple hoverboard collisions in one week: not a good thing.


One of the best days of my young life was the day my father brought home a label-maker. It was a about the size of a large typewriter. I recall it having a few large font wheels. We started labeling everything. We kids dubbed it "The Advance", because it had a large key labeled "Advance" in place of an Enter/Return key. The key fed blank tape.
One of the most tragic and terrifying days of my young life was the day when the label-maker caught on fire. I saw black smoke rising up out of it, and immediately began screaming and jumping up and down. Fortunately it was winter. This meant that the appropriate response, which my dad immediately took, was to unplug it, pick it up (it was smoking, not flaming) and hurl it out the front door into a convenient snowbank.
After that we didn't have a label-maker anymore.


"I feel like both of these perspectives are valid, but they're not compatible."


Being around a whole whackton of other non-binary-gendered folks has helped me focus my gender identity feels some. It looks like the identity that best fits is agender. Non-male-identified, though sometimes I present masc and sometimes I present High Soft Femme. Though maintaining High Femme feels kind of like the thing where you're clamping down in the vain hope that you won't bleed all over everything before you get to a bathroom with supplies.

"... a bit of a radfem (without the skateboard)" (said of a radical feminist who might not so much be the "raaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaadical, duuuuuuuude!" kind)


Hard problems in gender, privacy, and community safety: where is the line between outing and community safety, when you happen to know that someone who has Caused Problems Before is in a community [a different one] under an identity that is at least slightly discontinuous with their old one, and the new identity is tied to a gender marker change (and the old identity is really most sincerely dead)? (Tentative answer: take it case by case and hope you get it right.)


Once upon a time, Reverend Lunatic gave themselves hiccups as the result of an orgasm. Once not that long ago ... Read more... )


I have started watching the Great British Bake-Off, finally. It is so charming! I appreciate that all the contestants and guests are treated respectfully by the editing and camera, in a way that US television rarely does. And it's just so amazingly sweet!


Now that the conference is wrapping up, I'm down to just job-searching with a side of wrap-up work, not job-searching AND ALL THE CONFERENCE. This makes more time to tidy. Last fall, I'd decided to re-arrange my apartment. It got halted halfway through, and the result was nothing short of chaotic (though better arranged for certain things like sleep and computer). I decided that enough was enough, and I would work slowly but steadily in the direction of making it guest-appropriate. It's been coming along nicely, though it still is like a bit of a wacky game of 2048, where you have to calculate and carefully merge two things into the same space without upsetting anything else or making anything important too hard to reach quickly. This has resulted in random acts of mending, because part of this is seeing problems and fixing them.


My favorite hair ornament is a little basket of wires that's secured with two long metal spikes with glass knobs at the ends. Unfortunately, our relative heights are such that when I wear it, I spike Purple in the face with it when he hugs me goodnight. I have determined that I will seek alternate updo-securement, and have located a thing or two which should work better. Purple was a little "but you didn't have to -- it didn't draw *blood*!" when I showed him. :>
azurelunatic: A glittery black pin badge with a blue holographic star in the middle. (Default)
That song where Mother Duck loses all her ducklings one by one until she too goes "over the hills and far away" and they are reunited:
As clear an allegory for death and heaven as ever my gummy little brain had been fed. I was sceptical about the heaven part as it seemed obviously tacked on to make people feel better about death. As I had a hobby of scaring myself silly by trying to comprehend eternity and infinity, it seemed a cheap platitude.

"Waltzing with Bears":
Interesting metaphor for drug addiction! It's a dangerous and bizarre hobby that his family tries to intervene in, but in the end the addiction was stronger than their love and his determination.

"Puff, the Magic Dragon":
Pointlessly depressing because the kid dies at the end, and the dragon mourns him forever. (He may have grown up before dying.) Even so, it was all the terror of eternity with the loss of a close friend to make it more interesting.
azurelunatic: "Fangirl": <user name="azurelunatic"> and a folding fan.  (fangirl)
So the Thor thing from 2013 11 07! There was a marathon. As usual, I took notes in a little notebook. I don't promise that these are going to make any kind of sense.

Movie time
(Thor 1)
Read more... )

(Avengers)
I love Hill so hard.
Also Coulson.

"It seems to run on some form of electricity."

Honda dad.
(That one time when I was about four and was sitting behind the wheel of my dad's little Honda while he was getting it shoveled out of the snow and turned around ready to go. He had pushed it out, and was shoving the front keeping it from sliding down the hill. He was ready to come get in, but he couldn't let go lest it slide. So he called for me to put on the brake. My little arms were too weak to pull on the handbrake. So he told me to press the brake pedal. "Which one is the brake?" I asked. "The one next to the accelerator," he answered. Being four, I didn't know which one the accelerator was either, and I didn't want to waste either of our time with that conversation. "Is the brake right, middle, or left?" I asked. It was of course the middle, and I stomped on it with all my tiny might, and my father came around and pulled on the handbrake, and we got all situated to go. I remember that situation with no little pride for my past tiny self. I also remember it as a thing to do again, for situations where one of the people in a tech support or other remote hands sort of situation has not even an elementary understanding of the system. Stop the badness before it starts, and find a common frame of reference in order to get shit done. And that's what Steve did -- let Tony know what his frame of reference was, and Tony did the good tech support thing.)

Shawarma, near the insurance place
(I thought of Kat <3 )

Jesus

(Thor 2)

Read more... )
azurelunatic: A glittery black pin badge with a blue holographic star in the middle. (Default)
"Wearing My New Hat To Town" is a game my sister and I used to play, usually with laundry baskets.

1: Locate a household object that will not kill you if placed on/over your head.
2: Announce "I'm wearing my new hat to town!"
3: Parade about the house.
4: If you like, you can sing a little song about it while you're doing it.

We played this game regularly.
azurelunatic: University of Alaska Fairbanks's Elvey Building (UAF)
So [personal profile] synecdochic is a new homeowner, and has been wrestling with the various slings and arrows thereof. Discussion in IRC took a general turn for the home improvement topic, and it turned out that she'd never heard the story of the Great Flood.

It helps to know that I grew up in the suburbs of Fairbanks, Alaska; it also helps to know that my father, with a little help from his friends, built the entirety of our house, down to the wiring. (We were outside city limits, so a lot of regulations did not apply to us, but fortunately Dad believed in studying the housing code, then exceeding it.)

chat log ensues, now with illustrations. )
azurelunatic: aerial view of freeways.  (freeway)
Yesterday was very exciting, but all is sorted now.

My aunt was in Redwood City picking up Dazzle from the groomers when my uncle called her, from Lake Tahoe, to let her know that he'd gotten a concussion (in a skiiing accident) and couldn't drive himself home from the airport. So she pulled over and sent me a few semi-frantic text messages asking if I could come and help her do the two-driver shuffle to get my uncle's car home from the airport. I said I could, and since she didn't say what time this was going to be, I headed right over.

Of course, I got there a good twenty minutes before she did, so I was parked and waiting and reading stuff on my phone to pass the time, keys in the ignition. She arrived, and I hopped right out, locked the door, shut it, and realized my error as I was putting my hand to my waistband to check that the keys were securely clipped there as they always are. Unfortunately, despite Dad's cautionary tale about locking his keys in the Honda*, I did not have a spare -- not on me, and not anywhere, since the car key has a microchip and when I've remembered that I should have a spare has not been when I've remembered the money, and vice versa. And I'd never even gotten a spare without the chip just for door purposes. The windows were shut tightly, and the locks are the rocker switch sort that don't respond well to coathangers. It was about 5:20 by then. My aunt said that we'd have to leave at 6 in order to get my uncle at 6:45, so we didn't have time to call a locksmith right then, so we got dinner and fed the dogs. She asked if I would just want to go home after the car shuffle, and deal with it in the morning, but I pointed out that yes, I did have a spare house key -- safely at home, locked inside.

Just as we were finishing up, my uncle called. It turned out that he was already there, and had either said 5:45 and my aunt mis-remembered, or had meant 5:45 but said 6:45. So we scurried down to the San Carlos airport, and I drove my aunt's car back while she drove my uncle's car with him. His pilot was there watching him until we arrived, which was very nice of the fellow. My uncle was headachey, and didn't remember much of anything beyond the initial ski-fumble and heading in to the lodge, which was a reasonable chunk of time.

Then we called a locksmith; since it happened at my aunt's, her AAA covered it, which was convenient. I will have to check mine about lockouts. The guy was there in about 20 minutes. He had a little tool to pry up the edge of the passenger side door, and a wedge to keep it open, and this long snakey tool of rubber-covered quarter inch diameter metal, with a nice handle and a little bit at the tip. He worked the thing inside, found the lock, and poked it with the bit at the tip, and it opened right up. It couldn't have taken more than a minute. I retrieved my keys and we had steamed apples and raisins with cinnamon and pecans, and watched a movie.

First thing this morning, before going to my aunt's craft-and-chat session, I stopped by the hardware store across the freeway and got a spare key for the door. It lacks the chip, and you have to fiddle with it so it works, but it unlocks both doors and the trunk. My uncle is feeling somewhat better, but still headachey, and tired from being woken up all night. On the way back from my aunt's this evening, I got a second one, and a second spare house key, and I am thinking I might leave those with my aunt in case of emergency.


* Dad locked his keys in his little blue Honda once upon a time, before I came along, while he was doing laundry at the Coin King laundromat in Fairbanks. Mama was shopping at the grocery store across the way. Dad realized that he'd left his keys on the seat and locked them in the car. But he was at the laundromat, and he'd happened to have left the window open a crack, so he got his hands on a coathanger, fashioned it into a hook of just the right shape, slid it in through the crack in the window, and pulled up the vertical locking knob. Then he opened the door, carefully rolled up the window so that no other nefarious person would be able to repeat the trick, locked the door, and shut it.

Then he realized that there was a problem with this: at no point had he actually picked up the keys. And sure enough, there he was, outside the car, and his keys were inside the car, the window was closed, and I can't remember whether he'd put the coat hanger inside the car too. So he had to hike across the road to the grocery store to get Mama, who had her copy of the keys. After that, he had a full spare set of keys made, and he kept them in his other pocket, carrying them with him at all times, and was never locked out again.
azurelunatic: Operation 'This will most likely end badly' is a go. (end badly)
Apropos of [livejournal.com profile] horizonchaser's metaquoted gander adventures, which led me to Hyperbole and a Half's "Dinosaur", I was moved to give some sage advice to Allie. (Comments there are moderated, so it may be a while before it shows up.) I reproduce it here for your delectation:

Angry geese are immensely scary. Unless you have a hockey stick. In which case they're silly because they're attacking the hockey stick and oh man, do they go to to town. Unless there are more of them than you have hockey sticks, in which case they're scary again.

My parents kept geese. At first they were adorable and fuzzy and liked to hang out under Dad's beard and nibble his eyelashes. Then they got big and they were still cute, but a lot featherier. Then the goose started laying eggs, and the gander turned into an asshole.

Hockey sticks by the door became a fact of life. I learned a lot of techniques for dealing with angry ganders.

Anything can make a gander angry. If you walk past, he gets pissed off. If you mess with his woman. If you mess with his woman's eggs, you're dead, but he'll only attack you after his woman is done killing you. If the feed bucket displeases him. If the wind is blowing wrong.

I would say, avoid taunting the angry gander, but if a gander's already angry, anything you do short of vanishing on the spot will make him angrier. If you back off, it will make him mad that you don't stay and fight like a man. If you just stand there, he gets mad that you're taunting him. If you advance, he gets good and mad because it's time for a fight.

Ganders fight with their wings, not just their fearsome serrated bills. They hold you in place, grinding you with their beaks, and then they start kicking you with their wings, and attempting to rend you limb from limb, or at least tear your clothes off you.

Never fight a gander while naked. I cannot stress this enough.

If you slide your foot under a gander, then launch him off the top of your foot like you would in a really smooth soccer trick (not kicking, more throwing with your feet) it startles him, and you may have time to run for it before he flies forward and catches up with you.

A gander can't grinch you if his bill is held shut, but he will try and flap. He can't flap at you if you're holding his wings down. He will, always, be able to shit on you. There is a reason they say "loose as a goose", and this is not because geese are adept at yoga. (Some of them might be. They're very good at a particular one-footed posture.)

Our gander took a liking to Mama, and tried to follow her everywhere. Including into her pottery shop. He had to stay outside, where he proceeded to shit all over the porch, and also to chew the temperature indicator off the little pottery kiln. So Mama had to call the manufacturer and order another one -- not the dial, but the metal piece that goes behind the dial and says where 'off', 'low', 'high', and 'incinerate everything' is. They laughed.
azurelunatic: Chocolate dessert, captioned No Artificial Shortages  (no artificial shortages)
(from [livejournal.com profile] theferrett's What is the best cake you've ever had? post, expanded somewhat)

Mama made almost all our cakes, from scratch. I wasn't even particularly aware that they sold cake mixes until much later. For the longest time, the traditional birthday cake was golden layer cake with white buttercream frosting, and/or whipped cream, and strawberries, until I expressed a preference for chocolate. Then it became chocolate cake (from the recipe on the back of the Hershey's cocoa powder box) with chocolate buttercream frosting.

Mama's relationship with baking cakes was complex. They were always delicious, but sometimes they fell apart. There were superstitions about how to get a cake to come out right, including "It's just a home cake," said in the cake's presence before turning it out of the pan, as a home cake was almost always perfect, and a cake to take somewhere else often came out with craters. (One frosted them back together, put the nicest layer on top, and took it anyway.)

For one of the birthdays of my teenage years (this may have been 1996), Mama had the standard two-layer chocolate cake with chocolate buttercream icing. As a joke, she had frosted it with white buttercream chicken tracks and a Hershey's kiss, because we had chickens (the batch of four Egyptian Fayoumi, teenaged) in the bathroom at the time.

We had been out all day at Suzuki Institute, and came home to see that the entryway was *trashed*, with chicken droppings all over, and the chickens sitting innocently in their box in the bathroom, with the netting pushed to the side. Who, them?

The wreckage proved to be mostly confined to the square of light from the bathroom door and a bit up the stairs. The cake was untouched, and was now doubly hilarious.

Another excellent cake was the Enterprise. It was huge, and kind of weird-shaped, and lumpy, and blueish where it should have been grey, but it was nonetheless awesome. My virtual aunt made it, although for whose event I can't recall anymore.

Mama made the wedding cake for my virtual uncle and his (now ex) wife. It was some lovely golden cake with wild Alaskan cranberries in it, the sour kind that leave you spoiled for any domestic cranberries ever, with cream cheese frosting and little garnishes of fresh cranberries. I decided then and there that screw bakery cakes, I wanted this at my own wedding.

Then there was The Year of the Two Birthday Cakes (2005, in point of fact).

Grandma was going to the nursing home, so we were cleaning out the ancestral home. This was around the same time as my birthday, and my family decided that a late celebration was in order. I went out with Dawn for breakfast the day that the celebration was planned, and while we were out, I decided I might as well pick up a cake.

Now, Guide Dog Aunt is notorious about health food fads and general clean living, so I decided that I'd go for as healthy as possible a cake, and picked a gorgeous tart covered with fresh fruit (and glistening with sugar syrup, as it turned out). We returned, cake borne proudly, just as my aunt returned, proudly bearing a swanky bakery box.

We looked at each other, looked at our own parcels, and busted up laughing, then compared cakes. She'd got something that looked truly decadent, with a very smoothly frosted chocolate top with a chocolate fan garnish, and sides that had been browned in a checkerboard pattern. She'd been thinking of my tastes while I was thinking of hers.

We cut into both cakes that evening, and we had enough people that it was good we had as much cake as we did. My tart turned out to be filled with gooey and delicious custard, and her expensive fancy cake turned out to be dry and disappointing aside from the lovely chocolatey bits.
azurelunatic: Girl in pink lying on couch with hen on her foot.  (Nine)
Once upon a time, O Best-Beloved, I lived in a little cabin in the great big woods of Alaska with my mother and father and sister and a whole lot of stuffed animals. The cabin was small, and had a loft and a downstairs and a wood stove and a table in the kitchen and a couch and some other furniture, but was mostly just one little cozy room. And every year, Mama and Dad would have to do taxes!

This procedure involved a great many pieces of paper, all spread out over every available surface, or so it seemed. The calculator, a fascinating device that plugged in and had glowing red numbers and a great many buttons of uncertain function, was brought out and made to do interesting and arcane tricks. There was muttering and occasional cursing, and invocation of My Full Name (for, given that this was Alaska, I was in receipt of oil dividends, and therefore had to pay taxes at the tender age of four).

Mostly I stayed out of the way and played with my stuffed animals. I got out my Tinkertoys and stacked the green and yellow windmill fins in piles on top of a box, one atop the other, shuffling them and disorganizing them and occasionally noisily pushing them all to the floor! Old Cat, my favorite stuffed toy, sat next to me, stoically watching the whole process.

"What on earth are you doing?" Mama asked.

"We're doing our taxes!" Old Cat and I explained.

Mama did her taxes a bit quieter after that.
Tags:
azurelunatic: Girl in pink lying on couch with hen on her foot.  (Nine)
A meme taken from [livejournal.com profile] leora:

Would you kick me out of your bed for eating crackers?

Answer this question, then post it in your journal. If anyone answers "yes", cry a lot and ask why they don't like you, then try seducing them by suggesting alternate cracker varieties.

To cause a potentially awkward relationship discussion, ask your SO the same question, ideally while naked and holding a cracker.


My answer for all of you, assuming you were in my bed for reasons that seemed legitimate at the time: I'd kick the crackers out of bed. And since it's no fair for me to post a meme without any actual content, I present a childhood story.

Dad had a hard and fast rule against eating in bed, particularly crackers. This was his very rational response to sensory sensitivity issues. Crumbs on the sheets were a very bad thing for him, and would lead to immediate and complete stripping of the bed to remove and replace the offending sheets, because he just could not abide the feeling that much. (I am somewhat less sensitive, but can't abide it either, thus kicking the crackers out of bed.)

One lazy summer afternoon, my sister and I were determined to simultaneously enjoy our books, the luxury of lounging on our parents' bed, and tasty fresh sweet garden carrots, picked just that day and scrubbed in clear cold water, with the tops snapped off and fed to the hungry and appreciative chickens. Now, our parents never laid down rules without reasons, and had been in the habit of explaining the reason for each rule to us as soon as we were old enough to understand. (This did lead to some ... creative ... endeavors in interpretation. Tay-Tay was better at that than I was.) This day was one of those days. One of us reasoned as follows: "Well, Dad's objection to food in bed is crumbs. Carrots are a food. Carrots do not leave crumbs. Therefore, Dad's objection to carrots in bed is invalid (and he will never know if we flout it in his absence). Q.E.D." So we ate our carrots, curled up reading with Mama.

At night when Dad came back, we thought we'd gotten away with it -- until Dad let out an unholy shout. Seems that one of us (probably me) had left a carrot stump in bed. These are evidently cold when encountered with the naked bottom, especially unexpectedly, in bed. Dad laid down the law: NO EATING IN MY BED. PARTICULARLY NOT CRACKERS. NOR CARROTS.
azurelunatic: A spray of $CELEBRATORY_FIZZY_BEVERAGE from a beribboned bottle caught in the moment just after the cork pops. (champagne)
Mama sent me a photo of the quilt.

The bookshelf is at the center, with a whole lot of books I read while growing up. The stars around it represent interests of mine (such as the soccer ball), or little pieces of the past. It looks like Mama has a piece of the blackberry dress, and the fishtank-gravel pants, and the Frog Skirt, and all sorts of butterflies, and that gorgeous fabric from that dress from the 6th grade... this is wonderful.

The photo is a bit fuzzy, but I'm sure I'll recognize a lot more once I get to see it in person.

azurelunatic: Girl in pink lying on couch with hen on her foot.  (Nine)
Mama scanned this and sent it to me.

The glasses are regrettable. The dress is cute. This is Xiao Ji. His wing is all scruffy as he was sitting closest to the heat lamp and got some feathers way too close. (The heat lamp very quickly got a safety cage.)

A large Black Langshan rooster indoors, standing on a rug in front of bitty!Azz, who is wearing a blue dress with white lace trim on the collar, and large pink plastic glasses.

THIP

25/12/08 00:27
azurelunatic: Girl in pink lying on couch with hen on her foot.  (Nine)
Once upon a time, best-beloved, when I lived in a home-built log cabin in the woods of Fairbanks, Alaska, there was the Thip Incident.

I was a very small child, then, so small that I don't remember this myself, only in pieces and patches from having the story told so many times.

Living in a cabin in the woods of Alaska without a television, sometimes you have to make your own fun. My father took the top from a medicine dropper, squeezed the air out of it, and placed it on the tip of my nose and released it. The suction held it there.

He took aim with his thumb and forefinger, and flipped the top right off my nose. "THIP!" he declared as the top went flying.

This was great fun. So we did that again.

Mama was a potter. Mama had been casting in porcelain, little delicate round bottles to drip water or ink, perfect in form and function. She freed the little bottles from their mold and lined them up to finish drying in the little one-room cabin.

THIP.

The top of the medicine dropper went flying across the room, right smack into one of Mama's precious pots. The little bottle bent and gouged most horribly, ruining it completely.

Mama was Not Happy.

That was the end of thipping for a while.
azurelunatic: University of Alaska Fairbanks's Elvey Building (UAF)
The hills are high and I am queen of the world on this rock. Dad points out the microwave installations and talks history. I listen to the wind singing in my ears and look across the river valley so wide I can't see the end of it all.

Dad reads us fairy tales at bedtime, all tucked up snug in thick blankets upstairs with the wood stove stoked with a few last slow logs for the night. Sometimes there is a princess, and usually her name is Marya. I thought that Sasha is a girl too, but Dad explains that was a boy's name. We fall asleep dreaming of magic as the house cools with the snow falling quietly outside.

Dad brings home a portable computer. It is so tiny. His computer at work is larger than a refrigerator with so many blinking lights and tape reels. This is only a little bigger than my little suitcase, even though I can't lift it. The bottom folds off and turns into a keyboard. It plays music when you put the right disk in it. I am enchanted. Dad uses it to compose bogus memos that he posts by the elevators at work, and comes home with tales of the stir he's caused this time, well-pleased with his cleverness at making everyone laugh and (usually) not getting caught.

It's well past bedtime when the phone rings and keeps ringing. Dad thuds downstairs to answer it as we all start awake. His voice booms upstairs to come down and come outside. We pull coats over our nightgowns and stuff our bare feet into boots and rush outside to watch the lights in the sky circle and dance. My nose gets cold, but we watch until the ripples fade out into blackness and stars.

Another night, Dad is the one to see the Northern Lights and make the call.

They called it "Seward's Folly", "Seward's Icebox", and only changed their tune after they found gold and then oil. We go over this every Seward's Day at school. He got a great deal when they bought us from Russia. Teacher tells us that they paid more in dollars for our school than they did for Alaska, even though money is worth less now and Alaska was really worth more. But it was still a good deal.

They're sending up rockets again, to get a better view of the Northern Lights. Dad's work stories are less office gossip and more rocket range. Dad stays late again. Mama puts leftovers away. When I wake up, I hear Dad downstairs making coffee. He's gone again before I come down for breakfast.

First it was the Berlin Wall come down, and my stolid 5th grade teacher traced over the line on the roll-down map with tears streaming down her face. Then pieces of Russia tore themselves away, and my 6th grade teacher sighed and talked about new maps. Even fragmented, you could still fit Alaska inside Russia whole and entire.

My sister plays violin with the group every Wednesday before lunch at the museum. I bring a book. Sometimes I steal away into the depths of the museum and look around at the displays. There's usually an aurora display, with the movie playing. I recognize the names in the credits from the stories Dad brings home from work. Mostly, I read as music fills the high echoing hall with its vaulted windows on the sky.

There are some new names coming home from work. Some of the old names have retired or moved. Some people will always be there, old friends and old thorns in Dad's side. Dad sends electronic mail back and forth with other scientists in the frozen North. The fast-talking fellow from Boston has gone to Svalbard for some weeks. The office stories are less entertaining in his absence.

Russia, Dad says. Mama gets upset. We kids go to bed early. Downstairs, he says once-in-a-lifetime scientific and cultural opportunity. Mama says instability, imprisonment, death. We say nothing, as quietly as we can.

Dad packs his warm clothes, plenty of batteries, and even buys cigarettes. We kids are disgusted, but he explains about customs guards and checkpoints and inspections and bribes in the same practical way he explains how charged particles excite atoms in the upper atmosphere to create the Aurora. We subside, still privately thinking that he could have bought more batteries instead of cigarettes.

Mama worries until she gets the telegram from Sweden. Then she worries about what else could happen. We don't understand it. We crawl into the big bed on Dad's side, and she doesn't send us off to our own beds until late. Usually Dad comes upstairs to kick us out sooner.

Dad comes home in a clatter of baggage and stories. Next time, he says, he will bring tea, because when traveling abroad you have to make sure the water is boiled so it will be safe to drink. When he asked for boiled water, they made tea for him, and tea is expensive and people there are so poor. He has perfume for Mama and books for us.

It was always the third youngest brother who succeeded at the quest, got the girl, found the treasure. He was usually named Ivan or Sasha. Baba Yaga, the witch in the hut with the chicken feet, was by turns kindly and malevolent, but never safe. Her gifts had a sting in the tail. Usually Ivan (or Sasha) could avoid it, but sometimes clever Marya had to rescue him from his foolishness.

Dad packs up the old portable and takes it back to the office. Then he brings home a new computer. This one can talk. I christen her Majel (after Majel Barrett, of course, the voice of the only talking computer I know) and we play with her voice-recognition software for hours.

Dad comes home from work chagrined, in receipt of an irate email from his host on the Russian trip. He has sent a care package, with the old Compaq portable and sundry other little comforts from the corrupt capitalist empire. He thought it would be funny to add "To Russia, With Love" in the addressing. Russian customs officers don't have a sense of humor. They also know about James Bond. Dad's host was questioned closely, and while unharmed, was shaken and upset.

This year, it's our turn, and Dad's colleague, his wife, and their two boys come in time for summer. They stay in the cabin that Dad built shortly after he and Mama married, before he built the big house. Dad and the doctor spend time at the University, while Mama plays hostess. I am shy and the boys are wary. We do tourist things together. They go home, finally, and I have peace to read again.

I swear up and down to Mama that as soon as I am old enough to move away, I will not spend another winter in this godforsaken cold land. Maybe I'll move to Florida. Mama goes quiet and looks old and hurt. I pretend not to care. I just want out.

My fiancé and I plan a road trip, just the two of us and our roommate (his best friend) for this, our last summer for a while in Alaska, before we go away to college. We drive down to Valdez, then through the mountains to Anchorage, then back up through the Park to Fairbanks, a grand triangle encompassing only a small part of the state. Each leg takes a day, and that's by blowing the speed limit out of the water on the long straightaways. I have forgotten my camera, but my brain soaks in the expanses of deserted land. We will come back after college, and settle down somewhere outside of town, close enough to work but not too close.

Three years stretches. I have neither a degree nor a husband, but I'm reasonably happy in Arizona on my own. It's not all that different, once you get over the culture shock -- you stay inside where the climate is under control, during the bad months. I still encounter cultural stumbling blocks, references that only another Alaskan will get, or someone who's lived so long in the cold it's crept into your very bones. I don't call home enough.

I have only a few words of Russian left from my elementary school classes. The company I volunteer for has been bought out by a Russian company, and the 'in Soviet Russia' jokes fly thick. I learn a few more words here and there in self-defense, but not much changes except upper management, too far above me for me to get to know them.

Someday I will come back to Alaska, I think. Someone will have to take care of the property once my parents are too old. My sister can't; she's in the Seattle music scene too deep to come home. It will fall to me, the eldest. We could sell it, but the thought is unbearable. It's home.

Someday, perhaps, I will visit the Diomede Islands, and gaze across the Bering Strait at Russian soil.
azurelunatic: A glittery black pin badge with a blue holographic star in the middle. (Default)
http://resonant8.livejournal.com/178097.html

"(That's) Not the [Lastname] Way!" When some outsider to the family attempts to get a member of the family to do something that seems somewhat reasonable, but is, for reasons unspecified, something that a member of the family would really never do. I think this originated when someone was trying to get one of the males of Dad's generation to eat something from her fingers, he wound up biting her, and he declared "That's Not the [Lastname] Way!" when she got upset. Tay-Tay embraced this phrase.

"I'm [doing that] First!" When someone was procrastinating on a task, to the point where someone else starts to do it, followed by the declaration, "I was [doing that] First!" and the original person very quickly scrambling to do that before the second person starts. Alternately, when someone is procrastinating on that, someone else does it, and the procrastinator declares, "I was going to [do that] First!"

On without being lit: We had an old, and cranky, propane stove. The automatic lighting mechanism did not always work. This led to merry hijinks, including the declaration, "Mama, the stove's on without being lit!" It came to mean similar to "the lights are on but no one's home", except more potentially explosive.

Secret Protocols of Mama: Common knowledge between two parties that is needed by any party filling in for one of them, but that is unlikely to be remembered to be told. Mama picked Tay-Tay and me up from Summer Fine Arts Camp every day. One day, she couldn't be there, so we made arrangements with Dad to pick us up instead. We arranged the time, and that we would be in the parking lot by the entrance of the art wing building waiting for pickup. Came the time, no Dad. Several frantic phonecalls later, it turned out that Dad was in the other parking lot at the other entrance of said building. After this point, Dad demanded to know if there were any other "secret protocols of Mama" that he'd need to know. The phrase stuck around.

That's Not Ice: [livejournal.com profile] hcolleen and I were at writers group, and I offered her a piece of ice (in my hand, thrust pretty much in her face). She recoiled and stared at me. This went on for long enough to make it memorable. Since then, whenever I bring up or offer something that makes her make that same face, "It's not ice!" means "It's really not that bad!" ... and "It's ice." means that it's worse than she thinks it is (even if she thinks it's pretty bad).

Bukking with your beak full: Offering up something good to share with others, except by the time they get there, you'll have already finished it all. Comes from chicken culture, where certain roosters will make the "good eats here" call, which sounds like "Buk-buk-buk-buk" ... while they're gobbling down whatever it happens to be, and then they will be oh so very confused when the hens come rushing over and there's none left.

Tripping over your wing at: Also from chicken culture: public courtship of the sort that announces, with no subtlety, your intent to fuck this person. From the rooster's distinctive sidling mating dance with one wing lowered.
azurelunatic: Girl in pink lying on couch with hen on her foot.  (Nine)
What is your earliest memory of your life?

http://www.livejournal.com/misc/latestqotd.bml?qid=441
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My earliest memory is either slightly after the age of two, or possibly slightly before, depending on which one came first, and if it was the latter, when it happened.

Memory with a date on it: We were in a big building with high dim halls. They took me to a window into a room. There was someone there, touching a baby in a glass box. That was interesting. They pointed at another baby, in a crib right below the window. She was wearing a blue blanket. It was my little sister.

My little sister was born not quite three months after my second birthday.


Memory without a date: I was downstairs in the Big House looking up the hole they'd made in the second floor for the stairs. I was MAD. I wanted to be up there too, but Mama had said I could not be, because I was too heavy and I would fall through. I knew they were pulling one over on me, though. THEY were bigger than I was, and THEY were not falling through. It was untrue, and therefore, they were lying to me.

Many years later, I brought this up to Mama. She explained: they had just put the plywood down, but it wasn't nailed yet. They were walking very carefully, making sure to stay over the beams. If they'd gone running off like I surely would have, they'd have fallen through. But they couldn't trust me to not go running off, so downstairs I stayed. MAD. (Mama was impressed that I'd remembered that. It had made an impression, though.)
azurelunatic: A glittery black pin badge with a blue holographic star in the middle. (Default)
I wanted to write books. To be published. I assumed I would be married, but I wanted a happy family of my own. I wanted to be held at night by my beloved.
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azurelunatic: A glittery black pin badge with a blue holographic star in the middle. (Default)
I cannot remember all the goals I had set for myself for when I was grown up from before 10. I mostly wanted reasonable things within my parents' power to grant
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