Welcome!

Dec. 31st, 2030 04:02 pm
alpharaposa: (micahicon)
Welcome to my livejournal. Feel free to look around.

I keep my poetry posts (both of mine and others') under the poetry tag. Click here or just click the tag on the sidebar.

If you are looking for just my free/crowdfunded poetry, look under "Poetry Kitchen". Click here or on the tag on the sidebar.

I often post recipes and other experiments with cooking and baking. Click here or use the "cooking" tag on the sidebar to browse food posts.

I do make political posts, or sometimes link something that is less politics and more social observation. I keep these cut-tagged if they're more than a link and a couple of sentences, so that people who prefer not to read them can skip over them. If you are interested in them, feel free to click the political foo or social foo tags.

I sometimes get on a world-building kick, where I'm working out history and geography and cultures for various settings. I enjoy feedback on these posts, old and new. You can use the world-building tag for an unsorted view of them, or the world-building section of my memories to view a more filtered version.

If you want me to do more of any of these things, you can encourage me two ways. You can comment, or you can leave a tip. If you choose to tip from this post, please include a comment as you pay to let me know what kind of posts you enjoyed. :)





A Garden!

May. 29th, 2017 04:27 pm
alpharaposa: (Default)
Today, the weather was nice after a week of on and off rain. We took advantage and got outside to work on things. Hubby mowed the lawn. I finished digging a small garden plot and planted some seeds. I know it's late, but it's better than nothing.

Hand tiller on Garden Plot
The cubs helped some. We did all the work the old-fashioned way. I used a spade to cut the sod into chunks and turn it over, then broke up the ground with a the hand tiller pictured above. I know that raised beds are The Thing, but the prime location for a raised bed in our yard is just not ready. We need to trim some trees back, first. So we're putting in a regular bed, the way my mom taught me.

Dirt Ready for Planting
I showed the cubs how to check to see if the dirt is right for planting. You grab a handful of it and squeeze it. If water or mud drips out, it's too wet. If it doesn't hold together at all, it's too dry. This is just right. It forms a ball but is easily broken apart.

Planting Bed, May 2017
And this is the finished bed. Anchoring the top (and that is uphill) is a rhubarb plant we purchased from Lowe's. Next to it, I built up a hill for a squash (if it doesn't fruit in time, we'll just eat the flowers). Next down, a couple little rows of marigolds to break things up. Then, some bush beans. The plain (unamended) soil is where we planted a few dwarf sunflowers. As prairie plants, they don't care if the soil is full of nutrients.

The logs are from fallen limbs around my yard. We haven't been able to burn them all, so I might as well put them to a nice use.

Plants in Pots, May 2017
And here is the container garden, looking pretty healthy. All the transplants seem to be very happy.
alpharaposa: (micahicon)
I finally made a Dreamwidth account: http://alpharaposa.dreamwidth.org/ As I barely post on here, anymore, it won't make much of a difference. However, a number of people I still read are now abandoning LiveJournal for good. For myself, I don't expect to be hounded by the Russians. I am wary that my journal might get disappeared sometime if I cross some line, though. So, I'm archiving my posts and moving my focus.

I will continue to look in on Livejournal as long as people I'm reading are still here.
alpharaposa: (home-cooking)
I had a recipe for pumpkin gingerbread that I wasn't entirely pleased with. So, I converted the sweetener in it from sugar to honey, bumped up the ginger, and added nutmeg. Below is the new recipe.

2 cups pumpkin puree (or one 15 oz can)
1 cup oil (or applesauce)
4 eggs
1 cup honey
1/3 cup water
2 tsp grated fresh ginger
3 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

Mix all wet ingredients (including grated ginger). Mix all dry ingredients in seperate bowl. Combine and stir together until just mixed. Bake at 350 degrees. Muffins take 20-25 minutes. Makes 24 muffins.

The basic recipe makes a good, not-too-sweet, breakfasty muffin. If you want a little more sweet, butterscotch chips are an excellent add-in.
alpharaposa: (micahicon)
If you've read this blog long, you know I struggle off and on with depression. I usually don't feel like it's very awful depression, though. I don't get suicidal or have to take a giant pile of pills to get up every morning. I take vitamin D every day (in large quantity), but my prescription drugs are for my blood pressure, not my brain.

What I experience depression as is a strain on my resources, like wearing an invisible backpack all the time. On good days (usually in the summer), the backpack is empty and I breeze through life, getting things done and going out and meeting people. On bad days (more often in the winter), the backpack weighs 30-40 extra pounds, and just taking a shower and writing a post on livejournal is a real effort.

Last week had several difficult days. (Hormone fluctuations, I think.) But even there, I'm not as bad off as I've been in the past. Every day, I still did homeschool with the cubs, still ate properly, did some basic chores around the house (cat litter, laundry, dishes). I can remember when I was a young adult and the depression was at its worst, days when just getting out of bed and getting a shower was a major accomplishment. Compared to those days, I'm a marvel of energy.

There were things I wanted to get done last week that I didn't do. My dad had a birthday, and I barely managed to send a brief "happy birthday" to him. I didn't have the energy left for a phone call that day. I had a couple days when I was grimly getting necessary chores done even though I wanted to just sit and play video games, because I was the responsible adult in the house and the things needed to get done.

That means that I can be inconsistent in my ability to connect with people, or to get things done. I have to be careful not to overcommit during the summer, when the backpack is empty. (That old backpacking saw, an ounce in the morning is a pound at night? That's how dealing with meetings feels as the season turns from summer to fall to winter.) I rely a lot on the support I have. When the weekend arrived and my husband was home all day, I did spend some time just playing video games. And it helped, to relax a bit, like taking a breather on the trail. And maybe some of the weight fell out this weekend, too. I can feel a little drag, but it's not as bad as last week.

The main thing I ask of friends and family is to not write me off when I'm quiet or distant or haven't checked in for a while. I might just be busy or having a rough week. I still care, but some days I'm focused on what must get done, to maintain myself or my house or my family. That probably makes me a kind of difficult friend for some people, since I don't give the same level of effort into things all the time. But I'm not mad or sulking when I'm quiet. I'm just worn out for the moment. The season will turn, and things will get better again.
alpharaposa: (micahicon)
Answering another weekend world-building question, this time about money. What currencies, if any, exist?

The elves don't use a common currency, per se. No coins, and no paper money. What we consider to be precious metals are in common use as the base of many alloys. (Iron is, in fact, rare, and also avoided. This is a realm in Faerie, after all.) Instead, most people use gemstones for trade. Gems are graded by clarity and size for easy reckoning.

Dunny elves provide most of the gems used for trade, but some wift elf families have trees that can be coaxed to grow them. Sunlish elves get theirs through business.

When bargaining, somebody might set a price by number, by size, or by weight. “Five cloudy grains” (small, occluded gemstones the size of a wheat grain), or “A palmful of clear color” (any size of gemstones, so long as they fill the elf’s palm and have no faults) are both easily understood terms.

Waiting.

Sep. 20th, 2016 11:31 am
alpharaposa: (bedtime)
One of the hardest Christian skills to develop is to wait prayerfully.

This year, we are surrounded by worries. There is unrest in the Middle East. Ancient Christian communities are being driven out. There is unrest here at home, too. Our politics are a choice between bad and worse. Our culture is increasingly divided and antagonistic. And so are our churches.

The United Methodist Church has hit the point of no return. An openly practicing lesbian woman who is married to another woman has been made Bishop in one of the more progressive Conferences, and now we are all waiting to find out if it will stand. The action was taken in defiance of our own rules, but in some places those rules have gone unenforced in the past. There must be, finally, a clear statement of what the UMC as a whole believes and is willing to enforce. There's a council of UMC Bishops meeting next year, its stated purpose to resolve this issue.

I grew up in this denomination. I love its music. I love its people. I love the Bible studies and the potlucks and the Bazaars. I love the theology of sanctification, the process of all of us painfully, carefully, working out our salvation together.

I have given thought to where I might go, if the UMC fails. There are places I suppose I could flee to, but I would go as a refugee. It would hurt to have to give up my home.

I wonder. What will happen to the organizations that are outside the UMC, but affiliated? To NAUMS? To our little non-profit, the Indiana United Methodist Pathfinders? United Methodist is right there in the name.

There are people who are gathering, talking, trying to make plans, but I can't go join them. I have small kids and work to do here. All I can do is pray. Pray for those who go to fight. Pray for my church. Pray for my country. And continue to raise my children as best I can, to teach them right from wrong and to love God, even if our church home becomes a battlefield we must flee.

It's hard, but it's essential. A Christian's whole life is learning to wait prayerfully. For Jesus' return. For justice to be done at last. For the broken world to be made new again. None of us can actually make these things happen. We can only perform our duties, wait, and pray.

It's not a simple thing to learn.
alpharaposa: (Rumex writing)
This week, the question was how do people travel? How do things get moved around?

And the answer:
The elves use boats wherever there are rivers available inland, and along the ocean shore. The best boats are made of alloys of metal and swimming creatures (dolphins, fish, otters). The best sails are woven from clouds; they’re light, take no damage from damp, and catch the wind easily. It is common for large ships to have a pair of sunlish elves whose only job is to remove troublesome cross winds and twist them into ropes for later.

Where the rivers aren’t useful for travel, there are roads. The roads tend to be built of stone, in layers like a Roman road. In the mountains, the main pack and riding animals are goats, actually a variation of a markhor with more luxurious wool. They can be ridden, but carts are the norm. Carts, like boats, are made of light metal alloys which may or may not have anything living worked into it. Bells are common on merchant carts. Families often have bells tuned to matching notes so that the whole group sounds chords as they walk together.

In the lower forests and on the grasslands, the elves ride elk or use them to haul carriages or wagons. The elk are often shoed with split shoes.

Gryphons are never used to haul freight. War-gryphons may sometimes be used to haul gear during a campaign, but never when battle is expected. There are some gryphon subspecies that are too light to even carry a rider (racing and show types, mostly). Those who do own gryphons that are suitable for riding do so often, and there are gryphon riders who carry messages and mail. The fee for such service is higher, similar to the difference between paying for ground shipping versus air mail.

Gryphons cannot be housed in the same building as goats or elk. Even if the gryphon is trustworthy (not all are that well trained), the ruminants will not stay calm with a predator about. Wealthy nobles have separate buildings. Many households just have stables for goats or elk, while the gryphons are assigned perching space with a shed nearby for gear. Trained gryphons can be allowed to go hunt for themselves (best to ask first, though, in case the prize bull is rutting nearby), and will return when finished.
alpharaposa: (micahicon)
I've started a Weekend World Building thing on Twitter (hashtag #WWB if you want to join in). This week's question: Science or magic, or both? What do people use to manipulate the world?

The latest world I'm working on are elves. They use what we would think of as magic. There are dunny elves, sunlish elves, and wift elves (or weft? wys? still turning that one over). Each of them can directly manipulate one category of stuffs. Dunny elves can work inanimate things. Sunlish elves' domain is the weather. Wift elves manipulate living creatures.

So...

Dunny elves harvest the strength of diamonds to harden armor, or alloy a bend in a stream into a ship's keel to let it flex in the water.

Sunlish elves do things like twist wind into ropes and spin clouds into threads. They catch sunlight or moonlight if they want to make something that glows.

Wift elves can give a goat soft, luxurious wool, and change the wings on a gryphon. They can steal the reflexes of a cat to weave into a cloak.

The important part is that nobody does magic by waving their hands and saying magic words. Instead, the elves can grab and use unusual things to make new items with special properties. A hammer may have real thunder in it. A ship may have a dolphin bound into the keel. A guard dog might be given fire in its daily meat to keep it fierce.
alpharaposa: (micahicon)
We've been unpacking books. This means that books are in stacks on our floors while we sort them and decide where to put them. This morning, I picked up The Screwtape Letters by CS Lewis from the philosophy pile, debating whether it goes there or in fiction, or some other place. And because it's a favorite book, I flipped through it and began to read a little.

(A reminder: this book is written from the perspective of a devil, for whom God is the Enemy.)

I came to this passage:

But we want a man hag-ridden by the Future- haunted by visions of imminent heaven or hell upon earth- ready to break the Enemy's commands in the present if by doing so we make him think he can attain the one or avert the other- dependent for his faith on the success or failure of schemes whose end he will not live to see. We want a whole race perpetually in pursuit of the rainbow's end, never honest, nor kind, nor happy now, but always using as mere fuel wherewith to heap the altar of the future every real gift which is offered them in the Present.


Does this not describe so much of our politics?
alpharaposa: (Rumex writing)
The week has been going in fits and starts due to bouts of illness in the house. We all got over our stomach troubles (even the cat), only for the cubs to end up with fevers yesterday (mostly older cub). We've missed two days of homeschool due to older cub's inability to focus on account of tired, fever, and various. Fortunately, I have the ability to declare Saturday a make up day. Muahahahaha.

I did use some of the time to unpack a few more boxes and sort and put away some things. I also finished the first draft of the fourth story of The Young Lord's Servants. It needs editing and a title, but that's easier than getting the draft done. Look for it before the end of September. More details to come!

Also, while chatting with friends online, I mentioned wanting to write some YA fiction about a girl in a world where elves keep gryphons. Like good friends, they enthused over the idea, so now I'm beginning the work. YA novels are 30,000-50,000 words, roughly. The short stories I've been writing are around 4,000 words.

Eep.

Well, I guess I find out if I have what it takes to get a novel finished. No time like the present. I'm sketching out different kinds of elves and gryphons in my notes, and I've written about half a page so far. But it's a start.

I've also kicked around the idea of a weekly worldbuilding session online. Every week, there'd be a world building question that everybody who's participating would answer for one of their settings. We can write them up on Wordpress or Livejournal, then post the links on Twitter with a hashtag. #weekendworldbuilding, maybe? Too long?
alpharaposa: (migraine)
This morning, we were awakened at 4:30 am by younger cub, who had thrown up. We got that cleaned up and bedded him down on the spare mattress. He'd just fallen asleep when older cub dashed down the hall to the bathroom to unload the contents of his tummy.

And the cat left a soft, stinky mess in front of his litter box (which fortunately has a mat under it that caught the poo).

So we got it all cleaned up, and went back to bed. Come the morning, older cub hopped out of bed, ate a bowl of cereal... and then threw that up shortly afterwards.

So we decided to stay home and just rest. We ate toast for breakfast and lunch, with applesauce on the side, and stayed in pajamas all day.

[livejournal.com profile] anher tried to keep herd on the cubs while I rested, but he got called out (it's his on-call weekend), so I put off napping until he got home.

We got everything cleaned up, and then the cat puked by the couch.

Just been that kind of day.

On the plus side, everybody felt good enough to have dinner and dessert, the boys went right to bed, and Percivale got a quarter can of gooshy food to settle his tummy.

Tomorrow, we start again.

Update!

Aug. 11th, 2016 05:22 pm
alpharaposa: (momcub)
It's been a long time since my last update, and much has happened! We bought a house! We moved into it! We spent two weeks without internet! The last three weeks have been unpacking, unpacking, unpacking, rediscovering forgotten treasures that had waited in storage for two years to be brought out again. And there's been the excitement of living in an older house with previous tenants. The first weekend, we had to flush the water heater. Last weekend, the air conditioning went out. I have experienced the adventure of repairs while under a Home Warranty.

The local kids are already in school (which still boggles me, having grown up with Aug 21st as the usual start date). Older cub is excited about homeschool. He's ready to learn! I hope and pray the attitude persists. I have a boxed curriculum and plan to start on Monday. This week is dedicated to chasing down loose odds and ends. I still need a felt board and some red felt, which I shall probably have to obtain from a craft store.

On Wednesday, we picked up my old cat Percivale (17 years old this year) from his long hiatus at my parents' place. He settled right in here. He has a whole, big house to himself, with people to pet him and corners to hide inside. His hips and back feet are a bit stiff, even with monthly treatment, but that doesn't keep him from attacking catnip mice and getting up onto windowsills. I already have things set up with the local vet.

While getting items for homeschool, I managed to blow out a tire today. USAA sent somebody to help get the spare on (I wasn't confident in my ability to manage that and the cubs at the same time on a hot day). Going to have to get that replaced tomorrow.

And the BIG news of the day is that today I've been married to [livejournal.com profile] anher for 15 years! Maybe we'll go out to eat (someplace with air conditioning).
alpharaposa: (micahicon)
I had an eye exam for the first time in over five years on Saturday. You may or may not be aware that eyes change shape slightly during pregnancy (all the extra fluids), and my blood pressure was wonky for a while. Even once it was under control, we were moving around and busy.

But then the temple piece cracked. It still works for now, but it's a sign it's pretty much time to replace the glasses. The Wal-Mart clinic was quick, easy, and not too expensive.

However, during the exam, the eye doctor asked if my eyes water or itch. Apparently, he noticed some tiny bumps on the inside of my eyelids - a giveaway of an allergic reaction. But it wasn't enough for me to be bothered by it. My eyes didn't itch. I didn't have a runny nose.

So, yesterday, I was dragging and tired and got up too late to get ready for church on time (something I regret). I didn't feel any obvious allergic symptoms, but I was dragging and actually a little weepy feeling that morning. So, I took an antihistamine at lunch.

And hour later, I didn't feel very different physically at all, but I was no longer depressed. It was shockingly different. That morning, I'd been wondering if I needed antidepressants again. And that afternoon, I was fine. It'd been an allergic reaction. It seems that, in my body, if anything is wrong, my default error mode is to be depressed, I guess.

And this has been going on for weeks. I've been feeling a real drag and wondering what's up. I thought had to be stress, because I couldn't find any other explanation for why I was dragging just when I usually start hitting my stride after the winter bout. And it was histamines.

So, I'm very happy to have figured that out, if a little puzzled by it all.
alpharaposa: (momcub)
Happy Mother's Day!

Yesterday, we took advantage of a sunny afternoon to fill some buckets with dirt and plant more seeds. At dinnertime, we all went to my aunt's place for a gathering of the local family members (aunts, uncles, cousins, etc). I took a batch of spicy cookies to share. They were well received. We were all tired by the time we got home.

Today, I got up with only an hour to get ready for church, and everybody had yet to get dressed. We managed to make it with seconds to spare. The men of the church were called up for an impromptu performance. I got a few pictures on my phone. I will spare you the brief recording. Professionals, they weren't. But they did pass out some carnations and lovely butterfly pins.

We all went out for ice cream this afternoon, then came home and relaxed for a while. Dinner was apples, cheese, Mexican drinking chocolate, chocolate chip cookies, and spicy ginger cookies. I commented to my dad that it's not the sort of meal where you say grace before, but do penance for after.

The younger cub asked me to make him a tree house in Terraria. So I did.
pics )

Younger cub fell asleep early, and older cub seemed especially antsy this evening. I suspect a minor bug. Here's hoping it stays minor! We're expecting rain all week.
alpharaposa: (migraine)
The difference between the Sad Puppies and the Rabid Puppies can be summed up very easily.

Larry, Brad, and Hoyt (leaders among the Sad Puppies) are Never Trump.

Vox Day (the leader of the Rabid Puppies) is a Trump supporter.

And now you know.
alpharaposa: (home-cooking)
My mom brought this recipe home, and I had to try it. Made these today and loved them, but keep milk or something similar on standby!

Ingredients:
2 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 to 1 tsp cayenne pepper (to taste)
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter or margarine
1 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1/4 cup molasses
1/3 cup (or so) of Demerara sugar (also called "turbinado")

Read more... )

We used a slightly generous 1/2 tsp of cayenne, and that was just enough heat for us. (I like jalapeno poppers and spicy chicken sandwiches, but not much more than that.) The other spices don't stand out very much, but they're a great back up choir to the pepper's lead. And I love the slight sparkle and crunch from the Demerara.


alpharaposa: (micahicon)
The cub pack had a cookout at a local park Tuesday evening that ended early due to a thunderstorm. We stayed out under the pavilion for a while, watching the storm, but finally scampered home once the tornado sirens came on.

I've been kind of brain dead this week for some reason. I've been fiddling around in Terraria when I haven't had the brain power to write or do other things. Here, look!
screenshots )

My Kashi cereal came with carrot seeds. We finished off the box this morning, so I bought a couple of containers and planted the seeds with the cubs' help this afternoon.

We're up to five strawberry plants in the little pot we started in early April. They all have one set of true leaves now! I think that's all I'm getting, but I'm happy about them. I think I'm enjoying watching them grow more than the cubs are, though. God has been diligent about watering our plants regularly, so we haven't needed to fuss over them much.

Bored? Bioware had a goose nest on one of their buildings, so they set up a goose cam. It comes with dramatic music while you watch a goose sit on a nest. (Baby goslings hatched today, so if you're lucky, you might see more than just momma.) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VPfdDqQADiw
alpharaposa: (micahicon)
I was getting ready for the day when I checked my phone and saw an alert from Google calendar. [livejournal.com profile] aefenglommung and I had a meeting we'd forgotten about. We got everybody together in short order. Things went well in spite of our tardiness.

The drive there and back was beautiful. We have reached the stage of spring in Indiana where the redbuds are still in full bloom, the dogwoods have opened up, but the woods are still only just beginning to leaf out so you can still see through them. The countryside is full of slashes of bright green and little clouds of purple and snowy white. This is the weekend to go hunt mushrooms, if you know a good place for morels. In a few more weeks, the green will overwhelm everything else and the underbrush will be too thick to wade through.

Mayapples are just beginning to come up, too.

We ate lunch after the meeting at a little local diner in the town of Judah. By the time we got home, everybody was tired and napped.

Older cub has been eating like a wolf lately. Must be growing, or getting ready to.

My back is sore today. I'm resting it some and took some ibuprofen. I suspect the flipflops I've been wearing this past week. I love them, but my back hasn't been quite as resilient ever since my c-section with younger cub. I may have to give them up.
alpharaposa: (micahicon)
Hubby's birthday was yesterday and now we're the same age again! We went out, just the two of us, and had lunch at Olive Garden, and then dropped by a local game store to oogle the board games and RPGs. Ended up picking up a copy of Feng Shui 2, which is a tabletop RPG based on Hong Kong action flicks.

We flipped through the rules yesterday, and sat down to make characters and play this afternoon. It took ten minutes to get my character ready, and half that was thinking up my "melodramatic hook" and explaining it to the GM. My brother wrote up a character, too, and then we were off and running! I went to a museum to track down a contact, found him dead, and chased after a murderer who literally flew out the window to escape (but not before hitting him with a couple of bullets). We called the short session after the bad guy got away, leaving us with a dead body and a mysterious attache case the bad guy was trying to steal. To be continued...

In other news, I finally enrolled my stories in The Young Lord's Servants series in KDP select. This means that the original draft of the first story is no longer available to be read on LiveJournal, but can be checked out from Amazon through their Lending Library (as well as the other two). This is something that I should have done earlier, but I just didn't have the mental energy to do the tidying up necessary for it before spring rolled around. So, if you have Amazon Prime, you can check them out before you buy!

(First one, Protectors of the Rice, available here.)

I stretched again today, and feel better for it. The cubs have been extra tired, and so have I. I wonder if we're fighting off a bug, or it's just that we're being more active with the good weather and tiring ourselves out faster. I guess I'll know for sure in a day or two.

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