Periodic Updates (09/04/15)

This entry is part 5 of 13 in the series Periodic Updates

Life, Our Universe, and Pets:

Life still seems to be moving fairly fast.  Not sure if this is because of the new schedule, or because of the relative productivity we’ve managed, or something else I’ve not thought of. The days have been sailing by.

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The most notable event of this past bit was our new Fedex Ninja.  Generally, Domino and Dulce notice when someone approaches the house.  They do not sing out, per se, in all the loud glory of the canine warning of axe-murderer – but they do generally become watchful, and Dulce will move to the gate that leads to the front room.  Hard not to notice, really.  She’s stealthy, but something her size moving in your peripheral vision is eye-catching.

No dog warning.  Suddenly package on porch when I stepped out to post orders.  Even more surprising, these were supply packages, so they were not tiny.

Social Media and the Internet:  From SHINY! to the RNG hates me

It disturbs me on a level that the internet quiz I took so long ago was right, and that Twitter is mildly fascinating to me.  Not sure yet if it is the right medium for our business goals and efforts, but it certainly is interesting.

I am still finding tons of book recommendations – which is both positive and negative, given the stacks and lists already around.  Also finding more and more interesting people, though I will have to put a cap on that at some point, given time constraints.  Not sure if it is standard to try to scroll back through your feed and read all the things you have missed, but I do try.

Beyond that, Twitter has been a surprisingly effective window to things going on in the world, and for that I am grateful.  Even better, for every event that chills me or disgusts me or makes me wonder if we actually deserve to survive as a species, something else shows up that reminds me that we can shine with a brilliance that balances the depths of sludge which we are also capable of.

There has been a lot of news about refugees this week.  I’ve seen poisonous posts that have made me cringe, and I have seen calls to action, because human beings deserve compassion.  My little brother spoke on Facebook about how the morning papers at the hotel he works at made him sick to the point of wanting to be rid of them…  until he took a few moments to process and think.  His takeaway from the image of a toddler drowned on a beach was a desire to find a way to change the world for the better, in the hopes that these horrid things that happen can be halted.

There are ways to donate money.  There are also ways to donate care and time.

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One of the things that touched me this week was this post by Emma Newman.  She speaks quite eloquently of things that I understand.  I could ramble at length about it, but I think I will just point at her words for that part, and make my original point regarding her post.

It never ceases to amaze me how communities can come together to make something good happen.  This is true of neighborhoods, or religious groups, of….  all of the myriad groups humans create to have a sense of tribe and belonging.

However, the fact that those of us who geek are one of those communities makes me happy.  The stereotype remains, in some quarters, that those who have something they are deeply attached to, whether it be a video game, a series of books, a particular TV show or movie franchise…  are incapable of pulling their heads out of that world and paying attention to anything going on in the real one.  Over and over again, this has been proven wrong.

I’m going to check and see if I have any appropriate yarn that can be used for the cause, and then see what I can craft before winter arrives.

Teas, Cocoas, and Coffees (Oh My!)

Before shifting into more light hearted news in our corner of the hot beverage world, I do want to take a moment to mention our ChariTeas.  Our ‘I Will Survive‘ donates to RAINN and our ‘Jerry Cordial‘ to Roadrunner Food Bank, and our ‘Bonnie’s Blessing‘ to MitoAction.

Shifting gears in 5…4…3…2…

First thing that should be mentioned is the alacrity and trustworthiness of two of our suppliers.  I’ve spoken previously about stock checks in progress, and how far we’d fallen behind in our tracking of what we had on hand due to the chaos of the year.  We’ve taken care of everything immediately needed, but two of our suppliers delivered days and days before expected.  If you need dried or freeze-dried fruit or vegetabless or other longterm foodstuffs, North Bay Trading Company has become our favorite supplier in that category.  Similarly, EcoEnclose is the best answer we have found for environmentally friendly packaging, from boxes to tape to labels.  Their boxes are also incredibly durable, allowing for less stress when we are shipping overseas.

Gift Set Diagonal Array

Since we finally restocked some of our supplies, we were able to take photos of two new teas, as well as our Firefly, Chocolate, and Chai gift sets and samplers.  Sigh of relief that we will have those ready for any holiday shopping interest you may have.  Listing them is one of the top priorities for the upcoming week.

Entertainment:  The Final Frontier

Quite a lot has happened for this topic, which is strange, as I haven’t really felt like I’d managed to find this much downtime.

In news of books, Mister Tea continues to gather all the time he can to continue through the Safehold series.  He has reached the last that is currently available, and would be sad about it, but for the arrival of the most recent Change novel by SM Stirling a few days ago.

My own reading ranged around a little bit, though not as far as is sometimes the case.  One of my current house organization projects is to make sure I work through some of my to-be-read boxes.  Yes.  Boxes.  Some people have piles, some people have shelves – I have boxes AND shelves AND piles.

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The first book I retrieved this week was one that dealt with a concept that has confused me for my entire life.  Irrational hate.  Unreasoning hate.  Hate without personal attachment.  The destructive societal scale hate that is persistent in our history as a species, and has been the cause of more pain and loss, I would guess, than any other singular emotion.  My difficulty with this was the reason I originally started studying WWII, and informs much of my study overall.  The book was Edwidge Danticat’s ‘The Farming of Bones,’ and had been a required read for one of Mister Tea’s Honors English classes.  When he saw that I had finally brought it into the “currently reading” stack next to our backdoor, he winced a little.  He said it was an excellent book, but intensely depressing.

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He was correct on both counts.  It deals with a part of the world and history that I do not know as much about as I feel I should, and I will probably be looking for more.  (Dominican Republic/Haiti, circa the 1930’s.)  Well worth reading, if your heart can take it.

The second of the books I retrieved was Anne McCaffrey’s ‘Black Horses for the King.’  It had been added due to an avid love of her Pern series when I was a teenager, which led to wanting to read everything she had ever written.  I’d avoided this particular title for many years, as it was classed as “Young Adult.”  Generally I expect these to be intensely light and quick reads, and that is rarely what I am looking for.  However, in the brain aftermath of ‘The Farming of Bones,’ I wanted something a bit less intense as a salve.  Her take on a piece of the Arthurian legend was interesting, and the part of me that will never cease being horse-mad was quite happy with the tale overall.

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The last of the books I read this week came from a different to-be-read location.  Mister Tea’s mentor for stage design had sent home a bag of books for me to read, as well as some movies to watch.  He understood how frustrating being mostly housebound must be, and wanted to add some ideas for relaxation.  I’d never heard of Guy Gavriel Kay (that I recall) before that bag arrived.  Having now finished ‘The Summer Tree,’ I’m glad this discrepancy in my reading-verse was rectified.  He combines a fantastical world with modern (ish) transplants beautifully.  The second book in this series was found and ordered, and I am now waiting with as much patience as I can muster.  (Serves me right for starting a trilogy without having all the books available on hand.)

I was also finally able to act on some of the reading suggestions Twitter has given me.  Peter Newman’s ‘The Vagrant’ and Emma Newman’s ‘Planetfall’ are also in the list of books causing ‘Patience, how long does that take!” with the mail.  I am looking forward to finding out what the minds behind Tea & Jeopardy do when writing books.

The next part of the year is an excellent one for couch and blankets and fire and books and tea, and I want to make sure Mister Tea and I are well-prepared.

Last Cutscene

One of the threads that links our history and our fiction is the bundle of contradictions we are as a species.  Whether you are looking at it in the smaller scale of your own internal landscape, the midrange of your group of friends, or the larger vistas of community, country, and world entire – there will be examples of the best and worst that we are capable of, as well as large sections that seem relatively “meh.”

I believe that one of the reasons we create stories is to explore and attempt to explain this basic truth.  However, as much as I do deeply enjoy the stories of the heroes saving the world, it bears remembering that sometimes acts that seem incredibly small can bring light and hope and joy and solace.

I know, that even just within the breadth of my own experience, there are people who remember me for actions and words that didn’t seem altering or staggering, they were just the right thing to do in that place and that time and for that person.

So, even if what you can do to try to alter something awful that you see in the world seems like a minuscule effort, remember that every little bit helps.  Accepting that the statement is a bit cliche, ripples can become waves.  Knit a singular square for a blanket, and trust that enough other people will do the same that there will be a whole one.  Donate, if you can, as much as seems feasible.  It will add up.

Outside of the larger scale tragedies, my life was quite literally saved once by the kind words of a complete stranger.  Nothing earth-shaking, if you just heard the words, but it was basic human kindness, and in the right moment, that is more powerful than I can properly express.

Until next time….

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