Periodic Updates (10/03/15)

Life, Our Universe, and Pets:

Ever had a chunk of time where you feel incredibly busy and yet also like you are not accomplishing enough of anything?  While more time flits by then you are aware of?


That’s been the past bit for me.  To a lesser extent I think Mister Tea has felt similarly.

I was a little embarrassed at how long it had been since I’d posted an update.

We did manage to get the jungle-yard of doom under control.  There has also been progress in the world of tasty hot beverages.  But it has felt a bit scattershot and not enough.

Fall is here, and while I love the season – our chickens are on strike.  We are either going to have to change our standard breakfast or…  *gasps*  …  actually BUY eggs.  Not exactly a huge issue, I know, but even the best quality we can purchase falls far short of what our chickens gift us with.  We can’t really blame them, though.  I am glad I will never experience molting, as seeing the process causes sympathy pangs.

I had thought to take pictures…  but I don’t think our chickens would approve of archival data of their current appearances.  Especially Blackbeak.  So I shall respect their dignity.  Just imagine porcupine quills being pushed out from the inside and you will have a decent idea of what they are going through right now.

The existence of our chickens has helped with one of the strangely neat things about the fall season, however.  We have a row of huge junipers in our backyard, with an interior structure that is apparently perfect for birds.  For weeks our trees were an oddly pleasing cacophonous chorus of birds.  They’d settle into the juniper trees, pop down to share the chicken food, dart about when the chickens indicated they didn’t want to share…  It felt like we were a central migration rest-stop.  Fun to watch and hear.

I’m looking forward to the regrowth of all the feathers, not just for the sake of the peace of mind of our chickens and return to egg production.  Watching them wander around is less relaxing when they look half-plucked and peevish.

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

Borrowed from Emma Newman with permission.

Borrowed from Emma Newman with permission.

Best thing about social media lately has been the progress of ‘Squares by Geeks.’  You may remember that I linked a post by Emma Newman a bit back, where she spoke to the refugees from Syria.  People have been posting pictures of the squares they’ve been making for the project she began.

Most recently Emma spread her glee at what had arrived at Bristolcon all over her social media.  It was brilliant and beautiful and heartening.

See above note.

See above note.

Not everything arrived for that convention.  She’s going to continue gathering and sewing together the squares at Octocon and Fantasycon as well.

Even more impressively, not all the gathering and pieceing-together-work is being handed off to Emma.  A number of those yarn-working for this have other (albeit smaller) piles of things that they are working up themselves, or are acting as collection points for a particular area.

One of the things this project has been doing is giving light to the people involved.  A side-effect, granted, but a lovely one.  Almost every day Facebook tells me someone has posted something to the “Squares by Geeks” Facebook group, and each one is a reminder that humanity and compassion can exist in tandem.

Given the horrid things happening all over the world, both small scale and large scale, these reminders are important.

If you’d like to get involved, there’s a bookshop noted in Emma’s original post to which you can send squares.  Additionally, if you are in the US and want to assist, I’m willing to wrangle things on this side of the ocean.

Chronic Pain - 10000-spoons-poster

The other thing that struck me over the past weeks is that the internet gives me the opportunity to interact with people within  a community that I hadn’t ever really thought about looking for.

A tweet led me to looking for ideas for tattoos involving spoons.  (I’ve spoken about the Spoon Theory often enough before that I won’t go into length about it right now.)  I found a couple of YouTube videos put together showcasing all the tatts people have chosen.  I’m not ashamed to admit that I actually teared up a bit, watching them, though I was mildly confused by it.  Mister Tea theorized something about “not feeling so alone.”

I hadn’t really thought about it before.  I’m not alone in facing my particular variation of chronic-broken-pain-body.  I have some amazing friends, and Mister Tea is incredibly supportive and patient.

Chronic Pain - I feel so alive right now

However, I rarely have the opportunity to talk to or interact with people facing similar things.  There’s a particular level of understanding that only comes when you are living something as grindingly constant.  There are also things that are part of your normal that you don’t have to try to figure out how to explain.

I’ve never met someone with a Spoonie tattoo, but I am considering integrating spoons into some of the tattoo concepts that have been in my mind for years.  Eventually I may even get around to getting one.

Teas, Cocoas, and Coffees (Oh My!)

Hit something that felt like a milestone regarding our teas last week.  We’ve created enough ‘Simply Tasty‘ teas blends that the labels were starting to destroy the hanging folder they were in.  Having to separate them out into two folders made me happy.  (Our medicinal tea labels are currently taking up three folders.)  These are the sorts of hallmarks that occur when everything is done in house.

In more straight-forward beverage news, we did list a couple of new teas.  Steve’s Three-Alarm Zen is one of our ChariTeas – created in memory of a good man.  SereniTea:  Hummingbird’s Haven joins our array of teas for helping to combat anxiety and depression.

We also realized that since we make coffees now, we should probably create a pumpkin spice coffee to go along with the teas and cocoa.  We’re in the last stages of experimentation.  The blend is done, we just haven’t tested it with a percolator yet.  We have decided on a name, and ‘Sleepy Hollow Spice’ should be available soon.

Beyond that it has mostly been paperwork.  Still working on databases,  rebuilding the files for all of our labels, experimenting with catalogs, etc….  I did finally create another Etsy treasury, and blogged about it.

Haven’t had as much time to give to actually playing with tea and tastes lately.  Perhaps this upcoming week.

On a really happy note, the Apricot Caravan Chocolate tea of happiness will be able to be tested by she who inspired it soon.  More news once we have it.

Entertainment:  The Final Frontier

There has been a decent amount of reading these past weeks.  I have had a number of “need to distract myself from lack of functionality” days, and a good way to do so is to crawl into a good book and live there for a while.


I have finally caught up with Mister Tea and am in the “waiting for the next book” stage of reading with SM Stirling’s Change series.  (Consumed ‘The Given Sacrifice’, ‘The Golden Princess’, and ‘The Desert and The Blade.’)    I continue to enjoy it immensely, and love the fact that he is applying the aftermath to other parts of the world.  I was especially interested in the way he dealt with the sword and how it translates other languages/gifts them to its bearer.  I know a decent amount of Japanese, and the way he explained the difference between the approach to the two languages felt right.

The author Mister Tea’s mentor introduced me to also took some time.  I finished Guy Gavriel Kay’s Fionavar series.  (‘The Wandering  Fire’ and ‘The Darkest Road.’)  Intense.  During the last 100 pages or so of the third book much moisture came out of my eyes.  Mister Tea has also finished the series, now, and begged off dinner a couple of nights ago due to needing to finish the last book of the series first.

I also checked in with Weber’s Honor Harrington series, and read the most recent book – ‘Cauldron of Ghosts.’  I miss Honor, I freely admit that, but I have been enjoying the other worlds and other characters and other focuses.  Hoping to hear some snippet of news about the continuance of one side or another of this universe soon.

Peter Newman’s ‘The Vagrant’ was impressive.  I’d been mildly worried that I would have keyed myself up too much for the book.  I’ve gotten a lot of solace, amusement, and interesting thought from Tea & Jeopardy – and pounced on the opportunity to read books by the creators of that particular podcast.  I was not disappointed.  Thankfully I had headed into the book with one singular expectation.  I assumed it would be good.

One of the parts of my definition of ‘good book’ is one where there comes a point where you cannot (if you have any option whatsoever) put it down.  This happened with ‘The Vagrant’ far earlier than I am used to, and I barely got up even to get water afterwards.

Dulce was mildly annoyed.  Her head held up the hardcover for me for a bit.  She is a very patient puppy.

He wove several threads of redemption and personal evolution and hope into his darker canvas.  With great skill.  Somehow both my inner cynic and my inner optimist were made happy by the words in those pages.  I highly recommend it.  I was delighted to discover there will be a sequel, and I will be ordering that as soon as it is possible to do so.


This image explains why Mister Tea has a tendency to snag the books he wants to read before they disappear into my post-reading ether.

In high school I had a teacher who assigned ORLJ’s.  These were “Outside Reading Literary Journals.”  You read, and then you wrote a journal entry.  I had collected quotes from books prior to that class….  Hepburn just turned it into a very regimented habit.  The post-its mark the quotes I want to collect and ramble about.

I am grateful this week for all the gloriously talented people who give me words to read and small rectangular gateways to world I can explore.

There are several bits of commentary in abeyance regarding visual entertainment and games, but since I try to keep these posts under a certain wordcount, those will have to continue to wait.

Last Cutscene

For the closing this time, I think I am going to focus on gratitude.

I don’t speak to it enough, and it is an important emotion to remember, because the things that provoke it are the things that help with the day to day battles of life.

I am grateful that no matter how broken my body is on a given day, my mind still functions quite well.  I can still create, I can still learn, I can still enjoy the craft of others.  I’ve had nightmares about dementia in all its forms since I was old enough to have the concepts explained to me.  I think I could handle anything shy of ‘Johnny Got His Gun’ as long as my mind was still intact.

A corollary to that is I am grateful for all the amazing talents out there who share their gifts with others.  A good book or an engaging game or…  these are things that add to my reality.  Hard to express how princely a gift it is to be taken away to another place or time or world for a bit.

I am grateful that the internet exists.  There is a window there to knowledge, and to friends I never would have made if I was locked into the area travel would allow.  Granted, it is also a window to the worst parts of humanity and to misinformation, but it also gives the option to see the humans at their best.  Some of my closest friends are people I can only interact with online, and my life would be lessened without them.

Social media anxiety aside, there is good to be found there, and more of it than I would ever have thought possible.

I have friends, I have family, I have a ‘job’ that I love, a partner who challenges and supports me, and a never-ending opportunity for positive engagement and thought.

Life is good.

Chronic Pain - What you do with what's left

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