Periodic Updates (10/31/15)

Life, Our Universe, and Pets:

The plan was for weekly updates, it really was.

Then again, it has been a fairly busy and complicated month.

Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta 2015 - Glowing Turtle

The turtle makes me think of a particular video game….

Mister Tea volunteered to work the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta.  I’m not sure how well known this particular Albuquerque event is, but I know that all the hotels in Albuquerque fill, and overflow out into the closest cities.  (A lifetime ago, when I worked in the hotel industry, it was our busiest time.  The hotels all sort of networked together so that everyone knew where the last remaining rooms in town were.  This might seem unsurprising, but I worked in one of the overflow cities.  60 miles away.)

Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta 2015 - Morning Balloons

The balloons made my morning commute incredible once a year.

It makes the early mornings very pretty, and the entire concept of ballooning is strangely uplifting.  (Pun not actually intended.)

However, this made for some really odd scheduling, especially of sleep, for the week it was running.  Some mornings we were up at 2am, and others we had to plan for being awake until midnight.

Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta 2015 - darth-yoda

Yes, the Fiesta does have Geek.

Mister Tea was also around children.  Children from all over.  We both like kids, we really do, but when you get a bunch of them in one place, all the nifty mini-area-plagues get to hang out and exchange information.  When they do this, what comes out of the mix is usually pretty amazing.  Mister Tea got sick, and even with everything we could throw at it (both herbally and pharmaceutically) it still turned into a nasty combination of bronchitis and sinusitis that knocked him out for over a week.  Then I got sick, too.

It hit me far more lightly, and it has only taken herbs to keep it light…  but what coughing does to my existing spinal problems is truly impressive.  Cough-cough-cough-hack-oops there go my legs-cough-hello floor-cough-cough.  It was definitely an Experience.

I am always grateful for Dulce, but she works overtime when I’m sick.

During this whole fiasco, our washing machine decided to die, which complicated Mister Tea having appropriate work clothes.  (There was a different uniform for the Fiesta, and we didn’t have the leeway to buy extras.)  The first technician figured out what was wrong, but he didn’t have the part.  In fact, no-one in Albuquerque or Santa Fe had the part.  It had to be mailed.  When the second technician arrived, it turned out they’d sent the WRONG part.  And he, again, did not have the part on his truck.  Props to Sears, however, as they had all the technicians inventory and check their trucks until they found the part.  Late in the day, since finding it took some time, the gent came back, and fixed our washing machine.  Which was nice, because Mister Tea was finally better enough at that point that I wanted to wash the ‘sick-room’ sheets and change out bedding to make it less likely he’d get sick again.


This would have been a far less dramatic problem if it were not for the MCS.  I can’t step into a laundromat, and we can’t wash our clothes in one anyway.  The machines pick up residue from the standard detergents, which then transfer to clothing, with results for me ranging from horrible itching and weird rashes to full-blown anaphylaxis.  Unfortunately, most machines in the houses of people we know would present the same problem.  It had been a long time since I’d tried washing clothes in a sink, and it is not something I am looking to repeat anytime soon.

One of the other things we discovered over the course of the Fiesta is that our dogs Do Not Like Change.  Change is (according to both dogs AND Mister Tea) Bad.  I’d known that they get twitchy when furniture gets moved around, even if it is only for a thorough vacuuming…  but I hadn’t expected sleep schedule shifts to effect them quite so intensely.  Getting them to eat required sour cream and other forms of bribery, and they were quite unhappy for the duration.  Even the kittens seemed a bit miffed.

Granted, the waking up at 2am wasn’t wonderful for the humans, either.  It happens with fair frequency for me, because sleep and I have never really gotten along well – but there is a large difference between waking at 2am because your brain hates you and waking up at 2am because you have to.  The latter doesn’t offer the option of pretending you have a chance of going back to sleep.

I worked the graveyard shift for quite some time, and Mister Tea did as well.  We both actually enjoyed it.  But the chunks of time for waking and sleeping were in very different places.  To properly work the 2am schedule we were trying to go to sleep right around the time the desperately tired from having gotten up so early faded into a strong second wind.

Suffice to say, it was a difficult week.

Hobbit Adventure image

Just as we were both starting to come enough out of the sick to no longer worry about spreading it around, we were able to visit with one of Mister Tea’s aunts.  We planned an excursion into the Outside World, and I was able to tag along whilst we introduced her to one of our favourite restaurants, discovered that a book shop we thought had died had re-emerged, and then wandered back home for tea and a few games of Munchkin.  It was a fun day.  She seemed to enjoy Munchkin enough that I’ve been trying to figure out if we could Skype-play card or board games together, now that she’s headed back to her own city.

Yes, that is actually Desert Sage in the toeshoes. Chickens, top to bottom - Marie, Frick, Frack, and Blackbeak.

Yes, that is actually Desert Sage in the toeshoes. Chickens, top to bottom – Marie, Frick, Frack, and Blackbeak.

We also built a new chicken coop.  (Weren’t quite feeling up to it, admittedly, but the cold weather is coming, and at least two of our chickens are not bred for managing that without decent shelter.  The original coop no longer qualified.)  Wonder of wonders, miracle of miracles, given it was an emergency “Um, this is the one we can sort of almost convince ourselves we can afford at the moment” choice, the instructions were quite manageable.  Even more surprising, all the parts were present and accounted for, and the bags containing screws and bolts were LABELED.  It was a nice experience, and the building only took a couple hours – rather than most of a day.  The chickens seem quite happy, and the coop is a better design on about all levels, for the chickens, and for the humans for cleaning.

And in the amazingly awesome, staggeringly wonderfully, extraordinarily lovely, ridiculously spectacular…  *pauses to take a breath* and quite good news category….  A good friend of mine managed healthcare hurdles and medical obstacles thrown in her way by our broken system, and delivered a beautiful and healthy baby boy on the day before Halloween.  So much glee.  So much relief.  Every time one of the pictures of him pops up in my Facebook feed, a beaming smile appears.  I think I’ve smiled more in the last 24 hours than I had in the year prior.

Baby Organism primary survival trait: Apocalyptic Levels of Cute!

Baby Organism primary survival trait: Apocalyptic Levels of Cute!

I love the fact that the joy you feel for others can be so deep and encompassing.  Emotions can be neat that way.

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

Squares By Geeks continues to create squares and blankets, and the con community has come together for more yarn circles.  There are more pictures, but I think I am going to separate out the work that is being done by the group into separate posts.

I’ve had some engaging conversations on Twitter these past weeks.  That long ago taken quiz may actually have been right.  I am finding myself to enjoy the platform.  I doubt I’m using it ‘properly’ for the business, but from what I’ve read, I’m not entirely sure I’d want to.  Most of the advice seems to involve taking a lot of the personality out, and looking for quantity, rather than quality, of followers and followees.  For the moment I am quite happy with my somehow-mostly-involved-with-writing lists of people, and will continue to figure it out as I go along.

One of those conversations put the final spark of impetus into finishing another Etsy treasury, focused on the concept of ‘The Spoon Theory‘ and the experience of chronic pain.  There was, of course, a blog post.

I’m also managing to find a great deal of amusement in some of the spam comments that try to end up on our posts.  “Free Dogs for Allergy Sufferers” proclaimed one, and there’s a persistent series of bots speaking to how “inspiring” our posts about some of our teas are.  They seem particularly taken with “Fever-B-Gone,” for reasons I can’t fathom.  Even the ones that are not just a complete gobbledy-gook of random words that occasionally almost manage to string into comprehensible sentences…   are pretty easy to spot.

Teas, Cocoas, and Coffees (Oh My!)

We’ve actually made quite a lot of progress in the world of our hot beverages this month.

The pomegranate cocoa is close enough to done that the task of naming it is being batted around in our tea naming group – mythological references abound.  The Chocolate Apricot Caravan tea has been tested by she-who-inspired it, named, and batch-sized, and one of the smaller goals for this weekend is taking the pictures so I can finally introduce it to you properly.

Chai Tea Samples Angled Front

One of our ongoing projects this month, and the one prior, has been to finally update our gift and sample set listings.  We finished compiling the Browncoat sets for fans of Firefly/Serenity, we also finished off the ones for our ridiculous number of Chai tea blends.  I’m about a third of the way through working up the sets for our chocolate teas, so those will be appearing slowly over the next week or so.

We listed ‘Sleepy Hollow Spice‘ – our pumpkin spice coffee.  Fair decadent in a percolator.  Fans of the flavour should rejoice, as we do not believe in artificial scarcity, and will be offering it year-round.

I also acted on a suggestion from Twitter and added a different method of joining our ‘Tea of the Month‘ Club.  There is now a monthly subscription option.  We also created a basic survey to allow us to properly zero in on the right teas for you.

Our primary plan for this weekend is to dry several pounds of limes, so that our Wibbley Wobbley teas can return, and so we can get pictures of all of our Whovian Blends grouped together.  It is our primary plan because there will not be a lot of time for much else.  (It takes many hours, much patience, and quite a lot of manual labour to slice, dice, and dry 3 pounds of limes.  It also requires no power being used in the kitchen beyond the refrigerator for most of a day.  Warm food will be problematic.)

Entertainment:  The Final Frontier

Sadly, neither Mister Tea nor I have read much this past sequence.  During the downtime, there wasn’t actually enough energy, or there were headaches that made close focus bad or…

We did both manage some, though.

103115 - Book Pile

We both read and enjoyed Jim Butcher’s ‘Skin Game,’ the most recent addition to the Dresden series.  There was a particular sequence that tickled our geek-ness quite well.  Stepping carefully around any full-on spoilers, if you liked Butters and have fallen behind, you should catch up just to see where his story goes.

The most recent volume of David Weber’s Safehold arrived in the mail, and Mister Tea devoured it.  I have not as yet.  Which he wishes me to correct as soon as possible, so we can discuss it.  During one of our not-caffeinated-enough-yet morning conversations we decided that the planet of Safehold is made of Australia….  only worse.  One of the highlights of the wildlife is wasps – that aim for the eyes.

I have not yet gotten to the book for two reasons.  The first being I know I need to set aside most of a day.  The series is engaging, and I am deep enough into it, and the world, that it will be dreadfully hard to put it down at all once I have started.  The second is that Mister Tea decided I needed an early birthday present and brought home the first three compendiums of The Walking Dead comics.  It was especially timely, given the most recent episode of the TV series.  Almost as soon as Hardwick had finished the post-episode therapy session I wanted to delve back into the comics, so I could compare and contrast the storylines again.

Guild Wars 2 Logo

One of the other interesting things that came out of Twitter was a new MMORPG.  One of the ladies I follow does livestreams of a variety of different games.  I’m actually curious to see/hear how that kind of thing works, as I have never watched one.  Unfortunately, so far, I’ve generally run myself completely out of capacity to sit at my desk by the time she is streaming.  Anyway, she mentioned GW2, and how much fun she was having with it.  A brief discussion led to the discovery that we are both completists, especially in the sense of- “Must explore all the map!” – and, additionally, that the game might be something that could be played casually.

We do miss our FFXIV, but it is not a game that can be played casually.  With every new expansion, the skill level needed rises, and we’ve gotten rusty.  With Mister Tea’s current ‘real job’ schedule (he works 10 hour shifts 4 days a week) and the number of huge long-term projects I need to deal with for Desert Sage Natural, we do not have the time we would need to play seriously enough to advance in the story.

We’ve had a lot of fun with GW2 so far, and the way it is designed, we haven’t run into the issues we have with most of the other MMORPGs we’ve played.  I’m enjoying it and I definitely thank @Leotastic for reminding me of its existence.  (GuildWars was one of the few ‘majors’ that we hadn’t tried out.)

Last Cutscene

For the final thought this time, I want to touch lightly on the cycles of life, and the interconnectedness of it.

Gravestone Dash Image

More years ago than I really feel like thinking about at the moment, Mister Tea’s Gramma D passed.  She was a good friend, a formidable woman, and positively touched most of the lives she interacted with.  While she was sick, and after she died, I was the point of contact and updates and information for many of the people who had known her.  I’d known she was a wonderful human being before acting as that nexus, but speaking to others about her life made it even more certain.

As with any death, dates associated with the person now only in memory and dream became a little painful.  A twinge when thinking about what would have happened near a particular day.

Yesterday was her birthday.

It is now also the birthday of a new small person who has a good family with lots of love – a family that I know will give him a solid foundation in person-hood.  His mom, particularly,  is an inspiring sort of individual…  though, full disclosure, I may be a touch biased in that assessment.  (He will also be well-loved by Good Dogs, and I am of the opinion that such exposure is a Very Good Thing.)

Gramma D would be quite happy to share.  And Mister Tea and I can now celebrate the life of someone we still grieve, and the life of the child of a dear friend, on the same day.

And whether you view it as a continuance, one generation to the next – or as the potentiality of a spirit keeping a partial eye on things – or as the miraculous truth within the science…  it is awe-inspiring, and a comfort.

Marcus Aurelius on Life and Death

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  1. Pingback: Rollercoaster Life: The Good, The Bad, and The Spoonie (04/11/2017) – Desert Sage Natural

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