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Rustycon went really well for me, especially considering half the other panelists were out sick. Though I didn't have to do any on my own, so phew. I was -heh- draggin' by Sunday, though we managed to keep it interesting, I think.

Drawing dragons was the one I was worried about. Two of the artists were missing, the other one was injured, and the other did cartoon lookin' ones. We all managed to contribute fairly equally and I wasn't as rusty as I thought, so WIN!

Attendance was light. I was part of two kids workshops where they hopefully didn't learn any new words from me, anyway. That was fun. The second one had more adults working on stuff. Shannon Marie brought a ton of supplies. I imagine ALL the kids will have wind of it next year if she dares do it again.

Every convention I have panels at, I think "I'm gonna take it easy, maybe a beer or two and I'll sack out early..."

"Is that Parrot Bay Rum?"

Next thing I know it's 4AM and Mike is shooing the stragglers out.

Really, without the room parties and dear friends to drink and talk with it's basically a really weird business meeting for me.

Since then there was a 5AM drive to Olympia to attend and testify at a senate hearing for SJM8015. I looked like bigfoot coming out of the woods on the footage. "Want Republic! Big money in politics bad! Rarr!"

It's looking like that'll happen again next week for HJM4000. I've been pretty much breathing Wolf PAC I'm hoping I can get some time to see my Oly friends & little Brother this time instead of having to drive people back to their respective park & rides. Though the more people we can get at these hearings, the better. More on that when the dust clears, or when I need y'all to call your legislators. *puppy eyes*

Rustycon Panels

Oh Gawd.

So here's the list of panels I'm on at Rustycon:

Friday
3:00pm Create Super Hero Gauntlets and Bracelets(for kids)
6:00pm What is Art?
7:00pm Drawing Dragons

Saturday
1:00pm Write Your Own Story (for kids)
4:00pm Fantasy Art 303 (Elves, Dwarves & Denizens)
5:00pm Writing flash fiction
7:00pm The Evolution of Fairy Tales & Folk Lore
8:00pm How to make an eBook

Sunday
12:00pm Color Pencil a Dynamic Medium
2:00pm Fantasy Art 404 (Villains, Monsters & Beasts)
3:00pm Behind the scenes - Convention Running

I will be joined by other panelists, most of whom will be more experienced or qualified than I on the topics. I getta do workshops for kids. Muahahaha. Anyway, hopefully the rest of the week I'll be doing as much research as I can for these to make them as entertaining as possible. Yikes.

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Depression and Everyone Else

Your brain is an asshole.

Hear me out, because this is REALLY important.

Your brain will wait until you're tired or not feeling good or you lose or mess something up. Then YOUR brain will try to tell you what other people are thinking. It's LYING. It will tell you they don't like you or they don't care or they don't want you around or that they think you're crazy or useless or stupid.

It's bullshit.

If you're sensitive or an empath or psychic, it lies LOUDER, it's worse for you, because you're used to that intuition and you listen to it, because when you're doing well, it's right. That's why your brain is an asshole, because you trust it. You have to, everything you do and see and hear and feel filters through it and it fing LIES to you.

You do not know what other people are thinking unless you up and ask them and they tell you. No really. You might be intuitive and clever when you don't have an emotional investment in a situation, but when you're with new people or rude people or depressed?! That fucker is going to tell you people hate you, that they're disappointed in you, that you're a pain in the butt and that they're judging you and you are found wanting.

It's all bullshit.

If they don't have their own brains distracting them, they have plenty of things going on, and if they ARE thinking of you, they're probably hoping you're OK.

So next time your brain tries to tell you what someone else is thinking, tell it to

Shut. The. Fuck. Up.

Because no one likes to be misquoted, and if someone accuses you of thinking something you're not, especially if they accused you of thinking negatively about them? How annoyed would YOU be? That's what part of your brain is doing to other people. You aren't that person and they aren't thinking that.

Why are they acting weird or avoiding you? Probably because their brain is telling them the same bullshit.

So next time you think "They don't like me." or "They don't want me around." It's the part of your brain that's responsible for depression and selfishness and probably a lot of bad decisions. Tell it to shut the fuck up and walk in like you own the place and you were invited, because you were.

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The Possum.

Perhaps I'm supposed to call it an "opossum" but I don't think it's Irish.

Four years ago I made the grim discovery of a headless chicken. She had been roosting in the corner of the coop and something had reached through the bars of the kennel, grabbed her and ate her head, her scream woke me up. The distinctive footprints made it fairly clear a member of Didelphis virginiana had been present. THAT animal was endangered. Don put aluminum sheets around the base of the coop and I encouraged the dogs to patrol the area; my partner and I both marked the area- yes, that's exactly what you think.

I had come running out to hear the cat hissing and yowling in the middle of the night with my sword, ready to defend against a cougar, only to see one of these critters ambling off into the bushes, throwing me an accusatory glare before disappearing into the blackberries.

It was a couple years before I saw another possum, it was huge and living under the house. It would come out, check for cat food and go do other things, none of them involving the chickens. The cat would occasionally throw down with it, but usually ignored the animal.

Recently there's been a small one in the chicken coop, maybe a quarter the size of the beaver-sized monster under the house (perhaps an offspring of the monster?).

I've caught it on the feeder it four times now, lazily feasting on the chicken feed.
"EXCUSE ME. Piss off!" is my standard greeting.

Being that it is smaller than my smallest chicken and leaves the birds unmolested, I haven't made any real attempt to cause it harm, though chicken food isn't free so while I'm usually delighted by wildlife, it is unwelcome in the coop. I was worried about it eating the eggs but I lucked out on that front.

I found an egg that had been removed from a nesting box with teeth marks on it. The possum -I'll admit evidence is circumstantial- had taken one of the eggs, realized the best it could get out of the lovely spherical things in the boxes were splinters, and left them alone after that.

For those of you who don't have chickens, I put wooden eggs in the nesting boxes to encourage the hens to lay there. Some people use golf balls, but anyway, the wooden eggs help discourage the hens from laying on the ground or worse, when they're out for the day in the yard.

I came upon the possum again tonight, walked INTO to coop, turned on the light, and only then did it nonchalantly make an exit. This time I saw where it was getting out and blocked up the hole, I'll do a more thorough job when it's light and preferably not raining.

SNP Alex Salmond on Daesh

I'm listening to the debates on UK intervention in Syria. Scottish National Party leader Alex Salmond's testimony stood out, I couldn't find a transcript, so I took it down myself:

"For ONE of our fast smart bombs we could have a whole squadron of people taking down their websites and stopping the communication of people who are contaminating the mind of young people across western Europe and the rest of the world."

... Interruption of the financial resources without which this evil cult could not function, when I've asked the prime minister about this he tells me it's sitting on a committee. For two years, NOTHING. Little or nothing has been done to interrupt the flow of funds, to identify and stop the financial institutions without which Daesh could not have lifted a finger against us or anyone else."

And finally I will say this: We are being asked to intervene in a bloody civil war of huge complexity, we're being asked to do it without an exit strategy or no reasonable means of saying we're going to make a difference. We should NOT give the prime minister that permission. "


So yeah. Someone who isn't lining his pockets with defense contractor money, you won't find any of those people here in the US.

You can interrupt communication or you can spy on them, but ultimately air strikes are going to be heavy on civilian loss, and create more enemies for the West.

Disruption of communication, not so much. Even better would be to hijack their lines of communication, indicate the fighting is winding down and gradually change the tone of their message. It galls me to suggest this, as I think the internet needs to be a bastion of free speech and ideas, but if it's saving lives and preventing Daesh from recruiting, it should at least be on the table. Financial institutions and finding sources... is there even any controversy there? Shut their accounts down, NOW.

With two defense lobbyists for every congressperson in this country, there isn't much you could do to convince me that any violence perpetrated by the US military or especially government paid contractors is necessary or justified. There are a lot of nonlethal alternatives that should be considered first. Else the US needs to just stay the hell out of it, the MIC played a big part in creating this mess at great expense to us, and asking them to fix it is like asking cancer to cure cancer.

Squash, Writing, and General Update.

Really, Sarah, every two weeks, update this thing.

For dinner we had squash. Just cut in half and baked with butter, brown sugar and bacon. I never liked squash until I discovered that one could use it as a vehicle for food and condiments that aren't good for you, this was lovely. I don't even know what kind of squash it was, I planted a bunch of seeds that I'd saved from last year's food crimes, it said "acorn squash" on the bag, but I think it cross-pollinated with the pumpkins, so yeah, here's to eating stuff you can't identify.

The cistern is full again, which means yay! Water! The guy living in the house said someone had got sick off of it, which considering it sat there for three months without being used... yeah. So we put a bunch of bleach in the cistern, it seems to have worked it's way through and I would trust what's in there at this point, especially now that it doesn't smell like bleach. The landlord said he was going to have a well dug, but when... ? Anytime between next week and when he moves back onto the property in ten years. Anyway, Yay! Showers! and Yay! Not having to make five trips to the creek and back to water the chickens!

Writing. Had another request for a sequel to Brede. I calculated the time v. money I put into it and I made exactly half that of an East Indian wage slave, but I think when it's time I won't have much of a choice, the story just lodged in my head and wouldn't go away. I've got a few scenes written and some ideas knocking around, I just need a cohesive plot. It's been almost a year since I started on the last one. No, I don't do NaNoWriMo; I won't force it, especially since I have other stuff that needs doing and now to Thanksgiving is it, then we get into the {{dead season}} where it's hard to get work until about March.

Anyway, speaking of other stuff that needs doing...

Becky The Chicken

Two Russian Orloffs, named after my Mom. Becky was one of the first batch of chickens that Bobbie brought home 5 1/2 years ago. Mom asked me to name one of the chickens after her, there were two Russian Orloffs, and not being able to tell the difference between the two chicks, named both of them Becky.

Both grew up to be relatively fearless and fierce. One of the Beckys had a twisted toe, so almost every day we would take her in and splint it, brace it, etc. trying to straighten it. This didn't work, but in the meantime Becky became the tamest of all the chickens.

Her sister, known as "Boss Becky" was attacked by a hawk one day, Pete (human) and Velocirooster (Monstrous Autsralorp) went running to help her. Boss Becky ran and hid. We found her with blood all over her head and neck, but after close examination only found a small cut on her neck. Trying to imagine how or where it had been distributed so well, we realized with dawning pride that the blood was not, in fact, hers. Anyway, Boss Becky eventually faded away a couple years later over a few days peacefully in the bathtub.

Leaving us with "Twisted Toe Becky" who became just "Becky". Becky was more like a dog, she would come when you called (though you had better have food if you wanted her to do it a second time), sit outside the door and beg, occasionally peck to be let in.

We did let Becky inside once in awhile, to feed her oats or let her clean up whatever was on the floor. She knew not to poop in the house; from what I've observed, birds can't help WHEN they're going to go, but they can help WHERE they're going to be when it happens. As long as she had a way out, she wouldn't poop inside.

She was our search and rescue chicken: If another of the birds was traumatized and in hiding (which they can do for days) we would place Becky nearby; when the hidden bird heard and saw Becky safe and calm it would come out of hiding. She would follow me when I was gardening, sometimes coming too close to the hoe in searching for insects I'd unearthed. She was the only bird we had that I'd seen recognize snails as food, she was an enthusiastic and effective snail assassin. She would also eat small slugs, but usually left those for the ducks.

She was not as afraid of dogs as most of the birds, which may have led to her demise. My friend Jax was visiting and brought her three scottie dogs. I told her she was welcome to let them off the leash, and she said she was worried about what they would do to the chickens. I turned to see Becky facing off with one of the scotties. The dog barked and Becky pecked him on the nose. The dog yiped and backed off.
"I think we're good."

One day I was out turning over logs to expose insects and worms, and called to her "Becky!" She came running as she usually did.
Pete was watching and said, annoyed "Your chicken is more obedient than my dog."

Months later, Pete and I were out on the property and I called for Becky. She didn't come -though the other chickens did, they'd learned her name meant food. Pete, who'd made significant progress with his dog, smirked smugly "haha."
"I wonder where she went?" A short search proved fruitful brought me back to Pete, "Oh, she was LAYING me BREAKFAST. Only one thing comes out of your dog..."
That earned me a finger.

I'd told the landlords if they did anything to hurt Becky we'd leave. Of course if you have a pet chicken you're subject to more of the usual jesting threats about them doubling as food. I got even more of these when the looks they earned became entertaining, then less as I offered to trade chicken for their yappy dogs: Easy 5-star Korean recipes were widely available online. My partner offered to construct a baited trebuchet in hopes of hurling the little mongrels into the river.

This year it was becoming apparent her twisted foot was bugging her a little, and she was sticking close to the house, but still got around quite well. She stayed close to home, but I don't know how far afield she would wander when we weren't there.

We came back from a camping trip a couple weeks ago and she was missing. I spent several hours calling and looking for her until well after dark. After hearing no one had seen her that day and she didn't reappear the next morning I hardened up and accepted the worst.

The next morning I went up the little trail toward the back of the property and found a few fluffy red-tipped feathers, probably from her backside. Speculation ranged from a bear -we'd found bear poop by the beehives- to a bobcat -which had taken three of our ducks several years ago. A copper maran had gone missing the week before.

I walked up the road seeking closure and looking down onto the property saw a coyote. I yelled at it, asking why it took her and not one of the roosters. It sniffed the air, we stared at each other for awhile and it eventually loped off. Evidence was circumstantial, but I had my answer: Aside from a bobcat, another predator would have made a lot more of a mess.

I reluctantly called Mom, who'd referred to her as "My Grandchicken" and "Namesake". The timing was good(under the circumstances) as I'd had a cancer scare I was waiting to hear the results of, so saying "I have some bad news." took a deep breath and said "Becky is gone." She was over the moon that it wasn't about me. I don't give Mom enough credit for handling bad news (two days later I found it wasn't cancer).

Later that evening I was wandering around by the goat pen and saw the coyote coming down the trail. "FUCK OFF!" I yelled, and it did, proving that Billy Connolly's opinion on the term crossed species barriers as well. We put the gun by the door and made sure to mark territory at the base of the trail (yes, that is exactly what you think it means) and haven't seen any sign of it since.

The next day my hard drive died, and I still haven't found my most recent backup, which means at worst I've lost three years of work and e-mails, that of which isn't on the web. It's an SSD drive, so there's not a lot of hope in recovery.

There have been other things going on as well that aren't good. I don't know if I'm strong or just numb (is there a difference on the surface?), part of me has shut down, it's like having emotional earplugs, as the good stuff is tempered as well.
The roller coaster wasn't letting me off; Worldcon was just around the corner and I had to salvage what I could, the artwork I'd planned to display was pretty much gone, or I was just stuck with low-rez images online.
Regardless, I was REALLY looking forward to the convention, and it turned out to be the amazing and wonderful social and learning experience I'd anticipated -that's for another post.

Upon arriving at Worldcon, we discovered my beloved pet had managed to make it onto the memorial page for the eyes of thousands. Becky's name wasn't mentioned, but my late landlord had a hand in it. Thanks, Bobbie. Bobbie & Becky

Bitch

At some point at the beginning of the year I decided it was OK for people to be mad at me. This was extremely liberating. Unfortunately in the process I seem to have lost some level of social consideration, and, well, people are mildly annoyed at me, my rudeness isn't worth anyone's outright wrath. I'm thinking a good portion of that is paranoia, but a happy medium on this front seems elusive. Due to slow development of social skills and relative isolation in childhood it's pretty easy to settle in to pariah status, but something tells me it's not healthy.

My partner quit smoking almost two months ago, which, good for him! He's still trying to figure out his new 'normal', the side effects and mood swings make me glad we didn't both quit, we've been pretty snarly at each other.

Work started piling up all of a sudden, and I also need to get an illustration done and printed before Worldcon, which is a giant looming monster in my near future, I need to suck the marrow out of this opportunity, else another could be years off.
Another nagging voice in the back of my head tells me to get my passport renewed, too. Storm's a comin'. The next. I'm anticipating the next two months are going to be pretty hectic by my standards. Quiet life in the country and all that.

Still no running water on the property. Just praying for rain at this point, as it'll still be a month before the guy can carve out time in his schedule to dig, and that's optimistic as there are a bunch of other hoops the landlord has to jump through, so still bathing at friends' houses and in the river- the latter of which will end mid-August as the Wallace fills up with salmon and...well, just no.

Well, Well, Well (Drought Part 2).

I was right. I hate being right.

Sarmonster: "Is the well dry?"
Landlord: "No, it's the relay"
S: *replaces switch* "Still not working, is the well dry?"
L: "No, if the well was dry, the pump would just run continuously, it must be the settlement tank." *replaces settlement tank*
S: "Still not working, is it the well?"
L: "No, I'll have someone take a look at it."
(Enter Well Expert)
S: *Finds someone to take a look at it.* "Is the well dry?"
Well Expert: "Nah, then the pump would just run continuously. You put the wrong relay switch on here and it looks like the impeller on the pump isn't working right." *replaces relay, fusses with pump* "That doesn't sound right, where's your well?"
S: "Over here, I don't know how to get the lid off, though"
W: "Oh, use a 2x4." *moves lid, checks well* "You've got about 2 inches of water in your well."
S: "So the well is dry."
W: "Yep."
S: "Didn't think the snow pack would affect the water table down here."
W: "Snow pack affects EVERYTHING. Call me if it fills back up and I'll come back out. You're fucked until they drill it deeper, though."
S: "Thanks!"

Sooo, looks like we're living in the third world until the rains come back or the landlord has a new well dug out here. OK, not quite, we can fill up our RV tanks, but showers aren't going to be fun, and it takes over 10 trips to the creek to water the chickens and the garden, such that it is, per day. Wee.

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Drought

I never thought it would be a concern here in the great northwet. Usually we're astounded when it doesn't rain for more than ten days, it has been known to go two months in August-Septeber, but that hasn't been a problem.

Well, we apparently got the normal amount of precipitation, but it was too warm for snow on the mountains. It was unusually nice in January, we were joking that January 2015 was the best summer the Northwest has seen for decades.

This isn't funny anymore. Yes, it's rained several times, but rivers are already at levels you see in August. More worrying for us is something has happened with the water table, the pond has gone dry.

The pond was usually a good indicator of how full the well was. Bobbie would fill up the swimming pool in the summer and run us out of water, so it'd be muddy for several days as the well filled back up. This pissed me off to no end. I don't miss that bullshit, especially since the pool would just sit there growing mosquitoes and algae and she and the kids might use it a couple of times during the whole summer when there is a perfectly good river just at the bottom of the hill. When the well was dry the pond would be a foot or so lower than usual.

Now it's just mud, not even wet mud. This has never happened in six years.

So water use has averaged maaaaybe 20 gallons a day between us and Don, who's only here half the week. About 5 for the birds, once a week for the washer, three times a week for the shower, and 40 gallons for our tanks every 2-3 weeks. I've been using a watering can for the garden, so maybe 5 or so there every other day.

I went to get fresh water for the chickens, turned on the faucet and noticed the hose didn't firm up. There's a wee trickle coming out. The landlord is coming out to look at it, and even if it's the pump, it sounds like the cistern is dangerously low.

Now we're in damn good shape for shit like this- we can take the RV and just go fill up somewhere else, not great for showers, but otherwise we're in good shape. There is also the creek running under the driveway, we can boil water out of that... for now. I think this summer is going the be pretty tough on this little piece of land.

As far as the water table... It MUST be fed from the snow pack, though that seems like a stretch, but it's possible. Else something that was keeping all the groundwater at the usual level moved. There we a couple of minor EQs out here, but I would be surprised of they were the cause of the problem.

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