Wait, it’s New Year Already…?

It just hit me a bit ago that I completely zoned on doing an Anthology Markets post this month. My husband and I were in Seattle on our househunting trip on the tenth, which is when I’ve been doing it, and although I could’ve done it from there, I just didn’t think about it at all. :/ Well, no one’s working over the holidays, right…? [hides under keyboard] The Antho Market listings will be back in January, and my apologies for the gap.

Seriously, though, Christmas just sort of came and went, and New Year will be marked with a bottle of Martinelli’s and not much else. We have holes in our ceiling from where the plumbers fixed a leak, holes in our walls from where other repair guys worked on yet another gas leak (more jackhammers a few days ago — I’m going to miss them when we move, or maybe not) plus the huge hole dug (yet again) in our concrete patio outside from where they replaced a chunk of said gas line. The gas guys will fix the patio in a day or two, but the guy who does drywall was called out of the country on a family emergency and will be back on the fourth. I’m keeping a set of virtual fingers crossed that everyone’s okay and he gets back on time.

There are boxes and piles all over — more than usual — because even though the moving guys are coming over (for an estimated two days) to pack for us, we have to go through things ourselves to sort and dispose, get things in order, and pack certain fragile things ourselves. Plus my husband has been packing books just… I don’t know, I guess because he’s been feeling antsy and wants to do something. Or something. Whatever. [pets frazzled husband] I spent yesterday going through the closet and dresser and some cupboards bagging up clothes and shoes for Goodwill; I have more stacks of clothes in corners and such around the bedroom to go through, but I stopped when my back went from griping to yelling. More of that tomorrow.

I’ve been practicing intermittent fasting — eating only every other day — since January, with one unplanned hiatus in March for a horrible attack of gastritis (during the first week of which I wasn’t eating anything anyway) and a few planned hiatuses for trips. There’s about thirty pounds less of me than there was a year ago, even though I flaked out on an exercise program over the summer after being faithful to it for several months, so all around I’ve been doing well on that. I’d rather be thirty pounds down after a year, than thirty pounds down after three months and then fifty pounds up after a second three months, which is the more usual pattern when weight loss is fast, so slow is just fine with me. Christmas finally defeated me, though — a bazillion cookies, plus my mom’s homemade almond roca and leftover prime rib forced an executive decision that the last seven days of the year I’d eat every day. I’ll be paying for that starting tomorrow, but whatever; the fasting works, and I’ll be back on track soon. If there’s another thirty pounds less of me at this time next year, I’ll be happy. It’s all about results, not following a routine slavishly.

Every year at this time I do the usual Writing Goals thing. For 2009 I promised myself I’d finish and submit a novel and I did that — I signed the contract on December 19th, and am waiting for edits. That’s a huge milestone and I’m proud of it, so Go 2009! for that chunk of it. I always include some sort of productivity goal as well, though, and I’ve never managed to keep it. I mean, a thousand words a day should be incredibly easy — there are certainly writers who do a lot more, and have for years or decades — but apparently not. :/ This year I’m trying something different: since the product goal worked better in ’09 than the wordcount goal, I’m going with that. So for 2010, I want to finish another novel, plus half a dozen short stories, with the caveat that the fanfic novel which is just a few chapters from being done doesn’t count; the official goal is for another commercial, submittable-for-publication novel. (I still have to finish the fanfic novel, though, ’cause my readers on that side of the fence were incredibly patient while I set it aside to finish Hidden Magic.)

What else? Keep up on the fasting, and exercise more. Even my walking’s fallen off in the last month or so, which I’m sure is why my weight has plateaued during that time. Hopefully being in a new area after the move will get me doing more walking outside. I know I can now; I haven’t had an OMG-I-absolutely-HAVE-to-sit-down-NOW!! incident while walking in a while. (My joints and tendons and such tended to lock up or start screaming at random while I walked, and were keeping me housebound for quite a few years. I’ve been walking back and forth at home, where I’m never more than a few steps from a place to sit, for the last several years. It’s boring but it works, and you can put on some serious mileage in a small space if you’re determined.) Since I haven’t had to sit in the middle of walking for a while, though, that means I can actually go out for walks again, and feel secure that I won’t suddenly have to find a seat on some stranger’s retaining wall or front steps or on the curb. (And let me tell you, when you weigh what I do and have arthritis and various other joint-and-tendon problems, getting up off a seat on the curb is slow, difficult and painful.) So being able to go out walking again is something to look forward to. And hey, if we get the townhouse we made an offer on, there’ll be a Barnes and Noble in a shopping center right across the street — wow, incentive to go out and walk at least that far! πŸ˜€

I can think of a bunch of other things I’d like to do, but I think this’ll be enough to commit to. One of the things I tend to do when making plans is way over-commit, then get depressed when I fail. I’d like to commit to not doing that anymore. πŸ™‚ We’ll see if it works out.

I hope everyone has a happy and safe New Year, and a great 2010. [wave/hugz]


Moving Stuff

We’re home now and mostly recovered, I think. Of course, I’m getting back on a plane on Sunday to go up to my mom’s for Christmas, and I have to admit the timing of all this could’ve been better.

We put in an offer on a condo, and the counter-offer was decent. Now it’s a matter of working out all financing details; we have enough money, but apparently it’s not distributed in the right pots, so the husband is working on getting it shuffled around into a configuration the banks will approve of. We’ll see if that comes through. If not, we’re still not really behind; we weren’t actually expecting to find anything on this trip; it was more to scout neighborhoods and such.

I’m not jumping up and down about the condo itself, although it’s not a bad place at all. It’s only a little bigger than what we have now, and I was hoping for something significantly larger. That six-bedroom house I mentioned in the previous post (four of the bedrooms plus one bathroom were part of a basement remodel, but it was done very nicely) would’ve been great, assuming it could’ve passed a home inspection. That’s the problem with remodels, of course; the house itself was about fifty years old, so who knows what was behind the drywall. It was on almost half an acre, which was also very cool. Unfortunately the nearest store of any kind was half a mile away, and that was just one grocery; other necessities were farther. Good (potentially) house, less than great location for folks who don’t drive. :/

The condo is new, so we don’t have to worry about booby traps, and our real estate guy managed to rustle up a home inspector the very next day. He found that the place is in good shape, with just a few little things which would be easy to fix. The big selling point, though, was the location — it’s right across the street from the back of a shopping center with a grocery store, a Barnes and Noble, a Target, a post office, a bunch of low- to mid-level restaurants, plus some other stuff, AND it was near two bus lines which would take Jim downtown to work within half an hour or less. There’s really nothing more we could ask of the location, and I’m willing to stay packed into something that’s really too small to be comfortable in for the next few years, until Jim retires. After that, we can find a cheaper area all together and get a bigger place with a nice yard (the condo has a little bit of fenced yard, just enough for a smallish dog, which will satisfy me for now) and a good location without having to scrape change out from under the seat cushions to pay for it.

Aside from the location, which is fantastic, it’s not what I was hoping. I can deal with the rest, though, and we can get something which suits us better in a few years, when Jim’s retired and we’re not locked into a particular location because of his work.

I have to admit, though, that having a big bookstore a two minute walk away would be very nice. Dangerous, but very nice. πŸ™‚


Seattle Ho!

I’ve been mostly away from the internets for a while, so I thought I’d post an update. The spousal unit and I are up in Seattle, house-hunting. He’s changing jobs and due to report for work up here in mid-January, so we’re trying to figure out where we’re going to live. It’s been up and down so far.

First, it’s been freaking cold up here all week. :/ They’ve been having record lows for the last few days, imported from the Arctic especially for us, I’m sure. I still need to buy a coat one of these days. Actually, there are times when I’d like to pile about half the hotel room furniture in the middle of the floor and start a bonfire, but that’s probably not practical. [cough] But it’s heating back up! It’s actually supposed to be above freezing here at some point today — might actually be above freezing now, I’m not sure. But wow, thirty-four degrees — heat wave! [eyeroll/shiver]

On the house hunting front, we’ve actually had some good luck today. One older house with a very nice recent remodel is looking promising. It’s also on a relatively huge lot, with a bit of a flat side yard which has been done up in some skinny raised beds all ready for annuals in the spring, plus a huge back end on a slope with some trees and berry canes and ivy. I could see putting some more fruit trees up there. And it’s on this hill with a wonderful view of the valley and the mountains beyond, and there’s a golf course across the road so it won’t be built up. Jim and I both like it a lot. There are a few questions to ask, but it’s looking like a distinct possibility.

We also saw two very nice newer houses, just a year or two old each, a bit bigger than the older one but the locations don’t work in either case. One was up a VERY steep hill, which we’d have to hike up/down to get anywhere unless we took a taxi. (Neither Jim nor I drive, and I have an arthritic knee. I get around fine in general, but slopes are hard.) The other one had just a bit of a hill about a block or so long from the main drag, not too bad at all, but then a hike from there to the actual house which looked like it might be too long, even flat; the place is back in kind of a semi-rural looking neighborhood with a lot of mixed older houses (many not terribly well maintained) on larger lots, with little clusters of newer, smaller places crammed onto smaller spaces. We were looking at a newer house in a row of three with no front yard and a small back yard, but it’d be enough for us. Basically I want enough backyard space for a dog; anything else is gravy. But that long hike, especially for Jim twice a day to get to the bus to and from work, is making it really iffy.

We did like the first one, though, so we’re hopeful. We saw a three other houses yesterday, all older, and we were both rather dismayed. :/ Lots of yuck, and at the end of the day it was like, “Okay, which one sucks the least?” which really isn’t what you want to be considering when you’re in the process of moving a thousand miles and spending 99% of your assets, you know? So today made us feel a lot better, just seeing that yeah, there are some good options out there.

In general, Seattle is a lot hillier than we’d realized. I haven’t visited since I was a kid, and Jim almost the same; neither of us remembered the topography. We knew in advance that location — being reasonably near a grocery store, and close to public transit such that Jim can get to work in less than an hour and without too many transfers — would be an issue. We didn’t realize ahead of time that we’d be crossing houses off the list for reasons of steepness, though. It’s one more limitation, but our real estate guy is really good and he’s starting to get the full ramifications of the “no car” thing a lot better than many folks who drive. More tomorrow.

Our hotel is downtown, four or five blocks from the Pike Place market. We wandered down there on Sunday, and it’s pretty awesome. πŸ™‚ Aside from all the quirky little shops (and we’ve still seen less than half of it) it’s sort of like a farmer’s (and fisherman’s) market, with great produce, seafood, mushrooms, cheeses, honey and preserves — all kinds of fresh stuff. I’d love to have something like that within walking distance on a regular basis and be able to head down there just whenever to pick up fresh things for dinner. It’s the kind of produce etc. they use on the cooking shows, you know? Also, there’s this tiny hole-in-the-wall bakery that makes awesome espresso brownies; we got a couple of those when we were there. Massive yum. πŸ™‚

There’s an art museum about halfway between the market and the hotel, which has a Michaelangelo exhibit we want to get to while we’re here. I don’t think it’s huge, mainly a collection of lesser-known sketches and such, but still that’d be cool, and I’m sure they have other things worth seeing. In general, though, we’re not major nightlife people and haven’t been going out doing a lot of touristy things. We’ll probably be staying somewhere downtown for a couple of months after we move up here in January — we get that much temporary housing paid for — so unless we fall in love with a house this week and make an offer and it all goes through immediately, we’ll probably be back here for a month or two and we can do more touristy things on weekends then. And hopefully it won’t be so freaking cold.

Angie, trying to stay warm

Reading Habits

A meme-thing about reading habits, gacked from Charles. Questions are in italics.

Do you snack while you read? If so, favorite reading snack:

I eat or drink while reading sometimes, but not every time. And there’s no particular thing I go for while reading. Sometimes I’ll be eating a meal, sometimes I’ll just feel like popcorn or a bagel or some tea (peppermint with honey) or whatever else pops into my head and is available in the kitchen.

Do you tend to mark your books as you read, or does the idea of writing in books horrify you?

I have to admit I find marking in books pretty horrifying. Even when I was in school I never wrote in my books, clear workbooks — the kind composed of newsprint, which have lines obviously long/tall enough for the full answer to be written in — excepted. I don’t even write my name in my books. (Which, BTW, is why I just eyeroll when people say that obviously Shakespeare never owned any books because we haven’t found any books with his name in them. Not everyone does that, ya know?)

How do you keep your place while reading a book? Bookmark? Dog-ears? Laying the book flat open?

Usually I use bookmarks. I have a stack of 3×5 cards, left over from when I was taking language classes and made bazillions of vocabulary flashcards, which now serve mainly as bookmarks. If I don’t have a bookmark to hand, I’ll occasionally lay the book down very carefully, over the edge of another book if possible. Bending the spine is anathema, almost as much as writing in a book.

Fiction, nonfiction, or both?

Both, although mostly fiction these days. My non-fiction is about a quarter research for some project and the rest just whatever interesting stuff comes to my notice.

Are you a person who tends to read to the end of a chapter, or can you stop anywhere?

I prefer to read to the end of a chapter, and if not that, then to the end of a scene. It’s rare that I’ll stop in the middle of a scene; I have to be so tired I’m having massive trouble keeping my eyes open, or travelling and forced to put the book away Right Now because it’s time to get on the plane, or something like that.

If you come across an unfamiliar word, do you stop and look it up right away?

Depends. If I’m reading an e-book at the computer, there’s a dictionary right there and I’ll look it up. If not, I’ll try to remember it and look it up later. I can usually figure out the gist of a new word, though, from the roots and/or context.

What are you currently reading?

Unseen Academicals by Terry Pratchett
Whatever issue of Asimov’s I’m currently on (I read those in spurts)
I Do! ed. Kris Jacen
Almost Everyone’s Guide to Science by John Gribbin
14 Years of Loyal Serice in a Fabric-Covered Box by Scott Adams

What is the last book you bought?

“Taylor’s Personal Best” by Aaron Michaels

Are you the type of person that reads one book at a time, or can you read more than one?

I always have a bunch of books going, usually a few I’m currently working on (a couple of books by the couch, a couple of books in the bathroom, a couple upstairs) plus a larger set of older books I started earlier but which were supplanted by newer and more interesting books. I usually get back to them eventually, sometimes starting over because I don’t remember what was going on. If a couple of years go by and I haven’t, I’ve occasionally been known to give up. [duck]

Do you have a favorite time/place to read?

Whenever. I like reading before I go to sleep, and on planes if I’m not sleeping there. I spend a lot of time on cruises reading. But really, whenever I have some time.

Do you prefer series books or stand alones?

It really depends on the book or series. Some series just go on and on and on and clearly should’ve been put out of their misery some number of books ago. Some stand-alone books have wonderful characters and world-building and really could support sequels. I don’t deliberately lean toward one or the other, though.

Is there a specific book or author you find yourself recommending over and over?

I recommend Laney Cairo’s Bad Case of Loving You to anyone who even hints that they’re thinking of trying m/m romance, because it’s just that awesome. Lois McMaster Bujold gets a lot of recs, and Connie Willis, and Jo Beverley. Mike Resnick’s Santiago is great, and Dave Brin’s a master at creating aliens, up there with Larry Niven. And, and, and…. [laugh/flail] My recs list would be another post all by itself.

How do you organize your books?(by genre, title, author’s last name, etc.)

First, split up fiction and non-fiction. Non-fiction is then sorted by subject, then by sub-subject, such as time/place for the history books, and particular craft for the craft books. Then alpha by author, then by title order, unless the author wrote a series in which case series books go in series order.

Fiction is sorted by genre, then by author, then by title, with the same series exception as above.

Perfect Conditions

Isn’t it wonderful to wake up to the dulcet tones of jackhammers outside your window? Absolutely conducive to concentration and creativity, right?


Our building has had sewer line problems for years and the Association finally decided to do something about it. Which is all good and fine, but the process sucks. (And I imagine it’ll be stinking as well soon enough.) Eight to five for the next two weeks, yay. Or longer if the job runs long. And since it’s 12:30 and they’re still at it, I’m wondering whether they plan to knock off for lunch. :/

It’s been incredibly hot here recently, so much so that for a couple of weeks we had to shut the computers down from mid-afternoon to mid- or even late evening because of the heat. It’s just started cooling off a few days ago and I’m trying to catch up on things that have piled up online, plus a few other things (like writing) and now this starts up. You really can’t win, you know? It must be something about this time of year.

I hope everyone else is doing well and having a more pleasant day than I am. [wave]


Atheists Form Pet Rescue Group

All right, this is just awesome. πŸ˜€

Eternal Earth-Bound Pets, USA is a group formed of atheists who’ll still be around when all the saved Christians are taken up in the Rapture. Christians who think they might be among the elect can contract with this group to come and rescue their pets left behind after the event.

Our service is plain and simple; our fee structure is reasonable.
For $110.00 we will guarantee that should the Rapture occur within ten (10) years of receipt of payment, one pet per residence will be saved. Each additional pet at your residence will be saved for an additional $15.00 fee. A small price to pay for your peace of mind and the health and safety of your four legged friends.

This just breeds story ideas, at least for me, so I thought I’d throw it out there for everyone. Besides, it’s just cool — the obvious intersection between diametrically opposed belief systems meshes wonderfully.

And heck, Jim and I are both atheists; if we had a car and could make a binding promise to go pick up animals post-rapture, we’d definitely join the group. No reason puppies should suffer just because their owners went to Heaven, right?

Angie, still grinning

Prescription Wierdness

So I was trying to get a couple of prescriptions refilled yesterday. I called the number on the bottle and it rang and rang and rang and rang, and cetera. Okay, that’s weird. I hung up, waited a couple of hours and tried again. Same thing. :/

I tried again today and got the “The number you have dialed has been disconnected…” message. o_O I’m wondering if the CVS store is, like, a smoking crater or something. No clue, nothing in the news about it.

I e-mailed my husband to ask what to do (since he picks up my prescriptions on his way home from work, I let him choose where to get them filled) and he sent me a phone number and URL for RiteAid. Coolness. I poked around on the web site and saw they even have a current coupon for two $25 gift cards if you transfer two prescriptions. Bonus! My prescripts are generic and only cost us about $10 each, so we’ll even make some money on the deal. I got that all set up, getting their cross-streets just to make sure I wasn’t calling a store in Whittier or something by mistake. I e-mailed my husband back, telling him everything was cool, sent him the URL for the coupon in case he hadn’t seen it, and gave him the cross streets.

Husband e-mailed back again. It turns out that wasn’t the store he thought it was. [headdesk] It’s local, but it’s not the one he was thinking of, which is right on the bus line he takes home. This one’s four blocks off, and then back, which isn’t quite as convenient. I don’t know if there’s anything else that’s more convenient, besides the store with the disconnected phone, but anyway. :/

I’m still wondering what happened to the CVS, though. I looked them up online and the phone number for that store is still the one I called — the one that doesn’t work. Google Maps Satellite view isn’t showing a smoking crater, but then, maybe it just hasn’t updated recently enough. [bemused smile] No idea. All I know is that I need my prescriptions and their phone’s been disconnected, so there you go.


San Francisco

San Francisco was awesome, as always, but it’s good to be home. If nothing else, I heart my main computer, and particularly its full-size keyboard. πŸ™‚

We had a great time, though, and I’m going to babble about some of it.

SF is a great place for food, particularly if you’re into meat. We were staying at the Hyatt on the Embarcadero, right across from the Ferry Terminal. I’ve never gone over there before for whatever reason, but a few days before we left to fly up, Jim and I were watching an episode of a Food Network show called The Best Thing I Ever Ate. A bunch of the Food Network people talk about great food they’ve had in various places, and this was a bacon themed episode, yum! One of the guys talked about a great little butcher shop in the Ferry Terminal called Boccalone; their slogan is “Tasty Salted Pig Parts.” Can’t beat that, right? They cure their meat right on the premises; there’s a glass-doored cabinet off to one side with slabs of bacon and legs of prosciutto and whatever all else hanging there. The “best thing” here was a salumi cone for like $3.50. Salumi seems to be like a superset of salami; it’s a variety of cured pork bits, sliced thin and curled up in a paper cone, sort of like a snowcone only with meat instead of ice. We got that a couple of times — good stuff. It’s salty and porky and just fatty enough.

[Note that the Terminal is a great place just to walk around and eat. There were three artisanal butcher shops there that I counted, plus a fish monger, a couple of cheese shops, an artisanal bakery, three or four places selling local produce, a mushroom shop, a place specializing in olive oil, and a gelato shop. These are all local shops; the only chain was a coffee place, Peet’s, which is a local chain. There weren’t any McDonald’s or Starbuck’s or Cinnabon or anything like that. Highly recommended for wandering around to get lunch. After having my salty pig parts, I got some bread and some grapes and a pear to sort of balance things out.]

Also off that same show, Jim went to this little shop called Dynamo Donuts one morning while I was asleep and got us bacon donuts. No kidding, these things are great! They cut slab bacon into chunks and cook it, then knead the bacon pieces (I’m not calling them “bacon bits” ’cause that gives absolutely the wrong image) right into the donut dough. They fry the bacon-studded donuts, then glaze the tops with maple icing and sprinkle on more bacon. Mmmm! It kind of reminds me of when you’re having breakfast and your bacon gets into the syrup from your pancakes, you know? Good stuff.

We also went to The Stinking Rose. If you like garlic at all, you can’t hit SF without going to this place — their slogan is that they flavor their garlic with food. πŸ™‚ We started out with a bagna calda, which is a dish of roasted garlic cloves in olive oil and butter. They put it over a candle to keep it warm, and serve it with bread. The garlic is soft so you just spread it on, and drizzle some of the oil. Much more dangerous than just basic bread and butter. Then both of us had the prime rib. Wow. Note that they have three sizes: regular, large and the slab. With both got regular cuts and I couldn’t finish mine. I was pushing the last few bits over onto Jim’s plate because this thing was just huge. I can only speculate what the larger cuts are like, but I suspect you could probably feed like six people if you got the “slab” size. After the regular cuts, couldn’t even think about dessert, which for us is very unusual. [duck]

Oh, and the sides rocked too. It came with garlic mashed potatoes and creamed swiss chard. Now I’m not a major swiss chard fan — it has a bit too strong of a flavor for my taste. I don’t hate it, though, so I tasted it, and I’m glad I did. Jim’s almost as anti-vegetable as Travis and even he liked it; I don’t know what they did to it, but the flavor was mellower and more spinach-like, and of course with the cream and the garlic, it was just perfect. I could’ve done with about half as much prime rib but three or four times as much chard. πŸ™‚

We ate at the hotel a few times and in their lobby cafe-bar, and that was good if a bit expensive. You can actually get a rare burger there, which is more and more difficult to do these days, and the garlic-parmesan fries are really good. The clam chowder is excellent, and the quatro leches cake.

Jim had enough upgrade points to get us a small suite at the hotel. It was actually a single large room rather than a bona fide suite, but it was an excellent room, long enough that I could be on the laptop on one end without disturbing a sleeping spousal unit at the other end. It also had an awesome view of the Bay Bridge. The only problem was a certain busker down on the sidewalk. This dude played the saxophone. Every day. For about twelve hours a day, with periodic breaks but essentially from around nine to nine. Every day. Did I mention every day? This dude wasn’t a horrible horn player, but he wasn’t awesome either and I’m not really all that into unaccompanied sax at the best of times, so a little goes a long way with me. Oh, and he only knew about fifteen songs. O_O And he played every one of them a little slow. I don’t know whether he wasn’t capable of playing on-tempo or whether he thought he was being artsy or whatever, but… yeah. After a day or two I was ready to offer to drop a twenty out the window if he’d go four or five blocks in, well, any direction actually. [headdesk]

We went to the movies, down at the Sundance Kabuki theater in Japan Town to see Public Enemy and Ice Age 3. The theater is upscale for a movie theater, with assigned seating like at a play, so you can buy your tickets in advance and choose your seats. They sell alcohol up on the balcony so there aren’t any kids allowed up there, which is nice if you’re not into kids and don’t mind sitting in the balcony. Looking at the architecture and decor, I have to wonder whether it used to be an actual kabuki theater. If not, they did a great remodel on it, because it looks like a place where there used to be live performances.

Public Enemy was great; Johnny Depp rocked the part and made it feel natural to be rooting for a bank robber. Christian Bale’s a great actor too, but playing Melvin Purvis didn’t really give him a whole lot to work with. I didn’t get the impression that the role was badly written or anything, but rather that it’s a supporting role and they didn’t develop it all that much. Ice Age was fun, with Scrat getting all the good bits as usual, but I discovered that my eyes don’t agree with 3D. :/ In addition to being nearsighted, I also have a hard time focusing on objects at a distance; I see double without my glasses, which have prisms on the edges to help me see straight. Add the 3D glasses and it was intermittently blurry and just generally unpleasant. Luckily I’m not all that into 3D anyway, so I’ll just let Jim go by himself to 3D showings he wants to see in the future.

The trip to the theater was like the second day we were there and I was still feeling lively enough to be kind of stupid. [cough] I suggested we walk back to the hotel, or at least start walking; I figured if my knee or feet or whatever gave out, we could grab a bus at the next stop. So we start walking and there’s this humongous hill right off the bat, but once we’re past that it’s all flat, downhill, flat, downhill, flat, downhill from there on. So we’re walking and walking and walking, and by the time I’m starting to get uncomfortable I can see a clocktower in the distance which I recognized as being near the hotel, so I grit my teeth and keep going. It’s around dinner time so we decide to go past the hotel to the Ferry building and grab some food, but when we got over there everything but the coffee shop was closed, so back to the hotel. Jim went out and grabbed some sandwiches for dinner, one of the few situations where we’ll eat basic chain-shop food on a vacation. Everything from about the hips down was really griping at me, though, and looking at a map we probably walked about three and a half miles. [sigh] Really stupid, but when I get going I get stubborn. You’d think I’d know better by now.

A couple of days later we took the cable car up to Chinatown and walked around there for a while, up one street to the border of North Beach, then a block over and walked back. We didn’t buy anything, but just enjoyed looking around, seeing the carvings and jewelry and clothes and things in the shop windows, and the things in the food shops, which all tend to have huge displays right out to the sidewalk. The produce smelled wonderful, green and sweet, interspersed with shops selling dried everything — spices and mushrooms and fish and squid, earthy and rich and salty and fishy.

Oh, on another day we got dim sum at a little place that’s only open a few hours through lunchtime, but they’re incredibly busy and have wonderful food. This wasn’t in Chinatown, but was a couple of blocks from the hotel. They had some things I’ve never tasted before, including these little dumplings full of soup. πŸ˜€ It’s like a little balloon full of broth, about an inch and a half across. You take it onto your ceramic spoon, then pierce one side with a chopstick to let the soup out. Then there was a little bowl of vinegar and shaved ginger; you put a bit of that on if you want to, then eat the whole thing, one spoonful at a time. Wonderful stuff; I could’ve made a lunch of just a few more servings of those.

One thing Jim really wanted to do was go on a duck tour. They have these amphibious vehicles called ducks, which were built to land troops during WWII. We took a similar tour up in Toronto a few years ago, but those vehicles were purpose-modified for the tourist trade, and they had to stop and do a bit of conversion between land and water. These are refurbished but otherwise work just like they did during the war, going right from the land into the water and back again without having to stop and fiddle with anything. The soldiers didn’t like them because they could only do about five knots in the water and that made them… sitting ducks. πŸ˜› They’re great fun for touring around the city and then into the bay, though.

The tour went past the new ballpark three times, twice on land and once on the water. I don’t know, I used to go to Candlestick when I was a kid, so I view the new park with a jaundiced eye. It’s nice, and there are statues of famous Giants players around the plaza on the land side. There’s plenty of parking (which is kind of amazing for something right there on one end of the city like that, well up the penninsula) and there were a bunch of people having a huge tailgate party, even though the game didn’t start for a few more hours, so obviously people like the place and have fun there. I think that to me, though, the “real” home of the San Francisco Giants will always be Candlestick Park, despite the wind and the cold and the slightly grubby structure. πŸ™‚

And of course, there’s no way I can tourist around San Francisco for a week without going to A Different Light. It’s a great gay bookstore up in the Castro. A trolley went from right outside our hotel to within a block or two of the store, very convenient. I came out with a bunch of books and could easily have bought a lot more. I restrained myself, however, and what I got will keep me for a few more days:

Alex Beecroft’s False Colors
James Buchanan’s The Good Thief (hardcopy to replace my e-book — I prefer paper copies of my favorites if I can get them)
Erastes’s Frost Fair
Scott and Scott’s E-male
NL Gassert’s The Protector

Jim did a lot more running around than I did; my joints just aren’t up to hard touristing every day. I had a great time, though, and just being in the city, hearing the cable cars go by and enjoying the wonderfully cool temperatures — San Francisco is absolutely the place to be in July. πŸ™‚ It’s one of the few really urban areas I wouldn’t mind living in, if only the cost of housing wasn’t so ridiculously high. Maybe some day.


Twenty Years

Over the 4th of July weekend in 1989, I got on a plane and flew down to Anaheim to meet a guy for the first time ever in realspace. We’d met met in an online fantasy RPG called GemStoneII, on the old GEnie network, and had become close over the previous few months. We were both sort of nervous, but he didn’t turn out to be an axe murderer or anything ;D and the trip worked out well. It wasn’t a huge, swooping, love-at-first-sight sort of thing, but that was twenty years ago and we’re still together. We’ve been married now for thirteen years come August, so I’d say the gamble of taking that plane trip — which all the flailing hysterics who are terrified of the evil internet will tell you to Never Ever Do!!! in this fearful age — was a pretty good gamble. πŸ˜€

In about twelve hours Jim and I’ll be getting on a plane and going up to San Francisco, where we’ll be touristing around for a week. We’ve done it before and both love the place; the weather is great and the food is better, and we’re just going to hang out and relax and revel in having known the love of our lives for twenty years, which is pretty darned good these days.

I’ll be taking the laptop but probably won’t be reading blogs/journals/etc. all that much. If anything cool happens, or you post something you think I’d be particularly interested in, feel free to e-mail me or leave a link here.

Don’t crash the internets while I’m gone! ;D



At a Convention

So I’m up in Santa Clara at BayCon with my husband. We come every year; I used to live in this area before I got married, I’ve been to every BayCon and worked the first twenty-some of them. It’s a cool con and I get to see friends I don’t see anywhere else, which is always great.

I was particularly looking forward to this year, though, because Mercedes Lackey and Larry Dixon are co-Writer Guests of Honor. I’ve liked their work for twenty-some years, and though I don’t fanatically grab every single thing they publish nowadays the way I used to, they’ve still produced some of my favorite fantasy and urban fantasy books and stories. Misty Lackey and Charles De Lint are the reasons I like and write urban fantasy, in fact. I even brought a book with me — a hardcover copy of Black Gryphon — to get autographed, and I hardly ever do that.

Well, we just found out at dinner that Misty and Larry aren’t actually here. πŸ™ Misty has the flu, so they couldn’t come after all. Massive suckage. The Fan GOH already couldn’t make it, so we’re down to the Toastmaster and the Artist GOH. [laugh/flail] Talk about bad luck! And of course it’d have to be one of my favorite writers who gets sick just when I was all jazzed up to meet her.

I’m sure I’ll still have a great time, just because I always do, but… crud. :/