Monday, September 24, 2012

strike bike

Back in 1999 I made the jump from 'someone who believes unions are a good thing' to 'being involved in my union', and offered to be a picket captain. And look, here I am again, a picket captain.
Not going to get into the issues, other than that 6 years of zeroes with no inflation protection means that many of our members are making effectively less than they were 10 years ago, while admin-level people get around the zeroes with various sneaky bonuses (boni?) and 'allowances' like a 'living allowance'.
I have a living allowance. It's called my salary.

So okay, pictures. We picketed out Traffic and Security (hey! free parking!) all of one week, and the Admin Services Building for one day, and the Bookstore and coffeeshop for one day--that day with live music.
Lacking the physically-imposing booming-voice inspirational aspect, I settle for being cheerful and amusing on the line. Because the usual slow march is dull and hard on my recovering leg, I did a lot of free-form picketing, bopping, robot-walking, sashaying and a sort of rhythmic gymnastics / interpretive dance business with two little flags. 
You can see a bit of me at .40 and .50 in this video for as long as it's up. Yes, I'm a goof, but more than one person told me it cheered her up to see me.
My bike, the cool matte-black bike, was pressed into service as a flag-holder. The first day only two flags.

And I had my mascot, this sweet little Playmobil striker (no kidding, it says 'striker' on the back of her little yellow vest) who holds a stop-sign like the stop signs featured on our picket signs.
The mascot mostly guarded the bag of chocolate gold coins that I was handing out to picketers ('Have some strike pay!') but on the big day she got out on the line too.

For extra added cuteness, here's the littlest (real) picketer.

The tough days were Wednesday, when I had a 6 am to 10:30 am picket shift, to the dentist for a temporary crown, napped for 2 hours, back to help at HQ, finishing with a 6pm to 10pm picket shift. Though I think it was the 4 am drive to the airport that did me in. Then Monday, 6 am to 2 pm on the line, followed by two more airport runs, one at 8 pm, the other at 11 pm.

The leg has held up remarkably well, without swelling or any more twingeing than usual. I think it's the dancing that did it.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Brief PSA

So, a couple-three posts are getting hit by drug spammers pretty constantly. Blogger catches them and plops them in the spam-bucket without fail, but it's still annoying to see them pile up there. So I've tweaked my settings so that only 'registered users' can comment, which seemed more practical than requiring word ver, which isn't always easy for those without perfect vision.
I think that 'registered' includes something like four possible places one could be registered, not just Blogger. I'm hoping the change won't silence any of my regular readers, but if it turns out to be too restrictive I'll reconsider.

In other news, I've been picketing a lot. Expect a post on that, with pics.

Monday, September 10, 2012

wild animals I have known

in my backyard, eating fruit.

Last year's buck, nicknamed Popeye after he showed up with a lumpy brow and crooked antler (best guess:  an altercation with a motor vehicle) has not been back. Now we have both a young buck who prefers to eat young leaves of apple trees and the flowering tips of broccoli and tomatoes, and a doe who eats pears and the new shoots of the rosemary bush.
The doe is at least a little skittish. The buck on the other hand.... Well, I had just finished folding clothes when he arrived in the back yard, and I attempted to scare him off by picking up the IKEA clothes-drying rack and opening and closing it in a threatening giant-scissors fashion (RRASP! RRRASP!) while walking towards him.
Nothing. He stared blankly at me, oblivious to how much bigger my rack was than his rack. I had to throw windfall Spartans at him to get him moving over to the neighbour's back yard. (Credit to Sina for suggesting that I shout 'This is Spartan!' while doing so.)
 I'm undecided now which I should do. Get a new elastic for my Wrist Rocket slingshot and add some oomph to the Spartans, or look in the attic for Chris's old Supersoakers and keep one by the back door?
No raccoons under the house this year, but Momma and a trio of young ones did come prowling (Momma) and wobbling (young 'uns) along the top of the fence while I was picking blackberries. Momma gave me a growl so I growled back, she for the kits, me for the garden.
A few days later I was sitting in the kitchen with the cat on my lap when a half-grown raccoon wandered in through the open back door. I thought at first it was a neighbour cat (there's a creamsicle-coloured one that came right up the stairs not long ago) but it was awfully leggy for a cat.
I spoke to it. Unlike the deer, it scampered off when spoken to. Our cat remained oblivious on my lap.

Meanwhile the crows clatter around on the roof in a suggestively thuggish fashion, and occasionally descend to accept offerings of catfood (not offered to them originally, but they'll overlook that little misunderstanding. This time.)

So far last year's woodpecker, the one that wanted into the house, hasn't renewed its efforts. There's been one in next-door's oak tree, knocking delicately at outlying branches in rattling concert with one I couldn't see that might have been in the other oak tree cater-corner. I hope it wasn't after some part of the garage.
Here's a damp bee, my one successful capture of a bee in pixels, because normally they move too fast. This one was resting up on a gallica rose just at sunrise, with the look of someone who'd partied all night and wasn't quite sure where he'd woken up.
This increase in wildlife is probably connected with the season of mists and not-so-mellow fruitfulness that's going on. While the Transparent apples are well and truly dealt with, dried and bagged or sauced and frozen, the pears are dropping fast. I've done two dryer loads and a jar of pear sauce (pear butter?) already, and there are two mixing bowls of windfalls still to go.
The blackberries may be done, with only one pie and a large ziplock bag frozen. They looked promising, but perhaps because of the dry summer, most of the berries are small and of the sort that doesn't want to detach from the stem. Oddly, the bushes have swapped qualities this year, with the nice fat berries coming from the bush that last year produced small tight berries.
The young greengage tree produced a crop this year. Are greengages normally the size of cherries? It did make them easier to pit, with my new cherry pitter, but it wasn't going to make much jam. 

Friday, September 7, 2012

7 days after 3 days

I didn't manage, as you may have noticed, to blog my 3-Day Novel writing. I tried so hard to stay offline that I could only allow myself to post a daily wordcount on Facebook. Which didn't prevent me finding random things I needed to research for 'inspiration' (excuses, excuses) online.

On the debit side, I went in tired and mentally unprepared, because somehow, with dealing entirely with the Transparent apple harvest, followed by the Living History Week, followed by a week of unpacking and washing linens after Living History Week, I hadn't given myself time to put together an outline, come up with an opening scene, or sketch a couple of characters.
What I did have was my brother's request / suggestion that I write about our childhood, particularly the summer of looking for ways into other worlds.
After a couple of days of muttering 'memoir is not story', I remembered a half-formed idea I'd had of conflict between a young man and his mother over her ebay habit:  she is attempting to recreate her childhood home or room so she can throw herself back in time to it.
As said at Viable Paradise, two half-baked ideas can make one good one. So I thought I'd go with mashing those up.
Three storylines:  a) present-day, from the son's POV, watching his mother's behaviour with some trepidation but not wanting to take away her independence. This because I'd wanted to write from a male POV, which I haven't done since Fold, I guess, and to keep some mystery going about what the old woman was up to (especially since I didn't know myself yet).
b) past, from the child's pov, she and her brother exploring the woods, playing make-believe, getting into petty crime with a neighbour boy, with the real-world worry of their own mother's health.
c) meta: an adventure story by the child, mixing in elements of her own life with bits from books she's read.

It was unexpectedly difficult to write autobiographical material. That old guideline of 'write what you know' has never rung particularly true to me, and not just because I write fantasy by preference. Sure, experiences like the death of parents, or miscarriage, or moving away, are things I draw on, but not necessarily directly. The emotions are mirrored, distorted, scraped off and re-applied.
The big obstacle to writing from life was knowing what to leave out. When I imagine a scene, I don't see every brick in the wall or even every character in the room. When I remember a scene, I remember too much of it, especially the before-and-after parts. What's relevant? I don't know, especially when writing something that's as improvisational as a 3-Day Novel.
Looking back, I wish I'd let my fingers run more often, and just filled the time with words, even if it did mean starting many hares that were never caught. But I was worrying, up until Monday late morning, about where the story was going, and whether I was building towards any kind of conclusion, let alone a satisfying one.  Monday morning I finally got an idea, and wrote the ending, so the rest of the day was bringing the story up to that ending.

I changed names and conflated incidents, but I'm not sure how I feel about other people seeing this one (says she, who sent it off to a panel of unknown judges on Tuesday). Rather, I don't mind strangers seeing it, but having written it sort of for my brother, I don't know how I'd feel about showing it to him. Whether the hesitation springs from the made-up parts or the from-memory parts, I'm not sure.

Ah well. Wordcounts: Midnight on Saturday, 6019 words; 11 pm on Sunday, 12019 words; midnight on Monday, 17400 words by Scrivener count.
ETA: Here's my banner, courtesy of the 3-Day rep. 
Beginning and ending were young Sandy's story, beginning PRIVATE! DO NOT LOOK! and ending To be continued...