Inktober pictures

This Inktober image (inspired by the prompt word “Injured”) comes with a poem; both are dedicated to my mother. Love you, Mum.

There will be days that go awry,
But I will hold you when you cry.
On days that make you want to hide,
I will be always on your side.
When in your heart you’re feeling pain,
I will make you whole again.
Nothing you could do or say
Will change my love in any way.
Though we started out apart,
You are the child of my heart.

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Inktober – the collected set

So, I posted all my Inktober drawings to Bob’s FB page –  (https://www.facebook.com/bob.mellin.1884) , but I thought I’d post them here as well. The images are available to buy in my Zazzle shop – https://www.zazzle.com/store/laura_mellin_atelier .

I have taken out a couple of the drawings I didn’t like, but most of them turned out nicely, so, here’s the first three, inspired by keyword: “Build”, “Husky”, and “Enchanted”.

Gonna start writing…

I said to myself that I would start to keep my journal updated, especially after my awful FaceBook experience, but here it is, three and a half weeks after Pennsic, and I’m still avoiding my computer (except to play games and read Cracked).

I had an amazing Pennsic. I was exhausted every day, I couldn’t handle the heat at all (Hashimoto’s kills your ability to properly temperature-regulate), I barely did any shopping, and I missed connecting with friends. But it was still amazing.

Bob has been a member of the Knowne Worlde Players (KWP) for five years now – his debut performance was a huge part in Ben Johnson’s The Alchemist – and last year he persuaded me to audition for the play we performed this year – a spoof of Forbidden Broadway called Forbidden Pennsic (written by the same playwright who wrote Hector of Troy, the play Bob was in last year). We got parts, and we learned our music, and at Pennsic, we started with a read-through Saturday of Peace week, and performed the next Friday.

It was so cool. I had so much fun. I ended up with an extra singing part in one of the songs, and Bob and I sang a duet, and we sang chorus for some other songs. The way KWP puts on a performance is hard-core Elizabethan style, going from initial blocking to performance in one week. We had rehearsal every day from 9-12, and I spent the rest of each day lying down and reading, with some occasional socializing in camp, and Bob’s filk night on Thursday of War Week. It wiped me out.

I’m not hugely fit anymore; I am tired almost all of the time, and when I’m at Pennsic, I have to walk with a cane, or else I would have to sit down at the side of the road until someone carried me back to camp. The rehearsals were literally all I could manage most days; I went to one order meeting, and I nearly threw up from a combination of fatigue and heat. I managed about 1/2 an hour at the A&S display, and almost fell over from fatigue.  Rehearsing for the play took everything I had, but I loved it enough that I’d do it all the same way again.

Aside from doing stuff with Bob, I haven’t acted in anything since high school. I’m not about to get into acting now – for one thing, thyroid/menopause brain has done a real number on my ability to memorize dialogue, for another, I’m more about the singing and writing music. But Bob loves acting, and he’s really good at it, so I look forward to seeing him in more KWP productions.

The KWP people are all lovely people, and I really enjoyed working with them. Our director, Sofia ‘Zsof’ Tyzes, was an utter joy to work with – knowing just the right direction to give, corralling a bunch of actors (which is like herding a bunch of cats who have decided to hit the vaudeville circuit – and I’m including myself in that description, trust me), and just knowing, knowing, exactly how to bring the best performance out of us. I can’t tell you how much that makes me better. Making her laugh made my day.

It was wonderful. And I’m never doing it again. 🙂

Goop: Go overboard (on) our privilege

I’ve disliked Gwyneth Paltrow ever since she butchered “Emma” (you know, the one with hunky Jeremy Northam), but I mostly just ignored her and her work after that. I knew she’d started a privileged rich white woman  “lifestyle” thing -GOOP – and I was astonished to learn the kind of things she thinks are good for women. She’s written about promoted for $$$$ terrible, terrible things; vagina steaming, jade eggs in vaginas, and other vagina-related products, and apparently they sell like hotcakes on her site. I assume the same people who buy $500 handwoven meditation shawls and decorate their house in expensive yoga shit* also frequent her site.

She can’t seem to tell the difference between the vulva and the vagina, but then, she can’t seem to tell the difference between actual medicine and nasty toxic shit that can be hideously harmful to the women she claims to be “helping”.

I’ve been down the alt.health rabbit hole – when I started to experience ideopathic pain in my arms, I went on the internet (my first mistake) and tried to find something that would help (mostly because my then-doctor, whom we shall call “Dr. Terrible” – said there was nothing to be done, and put me on Paxil). I bought so. many. supplements, and all that happened was my birth-control pills stopped working – a side effect that was not mentioned on any of the sites I read, and a very bad one, as I was taking BC for endometrial reasons (fun fact: Your co-workers really freak out when you faint in pain).

Okay, supplements, no. Maybe sugar? I went on a sugar-free diet and gained 10lbs. Vegan? I can’t eat that many nuts. Superfoods? Super expensive, but very unhelpful.

By the Dawn of Kale, I was determinedly anti-woo, and anyway, kale tastes like gritty sadness in my mouth. Turmeric makes me sneeze. Coconut oil is not nearly as tasty as olive oil, and I may as well be eating lard. Stevia tastes unbelievably bitter to me, even the “non-bitter” varieties. Dark chocolate – it turns out that guy made it up, to prove that most “scientific” journals will publish anything for money.

I don’t like dark chocolate, anyway. I’m highly sensitive to bitter flavours. Also, cilantro tastes like soap. Yes, I’m one of those people.

Science made it possible for me to function. Yay, science!

And, it seems, GOOP has some seriously nasty and victim-blaming ideas. Dr Jen Gunter went to a very expensive ($650 a ticket, which is more money than I can throw around easily) “conference” GOOP put on, and along with the “medium” and the person who claimed she came back from the dead, was some very ugly messaging for anyone who ever got sick, or lost a loved one: It seems they died because they didn’t get enough love.

To say that about anyone would be unbelievably cruel, but saying it about the kids killed in mass shootings borders on sociopathic. And this is coming from essentially, a lifestyle brand by Gwyneth Paltrow.

Turns out, “Emma” wasn’t nearly the worst she could do.

(*for why I have a problem with expensive yoga shit, see
here .)

 

A new favourite blog!

(Note classy English Spelling.)

I love Dr. Jen Gunter‘s wordpress blog. She’s funny, has no patience for woo-filled nonsense – dealing with Gwyneth Paltrow’s GOOP crap is one of her things – and you should read her blog. She has a glorious turn of phrase, one being

“Your reproductive tract is not a wayward bit of flotsam in the storm of life where barnacles and sundry creatures seek refuge.”

– From a post about a book claiming to help women “cleanse” with herbal remedies.

She gives excellent advice, takes down the stupid, and she’s funny. I love the funny.

Those are Bears!

We both had doctor appointments in C’ville today – I had my Botox, so hopefully the three straight months of migraines will finally stop (pleasepleasepleasefortheloveofGOD) – and as we drove out onto route 15, I saw a large animal walk across the road ahead of the car in front of us.

I said “Polar Bear” (inside joke; come to our filk night at Pennsic), but then…

“Fuck! Black bear!”

A black bear crossed the road in front of us.  I assume it crossed for one of the following reasons:

1.  To get to the other side. Because the other side has food.                                                      2.  Or Chickens.                                                                                                                                        3.  Or easily available bird seed.                                                                                                          4.  That was where its car was parked.

Whatever its unholy purpose, it’s been the first black bear we’ve seen for months.  Hope it doesn’t get run over.

Vultures, 6/22/18

Yesterday, I wandered around the yard, getting the first of the summer blackberries.  I had shoes on, so I went down to the Chicken Vulture Coop and looked in to see what was happening this year.

I saw nothing on the one side (the sky was overcast), but I heard… rustling.

I opened the other door (there are two small rooms, side by side), and I saw two beautiful (well, to me, they are) three-month-old vulture juveniles, one of whom immediately threw up. I closed the door and held my breath (vulture vomit smells truly ungodly, being rancid meat that has been partially digested in two entirely separate vulture stomachs; it’s a very effective defense mechanism).

Yay! Two new vultures! Their odds are good now for making it to adulthood, as they’re too big to be eaten by snakes (nothing else will touch them), and they’re not going to die of cold.  They have moved to the room with a shelf, which means they’re practicing sleeping sitting up (as they will have to do when they join the roost), and we should see them out and about in the next month.  After that, they’ll continue to live with our adult pair throughout the summer, then the adults will start “encouraging” them to leave (by hissing and mobbing them until they don’t want to stay any more). By fall, they should be joining the roost, and the adults will no longer live at our place, but will join the juveniles at the roost.  Which could be a dead tree, a tall structure (like a cell-phone tower), or an abandoned building, but is usually a dead tree.

The adults will come back and stake their claim on the coop by the end of winter, as it is a very good nesting place, even though it is slowly falling apart.  We sometimes get vultures in the old barn, but it depends on the weather – the north wall of the barn has pretty much rotted away, and the roof is starting to go.  Even with those faults, the vultures like it (they usually lay their eggs on the ground, by deadfall or in hollow trees; an old building is often better protection for the eggs), but our main two won’t always allow other vultures to nest nearby.  Too many nests in one area can mean a much more limited food supply, and ours jealously guard their good fortune.

Here’s a picture from last year, of the adults and the one juvenile (from left: male, female, juvenile), sitting on top of the old chimney:

chimney vulture crop 2017Picture by Laura Mellin, 2017

Vultures, btw, have no distinguishing sex characteristics. Even wildlife experts can only tell one of two ways – either they catch the vultures mating, or they perform a necropsy on a dead vulture.  I happen to know ours apart because the male is more chill in my presence*, but when they’re together (which is most of the time; they mate for life, with no side-hustle), the male’s head is more brown/grey/black, and the female’s head is more grey/grey/black. The previous female was more distinctive, as she had lost three toes on her left foot in a fight (we think with a raccoon) a few years before she died.

We have no idea of the sex of the juveniles. Ever.

*Black vultures have no vocal cords; they communicate with grunts and hisses, but most of their communication with each other, other vultures, and (sometimes) me, is done through elegantly complex body language. When they are relaxed, they will communicate by gentle head movements and various grooming gestures on themselves. When they are upset, they will groom each other, very gently.  When they are anxious, they will sometimes “yawn” (opening their mouth wide), and if they feel threatened, they will stretch their wings out to make themselves look more imposing (with a six-foot wing-span, they are).

But that is a massively simplified explanation for very complex sets of movements. I can make grooming movements at them to show I’m not a threat, and I definitely get a sense of back-and-forth, but I can’t understand much beyond relaxed/scared/angry. When the male and I “talk”, he will wait for me to make my movements before he makes his.  The female once gave me the hairy eyeball and hopped in between us – I think I was inadvertently flirting with a vulture.

That’s a resume-builder, that one.  Yup.

They do like being together; if they were humans, they’d probably be considered co-dependent, but I like that they’re so affectionate.  There’s probably a lesson in there somewhere.

??????!

There is a Downton Abbey mattress pad.

I’m not a fan of the series. To be fair, I only watched three episodes.  My mother and I watched the pilot together, as I was in London when it debuted.  Neither of us found it appealing. It’s all a bit too much “watch the servants being treated badly! Watch rich people behave just like they’re in a modern soap opera, but somehow classier!” for me.

(BTW, the secret to being classy is the accent.  Makes everything sound more posh.)*

But really? A mattress pad? I’ve seen the fake jewelry, and the tree ornaments, and even the “accessories” (a cheap wooden wine bottle box with the logo, and a picnic basket are the only ones I remember). I guess you really can slap a logo on anything and someone will buy it. That’s a bit sad, really.

I just don’t understand the USA’s infatuation with Britain.  I mean, I get the whole “my ancestors came from Blahblahblahton-on-the-Wold, so I feel a deep connection to everything Blah-related”, I do. We all like to have a connection to our past.  But I don’t understand Anglophilia.  You guys fought us “English pig-dogs”*** off with the help of the French, so why aren’t you lot Francophiles****? Most Americans don’t even know who Lafayette is, let alone that without his help, you’d still all be speaking… English.

Okay, bad example.

But I mean, we burned down your White House.***** (We didn’t burn down a church full of people, though, that was the Nazis in WWII). And before that, we taxed you guys with all sorts of unfair taxes.  You guys hate unfair taxes, right? Right?? Also, your ancestors that came to America for a better life were the servants and beggars of the Downton Abbey world.  Your forebears would have been sneered at and turned away at the scullery door.

Unless, of course, your great-great-great grandfather went to the US, made a fuck-tonne****** of money, and you sent your daughters back over to England to marry aristocrats so your grandchildren would be nobility (but not you, of course, you’d still be scum, and not invited to parties).  This really only worked for about 50 families, tops.

Nope, aristocracy isn’t to be admired, it’s really not.  It caused inbreeding, haemophilia, and the Hapsburg lip.  Also intense confusion for regular people in the US before WWI, as the Russian Tsar Nicholas, the German Kaiser Wilhelm II, and England’s King George V were cousins, and all looked kind of like each other (first picture, Tsar Nicholas on the left, George V on the right, second picture, George V on the left, Kaiser Wilhelm II on the right):

Image result for george v of england Image result for kaiser wilhelm 2

Spooooooky.  And an excellent reason not to admire aristocracy; they’re all inbred up to the eyebrows.

I’m still somewhat at a loss over the mattress pad in particular, since I remember beds in grand houses as having mattresses made of horsehair, unpadded metal springs, and terrifying unidentifiable lumps that sometimes moved of their own accord. Sheets, far from being soft and fancy, were made of a kind of linen that is usually reserved for making tents, and were more exfoliating than a ten-minute sandstorm. You might have a fireplace in your room, but more often than not, the chimney flue was closed off, and if you tried to light anything, you burned the carpet that had been laid under the grate. Warmth was sometimes provided by a single-bar electric heater, but more often by a rattling old radiator that gave off 2 BTUs an hour*******.

Comfort is not really an English thing, especially for the upper classes, who regard terrible food,  awful beds, and rock-hard furniture as “character-building”, along with freezing-cold rooms and a layer of ice in the toilet bowl in the winter. Comfort is for people who didn’t go to the “right” schools.

Anglos non! Vive la Franco-Americains!


*Except Donald Trump. He can buy as much gold-plated furniture as he wants, but he will never seem as classy as an English upper-class accent.**

**It’s called ormolou, Donald.

***Mind you, English pig-dog bites can be pretty nasty.

****Fans of France, not James Franco, though he’s pretty hot.

*****Not my family personally, though I’m sure they’d have been fine with it. Also, not the Canadians, Donald.

******Metric; about 1.75 US fuck-tons.

*******BTU: British Thermal Unit. An often talked-about, but never actually seen form of heat.  We think it looks like a hedgehog crossed with a pangolin.  That way, at least you can feel slightly amused as you wrap yourself in ten blankets and attempt to not lose limbs to frostbite.

 

 

Such an Amazing Weekend!

I had the bestest times evah! This past weekend was amazing, and informative, and just all-around cool.  I’m a shy person (I cover well, but trust me, I am really shy with strangers), and I was anxious before going to the Frolic, since I don’t really feel like I’ve added anything new to my skills for ages.  Not that anything like that was required to go.

But everyone was lovely!  I got to meet people I’ve admired for a very long time, and who have added huge realms of knowledge to my personal skills base, and… I’m rambling.

But it was so cool to meet everyone. You are all the best.

I also handed over my latest project: The drawn-out design for a patterned coverlet for the tester bed in the Row House at the Jamestown Settlement and Museum, embroidery to be done by volunteers in the Costume Shop.  I adapted the design from a cushion cover, and set it up so that the only stitch required was back stitch/running stitch (I wanted it to be easy).

This is the coverlet on our guest bed – a full-size mattress:

DSCF4473 - Copy
1600-style coverlet design

And here’s a close-up section with size comparison:

1600s embroidery design
coverlet embroidery pattern by Laura Mellin

Whew! I’m pleased with it.  There are extras and changes I made, as I always like to play with design even when I’m following a particular piece.  There are bugs and snails here and there, I changed a flower and played with the others to fit the monochrome style.

Also, Noel, I have a couple of pictures of our vultures!

We’ve known for several years that if we put out a container with water, our vultures will happily drink from it, rather than going down to one of the streams nearby (near, but not close).  I think they like to be able to drink closer to their nest. This year, Bob suggested we get a plastic kid’s pool, as last year we noticed that the juvenile vulture liked to stand in the water, as well as drink from it. So, Bob found a cheap one at the store, and we filled it.  And waited.

It turns out, we didn’t have to wait long!  The vultures started drinking from it almost immediately, but then one day…

“It’s hot!  This looks nice!”DSCF4463 - Copy

“Bloop! Got your nose!”DSCF4464 - Copy

“Aaaaahhhh! Refreshing!”DSCF4468 - Copy

“Now… a little session on the sunny deck to dry out!”DSCF4471 - Copy

They are the cutest; I love them.  I’ve been leaving the old chicken coop where they nest  alone, since the female is a little shy still, and I don’t want to stress her out.  We should know soon whether nesting was successful, as the flying lessons will begin with building up their muscles, like this exercise session from last year:

DSCF3435 - Copy

That is the female watching, and the juvenile practicing.  It still has a little bit of a fluffy ruff, and some fluffy bits of feather here and there.

So, awesome weekend, thank you to everyone who was so nice and friendly (I loved your jackets and clothes, and everything!), thank you to JYF and Cindy, and Chris. I love you all, and I show my love by posting pictures of vultures. *heart*

This is faintly disheartening…

“Cool”, I thought. “Zulily has a sale of Wonder Woman stuff”.*

Honestly, I wasn’t expecting quite so much stuff done by men, for men (and women who like looking at cheesecake images of heavily sexualized women) (not as many of those as guys, because, feminism). I wanted more “Super/Divine Power/Goddess”, and not so much “Boobs/Boobs/Men don’t understand that women’s bodies don’t actually bend like that/Boobs”.

In a genre where a lot of men think women don’t belong (sci-fi, comics, the internet), we suddenly have a superheroine that doesn’t make us think “oh, yeah, that character exists only for men to drool over and be rescued by the menz”. Even though there’s a lot more unpacking that can be done with Gal Gidot’s portrayal of WW, she, and the women who were Amazons, finally became inhabitants in a space that was created by women, played by women, and appealing to women. It hurts to know how seldom women get that.

And as a woman who has loved sci-fi, comics, and the internet since I was a kid, who went to Cons and made costumes, and wanted a female hero that was as good as, or better than, the male heroes around her, this WW is precious. I want girls to grow up loving the genre and not be forced to cosplay male characters because men still assume that women “just aren’t into that sort of thing”.

I love Lovecraft-genre short stories, too, and I have a number of anthologies and collected stories.  And there’s nothing I hate more than reading that a man thinks that there are no good female writers in the genre.**

I remember how much I was into all the same things the boys were into. I also remember the sexism, the harassment, the creeps, and the men who just dismissed my point of view because I was a girl, and “girls don’t get this stuff”. I cut my eyeteeth on John Wyndham (look him up), Arthur C. Clarke, Heinlein, and Lovecraft. As soon as I knew how to read, I was drawn to horror and sci-fi.  I still am. I love a good Charles Stross novel, or John Scalzi.  Hell, I even think Larry Correia’s Monster Hunters International series is fun. I re-read books over and over, savouring the good bits, picking up anthologies just to read a particular short story again (Elizabeth Bear and Sarah Monette’s Mongoose, The Wreck of the Charles Dexter Ward, and Boojum are among my favourites, found in various Lovecraft-themed anthologies). But every time I think we have moved on from this nonsense, it just comes back around again.

Wonder Woman is not a fucking Pin-up.

*I’m not linking. I refuse.  There’s some good stuff, if you want to find it, you can do it.

**I’m looking at you, S.T. Joshi. Twenty-one stories and only four by women?  Weak.