It’s a sheer joy seeing Jean-Luc on screen again

Just watched the first episode of Picard; I liked it quite a bit, but keep in mind that my heart belongs to Star Trek, so it is hard for me to think critically about it.

And Jean-Luc just makes me smile; it’s a sheer joy seeing him on screen again. And I rather adore his fuzzy white eyebrows. Someday, Kevin will have eyebrows just like those, and I will love them just as much. 🙂

I hadn’t realized Michael Chabon was executive producing — I have a lot of trust in him. (There’s a job I’d abandon many things for…)

I did pause it partway through to read a plot summary of Nemesis, because I’d mostly forgotten it, and in retrospect, I sort of wish I’d actually re-watched it first, even though it is not my favorite of the Star Trek movies. So there’s a recommendation for you!

Watching this episode sparked multiple ideas for my SF novel too. I’m going to start watching the Expanse soon too (I started it once, got sidetracked a few episodes in, so planning to just start over). I’m still drowning a bit in backlogged to-do items, but I think I see light at the end of the tunnel, and writing some science fiction at the other end of it….

[no spoilers, please]

#serendibwriting

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A last minute grant application

That feeling when your little baby nonprofit is applying for its first grant, and you meant to get everything done in good time, but were waylaid by a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad cold, not to mention alarums and excursions at the children’s school necessitating many serious conversations and a whole lot of extra driving, and then your spouse is felled by the selfsame cold, and so you call to ask on the day of the deadline whether a wee little extension might be possible, and are informed sadly, no, it is not, that the grant very much does have to absolutely be in by 11:45 p.m. today, so sorry, and today is a day with rolling deadlines and urgent appointments and you do have a day job (and the students are e-mailing asking about FRIDAY’S assignment, and don’t they understand that it is only TUESDAY now, and we have a WHOLE CLASS between now and Friday), so you finally get to working on the grant in your first free minutes of the day, at 10 p.m. at night, thinking well, this won’t take very long, because you’re mostly just checking over other peoples’ good work, but it turns out that you don’t have access to the file (and yes, this is one reason why I often curse Google & its shared docs), but thank all the gods and little fishes that the owner of the file is awake, and has put her munchkins to bed, and is back on the computer checking if you need anything else and can give you access, and then between the two of you, you manage to find all the little things that need to be fixed (it turned out that the attachments she uploaded previously didn’t get saved in the application, so she had to upload them all again), and at 11:41, you read the message from her that it’s done, it’s in, you can both go to bed (and get up at 7 a.m. with the kiddos up and out the door to school)…

…woohoo!

#lifeofartsadministratorswhoarealsomomsetc
#hoorayforceegeeherooftherevolution
#hoorayforkirstenandprofessionalbudgetstoo
#serendibwriting

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“When you are pursuing a dream, you will find the time.”

I’ve started reading this book, and while some of it isn’t so relevant to me (geared towards professional food photographers or those who would like to become them, so talking about apertures and the like), some of it is. I’d like to take better photos for you all.

And the intro was actually just rather lovely, esp. the last paragraph, and applicable to writing and many other arts / career passions:

“I tell you this not to boast about my own success, but because I am aware that many of you are looking to reinvent yourselves, and understanding that it’s possible matters. I know there never seems to be enough time in the day, but when you are pursuing a dream, you will find the time. It will not feel like work.”

#serendibkitchen

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Orchid terrarium tutorial

Recently someone in our garden club asked about how you put together a terrarium. Since our house cleaner also recently knocked over and broke the small terrarium we had (sitting on an overly-tippy end table), I took that opportunity to pick up what I’d really wanted all along — a taller, free-standing terrarium, big enough to house full-size orchids (24″ high interior).

A trip to Trader Joe’s for cheap orchids, and some potting soil, little plants, pebbles, and moss from the garden store, and I was ready to go. There’s very little to instruct, really, but here goes, in case it’s helpful:

a) I started with a layer of pebbles in the bottom for drainage, followed by a layer of soil.

b) I added the orchids next, and this bit, I’m not sure I did right, but since I know orchids prefer their roots to stay mostly dry, I left them potted in their little plastic pots filled with orchid bark, and just nestled those in the soil.

c) Then I tucked in some little terrarium-type plants around them. Your nursery can advise you on what’s well suited to this, but just keep in mind that what you’re recreating is essentially a moist, jungly environment. Terrariums are related to Wardian cases, which were used to bring tropical plants back from the tropics to England, keeping them alive on the long voyage. So I wouldn’t use a terrarium for succulents!

d) I added a layer of moss, which serves the dual function of looking nice and also retaining moisture in the soil.

e) That’s it! Put the lid on, and you have a moist, mostly self-contained environment. It should need water rarely. My understanding is that usually terrarium plants want plenty of indirect light (not blasted with sun) — imagine that you’re under the tree cover of a tropical jungle. So I put mine by a window that’s near an overhanging porch roof.

Now, the next step is that eventually, these orchids will lose all their flowers (though it’ll take a few months; I try to pick orchids that are mostly buds, with just a few blooms, so the show is sure to last a long time). In theory, one can then take care of them appropriately so that they’ll come back, year after year. I haven’t actually done that yet, but I have friends that do it regularly, and swear it isn’t hard.

When these are done, I’m hoping to try that, and I’m also hoping to replace one of them with a more interesting variety, since they’re all, I think, pretty standard phalaeonopsis (or moth) orchids, and there are so many more cool varieties out there. I’m looking forward to eventually experimenting with other types.

#serendibgarden

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Family tech & habits update

Family tech & habits update: We’re trying to wean the kids from spending so much time passively consuming visual entertainment (Kavi has watched all of Friends TWICE, which just seems wrong), so with the new year, we’re trying something new.

We turn off all family devices at 7:30 (bedtime for the 10-year-old is 8:30), so that the blue light doesn’t mess up the sleep-scheduling part of our brains. We try to do a family board game then, before bedtime routines. Two nights ago, it was a quick game of Go Fish, followed by a little time picking up Anand’s bedroom.

Last night, Kev and the kids played Machi Koro with the Harbor expansion; I was too sick to join them, but lay in bed nearby reading and enjoying the sounds of their laughter and snark. The kids were trouncing Kevin, I think because he avoided mackerel and tuna-related cards, since he doesn’t like fish, which is really very bad strategy for the Harbor expansion.

They didn’t quite finish the game before bedtime, so it’s suspended to be finished tonight. Unstable Unicorns is planned to be next in the rotation.

(They also spent a few minutes picking up the library before heading up to bed. I am determined to get them in the habit of quickly cleaning up common spaces this year, doing it in little bits daily so it doesn’t get onerous.)

CAVEAT: still allowed: podcasts, listening to music, and Kindle Paperwhites for reading (which don’t emit the blue light that interferes with sleep.) Possibly also *making* videos; that’s under discussion.

2ND CAVEAT: Sometimes a grown-up will use devices again after the kids are down, but we’re working on stopping that. It’s hard.

#serendibhome

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This cold is slowing me down

GAH. Woke up with yesterday’s cough turned into a different kind of cough, more phlegmy. I think that’s actually progress, but it feels worse. Also, my head is a ball of snot. I may refrain from trying to do delectable food descriptions for a day or two, as right now, every adjective I come up with is gross.

Plan for today: somehow, clear head enough to finish Wild Cards story revision. That’s basically it, though there are some little e-mails, etc. to process. Oh, and a phone conference with Margaret about our comic, though I think I need to push that off again (gah), as this cold has slowed me down sufficiently that I didn’t do the writing I said I’d do before we met again. SIGH.

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A Feast of Serendib print run copies have arrived!

Here’s a little Feast milestone — we’ve sent out all the Kickstarter edition copies we’d ordered. Eep! In theory, I could still buy more from IngramSpark as POD, but I’m hoping to never do that again, as they cost $20 each to print, which means I don’t even really break even on those, once you take into account all the original development costs, much less bookstore discounts (generally 40%), etc.

Instead, the overseas print run has finally come in (more like $10 each to print), and I’ve had about a hundred shipped to my house, with 1900 more safe in a warehouse in Kentucky or somewhere like that. So we may actually start seeing profits? If people buy them? If not, um, well I suppose I’ll have 2000 copies at $10 each to use to keep me warm at night. I’ll build myself a book igloo, perhaps…

It was very exciting and also nerve-wracking opening them. What if the printing had gotten messed up??? But at least this first copy looks fine; I think the paper is slightly brighter than the IngramSpark paper, which is just fine. They look almost identical, though. Hopefully people will love, love, love this book.

#serendibkitchen

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Finding the right help

It’s been an evolution, figuring out how to do at least three different jobs (professor, indie publisher, nonprofit arts director) as one person. Part of that was realizing I needed help, and then it turned out that it took me quite a while to find the right *kind* of help. I think I’m making good progress on that, though, with six (!) part-time people. Some put in 1-2 hrs / week, some put in more like 10, depending on the job. Somehow, it’s all working. (It’s not quite paying for itself yet, but it’s getting there, I think. An investment in the future.)

Heather Rainwater Campbell is remotely working for me from Michigan, doing my social media work, and also some of the Feast production & PR work that can be done remotely. Irene Victoria is doing PR work as well, from New York, primarily for the SLF, but a bit for me as well.

Last night, I took out three of my local team for what was supposed to be an end-of-year thank you — wish I could’ve flown out the remote people too! — which had slipped over into a start of the new year thing, because we’re all just that busy, and our schedules are complicated. All three of the locals are moms, and y’know, holidays can get a little hectic for moms. Just a touch.

Our fourth local, Kirsten Jackson, couldn’t make it, but we’ll get her next time. She’s our hardy financial person, and has relieved so much financial anxiety for me, I can’t even tell you. She makes sure everyone gets paid on time, and the taxes too. 

But Cee Gee (who does development work for the SLF, working on grants and our fund drive) managed to make it, along with Karen Murphy (our managing director at the SLF, helping to keep the schedules and files and volunteers organized), and Stephanie Bailey (who basically organizes me).

We went to Flourish Oak Park, which I haven’t tried before, and it’s really a fun concept for co-working space + cocktail bar (they have a cool mechanism that allows you to sample lots of different beers and such, which is very appealing for a taster like me). And we were lucky enough to be there when pig & fire were doing a Filipino pop-up event, so in addition to the cheese platter and sweets from Flourish, we got to sample more of their yummy Filipino food. Lumpia, YUM. (Their next pop-up will be at Kinslahger 1/25, 5:30 – 8:30! Details on their FB page…)

Thank you all, peeps, for keeping me mostly sane last fall. Looking forward to much brilliant work and fun times in the new year.

(And Kel Bachus, thanks again for telling me at WisCon last year that I needed a tribe to work with me and take care of me. You were absolutely right.)

#serendibkitchen
#serendibwriting

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Food photos using robots, by Nathan Myhvold

I walked by this gallery and had to go in — Nathan Myhrvold takes food photos using robots (among many other things he does — he seems like something of a polymath). The photos are striking and also often fun.

I did actually pick up a ‘how to photograph food’ book at the Book Larder: A Community Cookbook Store yesterday, but I will not be using robots, just so you know. 

#serendibkitchen

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