juushika: Drawing of a sleeping orange cat. (I should have been born a cat)
August recently recovered from a five-day stint with the cat flu. It conformed exactly to expectations re: symptoms and recovery (she had a clear runny eye and nostril, just on her right side; some sneezing and squinting, but no breathing problems; mild decrease in activity but no decrease in appetite); it was still unenjoyable. I made a successful effort not to provide any contagious anxiety, because something like stress/going off her food could've lead to legitimately dangerous complications. And her vague self-pity and head-shake sprinkles of tears and snot were cute, in a gross way. But she's my baby and my lifeline, and I live in terror of anything bad happening to her ever. I'm glad it's behind us.

(Dee and I have no idea how she got sick! All the cats are indoor-only; August has limited physical contact with the other cats and zero contact with the dog (who obviously does go outside). None of the other cats have gotten sick. The windows have been open and we've had visiting porch cats, and that seems like the only possible vector: virus via early-summer open windows.)

* * *

My last set of overlapping books included a Le Guin (and is there anything more satisfying than Le Guin, than the strength of her language, the plot-wide influence of her worldbuilding elements); a revisit of my favorite short story of all time, Kelley Eskridge's "Eye of the Storm;" and Anne of Green Gables, a childhood favorite that I haven't reread in at least 15 years and which is remains just so delightful. It's been a decided upswing after a brief series of mediocre books.

I spent this afternoon in bed, just having finished the first and a story adjacent to the second, reading the third. August climbed under the blankets with me and lay down on my chest, and we took a nap together in an idyllic setting which echoes Green Gables: my computer was turned off, my blinds down; the room lit by diffused white light and the day cool for June; sleeping atop freshly-laundered sheets. Echoes Green Gables in specific not at all, but in that atmosphere, of finding the best of a thing; of making space and time to daydream. August's whiskers on my face brought me in and out of sleep for an hour until I finally got up to make dinner.

I have a lot of sleep issues, split equally between anxiety and back pain, which means I effectively never nap—it happens about three or four times a year, generally on accident. Pleasant when it occurs (if it doesn't fuck up my back), but not something I can do on purpose, because sleep is a carefully coordinated effort that I only have the energy for once a day.

It's one of the things I envy most in my cats, but sometimes, just sometimes, August shares it with me.
juushika: Drawing of a sleeping orange cat. (I should have been born a cat)
I went down to Corvallis for my mother's 65th birthday almost-surprise party—not a surprise that there would be a party, but a surprise that out-of-towners, including her sisters, would be there; they also gave me my ride down from Portland. I am very bad at social events, even casual ones; I went and I didn't fail miserably (just moderately), so that's something, I suppose.

And I talked with people, uh oh. )

Then I spent ~10 days closed in Devon's bedroom, speaking to no one except a very good dog and occasional cat (and also Devon), lying in bed and reading, and playing the occasional video game; and it was approximately enough recovery.

- - - - -

I came back to PDX because I wanted to see my cat, and we made the mistake of driving up on a weekday afternoon because it fit every schedule except traffic and the first heat wave of the season. The car began to overheat once we hit the Portland traffic, so we ended up pulling off to the dead end of a residential street—a vacant lot and a half, tucked under an overpass and against a power station, nothing there but the shade of trees with their sudden vibrant green and the quiet backs to apartment complexes. We hung out for an hour, to let the car cool and traffic pass; I read 1984 for the millionth time. Then we drove home through back ways we know from when I lived in SE. It was, bizarrely—the unexpected 4-hour car trip, unseasonably hot, broken radio, rush hour traffic, and yet—a lovely, long goodbye, relaxing despite the stressful circumstances.

I hate summer, don't get me wrong. But summer is such an intense experience, so physically present, that the first signs of it conjure something akin to nostalgia: memories of spending all day in bed with all the electronics off, reading, reading, coaxing a crossbreeze out of my opened windows, and the anticipation of sunset and the full-body relief of tired eyes and tired skin. I saw that in the haven we found in that dead end.

- - - - -

These things are over a week old, now, but I've been been so tired lately; I've been having back issues for the last three or four weeks, the "wake up already in pain" variety, which is part of it. All I want to do is lay down and read, but the more time I spend reading, the longer the omnipresent backlog of book reviews becomes, fie. (It is so long.) But there've so many great books lately! Almost everything hovers at that 4-, 4.5-stars level, not quite flawless, but that can't really be a complaint.
juushika: Drawing of a sleeping orange cat. (Default)
Provided in bulk to cut down on spam. I am so behind in book reviews, as in all things. I've been quiet and I had some things going on around my birthday, and as soon as I was ready to write again I was hit by a few (ongoing, but today I'm stubborn, fed up, and working to spite it) days of unremitting back pain that medication just will not touch. But I've been reading a lot, and have more to read, and have been writing my notes in a fresh, new, larger Moleskine—5x8 inch; my last two were 3x5 inch, and there are benefits to both, but this larger size is so much easier to structure and to hold, and I'd forgotten how much I like it; summer is most definitely winding to a close, and I know because it rained today and Dee and I took Odi walking in it; I want to at least pretend to turn all that into some sort of record before the month is up. Ergo:


Title: The Geek Feminist Revolution
Author: Kameron Hurley
Published: New York: Tor, 2016
Rating: 3 of 5
Page Count: 385
Total Page Count: 200,115
Text Number: 590
Read Because: personal enjoyment, ebook borrowed from the Multnomah County Library
Review: A collection of short essays, most harvested from blog posts, about intersectional feminism within literature, media, and other geek spheres. This intersectionality is intentional, valuable, and imperfect—I wish it stretched to include mental illness, which is instead equated to bigotry in problematic ways. But on the whole, this is a step above white feminism or feminism 101, although it fails to say anything truly revolutionary. I'm not sold on the tone: anger is a valid and valuable tool, but the swearing combined with the repetitive style and content smacks of what it is: blog posts, edited but still informal and unrefined. I appreciate the intent of this collection, but as a published work I don't think it's particularly successful.


Title: Sword of Destiny (The Witcher Book 2)
Author: Andrzej Sapkowski
Translator: David French
Published: London: Orbit, 2015 (1992)
Rating: 3 of 5
Page Count: 380
Total Page Count: 200,495
Text Number: 591
Read Because: continuing the series, ebook borrowed from the Multnomah County Library
Review: Six short stories, largely chronicling the dissolution of Geralt's relationship with Yennefer and his first interactions with Ciri. This collection is less enjoyable than The Last Wish, mostly because it has a slow start—"The Bounds of Reason" and "Eternal Flame" ("petty politics instead of dragons" and "a comedy of financial errors," respectively) in particular run overlong. It's also, arguably, braver, offering more in the way of overarching plot, reoccurring characters, and a dense emotional register. But that last is a strange: the gritty, crude worldbuilding grates against the persistent coyness of Geralt's emotions and even his actions. His character could be profound—but the production of profundity grows tiresome.

And the sexism, in the worldbuilding and the narrative, of course persists; that Yennefer's infertility is her sole motivation is predictable and simplistic. Again, in contrast, the female character themselves are complicated and strong, especially willful child Ciri—she's lovely in the title story, which also offers complex, solid worldbuilding and an evocative atmosphere.

I will continue these, and look forward to starting the novels proper. But I can't recommend this collection and, oh, does this series have problems.


Title: Cold Fire (The Circle Opens Book 3)
Author: Tamora Pierce
Published: New York: Scolastic, 2011 (2002)
Rating: 3 of 5
Page Count: 350
Total Page Count: 200,845
Text Number: 592
Read Because: continuing the series, ebook borrowed from the Multnomah County Library
Review: Daja and Frostpine are working in the snowy city of Kugisko when a rash of devastating fires breaks out. The structure of this quartet remains formulaic, but this installment is surprisingly good. The setting, fire against snow in a well-defined woodworked city, is evocative; the plot is simplistic but the characters are not—gracelessly in the antagonist's case, but the supporting cast is strong. The nostalgia is toned down and the themes of maturation are less clear-cut, which gives Daja room to shine instead of slotting her into the series's formula. I still don't love this quartet, but this is one of its better installments.
juushika: Screen capture of the Farplane from Final Fantasy X: a surreal landscape of waterfalls and flowers. (Anime/Game)
(CW for offhand discussion of mental health issues and suicidal ideation.)

At the risk of jinxing it, we've been having unseasonably cool weather these last few weeks. I hate summer but live seasonally, in particular organizing my media consumption around the seasons, so this deviation is disorientating but not unwelcome. And I've been finding a lot of media to fill the gap in my media consumption as I push some things back (like sports anime, which is uniquely suited to warm weather).

I discovered Critical Role only approximately an eon behind everyone else, and it's phenomenal and also a gigantic timesink. Halfway through the second episode I stopped to make sure it was safe to binge watch and I wouldn't run into a sudden end, but the joke was on me because it's 50+ 3 hour-long episodes. I've never participated in a tabletop RPG and always wanted to, but never been interested in D&D because of my hatred of high fantasy; I still don't care about the setting, but I had underestimated how engaging this sort of by-user for-user creation could be, even when the source material is as generic as imaginable. (It does make me wish I could play something similar, which then reminds me that a lot of things aren't accessible to me because of my crazy; I receive that reminder often, and it always manages to sap away some joy, but the show is still fun to watch.)

(See also: Pokemon GO, which I would love to play but can't b/c no cell phone b/c mental health reasons, so that's a fun phenomenon to be excluded from.)

I've also been reading significantly more book series in the last few years, which has increased by book consumption considerably and contributes to the number of books I've reviewed this year. I still dislike the time and energy demand of series, still think a lot of them would benefit from brevity, and always keep to my habit of alternating between series-book and non-series book to prevent fatigue—but there's something satisfying about chewing through a sequence of books instead of a slew of stand-alones, and it's opened up some authors (Octavia Butler, a lot of children's/MG/YA literature, and, goodness knows, a ton of SF/F) that I previously would have avoided.

This last week or so I've been having some abnormal pain problems (neck and upper back, approximately unrelated to my normal back pain) that are affecting my sleep, and some amorphous low blood pressure issues. Both are annoying but niether particularly awful; less sleep just means more time for stories, and, as established, feeling cold in the summer is A-ok with me.

My mental health issues mean that I have constant suicidal ideation, not often with any particular desire or intent but with unflagging consistency; I would always rather not be, even when various symptoms are in remission; I have never found anything that justifies the effort of being present. And these stories still don't, but the sheer number of them, that I'm timesharing episodes to watch against series installments to finish, means that—for a rare occasion—I feel like there's not enough time, not enough of being, for all these things. That's not exactly a counterbalance but it's pretty close, as these things go.
juushika: Drawing of a sleeping orange cat. (Default)
I was lying down and petting Gillian, curled up by the window at the foot of my bed, and there was this lovely, spicy scent. Then I realized that we were right by my bookself, which is where I put the last BPAL scent I wore, a month or two ago: Inez (golden amber, vanilla musk, myrrh, cedar, carnation, and red sandalwood). Needless to say, I now have a spicy, honeyed scent. I haven't worn many scents lately; I go through phases with it, as all things. But the time away makes me more receptive when I return; I'm not tuning out the tendrils of scent, but rather keep catching them, that sweetness, that resinous base and dryness. I usually wear Morocco when it's warm and Inez when it's cold, as both are resinous carnations but Morocco is a lighter, thinner scent and Inez has a marshmallow thickness, more bodied and palpable, which can be cloying. But today, unseasonably warm but still spring, it suits.

I hate summer, I hate sun and heat, but I also try to live in each season as it comes—I like to be cold in the winter rather than blasting the heat, I consume media during the seasons in which they're set; as a result, the seasons develop atmospheres, associations, identities. I've gotten good at summer: fostering crossbreezes, turning off my computer tower, savoring the brief dark respite of night; summer and I have grown intimate. I don't look forward to it coming, but I'm so keenly aware of what it is that these warm days have a strange since of nostalgia. I can't convince my brain that knowing and not-quite-having something isn't necessarily the same as missing it!
juushika: Photograph of the torso and legs of a female-bodied figure with a teddy bear. (Bear)
I was playing Animal Crossing and thinking late-summer thoughts this evening, about to wrap up, when I glanced out the front window and saw Mamakitty's tail whisking by the corner. (Should you need a refresher: this is Mamakitty.)

Here's an open secret (secret insofar as I'm afraid that if I say it will happen, something will go horribly wrong; but if I keep a veil of "probably not definitely," then I cannot be disappointed): Dee and I are planning to adopt Mama when the weather gets cold this year. We felt awful for her in the chilly, raining winter last year—and in the intervening months, Odi will have more time to grow up and learn to be not quite so OMG A CAT A CAT. But this is an idea we've been flirting with for some time, and all my caution aside it will most likely happen, and I can't wait. In preparation for adopting her, Dee's begun feeding her—taking over the duty from our next door neighbor. It's heartbreaking, the number of cats we're now feeding on the front porch: fascinating to watch while eating breakfast, but you just don't know how many neighborhood strays/outdoor cats there are until you're providing food.

After the tail sighting, I grabbed a few treats and went outside. One of the cats that eats the food is a skinny almost all-black shorthaired beast that I'd thought was skittish—but after I sat on the porch for a few minutes that kitty just came over to me and demanded in-depth scritches. So many scritches, in fact, that when Mamakitty came out from under the porch the black kitty batted at her with a territorial NO MY PEOPLE HANDS MY TOUCHIES. I did some wide-armed dual-cat scratching to pacify everyone until black kitty got bored, and then it was just me and Mama.

When I tried to go back inside she stared at me through the window screen and made me feel sad, so I ended up spending quite some time with her and she got oh so many treats.

You can sense the death of summer, now. The hundred degree days have passed (fingers crossed and fate willing); apples are falling from the tree out front, startling Mama with each thick thump. I found an over-eager red maple leaf on a tree when I walked the dog today. It's not imminent autumn, but it's the inkling of it: end-summer dry deadness promising a blaze of color; early harvest promising abundance.

The gray wood and white rails of the porch, those dead dry leaves, our seedy and still beautiful front garden all flatter Mama, bringing out the calico in her coat and the contrasting white blaze. She's a beauty, this cat, and absolutely ridiculous. She's fluffy and stout, a round thing; she gets awful mats, but our neighbor has been brushing them out of her and that means, one day, I'll be able to do the same (I love grooming animals way more than a simple "love" would imply). She's skittish, but loves treats and cuddles; she'll reach her paws towards you if you try to walk away, and when she's happy she drools so much that she leaves polkadots on the floor. All cats are perfect, but this one is especially magical and she'll fit right in to our house of strange people and weirder beasts.

But today she was right at home on our porch in the cool breezes at the dying end of summer.

That's nice, Juu, you say; how about some pictures? Well, okay.

Mamakitty through the window. )

On the porch with Mamakitty, 1

Hanging with Mamakitty on the porch, +2. )

With bonus:

August drinking from a water glass
Oh where, oh where has my cat's dignity gone
Oh where, oh where can it be...

For the record, this was a whole lot funnier before August knocked over a glass, spilling water onto my keyboard and causing apparently permanent damage: the "p" has been broken for a week, and the primary enter button seems to come and go. How many words really do use p, you ask? SO MANY WORDS and I have to use the onscreen keyboard to complete all of them.
juushika: Drawing of a sleeping orange cat. (I should have been born a cat)
August's one-year-here anniversary passed without fuss—as it's the day before the 4th of July it was difficult to forget, but arbitrary dates still are arbitrary so I didn't pay it much mind. But in its way, it's a fantastical, gigantic thing that I have this cat; that I've had her for over a year, now. I feel like I've already said everything I can about the ways in which she's changed me. When I got a cat I knew it would be a change, and that's what I was there for: one life-changing experience, sign me up. A dog, we've found, is a large change, a day-to-day behavioral change (especially for Dee, goodness knows); a cat is smaller. They don't require daily walks or need to learn commands; they become a presence in the house, your life, and your bed. But that, still, is huge—especially for me.

So it's too much and too little, when I write about her—about how I love her every time my heart beats, about how she's filled a void in my soul, about how this cat is my favorite, my favorite thing ever, favorite being ever, my dearest love. It's melodramatic (as I tend to be), and gracefully overlooks the fact that she poops in a litterbox and breaks into any plastic-wrapped ANYTHING left ANYWHERE and annoys the everloving shit out of me for a minimum hour before each of her meals, and it's accurate—as accurate as I ever could be in telling you about my cat.

It's 90 degrees here today. I hate summer, we know, but this one hasn't been nearly as soul-destroying as last year—it's been more mild more often, and we better know how to cope with heat in this house (for my room, that means: crossbreeze. crossbreeze. no really: open the damn windows, all of them, yes.), and in a way I'm embracing this summer—reading summer books, tolerating with the warm weather—not for the sake of summer itself but so that when autumn and the rains come they will seem all the more glorious.

90 degrees, and August is stretched on my bed as drowsy and pliant as any cat could be, and I love her. I would rather love her than do or be or have almost anything. I would rather have her in my life than likewise. There's a steady breeze, and we've passed the magical time of day—5p—when the temperature goes from rising to falling. She'll curl up more as the temperature drops, she'll move from lying flat on my bed to sitting on her microfleece blanket, and she will always be perfect.

One year, guys.

Have some pictures.

August, a year later

+3 )
juushika: Drawing of a sleeping orange cat. (I should have been born a cat)
There was a brief heatwave here in the Pacific Northwest—we had a day each of 104, then 94, then 84 degrees. Last night I slept like shit (normal pain and nightmare* shit as opposed to "it's one in the morning why is it 90 degrees in the house" shit), woke at 3a. The room was deep and cold; I used my hotpad and watched Dark Shadows 214, the episode where Victoria encounters Barnabas in the Old House and he tells her about its building, its imported chandler and handpicked wallpaper and how so well built a house will last forever—and, as such, forever carry the memories of the evil that happened within. At its best, Dark Shadows is delightful: pulpy and compulsively watchable on account of its genre and episode length, but steeped in gothic, both its bombast and it's emotional resonance—and what's more gothic than a decrepit, beautiful, remarkable New England house? (Well one in England-England, I suppose.)

I guess what I'm saying is can it be autumn now please.

No—but the break in the weather is a blessing. At the dog park this afternoon it was overcast and then a cool breeze came through; so overcast I could go in short sleeves, so cool it raised goosebumps on my arms. We never thought, when we started taking Odi to the dog park, that we would get to know these dogs and sometimes their people so well. There's a cast of regulars that we see almost every time we go, and it forms a safe bubble of dogs we know and people we trust, so we don't have to watch Odi with such an eagle eye and we can give other dogs basic commands. Neither did I imagine that I would have the opportunity to know so many dogs so well—and there are fewer pleasures that compare to throwing a ball for a really enthusiastic dog, or having someone else's dog come up to you to say "love me and touch me all over and make me think you might let me go home with you."

But I'm writing this because I'm feeling a bit ... emotional, and emotionally conflicted, I suppose. I've had one eye on the Readercon controversy, which dredged up a few days of "everyone sucks and sexism is everywhere and fuck the world" about the time that Woof died so really, fuck the whole and entire world; and then in a single day Readercon resolved that controversy with aplomb and Britain won some awesome gold medals in the Olympics and Curiosity landed, and people weren't shit, they were beautiful and they did good and awesome things. But this afternoon and evening I was thinking back over my experiences in therapy (for reasons), which I didn't notice until a few hours in was hugely triggering because wow, who'da thunk that thinking about the time I was ill enough to be in therapy could possibly be upsetting. Meanwhile it was hot and I was miserable, and then Dee and I spent a day in St. Johns to avoid much of the heat and we did Starbucks and book browsing and dinner and it was fantastic, and then the heat broke and the natural world was both tolerable and occasionally beautiful. It's all a bit of an emotional roller-coaster, a small and creaky one and not the high-tech wonder of the themepark, but still enough to make me nauseous.

I know that I will never be completely mentally well, and yet I always feel a little surprised when a bit of mental ick slaps me upside the head. This isn't even a major brainmeats malfunction—I'm pretty much coming out of my major depressive episode, fingers crossed and knock on wood. It's just ... me: sensitive and melancholy, and therefore too emotional receptive or at least thirsty for the opposite, and strangely confused by the whole thing. It's been years and years of this, dear me; it's been pretty much all of a lifetime: these feelings shouldn't come as a surprise. But they do.

At this point, for what it's worth, I'm doing okay with Woof's death. I took a few days off of going to the dog park because the thought was too painful, but on the whole this is a low-impact death, which is to say that it's not sudden and it was clearly her time. I'm moving on; now, the dogs at the dog park are a joy. We'll see if I feel the same whenever I make it back to Corvallis, but. Yeah. Today I threw balls for a Miniature Pincher and snuggled Alfie, this little Chihuahua (uh ... mix? I'm unsure) who isn't trying to be a big dog, he is a big dog in a little body. Love is always a dog.

* Conscripted into an largescale assassination squad—by which I mean: tactical nuclear devices. The real irony is that murdering hundreds and thousands of people, and the mental stress of being put in a situation where I was expected to do so, made for a distinctly unpleasant but not unbearable dream, whereas going back to school is pretty much my nightmare of nightmares.
juushika: A black and white photo of an ink pen. (Writing)
Dear Universe,

I think that's the best addressee. With these things, it's hard to be sure. Lately, the warm muggy weather finally broke; it's been wet and cool outside, almost too cold, and last night I had to nudge the window almost shut and the cat slept curled against me and half under my blankets.

So my request is that, perhaps, I wake up tomorrow and it's September. I would love nothing more than to just skip over summer. I know it's not a particularly reasonable request, and there'd be all sorts of awful consequences for the flora and the harvest—but if it could be done somehow, then I'd really like to do it. I'm okay skipping only as far as September 1st: I could survive a lingering week or two of hot weather. It's three months of it that I'd rather do without, especially in the face of the beauty that's been outside my window the last two days. I don't want to give that up.

So let me know how that sounds, yeah?

Hopefully,
—Juu
juushika: A black and white photo of an ink pen. (Writing)
Nights are a balance, right now, between trying to get plenty of rest while it's still cold enough to sleep, and wanting to be awake to perhaps enjoy a few moments while it's cold enough to live. In other words: I am beyond ready for summer to be over, so ready that I have been dreading the days. We're midway through almost a week of 85 to 90 degree weather. I don't care how moderate that is my your standards: I am from the Pacific Northwest, and I am not made for this. I hate people that bitch about how wet/cold/overcast it is in one time of the year, and how sunny/hot/fucking miserable it is in another, but so help me I am not one of those people—I never complain about the rainy season or want it to be any shorter, and there is no hypocrisy when I say I am finished, I am done. There are hours these days—sometimes entire days—where the ambient temperature and humidity is just so that it feels like my body never ends, like I extend to the size of the house, like the air is my flesh and I'm suffocating myself. It's like the hell version of a float tank.

We're surviving thanks only to foods that can be cooked in half an hour or less, the blessed ice cube tray, and media sufficiently distracting that we may for a while to pretend to be anywhere but here.

Even the cats get hot. August goes and lies down on the linoleum and refuses to move.

But right now, August is nestling herself in my lap, and there is a cool breeze and the start of sunrise, and I'm actually comfortable and—despite the rant—quite happy, so I'm going to go and enjoy the moment.
juushika: Drawing of a sleeping orange cat. (I should have been born a cat)
Kitty under my chair.

August has discovered the magic of microfleece blankets. I'm not horribly surprised—Madison goes crazy for them, she'll kneed and suckle on them like some replacement mother; August just kneeds and ... puts her nose one the fabric. It's like she's not sure why her nose and mouth need to touch it, she doesn't drool or suckle at all, but they have to be there or the experience isn't quite complete. Honestly it's like she's not sure why any of it has to happen at all—she gets this look of WHY AM I KNEEDING PLEASE SEND HELP that morphs into NEVERMIND TOO COMFORTABLE PLEASE GO AWAY. Kitten loves her blanket.

Not that it's her blanket. Boy is using it over his long weekend here, and then it'll return to the living room because my dirty little secret is that the freakishly soft feel of that fabric makes my skin crawl. Said blanket has been necessary for the weekend, however, because we hit the sweet spot in this week of remarkable, overcast, cool summer weather: Rain. Buckets of rain. It's pouring now and has been pouring all day, hours of it, I fell asleep to the sound of heavy rain and woke to find it even heavier. All of this unseasonal coolness has been welcome—seriously, Dee and I won't stop talking about the weather—but this rain, it feels too good. It's perfect. It makes me long for autumn as if it weren't already here—because I know well enough that it's not: this weather can't last forever, and now that it's had its grand finale it'll probably pass. I've come to embrace summer in the last few years, as I've learned the art of sleeping in sunlight (and since Boy has an air conditioner in his room), but this is my weather and my home: the sound of rain, the gray sky and silverblue light, the cool humidity, the cold breezes, long sleeves and blankets and a sudden craving for warm food covered in cheese. It hurts me a little to know that after this will be many more weeks of heat—not that the heat has been bad this summer, and we've found all the little tricks for coping with it, but ah, this weather. I want it to last forever.

Devon's visit has been fantastic. He got here Thursday night, and leaves this evening—we've been doing four or five days together every two weeks, which seems to work out wonderfully: the longer visits are more relaxed and fulfilling, and the weeks off give us more time to engage in our own local lives. This weekend's weather has me in the mood for books, sleep, and staying in, so we're thoroughly wasting our time away with a marathon of the original American McGee's Alice, and it's perfect. We're sleeping when we want to sleep, sometimes at night but also to the sound of the rain during the day; we have the windows half open and most people would think it's way too cold in here but that just makes the snuggling even better.

You may have noticed at some point that sleep and I are not particularly good friends—but August has me napping at all hours, these days. We curl up for a cuddle and sometimes when she drifts off, so do I. That, like this casual non-schedule that Devon and I have had this weekend, feels surprisingly natural. It embraces my preference for sleeping in sunlight and the fact that I wake up so often that pretending to get a solid chunk of sleep is foolishness, and it dismisses so many of the anxieties that make sleep difficult—like the simple expectation that I'll sleep now, for this long, and then be awake and engaged with the world. As a result of course I'm less engaged, but...

Basically, August is teaching me to be a cat. Some of it already there, in little realizations that tickle me—like when we watch out the window together and we both perk at the same sound or movement. But my sleep issues are one of the hallmarks of the disconnect between my self-as-human and self-as-cat, and so this.... Well, back in that post I wrote, "A cat that can't catnap hardly feels a cat at all." And now, sometimes, we catch a bit of sleep in the sunlight for no reason at all other than the fact that the bed feels nice. There's that argument in the therianthropy community about nature and nurture—if this identification is innate, or if it changes and grows; if it's inherent nature, of if it's tainted by affectation. It makes me feel like something of a charlatan that so much of my personal experiences are about the disconnect between my human and cat identities, and therefore about (re)learning mentalities and behaviors—not because they're not mine, but because I get in my own way where they're concerned. And for all that anxiety I still don't give a flying fuck how it might be perceived, because these little lessons, these little naps, make me so happy.

So it's been a pretty nice long weekend, I guess is what I'm saying.
juushika: Photograph of the torso and legs of a female-bodied figure with a teddy bear. (Bear)
It is, perhaps (after two play reviews just posted: She Loves Me and Well), obvious that I spent the weekend in Ashland with my family. The plays were not my heart-beating life-changing picks for the season but this was one of the better trips we've made. I could say much about it, but instead I give you a page I wrote in my Moleskine* on May 15th, written with a pen** making a swift journey towards death, concerning—largely—the weather:

Moleskine page written in Ashland, Oregon

We're at a different hotel this time, one further out of town. The rooms are much larger, with the bedroom and sitting room partitioned; Mum and Papa have one room, while Allie and I share a room far down the hall. And these change are a blessing—it is so much more comfortable here.

Lighting just flashed out the window. I sat down to write not of the rooms—though they do occasion mention—but of the weather. Early summer sun has given way to early summer storms, gusting wind and thick gray sky (still silver with the last of the afternoon's sun), splatterings of rain and now the first rumble of thunder, while wind buffets warm and thick.

Allie is out of the room, exploring with Papa. I've been reading a pair of books interchangeably. The bedsheets here are soft, I found the extra pillows, and I've been wearing my more comfortable PJs for a clothing break before dinner. All is silent but for the ghost of the storm and the sound of the fan, which mimics the wind outdoors.

I was not looking forward to this trip for many reasons—but in this moment, it is wholly worthwhile.


The hotel in question is The Village Suites at Ashland Hills, which I much recommend. Shortly after writing the above we went to dinner at the Thai Pepper, which only provides their vegetarian menu upon request, is a little small, needs a better seating arrangement, and is still my favorite restaurant in town because their Garlic Tofu with Broccoli is exquisite—buttery but not heavy, lots of garlic but slightly roasted by the butter to mellow out the flavor, fresh and plentiful and absolute delicious. Everyone had a great meal, actually. We saw She Loves Me on Saturday and Well on Sunday, matinées both which makes for a bit of hurry to get there but relaxes the pacing on the whole, especially in the evening. Both days were summer-tempestuous: sunny and warm but slightly overcast and muggy, refreshed periodically with warm rain. And so, on the whole, while I can make any vacation stressful for myself, despite unrelenting back pain, always in the midst of thinky-thoughts on my family, this was a lovely, beautiful, and peaceful visit.

* This is the reverse of my large ruled notebook. I have story drafts in the front and sundry notes, reviews, and scraps in the back. One day, they shall meet in the middle.

** The deep dregs of my Pilot V Razor Point Extra Fine pen in black. These are my pens of choice because they're liquid and felt-tip, which means they glide over the page and have a deep, wet, slightly feathery ink; when the pen is empty, though, it makes for a moment of fat wet lines followed by a fine gray scrawl—which I can't help but use anyway, because I don't toss a pen until it stops writing.


Adopt one today! Adopt one today! Adopt one today! Adopt one today! Adopt one today! Adopt one today!
juushika: Photograph of a row of books on a library shelf. (Books Once More)
What with this overcast cool weather, I feel like we've taken a step back in time to 1816: the year without a summer, and I am in the mood for books to fit such wonderfully dark days. And in that vein would you please to:

Recommend gothic novels. That delicious sort of horror, rich with atmosphere. I have most of the classics on my TBR list already, but do please mention your favorites—personal recommendations carry weight. I'd also love recommendations for modern gothic lit, novels one may not expect to fit the genre, southern gothic, subversive gothic—anything which I may not have yet discovered.

And/or recommend Halloween-ready books. No real definition here—but texts from Poe to Bradbury's Something Wicked This Way Comes, vampires or werewolves or ghosts or none of the above, be they horror or haunting or darkly festive, whether or not they're set at Halloween, I'm looking for the sort of fearful pleasures one would curl up with in late October. Books meant to be as frightening—yet enjoyable—as we want Halloween to be. Because this weather has me feeling we've already skipped ahead to autumn!

And thank you.

For what it's worth, my personal recommendations. )

Crossposted to [livejournal.com profile] bookish
juushika: Photograph of the torso and legs of a female-bodied figure with a teddy bear. (Bear)
One of the reasons why I love where I live: flash rainstorms. We woke up this morning to overcast skies (after many days of beating, blaring sun). It cleared for a bit, but then in mid afternoon the power flickered, thunder rumbled, and the sky cracked open overhead in a sudden deluge, sheets of water, rain as loud as hail, flooding the front walk in minutes. Where Devon was (on the other side of town), the rain came so hard, so fast that the drains backed up, reversed, and spewed two feet fountains out of the sinks. Over here the rain tapered off within five minutes and died to a trickle not long after, leaving the garden shaded and rain-splattered and beautiful.

[livejournal.com profile] delicatetruth: I'm sure this isn't at all like autumn weather for you, but for us today was like like a blessed day of autumn, come to visit in early summer.

Flower, after a rainstorm
And, ah, it was so beautiful. +1 )

Dude the cat was outside when the rain began, and was much displeased; Woof the dog found it most distressing that I insisted on going outside while the sky was growling. And so the day was not wholly beloved among the furry family kin. But as I have recently remembered exactly, precisely, why I hate sun and warm weather, it was a most welcome break for me.

On an unrelated, perfectly sunny recent day, Woof the dog rolled in something nasty and had to have a bath. She hates them, but they're secretly amusing because she, an otherwise white and fluffy American Eskimo mutt, turns into a funny-looking stringy offwhite drowned rat of a mess. For example:

Picture? Why of course I have a picture! )

I know I've been a wealth of picspams lately, but when I have my camera around because I've been using it, I'm more likely to use it again, and again, and...

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