Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Christmas Recap

Christmas actually went really well this year, despite a few stumbles. We basically just took it easy, and limited ourselves to one event per day, and it was magical. (We did have a couple of friends come into town and didn't manage to connect with them, but that was probably for the best: we were dealing with a brief round of tummy troubles, and some gifts you really just don't want to share.)

Christmas day this year was spent with the Beautiful Wife's parents, who came over to our house. The boys were allowed to open their Santa presents as soon as they woke up, which they did. They then spent twenty-five minutes coaxing Secondborn's Hatchimal out of its egg, while Daddy called out helpful things like, "If its eyes turn red, that means you have to dribble some blood on the top of the egg," or "Just remember: never feed it after midnight." The in-laws arrived about then, and we had the exchange of family gifts. They then went back over to their house, and returned a while later with their half of the midday meal. And then we just... relaxed.

We'd planned to meet with my side of the family today, and that went every bit as well: we met at my father's house, made a quick gift exchange, and then went out to eat barbecue. And it was what holidays should be: easy, relaxed, enjoyable.

Among the more notable presents this year were a pair of stilts that Secondborn received, and which he's been practicing on for the last forty-eight hours. He's... surprisingly good. Firstborn got a Kindle Paperwhite, the one with the built-in reading light, so he may never sleep again. And I'm mainly just happy that we did this without stressing out, flipping out, or anything-else-ing out.

I'd kind of forgotten that was possible. It's good to know that it is.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

A Reminder To Help Out

It's the season of giving, so remember to help your friends and neighbors when they need it. Help them shovel. Lend them duct tape, or heavy-duty garbage bags -- or both! Maybe offer some space in the chest freezer in the basement, if they have something they need to keep cold. At this time of year, with friend and family coming to visit from near and far, every little bit helps!

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Nativity, Part VI

One final shot of the scene, with all the elements of the birth and destiny of our Savior Jush together:

Friday, December 22, 2017

Nativity, Part V

In later days these tales would become confused, lost behind the many deeds of Jush Two-Axe: the accounts of his great wisdom and subtle guile, of his skill with blade and spell. Jush it was who would speak against the injustices of the Emperor Agistin; Jush who would lead the Orcs and their allies into the lands beyond the Empire, there to form their own kingdom; Jush who would drive back the Imperial armies again and again. When the great beast came like a plague with his barrel and his broom, sweeping away the naughty children each year, is was Jush who laid a trap and stood to face him in that last, fateful battle.

So we remember King Jush: warrior and priest, wizard and rogue. So we remind ourselves that even one of humble origins may be favored of the gods, and rise to do great things. Remember, and celebrate his birth with us.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Nativity, Part IV

After Jush was born in Bethlem in Jutia, during the time of Emperor Agistin, Necromancers from the east came to the High City of Jerush and asked, "Where is the Chosen One? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him."

When the Emperor heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerush with him. When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Savior was to be born. "In Bethlem in Jutia," they replied, "for this is what the prophet has written."

Then Agistin called the Necromancers secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlem and said, "Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him."

After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, potions and scrolls. And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Agistin, they returned to their country by another route.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Nativity, Part III

And there were rangers living out in the woods nearby, keeping watch over the land and its animals at night. A Celestial Lord appeared to them, and the glory of Pelor shone around them, and they were mightily startled. But the Celestial said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of Grawl a Savior has been born to you; he is the Savior, the Chosen One. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

When the Celestial had left them and gone into the heavens, the rangers said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlem and see this thing that has happened, which Pelor has told us about.”

So they hurried off and found Mara and J'suf, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the rangers said to them. But Mara treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart, for she was a wizard and prone to overthinking things anyway. The rangers returned, glorifying and praising Pelor for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Nativity, Part II

While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and Mara gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Nativity, Part I

This is how the birth of Jush the Savior came about: His mother Mara was pledged to be married to J'suf, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant. J'suf was a half-Orc and a barbarian, but despite his great temper he loved the wizard Mara and did not want to expose her to public disgrace. Instead, he had it in mind to free her from her promise to him.

But after he had considered this, a Celestial appeared to him in a dream and said, “J'suf son of Grawl, do not be afraid to take Mara home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from Olidammara, a divine prank upon you both for reasons even the gods cannot decipher. She will give birth to a son, and Pelor bids you to give him the name Jush, because he will save his people from their sins.”

In those days Emperor Agistin issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Telmirist world. And everyone went to their own town to register.

So J'suf also went up from the town of Nazreth in Gaiali to Bathlem the town of Grawl, because he belonged to the tribe and line of Grawl. He went there to register with Mara.

Friday, December 15, 2017

The Christmas Song

Chipmunks roasting on an open fire
Jack Frost ripping at your nose
Chorus of screams being sung by a choir
And things dressed up like Eskimos

Everybody knows a sacrifice in the dark
Will help to make the pyres bright
Tiny tots with their eyes all aglow
Will chase us down the streets tonight

They know that doom is on its way
It's coming for us all and they want to slay

And every mother's child is going to cry
To see horrible things drifting up in the sky

And so I'm offering this simple phrase
a protection spell just for you,
Though its been said many times, many ways
There's nothing else that we can do.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Music: Baby It's Cold Outside

A newer, less rapey-sounding version, courtesy of Abney Park:

"What's in this drink?"

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

The Holiday Season

Today is... Tuesday? Is it Tuesday? It is. Good.

I kind of hate the holiday season.

It's not the holidays themselves, exactly. It's the way they inevitably seem to disrupt, well, everything. Add to that the fact that my wife is finishing up her grading for this semester (and needs to have it finished, I don't know, right now) and is going to have both boys home during the time that she needs to be planning her upcoming semester, and...

We almost missed gymnastics class last night. It's Mondays and Wednesdays every week; not that hard to remember. But we almost forgot, because there's so much else going on right now. We're trying to get the boys caught up on their homework (they're both behind) and make sure Firstborn is still practicing the upright bass. Oh, and I need to practice a 2-3 minute presentation on a book with him tonight.

I like having a regular schedule, and this time of year it always seems to just fall apart. And that would be great if I could stop and relax, but that isn't how this works. I still have to be at work, plus we have the various family events, and honestly I just want to huddle in bed with my Kindle and cup of hot chocolate.

So... I dunno. You can probably take this for generalized grumbling/griping and ignore it, and honestly I'd probably feel a lot less discombobulated if I could manage to get a full night's sleep, but here we are.

Monday, December 11, 2017

I dreamed of my mom last night...

Well, like the title says, I dreamed of my mom last night. It was a weird night anyway - I went to bed later than I really should have on a Sunday, and then my sleep got interrupted a couple of times. This last time, my sleep had been interrupted by the alarm clock, but I'd hit the Snooze button and was back to dreaming. And somewhere in those few minutes, in a jumble of dreams about finding a place to stay and getting my stuff together for a trip, my mom was moving through one of the rooms I was crossing.

It's the first time I've really dreamed of her since she died (April of 2016, so we're coming up on two years now) or at least it feels like it. The first time I'd dreamed of her as her, rather than just as an element of something else.

Anyway, she was crossing the room in her slow, steady way (with the crutches and braces from childhood polio) just like she always did, so I stopped to give her a hug. And it was right in the middle of that that I realized that I had to be dreaming because there was no way she was there like that, and sure enough the alarm went off again a moment later.

It was very strange, but for a moment it was kind of nice.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Six Flags, Seven Years Old

Right, so: Six Flags. Firstborn's Middle School decided to do their Orchestra field trip to Six Flags today. Beautiful Wife went along as a chaperone, and it seemed like something that Secondborn really shouldn't miss out on. So, I bought us a couple of extra tickets and drove Secondborn down separately.

We were able to meet them just inside the park, and hooked up with the orchestra group just inside the gate. It turns out that both the band and the chorus had come along on the trip, so this was around a hundred kids all told. Beautiful Wife led her ducklings group to the meetup point, and then they broke up to wander the park separately. (It's a whole new world: these kids all have cell phones. Well, except for Firstborn. But otherwise? Pretty much all of them.)

Anyway, deciding to bring Secondborn along was just about the best decision I could possibly have made. That child...

Okay, look: he's seven. He's silly. He does handstands everywhere. And apparently he, um, "dabs". (I had to look it up. I knew it was a strike-a-pose gesture for him, but I'm old and I have no context.)

So that's him, dabbin' while we're waiting in line for the Mine Train. Anyway, this kid: over the course of the day, he worked his way up from the Mine Train -- a relatively slow, slightly clunky beginner roller coaster which is mainly exciting for a couple of moments when it goes whizzing underground into the dark -- and made it all the way to a ride on Pandemonium. I'm borrowing other people's YouTube videos, because there's no way I was taking my cell phone out on a ride, but that link really doesn't do the thing justice: Pandemonium is a roller coaster in which the chairs spin around on top as the car travels along the track. And with me on one end of the rotating seats, they spun around a lot.

And when we got to the end of the ride, Secondborn just said: "That was horrible. We must never do that again." But he was grinning madly while he said it.

Firstborn's friend loves this stuff. He was the one who kept nudging our boys towards bigger, faster, swooshier roller coasters. But Firstborn is practicing his quiet cool, and he kept up just fine. Firstborn's eleven years old though; I'm not surprised that he just went with it. Secondborn, on the other hand, is seven - he couldn't have ridden Pandemonium without a parent, and there was another ride (some sort of spinning bull rodeo thing, later) that he was just exactly tall enough to be able to ride. Like, the top of his head was exactly at the line where he could ride it. And while this isn't quite his first time on any sort of roller coaster, it's pretty close.

So all things considered: I'm extraordinarily pleased with the way our day went, and I'm ferociously proud of Secondborn for riding some reasonably insane things with me, Firstborn, and Firstborn's friend.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Music: Lovecraftian Christmas Songs

Since we're nearing the holidays, and I've been too tired (and probably sick) to write anything, here's a playlist of songs from the H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society:

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Christmas Crud

Yep, the Christmas Crud got me again. It started last week, just in time for the training session. And I keep thinking I've mostly shaken it off, but... not quite. So... more rest, more liquids, more stopping when I run out of energy. Ugh.

I've done very little writing, and nothing for the blog (obviously). I finished reading a solidly enjoyable new fantasy novel - Age of Assassins - but instead of starting something else new, I've gone back to Jennifer Crusie's Bet Me. It's fun, it's got cheery dialogue, and everything turns out all right in the end: just what I need right now. (Age of Assassins was a bit darker, but it was fun and adventurous and I'd recommend it too, just for different reasons.)

Meanwhile: my job is full of work, our departmental transitions are still bobbing along like icebergs in a choppy sea, the holidays are rushing towards us like an avalanche, and my workplace is full of Christmas music. Also, it's still warm enough that I don't need a jacket. All in all? Pretty much what I expect from early December in Texas. Yes, including the plague.

How're the rest of you holding up? Any humorous NaNoWriMo stories you want to share?