A Week Off (and On)

Actually, a little over a week. This week, my family returned to our little timeshare in Florida after the beast of 2020 kicked it off the agenda. This year (as I have in years before) I left early to spend some time with Britpoptarts (this was her name on LiveJournal. Her journal is now a Russian spam farm, so I won't link to it) in Savannah. She lives in a beautifully decorated apartment with a pair of hyper ferrets near the cool part of town. We were roommates together for many years and we spent the evening of my arrival drinking lemon drops and talking and laughing as if no time had passed.

Friday, we went out to experience the American Prohibition Museum, which was a great deal of fun. They used exhibits of actual Prohibition-era stuff, wax figures (Carrie Nation and Al Capone, among others), and films (such as Billy Sunday ranting about the evils of alcohol). The tour ends in a speakeasy with pictures and words about the end of Prohibition and the celebrations that followed. And, of course, it had a full bar, so we both ordered some Chatham Punch to top off the day.

I learned from the Criminal Records Instagram feed that Saturday was Record Store Day, which was perfect timing as we were already planning to go out record shopping.

I barged into Britpoptarts' room. "Happy Record Store Day!" I exclaimed.

"Yes," she said, "Today will be our record store day."

"No, seriously," I replied, "It's Record Store Day."

We made it to two record stores, one hot and cramped, the other cool and spacious. The hot, cramped one had a dollar bin out front and we both pawed through it. I found a Patrick O'Hearn album (I've heard good things about his stuff) and Britpoptarts picked up a few things including a Pete Townsend album that it turned out she already had, so it got added to my spoils. At the cool, spacious record store, I picked up a couple of limited edition Record Store Day releases--one was a Miles Davis album I was curious about (outtakes from a soundtrack he was working on for a documentary about boxer Jack Johnson) and the other I couldn't resist--Live at Budokan by Duran Duran. Britpoptarts set about replacing some of the Beatles records that were stolen from her when she was in a less secure living situation.

We used Labyrinth Locator to find a labyrinth by a church not too far from where we were, which we both walked. We found a rusted, twisted nail in the center. I kept it. We had enough time for me to take care of my Catholic duties with a vigil Mass at a rather odd church (not the church with the labyrinth, she adds firmly). The priest had an odd cadence that it took me a while to figure out. He was e-nun-ci-a-ting e-ver-y sin-gle syl-a-ble he spoke. The stained glass windows also weirded me out a bit. Instead of one image taking up the whole window, there were a series of dinner-plate-sized circles with images that were linked to saints (Saint Jude had a boat, Saint John had a wine cup with a serpent coming out of it) and to virtues (one with a picture of a shirt that said "Clothing the Naked") And there was one with a picture of a cat-o-nine tails (or, rather, a cat-o-five-tails) with spiked balls at the end of each tail. The image had a single word on it:


I left right after I'd taken communion. (Sneaky Catholic trick--you can do that and still get credit as long as you get there in time to hear the Gospel reading.)

We had hopes of taking the ferrets out to the beach after dark (they can't handle temperatures greater than 75 degrees) but Britpoptarts looked at the weather and determined that the temperature wasn't going to get that low until 1:00 AM. So we hung out on the balcony for more hours than I'd planned and I showed her the modest house I'd built for myself on Second Life.

The drive to St. Augustine Beach from Savannah was relatively uneventful. (Don't get me started on the drive from Atlanta to Savannah.) I got there in time to have dinner and go on a beach stroll, which was a good start to the week. The routine is quite steady at the beach, but one of the elements has had to be abandoned--the afternoon suit-up-and-sunscreen session on the beach now lies in the hottest part of the day, and what was once merely hot is now unbearable. Instead, we take a stroll on the beach around sunset, when the weather permits. (It does not always permit.) We have been able to get down to walk along the shore in the mornings, and it's been lovely. It would have been nice to have been able to sit and watch the waves when we got back from our walk, but my bladder, and my freelance gig, kept me from that.

Ah, yes, the freelance gig. I'm currently doing work for a business I shall hereinafter refer to as the International Marketing Firm (IMF). It's a strange kind of hybrid of employment and freelance work. I have a company email address, but I also have to invoice them for services rendered instead of letting HR handle it. Last week I had a meeting with a client and we set up the follow-up meeting for Monday. I told them "I can do that if that's the only way we can do it.", which they interpreted as "Yes." So I had to cut short my morning time on the beach to trundle back inside, shower off the sunscreen and get ready for a Zoom call. The appointed time rolled around and there was no call to Zoom. It had never gone on the project manager's schedule, so we rescheduled for Thursday and my dream of a relaxing vacation free of adult responsibilities was shattered.

Thursday morning arrived and the Zoom call actually happened. The client had largely liked what I'd done, but there was one particular paragraph she wasn't feeling right about. Said it felt "incomplete." I nodded and hmmed and agreed with her and generally kept myself away from pointing out that she was the one who actually wrote it. After asking a few questions and taking a few notes, I finished the call and knocked out a revision in about 15 minutes, then another 10-15 polishing it and sent it on its way (it wasn't a very long paragraph). I may master this gig yet.

Thursday night, I had a nicer Zoom chat with the Gentleman Caller. I spent much of the call adjusting myself in a quest for the most comfortable position with best lighting. I don't think I quite managed either. I told him about my adventures in Savannah and he told me about some hopeful news (not quite at the stage of good news just yet) he'd received. Once I get back to Atlanta, we'll be making plans to watch Dark City with a mutual friend of ours (a friend who will be hereinafter referred to as "The Eccentric").

But for now, I'm looking at the pool from my window and savoring this time left. Tomorrow, I take Anime Niece to Jacksonville to meet with Movie Niece and maybe check out the movie theater that she runs. Maybe I can recruit Anime Niece to handle the stack of CDs I burned while I was packing to go down and then realized that CDs are a bad music strategy for highway travel.

I could take a nap right now, if I wanted. I might.

Today I took pleasure in the view from the balcony.
Today I learned more about cataract surgery than I ever wanted to know.

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Letters to State Representative Shea Roberts and State Senator Jennifer Jordan

Okay, emails, but still. A nice young man on Twitter pointed me to this article in the AJC about all the voter suppression legislation working its way through the Georgia legislature right now. I hit up the My Voter Page at the Secretary of State website and found out who my reps were (and thought, hey, yeah, I remember voting for these gals!) so I could email them and urge them to take these things seriously. Because they were dealing with different bills, I wrote them different letters. I recommend you nice Georgia-residing folks do the same.

Dear Representative Roberts:

My name is Sheila O’Shea and I am a resident of Sandy Springs. I proudly voted for you in the November election.

It is my understanding that a shocking number of restrictions on voting are being considered in the Georgia House. I am particularly concerned about the limits on absentee voting, making it more difficult to request a ballot and making it harder to drop off at a drop box. I voted absentee in the runoff election, and found the process simple and easy. I would hate to have that taken away. The Republicans seem to have a strange notion—actually articulated by some of its members—that voting is a privilege and not a fundamental right of every citizen of age.

Their spite seems to extend to innocuous things like providing snacks and drinks to voters in line regardless of whom they may be voting for. How does this prevent voter fraud? If they were providing these things on condition of voting for a specific candidate, there are already laws on the books to address that. But when I sat in line in November to vote, two young ladies came by with bottled water, chips and granola bars and offered them to me without questioning who I was voting for, only thanking me for voting at all. The real solution for this is to provide enough voting machines so that no one has to stand in line for hours to perform their civic duty.

Please do what you are able to limit these potential limitations (and others I have not detailed here). Voting is the root of our democracy and it should not be made harder, but easier, so that more citizens can participate.

Thank you,

Sheila O’Shea


Dear Senator Jordan—

My name is Sheila O’Shea and I live in Sandy Springs. I am proud to have you as my Senator.

I am writing because of my concerns about legislation introduced into the Georgia Senate regarding voting rights. The increased restrictions on absentee ballots are particularly worrisome. I voted absentee in the runoff election and it made the process so much easier. Surely, we want full participation in the democratic process—placing unnecessary obstacles in the path of voters is a detriment to our nation.

It’s my understanding that Senate Bill 74 would permit poll watchers to enter ballot tabluation areas. I worry that this would open the gate to intimidation tactics used directly on poll workers. Poll watchers should be kept within the limits they currently stand in. Please make sure you are present to vote against this.

There are quite a number of bills regarding election procedures in the Senate. I ask that you read them carefully and vote in the direction of making voting convenient and simple, while still retaining security.

Thank you,

Sheila O'Shea


Today I took pleasure in writing these letters, weirdly enough. It felt good to put my anxiety to some kind of productive use.

Today I learned where the website for the Georgia General Assembly is.

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Letter to Senators Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock

Dear Senator--

Let me begin by stating how delightful it is to address you as “Senator.” I was too shy to knock on doors, but I did donate money to your campaign regularly, and I’m glad to see that campaign come to fruition. [A couple of lines directed to each Senator individually went here.]

I am writing to express my concern about something that may block all the potential progress that we hope to make—the filibuster. The filibuster has evolved over time but the purpose is still the same—allowing the minority party to stop a bill or nomination from progressing to a vote. Its best known use is perhaps its most shameful—an attempt to stop the Civil Rights Act of 1957 from passing. (Republicans will squawk that it was a Democrat—Strom Thurmond—who did this, and I will squawk back that Senator Thurmond was part of the subset of the Democratic Party that was later absorbed into the Republican Party under the infamous Southern Strategy.)

Now that the Democrats have a very narrow majority in the Senate, the possibility of the Republicans wielding the filibuster to stop any bill that they believe threatens their interests—the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Act, for example—looms large. The rule that establishes the filibuster in Senate procedure can be eliminated with a simple majority vote. It must be eliminated if we hope to get anything done in this administration. At the absolute least, the requirement that the Senator who invokes the filibuster must be present on the floor for the length of that filibuster should be restored. Someone who drags debate to a halt should not be able to do so without some kind of consequence.

It is my understanding that there are a few Democratic Senators who wish to retain the filibuster. I beg you to speak with those colleagues of yours and try to convince them of the imperativeness of eliminating it, or at least modifying it so it is used as a last resort and not a first one.

I thank you for your time, and wish you all the best as you strive to make the United States government one that serves all people.

Kind regards,

Sheila S. O’Shea This entry was originally posted at Please comment there using OpenID.

2020: Year in Review

I read through my diaries and it was certainly interesting reading. Particularly the start of the year, before the pandemic arrived, when there were so many things I did and took for granted.

January: Go to Chattacon along with the Gentleman Caller. We play hooky from the convention to wander the streets of Chattanooga, including the footbridge. He buys a box of donuts at his favorite donut place; I buy a polished stone the color of lemonade.

February: See Mystery Science Theater Live at the Fox Theater. I had two tickets--one that I'd bought and one that my brother and sister-in-law got me for Christmas. The one they gave me is a better seat. The film is a slice of 80s cheese called No Retreat, No Surrender, in which Jean-Claude Van Damme plays a bad guy who is defeated by a teenage boy who was trained by the ghost of Bruce Lee. (When said ghost makes his first appearance, Joel groans "Oh, man, he's not even close!")

March: Georgia has its first COVID-19 fatality. The lines at The Big Green Grocery Store go frantic. Tensions get worse because the store starts rationing certain items so they're not cleaned out all at once. I get scheduled for nine-hour shifts. The Gentleman Caller comes for a visit and cooks dinner because he doesn't trust restaurants at that stage. After a lovely time together, he announces that he's going into lockdown until the situation clears. My parents cancel our Sunday routines, first morning Mass, then Sunday dinners.

April: Governor Kemp issues a shelter-in-place order, which doesn't affect me much, since my job is essential work. Job duties now include wiping down surfaces, handles, and carts. Start adjusting to Zoom meetings with family and the Gentleman Caller as well as livestreamed Masses. The Triduum is a little stranger done through screens, but the words are still powerful and I'm as much of a mess on Good Friday as I usually am. I successfully make Eggs Benedict on Easter morning.

May: One of the employees at the Big Green Grocery Store location where I work tests positive for coronavirus. I get in a message in my inbox, but no additional information beyond Don't Worry, We've Taken Care Of It. I take their word for it. See a play called Hate Mail online, which is hilarious and perfectly set up for Zoom-based theater, even though it was written well before the pandemic. Receive new iPhone as an early birthday present, because my existing iPhone is showing severe battery problems. It is shiny and red and I have to restrain myself from playing with it constantly.

June: Restructure my schedule at The Big Green Grocery Store so I don't come in any early than 1:30 in the afternoon. It takes three tries to get it to take, because people keep losing the paperwork. Mornings are now reserved for education and, eventually, freelance work. See a doctor about my leg, which has been giving me pain for months. Get scheduled for an MRI, which reveals tendinosis (not tendonitis) in my gluteal region, likely lingering damage from the car accident in 2019. Turn 50. I have my usual twelve-hour birthday party the Saturday before on Zoom, which is well-attended and quite fun. I have a proper birthday dinner at my parents' house, out on the screened-in porch with the fan going and everybody wearing masks except to eat.

July: Begin physical therapy for leg. Take the days I would have spent in Florida and spend them at home. Write a short (very short) story called "Sentiment" about a vampire who feeds on regret. My parents move to a small condominium in a retirement community and I visit them there, masked and distanced.

August: Write a longer story called "Incident at Red's Fuel Center" about an essential worker during the zombie apocalypse. Decide to stop job hunting on Saturday mornings so I can clean my place before I have to go to work.

September: Attend virtual DragonCon, which has me attending more panels than I think I've attended in the past several in-person DragonCons. Go to see a drive-in movie in the parking lot of the Plaza Theater--Nosferatu with an original score played live. Purchase new MacBook Pro with advance on inheritance, just in time for the existing one to choke up and die.

October: Early voting begins in Georgia. I try to get it over with on the first day, but the line is running around the building, so I wait until the next day and go vote at the High Museum. I make a day of it with my freshly renewed membership, though my leg gives me too much trouble to really enjoy myself. I start two online courses in proofreading, one of which offers an opportunity for paid work if I pass the final exam at 80% or better. A massive storm knocks out power for about 30 hours and sends a tree crashing down on my favorite labyrinth (the one by my local library that I've been walking and taking care of for years).

November: Skip NaNoWriMo. Make a project of hacking off the smaller branches of the tree that fell on the labyrinth, using a lopper that my parents loaned me. Sell the guitars and bass amp that have been gathering dust for over a year. Make 95 bucks. Cry a little. Take final exam for proofreading course and make 84%. Discuss my future with the proofreading company, but won't be able to start until the new year. Get my Thanksgiving dinner to go, lovingly cooked by my mom and packed into travel containers. Breathe a huge sigh of relief at the outcome of the presidential election.

December: Test positive for coronavirus. Isolate myself accordingly. The Gentleman Caller comes by to take my trash out to the dumpster and deliver some wine and cherry juice from Trader Joe's. I learn the ins and outs of grocery delivery service, such as having to rearrange my fridge because they were out of half gallons of the milk I ordered, so they got me a full gallon instead. Make the traditional Christmas Eve dinner of poached salmon with cucumber yogurt sauce. Make entirely too much sauce, but discover that it makes a great dip for baby carrots. Make the traditional Christmas Day breakfast of Eggs Benedict; the results are flawed, but still tasty. Am spared having to cook Christmas dinner by mom cooking another to-go feast--all I need to do is bake my own potato. Spend first New Year's Eve at home probably since I moved out of the house. I watch an online celebration that includes a five-minute rendition of The Nutcracker that is worth the price of admission.

So, yeah, this year was a total dumpster fire, but I managed to get a few things done. I wrote some short stories and got a promising new job. We'll see how well the next year goes, though I think that 2020 as malevolent entity doesn't truly end until January 20th at noon.

Today I took pleasure in: kissing 2020 goodbye.

Today I learned: that Korbel Brut isn't as good without orange juice involved. This entry was originally posted at Please comment there using OpenID.

Sheila's Diary Review: Volume One

I told the Gentleman Caller that I was planning to mark my 50th year of being by reading back over the shelf of diaries that I have accumulated, all the way back to June 14th, 1982. He grinned and said that I absolutely had to do a blog about it, too. Next thing you know, I'm contemplating making videos of me reading select passages and putting them up on YouTube. Which I might do. But, in the meantime, I can post my first entry and see where this all takes me.


Volume One: June 14th, 1982 (age twelve) to December 6, 1986 (age sixteen)

It looks like: a Mead spiral notebook, size 9 1/2 x 6 inches. The cover is a mottled orange and the word "LOG" is written on it in pencil, highlighted by orange marker.

What's inside? Adolescence. I was awfully boy-crazy, even at age twelve. When I was in Catholic school, I made lists of the boys in the class; each name had a short description of said boy and whether or not he was even interested in girls in the first place. I also detail the all-encompassing crush that I had in high school. (There was a note slipped into a locker involved. A note with poetry on it!)

Slumber parties were another big thing in there. Perhaps because I didn't have much in the way of adventures to go on in that period of my life, so such extraordinary events required thorough recording. I particularly went into detail over an all-Duranie slumber party held at my best friend's house. I remember that one pretty well, and I think I do in part because I wrote down every little thing I could recall as soon as I had the diary in hand. When the entry described a photograph that had been taken of me--in fake leather pants and a frilly white shirt--my first thought was "oh, I think I may have that picture somewhere!" I might put it up here if I can dig it up.

Not all the stuff I go into detail into is pleasant. I lend the same scrutiny to my first serious encounter with sexual harassment, when two kids took turns asking me questions about my sex life and offering to become part of it.

One streak that runs through it is a sense of willful defiance. I was a weird kid, no question, and being teased for it just drove me to double-down in my weirdness instead of shaping myself into a more socially acceptable form. Duran Duran, strange as it may seem, was one of my points of rebellion, and from there, I learned to stick with what I loved without worrying about what other people may think. The downside of my refusal to be normal was that I never really found my tribe--my tribe of Duranies were at another school where my best friend at the time went. When that best friend gave up on Duran Duran, I lost that tribe, and couldn't really assemble anything similar where I was. (I made up for that many years later.) My resistance to "conformity" left me on the outside of things I could have actually enjoyed if I'd given them a chance.

The last few pages are entries where I document things like what I ate, what I wore to school, and so on. It's an interesting glimpse into my version of 80s style.

Stay tuned for the next exciting volume of Sheila's Diaries! High school isn't over yet, so expect some more hormonal extremes.

Today I took pleasure in listening to Paul Melancon's The Get-Gos Action Hour! all the way through without interruption. (I burned a copy that's living in my car right now. Not the optimal listening experience for a concept album.)

Today I learned that I still have a copy of a short story I wrote back in the early 90s. It's called "Bleeding the Blind." No, you don't get to see it. This entry was originally posted at Please comment there using OpenID.

Life Under Lockdown

I asked for evenings off for the Triduum, not even sure if the services were going to be in person or not, and the folks at The Big Green Grocery Store gave me the days off entirely. Nifty! I thought I would use the time as a kind of at-home spiritual retreat, and while I did have some prayerful moments, I mostly cleaned house and ran errands. I took in the virtual services at Saint Thomas More, where I spent many a holy day of obligation as a Catholic schoolgirl. I also took in a virtual Stations of the Cross at Ignatius House, but was a touch disappointed in it. The prayers were a little bit woo for my taste (and I know from woo).

On Good Friday, I went to my folks to pick up a few things they were getting rid of: (1) an oversized planter, (2) a large bag of dirt, (3) a lopper for cutting off branches and (4) a cast iron skillet. One of these things it not like the other, but they all went home with me. Mom gave me a hug on the basis that we were both wearing masks. (I have masks now, by the way. Two I got on Etsy and two I made from bandannas and hair ties. I wear the Etsy masks to work now that they'll let us wear them.) On Holy Saturday, I went to my local hardware megaplex and got a wee tomato plant to put in the enormous planter, which also holds the entire large bag of dirt.

More on that in a minute. I'm trying to do this chronologically.

The Easter Vigil was quite the experience. My wifi crapped out partway through the service and by the time I kicked it awake, I'd missed the rest of the readings. When the priest came down to deliver the homily, he got about as far as remarking on how difficult these times were and then a light started flashing and a woman's voice announced "Attention. Attention. Please proceed to the exits now." I wondered if they'd gotten busted for having too many people. (Two singers, three lectors, one priest, at least one person playing the organ and who knows how many camera operators and crew.) The view cut to a shot of the cross behind the altar as if it was a Please Stand By card. As it turned out, the fire alarm was not accustomed to the amount of incense they'd been using. Everything proceeded as approximately normal until my wifi crashed a second time just before the final benediction, at which point I simply gave up.

Easter Sunday is a day rich in traditions that we could not participate in under current conditions. The big one is Eggs Benedict, which is served three times a year--Easter, Christmas and the beach trip. So this year I busted out the family recipe book, got the ingredients for hollandaise, and made my own.

It was perfect. I don't know if I can fully articulate how happy this made me.

I even made a proper Easter dinner of ham, mashed potatoes and broccoli (with hollandaise!) My mom clued me in on the sauce she uses on the ham (mustard and sour cream--that's it!) and that also came out perfectly. Maybe this "cooking" thing isn't so scary.

Monday it's back to the grind and oh, what a grind it is. I got an email just before I started getting ready for work that they'll be doing roof work on my building and that I'll need to take pictures of all the existing cracks in my walls to send to them to prove that any damage after that point was theirs, OH and be sure to take all the art off of the walls. They start tomorrow.

So a big chunk of my evening was spent taking pictures of cracks (I never realized how many I had), taking all my art down (I literally just realized that I'd missed one as I was typing that sentence) and dragging my plants inside, including the wee tomato in the large dirt-filled planter (that took some doing).

I work a seven-hour shift tomorrow. I can hope that most of the work will be done while I'm gone, but I suspect my two days off to follow will have a lot of noise to deal with. Yay.

Today I took pleasure in a lemon Italian ice.

Today I learned there are new people starting work at The Big Green Grocery Store.

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At Least It's Not Zombies

My job at The Big Green Grocery Store does not have a work from home option, so I'm down in the trenches ringing up groceries and explaining that no, we don't have any toilet paper and, no, I don't know when any will be coming in. Those fleeting moments when we do have toilet paper, I have to explain to people that no, they can't have more than two paper products, which includes the paper towels they're also trying to get. This says nothing of the canned soup, canned beans, canned vegetables and other food encased in metal, which also has a maximum of two per household. Which means I have to deal with people being really pissed at me because their opportunity to stock up into next month has been denied.

They've also got me working eight and nine hour shifts, which is about regular for an office job, but in an office job, you can sit down and not deal with quite as many angry people. Admittedly, many people have been understanding and even thanked me for my service. But one turd has a way of tainting everything.

I did meet up with the Gentleman Caller this past week. Normally, we get together at my place, chat for a while, go out to dinner, come home and enjoy each other's company, often with bourbon involved. This time around, he brought ingredients in a cooler bag and cooked dinner. It was quite good. I had to peel all the art supplies off of the table so we could sit and eat, but I kinda needed to do that anyway. He then informed me that he was going into lockdown so it'll be a while before I can see him again.

Sundays have changed over time. Sunday breakfast went first, as my parents decided to take in Masses online, since they're both in their eighties and a high risk group. We met for dinner and compared survival plans. This week, Sunday dinner was cancelled for an indefinite period. I had some of the leftovers from the Gentleman Caller's dinner (he insisted I keep them) and watched the most recent season of Mystery Science Theater 3000 (The Gauntlet!) which has a toilet paper joke that is three times as funny under the current circumstances.

I went to the labyrinth today. The library is closed but the labyrinth doesn't even have a gate. I did a little trash pickup and weeding, then walked the path and sat in the center for a little while, contemplating the state of the world. I think I may avail myself of this more often, since hardly anybody goes there (give or take the folks who sometimes nap on the benches). There's definitely enough weeding to be done to keep me occupied for days.

I have a few weekdays off this week, which will probably be spent recovering from the days on. I never lack for things to do at home, so I won't have boredom to worry about. I've grown to envy those folks "trapped" in their domiciles.

So, how are you doing?

Today I took pleasure in frozen strawberries on a stick.

Today I learned Trader Joe's is still open and wine is still cheap there.

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Posted elsewhere, replicated here...

Ever read that children's book Fortunately/Unfortunately? That was my day.

Fortunately, I had a day off.
Unfortunately, they called me and asked me to come in.
Fortunately, they were willing to cut things short so I could go see my friend.
Unfortunately, my friend had to cancel because her kid was sick.
Fortunately that left me time to visit the labyrinth and get groceries.
Unfortunately, I couldn't go home because of a gas main leak that blocked off the entire street.
Fortunately, the grocery store was willing to take back the perishable groceries and refund me.
Unfortunately, my plans to go to the Irish pub in the same complex were thwarted by the fact that the pub is now closed. For good.
Fortunately, the vegan restaurant in the complex was open and I was able to order a black bean burger.
Unfortunately, the black bean burger fell apart in my hands and I had to finish it with a fork.
Fortunately, that was the last of the unfortunatelies.

I went to a posh restaurant with a fancy bar and had some bourbon and lemonade and used the time to catch up on all the submissions for Decatur Scribes, as well as read the comments made on my own work. (I laughed very loudly at some of them.)

I'm home now. Life is good.

Today I took pleasure in a nice, dry cider.

Today I learned what The Select (the posh restaurant) is like.

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The Ring Cycle

Britpoptarts gave it to me. (I'd link to her LJ, but it got hacked and is now a Russian spam factory. At least, I assume it's spam. I can't be sure; I don't understand Russian.) I think it was a birthday present, but it might have been a Christmas present. I do recall that it came in a package with all kinds of cool things, as her presents often do. I fell in love with it immediately and wore it often. I had to wrap the band in electrical tape to keep it from sliding off with every vigorous hand gesture, but once I did that it was secure.

Until it disappeared.

I'd been in the habit of taking it off and tucking it in the wee fifth pocket of my jeans while I washed my hands after using the bathroom. One fine evening I walked out from a shopping trip at The Big Blue Grocery Store (the chain I don't work at) checked my pocket and found no ring there. I frantically retraced my steps, checked the bathroom and found nothing.

I meditated on the fleeting nature of things and let it go. I got the name of the site where Britpoptarts got it, but found that they required a $100 minimum order, so I put together an order and got about fifty bucks into it before asking Big Sister-In-Law if she'd be interested in going in with me so I could get the ring. She looked over the site and declared the styles too "blingy" for her taste. So I procrastinated figuring out another fifty dollars worth of jewelry and left the order in limbo.

Then I went down to St. Augustine Beach with my family, as we traditionally do. It was a little iffy whether or not I'd be able to make it down because I was still recovering from my injuries after the accident, but I made it and was even able to take (sometimes curtailed) long walks up and down the beach. We were taking care of our Catholic business at St. Anastasia's and as we were making our way out of the parking lot, we had to make a sudden stop.

"Hey, what's this?" asked my niece (who for pseudonymous purposes I shall call Anime Niece).

"Oh, my God!" I blurted.

It was the ring. Electrical tape and all.

Anime Niece was a little disappointed that the ring had an owner--she'd been hoping to claim it for herself--but she surrendered it and I put it back on my finger. Got home and took the picture at the start of this entry so I could let Britpoptarts know that I had it back.

I took the ring to Chattacon this past weekend and wore it most of the time. I went to Big Brother's party and spent some quality time with the Gentleman Caller. We went across the footbridge and got a half-dozen donuts at Julie Darling's, with a stop at the Moon Pie General Store, where I picked up a tumbled stone the color of lemonade. Saturday night, there was a room party called Tina's Tavern, heavily advertised with hand-lettered signs all over the convention.

It was right across the hall from where the Gentleman Caller was staying.

Meanwhile, I'd been given a nice little suite on the 13th floor (yes, really) that had a room with a bed on one side and a room with couches on the other and a narrow corridor with a coffee machine in between. The Gentleman Caller went to his room (he had to push people out of the way to do it, as the party was in full swing by then) grabbed some cheese, crackers and a bottle of bourbon and we went up to my room and we sat on the nice couches and he used the city guide magazine thingy as a cutting board and we sipped bourbon and talked about things.

I shifted from my glam outfit (black velvet catsuit, white go-go boots, white wig, white feather boa) into my red satin pajamas and eventually wound down and went to bed. The Gentleman Caller returned to his chambers, as the party across the hall had finally died down.

Sunday morning I randomly ran into him as I was tucking away my luggage into my car and we spent a little time in the consuite as I noshed a generic Pop Tart and drank what was left of the milk. The consuite was equipped with a jukebox with science fiction related tunes, such as Meco's disco rendition of the Star Wars theme, a sonic atrocity that I consider the musical equivalent of The Star Wars Holiday Special. (The Gentleman Caller didn't entirely agree with me, and I'm still not clear on why.)

I texted Big Brother to find out when load out was and he replied that they were doing breakdown then, so I went up to try and earn my keep, since I get my room and membership through Big Brother. I did my part and kept an eye on things upstairs while they packed the truck then met in the lobby with the Gentleman Caller to say a proper goodbye.

"Did you pack your ring?" he asked.

It wasn't on my finger. He recalled seeing me take it off in the living room of the suite and setting it down on the table. We went to the front desk and they called someone in housekeeping to find out if it had been seen. We went upstairs, found that the key still worked and scoured the room for it. Nothing. We left and met with the housekeeping supervisor, who performed a more thorough search and still found nothing.

I began to meditate on the fleeting nature of things.

We found my sunglasses, which I had also left behind, on the housekeeping cart and the supervisor asked the housekeeper if she'd seen a ring in the same room. She shook her head and said she hadn't. The supervisor went as far as to pull on gloves and rummage through the trash bag and--

--she found it. I have no idea how it got there. I suspect gremlins.

I put it on and thanked her profusely. Then thanked her some more. The Gentleman Caller took a picture of her badge so he could thank corporate properly. He forwarded it to me so I could do the same. I may point them to this blog post.

So the ring is back on my finger and I seriously thought I'd never see it again. Miracles do happen in this lifetime.

Today I took pleasure in a big, cold bottle of fruit punch flavored Powerade.

Today I learned many of the musicians who played on Star Wars and Other Galactic Funk ended up playing in David Letterman's band.

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Yes, I'm Better Now

There's a lot to catch up on between now and my last update. Let's see if I can get enough of it down.

I got home around the end of July. I made plans to have a belated birthday party in August, but then my HVAC broke down and needed to be completely replaced, to the tune of $7,500. Mom and Dad fronted me the money, and I will have to pay them back, along with the money I still owe them for the car I got to replace the late, lamented Red the Disco. (I named it Lucky Penny. I'll post a picture next time I'm here.)

September, the graphics card in my MacBook Pro decided to choke and brick my computer. This means I couldn't email any invites, so hopes of a further belated birthday party were dashed. My computer is so old that the Genius Bar won't touch it, so I relied on a place not far from me that does vintage Mac repair. They had to ship the thing out to California and back, but they did get it done and my Mac is now a happy Mac.

October, I finally had the birthday party.

November, I took on National Novel Writing Month. I clocked in at 51,629 words and even managed to wrap it up with a reasonable ending, which I didn't manage to do last year. It was not the easiest of goings, though. I dragged behind where I needed to be for most of it, some days only getting in a few hundred words. However, I also cranked out some more prolific days which pulled my fat out of the fire. (Thanksgiving is a godsend for American NaNoers.) I wasn't as prepared for this one as I was last year and that hindered my wordcount because I'd be stuck on what do to next. I do already have ideas for the next one, so that'll give me a year to work stuff out.

I took the month off from flower drawing, but I'm falling back into the habit quite easily. I've already hit #4,000 this year, so that's one New Year's resolution knocked out. (Don't ask me about the other ones.)

Today I took pleasure in iced and unsweetened rooibos.

Today I learned some helpful things about my vacuum cleaner.

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