Fun with rainbows!

So there I was taking a nap yesterday afternoon before we all scampered off to see Skyfall, when I jolted awake hearing userinfosolarbird charge down the stairs yelling “LOOK OUTSIDE RIGHT NOW!”

Groggily, I did so, and perked up when I saw a rainbow out the library window! Which was lovely and all–except Dara was way more excited than a single rainbow warranted. And I heard her yelling about three of them. So I shook myself awake, stepped out onto the porch, and saw THIS.

That's Some Pot of Gold
That’s Some Pot of Gold

I had never seen a rainbow skewing off at an angle like that–double rainbows, sure, but never a triple configuration like that! So I grabbed the iPad and snapped a whole bunch of pics. This was one of my better ones. Dara, being way better at taking pictures than I am, got even better ones which she posted here and here (Dreamwidth), or if you want the LJ mirrors of the posts, they’re here and here!

Dara reported that Facebook had theorized that the third rainbow was caused by reflecting off of Lake Washington, a theory supported when Cliff Mass, our local weather guru, posted about it here! One of his readers sent in a pic of the rainbows from a different viewpoint, too, so that pic’s flipped around!

So very, very cool. It’s wacky fun like this that recharges my ability to deal with Seattle’s rainy falls and winters. And I swear this is going into a book at some point, because it was a sight full of magic.

The Great Canadian Adventure, Day 3!

And now, let’s get back to recounting the details of the great Canadian Adventure, shall we? Because I gotta tell you people about Memoire et Racines, not to mention GBS, but I ain’t skipping ahead!

Our last day in Toronto involved less wandering around than the two previous ones, in no small part because we needed to keep some time free for userinfosolarbird to get back to Chez Cow and prepare for her house concert! But that said, we did have a good wander about through the late morning and early afternoon.

The first stop of the day was at the Ontario Legislative Building in Queen’s Park, so that userinfocow could drop off tasty Montreal bagels for a friend. On the way, Dara and I spotted various amusing signs out the windows of the bus, so I took pics. I was disappointed that “Dragons and Skulls” did not in fact sell either dragons OR skulls–it was apparently a defunct Chinese gift shop. “Adult Movie Pet Food” just made me giggle on general principle for the juxtaposition, while “Cabbagetown” made both me AND Dara giggle and think of Avatar: The Last Airbender‘s cabbage vendor NPC!

Once we got to the Legislative Building, we peeked into the lobby, as far as we could get in the building without joining one of the formal tours, and we did snap a few pics while we were in there. There was nice art on the walls as well as the ceremonial mace used by the Legislature.

After that we wandered through a bit more of the park, specifically cutting past a building that userinfocow told us was the medieval studies building for the University of the Toronto. There was a neat sign there all in Latin–and how many signs do you see on colleges anywhere, TOTALLY IN LATIN? I also rather liked an ivy-covered arch nearby.

Then we cut over to the Village, Toronto’s LGBT district, and I snapped more pics of urban art that caught my eye on the way. We stopped at Glad Day for books (where I picked up a potentially interesting novel called Three, mentioned in my last book round up post). We stopped for yogurt (which was tasty). We popped into a candy store (where I giggled at the sight of an ancient Six Million Dollar Man lunchbox, which I recognized because my brother had had one of those when I was a kid!). And we stopped to look at an AIDS memorial, which was touching.

But the thing I liked best about this particular day’s wandering was Riverdale Farm. I hadn’t ever encountered an urban farm before, and it was really pretty neat to be able to wander through a farm right in the middle of a major city.

Once we were done wandering around the farm, the weather took a turn for the worse–and just as we made it off the bus near Cow’s place, it finally opened up raining. I’d brought my raincoat, thankfully, so I didn’t get too wet. Dara was not so lucky!

But it was all good, because the rest of the day pretty much went to Dara’s house concert. Attendees If and Sarah were very fun to chat with (and I in particular had great fun talking to Sarah since she works for Kobo and I was pleased to be able to yak about putting Faerie Blood up on Kobo’s new Writing Life site), and they took well to Dara’s music, particularly “Sad Muppet”! A very nice way to round out the Toronto phase of our trip!

The Great Canadian Adventure, Day 2!

Day 2 of the Great Canadian Adventure involved more wandering around through Toronto, and in this particular case, that meant that our fine host userinfocow took userinfosolarbird and me along Queen Street towards downtown Toronto. The plan was to stop and have lunch and hang out for a bit, until it was time to meet up with Susan, my Le Vent du Nord fandom friend!

Queen Street was a good walk, not too strenuous or long, especially given that I’ve done comparable walking daily getting to and from work. There was a lot of construction along the route, but there was also some nice art, like the animal mural we found under one particular bridge! And I gotta say, I really like the random bits of under-bridge art we’ve seen in Toronto so far. Apparently Toronto’s bridge trolls are quite artistically inclined!

I didn’t get shots of all of the animals on that mural, but yeah, it was very pretty.

We eventually wound up at a place called the Distillery, this neat little walkable market area down near the lakefront, with a lot of nice old brick buildings. At the Mill Street Brewery pub, we stopped for some very tasty lunch. There were super-tasty pretzels with sea salt, and this day’s venture into Cider Science brought us Thornbury Cider. Which was tasty, a bit sweeter than the stuff we’d had the night before, but still not quite as intense as Strongbow!

Then we wandered more around the general Distillery area. We stopped in a tiny sake shop, which was awesome. The guy at the counter was very knowledgeable about the various sakes they were selling, and Dara and I did “Tasting Flight”, which was small samples of three different kinds of sake. We wound up buying a bottle, and Dara was particularly happy to be able to swap a bit of Japanese in conversation with the gentleman.

And we found some seriously neat skiffy-esque sculpture!

After the Distillery, it was time to head to the St. Lawrence market and meet up with Susan! Cow parted ways with us at that point, but it was great to meet Susan face to face. It was not surprising to me in the slightest that one of the first things she did was hand me one of the smaller posters for the Le Vent du Nord show she arranged, hee!

And it was also not surprising that the boys of Le Vent du Nord were one of my and Susan’s primary conversation topics. But we also yakked about Doctor Who, since Susan was wearing an adorable “Doctor Pooh” t-shirt–think Pooh with the Tom Baker scarf–and about audio equipment, Toronto, our various personal histories, the St. Lawrence market we were wandering through, and more.

The market, by the way, is worth mentioning just because it reminded me a lot of Pike Place, only more vertically oriented rather than sprawling. Much of the same kind of stuff sold therein, only involving a lot more maple snacks. I bought maple candy and icewine candy, the latter of which I hadn’t heard of and which proved to be tasty.

We wandered around the University of Toronto campus a lot, too, which was a nice place to walk. By the time we got there, though, a thunderstorm was rolling in–and neither Dara nor I had thought to prep for a thunderstorm! Dara didn’t have her umbrella, and I didn’t have my raincoat. DOH. Taking shelter from rain did however find us a neat arch with a WWII memorial.

The plan HAD been to take Susan to dinner, but we wound up blowing the time we had available just by talking and wandering! We did at least have a chance to duck into a cafe–again, to hide from rain–and drink hot beverages and yak more. But eventually we had to return Susan to the subway so she could scamper back to Uxbridge by bus. And Dara and I made our way back along Queen Street, heading back to Chez Cow!

On the way, we saw a spaceship building. I was a bit disappointed it wasn’t an actual spaceship.

It got to serious raining by the time we made it off the streetcar, so we ducked into the first open restaurant we could find, a pizza place. Which had perfectly acceptable pizza, and a friendly waiter who told us he was from the Yukon and that he quite disliked the bit of Toronto he lives in, but that he quite LIKED the bit the restaurant was in! I.e., Cow’s neighborhood, Leslieville. We are so far in agreement on the excellence of Leslieville.

It continued to be quite thunderstormy as the night progressed, to degrees I haven’t experienced since I was a kid, or since Dara and I were in Orlando for the Worldcon in the early nineties. I dreamed of lightning as I slept. And I’m told that Toronto really needs the rain, so it’s all good.

Today, though, I’ll be heading out with my raincoat!

The Great Canadian Adventure, Day 1!

So yeah, the Great Canadian Adventure has begun, folks! and I made it safely to Toronto last night, after a surprisingly relaxed and groovy jaunt out of Sea-Tac. Thanks to kindly running us down to the airport on his way to work, we got there super-early and had acres of time to kill. We wound up walking all up and down all the various wings of the airport, and even stopped for 15-minute massages at a massage bar in one wing. Which was beautiful and relaxing, and which is something that should be done more often before flying, I feel.

We also looked at various bits of airport art. Most of this are of a big mural we found at the end of the A wing, which looked really cool with the sun coming down through it, and I quite liked the sleeping figures at the top. For comparison, though, I also present the dubious brown bits of sculpture that we wound elsewhere in our airport wanderings–sculpture that wasn’t particularly improved by the proximity of similarly shaped white pieces hanging from the nearby ceiling.

And we wound up having all this time to kill at the airport even given the madhouse that SeaTac was, thanks to mechanical failures and flight cancellations. We got a baggage fee waived even though Dara’s bouzouki was oversized, and even the security line was surprisingly quick and painless; neither of us got dinged for the full-body scanner, thankfully.

The flight was a bit bumpy, but we made it in okay, and Canadian customs was also quick and painless. came to meet us and escort us back to Chez Cow, and then we popped back out again to go get a very late (by local time) dinner at Cow’s nearby preferred pub. We had lovely service from the Croatian bartender there and got to try a local cider, for the first volley in this Adventure’s objective of CIDER SCIENCE! Verdict on the Waupoos: a good light, dry cider, not as overt in flavor as Strongbow, but that stuff’s hard to beat. The fish and chips were tasty as well, and we eventually keeled back over at Chez Cow around midnightish.

Much to my amazement, my brain popped online around sixish–i.e., threeish Pacific time. And I was astonishingly awake and have mostly remained so all day! When the HELL did I turn into a morning person, anyway?

But today was relaxed and groovy, an overall theme for this trip. We wandered out through the Leslieville district, had some nice lunch at a Japanese place, and then a lovely walk along the beach of Lake Ontario. Internets, this is the first time I’d ever been to one of the Great Lakes! And the sheer visual size of it just blew me away. I’m used to Lake Washington–which, don’t get me wrong, is no tiny pond–but even with Lake Washington, I can see the distant shorelines way down at the other end.

With Lake Ontario, though, there’s nothing out there but blue horizon. The weird thing, though, is that it looks like it ought to be ocean, except that there are no waves and no tides, and the air doesn’t smell like salt. It was great fun to wade down into the beautiful clear water, though, and see some tiny wriggling mini-fish. Here’s the shots I got of the lake!

Our evening went to Ethopian food for dinner, and then a casual stroll got us back to Chez Cow. I got a couple more pics on the way! I giggled at the No Hockey sign, but also the Traffic Calming one, because apparently the local streets just wanted a nice relaxing cup of tea. The mural and the tunnel, though, those were awesome. And the tunnel totally makes me think a scene of some sort ought to take place in it.

We are closing this first day in Toronto with experiments in margaritas and vodka. And tomorrow there will be meeting of fellow Le Vent du Nord fan Susan!

The trip back to the homeland this week

I’m always ambivalent when I go back to Kentucky. I do love and also generally like most of my family, but on the other hand, I don’t belong in the political and religious climate of the place. ‘Cause I mean, seriously, “agnostic, bisexual, polyamorous SF geek” is not exactly a common breed in those parts. And there is enough darkness in my childhood that for the most part, I’m content to remain a few thousand miles away from it for the remainder of my days.

And yet. When userinfosolarbird and I went to my Grandma Hyson’s funeral this week, I did feel it necessary to do a few things.

One of these was, on Monday afternoon, going to see the house where I grew up. The neighborhood looked surprisingly unchanged from my childhood memories–although of course smaller in scale to my 42-year-old eyes than it’d been when I was small, or even a teenager. 902 itself, the house my father helped build for us, looked quite a bit smaller in particular and it did have changes. The shutters are solid white now, instead of the green with white borders that they’d been when I was a child, and the house numbers are new. There is only one tree in the front yard now rather than two, and that tree is significantly taller and thicker around than the maple saplings I remember.

The big ditch by the house is the same, though–the ditch that’s big enough to be labelled “Slop Ditch” on maps of Louisville, a ditch whose size hadn’t ever really registered with Dara until she actually saw it, at which point she proceeded to inform me that it was really more of a big creek or maybe even a small river. The thick summer plant life growing all along the banks, another thing that fit well with my memory, is certainly river-like.

Preston Highway, at least where my old street intersected with it, also looked much the same. I pointed out to Dara the church we’d attended, as well as the building that used to be the movie theater where I first saw Star Wars, and which is now (sadly) a Verizon store. The huge hardware store I remembered on the corner was still there, although the building I remembered as white is more of a silvery-gray now. And the tiny convenience shop just around the way from that hardware store, the Easy Shop which was my impetus to walk six entire blocks from home because that was where the candy was, isn’t there anymore at all. That made me kind of sad.

We went over to see my old elementary school as well, since that wasn’t too far away, and that too seemed a lot smaller than I ever remembered. But we also wound up wandering to a part of Louisville that hadn’t ever been a part of my childhood: the Bardstown neighborhood, which turned out to be surprisingly congenial to Seattleites used to walkable streets. I could have easily seen Bardstown, with its walkable main street and street parking for several surrounding blocks, as a neighborhood hub in Seattle. And since it has a huge comic book store as well as a nice little coffee shop and a used book exchange, I am fairly sure it must be a haven for geeks all over Louisville.

Monday night sent Dara and me to Lexington. We dropped in on userinfostarsongky and userinfogazerwolf, and had a lovely chat with them; then we went out to dinner with our old friend Brent and another acquaintance from LexFA, David, and that was lovely too.

Tuesday was of course Grandma’s funeral, and as funerals go, it was… not bad, actually. It was nice to spend a couple of hours just hanging out with the family, sharing conversation and a lot of old pictures, especially many old pictures of Grandma that I’d never seen before. Dara and I were also even introduced to an old high school friend of my aunt Kim’s–who, it turns out, is an SF geek herself and is someone whose path we fleetingly crossed attending Rivercons while we were still in Kentucky. So that was pretty neat.

So was what Dara told me after we got home: that a friend of my aunt Teresa’s, while Dara had stepped outside, had given her a bit of a look and asked, “Are you the outdoorsy type? Do you like to hike?” To wit: LOL, of the very, very old school variety.

The actual service turned out to be surprisingly informal and sweet, as it was officiated by a gentleman who wasn’t actually a pastor. But he was an old, old friend of Grandma’s family, the Careys, and had spoken at previous Carey funerals. His name was Billy Maxie, and he rambled quite a bit about the history of Grandma’s family. Two things that he said, though, stood out for me.

One was that the Careys, he said, were always singers. That if you met a Carey, you’d know that they’d automatically be good at singing, and how they’d always be leading the singing at church and such. He said that if any of us with Carey blood found ourselves just singing, that that would be the Carey genes expressing themselves.

I couldn’t help but think of me walking to at from work, belting out Great Big Sea. And I had to smile.

And the other was something awesome that I don’t think I’d ever known, or if I did I’d forgotten: that Grandma was one of the many millions of women who, during World War II, worked in the factories while their menfolk went off to war. Aunt Kim backed this up afterwards by saying that Grandma had built airplanes, and she’d always had a hard time envisioning her mother with power tools. My Aunt Teresa says that Grandma had also been a bit of a clothes horse and loved her fancy dresses, and hated wearing the “dungarees” that they were required to wear at the factories!

Mr. Maxie finished up though by doing something really, really sweet: saying that as a member of the Disabled American Veterans, he’d paid a lot of respect to men who’d served during WWII. This time, though, he was going to do it for my grandma, because he firmly believed that the women who did their part by working in those factories were every bit as deserving of the same respect as the men who’d done the fighting. And so he stepped in front of my Grandma’s casket and very formally saluted her.

I teared up at that. That, all by itself, made me happy I was there.

Dara and I both got to have a bit of a chat with Mr. Maxie after, and he was startled to see that Dara had her mandolin with her–because he had in fact intended to have another gentleman play mandolin for him during the service, but that gent had not been able to make it. Mr. Maxie told Dara that if he’d known she’d had a mandolin, he’d have put her to work. And he seemed pleased to learn that I myself was of Carey blood, and that I did sing a bit.

Afterwards, because I had never actually seen it and because my mom was buried in the same cemetery, I told my brothers and sisters I wanted to see Mom’s headstone. So we went over there to pay our respects, bringing Marc’s and Sarah’s children with us. It was a bit of a crowd with the great lot of us, and it turns out that Mom is in kind of crowded company. But I was happy, in a wistful kind of way, to at least see the place where she rests.

Then we all convened at my uncle Randy’s house and hung out together for several more hours, eating food, chatting, and looking at a great many more old pictures.

Like this one, which is perhaps one of the earliest ones of Grandma in the entire set of pictures I saw. I’ve come home with the originals of a lot of the pictures I looked at, but this one in particular was old enough that I didn’t want to separate it from the rest. So I just snapped a pic of it in turn with my iPhone, just so that I can show you all an even younger picture of my Grandma, and a glimpse of the Stylish Young Miss that she was. I think that pose of her is adorable.

Stylish Young Miss
Stylish Young Miss

Tuesday night, after Dara and I parted ways with my family, we wandered off to the one other part of Louisville (aside from my middle school and high school from downtown) that I could remember with any immediate clarity: Jefferson Mall, which had always been the “good” mall when I was a kid, and which still periodically shows up in dreams of mine, heavily mutated, as the upper level of a dreamscape Nethack game. I remembered the L-shape of the place, and the skylights over the food court, and I had a very, very niggling memory of the Willis Music where I might even have gotten that ancient orange Elvis songbook I have once again, thanks to my brother.

There were thunderstorms Tuesday afternoon and evening, clearing out the awful heat and humidity that had made most of Monday unbearable. A good thunderstorm is one of the few things aside from my family that I do miss about Kentucky, and I was happy to see that one. A parting gift from the state, as it were.

And I bought a Louisville shirt in the airport, on the way home.


My sister Sarah just sent around a whole fleet of old pictures of various members of our family, including a couple of very, very, VERY TINY me! Like this one, wherein it is demonstrated that even at a very tiny age, I liked to have books in my lap.

Tiny Anna is Tiny
Tiny Anna is Tiny

And then there’s this one, of me and my mother, circa 1971. She really did look like me. Except with a bigger forehead. I come by my GIGANTIC HEAD honest!

My Mother and Me
My Mother and Me

A very late but AWESOME birthday present

userinfospazzkat has been lamenting to me for the last two months that the present he’d ordered for my birthday was sadly, sadly overdue–but as of tonight, the present finally arrived! And now I can relay to you that the War Against the Piggies has turned PLUSH!

Angry Plushies
Angry Plushies

These are insanely adorable. And I want to build them Lego structures so I can knock them down again with them! Or maybe Jenga blocks! Or Lincoln Logs! :D

Oh look, more session pics!

Liz Jackson took a whole bunch more awesome pictures of the Terrible Beauty sessions when we had the nice big session on the 9th–which is the one userinfosolcita showed up for, too!

Here are my two favorites of me from it, and I particularly like the black and white one where I’m all I LUV U GUITAR. All the rest of ’em are right over here!

I Luv U Guitar
I Luv U Guitar

Musicians are Hy-Larious
Musicians are Hy-Larious

Piccies of me and the General

Liz Jackson, who posted an awesome gallery of pics over here from the first of our Celtic sessions, has done another round! She doesn’t have them posted on her Smugmug page yet so I can’t link to them off of Facebook, but I did grab two of the Facebook ones that I liked of me and the General. Here they are. Photo credits, again, to Liz!

ETA: And BEHOLD! High-res piccie goodness posted by Liz! The better versions of the ones I did low-res of above are here and here. The whole kit and caboodle is here.

My beloved userinfosolarbird and I are really both quite impressed at how Liz does an excellent job of making us look like Hot Babes With Superpowers. And by superpowers, I mean musical instruments!

Raspberry Girl

As y’all know I’ve grown quite fond of daily stops to visit the nice boys who run the table for Frank’s at Pike Place. I know a few of them by name and a few more of them by face at this point, and several of them know me.

One of them, a young rather cute fellow of Asian extraction, told me he was learning how to take pictures and asked if I could be a guinea pig for him. I said sure, and he promised me prints when he got the picture developed, while I thought to myself OH RIGHT that actually has to happen for pictures on real film, doesn’t it?

When I stopped by tonight for my usual raspberries (and by ‘stopped by’ I mean ‘sneaky excuse to bid them all a pleasant holiday’, and by ‘all’ I really mean ‘the really cute one with the glasses and the ponytail, but I didn’t say that in my Outside Voice’), he gave me two copies of the pic! One was too dark but the other wasn’t half bad, so I snapped a pic of it with my iPhone to share here.

Even though it’s kind of meta to post a picture of a picture of yourself, no?

Raspberry Girl
Raspberry Girl