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life and stuff

It's been a while since I posted here, so I thought I'd fill people in.

I hadn't been writing much; sometimes I think I get the winter blahs or maybe SAD. Or maybe it's just that I didn't feel like writing; I don't know. Anyway, I finally got a short chapter posted for a 4 chapter short story collection based on a very complicated challenge by Alopex at eHPF.

I've cut back a lot of my net-surfing and reading of fanfic lately to devote more time to my wife. She understands when I want to write, but is a bit less understanding about wanting to retreat into the spare room and read/net-surf. So, I've cut back my time on eHPF and the HPFF forums. I still validate at Gluttony, because it's only a story a day usually, which isn't a time constraint. I've been thinking about resigning as an admin at eHPF, because when I was really active it took almost 90 mins a day to do everything that needed done and it seems that most of the elderlies are moving on to other things. If I do, I'll stay in touch with some of them for sure, like Ginny, Bella_Portia, Shanon, Siriusly_Peeved, Elena, and JoanneK.

The slow season at work where my hours get cut from 40 to 32 wasn't so bad this year and we're back to 40 hour weeks for the next few weeks at least, and my wife is back at 22-25 instead of 17, so our checkbook isn't screaming as much. Been working on paying off credit card debt; they call it revolving because it feels like being stuck in a revolving door. raised my interest rates ridiculously, so I paid off the card and will just use it once a year to avoid getting a membership fee and I'll pay it off right away. I don't want to get rid of it because it's my oldest card and length of credit history counts for a lot on your credit score.

Looking forward to it being sunny for a few days in a row so I can mow the lawn for the first time this year. Also time to start pulling out the spring decor. Our 14th wedding anniversary is coming up soon, and both my wife and I are taking some time off from work. We'll probably make a day trip to Seattle to visit Gargoyle Statuary (visit their website, it's way cool) and do some work around the house and generally recoup.

The Olympics didn't affect us as much here as we thought (within 20 miles of Canada border by Vancouver). It seems a lot of people just avoided the border altogether, anticipating big lines that weren't there. Would have been fun to go to an Olympic event, but they were so expensive I just couldn't justify going. I'll just go to some Mariner's games this year instead, I think.

That's my boring life lately.
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(no subject)

It's been a long time since I posted anything here. I really didn't feel like writing much during the busy holiday season in retail. Also, my desktop computer was down again and being repaired for part of the time, so I was stuck with the old laptop that is slow (although I actually like writing on the laptop better as I like the feel of the keyboard).

I work at a major retailer known for its upscale discount store status and I've been there almost 20 years. Lately, there's been more of an emphasis on team training, which I'm still getting comfortable with. We have a good mix of leaders, ranging from action-oriented, like me to people-oriented, like some of the other leaders. I run the food department, so I'm in charge of ordering for the coolers and the general food stock (I have to be careful, because my company has strict blogging rules about work related activities). Anyway, the gist of this is that it was a rough holiday season, but sales were up (can't tell you how much, sorry), so I was tired a lot.

My wife is thinking about looking for a new job this year. She actually has a certificate for medical transcription, but has never used it and the market for it seems to have gone pffft, as reallyginnyf can attest to. She would love to work in an office somewhere where she could quietly do repetitive tasks with little human contact. She's burnt out on dealing with the public. She would also maybe like to work in someplace like a second-hand shop.

I haven't been writing, like I said, but I'm going to be starting soon on a 4 chapter short story/short story collection for one of Alopex's challenges at eHPF. I've been wanting to write this story for a while, but never knew how to format it. It's going to be travelling across 4 generations (Founders, Marauders, Hogwarts, Next-gen, and it will have a background of Arthurian themes, including the Fisher King. Surprisingly for me it will be a Draco/Ginny piece in the end. I'm doing some research on the Arthurian legends right now and I've come across some wack theories.

The main problem I have right now is that I need Mordred to be the son of Arthur/Morgana LeFay, but most legends have them as half-brother/half-sister, which I need to avoid for ToS reasons--no incest. I'll have to make it clear that they're not related. I have thoughts on this, but would love to hear your thoughts, dear reader.

My Draco bookmark is in 'Merlin' by Norma Lorre Goodrich (author of some of the aforesaid wack theories) and my Harry bookmark is in 'Knights of the Cornerstone' by James Blaylock.
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(no subject)

I've been working on chapter 7 of 'Bodies at Rest.' I know this needs to be the chapter that introduces Teddy Lupin, who is the same age as George, the necromancer boy. This also needs to be the chapter where George gets his Hogwarts letter and his wand. I'm not sure about the call from Andromeda to Molly. Would they be in contact with each other? Maybe because of their contact with Harry? Harry is Molly's Son-in-law and Teddy's godfather (I picture Teddy living with Andromeda and visiting Harry often).

Any opinion is welcome. This isn't too cleaned up yet.

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The smaller of the two kittens pounced on George’s shoelace as he tied his shoes. The kitten tugged at the lace playfully and George had to firmly push it away. A voice from the fireplace made George jump and caused the kitten to go skittering off under a sofa.

“Excuse me, young man, is Molly home?”

George turned to see a woman’s face outlined in the fire. He gawped for just a moment before answering politely. “She’s outside; may I ask who’s calling, please?”

He was glad he’d seen Arthur call Molly like this before. He couldn’t make out the colour of her hair in the swirling flames, but she had heavy-lidded eyes and a narrow, regal face.


The woman smiled at his manners. “You must be George. I’m Andromeda Tonks. Would you be so kind as to fetch Molly, please?”

George nodded and started to get up and walk off. Andromeda’s voice stopped him.

“Young man, you need to tie your shoes before you hurt yourself.”

George finished tying his shoes and went into the kitchen. Molly was sitting down with a cookbook and circling recipes. She looked up as he came into the room.

“I’m sorry to bother you,” he said. “There’s a caller in the fireplace. She’s says her name’s Andromeda Tonks and she’d like to speak with you.”

Molly rose and put the cookbook down. “Thank you, George. Have you cleaned the cat box today?”

He shook his head. “I was just getting ready to do that when she called.”

Molly moved by him into the living room. “Go ahead and do that while I talk to Mrs. Tonks.”

After she left, George picked up the cookbook and looked at it. He sighed as he read the title: One hundred and one low calorie recipes for the portly wizard by Gustav Greylag. He went to the cupboard and grabbed a bag and the scoop to clean his cat box. He had just climbed to the landing on the first floor when he heard Molly shouting at him up the stairs.

“George, could you come down here, please?”

George left the bag and scoop on the landing and went down the stairs and into the living room. Andromeda smiled at him from the fireplace as he sat down next to Molly.

As Andromeda spoke, the flames in fireplace crackled green. “Molly tells me that you’re going to start at Hogwarts this year.”

George nodded. “Yes, ma’am.”

“My grandson, Teddy is going to start this year, too.” Her wedding ring gleamed in the firelight when she lifted her hand and brushed back her hair. “I thought that you might like to go to Diagon Alley with us and get your supplies after you get your letter.” She leaned forward and whispered conspiratorially. “I hear from a highly placed source that you’ll get your letter tomorrow.” She leaned back and put her finger to her lips.

George looked to Molly and shrugged slightly.

Molly caught the movement and nodded at him. “We’d love that. Shall we meet at the Leaky Cauldron at 11:00 next Thursday?”

Andromeda looked down at something. George saw her hand move. He presumed she was writing a note. “11:00 next Thursday it is, then. See you there.”

“Goodbye, Andromeda.”

“Goodbye, Molly.”

Andromeda’s face winked out.

Molly turned to George and hugged him. He stiffened for moment before relaxing and hugging her back. “You’re getting your letter tomorrow. Isn’t that exciting?” She pulled back from the hug.

George hung his head and shrugged. “I guess.”

Molly grabbed one of his hands. “What’s wrong?”

George lifted his face and looked at her. “What if the kids there make fun of me, too?”

Molly sighed. “Look, George, there’s bad kids and there’s good kids there. Teddy’s one of the good kids. Did you know he’s Harry’s godson?”

George shook his head.

Molly gripped his hand tightly. “My point is that I’m sure you’ll make friends at Hogwarts, but if anyone does treat you badly, you can go see Harry. He’ll be there and he can look after you.”

“I’m scared,” he said with a small voice. “What if I’m a rubbish wizard?”

Molly hugged him again and this time George hugged her back. She stroked his back as she said, “I’m sure you’ll be a great wizard.”

The next morning George was awakened by Mittens purring in his ear and bumping him with her head. When he sat up and blearily wiped his eyes, Mittens dropped the smaller kitten into his lap. The small black cat rubbed on George’s pyjamas and mewed as Mittens cleaned his velvety ears. They both purred as George looked down at them. The larger, bolder kitten was scratching in the cat box and flinging sand onto the floor. It dragged a dried piece of poop out of the box and started swatting it around the room.

After a few minutes Mittens took the kitten from George’s lap and curled up around it. The other kitten saw them together and leapt onto the bed to join them. George looked around for his handkerchief, but couldn’t find it, so he grabbed the dried poop in a pair of dirty underpants and put it in the bin by his dresser. He dropped the dirty underpants back into his laundry hamper. After giving Mittens and the kittens some scratching behind their ears, he gathered up his robes, and went to the bathroom.

As he took off his clothes to bathe, he looked at himself in the mirror and sighed. He pulled the scale out from under the sink and weighed himself; he had dropped eight pounds since coming to the Burrow, but it didn’t show yet. His stomach rumbled as he stepped into the tub.

He bathed quickly and slipped into his robes. He moved surprisingly lightly down the stairs, avoiding the creaky step that he had found always woke up Molly. He gathered clean bowls of food and water for the cats and went back with them to his room. When he picked up the dirty bowls and put down the new bowls, the cats immediately leapt off his bed. The kittens were still slightly too young for the kibble, but they tried to imitate their mother who crunched the food greedily.

George went back down to the kitchen and washed the dirty cat bowls. When he had finished he dug around in the icebox. He smiled as he thought how happy Arthur had been when George told him how Muggle fridges had a light that came on when the door was opened. Arthur had fiddled with the icebox that entire night until the inside lit up when the door was opened. Unfortunately, all the food in the icebox glowed as well.

There was some leftover chicken from the previous night’s meal and George dug out a brightly glowing drumstick and started eating it. He went to the front door and retrieved the Daily Prophet. He liked to have it ready for Arthur when Arthur came down with Molly for breakfast. He watched the moving photographs on the front page with interest, and shook his head in amazement. After he had finished his chicken, he tossed the bone into a compost bucket and washed his hands.

Footsteps from the stairs got his attention and he turned to face them.

Molly and Arthur came into the kitchen dressed in their night robes. The pins in Molly’s hair were arranging themselves under direction from her wand. Arthur went to the cupboard and started preparing tea.
“Good morning, George,” Arthur said as he put loose tea into a tea ball.

“Good morning,” George replied. He turned to Molly. “I’ve already fed the cats and I’ve bathed and had breakfast.”

Arthur laughed. “Eager to get your Hogwarts letter today?”

George nodded. “Yes, sir.”

Arthur looked at George over his glasses. “I’ve told you; you don’t need to call me sir. You can call me Arthur.”

George looked down. “It just seems wrong to call you Arthur. I feel I should call you ‘sir’ or ‘Mr. Weasley’”

“If that’s what makes you comfortable, then it’s okay, but ‘sir’ makes me feel so old.”

Molly kissed Arthur on the cheek. “That’s because you are old, dear.”

“That’s not what you said last night,” Arthur replied.

Molly and George both flushed and Molly giggled a little. She started moving around the kitchen and preparing breakfast.

When she opened the icebox, she sighed. “Can’t you get rid of the glow on the food?”

Arthur lowered the paper. “I’ll try again tonight.” He winked at George.

Molly straightened from the icebox. “George, what did you have for breakfast?”

“I had a leg from last night’s chicken,” he answered.

Molly sighed again. “I was saving that chicken for lunch today.”

George hung his head. “I’m sorry.”

Molly moved and sat next to George. “It’s okay, George.” She lifted his face. “I’m just trying to get you into more healthy eating habits. Can we agree to sticking to the meal plan?” She pointed at the parchment taped to the icebox.

George nodded guiltily. “Okay,” he said in a small voice.

After Arthur had gone to work, George helped Molly around the house with chores.

She came across another dried cat poop that had been fished out by one of the kittens. With a disgusted noise, she Vanished it.

“Excuse me, Molly?” George asked.

Molly smiled. It was one of the few times he had called her by name. “Yes, George?”

“If you can Vanish the poop, then why do you have me clean the cat box by hand?”

Molly sat down and indicated George should sit next to her. After he had sat she spoke.

“It’s all about responsibility. I want you to take care of Mittens and her kittens because she’s your cat. If you could Vanish the contents of her litter box, then I’d let you make the decision whether or not to use magic.” She put an arm around him.

He wiggled under her arm. “How do you decide when to use magic and when not to?”

Molly lifted her arm and ran her hands through her hair. “That’s a hard question and best left up to the individual.” She pursed her lips as she thought. “I tend to use magic on chores that I don’t like. I’m sure you’ve seen that I turn the laundry mangle with magic rather than by hand?”

George nodded. “But you feed the chickens by hand, even though you could spread the feed more evenly with magic?”

“Exactly,” she said. “When I cook, I do the chopping and peeling with magic, usually, but I mix sauces and dishes by hand most of the time.”

George looked up at her. “Can you ‘use up’ your magic?”

Molly could hear the quotes around ‘use up.’

“No,” she answered. “But, you can get tired. It takes a lot of concentration to keep an enchantment going sometimes and sometimes using magic is just as tiring as doing things by hand.” George started to ask something, but Molly held up her hand. “But, again, some things are easier with magic. I could never budge that big rock in the garden by hand, but with magic I could move it around wherever I wanted it.”

She stood and began dusting the curtains. “Did that answer your questions?”

George also stood. “I’m not sure; I’ll think I’ll just have to learn as I go.”

They continued cleaning together until a knocking at the door interrupted them.
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Story featured in HPFF podcast

Checked my email tonight and found a notice that Alopex left a comment on my profile at HPFF. I went there and found that my story 'A Stocking for Dobby' had been featured for discussion on a podcast. I was finally able to download it and LovlyRita and SpringTime discussed my story and two others (one of which was 'Fragments' by Joanne K, which is a short story collection of hers. Most of the stories in it were written for the Last Drabble Writer Standing Challenge at eHPF that reallyginnyf presented. One of the stories in it was written for a weekly drabble prompt that I had posted at eHPF, so I actually felt like I had two stories featured :) ). I was hoping that someone was actually going to read the story on the podcast, but it was just discussion. It would be cool to hear someone read one of my stories aloud.

I did some checking and Alopex had nominated my story for inclusion in this. After she read my story for Staff Challenge 2, she read and reviewed almost every chapter I have on HPFF. She leaves detailed reviews full of CC, good and bad. It's nice to have someone like that, especially since I'm a bit of a niche author there and don't get tons of reviews. Because of what I write, I'll probably never be one of the most popular authors there, but I don't write for popularity. I write to tell the story in my head.
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my day and last week

Today was D&D day, so spent the day at a friend's house playing D&D. I might have posted before that we're a very non-stereotypical group. We have women who play *gasp*. Both my wife and my friend's wife play. Also, with the exception of me, no one in the group could fit the 'nerdy' stereotype. One of the guys is 6'3" and over 300 lbs. of solidness and my wife's brother in law is almost as big. As a matter of fact, until my friend's wife's cousin joined, I actually weighed the least of anyone in the room, including the women (ouch, I shouldn't say that I guess).

It was a good game session, but it was mostly socializing and not much playing. The guy who was supposed to be DM tonight was a bit late, so we played a 'pick-up' game with some random characters to fill the time. We ordered Chinese food delivered and played.

The past week I've updated 'Bodies at Rest' and posted my entry to Staff Challenge 5 at HPFF. For SC5, you had to write a fanfic based on a staffer's fic. I chose to write a story based on Georgia_Weasley's story "Time to Go". Her story was about Hermione trying to get Ron's attention on what was supposed to be a quiet night out. Hermione wanted to go home for some lovin' and Ron was busy with a mini-reunion with his friends. Hermione got his attention in an unique way and the went home.

My story is about Crookshanks' night while the Weasleys were out and after they came home. Ron and Hermione are...active in their passions and keep disturbing Crookshanks as he tries to sleep. I'm getting good feedback in reviews that I got Crookshanks' voice down. I was worried, as I wrote in first person, present tense, which I hardly ever do.
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One of us...one of us...

I want to be one of the cool kids too...

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1. Do you like blue cheese dressing? Yes, very much so.

2. Have you ever smoked a cigarette? Yes, but I don't smoke.

3. Do you own a gun? No. 

4. What flavor Kool Aid was your favorite? Fruit punch

5. Do you get nervous before doctor appointments? Only when his finger looks like E.T's

6. What do you think of hot dogs? They're okay.  I have to watch it.  Sometimes they really upset my stomach.

7. Favorite Christmas movie? Groundhog's Day

8 What do you prefer to drink in the morning? Dr. Pepper

9. Can you do push ups? A few.

10. What's your favorite piece of jewelry? I have a twisted bronze lion-head torc that I rarely wear.  The only jewellery that I regularly wear is my wedding ring, so that's my favourite.

11. Favorite hobby? Playing games.

12. Do you have A.D.D.? No.

13. Do you wear glasses/contacts? I've worn glasses since the 2nd grade.

14. Middle name? Allen

15. Name 3 thoughts at this exact moment: I need to go to bed.  I'm tired.  I hope the kitties are okay.

16. Name 2 or 3 drinks you regularly drink? Soda, water, and orange juice.

17. Current worry? Money.

18. Current hate right now? People who just won't STFU.

19. Favorite place to be? Home on the couch with my wife and a cat.

20. How did you bring in the New Year? Sleeping, had to work at 5 a.m the next morning.

21. Where would you like to go right now? To bed.

23. Do you own slippers? Brown suede hard-soled slippers, so I can go into the garage with them.

24. What color shirt are you wearing? Dusty blue.

25. Do you like sleeping on satin sheets? Ugh, slippy, no.

26. Can you whistle? Yes.

27. Where are you now? Home in the computer room.

28. Would you be a pirate? Better a pirate than a ninja-they're disposable.

29. What songs do you sing in the shower? "The Arbiter" from the Chess soundtrack.

30. Favorite girl's Name? Linda.

31. Favorite boy's name? Coltan.

32. What's in your pocket right now? A pocket comb.

33. Last thing that made you laugh? My brother-in-law making fun of something-I don't remember exactly what.

34. What vehicle do you drive? A 2005 Hyundai Elantra.

35. Worst injury you've ever had? Broke both bones in my right lower arm when I was a child.  Right above the wrist.  Arm was dangling all 'L"-shaped...not good. 

36. Do you love where you live? Yes, it's beautiful and the seasons are mild.  I don't even mind the rain.

37. How many TVs do you own? One.</div></div>
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Taking Sophie to the vet

Today we had to take our cat Sophie to the vet for her rabies and other vaccines.  It's hard to believe she's four years old now and it was time for her shots again.   She's very...high strung.  She doesn't like to be touched or picked up unless it's on her terms, so going to the vet's always a bit of an adventure.  The last time she went for an exam, she bit me very badly and scratched me as well.  The vet had to give up on the physical exam because she was just too worked up.

This time when I made the appointment, I made sure to tell the vet tech that Sophie might have to be sedated to perform a physical exam.  We loaded her into he crate (easy peasy...she's curious, so all we have to do is set the crate down and she climbs in to see what's in it).  She cried in the car the whole way to the vet.  At the vets, she came right out of the crate, tail up and got on the scale, so we thought that all would be good.  But, when we tried to hold her down for her vaccinations, it was like the Tasmanian devil cartoons.   A vet tech brought in a towel and wrapped her good and we got the vaccinations done, but the vet was unable to do a physical exam again.  The doctor asked us a bunch of questions about her and she decided that a physical exam probably wasn't necessary as Sophie seemed to be in good health, just overweight (she's 14.75 lbs and should be 11.5-12).  We'll need to get her on some lower calorie food.


 

The worst part was that since she may have been sedated today (we wouldn't know until we got to the vet) that she couldn't eat since last night at 8 p.m.  For a kitty that likes her food regularly scheduled it was hard.  She cried and rattled around all night, and both my wife and I felt bad for her.

I told the vet that next year when it's time for Gremlin's shots that she wouldn't be nearly as bad.  The doctor really appreciated that we warned her that Sophie was...high-strung.

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Bodies at Rest

Wow, I haven't updated here in a while.  I'm currently 5 chapters into 'Bodies at Rest,' and have 1/2 of the next chapter ready.  It's interesting to work with a different beta.  reallyginnyf is my beta for 'The Dementor's First Kiss," although I haven't updated it in a while.  A little confused on which way to go and lost momentum on it.  Working with Bella_Portia is very different.  They both see different things and have slightly different ideas about what's important.  Ginny helps me more with dialogue and emotion and B_P is more about flow and things making sense. 

I'm getting excited about writing the next few chapters when George, the necromancer boy finally goes to get his wand and get ready for Hogwarts.  He's not going to find his wand at Ollivanders, I can tell you that much.

I'm a little sad that it has so few reviews at HPFF, but that's the way HPFF often goes.  I seem to have developed a fan of my work there who read one of my Staff Challenge entries and liked it.  She has read and reviewed every chapter I've written except for my abandoned story and 'The Dementor's First Kiss,' which I just had 'unhidden'. 

Life is interesting lately.  Work's going okay.  Kitties and wife are doing okay, too.
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Fanfic Reviewing

I re-opened my review thread at HPFF after a lot of thought about it.  The first time that I had my thread open, I had to read a lot of really bad fiction, so I closed it as my head was about to come off from all the bad Marauder stories and Dramiones.  After seeing that timeturner and JLHufflepuff re-opened their threads, I decided that if those busy people could do it, then I could as well.

I've been mostly impressed with the quality of writing requested from me so far.  I think I may have scared off some people when I state that my reviews will run from CC to Brutal Honesty.   I made it clear that I won't say good things just to pump up someone's ego.  And indeed after leaving a review for a story in which I told them that the sexy!Draco fanon convention was a cliche and that Hermione and Draco having a moment in the bathroom on the Hogwarts express was OoC for both of them, she told me shouldn't request from me again.  I'm afraid I was a bit scathing in my review, which I'm usually not.  Now I worry that I was too harsh...Oh Well, what's done is done.  I certainly didn't mean to be a fandom wank.


It does amuse me that even though my rules say that I prefer not to read about the Marauders at school that a couple of the requests have been for just that.  I read them anyway and they were okay.  Each of the stories has good and bad points.  The only thing I absolutely don't want to read are time-travel fics.  I don't like to combine my fantasy with time-travel; I like to keep that for sci-fi.

I'm trying to be a good reviewer and give CC, but sometimes my snark attempts to rise.  Sigh, it's a fine line between CC and brutal honesty sometimes.

I've actually posted 4 chapters of 'Bodies at Rest' now and am working on a fifth.  I have plans to have an animated chapter image in the middle of the chapter and can't wait to see what people think of it.  Most people have their chapter images at the start of the chapter, but I checked and there's no rule about where it has to be in the chapter.