Category: Thoughts


Hello, O Reader. I am making a return from a camping trip followed by a successful BolderBoulder! I have also had some time to think in the last two days, mostly about why I was too tired to write!
But here I am, sitting on the couch, where our own little puppy-Daredevil is keeping me from sleeping, and my sweet Chaucer is hovering around the edges in hopes the puppy will move so he can come curl up with me, and I’m watching Tyra Banks’ Top Model¬†series and wondering why I haven’t turned it off.

But!

More on that later.

First! Camping and BolderBoulder!

(Apparently so many exclamation points.)

We went camping up in the mountains over the weekend. One of my favorite things about living in Colorado is that you can drive forty-five minutes out from town and find yourself in some of the most majestic and empty places. The beautiful stretch of sky overhead is blue like wow……! Here are a few pictures I took with my phone. Lady Dr. Doolittle took some with her camera that will be clearer, when I get the chance to post them. But, here are some of mine!

It rained off and on while we were up there, but we stayed warm, and it was a wonderfully relaxing trip while I rested. It’s so nice to get away from all the hubbub and just breathe a little. Also, campfires and marshmallows!!!!

Then, we came back right into the thick of the hubbub! The BolderBoulder wraps all the way around the neighborhood, including our more permanent abode. We woke up early and walked to the start, then took off on the course!

We finished in about an hour and a half; our mile estimate was about 14-15 minute mile. It as so much fun; we discovered that I have the power to run as long as I get my hair watered down; every time we passed a hose,¬†sprinkler, or super soaker, I ran through it and asked people to get my hair damp. I love the Bolder Boulder for many reasons, including the amount of cheering and enthusiasm of the entire city. Everyone gets involved, in one way or another, even if they aren’t walking or jogging, or running. And the costumes have been fabulous every time I’ve lost myself in the crowd. It really makes kids days to see their favorite characters going running past, and it’s great for everyone to just take a day to play in the street with a parade of happy, runner’s high people going past, followed by the actual professional race. It’s just such a joyful experience.

Now that I’ve started into an extremely long rant!

This is Chaucer! The Black Panther is on adventures elsewhere, but I have adopted my sweet boy, and he is fitting in…. about as well as would be expected for two cats of a certain age.

My happy kitty!

And finally, after all that, I am resting on the couch after weeding the front garden and trying to figure out what to write. Yesterday, I fell asleep on the giant bean bag instead of writing. It’s funny, because despite everything I did get to do, everything I achieved, and everything that was wonderful, my mind keeps rotating back to the need to write and the fact that I haven’t for this weekend. So, I’m breaking that cycle of negative thought. I’m posting. And now, O Reader, I’m going to go cuddle with my Chaucer, rest my legs, and prepare for the next adventure!

As an aside: Good luck to science and scientists as we press on. I was able to enjoy all of the luxuries that I had this weekend of clean air, mist rolling down the mountain through just the top of the trees, green grass and fertile soil, and sunlight warming me up from our extravagant use of water and other resources because of the work being done to protect them. Let’s keep on, so other people can also be a part of the beauty of everything. Amen? Amen.

This is a rant about a problem I have which is a very first world problem. I’m sorry to anyone who finds this to be nit-picking flaws in opportunity and privilege; the problem of phones is not necessarily only first world, but the complaining about privilege sure feels like it. ¬†Nonetheless, I am still going to write this.

I have had a deep-rooted dislike of phones for most of my life. I feel a lot of anxiety when making calls, or receiving them, and as a result, I am typically very hard to get a hold of, either by phone, text, or email.

                                  From:            http://cartoonsmix.com/cartoons/can-telephone-cartoon.html

¬†Most of the people I know have mostly given up on timely responses. I’ll hear voicemail six months after it was intended to be heard, see texts and not answer them until I see the person who sent it and they ask in person, and my email backlog is insane. I’m buried in it. Part of the build up is because of a number of things I ask my friends to send me, images and story ideas and such, and part of it is because I have the same anxiety I do with phones and text, appointments and just things I miss. I start feeling existential dread that I haven’t responded yet, and it stresses me out to the point where I can’t respond because of how worked up in my brain the not-answering has gotten to. I can’t find the right thing to say, even if it’s obvious because I’ve taken so long to respond in the first place.

I’ll tell people I don’t like phones, but in this crazy, connected world we live in, the ‘dislike’ gets overlooked and becomes an unhelpful pattern, a problem that irritates other people. One friend even has concluded that if I haven’t responded to a person in a timely manner, it just shows that I don’t care enough. I don’t care enough to respond, I don’t care enough to be engaged in their life and their conversations and the things they need from me.

It doesn’t matter that I have tried to explain that I do care, but that I don’t like phones. It’s hard for me to express how much stress and panic the text and phone communication causes for me because I feel so irritated that it’s a problem for me at all. Usually, I try to just cover it up and compensate for it, but… well, it’s a big problem for me.

From: http://www.keywordsuggests.com/MsYM80XeMuN7eOKRVHGU2JmymoXHFDaCkf%7COVr0f0UnB%7CAW11WgGEbgZk2H0GVekhzIoG4u*n2FOXXr02QUzWw/

At my work now, I have to call people and answer the phone tens of times a day. And I put on my work face, and pretend it doesn’t bother me, and go home and feel emotionally and mentally exhausted. I can do this, I can keep doing this because I have to. But it wears on me.

Originally a quote from the TV series “Archer”

And I come home, and there are still people on my phone; expecting me to respond on their time, intruding on my brain space and my capacity. It’s an invasion of my space. When I come home, I want to be home. And since it’s not possible to just drop off the map for a while, when someone starts or continues a conversation with me, I feel like I have to respond — or show them that I don’t care, or that I’m too lazy, or selfish, or or¬†or. It’s not a good feeling, and it quickly escalates into the guilt cycle of not having responded making it harder to do so at all.

The spin cycle struggle is real.

But with all of this said, I really like writing letters. There is something so incredibly beautiful about the written word on the page, the smell of the ink and paper, the feel of your tools in your hand, watching the words emerge from the tip of the pen or pencil or brush, whatever your favorite instrument is, and creating something that is a very real and finite intention of communication from you to the recipient.

They build up so wonderfully for you, in a stack of potential and secrecy, veiled love and statements and demands and questions that wait for you in a basket or on the floor, whatever your favorite storage system is, and the response demanded is not instantaneous. There is an expectation that travel time is included along with comprehension time and reaction. There is an expectation that when you put a letter in the mailbox, you might get one back, or you might not. It can get lost. It can be read and ignored. But there is nothing which grabs you by the ribs and demands your immediate intention. They’re on a timetable of when the USPS delivers them. The timing is slower, gentler, more permissive.

And that’s just the transportation of letters.

Letters themselves can be full of artistry and creation. Everything from the handwriting, to the introduction of olfactory potentials, and the content matters. You can have a very serious letter which is blocked out, black and white, demanding and self-important. You can have a letter which is illuminated like medieval manuscripts, torn at the edges and stained with the writer’s coffee.

You can include knights fighting giant snails. Because why not? From: http://io9.gizmodo.com/bizarre-and-vulgar-illustrations-from-illuminated-medie-1456202572

You can include comics, pressed flowers, clippings of other writing, pictures, glitter, gifts and all sorts of surprises.

Phones don’t have this quality for me. Maybe we will have that, someday. But right now, it is a separation from the people I care about, not something that brings me closer. It frightens me, instead of opening up possibility. If I had my druthers, I would wait for the mail everyday to see who had written me what, and what was important enough for them to take the extra time to sit down and actually write to me. Not a Snapchat, or Tweet, or Tumble, but actually a private and special message to me. That seems to embody more caring than text or phone.

This is entirely impractical. People need to be in touch with me more constantly, for more reasons, and I know I have to stretch beyond what frightens me and overwhelms me. I need to work on putting other people’s needs in the order that is appropriate to make sure that when I am contacted there is a response that is helpful and productive.

But I don’t want to. Not because I don’t care, but because if there is one thing that I want to do for myself, it’s allow myself this barrier. I won’t answer the phone, most likely, and I will probably wait until I see you in person to talk about your text. And heaven help you if you send me an email.

But I am trying. I do care about you, and I want to know how you’re doing and what I can do to help. I am trying, and maybe I’ll get better at it as time passes. But in the meantime all I can ask is that people understand that for me, this is hard. And maybe, just maybe, if you aren’t too busy, you might write me a letter.

I would love to talk to you.

Homelessness is a problem I would like to fix, but don’t know how. The place I work at is near a grocery store parking lot. We are up on the second floor, and often we conflict in space with one of the places that some of our homeless population in town collects. We interact on the stairs, in the elevator if it isn’t locked at night, and on our way to and from work.

Over the time I’ve worked there, several of my coworkers have commented on how some of the homeless people aren’t really homeless, they’re just high school students or other people who are trying to make an easy buck; how some of the homeless only use the money on alcohol and drugs so they won’t give them anything, and how much of a disruptive and dangerous presence they are.

It really bothers me when they do that. I feel like there are a couple of problems to this mentality.

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First, it really bothers me that the giver gets to decide how someone spends a gift. We don’t have ownership of a gift we give to a friend, and I find it particularly strange that we nevertheless seem to think we have control over a gift of money to someone on the street. When we give money, it is that person’s job to make the decision for themselves what they need most. Maybe they’re wrong, but it isn’t our job as the giver to make the decision for them. It isn’t right. A gift to someone does not buy that person. It is detached from you. It is no longer your experiences which drive and define the best way it should be utilized.

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Secondly, I feel like it shouldn’t actually matter how the person we give money to spends it. The act of giving is something we should do as much as a benefit to ourselves than anyone else. When you see someone who is in a position of being less well off than you are, or in pain, and you choose not to help them because of how they might choose to use that help, it makes you a lesser person. You turn away a request for help and move on with your life. I would rather give to someone, because no matter what they do with it, I have tried to improve the life of someone who is in need and that makes me better. It allows me to exercise my empathy and sense of community.

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How do we deal with this as a security issue? I don’t know. Sometimes, due to conflict and the general atmosphere of interaction, I have felt unsafe myself. But it’s important to remember that just because someone is homeless, it doesn’t make them less of a person. Security issues are a fact for people who are also housed. It depends on the person and the situation, not the group as a whole. And often, there is more danger to not having a safe place to go anyway. I would rather look for ways to build positive relationships to foster a sense of security, instead of only working off the negative.

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In short, I don’t know how to fix this problem. I don’t know if the answer of providing more free housing, better healthcare, and finding a way to create accessible jobs is the answer, but it seems a great deal better than simply ignoring the problem or sending in the police every time we are made uncomfortable by a different group of people who are just as human and have just as many needs as we do. I know that with more opportunities, more people who need access will flock to an area, but I can’t see how leaving things how they are is an acceptable way to keep going. I think there has to be a new way of handling this problem, and when we find it our society is going to have made a very large stride forward. So, we need to actually talk about instead of just letting the problem be invisible.

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I got a little Zen when I was thinking this through, but there are a lot of different mentalities and beliefs that overlap with this, so I do think it’s relevant to everyone.

If anyone has any suggestions how to help with this problem, please let me know. I would love to start finding a practical solution.

UPDATE! The plants have all begun to expand beyond their horizons into the yard. We have the wooden planter boxes full of onions and sunflowers and cucumbers (it’s in the top right of this picture:)

 

and other things like that. I think there are peppers in that one also. It’s very exciting. Hopefully, they will all do better than the cucumber. It’s wilting a little bit. I’m not sure how to help it because it either looks scorched or wilty.

 

I’ve been being watched from the door a lot. Sometimes if they get too adventurous I spritz them with the hose gently. We don’t need them to claw through the door. Too many wasps and indoor cats being outside.

The new additions in the strawberry pots my family has had forever!

STRAWBERRIES!!!!!!!!!!! They are working on tiny flowers. I have confidence in them.

This is our other planter, full of lettuce and chard. It’s actually starting to look like chard and lettuce. As you can see, the chard leaf is almost as big across as my finger.

AND NOW FOR THE REMAINING SPROUTLINGS! This first one is the Plants for Pollinators! one. I’m going to plant them in the garden box that’s coming together in the front yard. Probably.

 

And then we have marigolds and little goblin flowers, and chamomile, and….. I’m not actually sure what else is in there anymore. We have a chart for that. but they are doing well! by and large.

And here above we have from left to right: A possibly growing raspberry, a definitely growing raspberry, and the definitely growing raspberry with one of my 15 or so year old metal peacocks guarding it from trampling feet and anything else the peacock guardian doesn’t like. Also, a rose bush in the background. They are doing well, even the one that is only possibly growing? the roots looked like they were fine when we planted it. Fiance says it will be fine. WE SHALL SEE!

My bucket of the Plants for Pollinators! I think it will be very pretty when they get a little bigger. Right now they are just lovely little clusters of multiple types of leaves vying for space. I’m not sure who will win but there are many contenders.

AND NOW FOR THE INDOOR PLANTS! They are all doing well in the window, but the herbs are a little wilty right now because they hadn’t been watered for six hours and apparently disapproved. Such picky, thirsty little plants. They perk up again quickly as soon as water is added. The succulents seem to be doing well? I find it kind of hard to tell with some of them, but the ones that look like little water sacks are doing well. And the aloe seems happy with its life. But, It’s an Aloe. It doesn’t do much.

 

AND LAST BUT NOT LEAST, O READER! One of my coworkers is a fellow gardener this year. She had some little sproutlings who needed to go to a good home, and so they came home with me! I brought them inside in a box, and told Fiance and the Golden Avenger and Lady Doctor Doolittle “So, before you get upset…” Lady Doctor Doolittle was apparently hoping for a puppy, but was quite happy with plants. Golden Avenger was mostly confused about why he would be upset. Fiance face-palmed.

I think they’ll fit right in…. ūüėÄ

 

Copyright © 2017 Anastasia Barnett

 

Copyright © 2017 Anastasia Barnett

Friend really likes Harry Potter, and also works at a glasses store. I’m hoping she’ll like it!

Copyright © 2017 Anastasia Barnett

Anomaly Con pictures!

So, I’m putting this in the mosaic form because I like it more. But these are a brief collage of the photos I took, which I admit was not as many as I could have. I spent most of my time in panels, taking frantic notes of things. That being said, the rest of the time I was usually too busy running around talking to people and forgot I had my camera. By which I mean phone. Oh well.

 

1) This is how I did my hair the first day. I was doing it in the car, so this was for perspective! The golden clock hands are 3D printed and designed and created by my fiance.

2) This was maybe five minutes into the convention. These lovely people and I were asked to pose for a photo, and I asked fiance to take advantage of the moment. The detail and creativity they put into their clothes and the ideas behind them are absolutely phenomenal.

3) Distantly, I had to try to snap a picture of the fabulous costume across the way. That is a book of tremendous proportions. I would love to carry a book like that around. I’m so curious what was inside, but unfortunately I had places I had to be.

4) Really hope the detail work is viewable from the interwebs. There was some pretty awesome minute detail happening here.

5) Her hoops are crazy!!! She negotiates like a boss, though. And the gold leaf-glitter and little leaves in her hair are wonderfully placed. So much work went into this!!!

6) Me mid-dance at the Grand Ball. I asked fiance to take a picture. I will say, I am really not sure what is happening with my left arm, but you can kind of see my sewing kit bracer on the right one, here. The glint toward the top is for my metal pin box, and the stabby bit of my scissors is down towards the top of my wrist. Had to be careful not to go all Assassin’s Creed up in there ūüėÄ

7) I just really loved the fan support on this car. There was more, but this combination was good.

8) My theoretical itinerary for Saturday. I only made one or two tweaks, mostly in the morning and the evening. Some of the titles are cut off, but you can see more about what they were this year here. It’s the website for the con. Sadly, this was its last year, but I have hopes for its successor, WhimsyCon.

9) This guy was AWESOME. He has a studio where he makes these sorts of costumes professionally (really wish I had gotten his name, if you stumble across this and recognize yourself, please let me know and I’ll send credit where credit is due). Apparently at one point the wings could move, and sometimes he can use CO2 emitters to ‘breath’. So cool.

10) Had a great time rocking out with this lovely person on Friday, and then going to some of the same panels on Saturday. SO much work in this one. There are tiny sea-creatures in the nets around the waist, and the lantern actually hooks on for safe keeping. So beautifully and lovingly done.

11) and 12) are respectively the front and back of this astounding work of carpentry and craft. The wings are insanely long, and also fold up behind along the joints. The cog clockwork on the back actually turns rather easily. So much love in this one too. Not sure how they stay in the upright position though. Their natural state is to be extended out!

13) Kind of a wonky view on this one, I mostly loved it because it has a bandolier of crayons in rainbow order. I may have to build an art kit like that sometime. Super useful for organizing.

14) More clock-hand hair-doodads! Hers are rather long, also. I love the style ūüėÄ

15) and 16) are my friends and me in the last twenty minutes before we all parted across the country. Some of our group had already left at this point. Never did get a picture of my costume from Saturday, but this is Sunday’s effort. You can kind of see the sewing kit a little better in this one. Also all of the designs my friends have come up with too! Fiance was taking these pictures, so he didn’t get to be part of them. Maybe next year. We all had fun seeing each other and exploring the con – and the dress-up was lots of fun too!

 

 

And that, O Reader, is that!

Achievement Unlocked!

I have spent the last year working on a project for my now-roommate, the Golden Avenger. Last year, when we were driving around the mountains, we saw a couple of closet doors laying on the side of the road in the trash pile. Having watched my mother rescue and resuscitate furniture from the trash piles, I knew what to do! So I convinced Golden Avenger to pick up one of the doors and shove it in the back of his car.

Like you do.

Golden Avenger very much enjoys the Dragon Age series of games. I quite like them too; they have a quite beautiful artistic and literary sensibility to them. In the latest game in the series, Inquisition, the artists have introduced tarot cards as representational of the characters and the game elements. (This is a good explanation of the changes and symbolism, but be warned of spoilers. Side bar РI am REALLY hyperlinking today. Oops? Sources cited?). Golden Avenger has two favorite cards in the deck I got for my birthday two years ago, the necromancer and the Qunari warrior.  So, I decided I would combine the two in a mural.

On Golden Avenger’s¬†birthday last year, I showed him the plan for the door. It looked a bit like this:

IMAG4215

I took some of the elements of the necromancer card, with the creeping dead arms, and the chalice of some sort which I can only assume holds Horcruxes, or the elixir of life, or some ghost Koolaid. I dunno. It’s clearly something to do with magic. I also included elements of the warrior Qunari, although in this case I chose to represent the Qunari mage instead (for the necromancy access). I also planned out a pattern to paint around the outside of the door to frame the image. I figured I would just paint around the handles that were built into the door.

The next step was asking fiance to cut the door down to size, taking off about four inches on the bottom of the door so it was more proportional all the way around and functioned more like a large canvas instead of an actual door that fits in the wall or on a closet. This had been discussed with Golden Avenger in advance.

Then, it was time to paint.

(It took a very long time. I may have photos of the process somewhere, but I’m not entirely sure where…… @_@’)

First I blocked out inch by inch the graph paper squares onto squares traced onto the door. Then I started blocking out color onto the white door, big splotches of red and black, yellow and white. After I had figured out base colors, I realized I needed more of a plan for slightly more subtle blocking, and this sketch came along:

IMAG4216

This is a very rough blocking, but it let me work on shading and other details. After I got the shading done (I love blending paint), it was time to make it look like one of the Tarot cards. I took a picture of what I had painted and doodled on a plan.

IMAG4223 (1)

You can’t really see the layering of color underneath in this picture, but it was good enough for me to work off of.

I overlaid that on top of the shading, did some touch-ups, cleaned up the outside of the grooves of the door, and then realized I hadn’t touched the outside framing thicker wood of the door, and on top of this, if I added the original pattern it was going to distract from the painting inside. SO instead I painted red and black stripes around the edge, sealed it, and called it done.

Just in time for Golden Avenger’s birthday!

Here’s what it turned out as.

 

It’s hanging on the wall. The Golden Avenger liked it quite a bit – he stood there petting it for a while after I gave it to him. Felt good to finish one of the big projects I have on my list, too!

 

On a slightly less cheerful note, there is a fire nearby to where we live tonight. We are not quite on pre-evacuation notice, but there’s a lot of anxiety in the house. It just made me think of all the other people who are evacuated, or refugee, or migrant, or otherwise who feel unsafe in their housing or lack thereof for emotional, physical, or mental reasons. I really hope that tonight is a night where we can all find the various levels of peace and calmness we need, and that it will be a night where we can all find somewhere safe to be. Good luck, O Reader, and I wish you whatever security you need!

The Adventure Begins!

I am up at the Denver AnomalyCon (it’s the Steampunk Convention), but I wanted to post the quick update about the plants from…. well, yesterday-ish. From the time before the time before I slept. One sleep ago? I’ve been up for too long. NomCon as my friends have been referring to it is a crazy whirlwind of talking to authors and listening to scientists and artists try to think through complex and problematic social and cultural issues, with the people in the panel audience chiming in with questions and thoughts. It’s a beautiful madness, and I get to dress up for it and everything.

Perhaps pics will appear later. I’ve been taking more notes than pictures.

But, PLANTS! we sent them out into planters and things the day before we came up to Denver.

The captions may be easier to read on these if you look at them full screen, but the tiling effect is good. It’s sort of what our back porch is like right now.

Still no deer fence, so I’m a bit worried but fiance says he’ll get it figured out soon.

I’m excited to see how they grow now that we’re further out into the real world. I think it’ll be good. Hopefully they haven’t all been dug up by wild creatures. At least the little fluff can’t climb into the Texas bluebonnet¬†“urn” anymore. I caught her in there twice, all in the pot¬†sniffing around and thinking about digging. I’m not sure why she likes them so much, but she didn’t even notice the catmint yet. Not catnip, catmint. There’s cat grass too, but we didn’t plant any. Cats apparently have a variety of plants they like. Who knew?

I’m going to keep this post short tonight¬†because there are panels to note-take in detail tomorrow, but wishing you as much fun as I had today, O Reader, and that much fun again tomorrow.

Cheers!