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Elizabeth Culmer, only a *little* bit crazy...
08 January 2018 @ 09:56 am
Last year my church decided to give each month a theme that would inform sermons and various adult RE programs. This year, taking that a bit further, there is now a set of "possible ponderings" included in the order of service to give people some take-home activities.

This month's theme is intention, and the "ponderings" are as follows:

January 7-13: What dictates your days? Your to-do list or your intentionality? Do you begin by asking, "What do I have to get done?" or "What do I want this day to be about?"

January 14-20: How are you doing at the work of intentional authenticity? Are you succeeding at being the same person on the outside as you are on the inside?

January 21-27: Are you serving a purpose or living a lifestyle?

January 28-February 3: Are you too intentional? Is it time to put down all the "doing" and pay a bit more attention to "being"? Has your long list of intentions left you feeling exhausted and even lost?

...

I do use to-do lists to organize my days...Collapse )

So those are some of my thoughts on to-do lists and intentionality. *wry*

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Elizabeth Culmer, only a *little* bit crazy...
06 January 2018 @ 06:34 pm
As always, here is the link to the current ficathon. It's mostly wound down, but there are still a lot of prompts and fills to look through. :)

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19.Collapse ) For anonymous: Any, any, the sun and solitude, written 12/30/17 (prompt choice courtesy of [tumblr.com profile] longroadstonowhere) [AO3 version]

though it be silent as light (250 words)

During daylight, it's easy to imagine herself the only living person on the planet; the sun bakes down mercilessly over desert and oasis alike, with only the wind and passing zombies to stir the sand, and when Kanaya ventures into the more populated foothills, the little lawnrings behind their defensive walls feel as dusty and abandoned as the ruins Aradia loves to explore.

She's fairly sure her neighbors consider her something of a cryptid, a wandering spirit who filches food, gasoline, and textiles from the drone supply depot and pays by weeding gardens, repairing torn awnings and windmill sails, and mowing down occasional zombie migrations before they damage the leaky, higgledy-piggledy fortifications that are the inevitable result of centuries of wigglers building on each others' amateur schemes.

Some days the loneliness feels as vast as the desert itself, tall as the Scarshred Mountains on the horizon, and Kanaya thinks of forcing herself to learn how to ignore the sunrise, to wake at dusk and greet her neighbors troll to troll... but then she takes her husktop into her garden to watch sunlight illumine all the brilliant colors of her flags, her flowers, her friends' greetings in the Trollian message window, and she decides again that she has the best of both worlds: sun and solitude, without the social obligations that would come if anyone knew her blood color and her lusus, and true friends, half the globe away, whom she would not lose for all the neighbors in the world.

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20.Collapse ) For anonymous: Any, any, net of moonbeams, written 12/30/17 (prompt choice courtesy of [tumblr.com profile] lucime)

The Wizard's Fate (375 words)

Note: This is set in the world of the witches of Immish, which I use for original fairy-tales now and then. I may expand it into a longer story someday. :)

-----

In the days when the dragons rebuilt the Glass Mountain, a wizard of Almeric studied the tales of past magicians who had challenged the witches of Immish to magical duels and came to believe the witches had no true magic of their own; and so he sailed to Tolk and challenged the witch of that time not to a duel, but to do one thing that required power rather than common sense, even something as small as lighting a fire with a glance or a word rather than a borrowed coal.

The witch, a young mother named Rive, met him on the dock as his retinue made fast the ropes and told him three times to return to his home, for what did it matter to him how she got results so long as her people were sensible and satisfied and the wizards who came to them in anger and pride were turned away in peace; but he refused and said she brought shame to all magicians by making the world think that all their hard-earned skills were worth less than trickery and misdirection: "Light a fire," he repeated, "or I will brand you a liar to all the world."

The witch sighed; "If you want light, so be it," she said, and reaching up she plucked a beam of moonlight from the evening air, wove it between her fingers like a net, and scooped the evening star's reflection from the suddenly glasslike water beside the dock; then she dropped the tangle of light into the wizard's hands, and said, "Most people make do with a lantern to mark their boats in the night and help them thread the shallows and shoals around the harbor; but I see your ship has none, so you may keep this bauble to guide your way home."

And so it did, burning clear and white as the dazzle of sun on the waves until the wizard returned to his tower intending to unravel the spell and see how it was made, but the moment he opened his door and stepped across the threshold, the light unraveled into ash and air, taking with it all his power and his jealously guarded knowledge, and leaving instead the faint and lingering smell of the sea.

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21.Collapse ) For lizzie_marie_23: any, any, I took her to a supermarket, I don't know why but I had to start it somewhere, so it started there, written 1/4/18 (prompt choice courtesy of [tumblr.com profile] ceescedasticity)

Risk Analysis (150 words)

Note: This is part of Utilitarian Virtue, an original novella idea I poke at occasionally.

-----

Laura took the assassin to the supermarket.

It wasn't her best decision ever, but she figured she was allowed a few bad decisions since she'd just almost been killed by a world-hopping magical cyborg assassin whose AI boss thought Laura was somehow a danger to the multiverse; she needed terrible salty corn chips to cope with that kind of stress, and besides, making Aujae follow Laura on everyday errands and deal with people in a social context for which she likely had no exact reference was a good way to gauge how stable she was after renouncing her life's purpose and making an enemy of her implausibly powerful AI boss for reasons Laura still wasn't clear on -- not that Laura would abandon Aujae if the assassin proved unstable, but she'd definitely rent a motel room instead of inviting her into her home.

After a moment's consideration, Laura grabbed two bags of Fritos; Aujae might need comfort-food too.

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22.Collapse ) For anonymous: Any, any, cathedral grove, written 1/5/18 (prompt choice courtesy of [tumblr.com profile] asukaskerian) [AO3 version]

thus do we covenant (275 words)

"What shall we do about church, when we haven't got a preacher or a chapel?" Helen asked as she and Frank lay watching the stars on the evening of the second day, and then added, "And what day is this, anyhow -- do we count from when we left England or do we start over fresh, and in any case should yesterday be Monday because it was the first day, or Sunday because it's when Aslan finished his work?"

Frank felt the soft grass pressing up against the palm of his right hand, listened to the rustle of wind through the tender new leaves of the sycamore tree behind them, breathed in the sweet, fresh scent of flowers and earth after a brief rain; this was the heart of Aslan's creation, the newborn, beating heart of the world, not old words read aloud in dusty rooms -- and yet there was good in the old, English ways, and his mum hadn't raised him to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

"We can sing," he said rubbing his left thumb slow and gentle over the pulse point in Helen's wrist, still marveling that she was here with him on this impossible adventure; "We can get together by the Tree, or perhaps in a grove of trees -- I heard once that cathedrals were built to look like trees reaching up to heaven, so actual trees must be even better in God's eyes, aye? -- and we sing hymns, we give thanks, and we remind ourselves that Aslan woke this world out of love and it's our task to shape it to that plan... and we'll call the first day Sunday."

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23.Collapse ) For anonymous: Any, any, a circle of cards, written 1/6/18 (prompt choice courtesy of [tumblr.com profile] writeshivaniwrite) [AO3 version]

church and state (125 words)

"Rose, why are you building Stonehenge out of playing cards?"

"I should think that was obvious, brother dearest: I'm providing Can Town with a focus for the citizens' religious needs -- someone must think about their psychological well-being, after all, to say nothing of the practical insurance factor of having a ready-made method of communicating with the denizens of the Furthest Ring to discern their awful and incomprehensible will."

"...Okay, quick heads-up, just FYI I'm pretty fuckin' sure the Mayor's stance on horrorterrors isn't any friendlier than his stance on monarchy, but cool, whatever, you two can hash out the legality of Cardhenge on your own dime -- and on that note, he's walking over and he looks as pissed as an insect chess piece can get; better talk fast."

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24.Collapse ) For ama_ranth_827: Any, Any, I don't regret it. Not a single second, not a single breath, written 1/6/18 (prompt choice courtesy of [tumblr.com profile] yggidee) [AO3 version]

waiting for the dragon (150 words)

"So this is how we die: alone, unremembered, fighting a fish-alien over the foreordained destruction of our world," Rose says as she folds herself down beside Dave on the abandoned building's roof; enough dirt has collected in its crevices by now that small, scraggly plants are reaching slowly skyward despite the ever-growing mélange of pollutants in the rain and wind -- life desperately, foolishly scrabbling for more time in the face of entropy triumphant. "Do you ever regret the choices that led us here, or wish for a cosmic rewind button to wipe the slate clean and start anew?" she asks, and does not add, "without me, so you might reach old age."

"No," Dave says, and for once does not elaborate; instead, he weaves his fingers through her own in silence, and together they watch the sun light the poisoned clouds on fire, waiting for their final, futile stand.

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25.Collapse ) For anonymous: Any, any, blue roses, written 1/6/18 (prompt choice courtesy of [tumblr.com profile] shinyrock6498; also a fill for the [community profile] genprompt_bingo square second person narration) [AO3 version]

feeling blue (150 words)

"I think you're overlooking that on Earth we assign Zodiac symbols by month; by the rules of that system Dave, Jade, and I are all Sagittarius while John is Aries, so I might just as well be a blueblood by birthdate as a seadweller by Pesterchum hexcode," you say with as straight a face as you can manage (or at least as expressionless a face, since clearly nothing about you is particularly straight these days), and watch with carefully hidden glee as Kanaya tries to connect you to Equius and fails with a grimace.

"I suppose the traditional sense of self-importance and social superiority might suit..." she begins, only to trail off doubtfully.

"Did I ever tell you that my mother gifted me with a hoofbeast shortly before we began playing the game?" you add in a solicitous tone, and as Kanaya goes cross-eyed at the cognitive dissonance, you throw back your head and laugh.

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I may or may not try to get my output up to an even thirty ficlets for this round. We'll see how I feel in a few hours. *wry*

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Elizabeth Culmer, only a *little* bit crazy...
05 January 2018 @ 11:39 pm
I had my first shift at Not the IRS this afternoon, which consisted mostly of sitting around chatting with some coworkers, reading a book, and writing a three-sentence ficlet. I did schedule an appointment for somebody who'd gotten a letter from the IRS and wanted advice, but that's hardly what I'd call serious work. But you know, if the company wants to pay me to kill time for four hours, I'm not going to say no. *wry*

I am pleased that I figured out which route #30 buses turn into route #17 buses downtown and thus take me to within two blocks of my house instead of leaving me with a one-mile walk in frigid, windy darkness. Yay for being able to read schedules! I think I have also figured out a route-changing bus (#72 that becomes a #15) to catch tomorrow afternoon that will take me directly from Collegetown to the valley office of Not the IRS, where I have a mandatory paid training session. I'm still working out how to then get home with the minimum time spent outside.

Unfortunately there is no way around walking a mile into town tomorrow morning to catch the bus up to Collegetown. I will just have to dress extra warmly, walk fast, and do my best not to freeze. *sigh*

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Elizabeth Culmer, only a *little* bit crazy...
03 January 2018 @ 10:48 pm
2016 version
2015 version
2014 version
2013 version
2012 version
2011 version
2010 version
2009 version
2005 version

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A Year in Writing: 2017
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January - 6,175Collapse )

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February - 3,525Collapse )

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March - 750Collapse )

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April - 3,325Collapse )

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May - 1,800Collapse )

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June - 4,925Collapse )

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July - 6,800Collapse )

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August - 24,800Collapse )

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September - 3,325Collapse )

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October - 400Collapse )

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November - 1,300Collapse )

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December - 9,725Collapse )

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2017 Fanfiction: 65,575
2017 Original: 1,275
2017 Total: 66,850


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AnalysisCollapse )

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And that is that for the year. :)

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Elizabeth Culmer, only a *little* bit crazy...
03 January 2018 @ 11:27 am
Belated Yuletide reveal post!

Patience, Tenacity, Luck: Some months after Penric's Fox, Thala investigates the disappearance of a trainee shaman. (5,075 words, written for [archiveofourown.org profile] DesertVixen)

-----

I signed up to write for Lois McMaster Bujold's Chalion series on something of a whim, so naturally that was the only one of my recipient's fandoms I recognized. Such is the way of Yuletide! Anyway, her other fandoms seemed to lean toward female detectives and/or amateur sleuths, which the details of her Chalion prompt corroborated, so I wrote a case!fic centered on Thala, the junior locator of the Father's order we meet in Penric's Fox (and then, alas, see no more since the Penric novellas do a significant time- and location-jump immediately thereafter).

I flatter myself that these days my attempts at whodunnits are somewhat less dire than they were when I was twelve years old, but mysteries have never been my personal cup of tea (nothing against them; they just don't grab me) and they're annoying to construct on a technical level. But it's a good kind of annoying -- the sort of finicky logistical challenge that makes you say "HA!" and throw your hands up in glee when you get the last stubborn piece to click into place. :)

I did initially want this to be a longer story, with minor spoilers; go read the fic firstCollapse ), but my time management skills have not appreciably grown less dire over the years. So I picked a logistically and thematically reasonable endpoint and called it a year. *wry*

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Elizabeth Culmer, only a *little* bit crazy...
I got safely back to Ithaca, and there are a whole bunch of things I ought to do this evening, but I am just so ridiculously tired that I may only shove through the three smallest and most immediately necessary (wash dishes, change linens, put away clean clothes) and collapse into bed.

I will have to get up at 7:15 rather than 7:45 anyway, since I'm back to relying on walking and buses to get to and from work, so more sleep rather than less is probably a good idea in general...

Okay, yeah. Sleep. And if I happen to wake up around midnight feeling functional, I might try to do some of the word-related tasks, but failing that there's always tomorrow. *sigh*

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Elizabeth Culmer, only a *little* bit crazy...
31 December 2017 @ 12:34 am
Today (by which I mean Saturday) I:

-emailed my medical practice asking why I hadn't received my online portal activation code, received the code, and created my account so I can renew my Celexa prescription next week

-did some actual work stuff and did not die of boredom at my job \o/

-beta-read a cool fic :)

-wrote two three-sentence ficlets

-took a nap

-baked brownies for church coffee-hour snacks tomorrow morning

-made a packing list for my lightning trip to NJ

-began packing

-repackaged some leftovers

-read some Yuletide fics

And now I am going to bed because despite the nap I am still stupidly tired and I would like to not fall asleep on the highway tomorrow -- or in church, or at the G. family New Year's Eve party. The former would be deadly, of course, and the latter two would be highly embarrassing *wry*

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Elizabeth Culmer, only a *little* bit crazy...
30 December 2017 @ 10:59 am
As always, here is the link to the current ficathon, if you want to come play too. :)

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13.Collapse ) For anonymous: Any, any, a broken thread, written 12/20/17 [AO3 version]

unwound, unknit, unraveled (150 words)

"Oh yes, he had a thread; everyone does, from the tiniest quark all the way up to the universe itself," says the youngest of the sisters, and the smile she offers Mazikeen, while full of glinting teeth and the shadow of her other roles, is honest: one fundamental force of nature paying due respect to another.

"Had?" Mazikeen asks the oldest, eyes skipping meaningfully to her shears.

Atropos cackles and clicks the blades together with the rattle of falling bones: "Not I who ended him, dearie, if indeed he found an end at all -- see for yourself if you like," she says, and fishes a thread of tarnished gold (a contradiction incarnate, as so much of him was) from her ratty pocket, its end fraying to ever-finer shards of glinting fiber until they dissolve into dust and firelight, intangible as memories, and might-have-beens, and the unrelenting will to find escape.

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14.Collapse ) For anonymous: Darkangel Trilogy, Ravenna & Melchior, companionship, written 12/28/17 [AO3 version]

And o'er his heart a shadow (400 words exactly)

Note: Way more than three sentences, whoops...

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First he thinks that the Lady saved him -- gathered his frayed memories on her spindle, rewove the fabric of his mind and heart, and strung the finished tapestry in a body of ebony and starmetal -- to be a weapon against her lost and deadly daughter. Bitter and grieving, he buries himself in work instead of war, turns the unnatural strength and length of life she granted him to building and rebuilding the shattered machinery of the city.

When she says nothing against his choices, he begins to think that perhaps this was her goal all along, that she saved him to pit the small weight of his knowledge and influence against Oriencor's growing strength, while the Lady devotes her daymonths to weaving endless possibilities, seeking the pattern by which to breathe the world to life anew instead of dry decay. No sooner does the thought crystallize than he realizes its pride and folly, and he abandons his work (which was futile in any case; he cannot match Oriencor's reach or ruthlessness) to watch over her rooms and remind her to eat and sleep lest her loom swallow her entire and leave her no thread to trace home to her self and her life.

When she smiles and tells him not to fear, that she has set safeguards on her loom to wake her and commands in her tower to feed her, he kneels and asks, for the first time in years he has long since ceased counting, why she saved him and what she wishes him to do.

The Lady is silent for a long moment, and he holds his breath for his presumption, but then she rests her brown hand (the color of fertile earth, rich with water and hope) over his heart and says, "I saved you because she who saves one life saves the world entire; and I wish for you to make your own choices, no matter where they lead. I can give so few people freedom if the future is to hold, but to you, I can grant with gladness this rarest and most precious gift. Use it as you will."

Melchior touches her hand with his own, and raises his head, and meets her eyes: clear and depthless and shining... and beneath the glory, beneath her knowledge and power and will, the hidden shadow of loneliness and grief.

He makes his choice.

He stays.

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15.Collapse ) For anonymous: Any, any, nets of gold, written 12/29/17 [AO3 version]

I shall repay (150 words)

"You catch more flies with honey than vinegar," Wilson's mother used to say under her breath while his father lectured about injury and punishment, about reputation and revenge, about a strong right arm and the will to apply it to his enemies, and she was right because it was for love of her that Wilson struck down their tormentor.

He thinks of her precept now as he weaves a net of vengeance through his city, binding ever more people to his quest with chains of gold that gleam rich and warm with promise -- but not gold all the way through; scratch the surface and the iron beneath will stab and burn, as it should for those who would betray him.

When his net clamps tight around Murdock, Wilson won't bother with the gilding; because for all his weakness and his failures, on this one subject his father was also right.

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16.Collapse ) For anonymous: Any, any, jar of rainbows, written 12/29/17 [AO3 version]

practical magic (200 words exactly)

"Happy Birthday; I made you a jar of rainbows," Luna says, and hands Hermione a jam jar filled with shards of broken glass; bemused, Hermione blinks, then decides to offer thanks now and figure out what the gift actually is later when she won't cause offense or disrupt the party Ron and Harry have managed to surprise her with.

That evening in her Diagon Alley flat, she casts every spell she can think of on the jar, even going so far as to check whether there are wizarding folktales about glass seeds that sprouted into light, but to all appearances Luna simply handed her a jar of rubbish; she leaves it on the kitchen windowsill for lack of better options, since it would be rude to toss it out for at least a year.

When she stumbles into her kitchen the next morning in search of tea and toast, the room is filled with splintered light, brilliant and fiery as if she's standing inside the heart of an opal, and Hermione can't help laughing at the realization that Luna -- Luna Lovegood, of all people! -- gave her a completely Muggle gift that was somehow more magical than all the others.

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17.Collapse ) For anonymous: Any, any, pine, bamboo, plum, written 12/29/17 (prompt choice courtesy of [tumblr.com profile] yggidee) [AO3 version]

worth a thousand words (275 words)

Natasha sends him a letter, the first week in Wakanda; Steve doesn't bother asking how she found him, or why T'Challa decided to allow this message through, just unfolds the smooth, heavy paper to see what empty words she's arranged into a backhanded weapon, maybe even pointed enough to pierce through the numbness of leaving his life behind for the second time in less than a decade.

But instead of her handwriting (or whatever style she's imitating this year), the paper is covered in a delicate Chinese-style watercolor -- a country path winds past a lone plum tree in flower by a covered pavilion, across a bridge framed by graceful stands of bamboo, up to a pass between improbably-shaped mountains, crowned by gnarled and windswept pines -- and, fluttering to the floor, a tiny fortune-cookie paper in cheap blue ink with lottery numbers on the back reminds him that the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step... except the last word is crossed out and "sketch" is printed neatly in its place.

Steve snorts at her nerve, but despite his best effort to hold his annoyance, he can't help admiring the slightly awkward grace of the work, and somewhere in the back of his mind the Wakandan bas-reliefs, sculptures, and embroidery he's been absorbing in his aimless passage through the palace from the guest suites to the medical complex click abruptly together into a style he wants to apply to the landscape outside his bedroom window; as he reaches for a pencil and notepad, a corner of his mind is already plotting how to get his answer to Natasha, and what subtle teasing to include.

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18.Collapse ) For anonymous: Any, any, "dark they were, and golden eyed", written 12/30/17 (prompt choice courtesy of [tumblr.com profile] grumpyoldsnake) [AO3 version]

one for the road (175 words)

"In those days," said Aravis, the light of the tiny campfire casting weird shadows over the planes of her face, "demons in the shape of men walked the earth; dark they were, and golden-eyed, and their every breath--"

"I don't see what's evil about having black fur or yellow eyes," Bree interrupted with a harrumphing snort; "that describes half the Cats I've known, to say nothing of the occasional Wolf or Goat, and I've never noticed that hide color made much difference to the character of humans either, though I grant your eyes aren't generally sun-colored."

As the Horse and girl descended into bickering, Shasta leaned back against Hwin's side, and murmured, "Two minims that they somehow return to war stories before the moon tops the lemon trees beyond the sugarcane field; what say you?" and bit back a laugh when Hwin rolled her eyes and replied, "It is written that a fool and her money are soon parted, but the wise mare tends her gold like her own foal; I would have bet three minims on the same result."

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I want to knock out a few more before 2018. We'll see how that goes...

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Elizabeth Culmer, only a *little* bit crazy...
29 December 2017 @ 09:51 pm
This Christmas, my parents bought me a new computer chair from Ikea (Renberget model) which I put together tonight. None of the parts were missing or damaged, the instructions were clear, and the screws were generally well-behaved.

I needed a new chair because my old one was A) gross (pro-tip: do not get computer chairs with fabric arms), B) falling apart (the seat cushion was there to keep the seat screws from stabbing me in the butt), and C) not great for my back. I mean, considering what I paid for it (i.e., nothing; I stole it from the trash room in a former apartment building because some other tenant had abandoned it), it served me very well for the past decade-plus. But its run was clearly up.

The new chair is far from perfect -- the arms are a good 4-6 inches lower than I'd like (no support when I'm typing, boo; also they poke at my thighs when I try to sit in funny positions), and there's something uncomfortable about the angle of the seat and back that will require cushions to adjust (which also makes sitting in funny positions tricky *sigh*) -- but for now it does not attack me when I sit down, and doesn't make me worry what hideous diseases may be lurking in its upholstery, so all in all? An improvement. :)

(Still gonna replace it within a year or two, though. And next time I will test the chairs out myself. *wry*)

[[photos of both old and new chairs available via this link!]]

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Elizabeth Culmer, only a *little* bit crazy...
28 December 2017 @ 08:54 pm
Today I have Been Productive! I have, among other things:

-swapped shifts with Miss Cactus next week to fix a scheduling mixup

-wrote and mailed my Xmas thank-you cards

-bought an electric kettle (and because the store was out of stock, they will deliver it to my house with free shipping and a 20% discount, for which I am quite willing to wait a week)

-refilled my gas tank

-boiled eight eggs

-made a batch of veggie sidedish

-made a batch of Laddie's hotdish

-returned two Great Courses CD sets to the library and picked up three books I had on hold

Now I just need to write something and my day will be complete. :) *wanders off to riffle through WIPs and prompt files*

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