“Fairy tales are more than true. Not because they tell us dragons exist, but because they tell us dragons can be beaten.”
G. K. Chesterton

author: Nicole J. LeBoeuf

actually writing blog

I made that up on the fly, which is kind of cool. Now if only I knew what to do with it.
bonus tatting pattern that i made up myself
Mon 2015-04-27 23:59:59 (single post)

Oh, good grief. It's Monday. When did it get to be Monday again? (About twenty-three hours ago.) Oh, shut up. (Well, you did ask...) I know. But shut up.

Today involved fun with plumbing. Also fun with address changes and bill-paying. It involved a bike ride to the bank to deposit checks, and to Sancho's for pozole and tamales. It involved a brief nap with a book. It involved solving the last available level (so far) on Two Dots, and gawking at the toucan. ("Of course it's a toucan. Two can..." My husband is a genius.) It involved extra recording for AINC and, simultaneously, tatting a lace edging of my own design.

In other words, this was a boring day. What does one blog about on a boring day? One is stumped.

Here, have a tatting pattern. (Have a whole tutorial.)

First Trefoil:

  • R1: [5 double-stitches (ds), picot(p)] 3 times, 5 ds. Close.
  • R2: 5 ds, join to last p of R1, 3 ds p, [2 ds p] twice, p, 5 ds. Close.
  • R3: 5 ds, join to last p of R2, [5 ds p] twice, 5ds. Close.
  • Lock-join to base of R1 to close the trefoil up at the center.

Turn.

Danglies:

  • Leave about 1/4" thread, then begin Dangly Ring (RD) with a join to last picot of R3.
  • RD: 6 ds, p, [1 ds, p] three times, 6 ds. Close.
  • Leave about 1/2" thread.
  • Repeat RD.
  • Leave about 1/4" thread.

Turn.

Continuation Trefoil:

  • Like First Trefoil, but join first picot of R1 to the base of last RD.
  • At end of Continuation Trefoil, lock-join to the 1/4" thread between last RD and R1.

Turn.

Alternate Danglies and Continuation Trefoil until the lace is as long as you feel like, improvising connections as necessary when adding more thread. (Now that I think about it, it would probably look better if you started with the RD that connects to R1, so you don't have a trefoil on the end with only one dangly. Oh well. Next time.) Attach creation by the central picot of the R2s to the hem of whatever you've a mind to edge with lace, I guess. I don't know.

Tatting is weird. It's a pleasant thing to do with my hands when they are not otherwise occupied, but I generally have no idea what to do with the results. I don't typically wear lace or jewelry. None of my possessions are currently crying out to have lace edging attached to them. I'm not a "lace everywhere in the house" sort of gal.

I do have some roller derby related ideas. I'm about to retire a set of bearings from my outdoor wheels, and one can tat any number of motifs around a round object. I've also been trying to doodle up a tatted roller skate shape. If there is already a pattern for such a thing out there, Google has not yet helped me find it. Either it drops "roller skate" out of my search terms, or it assumes that by "tatting" I meant tattoos. Alas.

Thus, a boring day comes to an end quite boringly. Tomorrow: Excitement! Of the literary variety! Or so I hope.

Original photography by me.
this fictionette just happened to turn up a couple blocks away
Fri 2015-04-24 23:01:52 (single post)
  • 1,255 words (if poetry, lines) long

Wonder of wonders, a Friday Fictionette that is on time. With accompanying audio, Wattpad excerpt, and everything. Who's impressed with me? I'm impressed with me. Especially since I stayed in bed until an embarrassingly PM hour, all achy from last night's endurance scrimmage and also tempted into devouring a book from cover to cover before venturing forth for a shower and a late start to my writing day.

(The book was Patrick Ness's The Knife of Never Letting Go. It hooked me good and hard, despite moments when I wanted to yell at the author for arbitrarily prolonging everyone's state of ignorance about Important Matters. "It is time to tell you everything," says knowledgeable character, who will promptly be Interrupted By Reasons Or Bad Guys. Otherwise, I loved it. Now I need to hunt up the sequel, The Ask and the Answer.)

In any case. This week's Fictionette is "The Hole in the Middle of the Block," which is sort of a haunted house story, sort of a best friends story, and maybe possibly sort of unintentional Doctor Who fanfic. The cover art photography is mine. I went for a walk around our new neighborhood and eventually found a good stunt double for the house in the story. Also, there's a lovely little nature walk around the teeny tiny private lake just north of us.

That was the first time since the day we closed on the house (April 7, to remind you how long ago that was) that I found time to just walk around the neighborhood and let my feet get to know the place. I need to make time for that more often.

I also found time today to plant seeds! I've got lettuce things and spinach and squash things and cucumber and watermelon and tomato and pepper and corn and beans and parsley and dill and chives all in the soil now. Which is not to say they'll all necessarily come up, mind you. My balcony container gardening style is haphazard and hopeful. I just fill all available space with all the seeds, then I thin what comes up, if anything comes up and needs thinning, if I can bear to thin them. I'm a terrible softy when it comes to thinning.

sneaky hobbitses is thirty-nine now precious
Thu 2015-04-23 23:59:59 (single post)

Totally spaced that today was coming up, since a whole bunch of other April dates have overshadowed it, but--today is "no longer 'almost'" day. Which is to say, I am no longer almost 39. I can own that number, y'all! Woot!

I had rather a hobbit's birthday. Have I got that right? It's been a while since I've read the source text, but, isn't it hobbits who have the tradition that when it's your birthday, you give other people gifts? It was kind of great. I had occasion to bring flowers to one person and cake to another. The reason for the cake was a lot happier than the reason for the flowers; nevertheless, bringing people nice things is fun. Flowers are pretty. Cake is tasty. I like hobbit birthdays.

I am less fond of the stereotypical attitude toward women's birthdays: "remember the date, but pretend to forget her age." Feh. Other way around for me. I don't want a big deal made out of the day--I prefer to let it sneak by people like Bilbo with the ring on--but I do want full credit for every year I've been alive, please and thank you. In tabletop role playing terms, those are experience points. Respect the experience points. They get funneled into awesome stats.

My parents called, of course. Dad mostly wanted to hear that I came through the tournament without breaking myself this time. I don't think he fully realized that this absurd new hobby his daughter picked up comes with a real risk of injury until I sprained/tore my ACL early this year. I could hear him sort of pull up short when I told him about the MRI and diagnosis and recovery plan. Like, woah, shit got serious, I'm suddenly not OK with this. I think he needs more reassurance now because of that. Oh, and my brother texted. That always makes me smile.

I did give myself a present--well, I tried. Events of the day intervened in the implementation of the intent, but the intent was good. The intent was to figure out how best to schedule my work days so as to make them comfortable, productive, fun, and as little stressful as possible. And, well, I came up with a good schedule, but the universe reminded me that, as they say, life is what happens when you're making other plans. That's OK. The plans can be reused for many days to come.

The plan goes something like this: Two and a half hours of writing in the morning, ideally from 8:30 to 11:00, then two and a half hours of writing in the afternoon, ideally from 2:30 to 5:00. Tying the writing sessions to actual times on the clock helps it all get done before derby or other evening activities, and it gives me permission to tell people, "I'm at work right now." True, sometimes I can't bring myself to say that, mainly because some requests are too important to turn down. But most of the time those random things that come up can be put off until the lunch break, which I've made deliberately long precisely to accommodate those random things along with the more predictable day-to-day household administrative duties.

So that's my plan for tomorrow. That and maybe a nice evening out. We'll see what I'm up for.

It's hard to think about being up for anything when you're dead exhausted. Tonight's roller derby scrimmage was a bit under-attended, what with the Bombshells being just back from Indiana and the All Stars preparing to go to Idaho. We had only enough skaters show up to field a single line-up for each team over and over and over again. It was a great endurance work-out, but we all got tired and sloppy toward the end of the night, and that can get scary. When it seems every jam is ending in a messy pile-up, and everyone's getting a bit of someone else in the face at high speed, you start wondering how long before someone sustains actual damage. So I was glad when they declared the third period over while the tally remained at the bruises-and-scratches-and-aching-muscles level.

Which is a long way of saying I go collapse now, K? OK.

Public domain image of Bufo. periglenes from Wikimedia Commons
lessons learned on the road
Wed 2015-04-22 23:54:29 (single post)
  • 1,317 words (if poetry, lines) long

Behold, another Friday Fictionette getting posted the following Wednesday. You can read an excerpt of "The Fourth Miracle of Emmaline Gray" at Patreon and, if you are so moved, become a Patron at $1/month to read the whole thing right now this second. Audio will be going up shortly after I finish this post. Wattpad... I'll probably catch up on Wattpad excerpts tomorrow.

Again, raise your hand if you're at all surprised here. I was so very optimistic--I'd do my writing in the car! And also when we arrived in Bloomington on Friday! And also after all tournament events and/or team outings on Saturday and Sunday! Which was not exactly how things went. It was kind of the exact opposite of how things went--as I would have expected had I possessed an ounce of realism during my planning stage. While John took a shift driving, I either read to him, or conversed with him, or napped, or played on my computer. While not actively doing something with my team during our time in Indiana, I was flat on the hotel bed, recovering from the drive or from the day's activities. Or cleaning my bearings and then putting my skates back together. I even failed to get my Sunday AINC reading done, because we had a 9 AM bout that morning and it didn't seem wise to sacrifice sleep and thus performance for it.

Lesson one about tournaments is this: Don't budget for anything else in the weekend other than the tournament. And allow for a day's recovery time when the tournament and all associated travel is over.

Lesson two: Mathematically, someone's gotta lose all three of their bouts and take last place. Sometimes, that someone is you. It doesn't make you a loser. It makes you a competitor, same as everyone else. The only thing that would have made you a loser is if, after the heartbreaks and mistakes and foul-outs in the second bout, your team had decided to give up and not show up for the third bout at all. But you did show up, darn it, and you fought through your best bout of the weekend. And the tournament hosts gave you mad props for tenacity in the face of adversity. And now you're home with the entire rest of the 2015 season still in front of you, and you're ready to study the footage and learn everything you can and make yourself into an even better team that'll perform better and play smarter and hit harder and earn fewer penalties and score more points next time.

Lesson two is kind of long, but that's only because it's so important.

Meanwhile, tickets are now on sale for BCB's double header season opener on Saturday, May 23. Get 'em online, at the door, or directly from your favorite Boulder County Bomber!

I need to make a version of this photo that says ''It's OK - it's just roller derby''
a report from halfway to destination
Thu 2015-04-16 22:53:12 (single post)

Greetings from Columbia, Missouri, home of the 87th Missouri FFA Convention! We reached Kansas City, KS/MO by about 7 PM and felt we had it in us to push on. Discovering that the convention had eaten up almost every single hotel room in Columbia almost made us regret that decision. But the check-in clerk at the Red Roof Inn, who was the one to give us the worrisome news, volunteered to call over at the Budget Host Inn (which was sufficiently off I-70 that we might not have found it ourselves), ascertained that they did indeed have a vacancy, and gave us directions down the road.

And now here we are. We've brought our suitcases and computer bags in for the night, had some munchies out of our travel snack arsenal, and gotten comfortable. I've traced my skater number on my arms with henna so they'll be nice and dark come Saturday afternoon. (Don't worry; I'll wrap them to protect the sheets from getting henna stains overnight.) And I'm planning to sleep with my boom-mike headset on for its big, ear-covering cushions. The FFA attendees appear for the most part to occupy the central intersection of the venn diagram of "young," "noisy," and "oblivious," and I don't want to be woken up all night.

So I guess we drove some 10 to 12 hours today. Didn't really feel it. I took Boulder to Goodland, KS. John took over until Salina, KS. Then I took us into Columbia. It was fun. John and I used to do mega-epic road trips back in our college days, when we had the whole summer to play with. We'd go all the way from southern Oregon to New Orleans and back in two weeks. This is our first multi-day road trip since then, but we seem to have retained the knack. The knack requires a satisfying variety of travel snacks and drinks, more music than we'll ever need in a month, and a high tolerance for each other's company in a small space. All of which we have. The modern laptops and the AC inverter that plugs into the cigarette lighter only make things that much easier. We joke that in another life, or an alternate universe, we'd team up to drive freight for a living.

When we left Boulder, it was pouring down snow and visibility was crappy. And traffic on I-270 was horrendous. But once we were on I-70 we left all of that behind... just in time to drive through not one but two thunderstorms in Kansas. (The forecast said "slight chance." I suppose we just got lucky.) But in eastern Kansas, as the terrain got hilly, the weather got gorgeous. Everything was lovely until sunset, when we hit Kansas City. Then it was dark, which made it hard to tell if anything was lovely. I thing most of it was intercity sprawl; the town names seemed to come at very frequent intervals.

Oddly, I did not manage to get any writing done in the car. John only took one driving shift to my two, and during his shift I ended up reading aloud from a copy of Mind Gym (Gary Mack and David Casstevens) which the All Stars coach is having everyone in the team take turns borrowing and reading. It's a little cheesy at times, this book, but it's given me some good insights, and just in time to use them, too.

(So I'm trying to make up for that lack of writing and other daily duties tonight before I go to sleep. Good luck me.)

I'll arrive at the tournament pre-bruised. Sunday's practice involved all the hitting drills you can possibly think of, and my left upper arm is now sporting two huge, colorful, and perfectly round "derby kisses." They're showy even by derby standards; even other skaters have been commenting on them, or just making that hissing wince noise. The coach said it looked like someone had stood me up in front of a tennis ball service machine. Everyone told me I should take pictures, so here's one with the bruises and the numbers made of fresh henna-goop applied on top of Sharpie.

And that's all I got for now. Time to go do my daily foam roller hell while John takes a turn reading to me. Goodnight!

Click for excerpt at Patreon. Become a Patron to get the full text in PDF or MP3.
and they're off like a herd of tortoises
Wed 2015-04-15 23:55:33 (single post)
  • 1,012 words (if poetry, lines) long

All right, already, it's up. "The Moon and the Mage's Gloves" is the Friday Fictionette for April 10, available in PDF and MP3 formats for Patrons at the appropriate tiers. Link goes to the excerpt posted to Patreon. The Wattpad excerpt is not yet up, nor is the one on the blog, nor yet the extra audio I meant to get to--but I'll get to those real soon now.

It felt damn good to sit down and write that thing. Even if it was only a slight, thousand word piece, it was writing and it felt good. It felt like, "That's what I'm supposed to be doing with my days." I look forward to doing more of it in the car tomorrow.

Speaking of which: I've washed my safety gear, I've put my derby wear through the delicates/hand-wash cycle and the air-dry cycle, I've gone to Target for brand new C9 "Champion" brand fitted knee pants to replace the pair that got a hole in during last season's final bout, I've bought road trip snacks at the grocery, and I've put in the car those things belonging to our league which my teammates who are flying entrusted us to take in the car. Am I ready to leave? Almost. By 9:00 AM tomorrow morning, I will be.

Am I ready for the tournament? Well. Tonight's practice was... well, it wasn't our sharpest, I'll say that much. But everyone showed up, so we had all our jammers and both of our blocker line-ups on the track. And our league's head coach as well as our team coach were there to work our butts off. And after our practice, our team coach revealed the secret that, at the beginning of practice, she said she'd share with us at the end. "The secret is this: You have to have a crappy last practice before your bout. It's a good omen."

It wasn't that crappy. Should I be worried...?

Nah.

Bloomington, Indiana: Here we come!

...pending a stopover in Kansas City! ("Do you mean the one in Kansas, or the one in Missouri?" I don't know! We'll find out when we get there!) And a freakin' whole lot of I-70!

there is a time and a place for dominoes this is not it
Tue 2015-04-14 23:44:42 (single post)

So last week's fictionette is still not ready. However, there will be a bonus fictionette this month (for reasons which I will explain later), so I hope y'all will consider that sufficient means of making it up to you. And this Friday's should be on time, despite that John and I are taking off on a road trip Thursday morning, because what else am I going to do while it's his turn to drive?

Last week and the weekend wrecked me. I already talked about the epic 14-hour day of moving, right? Well, what with one thing and another, I ended up getting four hours of sleep that night. Which is where everything went wrong. That was the first falling domino that knocked over the rest. From four hours of sleep, to skating with Phase 1, to napping again, to skating at the library (which was enormously fun!) to trying to get everything else done and so going to bed late again, to the double practice on Sunday capped off with another hour and a half of helping to enable assessments for two returning skaters. (Assessments require more bodies on the track than just the assessing skaters. They need people to hit, people to hit them, people to exchange whips and pushes with, and they need a pack to fall down and get up in. They also need people to hug them and congratulate them and welcome them back, because hearts and flowers!) Then going home and pretty much dying for the day. Then kind of not moving around much Monday. At all.

Teal deer says, basically the weekend just alternated between sessions of roller derby something-or-other and very long naps. And not much else.

I could stay up late tonight to finish and post the fictionette to Patreon, but I desperately want to avoid knocking over any more dominoes. Dominoes are bad. I have to be up early to move a couch out onto the sidewalk for donation pick-up. I have to make it to Bombshells practice. I have to survive through the weekend's tournament (not to mention the drive to Indiana). And do all the other daily/weekly things to the best of my ability. No dominoes allowed!

So the April 10th Friday Fictionette and its accompanying audio file will go up early on Wednesday, April 15th. An extra week's audio will go up not too long thereafter, and everything will be on time for April 17th. That's the goal.

And next week, after the tournament, and with moving over and done with, I'm finally getting back to work on that dratted short story. So I can submit it and move on to the next thing. Really, that's the worst part about not being able to finish a project: not being able to start and finish the next one.

imagine if we had to do this every year
Fri 2015-04-10 23:22:24 (single post)

With many an apology, I must sadly announce that this week's Friday Fictionette will be late. Now: Raise your hands, anyone who is surprised by this. Seriously, I thought I'd be able to get at least a little writing done in between stuff-moving carloads and roller derby practice. Turns out I was wrong. My intention is to finish it up and post it tomorrow afternoon between my morning roller derby obligation and my evening one. I'm hoping this will turn out to be possible.

I'm happy to say, though, that in one respect I am most definitely not late. John and I will relinquish possession of our old address on time tomorrow, having emptied it of all our possessions today. Finally. It required pulling a 14-hour day today on that job, maybe eight or ten carloads, I don't know. I don't even want to talk about that last carload. I was hitting the despair cycle of project fatigue and bodily exhaustion. It showed. Also, it is amazing how little seems to fit in the Saturn wagon when we're trying to get stuff out of the old house, but how very much there seems to be in the car when it's time to unload into the new. Does it multiply in there? Does it become extra slippery?

Nevertheless, by about 10:30 PM we were able to walk through a completely empty house, and by 11:00 PM we were unloading the final carload at our new home. (Which is now, of course, choked with boxes and random piles of stuff. But we have all the time in the world to get it organized. It's OK.) Even before we'd quite begun unloading, we'd already placed our order for late night delivery from Golden Sun, because celebratory comfort food is the best. My celebratory comfort food will be chicken egg foo young and a cup of hot-and-sour soup.

Now I just have to compile the packet of things to give to the buyer's agent tomorrow. Shouldn't be too hard. All the owner's manuals are in the file cabinet, neatly sorted. Except possibly a few that are still in the great big packet of paperwork from the original purchase. But I know exactly where that is too, so everything's fine, right? Right? Please? *sob*

My feet are ridiculously sore. I can't say I'm looking forward to putting skates on them tomorrow. But I'm sure once I'm on wheels I'll feel better. That's usually how it works. A good night's sleep can't help but help, too.

Very, very soon, life will get back to normal. Or about as normal as life ever is around here.

There is a stack of notebooks and manuscripts under that manuscript-sized box on the right half, too.
you're gonna carry that weight for a long time
Thu 2015-04-09 23:49:57 (single post)
  • 59,193 words (if poetry, lines) long
  • 128.50 hrs. revised

As expected, I haven't been able to write much this week. Any time not spent sleeping or at derby practice, has been spent moving items from our old address to our new. There have been many carloads, and each carload required multiple trips up and down the stairs that I'm so pleased to leave behind. I can almost do those stairs blindfolded by now: Eight steps down, three paces to U-turn on the landing, another eight steps down and another landing worth three paces, one last bunch of eight and three paces forward to finally descend the three steps of the front stoop.

Most of those carloads have been packed solo, either because John did it while I was at derby, or I did it while John was working. A solo carload takes longer, and it takes a higher toll on the person making it happen. I was done today an hour before we had to leave for practice and scrimmage, but it was an hour spent half asleep because I simply had nothing left for anything more productive.

Today was mostly me, and my goal was to completely empty the office closet. Six clear-bin stackable plastic drawers plus a Rubbermaid bin and a couple bags full of crafting supplies, three stackable plastic file cabinets, two big boxes of miscellaneous removable data media (CDs, DVDs, 3.5" floppies), another box full of "all manner of useful cables" according to my Sharpie memo to myself, a great variety of stationery...

...and a surprisingly large amount of my own writing. Early NaNoWriMo novel drafts printed out for revision. Copies of my short stories with critiques scribbled between the lines and in the margins. Spiral notebooks with drafts, writing exercises, and notes toward rewrites. The three chapters of The Drowning Boy that went with me to Viable Paradise in 2006 and came back looking like they had bled from innumerable cuts. (Not that they all bled red. But oh, how they bled.)

There were in that great mass of paper several copies of other people's stories that they chose to share with me or to send by mail as part of a critique exchange. But for the most part, the author whose works were contained in that box was me.

It was almost too heavy for me to lift. But I managed. I got it down the stairs and into the car without breaking either it or me. I felt strangely reassured by both of these things. The weight of that box was a reminder of how prolific I really have been. And yet I am capable of lifting the weight of my own words. There's something symbolic in that.

Still, when I pulled up to our new front door, I was happy to accept John's offer to take one end of that box and help me lift the load. Just because I could do it alone didn't mean I'd always have to.

There's something symbolic about that, too.

scenes from an unofficial house warming
Wed 2015-04-08 23:59:02 (single post)

Things Become Irrelevant. The housewife contemplates the laundry machines. She has options now. She can run a small load on half the water. She can tumble her yoga pants and sports bra on an hour of the air dry setting. It won't be a waste of quarters. Quarters are no longer of pressing concern. Maybe there doesn't need to be a quarters jar anymore, just a single jar for all the household loose change. Later, the housewife will realize that she forgot a load of T-shirts in the dryer. There will be a moment of panic before she remembers she can leave those T-shirts there all night long, and no neighbors will care.

Meeting the Neighbors. The roller derby skater opens her front door, expecting nothing more than a brief wait for her ride to practice. Instead she encounters a pair of young deer. They stare up at her from the sidewalk, as though caught in the act of daring each other to ring the doorbell and run. Skater and deer simultaneously engage in a pretense of nonchalance. If it's a contest, the deer win. They amble away towards a not-very-distant lilac bush. The skater is too delighted to keep a straight face. She watches them snacking on the shrubbery until her teammate arrives to pick her up.

Care and Feeding of Your First Hot Water Boiler.
"Help! I can't get any hot water for the tub!"
"What?"
"I need a hot bath, and the water's coming out lukewarm!"
"I... just can't. I don't know. I'm tired and I need to eat. Can I not deal with this?"
"Wait, it's OK--there's this dial thingie on the boiler thingie, and it was set to VACATION. When I turned it, it started a fire! Look, it's all blue and stuff!"
"Good. That's good. Good for you. We're good now, right?"
"Yeah, I set it somewhere between WARM and HOT."
"Good."

Paradigm Shift. The author sits at her desk, writing with teal ink in a spiral notebook. It is her desk. On the desk is her computer, her printer, her electric kettle and her favorite cup of tea. The routine has been enacted countless times before. But all these things are in a room that is entirely new to the author. Thus she is writing at her desk in her office for the first time. She remembers a previous move, when the cats slinked and yowled in the empty rooms of a new apartment, how they only began to settle down when the humans unloaded the cats' familiar, beat-up, second-hand arm chair from the U-Haul trailer. How they gravitated to it immediately, how they curled up around each other on the stained and much-scratched cushion. The author understands them better now. The move wasn't real until the desk arrived. She can finally convince her habitual self that this isn't a hotel, they won't be packing up again and going home. They are home.

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