I can't write fanfic anymore

At some point over the last few months, it seems that my muse just disappeared. I don't know if it's because my shows got less slashy or because something changed in my head. I am not taking any antidepressants, which sometimes harm my creativity.

A few years ago, after Due South went off the air, SPACE stopped showing repeats of 1970s Battlestar Galactica and SPIKE TV or whatever the Nashville/National network was called at the time stopped showing repeats of Starsky and Hutch (and I started going to work every day so I couldn't stay home and watch them anyway), I stopped writing fanfic. Then I started watching new-style Hawaii Five-0 and White Collar and Suits, and suddenly I was writing again. Then I got fed up of White Collar seeming to constantly mess up the Neal/Peter relationship, and in Suits Mike stopped working for Harvey, and in Five-0 they added half a dozen new characters and made Steve's girlfriend a regular, and suddenly Steve and Danny had maybe 30 seconds of screen time per episode. Last season didn't even have a hug.

Every so often these days I get a sudden impulse to do something creative, and I can't find anything. I have no muse for writing fanfic, and I lost the password for my WordPress blog so I can't write anything there (I've tried to recover it, but so far WordPress isn't cooperating.) I don't do any needlework or crochet or knitting due to fine motor skills issues, and I don't do any form of visual art. I get very bored on days like today when it's raining outside so I can't go geocaching. I am getting a lot of reading done, but sometimes I would like to do something a little less passive.

I went on a trip!

I spent a week in Alberta. It was cool but not awesome cool. First time I'd ever been on a plane. The takeoff and landing felt kind of like an amusement park ride. I was somewhat scared but not too scared. Unfortunately I'd forgotten that I carry a Swiss Army Knife on my keychain, so that got confiscated at security. I loved my knife, dammit. I've ordered a new one from Amazon.

Anyway, I spent two days with my cousin in Trochu, Alberta. It was a lot of fun and I wish I'd stayed longer, but I hadn't seen this cousin in 30-plus years and I knew that there is no public transportation from where she lives, so I didn't want to stay too long in case I hated it. Turned out I loved it, and now I want to go back. She wants to take me to Drumheller to see the dinosaurs and to Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump and go geocaching there. However, she is unable to drive due to her MS and Chiari, so her husband has to be willing to drive us to those places. I also have to be careful not to spend all my money because there is an election coming up in two years, and that means no work for as long as six months. I can't go back on disability because they would want to make me sell my house, so I have to make sure I have money to live on in 2017.

I spent two days in Calgary, where I went to the Calgary Tower and the Calgary Zoo. I hated my hotel because my room was right above the very noisy street and I slept very badly. The manager was very apologetic and gave me a discount on my room. I love the trains in Calgary and wish we had a similar form of rapid transit in Victoria.

The trip to Banff and Lake Louise was okay but not great. I loved the scenery, but after a while I realized I had 200 pictures of mostly the same mountains. Banff itself is like Government Street in Victoria multiplied a dozen or so times: multiple stores selling tacky made-in-China "Canadian" souvenirs. I was also disappointed that there weren't more caches in town, because I was reluctant to try to explore any trails in the park, worried I'd get lost or encounter bears. Also, I was there so late in the summer there weren't many hours of daylight left after I was done my touring for the day.

The thing with touring is that while it has its advantages — somebody else is doing the driving so you can sit back and enjoy the views and not worry about getting lost or running out of gas in the middle of nowhere — you are at the mercy of the tour operator when it comes to how long you can spend in one place. Also there were little kids on the bus whom I am sure were very bored and who screamed a lot, and the promised wi-fi on the buses didn't work.

I learned that I probably shouldn't have gone on the Banff Gondola due to my fear of heights. However, I loved the view from the summit and I loved that I got to see a baby bighorn sheep fairly close. The baby sheep appeared to have two mommies, as the two adults that were with him were both females. I wish I'd taken a picture of the sign announcing the "cosmic ray station," because I love the name "cosmic ray station."

I wanted to take Via Rail back home again, but I found that to do so would have doubled the cost of my trip, and it would have totally maxed out my credit card. It is something I want to do in the future, maybe when the limit on my credit card has increased and my income is a big more secure — like when the next election is four years away rather than two years away.
eating grass cat

Being good at losing things

I've noticed that many of my Facebook posts are about my misplacing things. My iPod Touch was missing for a long time, until I finally got down on my hands and knees and looked under the couch. I thought I'd misplaced the key to remove the battery from my electric bike, but it was hanging on my key hook all the time. So it goes in my house.

The latest lost item is very important to me: a digital camera. Two years ago I purchased a brand-new camera to take on a trip with me. I went to an autism conference, and we'd been offered a "photo safari" around the area, so I wanted to be sure I had a good camera for it. Turns out the safari never happened, though I did use the camera to take lots of pictures of the ocean and mountains. I don't think I've used the camera since then, because it's too big to go in my purse and I have a smaller camera that does fit in my purse and has a good zoom on it. However, it has very few presets, and none for "landscape." I don't know anything about changing settings on a digital camera.

In a few days I'll be going on a trip to Banff, Alberta, where I intend to take lots of pictures of mountains. I intended to take the big camera with me for taking pictures of mountains. But I cannot find the camera anywhere. Last I remember, I found an unpacked box in my porch several months after I moved to my new house, and the camera was in that box. I removed it from the box and brought it into the house, and that's the last I remember. I think I brought it into my bedroom, but I'm not 100 percent sure, and I haven't found it in the bedroom. (I looked, and it's not in the box in the porch.)

Monster helped me look last night, but we had no luck. I looked in all my usual storage spaces: the coat closet, the bedroom closet, the shelves that I use for linens. Nada. I don't know where else to look, and I have only today and tomorrow to look (and today is half over.) I am very tempted to go buy a new camera tomorrow. Monster says, "You don't need a new camera. You need to look after the one you already have." That doesn't help me find the one that I lost or help me take pictures in Banff. My sister suggested experimenting with the camera I do have to figure out the best settings for taking mountain pictures, but I don't have the time to do that or a place to take practice pictures that would mimic the mountains or scenery in Banff.

Too bad Shoppers Drug Mart doesn't still have a store that sells cameras. A few years ago there was a location that had a display of lots of good cameras (though the one I bought there stopped working after a week, and I didn't keep the receipt for it so I wound up keeping a camera that doesn't work.) I have $85 worth of Shoppers Drug Mart points that I could put towards a new camera, but they don't sell cameras anymore.
cat in long grass

Cat adventures

In my household I have four cats. Jubilee (the mama kitty) is the only one whom I adopted as an adult cat. The rest have lived with me since they were little kittens, and they've been indoor cats their entire lives.

The last few days here in Victoria we've had some unusually hot temperatures, up to 29 degrees Celsius (about 85 Fahrenheit.) I have an air conditioner in my living room, but I don't have one in my bedroom, so I opened the few windows I have that actually have screens in them.

I totally did NOT take into account the fact that one of those screens has a hole in it. Either the hole is big enough for a not-very-big cat to fit through, or the not-very-big cat enlarged it. When I dragged myself out of bed on Saturday morning, after about five or six hours of sleep, to feed some demanding cats, I discovered that one cat was missing.

I did a rapid search of the usual cat hiding spots, but I already knew Jubilee was out. She never misses a meal.

I woke up Monster and then pulled on a pair of shorts and a t-shirt and ran outside to call Jubilee. No sign of her. Back inside, I went to the website of Find Lost and Escaped Cats and filled out their "missing animal" form. I then e-mailed them a picture and went out to look some more.

Monster and I went all over the neighbourhood. I was functioning on very little sleep, which gives me dizzy spells. We went quite far afield, even though I was fairly sure that Jubilee wouldn't have gone far.

When we completed our circle and were back at my house, I went back behind my house to call some more. I was just about to give up when I heard the familiar jingle of cat ID tags, and Miss Jubilee appeared from behind the house next door. Alas, she ran away when I approached her. I sent Monster to get some kitty treats, but he just brought a handful of them instead of a bag I could shake. I went and got a bag to shake, but I couldn't find Jubilee. I suspected she was hiding under the porch of the house next door, but I couldn't see her.

I left a trail of treats from the house next door up the stairs to my back door. I had a grocery delivery coming any minute, so I reluctantly went back inside. But just a minute or two after Monster and I went in, I heard a very sad, "Meeeeeeeow? Meeeeow?" I went outside and there was my mama kitty, sitting at the bottom the stairs crying. I called her and this time she didn't run away. She came right to me, and I grabbed her. I carried the squirming kitty into the house and fed her.

I don't know what changed when I went in the house, but I wonder if perhaps Jubilee thought this was some sort of game. A long time ago, when I was a kid, I would play outside with my cat Pippin. She would sit still and let me approach her, and just as I reached her she would run away. Then she would stop and wait for me to approach her again. Maybe Jubilee was doing that and I spoiled her game by leaving. I don't know. But I am so happy I got her back.

I realized she's the only one of my cats to not have a microchip, so I'm getting her a microchip later this week and also getting her a new nametag, as she has chewed the one she has and has partially obscured parts of my address and phone number.

Katniss, Jubilee's kitten, seemed not at all concerned that her kitty mama wasn't there. I thought she would be upset and even considered taking her outside in hopes she'd call for her mother. But she just went about her kitten business and wasn't upset at all.

After I had brought Jubilee in, contacted the cat-finding organization to tell them I'd found my lost cat, and paid for my grocery delivery, I sacked out in bed for a couple of hours to make up for the sleep I had lost when I realized Jubilee was missing. When I woke from my nap, Jubilee hopped up on the bed, climbed on top of me and curled up on my chest. She has never, ever done that before. She purred, and she shoved her head into my hand so that I would pet her. Such a happy kitty. Maybe she was apologizing for scaring me, or maybe she was thanking me for finding her. Who knows. I am just so relieved to have her back.


After avoiding it for years, I finally subscribed to Netflix. I still have mixed feelings about it, as I'm afraid I won't use it enough to justify the monthly payment, but I'll wait and see how it goes. I joined mainly to watch "Sense8."

It's hard to explain exactly what Sense8 is. It's not exactly sci-fi, but that may be the closest genre. There are eight people who suddenly discover they are connected, and they can experience what each other is going through. For example, one person is in England and the other is in Kenya, but they are able to stand and talk to each other as if they are in each other's places. This comes in handy when the man in Kenya is attacked by gangsters and is able to draw on the strengths of another of his cluster, a kickboxer in Korea, to take out the gangsters. But sometimes it's more subtle. For example, a woman in India is eating a sweet bread pudding sort of dessert, while another woman in San Francisco is drinking coffee, and just for a moment the woman drinking coffee can taste the other woman's dessert.

Now, I would watch the show even if it were just about Nomi and Amanita. Nomi is a transgender woman in a relationship with a cisgender woman played by Freema Agyeman. Nomi is having a lot of problems from her family; her mother continues to call her by her former male name and is able to get her put in a hospital because she supposedly needs brain surgery.

I also like the gay couple Lito and Fernando. Lito is an actor, and he's trying to prevent anyone finding out he's gay, because he's a romantic lead. He's been trying to deceive Daniela, the woman he's been using as a beard, but she finds out and just barges into his life and shows no sign of leaving. She also has a rather scary ex-boyfriend to deal with.

Other character include Capheus, a bus driver in Kenya trying to earn money for his mother's AIDS medicine; Sun, a Korean woman who works for her family's company and does kickboxing at night; Kala, an Indian woman who is engaged to marry a co-worker (the boss's son, I think) but who doesn't really love him, though her family believes she does (part of her story is that she is Hindu and believes that the god Ganesh is sending her the Sense8 visions); Riley, a DJ from Iceland who lives in London and whose story still confuses me; Wolfgang, a German safecracker; and Will, a Chicago cop.

I encourage my friends to watch it, but you will have to pay very close attention because the first episode especially is very confusing and you may have to watch it more than once. If you don't have Netflix you can get it free for a month. There are 12 episodes, so you should be able to get through the entire series at least once -- depending, of course, on what else you have taking up your time. I was going to watch it on my tablet, because my computer is pretty close to being toast, but then I discovered that the TV I bought at the Boxing Day sale at Future Shop comes with buttons for Netflix built in to the remote.

Gonna ring rang-a-dong for a holiday

I've almost kind of definitely maybe for sure decided to take a holiday this summer. I've never travelled by myself before other than short trips to the mainland and the Sunshine Coast, and I decided that flying to another country was just too terrifying to contemplate (anxiety for the lose). Also, I still have problems with having to sit in one place with knees bent for very long, which would be a problem on a transatlantic flight.

I've decided, I think, maybe, for sure, probably, to go on a trip on the Rocky Mountaineer. That's a train. As per the name, it goes through the Rocky Mountains. I don't have a special interest in trains but I do have a special interest in mountains. I don't know if I could ever live in the Prairies where there are no mountains. The trip takes about a week and stops in Banff for two days, during which time they give you one day to yourself to explore Banff National Park (one day for a park that covers 6,000 square kilometres, that is) and a day during which you get a helicopter ride, a gondola ride and a bus trip so that you can see the mountains and the glaciers up close. I have never seen a glacier before.

I've read that there are plenty of geocaches to find in the park, and you get a special souvenir if you find three of them. However, I've also been told that they are not exactly walking distance apart. I don't drive, so I may be out of luck when it comes to geocaching in the park. I have also read, though, that there are (or, at least, there were in 2012) plenty of geocaches in the town itself.

One thing that does annoy me, though, is that unless I choose to take the train trip without all the extras (the visit to the park, the gondola ride, the helicopter ride), it doesn't go all the way to Calgary. I have to take a bus trip the rest of the way from Banff to Calgary, or (if I had a drivers licence) drive there in a rental car (there's one tour package that includes car rental, and there's one package that is just the train trip straight from Vancouver to Calgary.) I hope the bus trip isn't too hard on my wonky knee, and I also hope that I will be able to get up and move around on the train.

The reason I say that I have kind of sort of definitely maybe decided is that my anxiety is flaring up at the thought of doing all this alone. Monster doesn't have the money to come with me, and my credit card limit isn't high enough to buy tours for both me and him. Also, somebody has to take care of the cats for the time I'm away. I worry about navigating everything -- the ferry, the buses, the hotels, showing up at the right places at the right times, etc. To make things difficult and annoying, not everybody on the train stays at the same hotel. If you buy the super-deluxe gold package, you stay at a different hotel than the people who buy the less-deluxe packages. (I am going for the medium-deluxe package; my credit card goes up only so high and I want to pay it off as quickly as possible.)

The trip package lasts a week, and then I want to visit my cousin Michelle who lives just outside Calgary. She's my (if I understand cousin-ship correctly) second cousin twice removed, but my father's family is very close to even the more distant cousins. Michelle's grandmother was first cousins with my father. Then, if possible, I want to spend some time in Calgary and visit amigone and xanateria. Then I'll probably fly home on WestJet, because I don't want to take the bus all the way back to Vancouver. Via Rail doesn't go to Calgary, or I'd just take that so I can get another look at the mountains on the way home. Now I'm wondering if there is a way of getting to Edmonton, because I want to see the Alberta Legislature, and then I could take Via Rail from Edmonton to Vancouver.

I was originally going to do this trip in July, but there's a strong possibility of employment in July. If I want to pay for the trip without taking too much out of my savings, then I should take the work when I can get it.

I am also wondering how to take good pictures from a moving train. I will have to check the settings on my digital camera to see whether it has a setting for motion. I want to get a netbook or notebook computer to take with me so that I have something to load pictures on to from the camera as well as some way to look up geocaches and transfer them to my GPS device. My laptop is much too heavy. I bought it when I still had cataracts and my vision was sucky, so I chose one that had a big screen.
cat clock

Today was "traumatize the cats day."

A couple of weeks ago my next-door neighbour in the trailer park, Cindy, passed away suddenly and unexpectedly, probably of a diabetes-related issue. (Her obituary said she had passed away after "a long illness of diabetes" and asked for donations to the Diabetes Association.) Her son and his wife have inherited her home and have decided to move into it, but first they want to get rid of Cindy's stuff, including her furniture. I bought a set of her bedroom furniture: two night tables, a dresser with mirror, and a wardrobe cupboard. Today I got the furniture moved over from next door because there is a thief somewhere in the area who has been stealing stuff like lawn ornaments and other things that people leave in their yards (they're repainting inside the trailer, and there's no chance of rain for the foreseeable future, so a lot of the stuff was left in the carport and the backyard.)

Alas for the cats, I had just finished giving them their regular does of Advantage flea control. Katniss and Jubilee were fine with it, but Chaya and Inky absolutely hate Advantage and were very angry with me and Monster for forcing it on them. Then Monster went and brought in a strange human with new furniture and they had to keep shooing curious kitties away from the door while they were bringing stuff in. Again, Katniss and Jubilee were mostly okay (although Katniss got grabbed by her tail to prevent her from escaping out the front door), but Inky and Chaya were upset by the strange goings-on, especially since Monster and I had been moving things around in order to clear a path to have the stuff brought in and stored in the spare bedroom.

Unfortunately, even though it is a lovely dresser, I have nowhere to put the dresser. It's a wide dresser instead of a straight up-and-down dresser like the ones I currently use. There is nowhere to put the dresser in my bedroom. If I put it along one wall, it blocks access to my closet. Another wall, it blocks access to the ensuite bathroom. Another wall, it blocks access to my office. My original plan was to sell it along with the headboard that came with the set (too big for my bed), but Monster wants me to keep it because it's better than the dressers I have currently. I don't want to sell it that badly, but it's either sell it or leave it in the spare bedroom and then have to go to the other end of the house to get my clothes. Monster says the dresser can be for guests who stay in my spare room. It's rather big for that, and I am not sure I have room for guests in my spare room because the spare room has become junk storage since my house is one of the few in the trailer park that doesn't have a shed.

Monster said, "At least keep the stuff for a while before you decide what to do with all of it." I'm fine with that, as there may be other stuff I will eventually post on Craigslist and/or Used Victoria, like my old TV and my old dishwasher. I advised the soon-to-be new neighbours to do the same with the furniture they want to sell, but they stuck a leather armchair in the driveway with a sign on it that said, "Leather couch and chair, $200 or best offer," and then somebody stole the chair while the neighbours were painting inside the house.

Being neighbourly to smokers

Since I moved to the trailer park last summer I have become quite friendly with a couple who live across the road. They helped me rescue an injured bird last year, and they are Doctor Who fans, which I like.

A couple of weeks ago my next-door neighbour passed away unexpectedly. Her son and his wife/girlfriend are going to move in to her trailer once they fix it up. They held a garage sale, and I bought some furniture from them (a wardrobe cupboard, two nightstands [one for me and one for Monster] and a dresser). They invited me in to see what the house looks like and I discovered that it is identical to mine except that mine has some additions on it. They seem to be quite nice.

Anyway, the point of this is that I want to be friendly with my neighbours, and I own a barbecue (though it needs to be fixed and I am waiting for a piece to arrive.) I thought I might invite the neighbours over for a barbecue. However, there is one difficulty: all of them are smokers. I have asthma and I cannot be around cigarette smoke. What do I do -- ask them to go back home to smoke and then come back?
bed cats

UPS sucks

A few days ago I ordered an item from Think Geek: a set of Star Trek garden gnomes.

Today I was at home alone and I decided to go out and spray some weeds with vinegar (to find out whether vinegar kills weeds or not.) My neighbour said, "What did you get from UPS? It looked like a big box!" I looked around my front door and saw no boxes, but then I found a note stuck to the door saying "Sorry we missed you. We will try again next business day." WTF? I have been home all day; either they didn't knock at all or they tried the doorbell and it doesn't work.

Anyway, the note says they will try two more times and then return the package to sender. I will not be home at all next week until next Saturday. However, the card said I can sign up for an account and change my delivery options. So I went on the website and signed up for an account, and they said they will send me a confirmation. I have to then go back to the website and enter the confirmation on the website.

However, the confirmation is being sent snail-mail and won't arrive for five days -- three days after the package will be sent back to Think Geek.

There is a UPS pick up station two blocks away from me, and this place is open on weekends. So I got on the phone (yeah, I made a phone call, imagine that) and asked them to send it to their pickup depot. They said, "Okay, we will send that to (place on other side of town that is not open weekends.)" As I said, I am at work from Monday to Friday. I cannot go to a place on the other side of town that is open from nine to five when I work from ten in the morning till nine at night.

I again asked if I could pick it up at the closer pickup point.

"No, you can't," they said.

Why not?

"You just can't," they said.


"Because we are UPS and we say so."

Well, let me explain something to you. I am at work from Monday to Friday. I cannot be here when my package is delivered, nor can I go out to the other end of town.

"We'd be happy to deliver the package to your workplace!"

No, that is not an option. (We have specifically been told that we can't receive mail or packages or any other kind of delivery at work.)

"Well, like I said, we can send it to a pickup depot. It will go to our main depot at (other end of town that I cannot get to because I will be at work.)"

"And like I keep telling you, I can't go there because I WILL BE AT WORK. I can't be at home. I can't go to your depot. I can go to the pickup location at Admirals Walk on Saturdays and Sundays."

"And like we keep telling you, the package is not marked for that location and we can't send it there. It's not allowed." (They won't give me any good reason to not send it to my closest pickup location other than "because we say so.")

"Let me speak to your supervisor." I figured that somebody higher-up would have the authority to redirect the shipment to my desired location.

"I can do that," said the UPS person, "but that won't change anything. We all work from the same system."

I waited on hold for close to 20 minutes and got no supervisor. I went back to the same customer service rep (who by now was probably completely sick of me) and finally got her to agree to not attempt to re-deliver the package until Monster can be at my house on Wednesday. Unfortunately, I had to pay a fee for that, but at least it's better than not getting my package at all.

Think Geek was very nice when I contacted them to tell them of the problem with UPS, but they tell me they have no other option for delivery to Canada, so I guess I will not ordering from them again. (The good thing is that most of the stuff sold by Think Geek eventually winds up being sold at HMV stores in Victoria -- at least, the Doctor Who stuff does. Not sure about Star Trek stuff.)

I went to the UPS website and looked for a "contact us" link. Alas, the link allows for only 500 characters in an e-mail, and no options for snail-mail. I wrote them a short e-mail to tell them that I had a bad experience with their customer service that is too long to explain in 500 characters and to please let me know of a way to contact them to explain it.

Cons and Cosplay

I have only ever been to one sci-fi con in my life, and that was 14 years ago. I didn't dress up for it. It wasn't a great con, though it certainly wasn't a bad one. It didn't have any really big-name guests, but the fact that we had any at all was a big thing. I went to see Richard Hatch, from 1970s-era Battlestar Galactica, and Alexandra Tydings from Hercules and Xena.

This year there's going to be another con in Victoria. It's on Halloween weekend. It's called If Con. Richard Hatch is going to be in it again. It also has Gil Gerard from Buck Rogers and Claudia Christian from Babylon 5. Claudia Christian would be my main reason for going this time. There's going to be a panel on "classic" SF versus modern-day remakes. The panel will feature Claudia Christian, Richard Hatch, and an actor from the original Addams Family TV series. I'd really, really like to hear Claudia Christian speak on her own, though. I bought her autobiography a few months ago and read all about her struggle with alcoholism. Back when I went to my first con in 2001, Alex Tydings said she was going to be making a buddy–time travel series with Claudia Christian, and I looked forward to it (figuring femslash potential) and then nothing ever came of it. Turned out that Claudia allowed her then-boyfriend to manage her career and he was very, very bad at it. He scuttled the TV series because nobody wanted to work with Claudia due to his bad behaviour.

Anyway, since the con is on Halloween, I would like to try cosplay. However, I haven't a clue what a fat forty-something woman would cosplay as. I don't want to be any of the Doctors, and most of the companions don't have distinctive costumes. Also none of the companions are fat forty-somethings. I read in one blog that one of the few character options for women over 40 is Molly Weasley, and other than being a ginger I have no idea how one would dress as Molly Weasley since I haven't seen the Harry Potter movies.

Somebody suggested I just dress up in purple and don't go for a specific character. Going with the purple theme, I discovered a comic book character called, alternately, Purple Girl, Purple Woman and Persuasion. She is the daughter of Purple Man and has the power of persuasion. She ran away from her father, came to Canada, abducted Northstar and then joined Alpha Flight. I can't find many pictures of her, but basically she has purple skin and big boobs. She doesn't appear to have any specific costume, though. I don't know how I would colour my skin purple, and I don't know how many people would have heard of Purple Girl/Woman/Persuasion.