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Post-Yule retrospective on the past few months

First, a PSA:

8tracks is shutting down. In 3 days. They did install an automatic “save playlist to Spotify” button to back up everything before they go…so I guess I’m finally getting a Spotify account, huh.

* * *

I got a delightful Yuletide fic!

It looks like this:

curiosity and candy (makes the world go round) (3481 words) by Anonymous
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: Pet Shop of Horrors
Rating: Teen And Up Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Count D/Leon Orcot
Characters: Count D (Pet Shop of Horrors), Leon Orcot
Additional Tags: Swearing, Canon Era, Canon-Typical Behavior, Canon-Typical Levels Of BDSM References, yes this is a tag now, Yuletide, Supernatural Elements
Summary:

Word has gotten out that Leon is D’s new chosen mate, and the supernatural is pretty eager to test out his worthiness for the role.

Shame that Leon hasn’t been informed of any of this.

I also gave one, in a niche-enough fandom that it’s barely gotten any attention — but, listen, the recipient liked it, so it’s a win.

Slowly working my way through the rest of the archive, but I have a bunch of pre-Yuletide fic recs that I haven’t even queued yet…so the rec posts of not-for-me Yulefics may take a while in coming.

* * *

I subscribed to Hulu With Live TV for the month, purely so I can watch the new Steven Universe episodes before the internet has a chance to spoil them.

Seriously, the speed at which people can draw fanart of totally-new character designs is unreal.

And during the rest of the eek, I’m trying to make the most of the subscription by bingeing as much other Hulu-exclusive content as possible. Caught up on Archer and a smorgasbord of superhero movies, still working through Family Guy and The Resident, got an apprehensive eye on Stargate Universe.

Surprisingly entertained by Gary And His Demons. (Satirical commentary on Chosen One narratives, Rick-and-Morty-type dysfunction-based humor, our hero has a magical-girl-style transformation sequence for which he sings his own theme song…it’s a lot.)

…they have over 300 episodes of ER. And it’s excellent background-watching-while-making-comics TV. I may or may not end up going another month with this.

* * *

Speaking of avoiding spoilers: I saw Frozen 2!

It was enjoyable, don’t get me wrong, but also awfully weird. Go watch Jenny Nicholson’s review for a good, thoughtful, funny breakdown of a lot of the reasons why.

Haven’t been any other movies since Endgame that I was really determined to see in theaters. Considered it for Star Wars: The Final Movie For Real This Time Really, but at this point I’ve been spoiled for enough of the reveals that, eh. Might as well wait until it’s out on streaming, and pick that time to do a free Disney+ trial period.

* * *

Decided to bake cookies for Christmas at the last minute, which had me trawling the internet for “recipes that can be made using the ingredients currently in my cupboards” on Christmas Eve.

Sidenote: I have seen so many retail outlets this year advertising “our stores are open on Christmas Eve! and will even have limited hours on Christmas Day!”, and, guys, that is not something to brag about. Go watch one of the thousands of adaptations of A Christmas Carol, then swallow your profit motive for a couple days and give your people the time off, already.

So I wasn’t going to go buy late-night groceries, because I am not a monster, and here’s the recipe I was able to make. It’s just flour, butter/margarine, brown sugar, and vanilla. Plus a bag of butterscotch chips, because I do what I want.

They were a hit at the family dinner! Then a hit again when I brought the leftovers to work. Go make ’em some time. Mix up the base with your own (premeditated or improvised) favorite add-ins.

* * *

WordPress was offering a deal on paid blogging plans, and it was cheap enough that I sprung for it.

…only to find out it doesn’t include any customization that wasn’t already in the free version. You have to pay twice as much to control your own CSS.

Oh well. I’ve gotten enough value out of WP over the years that they’ve probably earned the donation.

Prompted me to finally look for a new theme, too. Took way too long to find something that was (a) 2 columns, (b) didn’t collapse to 1 column when you weren’t practically fullscreen on desktop, (c) had spaces to keep all my widgets and menus, and (d) didn’t have clashing colors in places that non-paying users weren’t allowed to customize.

Came out pretty nice, I think.

The theme is Bouquet. The header image and the purple background are customizable. All the pink is one of two pre-set options (the others are blue and orange), which thankfully coordinates with the header pretty well.

Apparently it’s also infinite-scroll and I don’t know how to turn that off, but oh well, you can’t have everything.

* * *

Bumped up to the next-higher dose of Wellbutrin a couple months ago, and it’s been a smashing success.

Before the switch, it had gotten to the point where I was sleeping 10+ hours a day, and could feel the not-getting-anything-done. (Doesn’t help that I have a longer Day Job workweek these days — it’s great in most ways, but having it eat up all my awake time was a bit of a drawback.)

First week on the new dose, I felt refreshed, could focus way better, and was able to draw more than I got to do in probably the whole month before.

Turns out taking the higher dose too many days in a row leaves me not sleeping enough…but by now I’ve got the hang of swapping in the lower dose before I start to feel too wired, and it’s balancing out really well.

* * *

The last Leif & Thorn Kickstarter alternately feels like it happened forever ago, and like it just ended last week.

The first unbound proof arrived a whole month ago, in November:

I ended up tweaking both files, and asking for a new proof of just-the-cover. (There was some tricky color correction involved — you don’t know exactly how it’ll come out in CMYK until you see it in person.)

So the new one arrived…and somewhere between the file I sent and the paper coming out of the printer, the colors got changed in ways I didn’t do. Not in a way they would notice when quality-checking, either — it looked perfectly-balanced, which is the problem, it’s supposed to have a purple tint.

(Volume 1 was pink-tinted. Volume 3 — the one with the magic vine attack — will be green. Volume 4 is shaping up to be red.)

The company blamed an equipment failure, apologized, and sent a free replacement. I now have 3 separate copies of this cover, and the books themselves are gonna be in production…any day now. Depends on when people come back from vacation.

* * *

I drew 2 full pages ahead in BICP!

Then decided the events of those pages should be bumped back to happen after other events. Which leaves me in the fascinating position of “two pages of scanned and fully-polished lineart, still hasn’t gotten me ahead re: the page I’m supposed to post on Monday.”

…One of my New Year’s resolutions is to actually finish the series in 2020. Fingers crossed.

* * *

Marshmallow Fluff continues fluffin’ along.

I did a family visit that left him alone for the weekend, and he seems to have coped just fine:

No special Christmas dinner for Fluff, because he started turning up his nose at canned food a while back. I figure it’s a good thing — he’s no longer afraid of imminent starvation, so he feels secure enough to be picky — but it really cuts down on my “treats to provide for special occasions” options.

He also sometimes sits on one end of the couch while I’m sitting on the other! And almost relaxes. I get the joy of having a judgmental mop staring at me.

I got a new cat! — the full Fluffstory (thanks to @affoGATOcatcafe)

Mom was in town last week, so we hung out on Friday…and obviously had to visit Cleveland’s new cat cafe.

I wasn’t committed to getting a cat that day, but I was generally in the market for one, with these criteria:

  • A shy cat, maybe one that was rescued from a bad situation, who specifically needed a quiet home with one patient human + few visitors + no other pets
  • Any age, so long as it was housetrained
  • Any breed/appearance/coat length, so long as it had a distinct appearance from all the other cats I’ve lived with
  • Any gender, so long as it was spayed/neutered
  • Had all its shots in general, and no health issues that would put its care out of my budget

So we show up at the cafe, the staff give us a quick rundown of how to behave inside, they usher our whole group into the Cat Room…and there, curled up on a wall shelf across from the door, is Fluffy.

He’s of the cats they specifically called out beforehand, saying “don’t approach him in large groups or you’ll scare him, just go up one at a time, and give him a chance to get used to you.” I walk up slowly and give him some gentle skritching. After cautiously tolerating it for a bit, he leans into it.

I did check out the rest of the room — petted/hugged/played with various other cats — but at the end of the hour, I put a hold on Fluffy.

(There was one other “shy cat, needs patience” described on the board, and she put up with petting when I checked her out, but never showed any sign of indulging in it.)

And by evening, he was hiding in my bathroom!

Fluffy

Living up to his name, he’s a long-hair mix. Instead of totally renaming him, I’m making “Fluffy” a nickname for a longer full name TBD. (The realtime Twitter thread has a bunch of the possibilities.)

He’s mostly white-furred, with cookies’n’cream black spots (Fluffies’n’Cream!), and chronically-suspicious green eyes.

The Fluffmeister was an “on-site surrender” in a humane incident, meaning his original home got reported to the Animal Protection League as unsafe, and a team went to pick him up. (Along with one other cat, who was more sociable, and got adopted earlier.) At the time, he was underweight and dehydrated — the APL shelter put him on a special diet at first, to get his weight back up.

Fluffy

Even now, he only weighs 6 pounds. The fluff looks even fluffier because his actual frame is so tiny. And he’s 2 years old — gotta wonder if this was always his potential full size, or if he was underfed going back to kittenhood, and it stunted his growth.

(My aunt’s cat weighs 12 pounds. My parents’ last cat weighed 18. Not because of obesity or anything, either, he was just big.)

On the first night, April 5, Brave Sir Fluffs-a-lot tried a couple of different hiding places, ending up under the daybed in the living room:

Fluffy

Fluffy

Along with some boxes of Leif & Thorn books, and other convention merch.

In the bathroom I’d petted him and coaxed him to eat some treats. Here I put his food bowls under the end of the daybed, and he ate while he could see me in range to see him. So far, so good.

Then on the evening of the 6th, I did one last check-in before going to bed…and he wasn’t there! At some point he’d made a break for my bedroom. Managed to get there without me even noticing.

Fluffy

(The white stuff on the floor is bits of styrofoam, from when the bed was unpacked. Until now, I had no reason to try to get under there and sweep it up.)

Also, he’d done his business there, instead of in the provided litterbox. Sigh.

So that night we both slept in the bedroom — me on top of the bed, him underneath. It’s the only room (other than the bathroom) with a door that closes, and I kept him shut in there for the day. At this point he was only eating when I was out of the room, so I held off on any further petting.

Tempting though it was.

Still no use of the box, though, and on the afternoon of the 7th, Floofatron 3000 went and peed on the bed. I did some cleanup work, and then, since the mattress was too big to offer any chance of hauling it out of the room, I managed to upend it against the wall.

Ooh, he did not like that. The mattress was by itself on top of the slats of the bedframe, so it was the biggest part of his shelter, and having it removed was a Terrifying Ordeal.

I briefly planned to relocate him to the bathroom. At the cat cafe he’d been incredibly easy to scoop up and pour into his carrier, and he was quiet and docile throughout the car rides, even during our stop at the APL for microchipping. Should be easy to move him again, right?

…yeah, not so much. Not right after the Ordeal. (I like to hope he also had more energy from getting regular meals — the crowd at the cat cafe might’ve intimidated him away from his bowls.)

I did finally corner him, got a hiss and a scratch, and started formulating a new plan based on leaving him in a cat-proofed bedroom.

…and it’s working pretty well so far!

Fluffy

The Terror That Fluffs In The Night finally started using his litter by the night of the 8th, once I squeezed the box into a corner where he’d peed before (and removed the mattress as an alternative). Here he is under the de-mattressed bed.

The boxes/suitcase are positioned to keep him from climbing into the under-bed drawers. There are some thinner boxes under the under-bed drawers, to keep him out of that narrow space. Cleaning supplies are on-hand.

(And I’m sleeping on…the daybed. It’s fine, I spent the first month at this place with no furniture.)

His new favorite place is up on the windowsill. It’s about the height and size of that shelf he had at the cafe — and part of it is sheltered by the upturned mattress.

Looking real suspiciously at his food in this shot, but it still disappears when I’m not in the room, so it can’t be too bad.

His other favorite place is the new highest point in the room…the top edge of the mattress itself!

Fluffy

I’m not putting his food up there. Sir Edmund Fluffery will just have to venture back down when he’s hungry.

We had our current routine established by the 9th. I check in a few times a day, to refresh his food, clean his box, maybe leave some treats, and say calming things while standing at a safe distance.

On the 10th I called the APL, just hoping to chat with a worker who’d handled him during the 2-ish months he was at the shelter, get some insight…

…and had a lovely talk with someone who said “he was one of my favorites, I would’ve adopted him myself, but my home isn’t the quiet space he needs.”

New insights:

  • At the shelter it took The Fluffington Post about a month, with consistent routines, to start feeling comfortable and letting people pet him. Longer than I expected based on his first-night performance, but not longer than I’d bargained for.
  • Sounds like he hissed/swatted at them on a more regular basis until he adjusted, so he’s at least starting on a better footing here than he did there.
  • Took him that long to start playing with toys, too. And he’d stop if he noticed you looking.
  • He’s not picky at all about food — and will work up to being very food-motivated — but in the beginning he only felt safe eating at night. Which I had noticed, but was getting the data muddled by thinking “maybe he doesn’t like this flavor” instead of “oh, shouldn’t have put this out in the morning.”
  • He does have this weird way of eating, very slow, one piece at a time. Someone at the cafe speculated to me that she thought he’d lost some teeth. The person from the APL couldn’t confirm or deny that, but she did say they didn’t find anything to be medically concerned about.
  • He always sat on the highest shelf in his kennel at the shelter, too!

So it might be a while before he does anything worth sharing new photos of. Unless people (other than me) would be excited to see “aww, look, he’s sitting on his shelf some more!”

But now that we have a routine set up that covers all the basics, he’s going to get all the time he needs to get comfortable and come out of his shell.

In the meantime, I’m leaning towards Marshmallow Fluff as his full name, so I can make jokes about his great shelf life.

Cat appreciation post

Finishing up the December talking meme, a respectably-short amount of time into January: Kaldra wanted me to write about cats.

Cats are great. They’re beautiful, they’re nerds, they’re helpful, they’re doofuses, they’re adorable. I finally got on Instagram this year, and I’m making sure my gallery has a healthy proportion of cats, because I have a heck of a backlog of photos and it’s not like I’m doing anything else with them.

I’ve spent basically all my adult life having Housemates With Cats. This is the beautiful fluff I’ve been living with since summer:

Cat on sketchbook

He is the cuddliest critter you ever will meet. He insists on sitting on my sketchbooks, sometimes when I’m in the middle of drawing in them. Every night when I go to bed, he follows me in and spends several minutes diligently licking my face.

I’m scheduled to move out tomorrow, to a place with no housemates, much less cats. Yet. There are vague cat-acquiring plans farther in the future. (I definitely want to get all the furniture in place first.)

Holiday gift reel

Shard prompted “List off any gifts you received over the holidays, and if you’d like and/or want to fill space, tell us which one(s) you like most and why.”

Okay, first one is this lovely Yuletide fic, which I’m pretty sure is the longest I’ve ever gotten, phwoah:

Holiday Hours (find us where we want to be) (11338 words) by Anonymous
Chapters: 2/2
Fandom: Pet Shop of Horrors
Rating: General Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Count D/Leon Orcot, Chris Orcot & Leon Orcot, Chris Orcot & Pon-chan & T-chan | Tetsu, Count D & Chris Orcot & Leon Orcot
Characters: Chris Orcot, Leon Orcot, Count D (Pet Shop of Horrors), T-chan | Tetsu (Pet Shop of Horrors), Pon-chan (Pet Shop of Horrors), Honlon (briefly)
Additional Tags: Found Family, Christmas Fluff, Unresolved Emotional Tension, Surprise Party, POV Alternating, Yuletide 2018
Summary:

Where a pet shop in Chinatown explores the true meaning of Christmas, and what was obvious all along is finally realized. At least, in part.

Featuring, the cast of:

A Very Oblivious Detective (Leon Orcot)
A Very Put Upon Shop Owner (Count D)
All I Want For Christmas Is to Make People Happy (Chris Orcot)
A Merry Band of Misfits (T-chan and Pon-chan)
And Background Gossips (who ship it)

I haven’t even gotten a chance to comment yet, it’s so long — but if you’re in the fandom, go give it some kudos.

There are some family visits coming up in January, and more things designated Christmas Presents will be handed around then. Like I said in an earlier post, we’re not real sentiment about specific dates.

So far: all the RL gifts are practical and useful, but not much to blog about. Literally towels, hangers, a chest of drawers, an afghan, a vacuum cleaner. A couple of large checks, some of which is getting invested in fandom merch (there are a few webcomic collections I’ve had my eye on), most of which will go toward rent, groceries, and my IRA.

Adulthood, everyone!

Things I will pay extra to avoid having to do myself

  • Put together furniture
  • Shred my own cheese
  • Rake leaves, shovel snow, cut grass
  • Wash dishes
  • Transcribe audio, and/or text in images
  • Move a lot of boxes
  • Replace a hard drive
  • Walk any distance to do laundry

(This list brought to you by, though not limited to, my next impending move.)

I may not have house-buying money, but at least I’m still managing to make the Life Transition into “willing to outsource minor annoyances rather than spend the time.”

I also pay for a lot of digital music now. Although I do it with the gift cards Bing gives you for using their search engine, so that may not be quite the same category.

(December talking meme.)

Give a tree, take a tree

Flyboy254 prompted me to write about “Christmas away from home.”

My whole family doesn’t get real sentimental about exact dates of holidays. One year we went to San Diego over the winter vacation, and got Christmas-day plane tickets because they were the cheapest. If people can’t meet up in December but we have a gathering in mid-January, then we’ll just save the presents and do Christmas in January. So that’s nice.

Here’s a photo from one of my first apartment Christmases:

Picked up the tree for free off of someone’s curb one January. It was the perfect size for a tiny apartment. Plus it came apart into pieces you could stuff in any box, and went back together super easily.

Now it’s been six months since I put it out on my own curb before leaving MA. Sure hope it got picked up by a new person who will appreciate it just as much.

Still have the tinsel and ornaments, though! My aunt doesn’t have a tree, so the ornaments are still boxed — but from where I’m sitting now, basically every direction has some tinsel draped over the most convenient surface.

(December talking meme.)