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Rainbow Margay Mage

Welcome to my blog
I'll share my creative life
I hope you share too!

I value friendship and good conversation.  I look forward to talking with you all. 

For the 2014 A-Z challenge, I'm doing ficlets in a new fantasy world, featuring catkin and other fantastic beings.  Here is the A-Z prompt list, with links to the posts as I write them. As I write this, I'm still hoping for prompts for many letters of the alphabet.  Thank you in advance for your questions, prompts, and comments!

You can find links to my flash fiction, to my serialized story, Fireborn, and to my poetry and songs over at my new (under construction) website,

You can also find some of my fiction, poetry, worldbuilding, and artwork over at, along with the fiction, poetry, world-building, and art of my talented co-creators there.

If you miss my old, long-winded landing page, you can find it and the landing pages for various projects by searching on the "landing" tag.

Thank You to everyone who's supported me
with your comments, nominations, and sponsorships!

I look forward to chatting with all of you!

My People Wear Glasses

wigged Deirdre
A long time ago, I was more active in the SCA than in fandom. No one hassles you about glasses in the SCA, but they're Not Period. So, when I got out my sketchbook (which I did a lot, since autoharps are also not period), I drew people without their glasses.

Through some strange mental alchemy, I stopped noticing people's glasses. It was as if they became invisible to me, unless something called attention to them. That persisted during the years when I rarely picked up a pencil to draw, and why not? It's the person that matters, not their clothes--or their glasses!

Then My Angel fell, nearly bleeding to death, and afterward joked to the nurses that her balance was better if she couldn't see. Sure enough, her eyes had, with age, degenerated to the point where she needed different prescriptions for each eye, and the lack of glasses was a bad idea. Suddenly I needed to retrain my brain to notice if she was wearing her glasses. Or at least try to. It's not as easy as you'd think to undo years of habit.

But I've made some progress.

At Worldcon, I joined my sister, Dragon, and her daughter at one of the Sketching From Life panels. At one point, while we were sketching, Dragon talked about the sketching she'd done while studying at the Art Institute of Chicago. She mentioned doing 30-second poses, and the teachers pressing them to draw at least something for each pose. In that zen-drawing state I was in, I responded that that sounded like fun. Several people nearby stared at me as if I was nuts, and Dragon answered, "What it is is really hard." "Well, yeah." I said. But hard doesn't mean not-fun. If you push enough past your limits and dive into the flow of the process, hard can be a great deal of fun.

Later, I went to the Hugo ceremonies, again with my sketchbook, and I thought, "Well, I said it would be fun, so why don't I just do it--sketch the people presenting and accepting Hugos. So I did--with varying levels of success, of course. Pushing your limits is always like that. And it was, indeed, fun.

I drew a lot of people--and I drew a LOT of glasses. The exercise made me very aware of an unsurprising fact. Most of my people, like me, wear glasses.

G is for Glasses

Rainbow Margay Mage
I still owe you folks a bunch of urban fantasy worldbuilding ficlets. So, with thanks to msstacy13 for the prompt, here we go:

G is for Glasses

Katie scowled and followed her mother into the store. It just wasn’t fair. She pulled and dragged and stomped her feet, which wasn’t nearly as satisfying as she imagined swishing her tailmight be. Not that she could do any such thing, of course. Her twin sister changed forms just fine, but the only sign that Katie was catkin were the slit pupils in her very nearsighted eyes. Pupils that would look even stranger seen through thick lenses.

Katie’s mother sighed. It was hard enough having a kit that was stuck in human form, but foot-stomping, as if her child were a mere human, and an ill-mannered one at that? But all she said was, “What can’t be cured must be endured.”

This was met with more foot stomping; words didn’t make things better, and those words in particular usually signaled a turn for the worse. But those words also meant that her mother wouldn’t change her mind, no matter what her children did or said, so Katie sighed and tried on a frame, and then another. She expected it would be quite the chore, trying on frame after frame, leaning back to see how the color and shape fit her face, and then leaning forward to peer at the details.

It wasn’t the experience she expected. There was something magical in the way a pair of glasses could make her look like someone else, someone quite different than her sister, Pearlie. Some of them were like costumes, making her look like her mother or a teacher, a doctor or a judge. Together, they posed a new question: who did she want to be? And then she found something even better. A few, a very few, gave her the sense, for the very first time, that she was looking at herself.

She leaned into the mirror, grinning, going back and forth between those frames to pick the best two, the ones that made the world look brighter when she had them on. Then she walked quickly, with light, sure steps to her mother. “Look at these! They’re so marvelously, splendiferously perfect!”

Her mother took the frames and read the prices on the tiny labels. “These are awfully expensive.”

“The sign says two for one, so I can have a pair and a spare!” Katie pointed to the sign. “Please?”

Her mother had her try on some other frames for her, but it was clear that she was eager to wear those two, and reluctant to wear any others. The change in her demeanor when she was wearing those frames was quite pronounced. It was as if she gained two years of poise and maturity in those frames. Finally, her mother agreed to pay more than twice what she’d told Katie was their limit, and the technician in the back room made the glasses while they waited.

The first glasses were purple metal, with tiny pale blue stars, and the second pair were also metal, but had purple, green, and blue strands twined in a pattern that reminded Katie of braided hair or Tiffany lamps. Katie danced around the room in the second pair, waiting impatiently for the first pair to be finished. She felt free and graceful in the glasses, a new feeling for her. When other customers came in, she didn’t stop dancing, but she also managed to never be in their way. Catlike, she never tripped or knocked anything over.

Then the saleswoman came out to fit the first pair of new glasses precisely to her head, while the second pair was sent back for its lenses. Katie cooperated with the fitting, her heart pounding and her eyes darting around the room whenever the lenses were perched on her nose. The world was so bright and clear! People and things had a bright inner glow. Dutifully, she read the words on the wall and the small print on the card the woman handed her. She patiently waited while the woman cleaned the glasses one last time, then returned to dancing.

The other girl, the one who had come in while Katie waited, looked unhappy. “They’re all ugly!” she cried. Katie couldn’t help but let her eyes fly to the scene as the girl’s parents offered a new set of glasses to try. The girl had a clear blue inner light; the glasses they parents offered matched their own orange and brown glows. Predictably, the girl hated all of those too. She ran to the far end of the store, where she stood facing a wall with her face red and eyes closed. The mother hung on to one of the frames, while the father put away the rejects.

Impulsively, Katie went to the cheapest wall, and grabbed frames whose inner glow matched or complemented the girl’s glow, and walked over to the girl. “Excuse me,” she said, “I—I didn’t want to come here for glasses either.”

“It’s not fair that I need glasses!”

“No, it’s not. But they will buy you a pair you hate if you don’t find some you like. And what good is that?”

“None.” The girl opened her eyes. “Hey, those glasses you’re wearing look good on you. Do they have more like them?”

They did, but the glow was the wrong color for this girl. “I don’t think so. But maybe you could try these?” Katie felt an odd confidence, but let her voice sound hesitant as she held out the glasses she’d picked out.

The girl tried on one of the frames, and then another. “These are all better than the ones my parents picked out.” She smiled. “I’m Alma.”

“I’m Katie.” Solemnly, the girls shook hands, and then Alma dragged Katie to meet her parents and help them look through frames.

By the time Katie’s second pair of glasses was ready, Alma and her parents had agreed on two frames and they were comparing addresses. They only lived three blocks apart, and were scheduled to go to the same middle school the next year.

As they left the store, Katie said, “These glasses are magic!”

Watching her daughter’s eyes dart excitedly back and forth, lingering where the world’s hidden auras were brightest, her mother had to agree.
wigged Deirdre
So, I promised a post about stuff I got at the Civic Opera sale. I got some skirts, some purple pants with cool black and gold trim (the purple is nice and the trim is wonderful, but those will need to be taken apart and used for something else), a dress that has to be altered for My Angel or taken apart and used to make a dress for me (I'm still pondering what to do about that; I had hoped that there was enough seam allowance so I could let it out, but no such luck), and a lovely deep dark blue velvet medieval jacket that will, sooner or later, be modified into part of a wizard's robe, I'm thinking something glowy and steampunky.  I will post more about those when I actually do something with them.

But the two pieces I'm sharing today are a very nice cream/white skirt and a lovely robe made of brocades that was worn in the Gotterdamerung. The biggest problem was I needed a good shirt to go with them.

I have a gold brocade shirt, but the colors just weren't right.  I also have numerous purple shirts, but nothing in a suitable cut and material.

Then I came across some brocade scraps that I picked up off a freebie table at a con recently. The white in the brocade perfectly matched the skirt, and (despite being very PINK) looked good with the robe as well. The only problem was that the scraps were too small and odd-shaped to match up to any pattern. Happily, My Angel was willing to have me drape cloth over her and pin cloth together repeatedly.  i first prepped her by putting my bra over her shirt and padding it out (she's more slender than I am), and then we went back and forth from her to me until the material hung properly on both of us.  Then I got out the invisible nylon thread, which is a pain to work with, but which eliminated the need for carefully placed tiny stitches.  I stopped and went to bed as soon as the parts that show were done; I still need to finish off the hem at the waist, at least enough to prevent the material from fraying.

Now, I'd have been better off had I come up with this idea a week or two before Maneki Neko con, but sewing your costume the night before is something of a tradition.

I also took my pet arm dragon, though she matches the brocade well enough that people often missed her on my arm.


Maneki Neko was a lovely small convention, very friendly and fun.  I may write more about it later.
Rainbow Margay Mage
I remember when I was a kid, reading about people wearing black for a year after a close relative died. All black seemed terribly gloomy, and a year seemed way too long.

But now that I'm approaching the anniversary of my aunt's death, I look back and see that I haven't been up to as much as I expected during the whole of the last year. Writing, music, and so many other things that I love have been harder to start and harder to sustain. Stuff slips my mind when it shouldn't.

Admittedly, for me, being stuck in black for the whole year would have made things worse. I've always loved bright colors and fun clothes, and those have been a comfort to me. But I wonder, if people had known I wasn't myself, might some of the rough spots been smoothed over a bit by other people offering a quiet bit of extra kindness? Maybe there was a practical reason for those mourning clothes, after all.

Not that I want to wear all that black, mind you. Give my my purple and green and rainbow dresses!
joyouscat by Djinni
So, in addition to working on the windows and working on various other parts of the house, I've been spending way too much time in doctors' offices, mostly trying to get my partner's meds adjusted. The newest addition has me feeling very hopeful--the day after they increased the initial deliberately low dose, she got up with the plan to surprise me by making pancakes, and I caught her in the planning stages.

Unfortunately, she couldn't find the special gluten-free and corn-free mix. Neither could I. I found the double-chocolate waffle or pancake mix, but as I'd had chocolate cereal two days in a row, we decided to use the directions on the GF flour bag.

But to do that, we needed to find corn-free baking powder, baking soda, and vanilla extract, all of which I thought we had. I found only one of them. (I maintain that there is no reason to have cornstarch or corn syrup in everything, but I appear to be in the minority).

I ended up cleaning out the whole closet, since I found enough stuff to relegate to compost that I could see just how dirty the walls of the closet had become. Washing the walls led to paint and plaster chips falling all over, so we scraped away all that was loose, repaired the actual cracks, declared that a bit of uneven wall was unimportant in a closet (at least until our visible walls are completely repaired), and painted the walls and shelves.

Once it was clear that we didn't have all the ingredients, I worked on the clean-out while she made the chocolate pancakes. Oh, woe is me--chocolate breakfast three days in a row. I think I can survive that, but if not, you'll be the first to know.

Oh, and I assured My Angel that despite it all, it was a wonderful surprise and I was very pleased.

Tomorrow, the paint should be dry enough for me to put all the stuff we're keeping back away.

On Standing In Line and Being First

Rainbow Margay Mage
I recently dropped everything to drive to Chicago through a dark night filled with more traffic than I had hoped for so my sister could wake me earlier than I used to get up to get to the 8:00 a.m. job to go stand in a cold wind on a bridge behind the Chicago Civic Opera. Yes, in line. I wish my sister had woken me a lot earlier, both because I'd have been waiting on a relatively warm street (rivers let the wind pick up coolth and speed), and because the sale would have been less picked over had we arrived earlier.

But cool opera costumes are cool, and if they don't fit right, I can fix that.

In contrast, I had no temptation whatsoever to stand in line for the new iphone. Sure, it can be fun to have a cool new thing before your friends acquire it--but new computers are all the same. Buggy. And a new phone or new computer isn't just something to dance around a con in, it's a day-to-day (and night-to-night) tool. It's there to let me check up on my elderly mother, who moved to the-middle-of-nowhere Oregon, and to let me get where I'm going on time and safely, and to remind me of doctors' appointments, and to let me write the stories I dream of sharing with all of you. And if something goes wrong, all I can do is call tech support and hope they can fix it fast.

Some things are worth waiting in line for. Some aren't.

I love living in the future. I love having computers and other geeky gadgets. But when it comes to tools I rely on, I'll let the rest of you find the bugs for me.

Oh, and thanks! Seriously. You make my life a little better eery time you help my tech work reliably before I get it.

Window, Window in the Wall

Rainbow Margay Mage
Most of the outer windowsills on this house are in bad shape. Some of them, when I really check them out, are mostly caulk, others are mostly rotted, although (happily) some are just weathered and in need of paint. There's also issues with screens that squirrels chewed holes in, storm windows that need repair, and so on. So I've been going from window to window, cutting replacement sills, and where needed, adding wood epoxy if the inner sill isn't so happy and plastic wood to fill in holes, so when I paint the sills I can be sure the storms aren't filling the walls behind the siding with unwanted moisture.

This isn't exactly the fastest process, which is frustrating.

Some of it is slow because each step takes time not just to do it, but to let things dry in between steps. Some of it is slow because the people who did the previous steps did odd and non-standard things (like making a sill that's 3/4 caulk instead of replacing the wood), and so as I uncover new and surprising things, I need to think about how best to fix them.

To be sure, if I had lots of money, the best thing would be to hire professionals to either replace all the windows or do a proper historical restoration, but that isn't an option. I'm spending the budget for hired help on things that I can't do, mostly things that require a head for heights or experience with esoteric things like plumbing.

So, part of every day lately has been carting my tools and supplies and the shopvac up and down stairs and from room to room because if I do one window at a time, I'll never finish even the limited repairs I'm committed to for this year before the snow flies. Even now, with summer determined to end early despite arriving late, I'll probably have to leave some of the windows for next year. (Wish me luck and warm weathe!)

It would sure be nice to have a robotic shopvac that could follow me around, carrying the stuff I need. It surely would. But then, I might as well wish I could wiggle my lips to magically restore my home to an ideal fully repaired, cleaned, and decluttered state. Or a TARDIS. And I definitely want the TARDIS.

Instead, I get to work with my hands, feet, and brain. And now, I'm off to take a bath and get the brown stuff out from under my fingernails.

I should post more

Rainbow Margay Mage
I know, this is my space, I can do whatever I want here, as much or as little, and so on and so forth. But I do value this space, this connection with other thinking, creating people. And I am not using it as much as I want to.

On the other hand, I'm doing more of window repairs, wall repairs, bathroom repairs, painting and plastering (well, that one's in the wrong order), errands, and stuff like dishes and mopping than I want to be. To say nothing of arranging for things like fixing squirrel damage or cutting down the old dying rowan tree before it falls on my car or somebody's house or garage. Somehow, when I get to the computer I'm tired. It takes a while to get into writing mode and I then try to turn first to fiction, and I rarely get focused for Live Journal after that. (And I won't even mention trips to the dentist.)

I know I will appreciate windows that have been tended prior to winter, and walls that look whole and pleasing, and bathrooms that don't leak, and not having my sparkly purple car crushed, and not having holes in my teeth, etc. Those are all good things, but they're not enough.

Maybe I can change that--at least, the not posting much part. Here's hoping.

In the meantime,

"Hi out there! I'm still here, and glad to see you."
Rainbow Margay Mage
I went to an excellent panel on anger in fiction at Loncon. They started with a quote from Abigail Nussbaum, who said there is an "increasing prevalence of vengeful victim characters, who are condemned not for the choices they make in pursuit of revenge, but simply for feeling anger..." (emphasis added)

My first reaction on reading that quote was, Wait--that's not fair! Anger is an emotion. Sure, it's a powerful one. It's a reaction to bad things happening, but the emotion itself isn't bad, and feeling it doesn't make you a bad person. Sure, anger can inspire you to do bad things, but so can any emotion, including "good" emotions like love. And it's just not right to punish people for their feelings.

I have long maintained that anger is a powerful emotion, and potentially a strong force for good. Anger is the energy that says "this is wrong and has to change". Sometimes you need to move past anger without making a change--for example, if you are dying, no change is possible, and you have to move on in the grief cycle.

But other times change is both possible and desirable; the challenge then isn't to eliminate the anger, but to find ways to channel that energy constructively rather than destructively.

The panel itself was interesting; people said you need to separate the emotion from the consequences; it was clear that they were recognizing that when you feel anger, or another emotion, you have choices to make not only about whether to express it but how to express it. I would have said you need to separate the emotion from the action, and also the emotion and action from the consequences. That might seem nit-picky, but I have run into problems in the past where one person assumed that the only possible reason for an action was his reason for that action, and he condemned someone else not for the action, but for what he thought was the motive for the action.

Another thing that was discussed by panelists is something I could rephrase into the old cliche, "the squeaky wheel gets the grease." You have to speak up to initiate a change, but sometimes merely speaking up isn't enough. Sometimes you have to be loud and persistent to be noticed. (Of course, sometimes being loud just gets the people you need to listen to shy away in fear or distaste. Other times, it locks your desired audience into a closed defensive mind-set where they are too busy defending against a perceived or real attack to really hear your words.) But that doesn't change the fact that sometimes yelling is needed to convince someone to listen.

Panelists also mentioned things I hadn't realized, for instance the fact that if a minority expresses dissatisfaction with the status quo, no matter how politely or calmly they speak, they are perceived to be angry. This was a big "aha" moment for me, since I've been bewildered at the reactions I've gotten from white men at times--them believing I was making an angry attack would explain things nicely.

This also (in my mind, anyway, though I don't remember any one panelist stating this conclusion) may explain why we are taught that anger is a negative and harmful emotion--it's a force of change, and the people in charge want to stay in charge. Anger is dangerous to them not only when it is expressed destructively, but even and perhaps especially when it is expressed constructively.

Anger might lead to real change, after all.

And there's certainly things that need changing all around us.

So, if you're angry (and I hope you are, at least some of the time), be careful. How you express your anger matters. If you're not careful, you could destroy things you value, hurt your friends and alienate your allies. You could make the needed changes harder.

You've got to remember that the goal isn't merely expressing your feelings. That's important, but it isn't nearly enough.

So if you're angry, consider what your bigger goal is, consider your audience, and act carefully. Good luck making the changes you need manifest in your life!

And now I'm off to consult with certain of my characters, because I suspect some of the stuck-bits in my stories have to do with not identifying or clearly showing their anger. I wonder how many of them will heed my advice? Will they make changes or dig themselves in deeper? You know, from a writing perspective, this is exciting stuff!


Rainbow Margay Mage

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