We’re moving – but where?

You know how we have been struggling in the past year. We had hoped to be able to sublet the main house area and live in the in-law unit; this project dragged on with one hurdle after another until we finally learned that although our friend and landlord was willing to accommodate this arrangement, it is illegal where we live (not permitted by the zoning code). Now we have to leave by the end of May.

We don’t really know where we’ll end up; it’s too expensive in the Bay Area, so we are looking at rural California (Humboldt County), Portland OR, Vancouver BC, and other less expensive places. We’re also looking at shared housing programs.

To be honest, homelessness is on the list of possibilities and pretty darn near the top. We have used up the finances raised for us by our friends on GoFundMe, all our savings, and all our retirement funds. We both have health challenges, physical and mental. My energy level is low, I have not managed to work full-time since my bout with cancer. And we have two cats, which always makes it trickier to find housing.

But since we let our local friends know a few days ago, we have also received offers of help to find a new place, get employment and move, invitations for temporary stays while we search, and so forth. We are poor in money, but rich in friends. As soon as we get back to a sustainable living situation, I will be satisfied; I don’t need more. I love you all.

Marie Targer

Mitochondries, Filles du Roi et Huguenots

Scroll down for the English section of this post.

L’ADN mitochondrial, dont on se sert pour tracer les migrations humaines, se transmet pratiquement inchangé de mère en fille, excepté quelques rares mutations. J’ai donc la même formulation, le même ADNmt que mes aïeules de lignée maternelle: ma mère, sa mère, et ainsi de suite.

Quand je remonte cette chaîne, la première à vivre en Nouvelle-France est Marie Targer, venue de La Rochelle.

Continue reading “Marie Targer”

Gillette Banne

Au meurtre!

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La première femme d’origine française exécutée pour meurtre en Nouvelle-France, Gillette Banne, est ma neuvième arrière-grand-mère du côté de ma grand-mère maternelle:

Banne, Gillette [décaïeule ou 9x arrière-grand-mère]
mère de Bertault, Élisabeth Thérèse Isabelle [nonaïeule ou 8x arrière-grand-mère]
mère de Laurence, Nicolas [octaïeul ou 7x arrière-grand-père]
père de Laurence, Jean-Baptiste [septaïeul ou 6x arrière-grand-père]
père de Laurence, Jean-Baptiste [sextaïeul ou 5x arrière-grand-père]
père de Laurence, Joseph [quincaïeul ou 4x arrière-grand-père]
père de Laurence, Joseph [quartaïeul ou 3x arrière-grand-père]
père de Laurence, Grégoire [trisaïeul ou arrière-arrière-grand-père]
père de Laurence, Mathias [bisaïeul ou arrière-grand-père]
père de *** [aïeule ou grand-mère]
mère de *** [mère]
mère de Lagacé, Sophie 

Continue reading “Gillette Banne”

Je me souviens

Scroll down for the English section of this post.

Il y a un bon moment que je n’ai écrit un billet en français; c’est le sujet qui m’y amène.

Ce Noël, Edmund m’a donné un livre, Hélène’s World: Hélène Desportes of Seventeenth-Century Quebec, centré sur la première personne de souche française à naître en Amérique (ou du moins, la première qui ne soit pas morte durant sa petite enfance).

Je l’ai mentionné à ma mère et la conversation a vite tourné vers le sujet de la généalogie.  Elle a récemment développé un intérêt pour ce sujet et même suivi un cours. Comme j’ai toujours été intéressée par le sujet, elle a partagé avec moi les notes qu’elle avait assemblé sur les lignées de son grand-père paternel et ses grands-parents maternels.

J’ai jeté un coup d’oeil sur les outils disponibles pour organiser l’information et choisi un logiciel libre, Gramps, qui peut être utilisé sur diverses plate-formes (Windos, Mac OSX, Linux). Ayant déjà les lignées paternelles pour trois de mes arrière-grands-parents, j’ai commencé à remonter les lignées maternelles. Continue reading “Je me souviens”

Giving thanks, 2018 edition

I blame the cats for everything this week. First I screwed up my back on Sunday night when I was cleaning their litter boxes; then on Wednesday Ubaid woke me up by jumping on me and sent specks of litter in my right eye. I repeatedly tried flushing it with water but ended up having to go to an ophthalmologist to get it cleaned, the afternoon before a holiday.

The eye is improving but when I got up—or tried to—on Thursday, my back and sciatic nerve were aching too much to face an hour in the car each way to go to the Thanksgiving potluck dinner our friends Steve and Maureen were hosting. Edmund has been unable to sleep until dawn lately so he spent the day snoring.

By eight in the evening, I suddenly realized that since I was unable to move around enough to make dinner and it was getting late, I had better order soon if I wanted some kind of holiday dinner, so I got a couple of samosas (coupon!), tandoori chicken, navratan korma, the house lamb curry, aloo and garlic naan, and of course rice, from a Northern Indian restaurant nearby. Edmund woke up for food and we watched episodes of “Call the Midwife.”

Despite the hiccups, I still have a lot of thanks to give:

Thank you first to my husband Edmund, who has had a rough year, for holding on through the dark days. I know how hard it is and I’m so grateful that you marched on.

Thank you to my family for having given me the kind of love and care that seems practically like a fairy tale. Everything good in me comes from them, and everything dumb or selfish I do is mine alone.

Thank you to all my friends, too numerous to name and sometimes anonymous, who have been steadfast in helping us with their hearts, their time, their expertise, and their resources, despite other and better claims for their kindness. I don’t always show the appreciation I should when I feel I have not lived up to your kindness; when I am ashamed, I hide. I’m afraid of naming names because that automatically means missing some, but I love you all.

Thank you to the good people at Evil Hat Publishing, Vigilance Press, and Generic Games who have trusted me to work on their awesome games this year. It has been a pleasure and an honour working with all of you.

Thank you to Sean Nittner and the Big Bad Con team for not only making the convention a remarkable event but for making me think year-round about how to make things better and easier for other people, especially the marginalized voices.

Thank you to my online communities, where I have found so many lovely people that have made my life richer. I’m sorry that many of those have to migrate from Google+ and I hope we stay in touch in other virtual venues.

Thank you to the Resistance in all its forms. We have made a difference this year, and that should give us strength for the work still ahead.

Thank you to the medical professionals and support staff of Kaiser Permanente South San Francisco for keeping me alive and kicking, for being unfailingly kind, helpful, dependable.

Thank you to my feline deities, Valentine and Ubaid as well as my sweet Phantom who is gone but not forgotten. I live to serve you. 😉

Thank you to Copper Chimney for being open on Thanksgiving and delivering delicious food despite the pouring rain!

Catch-up post: November behind us

So yeah, November could have gone better on a personal level, but it could also have gone worse. Late in the evening of October 31, I started feeling bloated, burping but without passing gas. I started headed for bed but sudden pain made me throw up. I took some acetaminophen and simethicone (anti gas medicine) and finally went to bed, but did not sleep well; I had pain on the right side of the abdomen. The next day, I would have liked to see my doctor but Edmund got sick too and I didn’t feel I could drive.

On Thursday December 2, I got on Kaiser Permanente’s online system and requested a phone consultation with my general practitioner, as I was worried about the possibility of diverticulitis. She’s super nice and called me back immediately instead of waiting for the appointment time. She listened to my tale and sent me to get a CT scan right away saying this sounded like classic symptoms of appendicitis. This revealed a prodigious stupidity on my part: I said, “Isn’t the appendix on the left?” Because, you see, ever since college biology classes I know exactly where various organs are and can point to them on a chart… which is facing me. Yup, the chart’s left is my right, yup, I knew that…

So we went to the hospital and the CT scan confirmed an  inflamed and swollen appendix but revealed no abscesses, which was a good thing. I was sent to the emergency room and eventually admitted for a hospital stay. I was relieved to see that the surgeon who would be taking care of my case was Dr. Rhona Chen, who had performed my lumpectomy a year ago. She is great and everyone on the staff keeps saying she’s the one they request for themselves and their family. She is the very archetype of the surgeon, very smart, no-nonsense, fact-driven, stern, thorough. Dr. Chen diagnosed this as a ruptured appendix, but possibly a small rupture that had not cause fecal fluids to escape. the

Because I had been on coumadin (a blood thinner) since my pulmonary embolisms in February, and because the scan revealed neither abscess nor pooling fluids and therefore it was not a peritonitis case, the surgeon had me put on a heparin intravenous drip (an anticoagulant that is used for surgery, allowing higher blood thickness and thus reducing the risk of hemorrhage.) I also received high-grade IV antibiotics, and fluids because I was dehydrated and could not not be allowed to eat or drink in case I had to be rushed to surgery.

So yeah, the first few days were spent under close observation with three IV drips going at all times, waiting for my blood to get in the right anticoagulant and viscosity ranges. During that time, the antibiotics brought the inflammation down, the pain subsided, and after five days I received a new CT scan. This, and my blood test results, showed that indeed the inflammation was decreased. So Dr. Chen kept me under observation for a bit more but allowed me to have solid food, and changed my heavy-duty antibiotics to milder ones that could be administered only periodically, about 20 minutes of IV every six hours instead of nearly constantly.

Although I still had to have all my intravenous catheters in place, I now had only one drip on for much of the time, so that was an improvement. And let me tell you, between constantly getting blood samples taken, and having to rotate the catheter locations due to bruising and vein collapse, I was a mess. My veins are small and crooked and “roll” easily, so it’s always hard to find a good spot. By the end of my stay at the hospital, both my arms were covered with bruises but at least the nurses did not have to start looking in other spots.

I was kept on heparin during the transition back to Coumadin because the other transition medication that is normally used, Lovenox, requires abdominal injections that get pretty sore, and could have masked abdominal pain from the appendix. Since the latter would have been a sign that surgery was needed after all, the hospital pharmacist did not authorize Lovenox and so I had to stay at the hospital until my blood was thin enough to prevent pulmonary embolisms.

During my stay, Edmund visited me several hours each day and drummed up visitors and calls for me. We played board games, at first on my little table in the hospital room and later, when I was able to walk further (with my IV drips!) and needed less supervision, in the vending machine room where there are a few tables. Thank you to all my friends who checked on me!

At last I got out, in time so I could attend the monthly meeting of the Planning Commission (I’m a commissioner) and our friends’ annual Thanksgiving potluck. Still, the rest of November was a shambles and I’m barely beginning to catch up.

Game Review: Gloomhaven

Back in 2015, Edmund and I backed the Kickstarter funding campaign for Gloomhaven, a new legacy-style miniatures game. Legacy games are campaigns where actions in one scenario may affect game world conditions and future scenarios. Because they involve placing stickers or marking cards, maps, etc. to indicate persistent effects in the game world, it can be very hard for a dedicated gamer to accept.

Many gamers can’t bring themselves to permanently alter game components! Nevertheless, the scope of the game was ambitious and the price tag ($79 for the full version with miniatures for each player character class) was perhaps steep if it turned out to be a game we’d rarely play, but really cheap if it we worked our way through the 70 or so scenarios then expected to be included, even if we only played through the campaign once, so we decided to risk chipping in.  Continue reading “Game Review: Gloomhaven”

Citizen Pain is in da house

A production 24 years in the making… Citizen Pain! Yes, that’s how long I lived in the U.S. under work visas, then under spouse visas as a resident immigrant. Becoming American has never been something that appealed to me on an emotional level (I’m Canadian, I don’t have to fake it!)

But in recent years I have come to realize just how many rights which I thought applied to residents do in fact apply only to citizens: the right to legal representation, for example. And immigrants can get in trouble for a lot of legal activities, such as supporting civil rights groups, marching and protesting, or using certain privacy software like Tor or Signal. As my attorney and friend said, you can be right about the issue but you’ll still get in a mountain of trouble.

So this year I decided to bite the bullet, particularly since I was hoping to vote after over two decades of paying taxes. Unfortunately, a lot of immigrants had the same idea and my application, though sent in April, was not processed in time. But in the weeks since the horrible November 8 election, the Obama administration worked hard to child-proof the country, including processing as much of the immigration backlog as possible. It was my privilege to be sworn in today as a citizen, on the last tenure day of the president I admired so much.

The oath ceremony took place at the historic Paramount Theatre in Oakland, California, and 1,240 new citizens from 91 countries were sworn in. (I understand that throughout the country, this week was a marathon of such events, thematically linked to Martin Luther King Jr. Day.) We were also able to apply for a U.S. passport and voter registration, so I took care of these items.

To be honest, the ceremony was a little odd, because U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services personnel are trying to be nice, joyful, congratulatory — and until this moment, none of us applicants have seen them be anything but suspicious, stern, and disengaged. As my friend Sean Nittner put it, it’s like having the Department of Motor Vehicles throw you a party! Also, when they were listing the 91 countries of origin, they forgot Canada. Dudes!

After the ceremony and various paperwork, we moved next door to Tiera Mia Coffee for our first caffeine of the day. We took a table in a corner and were having a nice conversation between my husband Edmund, my friends Sean and Dorene, and me, waiting for another friend, Marc, to join us. But then a weird incident happened.

First, this tall guy approached our table and just loomed over us, staring at Sean who asked if everything was okay. The guy said yes, still glaring; Sean gave a few polite words (something like “Good, I’m glad. You have a good day, now.”) It was said in his typical courteous way, didn’t sound snarky in the least. The guy went back to his table and we forgot about the incident.

Then maybe 30 minutes later, he got up, marched to our table and shoved his sandwich (and knuckles) in Sean’s face, then flipped our table in Sean’s lap! Cups and plates went flying, we were splashed and so were our table neighbours, and we all jumped to our feet yelling “What the hell! Why did you do that?” Without answering, the guy spat in Sean’s face, twice! Then he grabbed his skateboard and stomped off, never explaining himself.

The cafe manager called the police and a couple of officers showed up a few minutes later, took down the stories, and viewed the cafe’s surveillance camera footage. The best we can guess is that it was a case of mistaken identity; the guy did not give the vibe of someone looking to pick a fight with anyone, just with Sean.

After some cleaning up and new drinks, and telling the whole story to our friend Marc, we moved a couple of blocks up the street to Agave Uptown, an Oaxacan restaurant where I had made a lunch reservation. Happily, we encountered no further weirdness, and all felt like we had had enough for a while.

As a newly minted registered voter, I plan to keep the phone red-hot with calls to political representatives. Until now my opinion has never mattered; if you’re not a registered voter, your signatures and calls don’t count. But I do plan on being counted now. And I know calls are much more effective than form letters and Internet petitions. So I will use my new citizenship, oh yes I will.

Come at me, 2017

2017As you might have guessed, the last several weeks have been harder on my morale than my body. The last stretch of the American presidential election was hugely stress-inducing, and the results were soul-crushing. I know my friends know what I’m talking about, I heard it in their words and read it in their posts. Except for the most upbeat of topics — my gaming group, Thanksgiving, and the good progress in my treatment — I have been unable to write anything in over eight weeks. I keep thinking of words in my head, it’s all there, but I’ve been unable to put them down in writing.

Two months ago, I was cautiously optimistic. I thought we would probably get a weak Clinton victory, then some incremental building on the cautious progress made under the Obama administration; against this backdrop, I was expecting to focus a lot of energy on my geek communities, and particularly the gaming community, as I returned to health.

Then the world changed. I’m still not ready to unpack this event, but the result is that people previously known as “Gamergators,” “MRAs,” “pissing booth warriors” and “some racist trolls in the bottom drawer of the Internet” now feel emboldened to take their assholiness for a stroll in real space. Suddenly, it’s not just in a few compartments of our lives that we can meet with acts of hatred from people we don’t even know. After what most of us considered a shitty year, 2017 looks like it will be even worse. I met January 1st more downcast and apprehensive than I ever have in my life.

My backlog of writing is not helped by the fact that I feel I will be discussing many unpleasant topics this year. Indeed, in late October and early November before I sank into depression, I was planning to start writing a series tackling some of the successes, failures, and possible paths forward for diversity in tabletop gaming and related geeky pursuits. I feel this is more needed now than ever, but I don’t know how much justice I will be able to do to the topics.

Nevertheless, I can’t just roll over and play dead. It’s not the first time I have dealt with depression, and I will deal with it this time again. In fact, I was hit by a wave at about the same time the year before, when my kind and benevolent employer unilaterally cut my hours and stripped me of my benefits. You know what got me out of the ditch? Cancer. That’s right, sometimes it’s not an improvement in circumstances that serves as the ladder to climb out of a hole, but a disaster you have to respond to. And 2017 looks to be quite the disaster, so I might as well hold on to that to climb.

Happy New Year, folks. Me, I take pride in the fact that I managed to write this post without too much profanity.

Our friend Phantom

Phantom_shelterTwo years ago today, Give Me Shelter Cat Rescue posted on Facebook about Phantom, a black cat who had been left at a San Francisco animal shelter, reportedly after spending fifteen years with the same people. An older black cat with a blemish (a supposedly benign tumour above his right eye), terrified of the brouhaha at the shelter and therefore not responsive to humans: he didn’t stand a chance. He was was going to be euthanized unless someone stepped up immediately to adopt him. Fortunately, a friend (thanks, Brian!) re-posted and I responded that Edmund and I would take Phantom. It was a Saturday; the volunteer from Give Me Shelter Cat Rescue later said that if we hadn’t piped up right then, Phantom probably would not have made it to Monday.

Phantom was terrified of his change of surroundings at first, and not too keen on sharing the house with two other cats, but he has the most amazing growl and established his little space. (No actual cat fights occurred, just occasional Sturm und Drang.)

Later visits to the veterinarian revealed that the first vet we saw, who had dismissed the tumour as benign, was an idiot. It was a mast cell tumour, and although our (current, really good) veterinarian removed everything she could, the tumour was too deep to completely excise. It’s slow-growing but some day Phantom may have full-fledged cancer.

But in the meantime, oh! What an awesome cat! He is such a lovely friend. He loves to follow us around, curl up in physical contact with us, especially between Edmund and I. Edmund is his favourite but I do get quite a lot of cuddles too. We’re so glad he came to live with us! Thank you, Give Me Shelter Cat Rescue volunteers.

Phantom-wrecks-board-game