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!

Thanks all around

johnny-automatic-maid-with-cornucopia-800pxYes, it’s that time once again in the U.S.A., Thanksgiving and sharing your gratitude. It was not difficult to find things to be thankful for, but it was difficult to write about them; 2016 was a very sucky year from the global level to the personal level. Nonetheless, I have things I’m very grateful for.

Thanks, Obama — actually, that’s Thanks, Mr. President, and I’m thankful for that. You have been a smart, compassionate, dignified, eloquent, funny president for eight years and I will miss you so much.

And thanks, Michelle Obama, Bernie Sanders, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker. You encouraged us to be our better selves during this depressing, mind-boggling year of election campaigning.

Thanks, people of good will and honest mind who have fought, and plan to keep fighting, the return of fascism around the world.

Thanks to my husband Edmund who had a year of waiting on me hand and foot. I know this was rough and I assure you that I never forgot, in the midst of my own problems, what you were going through.

Thanks to my family — my mother, siblings, extended family who also had their own sorrows this year. I know you were worried about me, and hated that I was so far from you in a country known for its terrifying health care system. I hope I kept you informed enough to reassure you.

Thanks, my friends close and far, including many wonderful people I have never met face-to-face! Thank you for the encouragements, the help navigating bureaucracies, the cute animal pictures, the interesting discussions, the sage advice, the thoughtful gifts, and the simple fact that you cared.

Thanks, Valentine, Ubaid and Phantom, my three felinotherapists. You take good care of me.


Thanksgiving, Agaptus-style

WoA_minis-KuldYes, it’s time for my annual effort to embrace the American tradition of Thanksgiving, not with food, although that will come later, but with taking stock of things in my life worth being grateful for.  As usual, first come family (foremost, Edmund and my mom), friends (in person and online, nearby and far away), and felines (Valentine, Ubaid and Phantom).  Work was not a happy affair this year with the company in constant reorganization, but at least I have work.  And I got more fun work, hobby-work but rewarding, writing for game publishers and managing some project from Evil Hat Productions.

But the single most exciting thing in my life this year has been the publication of the role-playing game War of Ashes: Fate of Agaptus.  Evil Hat pulled out all the stops on making this a beautiful, well-edited, well-organized book and I like to think I held my own with the writing.  I am so very thankful that they were willing to take a chance on a whole book with my writing, and that they assembled such a great team to work with and to rely on.

And I’m thankful for the army of War of Ashes miniatures Edmund painted for me.  Nothing says “Thanksgiving feast” like a Kuld horde.

The Thing Pretty pictures Besieged

Thanks All Around

Autumn LeavesIt’s American Thanksgiving, a holiday that can only be properly celebrated by taking stock of the good things in your life, thanking family and friends, and being nice to people. Some of the recent years have been hard on my sense of gratitude, but this year I have plenty to be thankful for.

As usual, I’m most grateful for, and to, my husband, my family, and my friends. They make my life rich and interesting. They help me, cheer me, look out for me, make me laugh, make me think. Particular thanks to my husband Edmund, who’s been thinking up all sorts of little ways to make life easier and more fun for me; and my mom, who is a reliable source of friendship, affirmation, and morality.

More thanks for Paul and Hiro, who make it possible for us to live here, and to Dorene, Steve W., Maureen, and Steve P. for a variety of kindnesses. Thanks also to my online friends, who matter more than they know.

I’m grateful for my cats, entitled little brats that they are. I’m grateful that Valentine and Ubaid get along so well. I’m grateful to friend Brian Vo for attracting my attention to poor Phantom who was in need of rescue, about to be euthanized at a shelter, in time for us to rescue our newest cat. And I’m grateful that all three cats love cuddling, even when it’s untimely! Here’s a picture of Edmund with the beasts:

Cats on the Bed

I’m grateful for my new job, my new boss, my new colleagues, and having health insurance again. I’m grateful that my bosses believed in my abilities to tackle new challenges.

I’m grateful that I’ve been working with wonderful people for excellent companies in the gaming world, writing for Evil Hat Productions, Zombiesmith, and Atlas Games. I’m particularly grateful for project manager/creative director Sean Nittner and editor Karen Twelves on the War of Ashes RPG project.

I’m grateful that I once again had such a great time at Big Bad Con in October — it’s my Christmas, with amazing people all around.

I’m grateful for the people who became aware and active supporters of feminism this year in reaction to shameful displays of misogyny. I’m grateful to people who are waking up to the blatant scourge of racism, to the realities of privilege, to inequality, and are becoming Social Justice Warriors. Or wizards, ninja, clerics, paladins, rangers, rogues, or space marines. I’m grateful that marriage equality is advancing, that more people are starting to grasp that this shit in Ferguson can’t go on, and that turning a blind eye to bigotry isn’t acceptable.

I’m grateful to the scientists, engineers, technicians, and support staff that have brought us some amazing, exciting moments in space exploration: Rosetta and Philae reaching comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko, the testing of Orion, great science on the International Space Station, the deployment of a plethora of CubeSats, India’s Mars Orbiter Mission a.k.a. Mangalyaan and NASA’s MAVEN both visiting Mars (the latter currently just beginning its science mission around the Red Planet), Curiosity roving around on Mars and Cassini sending amazing images of the Saturn neighbourhood little Jade Rabbit from China still sending signals from the Moon, SpaceX Dragon bringing supplies to the ISS including a 3D printer that makes spare parts, and so much more.


I live in the United States, where the last Thursday in November is Thanksgiving, a national holiday. Many people say it’s their favourite holiday because its only theme is to share food and spend time with family and friends. It’s also a reminder to think about what we have to be thankful for.

I’m thankful that I can manage to go through the exercise this year. There have been a few years when I couldn’t bring myself to, and of course a year when I was physically unable to would be bad.

I’m thankful for family and friends who care. And I’m grateful for Internet friends! No, they may not help me move a couch but sometimes they help me move something just as heavy.

I’m thankful when my cats cuddle with me—even though it’s often untimely.

I’m thankful for the book contract with Evil Hat Productions. It made me very proud and happy.

I’m thankful for creative activities like cooking, art, and writing.

I’m thankful for smooth paper and quality pens.

I’m thankful when I can get some of my mojo back.

Autumn Leaves

Turkey leftovers? Not for long!

oven-roasted brine-soaked turkey
Image by Gregory Kohs used under Creative Commons License

It finally dawned on me that (American) Thanksgiving is in three weeks, so we should probably plan our menu and social calendar.  We rarely have turkey for Thanksgiving in this household!  But it’s not that we don’t love it, oh no.  Edmund usually makes something fancy and impressive — but not turkey — because this is his holiday to cook up a storm and try something new and inspiring.  And for me, turkey is a traditional Christmas meal in the old French Canadian tradition.

Also, we’re cheapskates and we buy turkey immediately after Thanksgiving, when it’s on deep discount.  Last year we got four or five turkeys during the time it was around 49 cents a pound — not all at the same time, but we do have two fridges so we use the extra space.  That week looked something like: brine turkey — cook turkey — pluck meat, freeze in ziplock bags — make broth with carcasses and freeze it in jars, or freeze them to make the broth later.  Repeat five times — even when the price rose to 59 cents a pound!  (Well, we did start with a more fancy turkey with the stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, yam pie, etc.)

And believe it or not, we still ran out of turkey meat for recipes before we got sick of turkey last winter!

So in preparation for Turkey Day, I thought I would line up some of my favourite recipes to use up turkey leftovers; and over the next three weeks, I’ll post the recipes.

I’m sure I forgot some!


It’s fall the end of the harvest season, the beginning of the holiday season, and the time to remember our reasons to be grateful. In Canada, we had our own Thanksgiving a few weeks ago (there isn’t as much to feel grateful for in Canada in November — it’s cold, wet, biting and dark.) In the U.S., Thanksgiving is tomorrow.

First off, I’m grateful for getting back on my feet and finding a new rewarding job after losing my employment of nine years this summer. I’m grateful to my husband, family, and friends who gave support and encouragement when times were bad. I’m grateful I learned and grew through the experience. I’m grateful for my new colleagues and the warm welcome I’ve received.

I’m grateful my family pulled together in love and dignity when my father passed away in May. I’m grateful for the heritage of principles and good memories dad left us.

I’m grateful the U.S. voters moved away from the last eight dark years. I’m grateful the new team seems to have a clue.

I’m grateful Humboldt is still a place that feels humane and warm and genuine. I’m grateful it’s brimming with natural beauty and still somewhat protected.

Most of all, I’m grateful for my husband.

Thanksgiving and everything else

Thanksgiving was quite nice; like last year, we were invited at our friend Ed & Linda’s Thanksgiving dinner with several other friends. We brought Nanaimo bars (me), and fresh-baked bread and a vegan casserole (Edmund) (on account of the one vegan guest). The vegan casserole was disappointingly bland, but Edmund’s bread was super-good. And Nanaimo bars, are, well, reprehensibly good.

The weather here in Seattle was perfect for the last several days (back toward the normal today though). Friday I was working, but from home, so that was all right. I worked a few hours Saturday and Sunday too. Saturday night we went out for Indian food with a bunch of friends at Zaika; one of them is half-Indian and declared the place to be the best Indian restaurant in Seattle (well, technically it’s in Shoreline, but who’s counting…)

Then most of us went to catch the late showing of 3:10 to Yuma at The Crest, and we thought it was a good movie. I liked the cinematography, the acting, and the dialogue. It was good, tight scripting through most of the movie; and the music was pretty good and not distracting in the wrong spots, as sometimes happen. Very enjoyable and well worth seeing — especially at The Crest, where all showings are only $3! Also, being stuffed full of pulao and curry, we didn’t need to buy popcorn. ^_^

On Sunday, I drafted a new illustration to promote the Emerald City Gamefest/ConQuest NW tie-in, with our monkey mascot wearing the ConQuest Roman helmet. I was pleased with it and will post it when the rest of the committee has had a chance to comment on it. But I didn’t finish the other illo I was working on, the picture for the Indie Tour 2008 t-shirt. I’m trying to post it by the end of the week.