imbecamiel: (Default)
Finally got stuff together from the Wisconsin trip, as per usual!

First the book stuff:

Book stuff here! )

And just a few pictures from the trip. (It was hard to narrow it down to only a few. XD)

Photos here! )
imbecamiel: (Default)
(Testing out cross-posting from DW for the first time, since a few people I know have switched over exclusively. LJ's still my primary "home" though, just getting a feel for things. ^^)

As a few of you know. this last weekend started out rough with our parakeet Volly dying Friday morning. We'd helped hand-raise and tame her since she was a baby and while she wasn't free in the house as much as our previous birds (partly because she had a more naturally nervous temperament and loved interacting with people but got overwhelmed in the Big Wide World, partly because before we didn't have cats roaming loose like we do now) she was cute and cheerful and by far the sweetest-natured of all her siblings. So that was hard and unexpected.

The week since then has been just such a blessing, though. It's been almost comical how perfectly everything worked out.  

As I mentioned earlier, I passed the final exam for second-degree black belt on Saturday! :D :D :D

It was a long, crazy, exhausting day. There were about 100 candidates for promotion in all (mostly brown belts testing for their first-degree black belt), which is a medium-ish size, though only three people from my school who made it through to the final exam. This time around, in addition to some fairly recent curriculum changes that were fully incorporated into the exam for the first time, they also were trying some new ways of running various sections of the final exam. So even though the exam itself didn't start until 1:00, we needed to get down to the Cities by 11:00 to run through drills, practice timing, and get other instruction on when and how we were supposed to do what. So we were busy with that until about 12:30, quick break for water and snacks, then lining up to start at 1:00. Exam itself ended at... a little before 3:00, I think? Could've been longer, maybe. The final graduation ceremony, giving out the new belts, lasted a while longer, so we weren't done until a little after 4:00. 

Between the exhaustion and stress and the heat (holy cow, it got so hot - just sitting in the audience my mom had to go outside for a while because she got overheated) it seemed to simultaneously fly by in a blur and take forever. It is always fun to do things like that when you have so many not-karate-people relatives in the audience watching, because not only are they really excited by the cool/hard stuff we do, but you get the audible gasps of alarm when black belts do self-defense takedowns and someone hits the mat fast. (Or, in the case of the higher-level black belts, partners are wearing protective gear so that candidates don't have to pull their strikes and most people who don't do karate don't realize that 1. The chest guards are made to absorb exactly those kinds of strikes, and 2. If you hit just right, it can amplify the sound of a kick considerably.) 

Also, as usual, in order to pair up for sparring they had everyone line up by height, which put me waaaaay down at the end with the kids who were mostly 10-12. Which meant that, like last time, I had to inform the instructors that I was actually an adult and wasn't supposed to fight the children... XD Fortunately, UNlike last time, this time there was another small woman in the same boat, so that was a lot more fun than ending up paired up with someone twice my size for the exam again, especially since my fight was directly in front of the Grand Masters' table.  

So. By the time I finished the exam, I was both thoroughly wiped out and wired beyond belief with adrenaline and relief. I am so, so happy to have made it through. There were quite a few times the last few months when I really thought I might not make it, mentally or physically. But now... I'm a second-degree black belt, and wherever things go from here having come this far and kept going through all of that is something that can't be taken away. 

Anyway, after that, vacation started. ^^ I hadn't been able to take much of a break, mentally or physically, for the last four months, and Mom and Nef wanted to take a short girls' trip. I'd also really wanted to do some fossil hunting for my birthday, and the best area to do that tends to be in the southern part of the state, and we were already most of the way there having driven that far for the exam, so our whole family drove a bit further to stay in a hotel near a nature center where I'd discovered fossil hunting is allowed. 

We had quite a thunderstorm Saturday night (perfect for washing away dirt and exposing new fossils), but Easter morning was beautiful and clear. After a morning church service, we went to the nature center, talked with one of the staff to get some advice on the better areas, and hiked up to the abandoned quarry. This being the first time I'd tried any organized fossil hunting (though I'd stumbled across a couple on previous trips out west), a lot of the time was just getting a feel for the lay of the land and what the types we were expecting to find looked like in their natural environment, but we did end up finding some quite nice ones. Mostly brachiopods and crinoids, a few others I'm going to need closer looks to identify. Really, really fun and I'm not the only one excited to try it again. (One day I'd love to go on some kind of guided hunt someplace like Montana or Utah...) 

After that, the guys had to head back to pick up the dog from the kennel and be home in time for work Monday, but Mom, Nef, and I spent the next few days in the Cities. We went to Como Zoo Monday, which we haven't done in probably 15 years, and had mind-bogglingly perfect weather for it. I got tons of photos with my new camera (will probably put up a few this weekend), both of the animals and of flowers in their conservatory, where they had a gorgeous Easter display.

Tuesday was rainy, so we spent the morning shopping and decided to go to the History Museum in the afternoon - at which point we found out that not only was admission free at the specific time we planned to go, and they had a big new WW1 exhibit (which Nef was especially excited about, since it's much less common than WW2 and she needs more background research for her book) but that evening we were in time to sign up for a special WW1-themed event they had on, where they played a Charlie Chaplain movie with a live band providing music, highlighted some of the history of the era, and let people screen print their own copies of WW1-era posters. 

Wednesday morning we went to the Science Museum, where they had a special exhibit on the history of fraudulent/misconceived medical inventions (with a lot from the early 1900s/20s, again fun and useful research for Nef), we got to visit parts of the museum we loved as children, and also alllll the lovely fossils. <3 I wasn't surprised to find that the gift shop had fossils for sale, but I was surprised that the prices were very reasonable. So... I may have gotten a little overexcited and ended up buying half a dozen (plus a beautifully detailed, realistic replica of a velociraptor claw and toe bones, since the chances of my affording a genuine one are zilch XD) for the price I'd normally be able to get maybe two or three, buying them online and paying shipping - with the added bonus of being able to see them in person and select exactly what I wanted. 

While we were at the Science Museum, we also ran into my godparents' youngest daughter. My parents knew their family long before I was born, but we haven't seen them in a while - the daughter lives in Kansas City now and was just up here for Easter, so getting to talk to her was a really fun surprise.  

Also, the lavender-peppermint lotion/shower gel/shampoo/conditioner at the hotel we were staying at was amazing, and I think I may have to buy all my stuff in that scent from now on. 

So yes - very nice to have a much-needed and refreshing break! ^^

The Books!

Jun. 21st, 2016 11:05 am
imbecamiel: (BookStackLight)
Finished getting together my traditional list of books read on the trip and review-ish thoughts on them!

So without further ado, here are the books! My feelings on them this year were a bit more of a mixed bag than has been the case in recent years, I think, but there were plenty that I really loved.

Cut for many words )

Total pages read on the trip: Approximately 5880. (Some estimation necessary, based on other version lengths, to account for the fact that the library only had the large print version of one, which obviously has... a lot more pages. XD)

So yeah. Not a record-breaking trip, but definitely a good one.
imbecamiel: (Hobbit)
I have returned! I always feel kind of off-balance, coming back and getting smacked with The Real World after a week of cutting myself off from things as much as possible.

It was such a lovely trip, though. So relaxing, and having gone there at least once a year for the last twenty-five years now, more full of nostalgia and good memories than anywhere else I can think of. A couple of days this year got pretty sticky to get through without air conditioning, to say the least, but even those we managed to get through with ice cream and swimming and a minimum of whining. *g* (Did you know that Minnesotans actually start to melt when it gets too hot? It's a fact. Science.)  

Book tally for me wasn't a record, but not bad for having less than 8 days: 20 books finished, and... two halves. XD (Gave up on one halfway through, but then got about halfway through another.)

As usual, I'll get the list of books and my thoughts up when I can.

*hugs all around*
imbecamiel: (BookStackLight)
Gettin' ready to head out tomorrow night on my annual "disconnect from everything as much as possible and binge-read ALL THE THINGS" trip to the cabin that we've been renting for... wow, the last 25 years now?

This year's going to be a little different from most, since it may need to be a semi-working vacation. I've got one new client who's in kind of a tricky place, so I probably won't be able to set everything aside while I'm gone. So... sadly, I probably will not beat my current standing record of 23 books in just over a week. I've got about 30 books to bring anyway, though, so we'll see how far I get. *g*

Anyhow - after tomorrow I'll be pretty well disappearing from the internet for about a week, but I shall catch up with you all when I get back!
imbecamiel: (BookStack)
Somewhat belated merry Christmas all around! I've been enjoying seeing all your Christmas posts, even if I haven't been doing a ton of replying.

Christmas was a bit low-key around here, due to Mom having the flu (which then promptly hit me yesterday... kinda cannot brain now). Really not fair when you get both the flu shot and the flu itself, but I had heard they did a particularly bad job this year of predicting which strains to protect against.

It was mostly good, though. Lots of hanging around together, watching Netfix, 'n such. And I got some great presents! Lots of books (not all of which have arrived yet), music, and tea-themed stuff. Turns out, Earl Grey Tea lip balm is amaaaaaazing. I also got a "Sherlock's Study" scented candle, which is hilarious and awesome.

Since Eric's got some post-Christmas time during his winter break, Dad took some time off work. So... Jan. 1st - if we're not all hacking up a lung at that point XP - we're planning on draving south to New Orleans for about a week. Eric and Dad are hoping it'll be warm enough for them to bike a lot (winters in Minnesota are loooong, and as into it as they've been this year they're feeling deprived now), while Nef, Mom, and I... probably hang out at coffee shops and find interesting food to eat, mostly. I've never been there before, so it should be fun. ^^
imbecamiel: (BookStack)
 Whelp, this took me long enough. One crisis after another—mostly on others’ parts, with me playing a supporting role—followed by basically a complete emotional collapse on my part, complete with my body deciding to throw in plenty of protests against... everything. I think I’m finally getting back on an up swing, though, so I finally got around to finishing this. And because it’s taken so long, I’m not gonna go back through and edit too much, so—hopefully nothing proves to be too incoherent. :P

Lotsa books under the cut! )


Jun. 20th, 2014 04:07 pm
imbecamiel: (Hobbit)
Well, I'm back. ^^

Had a lovely trip, did lots of fun stuff, and read... 22 books, and about 50 pages of the 23rd. More details, and brief reviews of the books I read as usual, to follow when I get the chance!

I've got a ridiculous number of things to catch up on now, naturally. And tomorrow I'll be spending the vast majority of the day helping a friend's family cook and set up for her graduation party - and then Sunday afternoon will be helping host, and probably clean up afterward. So I'm kinda hitting the ground running, here. XD

Still, this trip always leaves me refreshed and ready to go like no other vacation can. Not "ready to be home" because I'm tired of traveling, but really mentally rested and eager to get back to work. It's a good feeling.

Hope life's been good to you all in the meantime! *hugs all around*
imbecamiel: (BookStack)
...for now. XD I'm getting ready to head out of town Wednesday on our annual trip to the cabin my family's been renting for the last 23 years. Lots of reading, swimming, going for walks and bike rides, and... did I mention reading? Last year I read 21 books in about 9 days. We shall see if the same happens this time around. ^^

I didn't get around to making my usual request for book recommendations this year, but it turns out I had plenty between the various "to read" notes I've been taking the last few months. I think I've got... 26 books, plus another dozen or so new ones on my tablet. (Because even though half the point of the vacation for me is to be off electronics as much as possible, so I've been resisting switching to ebooks... well, backups and all that. *bg*)

Anyhow! This being traditionally my time to disconnect from technology as much as possible, while I may check my email a couple of times after Tuesday night it's likely going to be a couple weeks before anyone sees me 'round the 'nets. Shall catch up when I get back! In the meantime, if you need to get my attention emails or direct messages are the place I'll see it first when I do check in. 
imbecamiel: (BookStackLight)
This... took me rather longer than anticipated. But - I finally have a (mostly functioning) brain again! Now if this stupid cough would just leave... XP

Anyhow - trip stuff!

Bit of general trip stuff + book comments here! )
imbecamiel: (Imbecamiel)
Bullet point version:

- Trip was lovely
- Number of books read: 21, and a bit of a 22nd. Not bad, considering...
- I am sick. Soooo sick. My brain has decided to go on its own separate vacation, and is currently refusing to provide an ETA for its return. I may have to fire it and get a new one. That kind of irresponsible behavior can not be tolerated.
- We are now in the middle of a very bad storm, and may lose our power at any moment.

More details, and comments on all the books I read, to follow as usual, once I have a functioning brain again.

I'm off!

Jun. 10th, 2013 03:04 pm
imbecamiel: (Imbecamiel)
Heading out on our "break from technology" vacation tomorrow morning - no TV, no internet (might check my email a couple times to make sure there isn't anything too urgent... but eh, I set up an auto-responder on my work emails)... seems like half the time even the phone and radio don't work properly. XD Just lots of reading, sleeping in, swimming, and walking in the woods. Oh, and this year, trying to teach Captain how to swim. He was pretty little and nervous around the water last summer. ^^

I'm bringing... 32 books along to read this time. Should be about right (allowing for the possibility I may not like a couple of them and therefore not finish), given that last year I read 19 1/4 books in about 8 days, and this year we should have about 11 days.

See y'all when we get back!
imbecamiel: (BookStackLight)
Yep, it's that time of year again... when I look around and attempt to recall all the books I've been meaning to read, all memory of which seems to have abruptly vanished...

In other words - getting ready to head to the cabin in a couple weeks! This year, I am determined to achieve my goal of 20 books in 10 days (or possibly 8-9 days, depending on exactly which day we need to come back). To that end, I've been gathering stacks of books that I've purchased lately and requesting things from the library.

I generally try to bring a few more books than I know I'll get to, to account for both varying moods in what type of reading material I feel like and for the inevitable book or two that I start and just don't like for whatever reason. This year I've been keeping somewhat better lists than usual, so I thought I'd be pretty well set. But, between the library not having some books I'd like to read and the fact that my list's skewed more heavily toward nonfiction than usual, I find myself in need of a few more recommendations to round things out.

Any thoughts? Sex content and heavy-duty swearing tend to be big turn-offs for me, but I'm happy to try a wide variety of genres. (This trip, especially, tends to be my time to try things I might not otherwise get around to. Anything from G.K. Chesterton essays to children's/YA novels.) Newer books are great, but so are older ones/classics. (There've been some that in recent years I've been startled to realize I'd never gotten around to, despite their being so well known.) I try to balance out heavier reads with light, fluffy stuff, so either is excellent. Even if the library doesn't have it or I don't get to it this time, I'll keep it in mind for later reading. ^^


May. 2nd, 2013 10:08 am
imbecamiel: (Imbecamiel)
So, we've been staying in a hotel here in southern Minnesota, doing a bunch of shopping while Dad's at a conference. This morning, though, we're just staying in the hotel and ordering in pizza for lunch. Because, between last night and this morning, we've got... at least 10 inches of snow.

The previous record snowfall in May here? Largest one since 1893 was 2 inches.

Mmhmm. It's totally well into Spring. And the planet is in immanent danger of destruction via "global warming."

Anyone else know some good jokes? >>
imbecamiel: (Not Toothless)
Got the baby version of the Thor dragon done! LOL, Mjolnir looks kind of ridiculously big on his tail, but... I dunno, it seemed to work. 

(Big version's here.)

I think the next adult one done may be Coulson. Or maybe the polished version of Captain America. Or Fury. XD But I have some ideas for Coulson, so it'll probably be him. 

And a bit of an update on the Cap-puppy, because I can't resist the urge to post a picture. *g*

Ramblings about Captain )
imbecamiel: (BookStackLight)
And a lovely trip it was, too. Well, two trips, really. Wow, going to Nebraska feels like a really long time ago, now. But yeah, we had a good time with our grandma, and our... er, step-cousin, I guess she is? And various other step-relatives-in-law-whatever-you'd-call-them. Wasn't really a long visit, but fun.  

Neffie and I had quite the little "aww" moment when we got to the hotel - I started going through our suitcase to get stuff out and discovered... a toy mouse tucked down among the clothing. Our Ro-kitty has a tendency to sit forlornly inside suitcases and laptop cases whenever packing starts, as if he's hoping that one of these times he won't get forgotten at home. Apparently this time he felt we needed a little memento to bring along. <3

And the cabin was wonderful and relaxing, as always. Hard to believe that we've been going there for 21 years now.... A lot's changed over the years, but one thing hasn't: seems like every year, at least one thing has to break or otherwise Go Very Wrong. This year, we arrived to find that, among other things, the freezer was absolutely covered in nasty mold, the boat wasn't working, the stove wasn't working... and then the grill quit too. So things looked like being a bit of a potential disaster, possibly even one to rival the year when we were trying to clean the place without running water. But we got things sorted out in the end - except for the boat, but that was mostly okay anyway because there was much better fishing right off the dock than usual. So it was good. 

Among the things that did change were the friends and family that we visited, which was tough. One of the family friends we usually visit (who we've known since I was about three) did come to see us, but it may be the last time we see him for a long time because he and his new wife are moving to Florida. We didn't get to see my uncle at all, mostly because he just had cataract surgery and wasn't up for it. But the hardest was not seeing my great-aunt Helen, because she's almost certainly going to die any day now. And I just... will probably post something about that later, because right now I'm still in full-on avoidance mode and just trying not to think about it too much.

But. Happier note: it was a really good trip, and we had mostly great weather, and everyone had plenty of time to do whatever they wanted. So Nef and I swam almost every day, and she wrote a ton, and I read a ton, Mom scrapbooked and wrote, the guys golfed and fished, and we ate junk food and stayed up late and slept in, and all was good. *g*

We also went to see Avengers again while we were there! It was insanely hot on Saturday, the cabin doesn't have any kind of air conditioning (we're lucky to manage a few functioning fans), and we didn't feel like fighting with the Weekend Hordes for the lake (okay, it wasn't as busy as all that, but considering things are pretty much deserted during the week we'd rather do stuff when we had the place to ourselves). So we went to Avengers. And it was just as awesome the second time. \o/

Although I did notice one thing that's now driving me just slightly crazy. It was only on the second viewing that I realized that Hawkeye was shooting left-handed, which surprised me. At first I thought it might be an interesting and subtle way of showing another difference when he's being mind-controlled by Loki. But no, he shoots lefty afterward, during the final battle, as well. But... he shoots with his right hand in Thor. And I don't understaaaand, because if the actor is just left-eye dominant and/or more comfortable using his left hand, then why wouldn't he do it that way for both movies? But if it was a matter of conforming to the comics (no idea if comic-verse!Hawkeye is left- or right-handed)... then again, why not both movies? *flails* Okay, yes, Nef finds it hilarious that I'm bugged by this. But I think that I just need to watch the movie again, to see if the bow's design allows for ambidexterity. 


Anyhow! Now for my traditional commentary on the books I read while I was there!

Books! Also, new puppy picture. :D )

Oh, and on a final note... Um, I have committed Avengers fanfic. I didn't intend to. I really, really didn't. But then I just happened to stumble across a prompt that went and took my brain hostage. So I had to write it. XD Anyhow, if you care to read it, it's posted here on AO3.
imbecamiel: (Could Only Spare A Moment)

Yep, it's that time of year again: my annual break from technology. Heading off to a cabin in the woods for a whole lot of rest, relaxation, and reading. Lots and lots of books. Last year I read... about 17, I think. I'm hoping to make it over 20 this year. *g* 

We're actually going to be meeting our grandma in Nebraska first over the weekend, before heading back the other way to Wisconsin, so I'll be sort of around for a few more days before dropping off the face of the earth entirely. ^^ 

See y'all when I get back!


Jun. 17th, 2011 06:36 pm
imbecamiel: (Default)
 Back from vacation! Rested, had lots of fun, but currently very sleepy and brain-dead from a long day of traveling. 

Further elaboration on the trip - and books read - to follow, once I've had some sleep. And started to catch up on aaaaaallll the e-mails that were awaiting my return. ;) 

*hugs all around* 
imbecamiel: (Scarlet Pimpernel Flower)
Okay, maybe it's technically impossible to actually hug a season. But boy, I sure do want to this year. *g*

Y'know those huge piles of ice and snow that accumulate over the winter from the plowing of parking lots and such? (Well, at least... in certain parts of the world they do. This is one of those parts. So if you're not familiar with them just imagine, if you will, very large heaps of compacted snow, ice, and dirt, and sand, and the occasional bits of trash. It's about the closest we get to mountains, around here.) I realized that, as of when we were in town Thursday... not all of them had finished melting yet. Srsly. But things are looking up, because... 

Spring! It looks like Spring! There are actual teeny little leaves on some of the trees, and visible buds on the others! And I've seen... *counts* I believe it's four varieties of flowers blooming, now. If you count the dandelions. Which, at this point, I totally do. ;) And the birds are going crazy! And the hummingbirds are back! And a falcon grabbed one of the redwing blackbirds off our feeder today, and hit our window in the process! Yeah, er, that one was interesting. *g* And... I do believe some otters have moved into our lake. \o/

Naturally, with all the spring-ness here at last, I'm finally starting to think June might actually get here for realz someday. And thus, starting to look forward to our yearly June trip to the cabin. And starting to gather together my reading lists for the trip. Last year, if I recall correctly, it was something like... fourteen books in ten days? At any rate, most years I finish approximately a book or two a day. It'd be kinda fun to see if I can get to twenty, one of these years. *g* Which, of course, means the traditional yearly request...

Anyone have some good book recommendations? 

My typical genres of choice tend to be Sci-Fi and Fantasy, but I'm definitely up for recommendations outside what I'd normally gravitate to, fiction or non-fiction.  (Loved your Western and Mystery recs from last year, [ profile] cairistiona7! In the past I've thought that Westerns were one of the few genres that just held no real interest for me... but experience has taught me that all it really takes is the right book.<3) For this trip, I tend to gravitate toward mainly lighter reading - by which I mean, not overly dark/depressing, not a lot of major tragedies. I'm all for tougher reads/thicker books, though, not just fluff. (Though I usually bring some of that too. Ah Star Trek novels... I know you're rarely great writing, sometimes not even the best of fanfiction, but I do so enjoy you anyway. *g*) And even the whole "not too tragic" thing's just a general preference, not a hard and fast rule. ^.^   

So... thoughts, ideas, recommendations? All are much appreciated, and even if I don't get to them on this trip, I save the titles to look into at later dates. :3
imbecamiel: (Default)
 Back from vacation! Oh, the trip was so wonderful... How to even summarize it? 

The first week, we pretty much did a circuit with the tour, starting in London and going through some of southern England, up through Wales and into Scotland, then back down the eastern side through York to London again. The rest of the trip we spent on our own in London - except for the day we spent in Paris! It was all just - wow, incredible, and even more than I'd hoped.  

My brain is so full it feels about ready to explode, so I'm kinda... generally inarticulate about the whole thing at the moment. But yes, it was awesome. And I am now filled with the general, flailing need to write something. I'm gonna have to try later today, and see if anything comes of it. ^.^

*hugs all around*  


imbecamiel: (Default)

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