elfinblaze: (me writing)
My sister got bitten on the arm by a spider this week. She didn't see it, she was asleep, but she woke up with a pus filled bite, and an arm that ached all over.

I think it was probably a Redback spider, because she felt really sick the first day, very nauseous. Her whole arm has also been sore for three days, with radiating pain, so it's a pretty severe reaction for a spider bite. But it's the nausea that makes me think it was a Redback.

The only good thing is that the three-year-old sleeping next to her wasn't bitten.
elfinblaze: (Batwoman)
- I have new icons!

- In the time it took my brother to get dressed today, I folded the laundry, swept up the leaves, weeded the garden, made the fire, did some writing, fixed the washing machine, and made lunch. @_@

- I have learnt that chopping wood is fantastic exercise for your abs.

- I've also learnt that two hours of chopping wood leads to blisters. My poor hands.

- My niece is trying to tiptoe into my room, and every time I glance over at her, she ducks down behind my bed. It's adorable.

- My queer dream superteam would include: Midnighter, John Constantine, Bunker, Batwoman, and Wonder Woman.

Batwoman (Kate Kane) would be the leader. Midnighter and Wonder Woman would be the heavy hitters. Bunker (Miguel Jose Barragan) would be the youth connection. Constantine needs to be included because I needed one Dark Arts hero, and he's also able to think outside the box.

Ideally, I would have liked to include an interstellar presence, but I can't link of a queer alien I'm familiar with. Earth-2 Alan Scott as a Green Lantern would be the closest to interstellar presence...

I was also considering Kaldur'ahm (N52 Jackson Hyde) and Harley Quinn as potential members.
elfinblaze: (me writing)
A month ago I was looking forward to a family holiday, my sister only had her wedding on the brain, and my mother spent her days knitting and sleeping on the couch, or looking out the window, just people-watching.

It feels like a lifetime ago.

But now I'm feeling like I can face the world again.

In a way, my siblings and I had the best preparation it's possible to have. If it's in any way possible to be prepared for death. We knew our mother was sick for almost ten years. We always knew the risk she faced. But she got to watch us grow up. She got to meet her first grand-child. And now at least, we still have each other.

My sister is still getting married this month, and my aunt will still be in Australia for that. We're all still doing our chores and errands, like we always did. We still have our own lives to live. There's just an empty wheelchair and some unused canes in the background. We'll get used to that.

It'll just be a new normal.
elfinblaze: (me writing)
Tomorrow is the funeral.

We've requested people forgo flowers and instead donate to the Cancer Council, because my mother found a lot of information and support through them over the last ten years of her treatment.

My aunt has flown in from Germany, and it's wonderful having family around, and having her help around the house. She's been wonderful.

This morning, the local Catholic parish priest, Rev. Peter Lamont, held mass for my mother, even though we never even attended his church, which was so kind of him. What moved me further was that among the congregation, I recognised one of the local homeless men, and it really shows why kind of a priest Father Lamont is, when he's obviously been out in the community and invited and welcomed the local homeless people to come by. My brother calls him a "cool priest," but he's really just very experienced and friendly.

Even though my family isn't really religious, I'm glad he'll be overseeing my mother's funeral tomorrow. She would have liked him, I think.

I'm still struggling to think clearly and I have no idea what will happen with my family, my home, or anything else from now on, but I'm taking each day as it comes. One day at a time.

Thank you to everyone who has left messages. I won't reply individually, but it helps to know there is support out there. Thank you everyone for your kindness. It means a lot.
elfinblaze: (me writing)
My mother died at 5:30 this morning.

After I posted yesterday, we got a call from the hospital that she was deteriorating fast. Their estimation of weeks to live was revised down to days. We immediate went to see her.

She looked terrible, like she'd withered over night: gaunt, with her skin melting away from her face, eyes bulging, jaw sunken.

She mostly drifted out of consciousness/sleep/awareness, but she was responsive enough to recognise us (her family), and even smile when she saw her grand-daughter.

But she wasn't even aware of us leaving last night. Too out of it.

My sister stayed with her, until my brother went to relieve her at 3am.

He was with her when her rattling breathing eventually slowed and stopped. She had a "Do Not Resuscitate" order, so that was it.

We all flew back to hospital.

They let us stay as long as we needed.

I don't know what else to write. No other words are coming to me.

...

Busy Times

Aug. 19th, 2015 12:14 pm
elfinblaze: (me writing)
I feel like I should write something before life runs away with me.

Since I last blogged, I have been on holidays to the far north of Australia. Photos are up in my tumblr if anyone is interested in seeing what the most beautiful corner of the Earth looks like.

Three days after coming home, my mother forgot to take her medication and slept right through the day. She's been pretty bad about taking her medications recently anyway, getting me to double-check she was taking the right ones, taking an hour in between naps and drinking tea to actually take the whole lot of them, twice a day. But on that day she slept right through the morning.

When she finally got up at 4pm she was obviously in a lot of pain. Trying to get up and start her day, she ended up making a mess on the bathroom floor. When I helped her up, she was shaking, sweating, and panting loudly. Never a good sign, and the kind of thing that made me question how we were even going to make it through the day.

After an hour of struggling, I got her back into bed, and she asked me to call an ambulance.

Long story short: mother's back in hospital and not coming out any time soon.

Her sister (my aunt) is flying in from Germany this weekend. Don't know what will happen after that; I'm just taking each day at a time.

Busy times.

Randomness

Aug. 24th, 2014 03:21 pm
elfinblaze: (me writing)
- I don't own a Star Wars board game. Worse, I don't own any space-themed games. Imperial Assault is really tempting me to fix that.

- Private Manning on transitioning in a US prison:
Military prisons like Fort Leavenworth "reinforce and impose strong gender norms," Manning writes. "The U.S. Disciplinary Barracks restricts my ability to express myself based on my gender identity."

- Who needs feminist bitches? I say we all do!.

- This is a heart-warming story: I'm am otherwise straight man who fell in love with his best friend.
We had no idea how to make this work. We had no idea if this even could work. Sometimes we still don't. It took time — years even — to figure it out. But it's a relationship. None of us know what we're doing. We just try and negotiate and compromise. And, little by little, you become just another boring couple.

- Today, Tweety accidentally bleached her hair.

She was aiming for highlights, but ended up bleaching just the hair closest to her scalp pure white. The middle went red, while the ends stayed brown. So then she decided to dye the bleached horror blue to make it at least look intentional. Only she ran out of blue dye halfway through and resorted to doing the rest in purple. So now now she has blue-purple-red-brown hair.

I feel bad for it, but I'm still laughing.

Randomness

Aug. 10th, 2014 11:46 am
elfinblaze: (me writing)
- You know, just to make writing about my family easier, I'm considering giving my too-many siblings nick names. Like Daffy, Elmer, and Tweety. Or something.

- Tweety and I were talking about what we would taste like if we were food. I'm obviously bitter-sweet, or maybe sour and acidic. Either would suit me. I think she would be rich and indulgent. Our other sister, Daffy, would be spicy. I haven't worked out what our brother, Elmer, would taste like. Magpie would be sweet as sugar though.

- Tweety and I are currently working our way through The Closer together. We talk about who we think dunit, theorise, snark and insult characters as we watch... It's a lot of fun.

- Gay Men Draw Vaginas is hilarious.

- Joe.My.God links to a boys a capella group covering Shakira, and it is pretty damn fantastic. It's laugh-out-loud funny, and it looks like the guys had lots of fun with the video. I love it. As if that wasn't good enough, proceeds from the single go to charity.

- Another music rec: We Are Ninjas, by Pentatonix.
Is this their first original song? Because it's pretty damn awesome! I want more.
elfinblaze: (me writing)
Bill Lindsey inspires me to write all the time, and again today, mostly because I agree with him and there are so many idiots in the world who don't.

Every time a conservative windbag declares that the word "family" should be restricted to a man, a woman, and their children, I get offended. But not because I'm queer. The queer part of me just rolls her eyes at the stupid. I actually get offended on a far more obvious level: I have two adopted siblings. What that declaration is implying, is that my brother and sister are not my family because they aren't my parents' biological children. And that is more offensive to me than anything else.

Sure, sometimes having adopted family members makes for some interesting turns of phrase: I can say my brother is half Greek, half Lithuanian, and it makes complete sense to say I'm German in the same sentence. Or my sister's brother died when he was little, but he wasn't my brother. Or I can joke that I'm not related to my brother or sister, and I'm not even lying. And that's not even getting into the conversation I had with my brother about our family tree (my family tree) where it's all about the culture that got passed down, not the genes. You see? Interesting ways of thinking about family.

But they are unquestionably family. No one gets to tell me otherwise. They are my little siblings - not so little anymore - and they are my family.

So when I hear some puffed up arse claim that just "living together" is not enough to create a family, steam pours out of my ears because that's exactly what creates my family, screw biology. And when I see claims that Biological = Natural, I get insulted on behalf of my siblings because they might not be my biological siblings, but that doesn't make our family unnatural.

So every time someone talks about "traditional" families, but then hurriedly qualifies by adding that two straight parents adopting kids is totally okay, I'm struck by how they only think of adoption as an afterthought. Because my siblings are not an afterthought! They are the literal definition of "family" to me. They are who prove that family is not about biology, but about love. They are who prove to me, that whoever claims family can only be biological isn't worth my listening to. My siblings are my reality, and my experience of family, and anyone else's words just can't compete with real life experience.

A definition of "family" that rests on only the biological, is a lie, and always has been. It makes me angry when people spread lies, and it makes me angry when people ignore my family. My family, you arseholes!

I think I need to go calm down.

Randomness

May. 29th, 2014 12:58 pm
elfinblaze: (Harry Potter Hermione)
- If you want to get depressed, try reading the comments in newspaper articles about the Santa Barbara/Isla Vista massacre. The number of people chiming in with: "it's not about hating women, it's a concern with mental illness/guns/media!" I mean, obviously most events are the result of multiple factors, it's just... The guy was a mysogynist. There's no guessing at his motive, when he tells you what his motive was! The fact that he killed more men had to do with the fact that he couldn't get into a sorority house when he tried. But he did try. The fact that he killed more men doesn't mean he didn't hate women. It means he failed to get at his intended target. But the above-linked article is the best one I've read so far. ( This one is also good.)

- On the other hand, my brother is the most awesome feminist. He went on a rant about exactly the same thing yesterday morning over breakfast. "It's male privilege and entitlement!" (direct quote). I've never heard him so passionately talking about gendered injustice before. My brother is a good man.

- This is why I left the Catholic Church: Why Can't the Vatican Hear Women.
It's almost hilarious that the powerful single men who own the Vatican think that Catholics ignore them because they aren't "explaining their view well enough." No, Catholics hear them, they just choose not to listen, because no matter how well you powerful single men explain the view from where you are, lay Catholics are just not seeing life from the same viewpoint as powerful, single, or male, in the first place. The old saying is still true: Catholics have the most authority [of any church], and the least obedience.

So I agree with Bill Lindsey that when the Church says it wants discussion, what it's really saying is, "listen to me! Why is no one listening to me?"

- Still, it took me years to un-learn the whole "suffering is redemptive" bullshit I was taught. Suffering is not redemptive. It's just suffering.

- My sister, meanwhile, is dealing with trying to find a Catholic church to get married in, which won't ask to see a baptism certificate (because she'd have to get that reissued all the way from Germany). She's thinking of just hiring a church for the day and bringing along her own (German) Catholic priest for the ceremony, to skip that bureaucratic mess.

Randomness

May. 9th, 2014 01:48 pm
elfinblaze: (me writing)
- Normally I hate taking reading material to the toilet with me. It strikes me as a less-than-ideal place to read. But today I found myself taking a magazine with me for the first time. That's because I was originally trying to read in front of the fire, and Magpie kept sitting and lying down on top of me. Every time I thought she'd wandered off and I tried to read again, she'd be back, plopping down on my stomach, on my face, wherever she found most convenient and I found least convenient. So when I went to the toilet, I took my Vogue with me, because damnit, I was going to get through that article on AIDS in South Africa!
She's a funny child though.

- How board games are made. 43mins documentary, covering the industry and process of creating board games. It's really interesting. *geek*

- Some rare good news from the Australian government: Same-sex Couples Included in Overseas Adoption Agreement For the First Time
Same-sex couples are included in Australia's new agreement with South Africa on overseas adoption announced today by Prime Minister Tony Abbott, after being excluded from every previous inter-country adoption agreement between Australia and another country.
I'm not sure if John Howard's ban on gay couples adopting from overseas is still in place though. It probably still is, actually, but this article makes it sound like that law is being addressed in this process:
The Prime Minister's office confirmed the eligibility of same-sex couples to adopt under the new agreement with South Africa, and told the Star Observer these reforms will consider inconsistencies between the states and territories on same-sex couples adopting.
We'll see what happens, I guess.

- I love this post: Jesus and the centurion's 'companion'.
This wasn't the only way that word pais was used in Jesus' time. We think it usually meant servant or slave, but it also sometimes meant son. And also, sometimes, it was a euphemism for, basically, a man's boyfriend or a younger, same-sex concubine.
I think the word "boy" would convey the same ambiguity in English. Personally, I'd assume family if I heard it, but I know others wouldn't, and if I were going for a translation that captures the same ambiguity of the original term, I'd go with "boy."

- I'm developing my own shorthand. It looks something like this. [picture] )

Randomness

Apr. 24th, 2014 02:17 pm
elfinblaze: (me writing)
- My brother has put together this mix of our fearless leader, Tony Abbott, as interrogated by Newtown High School students (remember the video that went viral world wide?). I agree with my brother. That debacle was just begging to be remixed.

- How to tell when there is a child in the house: You open up the top drawer in the bathroom only to find it stuffed full of crinkled up toilet paper.

- On a related note, it is really funny hearing the things said in this house when you can't see the person saying them. Just now: "Ah! Your Polar Bear doesn't go in my tea!"

- By the way, said polar bear is named "Diego."

- I am never buying anything but Sally Hansen nail polish ever again. I've been wearing this hot pink for six days now and it hasn't chipped! And this includes days where I've been doing dishes, changing bed sheets, actually using my hands, etc.

- Urgh. Why is Sarah Monette writing under the name Katherine Addison now? Now I have another name to avoid in book shops. Sarah Monette holds the dubious honour of being one of only two authors whose books I have dumped into the nearest rubbish bin after slogging half way through, and where I felt good about dumping it in the bin. I don't lightly toss any book in the rubbish because they are books and I can't bear to do that to books; even the most disagreeable and boring books can have redeeming lines or at least be entertainingly bad. But some rare treasures are so dire that the waste basket is the only way to stop the torture.

- More on the Dungeons & Dragons Panic: The great 1980s Dungeons & Dragons panic BBC article.

- Bradley Manning has officially changed her name to Chelsea. It's probably a vain hope that the media finally refers to her by her proper gender now, right?
elfinblaze: (me writing)
Yesterday, Easter Sunday, was another family outing, this time to Goat Island, one of the many small islands in Sydney Harbour.

Like many places in Sydney, it started off as a labour/prison facility for the early convicts. Later it was used by the water police and fire department. When the black plague hit Sydney in 1900, it was used as a quarantine facility. Most recently it was used for the filming of the TV Show Water Rats, and up until the 1990s it was used as a government site for the Maritime Services. Now it's abandoned, apart from the historic tours that stop by - such as ours - but it's an interesting place, with all the layers of that history visible: original sandstone walls from the 1700s next to modern buildings and filming props left behind on the island.

We heard stories of infamous convicts, such as Charles "Bony" Anderson, who was chained to a rock on the island at night, and would scream so long and loud that people on the mainland could hear him. And we saw the prison carts, where convicts were chained together overnight, six per cart, so they could hardly move, and only the "luxury" carts contained a toilet. We saw the peep holes in the defence wall that soldiers could shoot through, but hardly see through. And the carved graffiti left behind by bored soldiers and employees from 1788 to the 1990s, still visible in the old wall.

The island also has ghost tours for people to meet some of the tortured spirits that live there. Our guide told us that most of the ghosts hang around the old morgue, but recently a heavy iron door in the showers, one that shouldn't even be able to move, swung back and forth as her tour group watched. She said half her group left in a hurry after that, but she spoke of the spirits like they were old friends, just keeping the place company.

12 illustrative photos, yay! )

All up, it was a good day out. Not something we do often, but worth the experience.
elfinblaze: (me writing)
The decision to attend the Sydney Royal Easter Show yesterday, on Good Friday, the same day as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were there, turned out to be a good one. Everyone else went to see the Royals, and we went wherever everyone else wasn't.

including 1 picture )

Randomness

Apr. 13th, 2014 11:04 am
elfinblaze: (me writing)
- There's a guy living near me who owns a wolf; I've seen them out walking occasionally. This wolf is the most beautiful animal I've ever seen. It's huge, and I mean massive, and it's utterly pure white except for a streak of gold down its back. It's an absolutely stunning animal. So much so, I need to mention it in a blog post. :)

- I'm just reading stories online about people being smuggled across borders, and it makes me remember my father's stories of leaving East Germany. He was still a child and his mother - my grandmother - got in friendly with the border guards. "Oh, the kids are just going to visit relatives. They'll be back." And they always were, so that's how they made the trip back and forth across the border: getting the guards to trust them. And one day they just didn't come back.

The only other thing my grandmother managed to smuggle out of the country with them was her sewing machine, because she wasn't leaving without her sewing machine! I don't know how she managed that, but this is the same woman who stole her teacher's cane by sticking it down the front of her dress, so who knows how creative she got with the sewing machine.

- LANDO CALRISSIAN IS GOING TO BE ON GLEE! Or at least the actor will be. Not as awesome as the time they had Chewbacca on the show, but still pretty awesome.

- Fascinating history: The Medieval Guide to Sexual Sin.
Only in darkness, fully clothed, in the missionary position, without "lewd kissing" and ideally without taking pleasure from the act.

- This is my current desktop: Engage )

Randomness

Apr. 10th, 2014 10:03 am
elfinblaze: (Harry Potter Hermione)
- I should probably point out, if you're following me on tumblr, you'll have to let me know. I don't routinely check who's following me. I might know there's 20 people, but not who those 20 people are, considering some are porn blogs (why that guy finds my virtual scrapbook interesting, I have no idea). So if any of you are on there you'll have to point your blogs out to me, either here, or send me an Ask over there.

- For Tabletop Day last weekend I ended up playing six games with my brother and sister: one game of Pandemic (we lost), three games of Carcassonne (I won one), and two games of Hive with my brother (he won both). It was good because I haven't played board games with my brother in a long time, and I think he really enjoyed it. I think we all had fun. We'll definitely do it again some time.

- Thank you, Norrie, for your persistence. I'm still mystified as to why we are asked to include our sex on so much bureaucratic documentation.
Have you ever asked yourself why institutions continue to demand that we identify ourselves as male or female on every form? What difference does gender make to my bank account, to the tax office, or to the many other bureaucracies we deal with in daily life?

- How We Won The War On Dungeons & Dragons
Thirty years ago, a war raged between the dorks who played Dungeons & Dragons, and the conservative parent groups who believed that gaming was debauched at best and Satanic at worst. Lives were ruined. People died. And now that war is over. I still can't believe we won.

It's an amazing portrait of a world that hardly looks like the same one we live in today.

Fred Clark has more to add:
But while the anti-RPG forces were preoccupied with the supposed "Satanic" dark sorceries they claimed were involved in the game, they overlooked one way in which D&D actually was a subversive threat to the white evangelical ideology I was raised in.
That threat had nothing to do with monsters or magic. It had to do with "alignment" — the short-hand system for categorizing the moral outlook of the character you were playing.

Randomness

Mar. 20th, 2014 08:07 pm
elfinblaze: (quiltbag)
- I'm old enough not to let it get me, but it's kind of hilarious that when our feminist mother got my brother and myself to clean her house, he got the hedge-trimming and gutter-cleaning garden work. What did I get? Vacuuming and groceries. Oh, gender roles. I don't mind; keeps me out of the sun, but I am amused that this was just her automatic role assignment.

- Urgh. I check the Herald website for the first time in weeks and the first thing I see? Chelsea Manning being referred to by her unwanted male name. Urgh. This is why I've switched to other news sources.

- My sister is considering getting married at the German Catholic Church here in Sydney - St Christophorus - and my aunt might fly over from Germany for the occasion.

- Another Nine-Letter Word Game! I am way too addicted to these things.

- Problems you might not know you have: How web filters are ‘protecting’ you from harmless gay content.
A lot of what is being blocked is completely innocent. E-mails that contain words such as ‘lesbian’, ‘gay’ or ‘sexuality’ are treated like spam. Non-pornographic websites aimed at the LGBTI community are banned – including vital support services, lifestyle sites and news and magazine sites like this one.
The blockers don’t seem to know the difference between titillating sex sites and sex education sites. And even LGBTI charities like Stonewall have been blocked.


- Fred Phelps is dying
I'm not sure how I feel about this. Terribly ironic that his devotion to his god ends this way. Destroyed by the monster he made.

Sounds like a wasted life, spent hating so much. May he rest in peace.

I'm currently reading Addicted to Hate, about the Phelps family cult. It's harrowing and disturbing stuff.

George Takei says it best
I take no solace or joy in this man's passing. We will not dance upon his grave, nor stand vigil at his funeral holding "God Hates Freds" signs, tempting as it may be.
He was a tormented soul, who tormented so many. Hate never wins out in the end. It instead goes always to its lonely, dusty end.
elfinblaze: (Torchwood)
This child is a nightmare today.

08:00 pm - My sister puts her daughter, Magpie, to bed.
08:10 pm - I unpack giant board game to play with my sister.
09:00 pm - Magpie wakes up crying, obviously in pain, teething. Give her small amount of medicine.
09:01 pm - Attempt to put her to sleep again.
09:15 pm - Magpie still crying.
09:30 pm - Magpie throws up everything she had for lunch and dinner, all over her mother.
09:35 pm - Chase Magpie through house, try to change her clothing, and keep her away from board game.
09:40 pm - I attempt to put her back to bed.
09:45 pm - Magpie decides it's party time, now that she's thrown up and feels better.
10:00 pm - Magpie doesn't like me stopping her party time and starts crying again.
10:05 pm - Her mother takes over and tries to get her to sleep again.
10:30 pm - Magpie still chatting away in the dark.
10:45 pm - I decide to pack away our board game, even though we've only made it through one turn!
11:10 pm - Magpie finally falls asleep.

Oh. My. God.

Randomness

Jan. 26th, 2014 10:11 am
elfinblaze: (me writing)
- My sister had her engagement party yesterday. It's a small world. Her future father-in-law recognised me from catching the bus with him every morning, and her future mother-in-law went to high school with a woman who recognised my mother... from their sons going to pre-school together! And there's even more weird connections from there onwards, so it all felt a bit like a small town with everyone realising we knew people in ways we didn't realise before. The engagement party itself was lovely though. Beautiful decorations, nice people all around, and well organised, all for a lovely young couple who deserve all that and more.

- Wil Wheaton vs MRAs. Or rather, some MRAs have decided to hate Wil Wheaton over a tweet he made six months ago.

- Inspired by this, I'm trying to think of the fastest way to lose all my board games. It's actually a fun thinking exercise. How could you best screw yourself over?

- (Graphic content warning) An infamous Russian who kidnaps and tortures young gay men was finally arrested in Cuba. Finally!

- Vladimir Putin is now using Hitler analogies. Anyone saying they want to "cleanse" a country of a group of people sends chills down my spine. That doesn't sound familiar at all...

- An Italian nun gives birth and says she had no idea she was pregnant. At least she's not claiming it was a virgin birth.

- This post and its comments are some of the most hilarious things I've read recently.

He is identifying particular weather events and connecting them to particular sins. This opens up new possibilities in the field of religious meteorology. If this correlation between identifiable sins and identifiable weather events can be fully mapped and charted, then we ought to be able to control the weather.

Indeed. Emily from Harris Park, please stop swearing, we need a break in the weather. Bring the rain back in a week from now. That should do it.

The Raven

Jan. 17th, 2014 08:13 am
elfinblaze: (Harry Potter Hermione)
Last night, after 10pm, I lay in bed...

While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.


But it wasn't The Raven.

It was the Magpie.

Her thumpthumpthump crawling past my door brought the poem to mind.

Quickly followed by, What the hell, child? GO TO SLEEP!

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