Thursday 30 April 2020

Still here!

Hello everyone!

I'm hoping to get some geeky posts going soon. Started writing up a bit more Mage, at least. Finding it hard because pretty much the only time I get to write is after Ziggy's gone to bed, and I'm so tired then! But I have to do e-learning for my new job, with several courses before I start on Monday (eep!), so he's having to learn to leave me to work when I'm on the laptop, and that I'll play with him again soon after. If we can get that embedded, I'm hoping to be able to do a bit more writing again - the stories I was working on in the background have also all fallen by the wayside and I'd love to get back to them, and I hate how much I've neglected this place.

Are there any topics anyone would be especially interested in a post on? Can't promise anything, especially anything soon, but it woud be good motivation for me.

My dad has bought himself a (steampunk) plague doctor mask... I'm not sure how that'll go down in the village where he lives, though it does attract retiring artists so hopefully they won't be too shocked...
Otherwise, we continue well here. Tired, sometimes bored, and desperately missing having visitors, but well. A very kind friend bought me a copy of Tabletop Simulator so I'll be able to join Husbit when they get together for Saturday night board games. Discord is proving an adequate host for Mage. (I've set up a Discord server for this blog, while I was trying to get my head round Discord. It isn't worth looking at yet, but if I get the time I'll make it shiny enough I'm comfortable offering a link.) I have my rig for when the weather's nice (Ziggy loves it as much as I do). 
I'm still anxious about a lot of things (family, friends and finances in particular), but I'm mostly feeling calm, peaceful and hopeful. It makes a nice change!

Hope you're all well. Let me know your topic suggestions.

Stay safe; stay sane; look after yourselves!

Sunday 19 April 2020

You can take away my freedom, but you'll never take my circus!

I'm loving having my own rig at home! It came with silks rather than hoop, but is too low to do most of the stuff I want to do on silks, so I've re-rigged the material as a hammock and am using YouTube and advice from a qualified friend to teach myself basic aerial yoga.

Because mermaids would definitely take selfies, right?

They're also great for getting Ziggy to sleep
Ok, so I don't have that many photos yet... I've got a bunch of videos I need to sort through and get onto YouTube so I can share here (can never get the videos to load correctly any other way, annoyingly. After mentioning to the other instructors that I'd discovered I miss teaching as much as practicing, one suggested doing some instruction videos, so I've had a go at that too - but haven't dared watch them back yet, for cringe factor!

We're doing our best to stay sane as well as safe. It's a strange kind of tiring, but there's also that almost holiday feeling, where I kinda don't want to go back to work because I've become used to this... at the same time, going into meaningful employment will be amazing. Haven't heard back with a confirmed start date, but they did say it could be a couple of weeks, especially as I need a DBS check.

I'm trying to post here more, but I don't get much chance while Ziggy's awake, and I'm too tired when he isn't!

Look after yourselves; stay safe and take care.

Sunday 12 April 2020

Mage - Breaking In

This is the story of our Mage game, told from the perspective of my character Ragna "Reagan" Halvorsen. Index here.
3rd March 2016
I invited Marcus over for breakfast. Partly to get some advice. Partly cos, better to get him to meet Mormor sooner rather than later, right? They got on well - think she was on her best behaviour. Think she liked him, respected him in a way she doesn't many people. No auditions until 2, and Marcus was also free. He was nice about how hard I was finding it - "Maybe it's a bit early for this sort of investigation, but learn on the job. It's how I did it" - and offered to come with me, help me out. Mormor glared! And he reassured her I wouldn't be out late. I wasn't so worried about that, so he reassured me he'd get me to my audition on time. Suncream on. Parasol up. LA is too sunny.
We talked as we travelled. He told me more about his missing friend. She went by Susie. They'd been at school together in New York, and now she was a stunt double and taught kung fu. Most of her students were kids who were often in trouble and needed help refocussing their energy. One of the kids got into new trouble and came to Susie for help, and now they're both missing. It's a bit mystical, which means he can't be seen to investigate because he's known. But I'm not, yet. I'm low enough level it doesn't mess with any Accord if I go meddling. That's why he asked me to help. Susie's one of us, a Mage.

The guy in the laundry didn't charge me for my uniform. Very grateful - had barely enough money to get the bus back after my audition. Marcus could sense the same disturbance I'd felt before, and got me to feel for it again. With no distractions, I could pinpoint it better: somewhere upstairs. Found a fire escape, but the window of the floor we agreed we wanted was locked. Carried onto the roof, where the access door was also locked but there was a lock on the outside, so Marcus showed me how to pick it. He did it in no time, locked it back up again and it took me more like 15 minutes, but I got it. That final click, so satisfying. His point was that sometimes we should use mundane means rather than always reaching for and relying on magic, on which note he wanted me to learn some fighting, maybe kung fu, if we can find Susie. It's developed from yoga, so I should pick it up well. But that doesn't mean I should slouch on learning magic, either: he stressed the importance of the Prime sphere, which I'd so far neglected. With the door unlocked, he found a brick to prop it open and told me to always make sure I had multiple exits clear.

As we crept down the first stairs, heard a bell sound, like a shop door opening, but no sounds inside so we felt hopeful the apartments were all empty and headed to the 3rd floor. I cast my runes to help pull on Correspondence to find the right flat. There were no sounds from inside and the door was locked.. I asked Marcus for his lockpicks and hummed to myself, calling a little Entropy to help me out - didn't feel we could wait quite so long this time! As I went to kneel by the door, I slipped slightly on the doormat, revealing a key. Much easier!

A 2-bed apartment, looking over the main street. Kitchen, shower room, living space and airing cupboard. That disturbance we'd felt seemed to be from the wardrobe in the second bedroom: it had a strong sense of Correspondence about it. I wanted to know how to find where it was linked without stepping through, and Marcus said I couldn't, yet; he wasn't even sure if he could. I looked around, hoping to find clues, but - faen! - my parasol caught on the shower sceen and shattered it. Which was followed by the sound of the apartment door opening. Marcus took a quick "look" and reported two people, one thin and nerdy in a sweater vest; the other an old man.

"Who wears a sweater vest in this heat?"

"Who wears a coat like that?" I countered, indicating Marcus's long leather trench coat, then realised how he manages the heat. "Oh dritt! They're Mages."

We started to discuss what to do, when I heard the others speak, and recognised Howard's voice, the weirdo from the night before. Stepping into the hall, the old man recognised Marcus. Introduced himself as Archibald. Like Mormor, turns out he's even older than he looks, and there's something unconsciously intimidating about his manner. They're investigating the same as us, though "Council business" rather than personal. 

Showed Archibald the wardrobe. He agreed with my assessment, and could tell more: it linked to a location to the west, not very far, and was keyed to a single person, so no one else could travel through. Howard suggested laying a trap for anyone coming out, which Archibald did with no visible effort. He instructed us on how to narrow our search: powerful magic suggests empty places, so look for large empty buildings: warehouses, homes, etc. They left, then, as Howard had a lecture to teach.

Marcus summoned a cab to take us to my audition, and we talked. He explained Archibald is the strong arm of the law for the Council of Traditions in LA. He's also the de facto leader of the Order of Hermes, which probably explained how come the nerd was his apprentice. He told me a bit more about Susie, too, like how she's very good at her job and very successful, but also a massive philanthropist who gives everything she earns to support her community and especially the kids she teaches. She sounded like one of the good guys, and this made me even more keen to help.

Thursday 9 April 2020

Life in Lockdown

Since my last post, the guidance has become even stricter, and the UK has finally followed other countries in declaring a lockdown. I believe our lockdown is less strict than other places, for which I'm very grateful as I think Ziggy and I, and likely Husbit too, would all be going mad if we couldn't get out for a daily walk - and we're lucky enough to have a garden!

The situation is surreal, to say the least. The first person I saw wearing a face mask was in the local bus station, in a crowd of other people, with his mask pulled down to his chin so he could smoke a cigarette. Today, someone in blue gloves ("two by two, hands of blue...") almost brushed her bare arm against mine, she passed by me so close (she really didn't need to. Super wide pavement, I was right up against the shops and there was no one else around). I'd just been coughing into my elbow (asthma triggered by hayfever, and I'd forgotten my inhaler, but still!) We're video chatting with people we've not seen in ages, which eases the feeling of being adrift, but doesn't stem it completely. 

Ziggy is finding it especially hard, as he's used to going for long walks to different places. He misses seeing other children, though chatting with his cousins seems to help - especially M, who sometimes steals my little sister's phone and calls us to make gibberish sounds to Ziggy (he's 3). Talking of niblings, my big sister produced me another nephew earlier this week, the second baby I know born during lockdown. But back to Ziggy's difficulties: we're trying to keep him occupied by trying lots of different activities. Water in the garden is especially good (today, he walked in circles around me while I sprayed a plant mister just ahead of him so he kept walking into the cloud), but we also picked up a cheap paddling pool and balls to use as a ballpit. The best for me is that, as my birthday coincided, we splashed out on a small aerial rig! We have to be careful where we walk, as Ziggy will have a complete meltdown if we go too near a playground and don't let him in, but between the rig and some garden furniture, we're starting to be able to compensate for swings and climbing frames. Still haven't figured out a safe slide, but we'll get there. 

His development seems to have accelerated, possibly from having extra focussed attention from both parents. He had a massive growth spurt in the first couple of days of lockdown, and since has doubled his vocabulary (adding "bubble", "ball", "bird", "down" and "stick" to "mum", "dad", "up" and "cat"). He can now walk up and down our stairs, as long as he has hands to hold - and he's starting to think about only holding one hand. He climbs everything, tries to read to me, can scribble with a pencil (he's going to be a leftie), and is very good at letting us know what he wants without needing many words; he's very expressive. He's also very curious, very confident and very careful, but most importantly I think he's going to be kind.

The rig, of course, is helping me, though I've realised I miss teaching as much as playing. I've applied for a health care assistant role at a local care home. Part time and badly paid, but meaningful work and something I think I'd be really good at - challenging, but rewarding. If Husbit can find something suitable, I think this is the job I'd like at least until Ziggy starts school. I've been accepted subject to checks, and their health survey was a lot more in depth than any I've taken before so I'm worried they'll pick up on fibromyalgia or anxiety as reasons not to hire me, though I know that's mostly the anxiety talking. As for gaming, Mage via Discord worked better than I'd expected, though we're going to try to figure out some kind of video service as we didn't have that before, we miss seeing each other, and apparently Discord's native video is a bit pants. My knitting is a bit neglected, as Ziggy loves sticks and that's all he sees my needles as so he tries to steal them. (He also enjoys playing with my yarn so much I sometimes wish we'd called him Theseus.) I'm also not writing as much as I'd like because Ziggy always wants to help, and is even better than Kitty was for finding annoying keyboard shortcuts. (He's currently having a rare nap, having fallen asleep in my arms when we went for our daily walk before lunch, which means he slept through lunch - but he naps so rarely and so often looks like he needs more sleep than when he does sleep we tend to let him.)

Husbit got really into a car race game called Gaslands last year or the year before, so he's been taking time to convert toy cars into suitable models for the game and is currently playing computer games with one of my uni friends (Civilization, though which edition I couldn't say). Our daily walk includes a trip round a couple of local Pokemon Go sites, including some he nominated, so that helps as well. He treated our decking this morning (so no circus for me until tomorrow or the day after) and is doing lots of cooking, which I'm very much enjoying (he doesn't bake, though, and has found a recipe he'd like me to have a go at, because I occasionally do, so I really must try and find time to do that to show how appreciative I am of all the housework and stuff he does).

Our street has a WhatsApp group to stay in touch and help each other out with shopping and prescriptions and keep an eye on each other's mental health. There's been lovely photos of people's pets being shared, and the renewed sense of community is something I hope will survive past the pandemic.

I've a lot to be grateful for. I'm in pretty good health. I'm not living alone, and I love the people I live with. We have a nice house with a nice garden, so we have some outdoor space. We have neighours we can rely on should we need to fully isolate, and friends and family just a call away if we need moral support. I've got the prospect of a new job which will make me feel useful. I'm still getting to enjoy my hobbies.

I hope you're all well and coping. I'm on Telegram as Fern Kali if anyone needs a chat - I can't promise to respond quickly, as Ziggy is demands a lot of my time and attention, but that's why messaging apps are so great. I've also created a Google photo album (it's here) and am inviting anyone who wants to to join and share things that make them smile.