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The Writer They Call Tay
16 September 2018 @ 08:48 am
So, hi. I post this from the hospital, where I have been for the past 56ish hours with an infected kidney stone. Thankfully, I have not gone septic and I had the stone surgically lasered last night, so I feel a lot better today. But it was not pleasant. I had a 9mm stone caught at the very end of my ureter, which can only expand to 5mm. Urology was very impressed that I was able to get it that far, but I couldn’t get it out the rest of the way, so they had to go in and break it up with a laser. I have a stent now, which is slightly unpleasant, and the first hour or so after waking up was uncomfortable, but the pain is gone now, so I’m content. I had a CT scan to diagnose the stone, and they couldn’t see any others, so hopefully I won’t make too many new ones too soon. Or ever, but that might be too much to hope for. At the very least, we can hope I don’t have one this big again. The staff have been amazing at both hospitals (went to emergency at one and was sent to the bigger one for admittance). However, I did have to stay quite awhile in both ERs and there were quite a few interesting characters around. Shout outs to:

Small Precocious Boy and Endlessly Patient, Awesome Mom, who answered each and every question he had factually and with great diligence. Sorry you couldn’t have ‘just one’ glove to play with, but I hope your rash is better soon.

Confused Old Man and Histrionic Lady with Cellulitis And Also So Many Other Ailments But Apparently Refusing to Take Any Medication For Them, who vomited in stereo on the bed bays on either side of me for most of the night.

Nice Girl in Waiting Room who got up to fetch me a new vomit bag after I’d used mine. Sorry to the waiting room for having to watch me vomit.

Bitter Lady in Waiting Room who parked her wheelchair specifically to block the most direct path through triage, berated the entire medical system and insisted she needed a push to the waiting room, but was able to go out on her own for a smoke somehow.

Confused Old Lady With Swollen Feet, who responded with ‘can you please take a seat’ with ‘I’m 96 years old’, and only got more adorable and feisty from there.

Lovely Old Italian (?) Couple, especially Cute Old Man With Back Pain, who I want to be my possibly Italian grandpa.

I’m free to go home at any point now, but Mum and Dad have gone home for some proper sleep and to visit with Ascii, who apparently slept in my room last night, on my clothes. :(
The Writer They Call Tay
23 August 2018 @ 11:01 am
Hello! Back for another 'hey, still here' update. We are all still here. Mom's had a bit of a setback in her recovery--it turns out that she did have an infection, plus the haematoma. It was a bit of phone tag, but she finally got some antibiotics and everything is so much better now. The pain is better and the haematoma is almost gone, which they told her would take 6-12 months, so that's a bonus. Massage therapy is wonderful, folks, I highly recommend it for all your ailments. Also tea. We've been using a lot of David's Tea for therapeutic purposes and it's both delicious and helpful.

We were at the cottage last week and had a really great time. My cousin came with her new baby one day and the rest of the time we just chilled. Except for a harrowing drive in the rain back from a massage appointment. It was torrential. We made it through safely because my father is an excellent driver, but country roads and heavy downpours can make for a very stressful drive.

I've been playing a game like crazy lately, called Drawception, and it is keeping me so entertained. I heard about it through a youTuber I like and it's kind of like a game of Telephone/Chinese Whispers. Someone starts off the game, either with a prompt or a drawing, and it's randomly handed off to another player, who has to either draw the prompt or caption the picture, which is then handed on to the next player. No one has any idea where they are in the chain or what else has been written/drawn, so they just have to make their best guess, and the results can be hilarious. Here's a prime example of a mutating prompt: Hummingbirds are the sharks of the sky.

You can get people who suck, of course, purposefully derailing a game or trolling, but on the whole, I've only seen one mean comment in the whole time I've played. People are generally very nice and get along well and don't care if you're a good or bad artist. You don't have to draw, you can skip drawing prompts and only do prompting if you want, or you can just draw and not prompt, or you can do both.

If you're interested in joining, I do have a few tips for newbies:
- You seriously don't have to be able to draw well, stick figures work and sometimes the worse the drawing is, the more hilarious the game becomes
- You have ten minutes to draw. At first, this seems like such a short time, but once you settle in, you'll realize it's longer than you think and you can take your time.
- Don't comment on the drawing quality, good or bad, during the game. It's rude to say it's bad and saying it's awesome puts pressure on the next person. You can leave comments on the game when it's over and that's where you should compliment the drawings.
- There are a few established game patterns you might come across. One is "PIO", which means Pass it On. It's sort of the opposite of the intention of the game, the person who started wants the theme consistent. If you see 'PIO' written on the picture, you should write whatever else is written and add PIO in your prompt. If you see a prompt with PIO and want to draw it, make sure to write it plus PIO somewhere on your drawing. It's not an official rule and you won't be penalized for ignoring it, but it is considered bad form to purposefully derail it.
- Another form of game is a WikiHow game, which someone will start off with a Step One, then next person either prompts or draws Step Two and so on. If you receive a prompt with a Step number in it, draw the NEXT step, not the prompt itself. If you receive a drawing with a Step in it, prompt with the next step, don't describe the drawing. Here's an example of a successful game: Become a Mermaid (Warning for cartoon vomit).
- If you don't want to draw or prompt, you can skip. There's no penalty for it and you can skip as much as you want. If you don't know a prompt or can't think of anything, always skip. Do not derail. Derailing is for jerks.
- There's a lot of running 'jokes' and memes that can get annoying, but you can always skip them. Shrek is an oddly popular meme. And poop. And death. But you'll come across good prompts often enough to enjoy it if all that's not your jam. All games should be SFW unless you opt in to NSFW games. You can report any games which break the rule, there's a flag at the top of the screen.
The Writer They Call Tay
29 July 2018 @ 10:18 am
It is an inevitable thing that in this house, if you put a towel on the floor anywhere, Ascii will lie on it. Doesn't matter where. Spill some water in the kitchen and leave the towel to dry it up? Come back and Ascii is lying on it. Her little Scottie brain is sure that it must have been placed there for her, so clearly it would be rude not to lie on it.

A few weeks ago, the dark wood parts of our deck were so hot that she couldn't walk on them to get outside, so I put down a towel she could walk on to get to the stairs (after that it's all light wood, so it was okay. Sure enough, she decided to lie on it. Except, she really took to lying on it. She started to ask to go out just so she could lie on the towel in the sun. We couldn't leave a towel out there all summer, so my dad put down a little spare bit of carpet he puts on top of the freezer to brush her. And now she asks to go out to lie on there. And today I've had to go three times to get her to come in. She just stared at me and went back to lying on it. I've finally convinced her now that she should come in so I can have a nap and not worry about her being stuck out there.

I don't have a picture of her basking, but I do have a picture from a few weeks ago, of her playing nursemaid to Mum. She'd just had a haircut and was shaved down for the summer, but Mum was so hot after her surgery we had the fans blowing on her and the air conditioning going to keep her cool. Which was too cold for Ascii, who was shivering without her fur, but wouldn't get off the bed because Mum was sick and she had to look after her. So we came up with a solution. Here is Ascii, wrapped up in a duvet with a heating shawl over her, lying next to Mum's pillow to protect her:

Also, here she is waiting for Mum to be done her massage at the massage therapists' office:

And utterly exhausted from all her hardworking as a nurse:

The Writer They Call Tay
Last night, I was sitting in the den, listening to music, with Mom in the chair next to me. I could hear her singing, but it wasn't to the song we were listening to, so I paused the music.

Me: What are you doing?
Mom: *very matter of factly* I'm singing a song about myself.

It was to the tune of Brahm's Lullaby and was about her going to bed. :D

Things are moving along here. We were worried she might have an infection in the surgery wound since it was red and she had a fever, but she saw the surgeon and he's confident it's not an infection. He thinks it's a haematoma and her body is just trying to clear the old blood away. She's otherwise moving really well and the pain isn't too bad, but she's having trouble sleeping on and off (hence the singing of the customized lullaby to herself). Nothing that isn't normal for post-surgery, I don't think.

In the meantime, I've been watching a lot of BritBox, which is a newish streaming service that shows BBC and ITV programmes. I've been catching up on The Last Leg and Mock the Week. And we currently have two different seasons of The British Bake-Off airing here (an older one on PBS and the newest, Channel 4 one, on CBC). So lots of nice, not too involved programming to watch.

And I can read again, which is nice. I couldn't concentrate enough before, but I've managed to get into a book about the history of British manners, of all things, and it's really fun and interesting. Did you know before people said 'bless you' when someone sneezed they said 'Christ help'? And in Henry VIII's time, women were expected to carry a handkerchief in their sleeves, but should have no more than half of it showing, lest it fall out and 'cause a commotion'.

And that's the update for this week.
The Writer They Call Tay
03 July 2018 @ 09:49 am
Mom came home from the hospital a couple of days ago and is doing really well. Turns out the information we got from the surgeon was wrong--she actually bled more than last time (but, you know, he's an ortho surgeon so as long as the bone bits are fine, as far as he's concerned, it went well :-P). But she is certainly not as sick and her blood pressure didn't drop, so she's recovering much better. Also, we didn't know how low her haemoglobin was last time, so we weren't treating it for a few months. This time, we've got her on the blood builder right away. They did a different approach than the last hip, too, so there are different restrictions than last time in what movements she can do and can't do for the next little while. There's more swelling too, but she seems to be in much better spirits than last time.

I've been looking after her and also getting back into doing some graphics-like stuff. I miss my PaintShop Pro, which is Windows only and I'm on a Mac now. I tried the Photoshop CC trial, and OMG, it is soooo much easier to do anything on there than in the other programmes I've been trying. But it's also sooooo expensive. Why did they switch to a subscription service? That's impossible for an amateur to keep up with. Affinity Designer and Photo were recommended to me, and they are one time payments for a reasonable amount of money. Designer I really like. Super easy to use, with even better features in some areas than PS. But the Photo one isn't quite as good for what I want to do. It would be good for icons and stuff, but not so much for painting and drawing, and I haven't quite worked out if I can do what I want in Designer on that front. But we'll see. I have a few options I'm trying out before I make a decision to buy.

In the meantime, I did this watercolour photomanip thing of my vampire, Mat:

It was originally a picture of Tom Mison, which I first manipulated the colours on and then did a watercolour effect over. Learning skills is fun!
The Writer They Call Tay
28 June 2018 @ 02:44 pm
Mom’s surgery went super well. Faster than expected and very little bleeding. I haven't seen her yet, but I talked to her on the phone and she sounds just like herself. Apparently, the coins were a good portent after all.
The Writer They Call Tay
27 June 2018 @ 02:18 pm
Back for another 'hey, I'm not dead' update. Basically, yes, I am not dead. I am still here. Still passing kidney stones. Still very tired. But, feeling a little more creative, maybe?

We've had a weird thing going on around here for the last two weeks where Mom and I keep finding coins everywhere. In weird places. Like, on the ledge of the steps of the back porch stairs. And behind a chair in the den. And on the floor of my room, even though I never carry change and no one who comes into my room does either. And on the ground of the parking lot next to our car. And on a ledge by the front door that we just put something on a few minutes earlier and didn't see a coin there. Mom thinks someone on the other side is trying to get our attention. Whatever the reason, it's weird, and I might write a story about it.

Mom is having hip replacement surgery tomorrow, the other hip than the last one. Last time she bled a lot and had a hard recovery as a result, but we've investigated and think we know the possible reasons why that happened and it's the same surgeon and anesthetist as last time, so at the very least, they know what to do if it happens again. She's taking the coins as a sign things are going to go better this time.

Hope everyone else is chugging along!
The Writer They Call Tay
20 May 2018 @ 11:22 am
I got a couple of months of Ancestry subscription to help me peruse my parent's DNA results and to work on the whole 'who is my mom's great-grandmother' thing (talked about here). I still don't know, but I did discover my mom's great-grandfather had a wife none of us knew about before the one we did know about. That side of the family is all from the Eastern Townships of Quebec, which is very close to the border of Vermont and so they often popped down there to get married and I found a record of him and a woman from 1893. It's definitely him, right name, right parents names, close to right age (no one knew how old they were then, as far as I can see), right place of birth (the town still has only 500 people in it, so there's very little chance of it being a name coincidence thing). However, I cannot find any records of the wife beyond the marriage one. Her name does not appear elsewhere, her parents' names do not appear elsewhere, there's no record of her death, I have nothing to go on. I suspect the records are typed from handwritten ones and the spelling is funny on them through a combination of bad transcription and the original person writing down the information trying to sort out French names/accents and using phonetics. I can tell it's my grandfather because I know the names, but without any info on the bride, I can't guess how they might have changed it. All I know is that he married this woman in 1893 and by 1906 he'd married the lady who raised my mom's grandfather. AND, I cannot find him on the 1900 US census or the 1901 Canada census, despite going page by page through the regions I know he lived in.

And let me tell you about trying to find this family on the census! Not only do they not know when they were born, they willy-nilly went by different names and I have yet to see two censuses where the same spelling of the last name was used. It ends in et (making an 'eh' sound). I have seen: -er, -ette, -et, -eau, -ear, and -ier. One of the censuses has none of them using their birth names, but I was able to spot them through knowing their middle names and nicknames. Except for my mom's great-grandfather, who was named Henri but written down twice as Andrew, on two different censuses. None of his names are Andrew, or close to Andrew, or contain the same sounds as Andrew. One sister went by four different variations of her name through her life. And I suspect one sister is written down by her sister's name on one census, but I can't prove it.

All of this is frustrating, but also oddly fun, and keeping me busy. I'm continuing to chill and rest and try to recuperate. My dad's doing a lot better now and my mom has a surgery date for her hip, so hopefully by July or so, at least a couple of us will be on the mend!
The Writer They Call Tay
26 April 2018 @ 11:21 am
Here I am to prove my existence once again. Still feeling kind of yucky, healthwise, but maybe a little better. My dad's had some health issues now, in addition to my woes and my mum needing another hip replacement, so Ascii is the healthiest member of the family right now, but we're getting by.

In Ancestry news, my mom's DNA came back, and it was also about what we expected (except more Southern French than we knew about), but with the exciting news that her grandfather, who was illegitimate and adopted, is, in fact, the biological son of the man who adopted him, or at least a member of his immediate family (we found matches with people who were connected to both his adoptive father's mother's and father's lines). We had a lot of family legends around that, and I haven't been able to find anything to link him to a mother yet, but it's cool to have it confirmed he was biologically related to that line of people in some way. I also found out my grandparents were very, very distant cousins, which is interesting. The area of Quebec they came from is pretty small, so it's not surprising there was some crossing of lines there. My mother's side has over a thousand people matched with her DNA, so a lot more people on that side have taken the test, compared to my father's side, who only had about 400 results, I think.

And someone on my father's side of the family (his mother's cousin), got in touch with me and has given me so much information about my great-grandmother's family. Pictures, full biographies, documents, like, just tons of awesome stuff. And he solved a family mystery I've been working for YEARS without success, so that's great to have cleared up for me.

If I can just figure out how my other great-grandmother on that side got to Canada (she is on no boat records, despite the rest of her family being there) and clear up the whole 'birth mother' thing on the other side of the family, I will have solved all the mysteries.
The Writer They Call Tay
13 April 2018 @ 10:48 am
I'd like to introduce you to Mr and Mrs Duck, the lovely mallard couple who come every year at this time to...do duck things in the neighbourhood. Sometimes they bring duck friends. Every day, Mr Duck takes Mrs Duck on a little stroll around the town to gather food and is very sweet with her, like a husband in an old married couple escorting his wife around on a Sunday outing. I took a little video of them today:

In other news, my parents got AncestryDNA kits during their Family Day sale and my dad's results came in today. Nothing too surprising, pretty much entirely Ireland/Northern England/Scotland, which is what we already knew. But there was some Iberian Penisula in there, which is unexpected ('Black Irish'? Though Wiki tells me that's a myth), and 1% Finnish. Vikings, maybe? I dunno. The cooler part was looking at the DNA matches of other people on Ancestry, since my dad's family history is spotty, so it'll be good to have some other people to pool resources with. Still waiting on Mom's. For some reason, despite being mailed on the same day, hers was a week behind his in getting processed.