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Lydy's Anarchist Revival Meeting

8th November, 2018. 9:20 am. First Days

So, today was the first day in a very long time that I came home from work and did not have a cranky, bossy tortie cat nag me to feed her.  No ghost has visited me, yet.  Often, my dead cats make a brief appearance, but not always.  

There was a lovely article I wish I could find about making room for your dead friend.  The gist was that since your newly deceased friend can no longer inhabit the world, they will move into your head, and the article was tips and tricks for how to welcome and live with your new room mate.  I looked for it a while ago, but couldn't find it, as my google-fu is not great.

I was not thrilled with the election, but I was locally very pleased and nationally hopeful.  It is not all I wanted, nor even all that we need, but it has a bunch of good things in it.

I woke up, last night, to the news that Trump has fired Sessions, which terrifies me.  I do not know how this will go.  Watergate gives me hope, but Trump has far fewer morals or qualms than Nixon.  Which is a perfectly terrifying sentence to write.  Hell, Trump has fewer morals than _KIssinger_.  Saints preserve us.  Days like this, I wish I was a theist. 

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5th November, 2018. 2:24 pm. Shopping for a Ginger Jar (Naomi 2000 - 2018)

 My cat Naomi died today around noon, probably of a stoke.  She's been doing poorly, lately, but was still purring and active right up to the end.  She was a funny, opinionated cat who used to bully David around.   She never figured out how to sit on laps.  Her favorite thing was for David to lie down on the bed, and she would lie stretched out next to him, and he would scratch her chest and belly.  She would hound him when he was working on his desk until he would finally lie down so she could be petted.  None of this getting up on the lap stuff for her.  

Pamela and I brought her and her sister Arwen home from the pound in January of 2001.  Naomi, a teeny tiny tortie, hissed at the person who took her out of the cage.  She was mentored by my aging Lilith, and she in turn was best friends with Nuit.  Naomi used to run into the bedroom, and make a kind of querying "prrrtt" noise to let Nuit know that the game was afoot, and they'd then go rocketing off together through the night.  

She was a deeply opinionated cat with mad hiding skills.  If she didn't want to be found, that was the end of that.  She was also incredibly smart. Some years ago, she saw me put the cat carriers into the cat-free zone the night before the vet appointment.  When I returned in the morning to take them to their appointment, Arwen was sleeping on the bed, but Naomi was no where to be found.  Eventually, I took Arwen in for her shots, and Naomi had to be rescheduled.  

Ginger jars make very nice, cat-sized urns, and both Lilith and Arwen are in appropriate ginger jars.  I just made an offer on one on eBay that I think will suit Naomi.  

I miss her very much.

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28th October, 2018. 9:42 pm. Brains Are Stupid (Mine More Than Most)

So,  a couple of friends and I have a tv date every Sunday, more or less.  At the moment, we are watching "Community" which I really love.  The acting is amazing.  The plot lines are pretty stupid, and it is a sitcom with all the ills to which the genre is heir, but seriously, the acting is amazing.  One of the episodes involves a family day, where the community college members invite their family.  Donald Glover's character is forced into squiring around his grandmother.  He says that she is evil.  One of the other characters insists that this cannot be the case, and to prove her point, tells a slightly tasteless joke to gramma.  Gramma tells her to get a switch.  

This is all very predictable.  Glover's character tells his friend she shouldn't do this, she insists, finds a suitable stick, and brings it to gramma.  Gramma tells her to drop her pants and bend over her knee, which the character with some amazement does.  I was expecting them to play this for laughs, and wasn't real happy about it.  The first blow startles the victim, the second clearly hurts, and she starts to cry on the third blow.

At which point, I hear myself say, "This is not ok.  This is not ok.  MAKE IT STOP.  I CAN'T STAND THIS.  THIS HAS TO STOP.  I'm sorry, I have to leave, I have to..." and I leave the room walk into the living room, stand staring at a blank wall and cry.  After a while, I say, "I'm 56 years old.  This is stupid."  It takes me a while to stop crying.

It was embarrassing.  My friends are wonderful people, and this will never be used to hurt or mock me.  But it is still embarrassing.  And it was such a shock.  I was completely blindsided by my own brain.  I referred to it as a flashback, but I'm not sure that's technically correct.  I didn't suddenly relive a childhood experience.  But I was utterly overwhelmed by an extreme distress, and taken completely by surprise.

Brains are really weird.

Donald Glover is a wonderful actor, and I need to look for the actor that plays Abed, because he is amazing.  Glover has charm and charisma.  The other guy has fucking range, and gorgeous timing.  I will watch the rest of the series.  But damn, that was a shock.

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9th October, 2018. 8:34 am. It's Kavanaugh's Fault (CW: sexual abuse)

So, I have this long, extremely funny story about losing my virginity.  If you know me in person, you may have heard it.  It actually is quite funny.  But part of the reason it's funny is because I take all the personal trauma off the table right up front.  The actual thrust of the story is how terrible my parents were.  It is part of my decades-long attempt to redress the injustices of my childhood by telling family secrets.  It is a pretty good story.  If you haven't heard it, I might be willing to tell it again.  

Or, maybe not.

I want to talk about the things I usually elide.  The things that watching a probable rapist elevated to the Supreme Court has brought up.  And, to be clear, I never really wanted to deal with any of this.  It happened 40 years ago (come April) and is 4/5ths of my life ago.  I had the whole thing carefully boxed, labeled, and put in the back of a closet.  But then all those motherfuckers on the Judiciary committee kept on going on and on and on about how this wasn't really important.  So, I opened the box to find out if they were right.  If maybe it really hadn't mattered.  If, possibly, I didn't matter.

Here are some facts that I don't elide, but I sure don't emphasize:  I was sixteen, and he was 25.  I was a virgin.  And while I really wish that didn't matter, it actually did, for me.  He knew these things.  I was drunk, and he helped get me drunk.  I tend to emphasize my agency in this scenario, but what I don't emphasize was that if I had been sober, I would not have said yes.  I was not blacked out, or incoherent, but I don't actually remember ever saying yes.  I let it happen, I didn't struggle, but I didn't really want it to happen.  

What I never say:  it was profoundly traumatizing.  A lot of the trauma was secondary, at the hands of my parents. But that trauma would not have happened if Alan Campbell had not chosen to fuck a drunk sixteen year old virgin in the kitchenette of a Unitarian Church.  (Weird side-note.  Another man I was dating, also 25, was named Lawrence.  My mother also socialized with him.  After the event, she asked him if he had ever slept with me.  [This, by the way, is even creepier than it sounds, since my mother was fucking him.]  He said, in shock, "No, I would never" and said that he saw how completely destroyed I had been.  So, there's an outside observer confirming the trauma.  Which, oddly, I need.)  For some years after the event, I believed it to be a pivotal, identity defining moment, and it was.  The story I like to tell talks about all the wonderful things that happened as a result, including the divorce of my parents.  And those are also true.  But there's a soul-deep wound there, too.  A profound belief that I was damaged.  Even when I rejected the idea of sexual purity as a necessary element of being a good person, the sense of damage and inadequacy remained.

Another detail I rarely relate:  My parents, when they found out, made me call Alan Campbell and tell him that I could never see or speak to him again.  He said, "Ok," and hung up.  It took me years to admit that what he sounded was relieved.  

I had always thought that rape was a consequential act.  That it mattered.  Not that people necessarily paid for it, or that rapists regretted it.  But I thought that it mattered to them.  I do not think that I mattered as a person to Alan Campbell (who may or may not be a rapist, depending on how you measure these things) but I thought that I mattered as an object.  The Kavanaugh hearings have made it clear...nope.  I was just a canvas upon which he could sketch his masculinity and his dominance.  I didn't even matter as a prize in the game.  I was just the medium.  

I am still not over how devastating this revelation has been.  

The other thing I am discovering is that for forty years, I have interrogated and struggled with my choices, and never once really looked at Campbell's choices.  I do not know, and will never know, why he did what he did.  But the fact that he made those choices, choices which were hugely consequential to me, had actually escaped me.  In my mind, he was more force of nature than a human with free will.  And because I, and society, think of rapists that way, we fail to hold them accountable for their actions.

I wanna circle back to Lawrence, for a moment.  He was the same age as Campbell.  He was, especially by modern standards, kinda skeevy.  He took me to plays, took me to dinners, we took long walks around downtown Pittsburgh admiring old buildings.  He treated me like a precious person.  He was funny and witty and had this gorgeous English accent.  He was also fucking my mother.  He was no one's hero.  But he never made the choice to fuck me.  He gave me the occasional glass of wine, but never, ever tried to pressure me into sex.  He was a gifted kisser, and man, he had lovely hands that did marvelous things to my body.  But he was gentle, kind, and did not have sex with me, even though it must have been incredibly tempting and he probably could have persuaded me, especially if there had been a little more wine.  

We say that rape is about power, not sex.  Which isn't exactly right.  The implication there is that sex is not about power.  If that were true, there wouldn't be BDSM.  Sex is a complex human behavior, which serves a lot of different functions, and the exercise of power and dominance is one of them.  It is also very central to the way we build our understanding of ourselves.  One of the reasons the LBGTQ movement is what it is is because these things are at the center of how we understand ourselves.  Our innate sense that sexual abuse is qualitatively different from other types of abuse is because of this.  Rapists are affirming their central sense of self.  And, honestly, that's scary.  

I am not recovered from this re-visiting of trauma.  It's actually kind of awful.  I'm not sure what I'm learning, either about myself or my society. I really wish I could put my quasi-rape back in a box.  

One request: please don't admire my bravery.  I am not at risk.  Nothing bad is going to happen to me for telling this story in public.  No one powerful or dangerous will see this, or care if they do. Christine Blassey Ford -- that was bravery.

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7th October, 2018. 11:57 am. Five Questions

from [Unknown LJ tag] 

1. How did you get started keeping tropical fish?  

I literally do not remember.  My parents had tropical fish when I was a kid.  And I think I started out with  a Betta in a very nice Eclipse tank that made almost  no noise.  At the moment, I am fish-less, and have not yet got up the energy to clean the tanks and start over.  I kind of want a large tank with a lot of small fish, but the work involved is daunting.


2. Is there an SF con that you've never been to that you'd like to check out?

Tons, actually.  Boskone and Eastercon come immediately to mind.  If Jo continues to run Scintillation, I'd really like to do that, too.  

3. What gets your vote for most underrated SF novel of the last 10 years?

This assumes that I am far better read than I actually am, I think.  Especially in the last two years, I've read very little, as Trump has eaten my fiction brain.  I think that Seanan McGuire's Toby Day books are undervalued.  They are popular, but tend to be seen as covered in girl-cooties.  Which, yes, but in an incredibly good way.  I think that Walton's Thessaly Triology was amazing, but I'm not sure it's underrated.  


4. What's your favorite card game?

When I have brains, bridge.  When I don't, Czar.  


5. What's your favorite international cuisine?

Thai.  Closely followed by Indian.  

If you want five questions from me, comment below.  
 

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27th August, 2018. 11:39 am. Long Form Essays Make Me Crazy

So, there was a link in my Twitter Feed to this article about child abuse at Catholic Orphanages. Here's the link, in case you care: https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/christinekenneally/orphanage-death-catholic-abuse-nuns-st-josephs

I tried to read it. I could not make it all the way through. Not because it's long, but because of the way it's structured, and because of the graphic abuse described. To be clear, I do not have PTSD, and I do not have flash-backs when reading graphic accounts of abuse and torture. But at some point, my brain just nopes out. It does this before I get traumatized (thank you, brain).

As these pieces are wont to do, it starts with a graphic, personal vignette. Then the piece weaves together other people's stories, the account of at least two different law suits against the orphanage, brief tangents about other orphanages, all of it punctuated by stories of graphic abuse, and with an underlying theme that maybe some of this didn't happen. The one thing I know about human memory is that it is profoundly malleable. False memories are a thing. I am less clear on recovered and repressed memories, but it wouldn't surprise me. People lie, and people attempting to tell the truth get it utterly wrong. The article kept on holding out the promise of sorting all this out. But the structure of it, the constant interweaving of graphic stories of abuse with other bits of personal history from one of the nuns, one of the lawyers, some of the children remembering abuse... And the structure made it such that trying to skip the really graphic bits made the whole article become incoherent. The story was written so the that the through-line was not uncovering the truth, but the stories of abuse.

Dear reader, I do not need this in my life. I just don't.

This style of writing is pretty common. Start with an intriguing personal anecdote. Pull back, suggest a wider context and big themes. State a question or thesis. Pull in close to the personal, pull back to the general, rinse, repeat. Even when the detail isn't about terrible horror, I find this structure really hard to read. The personal details often strike me as irrelevant, or derailing. There's a real lack of causality in this structure that just makes me crazy. If the totality of the story actually answers the question or supports the thesis, I am often unable to tell by the end, even if I get there. It often seems to seems to me that the detailing of the subjective experiences is used to undermine rather than support an objective conclusion. And this shit just makes me crazy.

Possibly, I am just a bad reader. But I really hate this style of reportage/essay.

P.S. If anybody can tell me if the story that I cite above actually comes to a conclusion about how supported the claims of abuse are, I'd be interested. After the mass grave in Ireland and the stories of the Magdelen laundries, I'm inclined to believe almost anything about Catholic run orphanages and charities, but that doesn't mean that every story is true.

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18th August, 2018. 9:00 am. Slow Burn and Idle Maunderings

I've been listening to the podcast "Slow Burn." The first season chronicled the Watergate scandal, and how it led to Nixon's resignation There's a lot of stuff there I didn't know, and some stuff they left out that they shouldn't have, but it's a good, interesting listen. I had no idea about Martha Mitchell. The second season is about Clinton's impeachment, and before I listen to it, I want to try to remember what it was like at the time, without reference to notes and histories. I want to set down my vague memories before I get a lot of facts. Conservatives have been beating their chests about how we failed to hold Clinton to account, which is painfully and obviously disingenuous, but I am curious about my opinions now, and want to contrast them to what I think and feel after I have a better look with more detail.

I was in my mid-thirties when this all went down. One thing I never really focused on was how young Monica Lewinsky was. I think I was thinking of her as roughly my age. (I did look this up: she was 11 years my junior.) A young, pretty woman wants to sleep with the most powerful man on the planet? Seemed like a no-brainer, to me. Moreover, Bill Clinton had tons of charisma. When I considered the question, "Would I sleep with this man?" the answer was an absolute and resounding "In a hot minute." And the answer would have been the same if I was Lewinsky's age. My early twenties were full of unwise sexual liaisons, some of which were enormously rewarding, others...less so. I would also say that I did not focus on the power imbalance. She was an adult, he was an adult, and well, ya know. I kind of assumed, or maybe hoped, that Bill and Hillary had a secretly open marriage. Certainly, there were a lot of stories about how Bill liked to tom-cat about, and I assumed that the two of them had somehow come to terms with that.

I had certainly heard of the Genifer Flowers story, but I didn't pay it much attention. I just don't care about adultery, to be honest. Either he and his wife will work it out, or not. Do not care, and do not want to know. Also, there had been (or were still happening? not sure of timing) a whole series of increasingly entertaining peccadilloes from tv evangelists, which warmed the cockles of my heart. The Jimmy Swaggart downfall was just downright funny. But if the most prominent members of Reagan's Moral Majority were being hung out to dry for moral failings, it didn't seem to me that anybody should be throwing asparagus at Bill Clinton.

When I first heard of the story of Monica Lewinsky, my first thought was, "No relationship can stand this kind of public scrutiny. What ever they were to each other, this will destroy them." Near as I could tell from the grotesque coverage at the time, the two of them were genuinely fond of each other. I was less clear on how honest Bill was with her, and unclear on what she thought about the harm she might be doing Hillary, but it seemed gross and unconscionable that this was being dragged into the public sphere. It was unique. Lots of presidents had mistresses. GHWB was rumored to have one, JFK was known to have several, and so back in time. (If Reagan had any sexual peccadilloes, I really didn't want to know, because euwww.)

I hate Newt Gingrich with a passion. The Clinton white house had its problems, but most of the scandals seemed, from the vantage of Minneapolis to a person who was not an avid news consumer, to be concocted and blown out of proportion by a person who was obviously dealing in bad faith. He was an evil little prick, and if you want to talk about polarizing politics, well, he's not patient zero, but man is he close. I did not see the White House as scandal-ridden so much as Gingriched.

The Paula Jones story seemed like trumped up nothing. At that time, I thought that you could really only claim sexual harassment if someone refused you advancement because you wouldn't sleep with them, or non-consensually groped you. At the time, I used to say that sexual harassment sensitivity training should really be simplified to "The first grope is free." I...do not hold those views, anymore. At the time, none of the things that Jones said sounded that bad to me, but I was not playing close attention, either. Carville said, "Drag a $100 bill through a trailer park, it's amazing what you'll get." It was an appallingly misogynistic and classist slur, and I am ashamed now that I laughed. The one bit of misogyny that did really irk me were all the people going on and on and on about Lewinsky's weight. There were numerous pundits who appeared to be offended, not that Clinton was banging an intern, but that he was banging an intern that wasn't hot enough. It was intensely gross.

The spectacle of the House Investigation, with Henry Hyde, who had a long-term mistress, Newt Gingrich whose sexual misconduct included banging his secretary and then divorcing his wife while she was in the hospital with cancer, and various other Republicans whose own sexual histories were nothing to write home about was vile. Hypocritical and vile. The various slings that they took at Hillary, at Lewinsky, and their sheer self-righteous posturing made me vow that I would never vote for another Republican, not even for dog-catcher. This is a vow I have kept, although gods know the Republicans make it easier every year.

There was also an allegation of two ... Arkansas cops? ... who allegedly, I'm not sure, took Clinton and his paramour to anonymous no-tell motels on the Arkansas dime, maybe? It seemed deeply far-fetched and not credible. I haven't revisited that set of allegations, but what I've seen of politicians' behavior since then makes it less incredible.

Do I think we failed to hold Clinton to account, upon reflection? I ... think we failed Monica Lewinsky. I think that we let the government and the press victimize her, and I think we should all be ashamed of that. I am less clear about Clinton. I don't think that, at the time, we had anything like the understanding we have now about power imbalances and consent. And if we were going to hold Clinton to account, he wasn't really the best place to start. There were so many other things that were more common-place and worse. If it happened now, things would be different (I hope), but those stepping stones had not yet been put in place. I think that he did misuse his position, but I do not know how coercive he was. I actually care a lot about coercion.

So, I guess we did fail to hold Clinton to account, but it wasn't because he was the president, or Bill Clinton, so much as it was that we weren't holding _anybody_ to account in that way. And the naked partisanship on display had exactly nothing to do with advancing the cause of feminism. It was entirely about playing moral gotcha at the president. The talking points were all about monogamy and marriage, and I don't give a wet slap about that. No one should think that the Republicans were, in any way, champions of women's rights.

So, that's what I've got. I'll revise this after I've listened to this season of Slow Burn.

Make Notes

30th July, 2018. 3:50 pm. More Shawls and RAICES

To repeat:  I knit.  A lot.  And I usually give away what I create, since I do it for joy.  Like you, I've been hugely disturbed by the stories coming from our southern border.  So I would like to ask that if you want one of my shawls, you pledge to donate at least $10 to RAICES, or some other immigrant support groups. The donate link for RAICES is https://www.raicestexas.org/donate/  

Materials cost for a shawl is between $20 and $50, more if there are a lot of beads.  I am not a fast knitter, and I do a lot of ripping and reknitting, so labor time on these is between 30 and 100 hours.  What I'm saying here is, if you're thinking about value, $10 doesn't even cover materials costs.  

All shawls are knit with a wool blend.  If you are allergic to wool these will make you itch.  If you have not very bad cat allergies, these shawls should be fine.  They were washed and blocked in a cat free area, but stored in a room where cats do go -- though they have not been sat upon by said cats.  If you are very sensitive, I can re-wash and re-block, and never take it into a room where cats go before shipment.  

Shipping to anywhere is free.  I will choose a cheap shipping option.  If you need it fast, let me know, we'll work it out.

One last note, my camera doesn't capture the glitter of the beads well, and the colors are not always true.  I'll note as we go along.  In general, the shawls are prettier in person than in pictures.

Please comment to let me know that you want a thing, and I'll PM you and we'll work out the details.

6. Celtic Knot

This is actually greener than the pictures show.  It's fairly simple, except for the knot work.  Kind of subtle, but man was it a pain to knit.  It starts in the round, and I purely hate DPNs.  (So, of course, I have been seeking out patterns that use DPNs, because I'm just that kind of nutter.)  
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7. Flowers for Yvonne

This is a nice, rich shawl.  No beads, just some really lovely lacework. It is fairly large, which means you can knot it or drape it dramatically. And if you ever want to watch me bitch in almost real time about the process of making something, check out my Ravelry page, where I use the pattern notes to whine extensively.  I'm lydydrew, there, and most of my projects go up there, too.  
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8. Perseus

For reasons that are beyond me, the designer thought that this pattern looked like Greek armor.  Dunno.  The yarn is Malabrigo, which means that the colors are marvelous and complex.  And, unfortunately, I can't photograph them for toffee.  The colors are both more blue and more purple than shown, and generally a lot richer.  It's a nice little shawl, and, again, prettier in person.  Sigh. 

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And that takes us to the end of this shawl crawl.  If you have interest in any of these, please let me know.  

Make Notes

30th July, 2018. 3:05 pm. Knitted Shawls and RAICES

I knit.  A lot.  And I usually give away what I create, since I do it for joy.  Like you, I've been hugely disturbed by the stories coming from our southern border.  So I would like to ask that if you want one of my shawls, you pledge to donate at least $10 to RAICES, or some other immigrant support groups. The donate link for RAICES is https://www.raicestexas.org/donate/  

Materials cost for a shawl is between $20 and $50, more if there are a lot of beads.  I am not a fast knitter, and I do a lot of ripping and reknitting, so labor time on these is between 30 and 100 hours.  What I'm saying here is, if you're thinking about value, $10 doesn't even cover materials costs.  

All shawls are knit with a wool blend.  If you are allergic to wool these will make you itch.  If you have not very bad cat allergies, these shawls should be fine.  They were washed and blocked in a cat free area, but stored in a room where cats do go -- though they have not been sat upon by said cats.  If you are very sensitive, I can re-wash and re-block, and never take it into a room where cats go before shipment.  

Shipping to anywhere is free.  I will choose a cheap shipping option.  If you need it fast, let me know, we'll work it out.

One last note, my camera doesn't capture the glitter of the beads well, and the colors are not always true.  I'll note as we go along.  In general, the shawls are prettier in person than in pictures.

Please comment to let me know that you want a thing, and I'll PM you and we'll work out the details.


And now:  SHAWLS!

1. Fairy's Playground

This is knit from hanspun by Beth Friedman.  The yarn has a glitter to it that the picture does not show.  It is, yes, very pink.  And sparkly.  Collapse )

;2. Galadriel's Mirror

This is a pattern from a series inspired by LOTR (the movie, I'm pretty sure and not the books.)  The yarn is this lovely, lustrous grey, it's a wool-silk blend.  The shawl itself is, as  you can see, large.  Downright luxurious.  It was a very complex pattern, with a lot of twisted stitches, which gives it a really beautiful stitch definition.  I'm entering it into the State Fair, so I can't mail it to you until after that.  Collapse )

3. Frost on My Window

That's the name of the pattern, honest.  It's a circular shawl, and alas the picture doesn't do it as much justice as one would like.  But it's a dusky navy, small and light.  An accent piece, it will not keep you warm at night.  

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4. Philosphopher's Stone, but no Harry Potter

I have no idea why the pattern is called that.  There are beads which are a gold and green, really nice, and very noticeable in person, but pretty much vanish when I try to take pictures of them.  This one is much prettier in person than the pictures I could manage. The edge is fully beaded, which gives it a nice heft and flow.  

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5. Water

This is a simple, lovely, asymmetrical shawl.  It was a very easy pattern, but it has these lovely ripply inserts done with short rows.  It's the same yarn as the Philosopher's Stone, and feels really nice.  As you can see, it got a little creased in storage.  
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25th July, 2018. 3:45 am. Gaming question

I don't know if I actually want to do this...but if I wanted to play a video RPG, absolutely not multi-player, questish, on my MacBook Air, does anyone have any suggestions?  Back in the day, I loved the look of Myst, but was not clever enough to solve most of the puzzles, and just bogged down.  I absolutely do not want a first person shooter, and would prefer there be only some fighting.  Fantasy or medieval setting preferred, sf ok, post-apocalyptic right out.  Oh, and I do not want to buy any additional hardware.  I don't care if this is an old game that everyone else is already bored of.  I game so very little, it would be novel to me.

Any suggestions?   

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