pentacles, magic

A nice cup of rabies

Rantings with occasional art.

another year gone by
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The first thing through my head in the morning is “I should deal with those life insurance policies on Mom except wait I still haven’t gotten the death certificates what’s up with that”. This is going to be a long forty-fourth birthday.

Then I check my email. Every computer wishing me a happy birthday via email is like a little knife in the gut because it reminds me there won’t be a phone call from her.

Yeah. This is crap. I’m going back to sleep. Maybe I’ll feel better when I wake up again.


Later. I looked at those life insurance policies. Another year or two of runway for getting this whole ‘comics’ thing off the ground as a viable career. Maybe more, I didn’t try to untangle their descriptions too deeply. I’d rather have another decade of her around to see it.

Originally published at Egypt Urnash. You can comment here or there.

The Bestest Pony
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The Bestest Pony


Something I whipped up for my ex-with-benefits’ birthday. Which is today. And maybe for mine. Which is the day after tomorrow.

Illustrator, maybe like 45min.

Also I drew a sequel. Or rather my pornmonger alt drew a sequel. It is NSFW. You have been warned.

And then she drew another sequel. It’s even more NSFW. Or for opening in front of relatives, if you’re checking your feeds at your July 4 festivities.

Originally published at Egypt Urnash. You can comment here or there.

A retcon for a game I have never actually played.
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So. Splatoon. The light-hearted third-person team shooter in which you are a kid, and a squid.

I do not own own the appropriate game hardware on which to play it. All I know of it is from what people post on the Internet. A friend who does own it was pondering why you can’t swim when you’re being a kid, only when you’re a squid. “Maybe it’s the price they paid for their sentience,” Ian wondered.

To which I replied:

Squids are actually all small clusters of the Paint that have split off into smaller minds. Eventually they will return. But really they are all thoughts that the Paint is having. It takes a lot of effort to swim within It without becoming It again.

Ian: It’s just one giant blob of Grey Goo coloring itself up and playing games with itself.

Me: Splatoon: the most colorful post-apocalypse ever. These arenas are all that remains of the world after the Incident. Squid kids: memories of the people from before coalescing out of the Paint. But all are co-opted into its games, lest they escape.

Ian: IanJay_2015-Jul-02


Me: Huh. I guess it really IS the most colorful post-apocalyptic scenario ever. AWESOME.

Ian: This would explain why so much focus is put on playing by its world’s rules– the relentless urge to “stay fresh”, style-wise. By distracting the memories with a fragmented, nonsensical facsimile of Shibuya centered around fashion and battling, the Paint can keep its inhabitants’ interests narrow.

Me: YES. But what are the real aims of the Paint? What happens when you break out of the endless game into the secret adventure?

Ian: I don’t think the goal is to break out, but to regain sentience by considering the sum of your experiences & extracting meaning. In that way every Miiverse post in the game is a tiny act of defiance.

Me: Is this an extended metaphor for the concept of Maya.

Ian: Possibly! Or a very very extended ARG for custom map editor DLC.

Me: Or Frog Fractions 2.



I couldn’t resist. I drew my squidsona. Her name is Only. She has seen the Tru7h and took the turquoise pill. Her favorite weapon is the spray-can.


Originally published at Egypt Urnash. You can comment here or there.

Cleaning up that Tarot deck.
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I just amended the page for the Tarot of the Silicon Dawn. It’s still not as cool as it was before I switched my site over to WordPress a few years ago, but at least now it has images of all of the cards on it. If you click on them you’ll even get to see the full text of the card.

Eventually I may make it spiffier again but I think this helps give a better sense of the contents than just ‘here is an unboxing video, here is where you can buy it’.

Originally published at Egypt Urnash. You can comment here or there.

Owning my tools.
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There we go. No more creepy drowned corpses staring at me when I boot my computer up any more. And the real version number instead of the marketing number – I started with Illustrator 8, and I kinda like that reminder that I’ve been using this program that long.

If you want to use this, grab the high-res version and the low-res version, then right-click on Illustrator in the finder, select ‘show contents’, then drop them into contents/resources. You might want to rename Adobe’s ai_cc_splash.png and ai_cc_splash@2x.png before you do this, just in case it bitches come update time.

If you’d rather drop in your own art then you can grab my Illustrator file and go to town. If you keep the ‘type hider’ layer as-is then it’ll hide the credit for the person who drew the original splash screen by putting the same color behind that text.

(The image is a very orange icon I drew for someone a while back, with a few effects added here and there.)

Originally published at Egypt Urnash. You can comment here or there.

History Lesson
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Yesterday, the Supreme Court handed down a ruling: two people of any gender can get married anywhere in the US. I painted my nails rainbow colors to celebrate. Then I decided I wanted to draw something as well, and this fell out.

Really, I feel like this is kind of the fate of every holiday celebrating some ethnicity’s independence in the US: “hey I guess these people are cool but what’s really important here is drinking funny-colored liquor. And maybe dressing funny, too.” And once every single battle a LGBTQI* activist could dream of has been won, that’s what will remain of Pride.

* * * * *

If you are the kind of person who likes to share stuff on Tumblr, I bothered to do a separate post there this time with the image chopped up for better display. It’s here.

Originally published at Egypt Urnash. You can comment here or there.


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A while back – I think something like a year ago, maybe longer – I got pointed to a call for submissions for an academic journal. The “Transgender Studies Quarterly” was doing an issue called “Tranimalities”, themed around, well, honestly, teh furreh. And even teh postfurreh.

So on a whim I submitted a short B&W comic Nick and I had done a while back for the Anthrocon conbook. I gave it a pseudo-academic title. They accepted it.

And I got my contributor copy today.



I briefly flipped through it after opening the package. Holy cow is it full of academia. I will need to sit down with a stiff drink before trying to actually read most of the articles in this thing.

If you want a physical copy of this sucker, you can order one here.

If you’re just interested in my comic, it’s right here on my site.

I got a comic about a catgirl turning into a robot spider into a serious academic journal. I can’t help but feel like this means I am winning at life.

Originally published at Egypt Urnash. You can comment here or there.

New Illustrator.
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There’s a new version of Illustrator. New versions of all of Adobe’s stuff but who the hell uses that obscure Photoshop thing? Not me. Pixels are so 1986.

Running down the “What’s New” page on Adobe’s site:

  • Some shit for people who collaborate, I dunno, I work alone.
  • Adobe is trying to own stock photos I guess. Doubt I’ll ever touch that palette. I draw everything from scratch.
  • GPU acceleration. CC2014 had this for some Nvidia cards on Windows; CC2015 expands to some Intel and AMD cards, and to Macs with at least 512M vram and OpenGL4.0. Which includes mine. Well this will be worth dealing with it putting that stupid uneditable “default touch brush” in all my documents.* Though I thought they rewrote it for Apple’s new API Metal according to the WWDC keynote? Maybe that’s going to land in 19.something. (CC2015 = version 19) This is a feature I am excited about.
  • Maximum zoom raised from 6.4k% to 64k%. I will try to avoid ever needing this; I spent a lot of time training myself not to get lost in those kinds of details. It’ll be nice when I need to do something huuuuuge I guess.
  • Also a new weird-ass mode for the zoom tool that I will be turning the fuck right off because I’ve been zooming the way I zoom for about fifteen years now oh god has it really been that long. shakes her cane at you young whippersnappers and your touch-focused UIs
  • “Safe mode” for figuring out why it keeps crashing. sad laughter
  • Some kind of autosave. Which I suspect I will turn off unless it comes with a major speedup in saving files, or if it saves some kind of quick delta that it can merge with the last version on disc when relaunching after a crash, because my files take noticeable amounts of time to save.
  • More integration with mobile apps yippee skippee I will probably never use these because I have a super light computer I can take with me.
  • A few little tweaks including a switch to turn off auto-close in the pencil tool, which makes me happy because it drove me nuts and was one of the reasons I reverted to 18.0.

Read the rest of this entry »Collapse )

Originally published at Egypt Urnash. You can comment here or there.

pentacles, magic

Screen Shot 2015-06-15 at 4.37.57 PM

Today I hung out in a cafe with Nick and revamped my table signs for “Decrypting Rita” and its fliers. I wanted to add some of the blurbs I’ve been getting from various famous folks. Then I had the brainstorm of putting a copy of the flier on the sign behind them, so that if I happen to run out, interested people can use their phones to take a photo. I then went on to make some signs for the Tarot deck and its fliers that pulled the same trick. Now that I look at these, I am tempted to put the covers for books 1 and 2 on the signs for them, as well – the covers are pretty eye-catching IMHO.

(All of these signs are a little bit taller than the thing they describe; I put them on my little wire stands, then put the item in question on top of them.)

The Elephant

Before that, I took this elephant down from the top of my bookcase and told him some good news. He belonged to my mother when she was a small child, and hung out in her library when she was an adult. Neither me nor my aunt has any idea what his name is. Now he’s on top of my bookshelf. I figured that since I could’t call Mom any more, I’d tell him instead: I’ve got a spot in the dealer’s room at this year’s Worldcon. And this morning, a major modern SF author wrote a blog post about cool online comics he likes that included Rita. Which he noted was totally not anything like Hugo suggestions. At all. Completely.

If I ever end up with any awards, I am going to show them to this elephant, and keep them next to him. It seems like the closest I’ll ever be able to come to telling Marie-Jeanne how far I end up going.


Originally published at Egypt Urnash. You can comment here or there.

pentacles, magic

So you want to do a graphic novel. That’s great! And you think you have the writing and drawing chops to do it all by yourself. That’s great too!

But if you want it to be entirely painted, and your only idea of how to write is to throw a few characters into a situation and see what they do, you’ll probably never finish it.

Because comics take a lot of time. And comics don’t pay very well. And shit happens.

Figure out where your story is going, and how to get there in about 200 pages, and find an art process that won’t take too much longer than the pencil and inks of the B&W days. Or you will never finish your story.

(Me? I’m 10-20 pages away from finishing Decrypting Rita. It’ll be 200-210 pages, depending on if I decide to do the epilogue I’ve been debating the need for. But my mother dying kinda took the wind out of my sails for a bit. I’ll probably get back to it soon; I’ve been working on it fairly frequently for four and a half years now, and comics are kind of my day job thanks to Patreon.)

Originally published at Egypt Urnash. You can comment here or there.

Tags: ,

Codename: Fussyspider. Now with a clean image.
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Yep. Lookin’ good. If you’re on an iPhone 5, tapping on either image should pretty much fill the screen with it.

The bottom bar stuff doesn’t feel like it’s in the right place yet. Needs some work still. And the ‘clock turning into an arrow’ icon for the deferred tasks kinda gets lost at phone size. But it looks pretty good for about a half hour of drawing the character art and two hours of fooling around with layout and icons.

Next I guess I should mock up the tag list, and the task/tag editing screens. Add in a few more sample images of Kalinda showing up and making comments, and I think I’ll have something I can post to various places programmers hang out and hopefully find someone willing and able to turn this into a thing I can run on my phone and tablet. Or maybe one will show up before then.

Originally published at Egypt Urnash. You can comment here or there.

Upcoming con plans: Worldcon 2015.
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Damnit. My brain keeps on reminding me that I haven't called my mom in a while and it's long past time to tell her what I'm up to and see how she's doing; we talked every week or two.

I want to tell her that hey! I applied to deal at this year's Worldcon far too late, and got in, isn't that cool? And then tell her a bit about the whole “Sad/Rabid Puppies” Hugo vote-stuffing thing going on this year, and my hope that this will have Worldcon attendees aggressively looking for the kinds of stories that group was reacting against, which is a thing “Rita” definitely is, and even aside from that it's a chance for me to get my stuff in front of the audience that's going to vote for next year's Hugo with the final volume of the story well on its way to completion, and, well, just wow, I've gotten to a point in my life where I feel like a major award like that is actually something I have a modest chance of getting and that's pretty cool.

And then I'd hear about whatever she might have been reading or watching and doing, maybe a bit about her surrogate grandchildren, maybe explain some bit of technology she was curious about, whatever.

But I can't have that conversation with her. I can never have this kind of conversation again. And every time my habits poke me to pick up the phone and call her, I have to remember that, and I get to miss her all over again. I'm sitting in bed getting tears all over the iPad as I write this.

Anyway. I'll be at this year's Worldcon in eastern Washington, selling the usual stuff.

Originally published at Egypt Urnash. You can comment here or there.

codename: Fussyspider.
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Ever since Yahoo bought Astrid and shut it down, I’ve been looking for a to-do app that I can use the same way I used that. Moving from Android to iOS hasn’t made it any better; there are a lot of iOS to-do apps, but they all refuse to work the way I want to. Almost everything wants me to categorize my tasks into separate “lists”, to which tasks belong. I prefer to just tag all the things and filter by tag. And nothing wants to do Astrid’s location-based alerts; sure, various to-do apps let me put a location alert on a particular task, but nothing lets me say “if I have anything on the ‘drugstore’ list then alert me when I get close to the local drugstore”.

I’d been using Remember the Milk for a while, because at least it does the tags thing pretty nicely, and doesn’t have the annoying habit of giving every to-do a due date by default that a lot of to-do apps have. But it’s started crashing on launch on my phone. And I’ve been lost in an endless sea of to-do apps that all hew to some super-rigid (mis-?)interpretation of “Getting Things Done”.

So I’ve been playing with designs for my own.

I’ve been calling it “Miss Fussyspider”, as that is a thing I sometimes call myself when I’m bopping around the apartment cleaning stuff. And I’d intended to have some cute cartoon drawings of said Fussyspider pop up now and then to give it character. But when you get down to it, spiders are work to draw.

Last night, I sat down with my sketchbook and started doodling various characters of mine, with an eye to casting them as the face of this to-do app. And when I settled on a simpler one, it really started to take shape…

Evernote Snapshot 20150612 122028Evernote Snapshot 20150612 122028 Evernote Snapshot 20150612 122028

Dark and muted because holy crap why does almost every productivity app on my iThings want to double as a flashlight at night and ruin my dark vision.

Evernote Snapshot 20150612 122028

Working out the basics of what’s on the screen. Tap on the current tag name to switch to the list of tags (which would also include things like ‘untagged’) ; tap a tag in that list to switch to showing that tag.

The bottom bar might also have a button to toggle showing deferred tasks; see my typed text below about changing “reminders” to “do laters”.

It’s also worth noting that if the tag/task lists are shorter than the screen, they should be at the bottom rather than the top. I use my phone one-handed a lot, and prefer bottom-focused UIs.

Evernote Snapshot 20150612 122028

‘stared tasks at top’? Starred tasks. Could either sort alphabetically with everything else, or sort to the top of the list. There’s a pref switch, maybe a button on the top of the screen.

Also that extra prefs switch off on the left should be ‘show notes in task list’, not tag list – with it on, tasks with notes attached to them would have one line of text from the note shown beneath the task title.

Evernote Snapshot 20150612 122028

The above page would be what pops up on a first launch, to explain the basic ideas behind the app. There might also be a screen that labels all the icons.

Evernote Snapshot 20150612 122028

I really hate it when a task app hides tags and/or location-based reminders behind a paywall. This would be fully-featured for free, with no limitations – but there’d be a few IAP purchases to say thanks. “Buy Kalinda a beer”, “Buy Kalinda a six-pack”, “Fill Kalinda’s fridge with beer”, etc, with prices starting at a few bucks and going up. You can buy them multiple times if you like, and it’ll keep track of how many you bought. Maybe even tell you how long you’ve been using the app,and how much you’ve sunk into it, in a confirmation dialogue when you hit the button. None of this is part of the Minimum Viable Product of the app.

Neither is building a pile of code to run on a server somewhere. I don’t want to worry about keeping it running, or keeping it secure. Use Apple’s Reminders as a backend. (Or Google Tasks, or whatever MS’s to-do service is, if we want it to be more cross-platform. But the MVP just uses Reminders because that’s easy for me to dump my existing tasks into, and to use the stock OSX Reminders app for basic ‘put task in todo list’ functionality if we don’t build an OSX app in parallel with iOS.)

The nag screen would show up pretty infrequently. It might get a little more frequent after a year of unpaid use. But not very much so. It probably wouldn’t show up at all until you’d checked off like 30-50 things.

Evernote Snapshot 20150612 122028

As I put this post together, I was struck by an idea: Perhaps instead of “reminders” you can simply set tasks as “future”, with a date when you want them to show up. Future tasks are hidden from view until their time comes, with a prefs switch or screen button (maybe at the top?) to show them. You can have Kalinda remind you that you can now do this thing, but the explicit concept is that this is not about saying “I have to do $THING at $TIME”. That’s what your appointment book is for, IMHO. This app is about saying ‘here are things you said you wanted to do’ and ‘hey, you’re where you said you wanted to do some things’, not ‘You have to do this thing now’. If it was about ‘you have to do this thing now’ it’d be called “Touch The Puppet Head” and would have a very different feel.

Mostly switching to ‘future tasks’ would involve a different icon from the little bell, and adding a ‘Remind me?’ switch beneath the date selection.

Evernote Snapshot 20150612 122028

Tags could possibly alert on multiple locations (there are two drugstores in walking distance of my place, and it’d be nice to be reminded there were things I wanted to get when I pass both of them) but it’s not necessary. The location chooser would be a pretty standard one, hopefully skinned to match the rest of the generally-dark UI rather than being Glaring Apple Default White.

That, I think, is pretty much it. A friendly little face on a to-do app focused on tags and locations, rather than lists and obligations.

I know there are some programmers out there following my work, some of whom might want a side project or whatever. If you’d like to help make this happen for iOS/Mac – and maybe for other platforms in the future – then drop me a line. I’ll pay you for your time, regardless of whether or not anyone ever hits the tip button.

Originally published at Egypt Urnash. You can comment here or there.

memory totems
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Wow. I was not prepared for how sad taking my mom’s stuffed elephant out of the box of books we shipped from her library and putting it on top of my bookshelves would make me.

I wish I knew his name. I think she’d told me once, long ago, but I can’t remember it, and neither can her sister. I kinda want to say “Elmer” but I also kinda want to say it wasn’t something alliterative. I don’t know.

I put him where he can’t see the giant beanbag. Too many shenanigans happen on that thing for me to be comfortable with him watching that.

Originally published at Egypt Urnash. You can comment here or there.

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Scene: Trader Joe’s. “She Bop” is on the speakers.

Cashier: “…Do you know who sings this? We were trying to figure it out yesterday.”

Me: “Um… Cyndi Lauper.”

Cashier: “That’s it! Thank you.”

Me: “She bop, he bop, we bop; I bop, you bop, they bop. The only song to teach you how to properly conjugate the verb ‘to bop’.”


And at that point, I really wished I’d paid any attention at all the year I failed Latin in high school. It would have been perfect to attempt to improvise the proper declension of the verb ‘boppare’.


(edit: boppo, boppas, boppat, boppamus, boppais, boppant – thanks to the fine folks at Jaridium Press for that!)

Originally published at Egypt Urnash. You can comment here or there.

The Penwiper Saga
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Penwiper-SagaYesterday, I left a comment in a thread on /r/fantasy discussing the phenomenon where some series blend together into one huge-ass book, especially if you read them electronically after the whole series is done.

I was of the opinion that, well, it varies. Some series are more prone to this; you’re much more likely to remember an individual Discworld novel than an individual segment of A Fantasy Epic Split Into Multiple Volumes For Financial Reasons. And then I went on a stoned riff about an imaginary series, as an example of how you’re more likely to have a memory of individual books if you read them as they came out:

It doesn’t matter if book 5 of the 7-volume Penwiper Saga has a terrible case of middle book syndrome, with next to no work spent trying to get readers up to speed, and nothing that brings the particular events of the book to a satisfying stop; it’s just a place where you stop and stretch a bit before picking up the next one. If you read the books as they were published, you’ll have read book 1, then maybe re-read book 1 when book 2 came out, skimmed 1 and re-read 2 when 3 hit the shelves, and so on. Plus maybe re-readings now and then between new volumes if you were a super hardcore fan of The Penwiper Saga. So you’d have a very good sense of what happened in book 1, “The Affair Of The Unclaimed Head” as distinct from how kind of nothing really happened in book 5, “Adrift On The Clockwork Sea”. And the buildup of anticipation to the final volume, “The Black Doll”, would be inextricably bound up with your re-skimming of all six previous books, and the disappointment when [spoiler]Matilda Penwiper sold the ancestral manse to Dr. Minos instead of using the titular doll to destroy his twisted soul forever[/spoiler].

Being stoned, of course, I couldn’t let go of the idea. And I have decided that The Penwiper Saga may end up being a running joke in my work: a series that is immensely popular in the various imaginary worlds of my stories. I will, hopefully, never actually write this series in any capacity beyond giggling a lot as I write a couple of pages to show up in a close-up, or tiny excerpts to go along fake fan-art. I’m pretty sure it’s a darkly comedic YA fantasy series, what with everything but “Adrift On The Clockwork Sea” being a Gorey reference.

Tentative titles for the series:

  1. The Affair Of The Unclaimed Head.
  2. The Case Of The Ascending Lizard.
  3. The House With The Wrong Number.
  4. The Dragon In My Pantry.
  5. Adrift On The Clockwork Sea.
  6. The Curious Adventure Of The Gyrobicupola.
  7. The Black Doll.

Also there is short story taking place between #3 and #4 titled “Bernie And Matilda Play It Cool” which only appeared on C. D. Hallifax’ Livejournal until the 10th anniversary reissue; in retrospect, it foreshadows all of the harsh truths about Dr. Minos that fans would claim came out of nowhere in books 6 and 7.

Originally published at Egypt Urnash. You can comment here or there.

change of approach
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Somewhere in the past few weeks I seem to have decided to adopt a new approach to managing my e-mail. For years, I’ve worked out of a few smart mailboxes showing me stuff that’s unread for various timeframes; if something needs to stick around, then I’ll mark it as ‘unread’ every time I look at it and decide not to deal with it.

I now have a smart mailbox for things I’ve labeled with an orange flag. Which I have named “Needs Attention”.

I am still not going to try and practice “Inbox Zero”. I’m just gonna leave all this stuff in my inbox. I don’t want to have a zillion mailboxes that I file stuff into. But I feel like I have reached a point in my life where I need to take Things I Need To Get Done a bit more seriously.


I have no idea if this is related to my mom dying. Honestly I think it’s more that I’m getting tired of repeatedly marking stuff as unread.

Originally published at Egypt Urnash. You can comment here or there.

on weeping
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Since coming back home I've kinda quit crying so much. I'm not sure if this is because I'm not in the middle of Mom's place, full of reminders of her, or if it's because I've been all alone in my apartment with nobody to come pet me if they hear me crying. Maybe some of both. Emotions are weird.

I've still got some stuff to take care of with regards to her things. But the back of my brain is starting to mutter about not having drawn any Rita for most of a month. And that given how much she was about supporting the creative arts she'd definitely want me to be getting back to creating soon…

Originally published at Egypt Urnash. You can comment here or there.

some photos of MJ
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One of Marie-Jeanne’s friends had asked for a photo of her. Here are several, taken from a cache of slides Russell (her husband, and my father) had taken. If there are any lying around of her as an older woman, they’re somewhere else in her house; these are all from the early 70s. If you’re a friend or relative looking for something to have printed, you can click through all of these for the full-size image.

I think this may be in the apartment my parents lived in before I was born. That curtain came to the house with me, though.

MJ really liked complicated patterns in her clothes.

I think MJ was still occasionally wearing that dress in her last few years.

That’s Russell on the left. He was my father. I miss him, too – he died on my 12th birthday.

After a while, MJ quit trying to do much of anything with her very thin hair. I’m glad I inherited my dad’s hair instead.

She chose to be a stay-at-home mother, and dedicated a lot of time and effort to making sure their bright, weird kid got the stimulus he needed for a healthy mind. She was also the one who did the accounts, because unlike my father, she could stare at them without stressing out. I take after my father in that.

I think this was on our trip to Disneyworld when I was about five. This is probably Busch Gardens. Note young me on the left, sporting a pair of bright red sunglasses and his beloved “Winnie-The-Pooh for President” shirt.

Her natural habitat: on the couch, reading. This may be the latest photo in this set; I did that painting on the wall in ’78. There are photos of it but you cannot see it.


Originally published at Egypt Urnash. You can comment here or there.

the sordid business of wrapping up my mother’s affairs
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I just recorded a new outgoing message for my mother’s answering machine.

“Hello! You have reached the home of Marie-Jeanne Trauth, who has recently departed to that mysterious country from whose bosom no traveller returns. If you’re calling about a business matter other than rent or utilities, the window for that discussion has, sadly, passed. Otherwise please leave a message.”

I like to think she would have given me a stern look, then giggled.

Originally published at Egypt Urnash. You can comment here or there.