Friday, May 13

Eleanor Rahil


My daughter, Eleanor Rahil, was born Wednesday, May 4, 2011, at 11:49 am. She weighed 7 pounds 9 ounces and objected quite vocally to the whole "being born" experience.

I didn't blame her. I started having contractions at 11 pm the night before and checked into the hospital at around 4 am. At 9:30 my water broke, meaning what had been "oh hi, I guess labor contractions hurt, who knew" became a somewhat surreal experience where I was either in severe, insane amounts of pain or semi-conscious -- sort of the reverse of an out-of-body experience; nothing except my body was particularly real. Occasionally I resurfaced enough to realize, in a distant way, that Dan had Pirates of the Caribbean on for me and to briefly appreciate the distractive properties of Johnny Depp, but mostly it was breathing and squeezing poor Dan's hand half-off. At around 11:30 I started informing people that I was going to push now, and there was a bit of running around finding doctors and setting up beds and I don't know what all, and finally, after a bit under ten minutes of pushing, they were holding up a screaming baby and telling me it was a girl. I'm told this was a pretty easy labor for a first-timer, but, as I said, my sympathies were primarily with Eleanor. I can't imagine it felt much better, for those thirteen hours, to be the toothpaste than it did to be the tube.

Ellie is now a week and a half old and I'm... well, it's probably too early to say I'm getting the hang of this parenthood thing, and that I started this blog post on Monday probably gives you an idea how things are going. She's a good baby, as babies go, but there's no getting around the fact that she needs someone adult watching her all the time, that there's only two adults in the house, and that of those, only one has the proper equipment to serve as a 24/7 all-you-can-eat-buffet. We're coping. I'm getting a lot of reading done but very little sleep. Dan let me buy an iPad, which arrived just before Ellie, and I gotta say the thing is damn nice if you're trapped on the couch/bed/armchair with a kidlet... but actual computer time is, how shall I put this, limited. Along with almost every other type of time that doesn't involve being trapped on a couch, bed, etc, and can't be done one-handed.

She is a total pain in the ass, and I love her to death.

Sums up the whole parenthood thing nicely, doesn't it?
10:52 PM - kat -

Monday, January 31

For an amazingly eventful year, 2010 has produced not a lot of blog posts. Um.

A picture's worth a thousand words?

Year in Pictures -- 2010


In the general sense... I'm doing well. I'm just entering the third trimester, meaning I have gone from being comfortable (if mildly dismayed by the disappearance of my toes) to increasingly uncomfortable, short of breath, irritable because no one will let me do anything, more irritable because when I sneakily do the things they aren't letting me it's difficult to impossible, vastly irritated by the new and intriguing pregnancy side effects (blurry vision, are you kidding me?), vaguely disturbed by the commercialized buyfest I am apparently supposed to embark on to prep for a kidlet*, and generally turning into a grumpy, sleepy, pregnant person. Dan bears up to this remarkably well. Actually, he and everyone else seems to think it's pretty funny, which doesn't help with the grumpiness, but there we are.

Pretty much everything else in my life has been eclipsed by the state of Pregnant, which is, I suppose, another reason for the lack of blog posts. If it's not happening to you, it's pretty dull. I suppose I should be enjoying that -- I gather that once the kidlet actually arrives, dull will be something of a novelty -- but eh.

So if anyone's still reading this, there you are. State of the kat. Oh, and pictures.



*I'm not a shopper, and lost interest in the whole thing once I was told it was too early to be buying kidlet books. And yet, I have to shop anyway, if only to determine which of the gigantic masses of stuff the world is trying to sell me are actually necessary. The answer seems to be "not many".
08:20 PM - kat -

Thursday, November 04

So after the last doctor's visit... it's official. I'm pregnant again.

Fourteen weeks pregnant, actually. Being not entirely dim and quite capable of counting, I have known that I was pregnant for some time, but chose to treat my pregnancy as unofficial until the end of the first trimester -- partly to minimize the damage if it turned out another disappointment, and partly because being official would have involved announcing it, which would have been effort, and I have frankly been too bloody ill for the past month or two to even think about such a thing. Whoever named it "morning sickness" was a) male and b) in need of a damned good kicking, though in fairness I should say that I haven't actually thrown up at any time. Wanted to throw up, yes. Been absolutely positive I was going to throw up, yes. Seriously considered sticking my fingers down my throat in hopes it would stop with the damned day-in, day-out, morning-noon-and-night queasiness, yes. Actually thrown up, no. I'm one of the lucky ones. Also there's this lovely thing called pregnancy fatigue, which is sort of like having the Sandman stand behind you starting at, oh, ten am or so and constantly thump you in the head with the giant blackjack of Sleep until you give in, which in my case was usually about six pm. Given that I get home from work at around five, it was not leaving a lot of the day to go on.

Don't get me started on the sore boobs.

At any rate, both the sickness and the fatigue have, as promised, started to let up with the second trimester; I have an estimated due date of May 1st; I have ultrasound photos of a perfectly healthy alien tadpole; and my doctor tells me that, having got to the second trimester with said tadpole, I've now got a 99.5% chance of carrying to term. So I'm letting myself be sort of cautiously optimistic about the whole thing and, you know. Tell people.

Consider yourselves told.
07:48 PM - kat -

Thursday, April 22

In the tradition of apparently forgetting the blog until I have something big to announce:

We bought a house.

This house:
New House


So yeah. We'd been batting the idea of this back and forth for, oh, a year or so. On the one hand we are in a pretty decent position, financially, and between the depressed housing market and the Federal tax credit and the rock-bottom mortgage interest rates it would be hard to find a better time to buy. On the other hand, neither Dan nor I really wants to be in Galax for the rest of our lives, and Galax is... well. Shall we say not the most architecturally enlightened place ever. We went and looked at a few places in an idle way, but they were either uninspiring or possessed of many expensive house problems or (most often) both.

Then I got pregnant and the whole "buy a house" thing got revisited in a hurry. Two introverts, one bird, and a kid is pretty much more than I care to jam into an apartment*, especially one I'm renting and have to worry about the kid/bird/introverts accidentally destroying. When the kid didn't, we talked it over and decided to keep going on the house. We were going to end up with a kid eventually, after all, and it was something positive for us -- and especially me -- to focus on.

And we found a house. Actually two. And there was angst, over which house was better, and angst over where the down payment would come from, and how much could we afford, and paperwork, and then mortgage preapproval and looking over the houses again, and offering, and being turned down (both houses), and more angst and a second offer on the house we decided really truly was a better deal, and....

Long story short: we bought the house, at a price that more or less made both parties happy, and all was well with the world. (And Kat signed her name to more papers than she even wants to think about, but we won't go into that.)

It's a good house. Not flashy (the second house under consideration was much more interesting layout-wise) but sound (the second house wasn't), sturdy, well-kept, and a decent compromise between being close to the farm and being able to run screaming for civilization via the major highways. And the lot, basically, rocks. Dan and I both agreed we wanted privacy -- seriously, what is the point of living way out in the boonies if you've got houses ten feet from you on all sides? And we wanted a bit of land to garden and run around and basically hang out on. While the new house has neighbors I could, technically, throw a rock at, the arrangement of houses and trees lets us all comfortably ignore each other, and both directly in front and behind we have farmland. And an acre of our own besides. It's a lot of lot.

Also, well water. Yes, I'm a spoilt country brat, but it's one of my marks of civilization: I can now walk out of the shower not smelling like a swimming pool. And potentially even drink from the tap. Bliss.

Now all I have to do is pack up and clean out an apartment we've lived in for five years, paint, clean, and arrange minor fixery on the new house despite knowing fuck-all about houses, and get all the stuff into the new house. By June 1st. Did I mention I have around seventeen hundred books? I have around seventeen hundred books. And a rather massive kitchen collection. And a full-time job. And a comic. And possibly a brain, although no promises on that come June 2nd.

It's for a good cause. If I get it all moved in, I can walk out the back door at midnight of June 1st, stand in my very own back yard, say, "screw the neighbors", and scream.

I'm gonna need it.



*Yes, I am a spoilt little country girl who considers a two bedroom, roughly 1200-square-foot apartment way too small. I may not have a grasp of public transit or a decent movie theatre within a hundred miles, but by god I have standards.
07:15 PM - kat -

Saturday, March 13

A week or two ago many of you saw announcements from Dan and I on Facebook, LiveJournal, and my comic that we were going to have a baby. Some of you may have seen Dan's followup post also. Now that I'm feeling a bit better I'm going to explain things a bit better and give people a place to respond. I'm sorry for the slowness and the seeming rudeness, but it's been a difficult week for both of us.

On Wednesday, I went in for my first ultrasound. I was about ten weeks into the pregnancy. The nurse doing the ultrasound knew me from my previous, cystic visits, and was chatty and cheerful; but once the ultrasound started she grew suddenly quieter, and grimmer. My nurse-practitioner came in, and she turned to her and said something I couldn't catch.

"Honey," my nurse-practitioner said, turning to me. "I'm so sorry. There's a problem."

"Is it bad?"

"Oh honey, it's really bad. Your baby has no heartbeat."

The child had, by their estimation, stopped developing about a week previous. There were no signs of physical damage; it was pretty near impossible, they repeatedly reassured me, that it was anything I had done, and very unlikely that it was a sign of real problems. Just chromosomal mismatch, random chance, the sort of error that happens in something as complicated as making a baby.

I knew from the beginning that it was a possibility. The estimates for first-trimester miscarriage have been put as high as 40%, and I am too much of a realist, and too familiar with tragedy from my farming career, to ever think it couldn't happen to me. I had repeatedly told myself that the thing growing inside of me needed to stay a thing, a precious but fragile collection of cells, until I was out of that dangerous first trimester. So the blow was cushioned; but it was, nevertheless, a blow. One grows used to thinking of oneself as pregnant, even in so short a time as a month, and it's impossible not to form a certain amount of plans, expectations, and dreams around the potential life. It was a dream I lost, not a baby. But dreams hurt in the dying too.

So that is where I stand. Introvert that I am, I am dealing with the upset largely by retreating, which is why I haven't been online or around of late; I apologize for that, but this is how I best regrow my skin, in isolation and quiet. There has been a lot of comfort reading. I'd been feeling ill and tired a great deal, due to the pregnancy, and that will probably continue until I actually miscarry, which my nurse-practitioner tells me could be weeks, or even a month. I was offered the surgical option of a D&C, a physical removal of the pregnancy, and though I'm generally leery of surgery and doctors I'm seriously considering it. There is some danger, as with any operation, and I'd be under a general; but on the other hand, carrying a non-viable pregnancy around for a month is more emotional strain than I care for. I'm balancing the physical vs. emotional risk as carefully as I can.

So that is probably as many details as anyone wants. I want to reassure everyone that I'm doing, overall, pretty well. It was a disappointment, and I'm still a bit fragile, but I am coping, and eternally thankful that the blow came now and not later in pregnancy when it would have been much more physically and emotionally difficult. My doctor's office has been extremely supportive (even if my nurse-practitioner was sniffling and blinking suspiciously often), as has my family, and of course Dan has been amazingly good to me through the whole thing. I am being petted and cosseted as much as anyone could wish, and I find I have merely to suggest something would help me to have everyone falling all over themselves to get it for me. It's all very kind.

My doctor has advised me to wait through one or two normal cycles before I try getting pregnant again, and the current plan is to try again once that waiting period is up. Hopefully it'll be as easy for me to catch then as this time; but next time I think I'll hold off on announcements until the first trimester is safely past. It will save a lot of unnecessary pain to people who care about me, and reasonable, educated human being that I am, on this one topic I think I may stay a bit superstitious.
07:30 AM - kat -

Tuesday, July 21

At this point I'm not even apologizing for the length of time I've gone without posting. I suck. I'm also working 50 hours a week and falling over, so the blog is pretty low on my list of "things to beat myself up over not doing if I ever have the energy to move."

But I'm gonna be at Anticipation in two weeks, so, you know. Feel free to make me feel guilty in person.

Or just come see me make an idiot of myself in front of an audience.

Panel in the Pool
When: Sat 19:00
Location: P-518BC
All Participants: James Bryant (G4CLF), Kat Feete, Lindsay Barbieri, Seanan McGuire, Thomas A. Easton
Moderator: Thomas A. Easton
Description: What would dolphins do? What side of the road would
cephalopods prefer? Do they make screwdrivers for right-handed
octopuses? The panel, in the deep end with lead boots, discusses
aquatic intelligences.

Cloning Dos and Don'ts
When: Sun 9:00
Location: P-512DH
All Participants: Birgit Houston, Jeanne Cavelos, Judy T. Lazar, Kat Feete, Paolo Bacigalupi
Moderator: Birgit Houston
Description: Cloning frequently comes up in SF, but how does it work
in real life? And what happens when it goes wrong?

Postcolonial SF
When: Mon 9:00
Location: P-518A
All Participants: Joan Gordon, Kat Feete, Steve Laflamme, S.M. Stirling, Gardner Dozois
Moderator: Kat Feete (eieee! Never ever check the willing-to-moderate box!)
Description: Much of the verve of early SF came from its
transposition in space of the colonial epic, and its echoes still
shape modern SF. Has there ever been a postcolonial movement, or at
least an undercurrent, in SF?


That may be the geekiest panel lineup in history. I know. It's awesome.
03:56 PM - kat -

Thursday, January 08

*cough*

I'm not really very *good* at reforming.

However, we're visiting the Big City right now -- well, technically we're in Jersey, but as far as I'm concerned the entire upper East Coast counts as Big City. And we will actually be in New York on the weekend. And since I don't speak Russian I tend to spend a lot of the time at the in-laws hanging out reading books while everyone else catches up, so I might as well start with the reforming and catching people up on what the hell *happened* to me last year.

I'll start right in with the excuses:



That would be our cheese cellar as of late December. The picture actually doesn't do it justice -- there's round about 20,000 pounds of cheese in there, all of it needing washing either two or three times a week. In total we made 65,000 pounds of cheese from April to December. Since I kinda got promoted to assistant cheesemaker this year, I was involved in making, washing, and panicking pretty much every pound of it.

As excuses for not blogging go, it at least has the benefit of weight.

Next up: the other half of that silly "promotion" thing.
01:14 PM - kat -

Monday, November 24

While we were at World Fantasy, suricattus rightly read me out for never updating my blog. I returned from the con with every intention of shaping up and returning to a regular blogging schedule.

Unfortunately, I also returned from the con with a nasty flu.

... it still counts as reform if you're a month late, right?

Okay, I admit it. I'm not actually reforming, I just wanna gloat. One of the reasons I'm not around much is that I started up a webcomic called Sunset Grill, which has slowly but steadily eaten my time, my brain, and possibly portions of my computer's brain. (Memo to self: back up your work, you idiot.) Now, there are some other people on the web with these comic things, and today one of them tossed a mention of SG into his comic. Someone by the name of Phil Foglio.

Yeah, second panel of today's Girl Genius. Read the sign. That's my baby.

I think I may have gone up another level in geek. But if there was a pinging noise this time, I missed it, on account of running around the house screaming like a crazed crazy fangirl. No idea what made Phil pull that particular name out of his hat, but he totally made my day.

And, yes, I really do intend to reform. Of course, I also intend to clean the house, redesign my website, and show up for work on time, but blogging sounds so much easier than any of those things. Perhaps I'll actually get it done.
09:55 PM - kat -

Monday, August 04

Untitled

... February?!


Okay, I was sure I'd posted more recently than that. Sorry, y'all. The past few months have been... involved.


One of the reasons I haven't posted since February is this. Yes, I'm insane, but this one kinda blindsided me. I guess I should have realized that the incredibly long bout of writer's block would have repercussions; my hindbrain simply can't go without story for long, and given that it wasn't moving forward on the novel, it apparently decided to go sideways. Oh, well, it's new insanity anyhow.


Not that I've actually had time to gnaw my way through the writer's block anyhow. The good, the bad, and the ugly, in non-chronological order:


- Filed self-employment taxes for the first time. Goodbye, thirty percent of Dan's writing income! It was nice knowing you.


- Went to Scotland. Hello, semi-permanent state of drunkeness! You were fun, and much cheaper than you would have been in North America. Pity everything else was more expensive and I had to deal with airplanes to get there. (Oh, and the wedding was pretty cool too. Pictures! ... someday.)


- Took over the assistant cheesemaker's duties while simultaneously attempting to keep up with my own. This does not work nearly as well as one would hope. On the other hand, I do get to collect paychecks for those 50-hour weeks, and my parents are desperate enough to resort to bribes -- er, I mean a raise. No, wait, actually I mean bribes.


- Holy crap, when did I develop a social life? And why did no one ever mention that those things eat your time?


- Dealt with my brother's girlfriend's crap. This was a lot of the problem, actually; it's hard to post when your policy of not saying anything online that you wouldn't say to someone's face means you can't talk about something that's stressing you day in, day out, in a thousand little ways, none of which you can actually address because a) you must deal with this person at work and not create any more stress for the other employees, and b) she'll only take it out on your brother anyway. Ah, family businesses. I can talk about it now, though, seeing as she interviewed for a job behind our backs, quit without bothering with any of that silly "two weeks notice" crap, and spent the one week she did work explaining to my brother and all the other employees how all of this was completely justified because we were impossible to get along with. Just like every other employer, friend, or boyfriend she's ever had.


*sigh* God save me from sociopathic suburban oil trash. And I can say this online because, hey. I don't have to get along with her any more. And I would say every word of it to her face.


- Spent more time in the car than is really advisable for any human being. Darn you, social life, if I had to get you, why couldn't I have gotten the compact version?


- Helped organize the American Raw Milk Presidium Evaluation. This basically involved grabbing my mother and holding on until she stopped running circles and started talking sense, although I did write the evaluation sheet, develop the tasting procedure, and handle most of the logistics of getting evaluations back to people afterwards. Oh, and wrote press releases for it. God, I hate writing press releases.


- Won a major award from the American Cheese Society: first place in Farmstead Cheese, and second for Best of Show. Well, not me personally. Our cheese. But our cheese did not have to write a press release (ARGH!) and send it out to a bazillion places and revamp the website and deal with new distributors and do all kinds of other crazy publicity shit, so I maintain a certain fingerhold on the prize.


However, seriously; this rocked.


- Threw a picnic for the local Slow Food chapter. That was pretty fun, actually, and not a lot of work, except for the mad cooking and cleaning frenzy at the farm. But it says something about your workload when organizing and providing meal and entertainment for fifteen people barely makes a ripple in your schedule.


- Survived.


And now somehow it's August, and I'm putting out a webcomic, and I have a friend coming end of the week and another next week and Dan's parents at the same time or maybe a bit after and one of our vendors visiting and a party the week after that and two presentations to write because my mother is sending me to San Francisco at the end of the month. Did I mention bribery? Bribery is cool. Do I know anyone in San Francisco? Does one still have friends after not posting for six months? ...it is still August, right?


I think 2008 will officially go down for me as the year of The Blur.


Kinda cool Blur, though. And I will at least try to keep people more updated on which direction I'm falling apart in from now on.


10:06 PM - kat -

Friday, February 15

The last week or so has looked something like this:

Thursday: Have great inner debate with myself on whether it's OK to go up to Blacksburg, given that my brother is still covered in hives from learning he's allergic to penicillin (thank you, modern medicine) as well as not entirely recovered from the disease he was taking penicillin for in the first place and my parents are still in Belize. Allow Dan and the bro to convince me. About two hours later, get a call. One of the first-calf heifers is miscarrying her calf. I've had more experience with this than the bro but I'm an hour and a half away, so I have to walk him through the nasty, messy business of a mispresentation and disposing of a dead calf over the phone. Note to self: listen to the inner debate next time.

What a day from hell. Sorry, bro.

(On the other hand, I assumed on the phone that his girlfriend -- who used to work on the dairy -- would be there to support him. Turns out she wasn't. *sigh*)

Friday: Oh, hey, nothing much actually happened this day, except fallout from the dead calf. Jude -- the cow -- has milk, which means we won't have to sell her, but we do have to milk her.

Saturday: Deathmarch our way through work so we can get down to Greensboro in time to catch the end of What the Hell?! Con. Small, free, and mostly webcomic artists. It was a hoot. I spent entirely too long hanging out and talking to ursulav and Otter, who probably thought I was being clingy. But I was mostly just being introverted ("Argh! Crowds of people! Cannot relate to crowds! Fine one person! Maybe two people! Relate to THEM!") I was pretty tired.

But we had fun, and will probably try to bounce through it next year.

Sunday: Go down to the Biltmore House with my roleplaying buddies. Despite living in Asheville for three years, I'd never been to the Biltmore -- largely because tickets run, like, fifty bucks, and I was a starving student and cheap besides. But one of the buddies had free passes so we made it a road trip.

I will say this for the Biltmore: it's HUGE. With an order of huge on the side. Seriously, 175,000 square feet? 99 bedrooms? Indoor pool and gymnasium? What were these people thinking?

It's also a bizarre intersection of the old and the new which is well worth seeing. To show off his wealth, the guy who built the place had full electricity put in -- this is in 1895, by the way -- and there are toilets in all the bathrooms (all 40 of 'em). But no sinks. Why? Well, they didn't see a reason for sinks; there were servants to bring you your water in the mornings. And many of the rooms still had chamberpots, as some guests were hazy on the toilet concept.

Well worth seeing. Even if the 45-mile an hour winds made it all a bit more exciting -- and chillier -- than I would have liked, especially the driving.

Monday: Prepare madly for the return of The Parents on Tuesday. Discover that the girlfriend hasn't been helping my bro milk the cow either -- a really tedious chore, since one cow isn't enough to fire up the machines for, and Jude, like most first-calf heifers, has a serious case of IBTs (Itty Bitty Titties). There is a muscle between the thumb and forefinger that apparently never gets used for anything but handmilking; if you only milk by hand, say, once a year, it hurts like bloody blazes. Especially if you're trying to get a grip on IBTs. And bro's been doing it by himself for three days.

*headdesk* Me and my choices of time off.

(In defense of the girlfriend, she had a lot on her plate, and she didn't grow up with this shit. I know better and really should have canned my weekend plans. Bad Kat, no cookie).

So milking. Jude at least does not have IBSTs (Itty Bitty Sensitive Titties); in fact, aside from occasional lunges to get the chickens out of her feed, she's perfectly well-behaved and never picks up a foot.

But all seems well aside from that, so I go home with the reasonable expectation I can face my parents in the morning without needing the hara-kiri knives.

Tuesday-Thursday: Be SICK AS A FUCKING DOG.

....yeah. Best laid plans, and all. Dan was coughing when we went to bed, I assumed as a hangover from last week's cold. I was not expecting him to wake me up at five am due to the sheer amount of heat his body was putting out. I wasn't expecting to feel the beginnings of coughing and general illness myself by the next morning. I certainly wasn't expecting to get to work, sans Dan, so exhausted that there was basically nothing to do but help Jim milk, check in with the parents, and huddle miserably over the heater until I could gather my strength for the drive home.

Being laid up for three friggin' days wasn't in the game plan, either.

And to add insult to injury, the fever had me so addled that for the first day and a half I couldn't even read. I kept passing out. What a waste of perfectly good guilt-free lie-in-bed time, I tell you!

*sulks*

I'm better now. We'll go in to work tomorrow, if nothing else to keep me from going stir-crazy. But seriously. The interesting times, I can has less of them now?
12:05 AM - kat -



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