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May the Fourth

Star Wars day falls on a Monday, which is when we play our Edge of the Empire weekly role play, so that works out.

Besides that we’ve been playing various boardgames from John’s collection. Some Imperial Assault, the app version. Some random small games like Welcome to Dinoworld, which I am abysmally bad at. But mostly Arkham Horror, we’ve played several kinds but this weekend we started the app version, which is not bad at all.

Meanwhile I’ve finally gotten back onto the PS4 on a regular basis, sinking my teeth into Horizon Zero Dawn. It’s a very pretty game, with enough of a variety to keep me focused. It’s been a while since I played enough of a game to actually get decent at it, so that’s nice!

Food, glorious food.

John and I take turns cooking dinner, just like before lockdown, we were already pretty good at using up our veg box to get a nice variety of dishes. Obviously now we also eat weekday breakfast and lunch at home, usually breakfast is just toast or cereal, lunch we have together but it’s mostly random who makes it, plus lately the weather has been nice enough we can have it outside. We were a bit surprised that our grocery bill has gone up, but of course we’re buying the larger sizes and planning ahead for things that we might need a week down the line since you can’t just pop out for an onion or whatever.

And then there’s delivery! Thankfully a lot of local businesses have set up delivery services, restaurants of course; we’ve been getting delivery food at least once a week I’d guess. Nominally it’s to support the local places we would miss if they didn’t survive, but really it’s to cheer ourselves up. Nigerian food from Afritopia, pizza from Pizza Roma, fried chicken from Star Chicken, kebabs from Best Kebab, fish and chips from Ted’s. Yeah, we’re doing okay on that front.

We’ve also continued our tradition of date night/day – once a month we take turns figuring out something special – a nice meal or little surprise, nothing major but a little special treat. It was my turn this month and I was stumped until I found The Vintage Tea Room, which delivers a full afternoon tea on china plates! It was very reasonable too, just lovely.

Add in SoRoast coffee and the Butcher’s Hook beer delivery services, and we’re sorted. Given what a huge part of our entertainment food has become, that’s super lucky!

First month

Lockdown is a month old now, things are still going as well as they can here.

Both of us are still working, my job is slowing down a bit but with big swings as circumstances and regulations change in various countries. Work helps but we’ve settled into a few routines that help give the week shape; both of us get up at the same time, and for the past week or so have been taking our exercise in the morning so the park isn’t as busy. I usually make coffee and toast or cereal while John does the litter and feeds the cats. We have breakfast together while reading comics, and I’m at my desk by 8:30. Sometimes one or both of us pops into a casual discord morning chat with some of Third Row fandom. We’re both mostly keeping office hours, although things are still pretty chaotic with my work so I’ve had to put in a few hours on the weekend and evenings.

Monday night is our Star Wars roleplay, using rpgsessions and Discord. Ironically I use my laptop in the living room so that our audio doesn’t overlap. Thursday evening Alison Scott has organized a fannish Zoom after work. Saturday morning I make pancakes, sometimes Sunday as well. Wednesdays (if we remember) we get some sort of pastries and make espressos for breakfast. John has a couple of other regular game nights set up with other fols, of course, and last Saturday the Third Row gang organized a Zoom quiz which might become fortnightly if enthusiasm maintains. Add in a few external reminders of the outside world like veg box delivery on Wednesdays, and I’m usually no more confused about the day of the week than I ever was.

Well shit

Normally I’d start off with the usual apologies for not having posted in ages, but that seems silly under the circumstances.

Long story short, I stated working from home from March 19th and John was already doing so by then. Lockdown followed on the 23rd, and fortunately we’d been pretty stocked up between regular shopping habits, Brexit prep, and a few additional bits and pieces. We were already getting a weekly veg box, there are several good delivery services for bread, coffee, and beer, plus quite a few take outs and restaurants for the occasional treat. Our neighborhood is pretty conveniently located; we’re close to the river and riverside park, not too crowded around here, and there’s a good neighbourhood Facebook and street Whatsapp. The wifi is good, we have the cats to entertain us, and the garden to get some sunshine if the park looks busy. We’re incredibly lucky, in short.

Whoops – left this in drafts!

Arts and crafts

So the good news I hinted at came through, but then I got so busy I forgot to post; I have an exhibition at the local bookstore through March 28th. The opening was yesterday, and while it didn’t exactly get crowded it was a fun time with a bunch of friends and a few strangers who were kind enough to buy some of the art, can’t ask for much more than that.

On the crafts front, there’s a local antiques/crafts place that has opened a new location in town and I’ve secured a little shelf there. The timing was tricky because of the above, but I got enough stuff put together to get a start and am really looking forward to doing more crafts.

So, a very busy February, not even counting my actual day job, which has been a bit chaotic as all the cruise lines are changing itineraries and cancelling cruises outright.

And now it’s my birthday month, with several weekend visitors planned through the month and we’ve even had several hours of sunshine.

Taste of con

Last weekend we went to the SciFi Ball for the day on Saturday. It’s a local convention which is almost the reverse of what I’m used to in some ways, with the big focus being on the evening events (hence the name) and cheap day tickets to just hit the panels and dealer’s room. While I am all about the nightlife, the evening ticket price was too steep for me at $145 so we just went for the afternoon on Saturday. Just walking into a hotel full of nerds makes me feel good, and there was a fair bit of cosplay, a couple of Daleks running around and a pretty good selection of dealers.

Highlights; both talks we attended were good, the first was an interview with Dr. David Doak, who helped create Goldeneye, among other things. The second was the headliner, Marina Sirtis, who just roamed the stake taking questions and telling jokes and anecdotes. She is a very fun presence and it was worth the price of admission. I also picked up a lovely Good Omens linocut from Brambledown Designs.

Afterwards we went to Forbidden Planet, John found two excellent Dave Kyle illustrated history of science fiction books at a charity shop, we had dinner at the Black Phoenix, and finally went home to watch For All Mankind. An excellent nerdy Saturday.

Good news everyone!

Well, not for everyone. Generally the news has been pretty dismal, but on a personal level I got a raise, and some adjustments to my job, and some other good news hopefully tab. So that’s something. Then this past weekend Josh visited, which meant John played a LOT of boardgames and was very happy. We played the last on an Unlocked box, which was an excellent Sherlock Holmes mystery. So a good month so far in that sense.

We also finally have a date for getting our bathroom re-done, it’s a few months away, and we’ll have to sort out what to do with the cats during the festivities but it will be great to have a shower again.

In the meantime I’ve been getting some 2019 Hugo nominating reading done; The Ten Thousand Doors of January is going on there, as probably is Gods of Jade and Thunder (I haven’t finished reading that yet, though). It’s a rich field this year, I think.

Beyond the Brotherhood

So far 2020 has been chock full of culture for us, we’ve fitted in two museum visits and a movie trip and the month is not over yet.

First Saturday of January we took the train into the New Forest to see an exhibit at the St. Barbe Museum and Gallery in Lymington. The idea behind the exhibition was what would Romantic art look like today, and while it was a mixed bag there were artists and pieces I liked a great deal. Primarily we were there to see a big intricate piece by local Southampton artist Greg Gilbert, who we first found at the local museum here. We also had breakfast at Hoxton, visited every single charity shop (I found a Hario Jumping Leaf teapot), and had a lovely lunch at Lemana.

The next weekend John’s parents visited and was beer, Costco, and boardgames mostly. They kindly brought the things we hadn’t wanted to lug home after Xmas, so I now have a light box and a paper trimmer, amongst other things. Oh, and a hammer drill!

Finally las weekend we went to our local Southampton City Gallery for an exhibition called Beyond the Brotherhood: The Pre-Raphaelite Legacy, which is basically what it says on the tin. It had a wonderful range; the first section includes a wide range of pieces and types of art, from big familiar pieces to illustrations, sketches, and ceramics. I was delighted to see ‘Vanity’ by Frank Cadogan Cowper, which is just beautiful up close. The exhibitions then goes on to show the legacy in later art and illustration, up to and including recent and contemporary fantasy art, including Brian Froud and Alan Lee. It wraps up at the end of the month here but then moves on to the Russell-Cotes Gallery in Bournemouth, whose collection is the source of a lot of the major pieces in the exhibit.

All that, and we even made it to the movies for once, to see Jojo Rabbit, which I really loved. I expected the humour, but not the emotional depth necessarily, or not on that level. I basically cried nonstop the last ten minutes. Waititi is doing his own things, but there was a lot of Vonnegut in there, and not a little Dr. Strangelove… it also made me want to watch the original version of To Be or Not to Be. I’m going to be thinking about this one for a while.

2020

Well here we are in the far-flung future of 2020!

We had intended on a relatively low key NYE at Unity Brewing’s taproom, but both of us had sore throats so we scaled it back to a couple of pints at the Butcher’s Hook, where I had a lovely marshmallow porter and we had a nice chat with some strangers at our table. Back home we played a board game, ordered Indian food, watched the first half of Point Break, and were in bed just in time to wish each other a happy new year snuggled up with the cats as the fireworks went off outside. Perhaps not the most exciting new year’s ever but enjoyable all the same.

Turkey and burritos

On the weekend of the 23rd, we had an early Thanksgiving with John’s parents, George and Kathryn. I had made two practice pumpkin pies with the Halloween jack-o-lantern and although the third attempt was with canned pumpkin I was pretty pleased with the results. John’s turkey was very good indeed, and John got to open some early birthday presents, so a good time was hopefully had by all.

On Thanksgiving itself we were on a flight to San Francisco. We lucked out and had a row to ourselves, we watched the first ten minutes of Hustle, which was disappointing, How to Train Your Dragon 3, which was okay, and The Lego Movie 2 with I enjoyed more than expected. I then watched the first half or so of Ma, which felt like a lost opportunity.

9pm on Thanksgiving is not the best time to find dinner, but luckily Taraval had several options. We had a truly reviving hot and sour soup, plus a substantial set menu at 8 Immortals, and then walked to Palle’s for good company, cat cuddles, and sleep.

Over the next week we did a bit of shopping to take advantage of the sales, some minimal touristing, but mainly tried to fit in as many visits with friends as possible; we started Friday in Berkeley and then headed down to San Jose for a few days with Bryan and Mette and their adorable new kittens Heyes and Curry. The weather was truly terrible but we did manage a trip into town for Christmas in the Park.

Monday was back up to the city for lunch with Garcia at Super Duper burger followed by beer and pizza in the evening with Jade, Erik, and Joe Price at Cellarmaker in the Mission. Tuesday was John’s actual birthday so we got chicken and waffles at Lois the Pie Queen in Oakland, with key lime pie for dessert. We walked over to Emeryville for a bit of shopping and to see Knives Out, which was really great. And for dinner we met up with Anthony for more pizza and beer at Drake’s in Oakland. We ended with ice cream at the Humphrey Slocum stand outside, and barring Deb’s absence due to work it was pretty much the perfect evening.

Wednesday was our quiet day, so we stayed in the Sunset. Still, that involved breakfast at the Tennessee Grill, a long walk to collect my Xmas present from John, followed by coffee at The Beanery on 9th and Irving, a long walk back to Parkside with a stop at The Sunset Reservoir Brewery which had a lovely cucumber Gose, and we tasted a really nice chilli liqueur. The quiet day ended with burritos from EBX and a rewatching of Hot Fuzz.

Thursday we spent the morning running separate errands, I stopped by Borderlands, which is still looking great, then headed to the Haight to see Steve. We had beers, comfort food at Orphan Andy’s, more beer at Noc Noc’s, and watched the Harry Styles episode of SNL. Then Joe Price picked us up a traditional nightime drive through the Bay’s beauty spots.

On the drive back along Park Presidio we had noticed a big stately white building. I looked it up and it turns out it’s the home of the Internet Archive, at they do tours on the first Friday of each month. So on Friday that was our first bit of proper touristing, it was pretty neat and inspiring. For the evening we went south for excellent Spanish food with Leigh Anne and Leo at Iberia in Belmont, followed by cat play time with their lovely, fluffy new kitten.

And then it was my last day, we had a big breakfast at the grill, quality cat time with Harold, then suffered a replacement bus due to flooding in the West Portal tunnel in order to hit Ghirardelli for a decadent ice cream lunch. Santacon stragglers, holiday lights, and shopping crowds made me feel nostalgic and it was a nice way to end my trip.