Sunday, July 2, 2017


Hey, all!

And by all I mean one person. But still.

I have a couple posts that I've been working rather hard on, but since I leave for summer camp in half an hour I can't finish them. I come back in two weeks, and until then, I am SSNA*.

*Submerged So Not Active. Not a real submariner term, but it is a real bored-middle-schooler term.

But since I won't be able to complete my big upcoming post in time, I will give you a preview.

Last night Thea sent me an email.
Clever smudginess there. Heh.

Instead of replying via email, I called her to work out the logistics over the phone. That way there won't be a 30-minute lag. But of course I wanted to come, the question was simply if I could, seeing as we live half an hour away from anywhere interesting..."

Here are a few more photos.
The titular Chocolate Totoros, of course.
Delicious chocolate Tardis from the same company. 
Oh, and one last thing.
It has nothing to do with my WIP slice but it's cute.
See y'all soon.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

SOL no. 50: The End of an Era

DISCLAIMER: This post was written while I was very emotional and mad. It has bad grammar, and I am resisting the urge to fix it. It is censored for cussing but probably doesn't make sense.

Well. 50 SOLs in one year. Damn.
That's quite a lot. I'm getting close to double the requirements. In fact, when you count all my draft posts and uncounted "bonus SOLs", I have a grand total of 62. Exactly double!
Okay, seriously, I didn't plan that. But more importantly-- let me get to my book blog through the class blog. One sec. Heh. Bad internet. Okay... here's the class blog. Wait. What is this?--oh--oh----



I can't.... I can't... no...i won't let forever...i can't save them. i could never save them... at least she saved one. Four total-- two they saved, two never in danger. But three is nothing compared to eleven, to thirteen, to all the faces wiped out.

This is the end of an era.

I always knew it would happen, from the first time in August I logged into my shiny new school account and saw this in the corner of google drive.
Happy. I don't need to worry about running out of storage on Drive. I could upload as many movies as I needed, as many documents, as many emails, as many ancient photographs from Tari's class that I still can't bear to lose.

But a death sentence. All the work they did. All their formatting, all their writing, all their pictures and moments and lives. Gone forever. Because our school pays for the unlimited storage, it means that when the contract expires they take away old accounts that they don't need. Duh. Why pay for the account of someone who isn't a student?

But if you haven't protected your work, that smiling guy with the glasses is a death sentence for it.

I realized this when I went to the class blog and saw this.
I know it doesn't look like it, but I have visited every one of those blogs. Many times. Clicked on those links tens or hundreds of times.

Why, then, are some of them still brown? It isn't because of history clearing, or the old you-visited-the-post-not-the-whole-blog excuse.

It's because those blogs are dead. Forever.

Not all of them have gone the way of GJ, though. Some people saved their work by transferring it to their non-school email.

Willa took it all, saved it all, the other eighths took nothing, but you still have what is important.

Thank god for that, Thea.

I'm a seventh. All the sevenths (Fearless counts) are grey because their work has not vanished yet.

Actually, no. I'm an eighth now.




This is just the latest indication that the Order is dissolved. The Order that I have pledged loyalty to, the Order I have grown in and lived in and felt so comfortable in. The Order I... well, pardon the sentimentality, but the Order that is home to me.

The Order of the Trash-Can Fleur. That's what I call it. Because we have 3/4 of Logan's Fleurs (a summer camp thing, no relation), and we went to NOLA. If you haven't been to NOLA, they are obsessed with the fleur-de-lis there. It's a symbol of the city. They are obsessed.
Image credit here
They even do that. And when addressing all of us, Elizabeth called it the Order. Henceforth, we are the Order of the Trash-Can Fleurs. It's a bizarre name. That's the point. We are a bizarre group, and we are wonderful, and apparently 10 days in the Deep South was too much, because the Denver-grown Order all says y'all.I don't want to leave this. I don't want to leave y'all. I don't want you guys to scatter to the four corners of, um, Colorado, which actually has four corners, and then beyond for college. I don't want to lose you. I don't want you to be replaced. I don't want to lose y'all.
I don't want to leave. I'll cut the rest of the sentimentality.

I knew this was coming. The eighths gave a speech, they stood up and cheered, and then us sevenths stood up and cheered. A couple of the cynics were just glad we were getting off before they had to fight more battles against incredibly dumb moves, like the math ceiling and our beloved language teachers being replaced by computers.

This blog annihilation... it was the last step.

The Order is gone. F***.

I don't want this to happen. But I couldn't stop it.

I hope you will stay in touch with me, read the awkward emails I send y'all asking about rockets and cookies and more time in Alabama. I hope that this Order has left an impact on y'all, like it did me. I hope it won't die forever. But it can no longer stay alive itself. Goodbye, then.
Goodbye, Trash-Can Fleurs. God, I'll miss you.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

SOL no. 49: The Pupdate

My dog.

This thing.

This slice is going to be mostly pictures, but I think we need a bit of an explanation.

This weekend, we went camping. Again. It didn't snow this time. Since it was just the four of us, we... well, yeah, we carcamped, but on our day-hike we went a little bit more overboard. It wasn't a terribly long hike, about 8 miles, but for a puppy with tiny legs that's very long. Plus, we think Piper did about ten miles because she was always running back and forth to check that all of Her People were still there. But she figured out how to do water crossings, and drenched most of her lower body in mud. She also frolicked in the snow and ran into pine trees. At this point we have a good amount of mud, sweat, and pine needles tangled in the Rug-fur of her limbs. So we gave the exhausted Piper, who slept on my lap the entire drive back, a bath.

It is worth mentioning that she weighs about 12 pounds. Less than a quarter pound is fur, but fur makes up about 50% of her volume. Now I will just give you Piper pictures.
This water is warmer than the creek...
This has not been Photoshopped in any way.

Mom does the shampooing, and Liam is the constant-stream-of-chicken supplier.
You can see how much scrawnier she is than the dry picture.

This picture has not been PhotoShopped in any way.
What is this strange apparatus?
She looks so much more like a lab now.
This is Koosh-Ball Foot. Her leg is slicked down but the fluff on her foot is free-floating in the water. It's ridiculous.
More Koosh-Ball Foot
Bath is done... time for a toweling!

Our bathtub post-Piper.
...and with the water drained. How much dirt can be in one little puppy?
...and finally a picture of her through the window, because weirdness.

Friday, June 16, 2017

SOL no. 48: Hi, Again

I just spent an hour packing.

Seriously, it should not have taken me that long, but I'm kind of lazy.

The important thing is what I've been packing for. On Tuesday, I'm returning to see an old friend again. It's the only Logan camp I've bothered to do in years (the last two years, it's been pointed more and more towards small children and scared anyone in 4+ grade away) but I went to the Sand Dunes a few years ago on a class trip and it was awesome. Liam will go with me. I don't know any of the other names of the folks. But I know that Max will be leading the trip. That's enough said.
This is yet another official broadcast from [A Title Goes Here] broadcasting company. All formatting errors are in the original. Images have been provided to add context.

LUIS: Chaika! Hey, Chaika!

CHAIKA: Oh, hi, Luis. Fancy seeing you here. [grins]

LUIS: Do you still have that dumb jacket?

CHAIKA: [laughs] Yes, actually-- it's in my backpack.

LUIS: Damn. That's impressive. It's been two years, and its still tied around your waist. And let's not forget two years before that--

CHAIKA: Damn. Has it really been two years since I saw you, Luis?

LUIS: Yep. And it's been four years since we met. You've grown.

CHAIKA: You... look exactly the same. Duh.

LUIS: So you're an eighth grader now?

CHAIKA: [shudders] Um, yes, technically, but really I am a seventh still, I'm not--

LUIS: You were a fourth when I met you. Does Mark still teach?

CHAIKA: Yeah. Um-- he doesn't have a classroom, but he still teaches. Basically helps kids with big projects. Oh, hey, there's the chicken station!

LUIS: Yeah. The chicken station. Do you still have those pictures?

CHAIKA: Of course!

[pause of about an hour. Chaika reads Fall of Giants again, Luis stares out the window]

LUIS: Hey, Chaika. You're going swimming at the pool again?

CHAIKA: Yep. The pool. We can see where we stayed.

LUIS: And you're hiking to high dune, and Zapata falls. So this whole thing is just deja vu all over again, isn't it?

CHAIKA: No, not all of it! We're going to an alligator farm. I love gators.

LUIS: Really? Huh. When did that happen?

CHAIKA: When we went to NOLA.

LUIS: Um... what's NOLA? Sorry. I don't travel much.

CHAIKA: New Orleans, LouisiAna. Capital A on the "Ana."

LUIS: Oh. Okay.

CHAIKA: But... yeah, the rest of it is sort of deja vu. That's why I'm doing it.

LUIS: Yeah, you were always the memory sort. Livin' in the past, huh, Chaika?

CHAIKA: Shut up.

[Luis complies. Chaika keeps reading. I've Heard the Screams of the Vegetables plays, to Liam's delight. Chaika hums along. She almost knows the song by heart, and really not on purpose. The Sand Dunes come into sight.]

MAX: Hey, guys! Check it out!

[The bus whoops. 30 minutes pass, and it pulls into a campground. Chaika has packed up her gear. She clutches her book at the part where Fitz panics and his troops play soccer with Walter's. She and Luis disembark the bus.]

CHAIKA: Okay, Luis, guess you'd better leave now. See ya round.

LUIS: Yeah. I'll keep an eye on you all, Chaik.

CHAIKA: Chaika, please. Chaik is a terrible name. It's almost as bad as your full name.

LUIS: [blushing] Shut up. Do not call me by my full name. Hey, after this, will it be two years until our paths cross again?

CHAIKA: [scoffs] Ach, hell knows. I'll be out of here on Friday. Short.

LUIS: Bye, Chaikaaaaa.

CHAIKA: Oh god. You are a pain in the... um. Well, bye then, San Luis Valley.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

SOL no. 47: Spring Spring Sprong

I was in NOLA over my brother's birthday. I have no idea what he did, who came over, and whether or not they were in my room. All I know is that I bought him a jigsaw puzzle of NOLA (heh) and when I got back Liam was 11. 
So he's a tween now. Oh god.
It took him a few days to put this together. Even though it makes a bad map, I pointed out good restaurants using it.
Image credit here.
There was an assortment of LeGos (a very awkward tribute to RM) on the basement floor. Mostly Star Wars. He'd put them together and hadn't played with them since. I love Legos too. I like putting them together, and occasionally scrambling around minifigs to make my characters. I don't have enough long hair pieces to make many of my female chars, though. And there's no blue cape for Pax. But besides that, I haven't played with my Legos since Laura came over and... damn. I don't have photos. But we stuck appendages everywhere and created horrifying centaur-bat-demon-bamboo things. But other than that, I have outgrown Legos. They are in the basement now. And I think Liam has too, he just refuses to give them up.

I think there should be a little-free-library for Lego sets. You pick one up, take the pieces out of labeled plastic bags (like Ziplocks) put it together, take it apart, put the bits back in the Ziplocks, and send it on its way. Only problem is that people would definitely lose/steal pieces. 


But more importantly, Liam's present from the parents was three giant boxes, each weighing 50+ pounds. They stood on our patio until this Sunday, when we unwrapped them. They contained trampoline bits.

TANGENT: My dog loves to eat cardboard. She is a canine holepuncher. Also a dishwasher. Our recycling bin is always full of mauled scraps like this:
Actually, that one's pretty new. Usually they're more mauled. End of tangent.

It took us most of the morning, but we got the steel and foam apparatuses together. My mom and I finished the net in the afternoon, while the boys were at football. So now we have a trampoline.

P.S: If you've been to my house before, you might remember an old wooden play structure. We destroyed that before putting up the trampoline. No one but Piper used it anymore. But that was cute.

P.P.S: Also, no dogs are allowed on the trampoline. Sorry.
Sorry for blurriness.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

SOL no. 46: Go to Heel

I tested again.
I won't go into too much detail, but it took place on June 3rd. A Saturday.
It was hot.
There were five of us there: My brother Liam, me, and three other boys ranging from 8 to 18 years old. No Gillian or her sister, though-- I haven't seen them since.
I thought we did well. We weren't the high blues last time, but we did well.
Things I sucked at:
Back swing kick
Things that could have been better:
Power in my forms
Snake (in general)

Our compulsory was Taegeuk Ee-jang. I said last time how it was a form I was scared of, but we'd been practicing and we got it down.
I think we passed.

And now, only six days later, we'd find out. But I was quite scared of failure on June 10th, and it had nothing to do with what I'd already done.

It was breaking.

See, due to some weird things happening, I'd already broken with a back kick before, but in the two classes leading up to it (both taught by the 4:00 guy, a somewhat harsh but fun instructor who is quite good with small children) I'd failed miserably. I would focus and focus but either my kick wouldn't be strong enough or I'd hit with the wrong part of my foot or I'd do a strange combination between a back kick and a back swing kick. I was burning up with embarrassment. I'd just tested for red on my belt! I had to be better than this.

It happened both times. I was nervous as heck. I kept telling myself calm down, you've done this before. I know you can break with a back kick. You already have. Duh. Calm down.
But that had been three months ago, I thought. Five minutes ago I had been terrible.

I touched the collar of my dobok to check my sticker was still there. It was small and orange, with B1 written on it. (Mentally, it was B17, because I'm an idiot and Oliver cannot do an Australian accent.) I was the first blue belt to sign up for breaking, I'd be the first to break.

Idiot, idiot. Why had I chosen to go first? My brother was B2, and another low blue-- pseudonymed Elias-- was B3. I was rather surprised when I saw Elias last Saturday for testing, because I hadn't seen him in ages. He'd been Liam's best friend as a white belt, but then he double-tested and was a rank or more ahead of us. We hadn't interacted in months. But there'd been no sign of the other low blues.

They called up the white belts. All 3 billion of them, it seemed. Many of the kids had trouble with their flying sidekicks, and had to try 2 or 3 times. But in the end, all of them broke their boards. This one white belt, an adult male, didn't break with a sidekick of any sort. He broke with-- get this-- an audobon  (not how it's spelled, think double roundhouse) and a back swing kick. Dang. Clearly he'd trained before. That guy ended up getting a high green belt later-- he'd done a make-up test to see where his skills were, as he'd taken a hiatus in his training. Rumors flew around the yet-to-break crowd. He was a black belt, but he'd transferred schools from New Mexico. Or Mexico proper. He wasn't a black belt, he was a bodan, no he was a eedan, blah blah blah.

The low and high yellow belts broke. Same deal. The adults did stationary sidekicks. My favorite high yellow, a young, quiet girl, did a flying sidekick. She had to try again on the breaking, which surprised me. This girl was amazing. Her forms were impeccable, stances better than mine. She was loud when she needed to be and quiet and respectful the rest of the time. She was focused, disciplined... she'd make the best younger buddy in the world.

Only two green belts-- one low, one high-- had tested on Saturday. Neither of them were there. So after the high yellows returned with their snapped boards, it was our turn. The three low blues and an adult high blue-- B4-- ran up to the judge's table. The 4:00 instructor (I don't have a pseudonym for him) was controlling us. He bowed us in, and then everyone but me sat down.

I was breathing heavily, but I tried not to show my nervousness. I introduced myself, speaking loudly in a low voice. I said my name, "B1. Permission to break, sirs?"
I was granted permission. An adult black belt presented the board-- adult size. Thick. I'd never broken a child size, as I'd been 11 when I started. My brother Liam had broken only one child size, the first time. Then he got the big boards. I took a deep breath and settled into a fighting stance, flourishing a bit as I brought my hands up. I wanted to look good. The 4:00 instructor whispered into my ear. "Move a bit to the right." I did. We'd talked about it in class-- my "swinging" kick meant that I should stagger a bit. He wanted me to succeed, even though I'd been quite bad in class. He wanted me to succeed. That made me feel a bit better.

Kate's words echoed in my head. Slow and steady does the trick. Then someone else's-- I don't know who. Loud kihaps make up for a world of mistakes. I can yell, for sure. I will.

Well, let's get it over with. I yelled loudly. "Hah!" I pivoted on my heels, snapped my head around, caught a glimpse of the beige board out of the corner of my eye, and shoved my foot outwards, yelling again.
I felt it crack.  The board, not my foot. A neat, snapping sound. The audience applauded politely, but I knew I'd done it wrong. The part of my foot tingling from the impact was too far forward. I'd broken with the arch of my foot, not the heel. But still. A back kick. It worked. I was exhilarated.

My brother had done impeccably in practice, of course. He is impeccable. But when he kihaped and turned, hitting the board, he had too little power. I flashed back to last time we'd broken, and the same thing had happened. Biting his lip, he settled back into a fighting stance and kicked again. It was less neat, but it was still a back kick, and it snapped the board neatly.

B3 and 4 broke, and then a father-daughter team of low reds, and an eight-year-old high red. The white and yellow belts were awarded with their certificates. They all passed. Their current belts were untied and slung around their neck, while their new belts-- low yellow, high yellow, low green-- were tied around their waist by a black belt.

Or bodan. There was one bodan, an adult with a strong British accent. He wasn't officially a black belt and probably wouldn't be for some time, but he tied belts, held boards, etc. Bodans older than 11 are essentially black belts.

Don (the officiating judge) called out the blue belt names. He pronounced my first name right. "Yes sir!" I called, and ran to the front of the table, getting into a chumbee "ready" stance. Then he called Liam, and then Elias. We'd all broken. He read off our certificates. I learned that Elias was actually a bit older than Liam, to my surprise. We each passed, and the audience clapped politely. The three of us stood still as black belts untied our current blue belts and tied on ones with red stripes. We bowed out, took a picture with our certificates, and sat back down.

Everyone else bumped up a belt. The young high-red became a bodan. I'd never seen anyone become a bodan. I breathed in, excited. Tomorrow, I'd start my new forms. That meant Pyong Ahn Oh Dan, my favorite form of all time. Yes. Yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes....

Dang. It's late now. Like, 10:00. Oops. I'm not supposed to be on my computer this late. Um. Let's post this and go to sleep. Sorry.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

SOL no. 45: Camping (Part the Latter): Return to F***ing Chatfield

Some of you might remember my slice in which Tari's class and Max's class had the brilliant idea of a joint field trip. I gave Ivan my Soviet aviator goggles to go with his very Russian winter hat. I have a pic of this somewhere.

Old doodle of Winter Phil and (Comrade) Ivan.
I realized I drew Phil taller than Ivan, so the dialogue about Phil's giant nonexistent boots.
Oh. That's not a picture, persay, but the other F***ing Chatfield picture is not finished. I have Daniel as a noseless silhouette. If I redraw that I'll update it.

Okay, let's be honest. I've broken so many promises over the course of this blog, from the nonexistant Bodans will be Bodans comic to my failure to write about the fleather cartel, to... so many dam things. My god. That picture will never be updated. Honesty over and out now.

**A human personification of honesty somehow does an awkward Slov wave**

But the morning after exploring a castle and more than two years after refusing to get rained out, Fearless and I woke up to two inches of snow outside of our thin tent walls and something thundering towards us very quickly. I looked at the growing shadow, indistinct through the rainfly. The beast skidded to a halt, spraying the fly with snow. It immediately started licking the snow from the tarp. I shook my head. My beastie was loose, and it looked like she was enjoying the snow.

But the humans weren't. It wasn't the two inches of snow, it was the twenty-degree temperatures when we'd packed planning for twice that much. Our parents had collapsed the big tarp already. Fearless and I hastily packed up our clothing, carp, and the tent. I almost tripped over Piper on the way to the car. Her paws and mouth were dusted with snow. Liam said that she'd been so cold in the night that when they'd let her in in the morning, she'd clambered and hid in Mom's sleeping bag and proceeded to give everyone a 30-minute lickfest. I love my puppy.
So we went and had breakfast in a nearby town, and the two families separated. Fearless came with us, of course. Mom wanted to go for a hike, and so a few hours we pulled into the parking lot of Castlewood Canyon State Park. The parents were talking about a dam trail, with the ruins of, well, a dam. 
Dam trail? That sounded familiar.
This place sounded like it was F***ing Chatfield. Not actual Chatfield, for the record-- there is absolutely no relation to actual Chatfield except the weird brain of a cold, high-on-hot-cocoa Ivan.

I need to link now, so HERE IT IS. I recommend reading this post to understand where I'm coming from.

It turns out Castlewood Canyon was, in fact F***ing Chatfield. I recognized the parking lot, the original stretch of trail... clearly F***ing Chatfield. We walked Piper down the other side of the trail. The bit with Cole's cave, where Theo and Phil jump-scared the entire class, was on the other side of the dam. It formed a 2-mile loop that connected with the dam.
We went around that, and then around a four-mile loop.
I can see why our class went on the westernmost path of the four-mile-loop. The eastern route had a steep elevation gain until we were not only out of the canyon but substantially above it. There was some slickrocking involved.
I hadn't hiked in a long time, so I was out of breath. Fearless trooped along. Poor Piper had to be carried in a backpack with her head poking out the top.

I have no pictures. Sorry. It was adorable.

After much hiking, a thorough conversation with Fearless about next year, and the occasional jellybean, we finished. My mom pulled a Vishal and brought an entire can of smoked trout. I stole and ate 3/4 of it. That stuff is good.

Finally, we piled into the car, listened to another WWDTM, and began the long schlep home.