A Very Busy Day

Yesterday I had our monthly Cabinet meeting, and it always takes a lot out of me, but we got through everything on the agenda and got out of the meeting with three minutes to spare. I really am aware of how much people sacrifice to get to these meetings, so I try to make the best use of their time.

But it left me pretty flat this morning, but I was up at 6:50 to meet up with Amber, a friend of mine, whom I word war with at 7 am every Thursday morning. She's a lawyer so has to get to work by 9 on that day at least, so we just get the words in before she leaves for work. Right at 9 am, Gina showed up with 10 pounds of white grapes from the vines in her backyard and all the ingredients for jelly.

White Grape Jelly
We did two entire batches of grape jelly, five pounds of grapes per, with one package of pectin and a lot of time and a very nice food mill. has a very nice recipe that details the whole process, and the Sure-Jel people have a very solid recipe for the jelly. So solid I was amazed after the uncertain gelling of the crabapple batches. These gelled solid, like bricks, it was amazing.

We pretty much did what they said and it all worked. One batch we did with the cheesecloth and got a product that was clear and almost white wine colored. The other we left the pulp in and it's cloudier and greener, and odder looking, but the taste has a bit more depth to it and texture. That was fun. It was pretty nice to be able to use John's five gallon brew pot to do all the canning in as I actually have a rack that fits in the bottom of that, and Gina had all the gear to do the canning work with, including the tongs that can so easily pick up the jars. It was a lot easier than using the shark mitts. And we got through two whole batches of jelly just after noon. So we were able to pack everything up, and I was able to take fifteen minutes to eat some lunch before I want down to the tattoo parlor at 2nd and Main.

I don't even really know if it has a name. *laughs* All I know is that Mike works there and his wife does the greeting at the front entrance. And I met Julie there just before 1 pm.

Julie is well past 70 and well past being shy about doing what she wants to do, and one of the things she'd said she wanted to do was get a small tattoo. I said that I'd been wanting a tattoo for the last five years, and if she wanted company, I'd love to do it with her. So we went today to get information, figure out what we had to do, and to assess what it was that they did. Mike's art book had a certain grace to it that I loved, and I'm pretty happy with what I saw there. I think having me around helped Julie with the whole process, and having her there calmed me down a lot, too. It was nice to share the experience, and having someone along that wasn't scared at any of it made it feel okay to be just calm about the whole thing.

So we got ballpark amounts, figured out likely dates, and got all our questions answered, and then headed home. I found out that I had some conflicts with some of the potential dates, but then figured out a clear date, so we'll get it done probably the 22nd of October. I was also told that I could send email ideas and possible images, and Mike would send me back some artwork so that I could approve it before it gets put on me. *grins* I like that. Maybe I'll count it as a late birthday present for myself. *laughs*

Then I fell into bed and slept like the dead until I awoke with a panic attack from not being able to breathe. *sighs* I have the beginnings of a head cold that I'm trying to deny with all my might, but it's pretty much here. I'm doing extra asthma meds, as there's a virus going around masquerading as a common cold and actually putting a lot of kids into the hospital with breathing problems. I'm probably susceptible to it, but adults aren't supposed to be hit quite as hard. We'll see.

Jet and I found Teddy online on TF2, so we played with him for a while, and it was really great being able to be on an offensive with him enough times to know that we were basically fighting together. That felt pretty cool, and Jet had fun being a really good annoying attack engie with a mini sentry. I was just my usual pryo with spurts of using the Phlognosticator instead of the usual flame thrower. I still have double the time as a pyro as I do as a Heavy or an Engineer, and I'll admit that my Heavy uses the Hu Long Heater, which basically is a Heavy throwing fire around. Dragon Heavy, I think of him. It was also funny that my Phlognosticator pyro loadout carries a shotgun as a secondary weapon, which is unusual for me, now, as I usually use the various flare guns instead, so I surprised myself by running out of fuel and suddenly firing shotgun blasts. I actually managed to get a triple kill at one point, which surprised me, too. *laughs*

One amazing thing, though, was that the server provided replay abilities, so with one F6, I could keep the last life as a replay in temporary storage until I decided to render it into a movie or not. There are a bunch of achievements attached to actually doing a replay and saving it somewhere, so I decided to just do it. It wasn't a good replay. I should have actually hit the button for the triple kill, but I forgot about it in the aftermath, but it's a very nice thing to be able to do in respawn. So I made a tiny movie, but I'm not posting it anywhere, yet, as I'm not proud enough of it. I just wanted to prove to myself that I could do it.

I've also been doing the tutorials in Source Filmmaker (SFM). Ever since I played a particular game Carl ran, there's been a movie in my head that I've wanted to make, and SFM is astonishingly easy to pick up. They've made a lot of the camera controls like the game controls, and all the maps and props and items and character models in over two dozen different games are available already on the platform. The best thing is that in the midst of the movie controls, you can just hit a button and be *in* the game. So if you're doing movie controls, hit record, go into the game, then you start recording whatever you're doing from that moment until you hit stop. You can pick and choose cameras to put on the action, you can layer other 'characters' on top of the first, and it has all the editing features you'd expect. It's a quick and FREE way to make an action film in the TF2 style, and there's all the model manipulation tools you'd ever want and more.

It's getting my story brain back into gear, which is a very nice thing to have again...