shanmonster: (Purple mohawk)
(Written yesterday)
The altitude is making me feel weak and exhausted. Kyle is doing better than I because he can take altitude sickness meds. I cannot as I am allergic to them.

Great frustration this morning at the hotel. We wanted information on interesting things to see within walking distance. The concierge knew nothing. We asked about walking tours, bus tours, or museums, but she had no information. We asked if there was a map we could have. Nope. No maps. I tried looking online, but it was tricky to navigate with just my phone. Eventually, I found a big park within walking distance and we went there. We rode on a paddle boat (I am an abysmal paddle boater), and walked around.

The people of Quito appear to be athletic by default. Lots of runners, martial artists, yogis, people doing calisthenics, football players, etc. plenty of body weight trainers, too, with adult monkey bars and a couple of people setting up a lyra (aerial hoop) in a tree.

We wandered more and found a mall. The most common shop sold athletic/adventure gear.
We wandered more and found a museum just a block away from the hotel. Wonderful handicrafts there. I'll be posting pictures.

Back at the hotel now. I probably won't be going out again today as the altitude has murdered my stamina and left my feet feeling positively battered. We leave for the Amazon in the morning.


Last night we met with our group guide. His name is Carlos and he did not inspire confidence. In fact, just the opposite. Where I had been looking forward to the trip to the Amazon, I am now wondering if we made a mistake. All the optional trips, like going to the hot springs, cloud forest, etcetera, weren't even mentioned, and he made it sound like they're downright unlikely. This journeys were a huge part of what sold me on the trip in the first place. He speaks derogatorily of neighboring nations, and doesn't hugely seem to give much of a fuck as to our questions and concerns. Will I get to see the animal sanctuary or the science centre at the centre of the world? Your guess is as good as mine.

It's Sunday morning now. In a couple of hours, we will be riding a bus of questionable security to Tema in the jungle. It is likely to last ~5 hours and may not have bathroom/lunch breaks. I sure hope I won't need to pee. I'm bringing food with me. Oh yes, pickpockets are common on the bus. Fantastic. I sure hope I can sit with Kyle so we can watch out for one another.
shanmonster: (Tiger claw)
I took suggestions under consideration. This is a work in progress. Enjoy...

(Still untitled)

My Daddy was a magus. That's what Momma told me, at least. I never got to meet him, so I have to take her word on the whole thing. She met him at a psychic festival, years ago, had a fling, and then whoopsy. There I was, nine months later. She said it was all foretold, and she knew he'd knock her up as soon as she laid eyes upon him. She has the sight and all. It's what let her know I'd be a late bloomer. )
shanmonster: (Tiger claw)
I worked at a crappity retail location selling knock-off Tommy Hilfiger sweaters, tiny Hong Kong women's fashions, and cheap bongs years ago. The store was in a mall, and I frequently worked the opening shift. My boss frequently set up little tests of my loyalty and competence. He hired what he called "mysterious shoppers" to check out my customer service skills. He was a strange and suspicious man.

One day, I showed up, opened the folding security doors, and was met by a scene of chaos. Pretty much the entirety of the floor was covered by heaps of plastic coat hangers--I'm talking at least a couple of hundred coat hangers. They were in tangled heaps, and there was no way the shop could be open to the public in this condition.

I hastened to tidy up the mess wondering why my boss thought it necessary to test me so. I'd pick up one hanger, and a bunch would come attached like Bizzaroland Barrel of Monkeys. I eventually got them all picked up and stashed in two giant garbage bags. The store didn't have any storage space, so I eventually stashed them in the change room. I figured that if someone wanted to try something on, I could just haul the bags out of the way.

A few hours later, my boss strolled in. He looked around the store, nodding contentedly, then said, "Good" before leaving again.
shanmonster: (Purple mohawk)
I would like to get back to regular writing again, and you folks have always been great with prompts. I'd prefer no fanfic prompts. So, what do you have for me? Go!
shanmonster: (Liothu'a)
(I recently rediscovered a bunch of stuff I'd written about six years ago. Here's the origin story for one of my Vampire Dark Ages characters. If you like this, check out Children of Elisabet for more.)

I was born on April 1, 1162 in the Transylvanian town of Kronstadt, deep in the Carpathian Mountains. The third of six children, I was put to work as a goose herd as soon as I could walk and wield a stick. Both of my parents were employed as servants at the Keep of the Teutonic Knights. At the age of seventeen, I married a wheelwright by the name of Nicolae. He was older than me by a decade or more, and he said he loved me. Although I didn't love him in return, he treated me well enough.

When the plague came to Kronstadt, Nicolae died first. )
shanmonster: (Purple mohawk)
In case you haven't figured it out, I'm clearing my tabs. There are so many open.

Here are a bunch of recipes I want to try out. Maybe you'd like to try them, too.

Apple Banana Quinoa Breakfast Cups

Dark Chocolate and Parsnip Cakes

Greek Avgolemono Chicken Soup
shanmonster: (Tiger claw)
The Yukon paddling race is looking less and less likely due to my inability to find someone close by to compete with. So I am looking into doing hiking and exploration adventures up there, instead. Here are some of the links I've found:

Whitehorse-area hikes: Mount White looks especially interesting because of mountain goats and their babies.

Carcross-area guided day trips

Carcross-area self-guided excursions

Dog-sledding kennel tour

Trip Advisor Whitehorse activities

Whitehorse travel guide

Beez Kneez Bakpakers hostel

Yukon hiking trail guide
shanmonster: (Zombie ShanMonster)
I do a lot of gardening, but finding ways to successfully grow a lot of things in a small amount of area is challenging for me. It's even more challenging when I can't dig in the dirt, and when squirrels are at war with me.

Here are a few ideas I'd like to try.

Wading pool gardening: Making raised beds out of kiddy wading pools.

Growing corn in shopping bags.

Squash Arch: I've had no luck with squash the last couple of years because of mildew. Perhaps this will help.

Tomato cage/drip irrigation

Do you have any suggestions?
shanmonster: (Purple mohawk)
My friend Mo sent me this link a while back, telling me the pancakes are delicious. It took me a while before I finally made them, but guess what? She's right.

It's gluten-free and egg-free, and super yummy.

The original portions in the recipe are too small, but here's the scaled-up recipe. It serves about three or four.

1 cup buckwheat flour
1 cup steel-cut oats (or grind rolled oats with a blender or food processor)
2 Tbsp ground flax seed
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
3/4 cup plain or Greek yoghourt
1 1/4 cup milk or milk substitute
2 tsp vanilla
2 Tbsp olive oil or coconut oil
2 sliced ripe bananas

Heat a skillet over medium heat for 3-5 minutes while you prepare the batter.

Whisk together dry ingredients. Add yoghourt, milk, vanilla, and oil. Mix until smooth. Batter should be thick, but you can thin it with a bit more milk, if you like.

Fold in bananas.

Put some oil in the pan, then add about 1/4 cup of batter per pancake. It should sizzle when it hits the pan. Cook until bubbles start to appear throughout, then flip and cook for about two minutes.

Serve 'em warm with all the fixings.
shanmonster: (Purple mohawk)
Today's the first time I've been able to access LJ in over a week. Has anyone else had issues with it? I'm seeing lots of posts, so now I'm thinking it's all about me. Yup.
shanmonster: (Dance Monkey Dance!)
It's been a while, but this one jumped to my attention. It's not a stellar piece of virtuosic skill. The choreography isn't earth-shattering. However, it is amazing because of all the students who were involved in this production. What a great teacher, to get so many kids interested in dance and the sheer joy of moving.

This is the A. Maceo Smith New Tech High School doing their interpretation of Uptown Funk.

shanmonster: (Dance Monkey Dance!)
Today was made with walking interspersed with a whole bunch of other stuff. Here's a video précis of my day.

My morning:



Now? Now I rest.


Jan. 7th, 2015 02:45 pm
shanmonster: (Tiger claw)
So I won a trip to the Yukon and entry into the world's longest kayak race (>770 km). I'm trying to figure out how to make this thing happen. A DNF is fine by me. I just want to be able to give it my best.

To-Do List

Jan. 4th, 2015 06:22 pm
shanmonster: (Purple mohawk)
I think I made one of these lists about ten years ago or so. I'm not sure where I put it, but I do know I should cross a few of these off. And here's another list, in no particular order.


  • learn to knit
  • Learn card weaving
  • Do a strict pull-up
  • Do a chest-to-bar pull-up
  • Create my own comic book
  • Make a meal strictly from wild-gathered food without leaving the city
  • Hike the Inca Trail
  • Travel to the UK
  • Take classical voice classes
  • Be an art model
  • Be a fashion model
  • Study trapeze
  • Learn to pole dance
  • Learn aerial silks
  • Learn to climb a rope
  • Do mixed martial arts fighting
  • Travel to a metropolis solo
  • Learn to spin poi
  • Learn to spin voi
  • Get my first solo art show
  • Learn to china paint
  • Learn to do soft pastels paintings
  • Run a cross-country race
  • Run a road race
  • Run a 5 km race
  • Run a 7/8 km race
  • Run a 10 km race
  • Try parkour
  • Eat a cricket (it was gross)
  • Self publish a book
  • Get published in a literary journal
  • Teach myself Latin
  • Learn to sing in German, Latin, French, and Italian
  • Go to the opera
  • Become a personal trainer
  • Study butoh, contemporary dance, modern dance, Khmer ballet, tap, ballet, flamenco, krump, breakdance, dancehall
  • Perform in a dance troupe
  • Perform a choreographed piece
  • Get rock climbing and belaying lessons
  • Do multiple, unassisted pistol squats
  • Do multiple glute-ham raises with ease
  • Ride a camel
  • See a Cirque du Soleil show
  • Learn to do a headstand

To Be Completed

  • Travel to Ecuador, Mongolia, Romania, Transylvania, Germany, Iceland, Greece, Morocco, Kenya, Hawaii, Antarctica, Galapagos Islands, Northwest Territories, Yukon Territory, Nunavut.
  • Participate in a Tough Mudder
  • Teach art
  • Go backwoods camping
  • Take up orienteering
  • Improve my Latin
  • Do unassisted handstand pushups
  • Learn to sing in Arabic
  • Learn to play the button-key accordion again
  • Learn how to boulder
  • Do a free-standing handstand
  • Get proficient enough at pistol squats to incorporate them in a dance performance
  • Ride an elephant
  • Ride an ostrich
  • Compete in a crosscountry adventure race
  • Run a half marathon
  • Run a marathon
  • Learn nålebinding
  • Hike the Lycian Way
  • Hike the entire Bruce Trail
  • Hike the Lares Trek
  • Write a novel
  • Make a quilt
  • Learn to throw a spear
  • Learn calligraphy

Incomplete (And likely to remain that way)

  • Complete a GoRuck Challenge. Unfortunately, due to an underlying hip issue, my sports doctor has cautioned me that participating in such an extreme act of endurance is likely to permanently ruin my hip. So instead, I have shadowed some events.
  • Complete a metal-smithing degree. Halfway through the program, I realized I am nowhere near passionate enough on the subject to complete my studies and go into further debt.
  • Travel to Congo, Iraq, Afghanistan, Central African Republic.

What am I missing? I'm sure there's plenty.
shanmonster: (Tiger claw)
Riza of Antinome slipped her foot behind that of the Lancastian soldier, pressed with her knee, then shoved the off-balance man hard into the wall. He sucked air in a noisy bray, the wind knocked right out of him. She laughed when she saw the next soldier rush toward her and easily tossed him over her shoulder and slammed him into the floor. She stood back, cackled, cracked her knuckles, then dived back into her fracas. She'd been stuck on board the Lancastian cruiser for too long behaving herself. It was time to let loose. With glee, she plucked the first soldier off the table where he'd collapsed mouth agape and swung him like a mallet into the second one. Both men made funny noises, now.

The soldiers at this bar felt secure with their reputations as ill-tempered thugs. Other patrons gave them deference. The bullies weren't used to resistance. They were too skilled with cruelty to expect anything from their opponents but pleas for mercy, and mercy wasn't really their forte. Riza knew of their reputation, of course. It was what brought her to this bar in particular. She wanted to stretch her legs--work out those kinks.

And so she waded into another man's fight. At the centre of the circle of sneering soldiers was a small, unarmed foreigner whose only crime was to wander into the wrong pub for a beer. He was a Marrup, from the looks of his peculiar dress. Riza didn't give half a toss about this man. She was just itching for an excuse.

The Marrup held his hands out in a placating gesture to the soldiers and screamed as one slashed at him with a knife. Riza grabbed the soldier's wrist and spun him around, smashing his face into the corner of the bar. The knife spun away, tip stabbing into the floor, hilt shuddering to stillness, and the foreigner plucked up his sarong and skittered out of reach of the soldiers.

Riza had always been an adrenaline junkie, as long as she could remember. When she was a little girl in Antinome, she'd often snuck off to go spelunking in perilous glacial crevasses much to her father's chagrin and her mother's secret pride. It had made her strong and quick on her feet. Her love of adventure was a blessing since a life of ease and comfort did not appeal to her at all. Her musculature was most impressive, with immense, sinewy thighs and a massive lat spread. She looked nothing like an average woman, and stood almost a full head taller than the average man. She was most certainly not an average anything. There could be no surprise that she should become a master of the martial arts, and a magnet for mayhem. Riza loved her life.

Five soldiers faced her now, angered that the foreigner had gotten away. She had ruined their fun. They would make her pay, or so they thought. The Antinomian slid Lifedrinker from its scabbard and took a low stance, ready for the onslaught. Her lips slid back, her nostrils flared, and her throat erupted into a terrifying battle cry. The patrons of the bar stood paralyzed, staring at the woman who dared challenge the Lancastian soldiers.

Two soldiers leapt at her with murder in their eyes, blades thrusting. Riza parried and dipped, piercing one man's throat on Lifedrinker, then smashing its hilt hard against the other man's temple.

Riza held Lifedrinker high over her head, and blood spattered down on her face. "My sword hungers for more," she growled.

The last three soldiers charged, swords swinging. Riza sidestepped, teeth gleaming with her battle rictus. From the shadows, someone hit her shoulder with a chair, and she was thrown off balance for a moment.

Taking advantage of the situation, one of the soldiers slashed downward with his sword, etching a long thin red line down Riza's right arm. Ignoring the deep scratch, Riza moved around the soldier, drawing him away from his cohorts. The remaining bar patrons fled as the two squared off, razor-sharp blades dancing through the air. Riza's war face turned into a pleased grin when she realized her opponent was a worthy one. But she wouldn't still be alive today if she hadn't already mastered every attack, feint, and riposte used on Gliese. Slowly, incrementally, the soldier was forced backward, until with a quick twist and a thrust, the Lancastian's military career was permanently ended.

With a jerk, Riza freed Lifedrinker and turned to face the last two soldiers. But instead of two, there was now only one, and he lie in a crumpled heap upon the floor where the Marrup was rhythmically bashing him about the head with a whiskey bottle, shouting with each hit. "Take that," he howled, "And that, and that!" He breathed heavily with exhaustion and righteous indignation.

Looking up, he noticed Riza and clambered to his feet taking a reverent bow. "My life is yours. Only tell me what to do, and I shall do it."

The Antinomian laughed, wiping Lifedrinker on the bludgeoned soldier. "You'd better run for the hills and pray that the gods protect you."

"Maybe we should both make for the hills," said the Marrup. "One of those soldiers got away, and I don't doubt he'll soon be back with a lot more."

Riza nodded to the Marrup, sheathed her sword, and breezed out into the Gliesean night. She sprinted down the street, pacing her breath with ease. She paused after turning the first corner, peeking back around the closed shop and down the street. Although she doubted reinforcements had arrived yet, she wasn't prepared to bet on it. But as she stopped to look, the little Marrup, sarong held high to give his legs freedom, darted around the corner and ran smack dab into her. Growling, she grabbed him by the collar and lifted him until they were eye level to one another.

"I'm through with you," she said. "Go your own way."

"I mustn't," said the Marrup. "By the laws of my people, my life belongs to you for a year and one day. Since you have saved my life, I am yours and may not leave your side."

Riza cursed and gave the Marrup a shake. "And I suppose that's why you threw a chair at me."

"My aim has never been good," cried the man half in terror and the other half remorse. "I apologize with all sincerity. I was trying to hit one of those soldiers in the head." He drooped in self-reproach.

Riza laughed and let the man go. "Maybe you do belong to me now, and maybe you don't," she said. "We'll sort that out later. In the meantime, do you know this part of the city?"

The Marrup straightened his collar. "Like the back of my hand," he said.

"Then get us out of here," said Riza.

"This way, lady," said the Marrup, and he whisked off into the shadows.

(to be continued...)
shanmonster: (Zombie ShanMonster)
(I'm going to see what happens when I completely rewrite every sentence in a book I've never read, doing it on the fly.

The book I've chosen is an old pulp fiction sci-fi book called The Sword of Lankor, by Howard L. Cory.)



The Sun Ball was the size of a fat lady's ass and it hovered several centimetres over the parking lot of the Church of Kaga, the ubiquitous two-headed God of War of the planet Gliese. An hour ago, the Ball had first appeared in orbit and had spent this time descending steadily from the sky.

When the Ball showed up, people didn't know what to think. Though the faithful were in abundance, so were the nonbelievers. Rumours of the Ball's arrival quickly spread, first, from the Church itself, to the palace, shopping centres, schoolyards, and the tourist traps. Atheists and pious alike streamed to the Church parking lot. The rotund Labak, manager of a religious book and figurine megastore, who had already made a very comfortable living huckstering spirituality to the masses, hurried his way there with all due haste. If he got the drop on the other retailers, he could secure the lucrative rights on Sun Ball statuary. He could see his coffers swelling if he could just be the first to license the exact measurements and colouration of the actual Sun Ball. He sent a courier to the head of House Malor, renowned for their goldsmithing. Labak didn't doubt for a moment that the Cardinal would grant the Seal of Kaga to his Balls, especially if he promised a sizeable percentage of the profits to the Church. After all, he'd done just that with the ceremonial medallions, official Church of Kaga holy items, complete with the Malor hallmark, of course.

Labak wasn't the only one whose day had suddenly been made brighter by the arrival of the Sun Ball. Taxon, a tiny sliver of a man with a bushy beard and a wispy comb-over from the neighbouring Marrup'ska, was a Holy Speaker. If he got there in time, he'd make a fortune interpreting, with appropriately obfuscated prophetic language, the true meaning of the Arrival. While in transit, he muttered a variety of True Meanings under his breath, mentally weighing the effect of each upon his bankbook.

Captain Carpat Rom of Her Majesty's Twenty-Third Regiment also viewed the Sun Ball with joy. How auspicious that it had arrived on his twenty-fourth birthday! He made sure to appear at the parking lot in full dress uniform, his moustache waxed to needle-sharp points. He marched smartly up to the parking lot, snapped his heels, and presented arms to the Sun Ball. This was as much to impress the masses as it was to give honour to the Battle Deity. He was very handsome in his brilliant gold jacket with navy piping. His medals gleamed almost as bright as the Sun Ball itself. He went to lay his sword upon the Sun Ball itself, but something stopped the sword from touching it. Perhaps it was a force field? Perhaps it was the sudden realization of impropriety? In any case, Captain Carpat Rom's moustache began to twitch in a rodent-like fashion, and then the dashing young man transformed into a dashing young corpse.

Shelby, a seasoned thief had been casing the parking lot and contemplating the best route of escape once she'd nabbed the Sun Ball, decided at this moment to rob a jewellery store, or anything else at all, really, instead.

Koal, a bishop of Kaga, stepped out of the Church and chewed his lip for a moment. Deep in thought, he walked up to the Ball and looked at it and the dead officer. After a moment, he clapped his hands and his attendants appeared by his side. "Have that removed," he said, pointing to the corpse. He paid no attention to them as they carried the handsome body away. For several minutes, he stared at the Ball, stately and solemn in his crimson scapular. Then he exhaled slowly, as though he'd been holding his breath all that time, and vanished back into the Church.

When the bishop sighed, the crowd murmured. A leggy boy, his voice not yet changed, whispered to his mother. "Maybe it's a sign from Kaga?" She tried to shush him, but it was too late. The thing that he had said had rippled outward spreading through the crowd, and within the next forty-eight hours, through the rest of the entire nation.
shanmonster: (Purple mohawk)
I had some sad-looking bananas that had to be used or tossed, so I went looking for a banana bread recipe. I found this one and modified it thusly (it's delicious!):

1 cup gluten-free flour
1 cup teff flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup Demerara sugar
1/4 cup butter, softened
2 large eggs
3 mashed ripe bananas
1/3 cup plain yoghourt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Olive oil to grease pan


Heat oven to 350°.

Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine the flour, baking soda, salt, and sugar, stirring with a whisk.

Mash up the butter and add the eggs, beating well. Blend in banana, yogurt, and vanilla. Add flour mixture; stir just until moist. Spoon batter into an 8 1/2 x 4 1/2-inch greased loaf pan. Bake at 350° for 1 hour or until a wooden pick inserted in centre comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes in pan on a wire rack; remove from pan. Cool completely on wire rack.
shanmonster: (Dance Monkey Dance!)
This is Janine Janik and Christian Arnaut performing an incredible contortion act that I consider dance. This performance is from 1954 and was done on the Colgate Comedy Hour Christmas Special.

shanmonster: (Tiger claw)
For a few years, while my family lived on the other side of the country, we rented our home to a destitute family for a pittance. Dad knew they didn't have much money, so charged them a mere dollar a month to live in our house. He figured the place would be in better shape with someone in it, plus he'd be doing these people a favour.

Unfortunately, Mel, the patriarch of the family was the sort of person so rotten that he seemed like a cartoon villain. He was an abusive man, dispersing torture to humans and animals alike. Our house was hacked to pieces and filled with feces, mouldering garbage, and slime. When we moved back home, he was evicted, and for quite some time, Dad stood outside our destroyed home with a match and a can of gasoline. To this day, I don't understand why he didn't burn the place.

But this story goes back a bit before Mel's eviction. Mel had a dog. It was a poor, wretched creature. Mel never bothered feeding him, so he subsisted on mouthfuls of grain and plundered garbage. Guy, the WWII vet who lived next door, took pity on the poor animal and put out a bowl of dog food every day. The dog began spending more and more time at Guy's place. After all, he was being fed there, and not kicked and whipped.

When Mel was finally evicted, the dog suffered the most. Mel decided that he was through with the animal. He got liquored up, got out his gun, and went hunting the dog. Terrified, the dog tore off to Guy's house. Mel managed to shoot the dog, but the bullet passed through its cheek. The dog cowered in Guy's porch while Mel struggled to reload his gun.

That's when Guy came out of his house with his gun in hand. Guy was a sharpshooter, and a damned fine one, at that. At first, Mel blustered about having the right to kill his own dog, but Guy, cool and icy as a November evening, told him the dog was his now, and if he ever saw him on his property or near the dog again, he'd shoot Mel the same way he'd shot the dog.

Mel left, and never came back. Hobo, as Guy christened the dog, made a full recovery and went on to be a great dog.

(More at The Sharpshooter I)

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