Letters to Holly

Friday, April 30

Slouching Toward Bethlehem

I stopped by the print store to see a proof copy of the comics. I didn't get it. Apparently the store was swamped with impractical orders. The day before, I saw a man commandeering the constant efforts of the print-desk associate; I learned later that he had been there virtually all day (8 to 8) working on a brochure and bookmarks. That's madness.

I appreciate that I have software at home and years of experience with it to cobble together what I need before handing it to the print people. I appreciate that other people don't have this. And I thoroughly understand that many people who want a print project really have no idea what they want. Instead they know what ads they like and hope to recreate as closely as possible. Hence the gabillion "got milk" ripoffs. Also the peeing/praying Calvins.

When I arrived, I waited about half an hour before they opened up my PDFs for the first time. I watched the associate (not the poor bedraggled creature from the day before) as he imported my PDFs page by page into another document to print them. That cocked my head. My PDFs were the right size and adorned with crop marks. They were ready to print. I made an effort to reduce their efforts. That's not altruism; the less they have to do, the more it resembled what I had in mind. I learned their software requires importation and printing. No matter how I gave them my files, this step would be necessary. Seems redundant.

I was told last week that I would save money and save them time if I made the files 4.25 inches wide. I had made them 4.125 inches wide. Since then I had bumped them up to the requested size. But the associate this day said the pages were too big to easily print with my attached page numbers. After a few tries at sizing the pages correctly, I held prints in my hand of the pages and the covers. They were not attached to each other or trimmed. Still, they had the pieces and the method to start the process. The cover looked great, by the way. I did not see a proof of my monster comic, but they have a template of sorts to follow. The paper and card stocks are nice. They have two weeks from today to get it done. It's out of my hands until I get my hands on it again.

I picked up Your Sister for the latest doctor visit. Her blood pressure is good. She was worried she hadn't put on enough weight since the previous visit, but the nurse said that gain would come soon enough. Roo's heartbeat is around 130. Your Sister has trouble lying down for the heartscan, but she toughs it out. We talked to the doctor about names and the childbirth classes, and we emphasized our trust in them when gametime arrives. We go back in two weeks. They did not crank up the bellyvision. On the way home, sparked by a Facebook comment, we agreed to circumcise Roo. The science argues that it helps prevent disease, including HPV.

That reminds me that Your Sister has already ceded the birds/bees talk to me when the time comes. My notion is to tell Roo to cautiously indulge himself. It's my hope that I don't become a parent who rails against the very bachelor activities he enjoyed. I've seen one of my exes make such comments online, and it's such a drastic reversal that I wonder if she posted them after losing a bet.

After an outdoor dinner, I mowed the yard and finally hacked at the backyard bush damaged by the snows. I was pooped. She was pooped. We plopped on the couch and turned on the TV. And this greeted us:

Of course, we watched the whole thing before she adjourned to the bed and me to the workshop. I'm enjoying this languorous pace for preparing my convention materials.

Tomorrow is mom's baby shower.

Thursday, April 29

Out of My Hands

One more tidbit from the delivery class: both moms-to-be asked about episiotomies, and the nurse said the on-call doctors do not favor them. There was much relief. But, she said, the back-up team is a bit ... happy with them. But mothers can request a procedure not be done unless absolutely necessary. I admit I didn't know what the procedure was at first. I started to clue into it and commenced squirming in my chair.

I took the comics to the print service at OfficeMax after work. I met my roller-derby buddy there, and he escorted me to the print desk and got my order started. They said they could get me proof copies by Thursday afternoon. I waffled on how many copies I wanted and decided to order too many. I can always sell later what doesn't sell at the convention. I handed over my jumpdrive, and they downloaded my PDFs. I was shaking with anxiety. I was stuttering.

Tangent: I had a horrible stutter as a child and required years of speech therapy. Turned out my mouth was moving too slow for my brain, and words came out as a mush. It still happens to me, and it manifests most obviously onstage. I talk too fast, regardless of how much caffeine is in my system. It also comes out when I'm wracked with nerves. Like when I hand over the project I've tackled for four months. Just like that, the convention is two weeks away. But I did this on schedule, and that's a comfort.

Speaking of the convention, one of the organizers contacted me and asked if he could give my info to a newspaper writer covering the convention. I might make the papers. That could sell more copies. I also started looking at options to sell the minis through my website. I tweaked the front page of the site to tease the medieval comic coming out Saturday and the convention two weeks later.

Your Sister had some discomfort last night and couldn't get comfy on the couch. She eventually sat on the arm of the couch before stretching on the floor with the yoga book. The yoga helped. Within an hour, she was comfortable again.

Your Father delivered another bag of baby stuff earlier in the day.

Picture of the Day
An unofficial illustration of what Lost would look like animated. Ben is an alien.

Wednesday, April 28

Almost Done and Almost Done

The second delivery class was packed with information.

We learned of the types of delivery assistance: augmentation and induction. Induction includes the use of a uterus balloon to open the cervix and let the baby slip down, a hormone pill that relaxes the cervix, and epidurals. Most labor medicine won't affect the baby. Morphine will, however. This week's round of videos included a C-section, epidurals, and the use of duellas. We also saw the forceps and vacuum suction tool. There were two acronyms we learned too: PURE and COAT.

PURE is for the support crew (the husbands):
osition is for moving and adjusting the mom in delivery,
U is the frequency of urination,
R is the relaxation we're to encourage, and
E is the environment, including playing bouncer to family members. The nurse teacher made it clear that they can keep the family at bay if so instructed by the mothers-to-be.

COAT is for the water breakage:
C is the color. If the water isn't clear, the baby may be exposed to excess fecal matter in the uterus.
O is odor. If the water has an odor, it may be mom's urine and thus not the onset of labor.
A is for amount. Water breakage will be significant and possibly in stages.
T is for time. The dad is to mark when the breakage occurs, telling everyone how long they have before the heavy labor kicks in.

There are also the Five Ps (a quick Google shows the amount changes and what the Ps stand for.
Position, passenger, pelvis, psyche, and power relate to the elements of labor and seem to be the nurse's mnemonic for attending to the moms.

The videos drove home the reality of the labor experience and the gravity of having a baby. It focused me to a degree I hadn't had before. It was anti-panic. Maybe it's a paternal instinct, a resolve to get Your Sister and Roo through this. She's concerned about the average 14 hours for labor. Specifically, she wants to know how we'll handle the parents. I told her, with no uncertainty, that I will send everyone home unless they behave. I'll be in the delivery room with her the whole time. Outside that door, I don't care what they do. Inside, we will not tolerate their insolence. We will go Dr. Doom.

One of the videos showed a German couple giving birth. The father hovered over the mom and gave constant assurance and congratulations. Again, Your Sister threatened the pimp hand if I did that I suggested instead that I would bark commands. In German.

We were told all insurance provides coverage for a 48-hour stay beginning when the baby is outside the mom. That extends another day if there's a C-section. The nurse gave us sample box of Enfamil formula.

+ + +

I finished the comics. The covers, lettering, page layouts, tweaks, and PDFs are all made and fretted over. I hope to drop them off at OfficeMax today. I gave the store a shout-out in the inside cover of the monster comic for being open on weekends. There are at least two local stores that lost out on a nice chunk of change because of this. I don't conside this project finished until I have the issues in hand and the table materials prepared. And of course I have to work a convention table for seven hours.

The last page of the monster comic will let people draw the monster in the open shell. I added a samples page on the inside cover.

And the very last thing I did was change the hero cover logo from red to white.

Tuesday, April 27

Eight Months

As we officially mark eight months of pregnancy, Your Sister is getting uncomfortable. The school chairs are not her friend. Roo's kicks are getting stronger. She soldiers on, and I try to keep her still and bring her things. Your Mom continues to pillage the local bargain bins for anything baby related despite Your Sister's instructions to give it a rest. Your Dad dropped off three bags of stuff yesterday, including Your Brother's baby blanket. I spent a good five minutes rubbing the blanket in my hands and sparking deep-seeded memories of my childhood. It feels just like the one I had.

I am thisclose to finishing the comics. In the two weeks before the convention, I'll make table displays. I bought a bundle of art supplies during my lunch break and am saving my receipts for tax purposes.

Moving Picture of the Day

A longish package for the Blue Ridge Rollergirls season opener.

Monday, April 26

Things Get Did

After Your Sister bought the new Rogue, she picked me up for lunch and to show off the car. It's not a wagon like the Matrix. It's an SUV. Any vehicle with an emergency brake pedal is a truck, as far as I'm concerned. It's a foot longer than the Matrix and few inches higher. She likes it, and it's much easier for her to get in and out. It's still not as big as the SUV Saturn tried to sell us in 2008. My memory of that is a cave on wheels.

After work, we attended a teacher birthday party, and I chased a toddler for a half hour.

We tried out a new restaurant in town, a sandwich nook on main street. It's called Mayberry's, and it's right across from O.P. Taylor's. Yeah. But it's a good shop with nice decor. Our waitress said she recognized me from running in the evenings which reminded me that I need to run in the evenings as soon as the comic stuff is done.

I went by the printer Friday afternoon to drop off my hero comic and was told that if I gave them both comics at the same time, I'd get a reduced paper rate. I was also informed that I'd save the cost of trimming pages if I added another .125 inches to the width. That's feasible. I was eager to hand them the book and get it out of my hands and off my back and from over my head. I left the store frustrated but convinced the deal was too good to pass up. I inked the monster comic Sunday and dashed off a quick cover drawing Monday morning. Both comics will be done and handed to the printer before this weekend. This, I swear.

I attended roller derby Saturday night and watched the debut of the new Asheville JV team, the French Broads. When the majority of our party went home, my buddy and I moved to the "suicide seating," the floor space at the rink's edge. If there's a spill, the competitors will fall into your lap. That didn't happen (dammit), but one of the Blue Ridge Roller girls, Chief Goober, did suffer a separated shoulder during a trip. We see similar injuries every bout. I might attend the next home bout in early June depending on how Your Sister is doing with Roo. She's sure she can see the baby's growth each day, and he should be averaging a half-pound increase about each week for the next month.

As I took out the compost bucket to the backyard bin, I noticed a piece of roofing flapping in the wind. I had heard the noise all day in the workshop but had no idea what caused it. The roof's ridge has a metal capper on it hammered in place. There is a string of them along the roof's length, and the one nearest the driveway was almost off. I hopped up and screwed and hammered it back down in a burst of giddy competence. And down I shimmied to add cheese to the baking pasta dish.

Picture of the Day
Seen around town during the president's vacation. I had no traffic problems, and I've heard from at least one person who saw the plane land at the airport. The local radio preacher felt his oats and informed the president -- who was no doubt listening -- that he was splitting the nation and could take the Shirley McClaine and Rosie O'Donnell. I almost crashed laughing at references to people who lost prominence five years ago.