Congratulations, you’ve been GOOD this year.
That’s so important, and we thank you for your goodness.
May kindness, charity, and love continue to attend you and yours in 2016.
2015 was a strange year in many ways – it was spent closer to home than usual, and deep in thought for the future. We saw many guests, attended many events, and ate a lot of delicious food. Lee took to wearing glasses most of the time (and while he cannot yet bring himself to consider actually wearing the bifocals, it seems a fair guess that that time will come sooner than he’d like).
We had several major slumber parties this year, the first being the Librarian’s Slumber Party in March when our house was headquarters to librarians coming into town for the ACRL Conference. June saw a full roller derby team down from Seattle, courtesy of Liz “Betsy Nails” Argall, a member of the Socket Wenches. And we again had a full house in October when more friends from Seattle came down for Orycon. It’s a good thing we have lots of flat spaces for people to sleep on! Right now the record for the most people in our house at one time is at 7 (plus the 2 of us) for 9 warm adult bodies. No one has yet tried to sleep on the massage table, but there’s always 2016….
We also hosted many more friends this year as well as some delicious lunches and dinners with friends passing through (and hope to continue opening our house and giving tours in the coming year): Ang, Rose, Gail, Miko and Jackson, Alaina and William, Erika, Kristina, Jaym, K and Tamra, Andy and Merrill, Debi, Priscilla, Leighton, Laura, Liz, Scott, Kat, Katelyn and Janelle.
We planned to stay close to home this year, and we didn’t really intend to attend so many gatherings. Oops?
1. The one big exception to our “Year Without Jet-Lag” was Lee’s Guest of Honoring at Arisia in Boston. We knew it was off to a great start when Lee collaborated with Nora Jemisin to create the Blue Lotus from her Dreamblood books for the Arisia badge. Lee was honored that Nora got the Lotus as a tattoo!
We saw so many lovely friends in Boston, both at the convention and out in the chilly and slightly snowy city. Crystal took us to the MFA and we saw their Goya Exhibition along with Olivia and Mark. After the museum, Venetia got to hear Mark read from his book and turned many shades of red while laughing at his reading bad romance fan fiction. Meanwhile, Lee enlisted Barb, Grey and Kat to assemble and frame 50 pieces of art for the art show and, later, hang those (and the additional 50 Small Gods). We could never have hung the whole show on our own, but thankfully Michelle, Talia, Jacob and others toiled while Lee began his first day of programming.
2. April saw us up to Seattle for Norwescon. It was especially busy this year as Game of Thrones creator George RR Martin was the Writer Guest of Honor and the halls were stuffed to (or past) capacity. The brilliant Julie Dillon was the Artist Guest, and we were lucky to come home with one of her large canvasses.
3. CthulhuCon brought the too-long-absent Paul Komoda to Portland. We were extremely glad to use Paul’s trip north as an opportunity to make him a glorious coloring book to sell (adult coloring books are currently all the rage, but we just wanted to create something so that Paul’s fans could take a little bit of his extraordinary work home with them).
4. Lee later attended a most unusual and inspiring convention in Portland: The World Domination Summit. This (ironically-named) convention took the place of San Diego Comic Con on Lee’s calendar for the first time in a decade, and will do so again in 2016. Our dear friends K and Tamra were going and graciously invited Lee to go with them and we were delighted they did! He had a marvelous time and was very inspired and motivated by the many creative people he got to meet and listen to.
5. August saw us struggling through the fiery gates of Mordor to the World Science Fiction Convention in Spokane (which was, at that time, surrounded by a ring of terrible forest fires). We made the most of our one breathable afternoon to explore the park and the gondola over the falls that had been built for The World’s Fair in the 70s, but other than that it was not safe to venture outside. Venetia and Liz may look slightly shady in the picture below, but going out without a facemask was like breathing pumice! The red sun you see below is, if anything, less red than it appeared to all of us in Spokane.
We finally met the outstanding Jim Wright, the blogger better known as Stonekettle Station, and bought one of the wooden asterisk ornaments he made for the event (it adorns our Christmas tree even now). We wrote a more detailed accounting of our World Con adventure at the time.
7. Lee designed the poster for this year’s 20th HP Lovecraft Film Festival as he had the 10th, a decade back. Having won the previous year’s version, he couldn’t compete in the live painting competition/demonstration, but he looks forward to a spirited return next year.
The undoubted highlight of that show was that it brought our beloved friends Janelle and Katelyn to stay with us in Portland. We spent as much time with them as we could, with adventures at Powell’s, the Audubon Society, and the Rose Garden. The perfection of that day is hard to even comprehend as Portland enters its 24th day of rain, but hopefully the pictures tell the story.
8. Lee attended Portland’s own Orycon where he displayed more than 40 pieces, hobnobbed with old pals, and met several wonderful people.
9. Ambercon NW at Edgefield was marvelous as always. Lee’s t-shirt design this year featured the Unicorn (much to Venetia’s delight), and Lee ran his first game in the long history of his attendance there. This year the demonstration of taiko drumming by Murray and Emma (coincident with the celebration of their 30th anniversary) was an especial highlight.
10. While we did not attend the Rose City Comic Con, we enjoyed two of their after-parties immensely – the first, Rachel and Miles X-plain the X-men’s fabulous Days of Future Past bash, the second Stephen and Nicolle’s costume soiree.
11. Venetia and Tracy made several trips to Seattle, however the one for the fabulous Drinks with Authors event after Emerald City Comic Con and the drive up in a rented Prius stand out particularly. While Venetia enjoyed the video game aspects of driving this strange hybrid vehicle, she still prefers our older and less flashy Honda Civic.
Some highlights of the year:
Rob and Lisa figure largely in our highlights of the year – showing us an amazing time in Seattle, Port Angeles, the Olympic Mountains and Victoria BC. Below are three panoramas shot on our phones.
They introduced us to the wonders of the game Legendary and despite Lee’s noted antipathy to games involving “too much randomness and luck”, it quickly became part of our every day routine. As much as we love the game for it’s storytelling, background and math, I think it’s safe to say that we enjoy its collaborative nature most of all. We are pretty fierce team! On average Lee wins every 4/5 games but that just means Venetia can do an extra dramatic victory dance whenever she beats him.
Liz Argall also introduced Venetia to the dopamine pleasures of Neko Atsume and Venetia is now very devoted to checking on her cats in her zen garden and buying them all the best toys.
When birthday-girl Alaina B visited early in the year, she took Venetia to her first strip club. The ladies had a splendid time enjoying the artistry of pole dancing, and were impressed by the skill and musical taste of the dancers (one girl danced to a Firewater song!)
We attended our friend Marysia’s astonishing Renegade Birthday Party and were entertained late into the night so by many talented people – jugglers, poets, acrobats and singers. Lee’s modest contribution was a rendition of Monty Python’s classic Not Noel Coward Song.
While we never seem to have the time we’d like, we managed to see several memorable TV series and movies, Agent Carter, Daredevil and part of Game of Thrones and AntMan, Mad Max: Fury Road, Spy, and Song of the Sea.
Venetia made an apple pie when Miko and Jackson came to stay with us on the day of pie singularity. Not only did we enjoy the pie, we shared it with Lis via the miracle of the internet.
After much debate and consultation we bought a new washer and dryer – the kind that sings when it’s done. Venetia can now do several loads of laundry in one day and is still thrilled by the power.
The abundance of our garden this summer was overwhelming. Literally. We were able to satisfy many friends and the most delightful flock of cedar waxwings with our two crops of figs and Venetia had fresh raspberries every morning for breakfast for almost two months.
Postmodern Jukebox visited Portland two times this year, at the Crystal Ballroom. While standing at the front of the crowd and dancing was splendid, we both appreciate the view and relaxing in the balcony on their last trip. Ariana Savalas’ whistling and Sarah Reich’s tap-dancing elevated their version of Bad Romance to new heights.
As usual, this year’s Laurelhurst Yard Sale was (as usual) a huge success! We found everything we were looking for, from a drinks hutch for Liz (requested that very morning, the first item we saw, and hand-delivered by the previous owners in their truck. My, but we love this town!) to the gilded kimonos seen above in the Worldcon photo, to a gorgeous old piano stool (We didn’t know we were looking for it but it was absolutely necessary!)
This fall, Petra led an expedition to the magical bra shop in Portland – The Pencil Test.
Venetia will happily take anyone who needs a proper fitting bra to this fine establishment.
With Halloween impending, Lee figured the time had come for his best Roy Batty. Happily the remaining hair cooperated with the nice lady at the salon, and the lighter tone seemed to go over well in all corners, though he was bemused to have people ask if he was costuming a character from friend Chris Roberson’s TV series I, Zombie. Apparently the key to a successful Blade Runner costume is to carry a rain machine with you at all times. The movie is so much more about atmosphere than mere accoutrements….
At long last the Doom saga has been laid to rest! In June of this year, the FTC came out with their first ruling on Kickstarters with the Doom that Came to Atlantic City. While it was a major news item, we are happy to move on knowing that the game is out and available and it is a relief to know that justice was finally served. Many stars finally aligned, for the three game creators to be in the same place for the first time ever:
Lee was on several podcasts this year but our favorite was the interview on creativity.
Venetia has started volunteering at a daycare and is greatly enjoying her time spent each week holding tiny babies and reading stories to them.
Progress continues on Starstruck, Lee received the final pages from Elaine Lee & Michael Kaluta this month and, even as you read this letter, is (with the invaluable help of James Ratcliffe) hard at work finishing them.
Lee created almost 2 dozen pieces for this year’s Months of Love and Fear challenges, even as last year’s adorable trick-or-treater (the adorable Rowan) found his way into Stephen Jones’ The Art of Horror.
Some delightfully random and fun work was created this year, and a great many portraits. Lee was able to do another cover for the fabulous Elliott Kay, as well as see previous covers go on to new heights with Amazon and Audible.
The Best of Caitlín R. Kiernan Volume 2: Beneath an Oil-Dark Sea came out and it looks great next to the previous volume. Subterranean Press does the most elegant design for their books, and Lee is grateful that collaboration with Caitlin, Bill and Yanni always yields such fine results.
Lee continues to attend yoga three or more times a week. After guiding Lee’s practice for more than three years, the marvelous Sarah and her husband moved to Idaho at summer’s end. It occasioned an excellent party thrown by her grateful students, but she will be much missed.
Venetia got a keyboard and enjoys playing scales on it (she swears she’ll get some YouTube tutorials this year and graduate to actually playing songs!) There were many milkshakes and crepes at one of our favorite food carts in Cartopia and due to mix-up in shake orders, Venetia has now replaced the dulce de leche shake with their strawberry shake as her new favorite. Our other favorite food cart in Portland is just around the corner and Vivi’s Yummy Rolls was especially outstanding in providing pho-to-go for Venetia’s colds this winter.
Known Adventures in the Coming Year:
Well it promises to be busy! These are the places we know we’ll be for sure, several conventions are still pending confirmation.
March 24-27: Norwescon in Seattle
June 30-July 3: Westercon in Portland
August 11-14: World Domination Summit in Portland
August 25-28: Bubonicon in Albuquerque NM – Lee is the Artist Guest of Honor
November 3-6: Ambercon NW
And as always, please let us know if you are in Portland! We would love to see you, show you around, put you up if you need a place to stay.