• Sigrid Ellis

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    Sigrid Ellis is co-editor of the Hugo-nominated Queers Dig Time Lords and Chicks Dig Comics anthologies. She edits the best-selling Pretty Deadly from Image Comics. She is the flash-fiction editor of Queers Destroy Science Fiction, from Lightspeed Press. She edited the Hugo-nominated Apex Magazine for 2014. She lives with her partner, their two homeschooled children, her partner’s boyfriend, and a host of vertebrate and invertebrate pets in Saint Paul, MN.
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“I’m not discussing it ALONE!”

(Son enters room, MegaBlock piece in hand)

Son: You know, this MegaBlock pile of coins looks more like a pile of poo.

(J and I look)

Me: Okay.

J: It does. Huh.

(Son exits)

J: It reminds me of that leprechaun cake we saw at the bakery, the one with the piles of poo.

Me: Yeah, it does! What were those supposed to be, anyway?

J: Piles of coins, I think.

Me: Then why were they dark brown?

J: They weren’t. They were a dark gold color.

Me: See? You’ve talked about the leprechaun poo so much that, in my head, it’s dark brown.

J: No, it was gold spilling out of the pots of gold, not piles of poo.

Me: Why are we even discussing this?

J: Well, I’m not discussing it alone!



Today is actually the day

Happy birthday, M.

Ten years ago today we’d been at the hospital overnight already. I think I went home at some point and let the dogs out and got a bit of sleep, maybe? I don’t recall that point. The photos of everyone at the hospital show a bunch of ill-lit zombie-looking people, at any rate.

Your birth family were crowded around you. We took up SPACE, my son. Birth family on both sides and adoptive family and clan. A lot of people were super-happy to see you come into the world.

You were very blotchy. No offense, but you just were. Blotchy and so, so very much a red-head. Just like your birth mom and, amusingly enough, like my mother. I remember she laughed to get a red-headed, blue-eyed grandchild.

The next day when it was time for us to take you home, it was Two Stooges Dress the Baby. We laughed while trying to fit your limbs into a Winnie-the-Pooh onesie. We figured that eventually we would get better at it, and finally we did.

Happy birthday, my fine ten-year-old boy. I love you.


The Soudan Mine

Photo-heavy post! Be warned!

Yesterday my family and I drove up to Virginia, MN. J’s maternal family is from there, and we wanted to take a look at some of the places she remembers from her childhood. We also drove the half-mile north of Virginia to Soudan, to see the Soudan Mine.

The Soudan Underground Mine State Park is located in Minnesota’s oldest underground mine. We learned a vast amount about the history of mining and mining technology in Minnesota, much of which I will impart to you, here.

We stopped on the way into Virginia at the Mineview Overlook, also called Top of the Rock. The overlook was constructed from mine tailings. It’s an artificial hill about … 150 feet or 50 meters high, on the south edge of Virginia.


That’s the view north from the overlook. The lake is, of course, a flooded pit mine.

You see, after Linz-Donawitz basic oxygen steelmaking was developed, the oxygen-rich ore from deep in the Soudan Mine was no longer required for bessemer conversion. The oxygen-poor iron littered all over the surface of the Minnesota Arrowhead was easier and cheaper to get. The Soudan Mine was closed, in 1962, and the entire region converted to open-pit taconite mining.


In the distance, past the shrubbery, is one of the operating taconite mines west of Virginia.

Up at the top of the overlook are a couple of the taconite mining trucks.




Also, the kids stood in a giant scoop.


We got lunch at a cafe in Virginia, J spotted the insurance business started by her grandfather, we looked at the old downtown area a bit. Then we drove up to Soudan. I urge you to do a map search for Soudan, MN, to get a sense of how absolutely out in the middle of nowhere this place is.

The tour of the underground mine is 2340 feet below the surface, and 680-something feet below sea level. One gets to level 27 on the original lift used in 1962 for the miners. The lift moves at ten miles per hour, not only vertically but about 500 feet laterally, on a steep diagonal. It is small and loud and vibrates intensely. For those of us who like thrill rides, it was great. For those of us who were concerned about safety, it was worrisome. The ride lasts about three minutes.

I don’t have any pictures of the actual underground tour. For one thing, it was sort of dark. For another … I was entranced. I was listening to the guide, and looking around, and just marveling at it all. But I do have some pictures of the above-ground structures.


A model of where the tour goes underground. The blue lit line is the path of the tour, the dark blobby structures are the open spaces in the mine.



The winch that hauls the lift up and down. There are two cars, linked. One goes up and the other goes down.



A copy of the Notice to Workers regarding explosives. Note the different languages. Our guide made sure to mention that teams underground were deliberately comprised of men who did not speak each others’ languages, prior to the 1930s — to prevent union talk.


The Drill House, where the drill bits were maintained and sharpened and forged.



There were signs for ALL the historical drills and drill bits, but only a couple of the photos came out.




My kids are mighty blacksmiths!

The Drill House left ALL SORTS OF THINGS just, just OUT for you to TOUCH and LIFT. Big rusty metal bars twelve feet long. Working presses. Big metal door-things that go smoosh. And we got to play with them ALL.

We also climbed down the tailings hill to the disused rail line, where a rusting-out hopper car was parked. There were no signs saying don’t climb on it, so the four of us scaled the thing. It was AWESOME.

I highly, highly recommend the park and the tour. It’s lovely. It’s educational. It’s FUN.


Friday miscellany

1. The Circus Juventas show, Oz, was very good. The book was written specifically for this show, and thus was not a direct rendition of any Oz story you already know. (Auntie Em lived with her sister, Auntie Henrietta. For instance.)

If you do get to see it, I recommend paying especial attention to The Scarecrow and The Wizard. They were outstanding. And The Wizard’s costume … it was a delight. It … it gave the distinct impression that The Wizard was a cage dancer in The Castro district circa 1982.

2. I went running again this morning. Randomly in my neighborhood, no route or distance planned. Went 1.9 miles … without really thinking about it. Ran up four flights of stairs (two, then a rest, then two more.) I don’t even know.

3. The cooking lessons with the kids are paying off. On Wednesday, for dinner, K just … made a veggie stir-fry. For herself. Because she felt like it.

Go team.


Best park is best

This Saturday my family and I set out to go to the YMCA, as we do almost every Saturday morning.

Events occurred.

Best park is best.

Some things are worth it

This is NOT a post about feminism, or about poor behavior on the part of some members of SFWA, or about misogyny in gaming or comics. This is a post about my awesome kid.

I took M to my friend LT’s house yesterday for his first lesson in shooting. He’d been looking forward to this for two weeks. He memorized the gun safety pamphlet she’d given him. He practiced proper gun safety in the yard with his cap gun. He was enthused. He was prepared.

I worry, as a parent, when one of my kids has built something up into being super-important. I, personally, try to lower my expectations of longed-for events so that I am not disappointed. But different people handle this sort of things differently. M was stoked about going shooting.

LT has taught MANY PEOPLE, including me, to shoot MANY types of firearms. She set up the airgun range in her garage. When we got there, she quizzed M on his gun safety knowledge. He passed superbly. I started to relax. Maybe this would go okay.

It went great.

M was great. He was safe, he observed all rules of gun safety and etiquette, and he shot really really well. Thank crickets. It matters a lot to him.

So, we’re going to make plans for him to continue shooting the airgun, and LT’s from time to time over the summer.


Happy kid.


That was a bit of a weekend

1. The visit from my family was lovely. I like them, they are good people, and it’s nice to get a chance to see them all together.

2. K is learning how to work around her broken finger. It’s on her dominant hand, and she is fairly strongly -handed, so it’s a bit rough for her. But she’s learning. J and I are still working out how things like school and chores are going to go.

3. Work is work-like. The weather is improving, so more and more general aviation pilots are flying. In addition, the photo mission flights have begun. (Aerial surveillance planes, taking surveys.) These flights need to fly very slowly, at fixed altitudes, and can’t be moved. So everyone has to move around them. It’s a bit of a thing.

4. I’m watching the tv series Orphan Black. It didn’t grab me right away, but as of episode four I am invested. Tatiana Maslany is playing at least four characters, women who are clones in a secret project of some sort. There are conspiracies and spies and secrets and all sorts of crazy, and it passes the Bechdel Test constantly, and it has queers and people of color in supporting roles. Also, the show features adoption and fostering in a rightly-complicated light.

Side note, Tatiana Maslany played Ghost in Ginger Snaps 2: Unleashed, which is one of my favorite movies.

5. Ten days until I leave for Wiscon.