When Love is Stronger Than Fear

The last wedding I was at, Responsibilities were Required of me.  That was fine- I love weddings, and I love being In Charge of Things, so it was win-win, in my estimation.  Today's wedding, on the other hand, I got to be Just a Guest, and I have to say- that was pretty great, too.  Especially since this was the first wedding (since our own) that I got to bring Nathan with me, so on top of my typical "I love weddings and happy people!" blubbering there was also, "Oh remember what we did at our wedding?" blubbering (on my part, anyway).  Also the thing that, had you asked me before this evening, I'd have sworn would never happen:

Ladies and gentlemen, my husband danced with me.  On a dance floor.  In public.  There were witnesses!  Possibly even photographic evidence!  It was... so incredibly moving, because he is a person that does not dance.  Can not dance, to hear him tell it.  He does not "get" expressing one's self through The Art of Dance, and he is embarrassed by my proclivity for busting a move wherever/whenever (especially in grocery stores).  It should therefore come as no surprise that, when the dancing portion of the reception started, I was out on the dance floor with some other brave souls getting my Exuberance on, while Nathan calmly sipped beer and shot photos from the safe seclusion of our table.  So when Elvis Presley's "Love Me Tender" started playing and I made pitiful eyes at him, I did not actually expect him to respond beyond his typical head shake.  But...  he didn't shake his head.  He took off his camera, stood up, and walked over to me- and we danced!

And readers, I almost started crying again.  Happy crying, because it was such a perfect example of him valuing me more than his own pride.  I know he was afraid of looking like a fool on the dance floor, but he got out there, anyway, because he knew it would mean something to me.

And that's the secret, all you non-life-partnered peeps wondering just what it is you you should be looking for: happily ever after is not a magic trophy that someone hands you when you get everything Just Right.  It's found in those small moments when love overcomes fear.


Oh Glorious Day!

Today has gone just about as well as a day can go.

This morning Nathan and I loaded up the car, strapped Ruli to the rack, and nipped down to Portland to pick up  my Katie.  From there we traveled three hours to Otter Rock, where they released me into the wild to surf whilst they went about their esoteric photographer business.

This is only the third or fourth time I've gotten out since being back, and I have to admit that the previous times have left me feeling a little discouraged.  It's been cold (really cold), it's been rainy (which I don't mind for surfing, per se, but it sure makes me feel guilty about anyone who's come along with me), and I was out of surfing shape, which means I couldn't go for more than about half an hour to an hour at a time.  But today-  well for starters it was an insanely gorgeous day: sunny with a nice wind (maybe not so nice for surfing purposes, but nice for non-surfing pursuits) and the water just normally cold instead of dangerously cold.  I was afraid such lovely weather might make for a crowded beach, but as it turned out it wasn't that bad- and what was really awesome was that it was the largest gathering of female surfers I've ever seen on an Oregon beach.  And all surfing at about my level, so it really felt like a community- lots of smiles and laughing and encouragement.  Very comfortable, very empowering, very good.

And then, of course, the coup de grace to my previous discouragement: I'm back in shape.  The daily cycling commute has got my cardio back up to where it needs to be, and my back finally seems to be recovering from whatever it was I to it back in March (it involved dancing and alcohol and back-bending too exuberantly) which means my pop-ups are far less painful.  That combined with the small, pleasant waves meant that I was actually catching and riding more than I was missing- and I had one especially beautiful, long ride that felt like pure triumph.  My soul was singing all day long, happy to be home again in the ocean.

Happy happy- but see how my hair was already drying from the sun?  I'd been out not even an hour at that point.
Once the other two lured me back on shore we headed out to in search of fish and chips, which, as you may recall, is something of a favorite of mine.  I've not had particularly good luck finding any of decent quality on this side of the Atlantic, but I am happy to announce that the fare to be had at The Chowder Bowl in Newport, while not perhaps on par with the docks of Portsmouth, was definitely the best I've had stateside.

Woo, mission accomplished!

So that was particularly pleasing, as well.  Not to mention the scrumptiousness of Katie's clam chowder, followed up by bread pudding with a generous dollop of brandy.  (Hmm, I am beginning to detect a Certain Correlation between my Best Days and Delicious Food.  Mere coincidence? Or something more sinister...)

On the drive home we got to talking about how nice it will be to have the house, and access to a driveway and a hose.  I'll be able to rinse off Ruli, and clean up all my gear without Ridiculous Shower Acrobatics, and give the Blueberry a bath without worrying about what might happen to our various racks.  The sewer scope came back good, so we're still on track to close by the 15th.  It was pointed out to me that I've not yet posted any pictures of the house on this blog, so that will be an entry in the near future.  But now?  Now it's time for bed, 'cos Nathan's gotten it into his head that we should go hike around Mirror Lake tomorrow, and I definitely need to recover from today's activities!


A Return to Fiction

Several Literary Related Events went down today.  First off, we finally got to see the new Harry Potter movie ("finally"? It's only been out three days... sheesh...), and I'll have you know I went in prepared with a hankie.  Which I used.  And of course I have my nerd-core complaints about it (which I shall not get into here lest Spoilers Occur) but all in all I just really enjoyed the hell out of that movie.  The dragon alone sent me in to rapturous wriggles of beautifully-rendered-anatomy artist-glee.

From there we walked up a block to the brand new library, which was having its Grand Opening today, so I could pick up my five books on hold (mmm, graphic novel glut).  It's a gorgeous library- so modern and lovely and just... wonderful.  (And my pocket-book breathes a sigh of relief that the temptation-to-impulse-buy-books has been once again reduced to manageable levels.)

So both of those things put me in a brilliant mood, as did the subsequent reading of Daytripper (beautiful on so many levels- exquisite linework, exquisite sentiment: I highly highly highly recommend it to anyone, but especially anyone who ponders death, life, and the intersections thereof) and the cherry on all of that delicious cake was getting a text from one of my beta readers this morning saying that she now finds my protagonist "curious and spirited" which is a vast improvement over "I want to slap the hell out of her" (said beta's reaction to draft one).  Needless to say, all of this fictional goodness but me in excellent spirits to sit down and work on "the new one", so that is what I did.  And then I realized that I haven't thrown any fiction up here for a good long while, so I thought I'd share a bit...

Whenever Urgrosma had spoken of the wall that surrounded the castle of the Sleeping Rose she had said it had grown out of a plant called verbrenindorn, a word which translated, more or less, to “burning thorn”. I’d always thought she had meant nettles- those stinging plants that itched like fire if bare skin accidently brushed against them. But what I stood before now was nothing that had grown naturally in our world.

I stared at the thorns, trying to discern why exactly they made the hair on the back of my neck rise up in alarm. The casual observer might have chalked it up to the ghostly blue fire that danced along the spines- and although it’s true such obvious proof of its magical nature was a bit… unsettling, I did not think it was that alone which gave me the sense of danger. The flame did not give off any heat, and did not burn the grass around it- nor did it melt the tip of my spear when I poked it experimentally. But something- something about this had led to the scattered skeletons I saw- some laying right at my feet, others visible deeper within the thorns: all charred. Could it be that the barrier was slowing growing outward? Was that why there were bones at different depths? Or was there something hiding amidst the thorns, sometimes emerging to kill, other times dragging its prey in? The dragon, perhaps?

As I was pondering this, my horse let out an irritated squeal and danced sidewise, knocking into me in such a way that I slammed my face into the pommel of my sword. Pain spiked through my skull in that way that only hitting your nose can cause, followed by the unpleasant sensation of blood pouring from my nostrils.

“Skyfather’s tits!” I swore, wiping the blood away with a swipe of my hand that ended in flinging the red fluid onto the thorns. Anything other blasphemies I might have been tempted to utter were immediately silenced by what I noticed then.

The blood was burning.

Not the blood on my hand, or smeared across my face- but every droplet that had struck the eerie blue light of the thorns had burst into white-hot flame. I stared at it in disbelief for a moment, then gathered more from my upper lip and held it above the plant. I flicked my fingers and again, wherever the blood touched the blue fire it sizzled and burned.

A magic that turned blood flammable, attached to thorns that looked sharp as any blade.

I took a step backwards, suddenly realizing why the skeletons were at different depths in the wall: those further in had hacked their way through the barrier for a while- until a single thorn had pierced their skin.

I had a brief moment of illness as I imagined what it might feel like to burn to death from the inside out- then felt overwhelming gratitude for whatever insect had stung my heretofore gentle mare.

“Good girl,” I said, grabbing her reins and leading her away from the verbrenindorn. “Very, very good girl.”



Dusk is just starting to settle her skirts as we wheel our bicycles out of the apartment.  It's still fairly warm out, so my tissue-thin, white-is-most-visible t-shirt is feeling quite comfortable- although I've strapped a fleece to the Zuri's carrier, just in case.

I let Nathan take point- it's true that I prefer to lead (in this as in most things) but trial-and-error has taught me that after dark it's wiser to fall back, because checking my six with him behind me invariably leads to me being blinded.  At least it gives me the fun of swinging my own headlight back and forth, back and forth across his form in a private game of Searchlight.  ("Are you having an epileptic fit back there?")

People are out in the streets shooting off firecrackers (as people do on the 4th) and I have to admit- it's more than a little nerve wracking.  The noise, the lights- the general drunkenness that means people don't necessarily recognize a cyclist as someone to look out for.  I'm stressing out a little, and I'm thinking about the men and women in the military who have to deal with said conditions on a daily basis- without the comforting knowledge that it's just firecrackers, and that if anyone gets hit it will more likely than not be an accident.  And not fatal.  How odd that we celebrate our independence by reconstructing the sounds and smells of war- by taming it, making it a pet whose claws we've gilded.

It's three miles down to the waterfront, and we find a grassy patch to park our bikes and our selves.  Our timing is impeccable: not five minutes later the show over the fort gets started.  Since we didn't pay to get in we get to experience the strange disconnect between flash and bang, and I find myself making a game of guessing what noise each display will make.

I ask Nathan what his favorites are, and he tells me that it's the ones that are mostly noise- just a big flash and a big bang.  Me?  I like the glittery ones- specifically the gold, although I never say no to purple.  The ones that seem to swim like minnows intrigue me, too- I've only seen them in recent years, and they always make me think of Gandalf, or maybe Hogwarts... they have a sort of life to them I'd not have though possible with mere gunpowder.

I watch explosion after explosion and I realize I'm a little bored.  It makes me sad: when did fireworks stop being a big deal?  Is this a natural part of growing up?  Or am I just spoiled?  Either way, when the finale comes (the real one- we thought it happened twice before it did) we don't waste much time hopping back on our bikes and cycling home.  There are fewer explosions now that it's nearing midnight, but definitely more drunks- and more belligerent drunks, at that.  Although I'm not afraid, exactly, I am grateful for the nimble speed of my aluminum steed, and for Nathan's imposing bulk beside me.

We cruise through quieter neighborhoods and talk in giddy terms about the house that will soon be ours.  I realize how happy I am in this moment, with this man, and I feel overwhelmed with gratitude for this life that we have found and made together.  And as we put our bikes to bed in our safe little apartment I think of the soldiers out in the darkness, who will never feel jaded about fiery night-time explosions, and I feel grateful for them, too- and I hope they too get to go home soon.



Well, they countered our offer, and we countered their counter... and they accepted!  Woo hoo!  I cannot begin to tell you how freaking excited I am.  Don't get me wrong- I'm trying to hold at least part of me in "let's see what the inspection says" skepticism, but mostly... I'm just freaking excited.  I've been rolling the phrase "our house" around on my tongue, and have found its taste to be surprisingly similar in both quality and satisfaction to the phrase "my husband".

(I always have thought getting a mortgage together was ever so much more of a commitment than marriage...)

Schrodinger's Accuracy

I'm sitting in the bathroom, watching the color creep up the stick, and I'm thinking to myself,

Right now, in this moment, it could go either way.  Right now, in this moment, it is both ways.

It may surprise you to discover that I'm not actually referring to whether or not I'm harboring a new life form within my womb.  No, what I'm pondering in this moment is a person's faith in the accuracy of at-home pregnancy tests.  And really, it all comes down to the result of said test. Or, to be stricly accurate, the desired result.

In this instance, the result is negative, and so my reaction is,

Pfft, these things are wrong all the time.

Of course, this is in direct opposition to the rush of overwhelming relief that flooded through me the first time I got a negative from such a test (I was a freshman in college, if that tells you anything about my mental state).  I tossed the stick away and set off about my life with a spring in my step and a whistle on my lips: in no way did I feel the urge to second-guess that single blue line.

Likewise, had it been a little blue plus sign I was staring at a few moments ago, I'd have taken it as Gospel Truth... but it wasn't, and so I remain skeptical.

(Which, let's face it, is preferable to being crushed.)


Not How I Imagined My Day Ending

I was expecting it to be a good day.

I got to sleep in a little, rolled in to work about half an hour later than I normally do (but still before opening, so I was fine), and then had enough work to keep me occupied (but not overwhelmed or annoyed) until the market closed at 1300.  I'd already arranged with my boss to shut things down at that point, so I flipped the sign to Closed, changed back into my cycling gear (yes, I'm now one of those people) and enjoyed the hell out of my ride home in the summer sun.

Nathan and I were scheduled to do three walk-throughs starting at 1400 (hence my having arranged a short day), so I got about half an hour of decompression time before it was back out the door once more.  The first house we looked at was shockingly appealing (especially at the price).  I'd been a little dubious about that one, but Nathan was adamant it had serious potential.  I'm so glad he was right!

The second house was the one I was really excited about- another little yellow house (are we seeing a trend here?  Perhaps...) that was suspiciously charming on the outside, and in the photos.  But we'd been burned before, so our hopes weren't super high as we drove over.

When our agent got out of the car he had a sheepish look on his face- turned out he'd left his Realtor key back at his office (I cannot judge- I got to work the other day and had to call Nathan to drive over and bring me my keys...).  I told him we didn't mind sitting on the porch while he ran back to get it, so that's what we did.  Well, after a while.  First I sat on the tree swing in the back, and then we sat on a little garden wall and imagined kids playing in the grass.  Then we sat on the back porch and enjoyed the cool breeze.  Then we moved to the front porch and sat on the bench there and decided we'd rather have a pair of rockers.  We were definitely falling in love with all the exterior aspects of the house (and I decided I wanted to be best friends with the current owners- they compost, and have a rain barrel, and a little veggie garden, and bicycles, and impeccable style as evidenced by the subtle red detailing about the windows) but again- trying not to get sucked in before we saw the interior.

Then our agent returned, key in hand, and we finally got to see the inside.

Love.  It is the most perfect, perfect house.  It is exactly what we were looking for.  Completely.  No compromises.  Beautifully updated and maintained- you can tell the people that live there genuinely love that house, and have taken care of it accordingly (so important).  It even smelled clean.  Actually clean, not just "I threw some pine-sol down about twenty minutes ago" clean; after doing as many walk-throughs as I now have, I cannot tell you how rare that is.

We went to look at the third house, but it was just for form's sake.  It was a decent place, but after seeing the Yellow House, nothing can compare.  I asked our Realtor if there were any offers on it- he said no, and I felt downright insulted on behalf of the house.

So we remedied the situation.

That's right, gentle readers: we made an offer on a house today.  So not at all what I had in mind when I woke up this morning.  And thus the day ends, not "good" as I had imagined, but rather "great".

(....and I struggle to balance optimism and non-attachment....)