Winter Coat

It's been a bit frosty in the mornings, lately.
the sun coaxes you to take it off, tho'
(the more I look at it, the more I feel this may be one of my favorite photos I've taken this year)


Where You Went (20 Years)

This is not the photo I had planned for today.

Originally I thought of the title (which I did use) and decided that I would take a photo of the night sky.  And of course, as we all know, nothing would show up, because iPhones are only so powerful.  And I would post that picture of empty black, and it would be this whole commentary on how you can know something is there even if you can't see it.  Even if there's no evidence of it.  Even if it looks like nothing at all.

But then I started snapping, and it was just too bleak.  Because sometimes it doesn't matter what the truth is: sometimes we have to craft a prettier story or lose ourselves.  Even if we have to take the truth and flip it and twist it and invert it until it comes close to being something we can live with.  There can be truth within lies.  And some lies are truer than truth.

Because it doesn't hurt anyone, to pretend there is one star out there, shining so brightly that it overcomes all the limitations of our current understanding.

It doesn't hurt anyone, to knowingly build a better truth.


Things You Don't Want to See Broken

Let us back up to earlier this week, Tuesday morning, as a matter of fact, when I popped down to the cellar to get something or other.  Little Cat, like the brat she is, slunk in behind me, and refused to come out.  So I left her in there, shutting the door to ensure none of the other animals joined her, and went to work.

Around noon I texted Nathan to check on her and see if she wanted to come out.  His response?  "Not yet, apparently."

That afternoon I discovered a wretched ant infestation, and after raining down my wrath upon them, further discovered I was out of paper towels in the kitchen.  So back down to the cellar I went, calling again for Little Cat.  This time, not being in a rush to get to work, I stood perfectly still and listened for her.  I did not hear her, but what I did hear, was... water...

I followed the sound and noticed a large damp stain around the water heater, and then realized that it was leaking- not just dripping, but a small stream trickling out of the seal around the drain-faucet.  "Huh," I said to myself.  "That's probably not good."  And then I called Nathan down to take a peak at it, because he knows more about the bowels of the house than I do.

"Nope, not good," Nathan agreed, and went outside to turn the water off.  And can you guess who came prancing in the front door as he did so?  Yes.  You are right.  Little Cat can walk through walls.


Anyway, flash forward to today, skimming over the parts where we'd been living mostly without water (we'd turn it on for a bit in the morning and at night, just to do things like brush our teeth, etc), and the plumber finally is able to come out.  He and Nathan troop downstairs, and then I hear a lot of angry language and the plumber rushes back up, then back down, this time with a huge bucket.  And then the three of us are engaged in a twenty-minute long race to move who knows how many gallons of scalding hot water from the cellar to the bathtub using two buckets and two large bowls.  Exciting!

What had happened was that when the plumber tried to open the drain, the entire thing just... broke.
Not good.  Not good at all.  Also, see how nice my nails are when I'm not climbing regularly?
His angry words were mostly for the guy who'd installed such a cheap part in the first place (apparently brass from different parts of the world has different levels of quality to it- who knew?) and fortunately for us the whole thing was still under warranty (we replaced the entire water heater last year, literally the day after my first miscarriage, which is why I was so hazy about the whole thing) so we only had to pay for labor.

...well, that and the massive amounts of water that I literally just poured straight down the drain.  ::sigh::  Ah,  home-ownership... at least we caught it in time.  Thanks, Little Cat!


Pieces of the Action

Happy Turkey Liberation Day!
here comes trouble

We spent ours with the Trout family, and I popped three pills just to make absolutely certain that I'd be able to handle all the gluten.  Now I just wish there was something to help me with the sugar...

And now, gentle readers, gather close and I shall tell you a tale of Ham.

Earlier this week I asked Papa Trout what we might bring to the table, and he said, "Could you bring a ham or something?" and I said, "Done!" because I had literally just won a ham from a contest at work.  Big ol' package sitting on my desk, proclaiming itself, "Honey Baked Ham!"  Providence!

So this morning Nathan and I start to unbox the ham, because we want to heat and glaze it before we head out to the Trout Homestead.  And as Nathan is unwrapping it, I say, "Huh, it sure is a little ham.  And... kind of... flat..." and then Nathan takes off the last bit of covering, and...

It is a cheesecake.

It is 11AM on Thanksgiving, and the ham I have promised to bring for 20+ people is a cheesecake!

And that is how Nathan found himself running to WalMart (which was thankfully open) and buying literally the last ham in the entire store.  He came back in brandishing it proudly and I said, "Well it's a good thing God likes the Trouts," to which he replied, "What about me?" and I said, "He likes you too, but he likes them better: they've had longer to curry favor," which apparently my husband takes issue with but whatever.

Anyway, I stuck cloves all over that ham and then popped it the oven.  We took a look at the glaze that came with it and said, "Yeuch," so Nathan remedied the situation by making a superior glaze using honey, brown sugar, and stoutly-steeped pumpkin-spice tisane.  It was phenomenal.

All this to say, we arrived 18 minutes late, but we arrived with a ham that was actually a ham, damn it.  And people loved it.  And the day was saved.  By Nathan.  Who is the best.


Just In Time for the Holidays

We have a Christmas Cactus in the office, and it's being pretty fabulous at the moment:
(murder cactus??)

But I promised excerpts!

Here's some of what I wrote today: the lead characters Gwen and Jeremy are starting to grow closer...
“Is that a Galaxie?”
“Um, yeah,” she automatically turned back toward it, suddenly embarrassed by the coat of dirt dulling its deep blue finish.  “It was my grandmother’s, and when she died it came to me.”
“Did she die recently, then?” Jeremy sauntered towards the vehicle, hands in his jean pockets.  Gwen, trying to keep herself from staring at the worn patches on his butt, took a few quick steps to bring herself abreast with him.
“Uh, no.  She died when I was eight, so nine years ago this past July.”
“Sorry to hear that,” Jeremy murmured.  “Did that have anything to do with your move to Frostfell?”
Gwen looked at him sharply, surprised he’d remembered such a small detail.  She sat on the hood of her car, and he followed suit.  “No, actually," she said.  "Well, I mean, we moved to Frostfell at her suggestion, but not because of her.  She died right after we got there, tho’.”
“Ah.”  Jeremy didn’t ask anything else, but Gwen found she wanted him to know more.
“We moved because of my dad- because he left us.  Grandma Pearl thought we’d never be able to move on with our lives if we stayed in a place to saturated with memories of him, and I guess Mom agreed, so we left.”
“You didn’t agree?”
“I wasn’t consulted.”  Gwen leaned back until she was laying flat against the hood, staring up at the clear blue sky.  She let the thoughts and feelings of the little girl she’d been flow through her.  “Right after we moved I was so pissed.  So fucking pissed.  And scared, really, but anger is easier, you know?”
Jeremy laid a hand over hers, but for once her focus wasn’t on the electric shock his touch sent through her system.
“I was… I just knew that Dad would come back for us, come back for me, but we wouldn’t be where he'd left us.  And when he saw we were gone, he’d leave again, for good this time.  And I’d never see him again, because he wouldn’t know where to find me, because my mom was being a selfish bitch.”
Warm fingers tightened over her own, and she found herself squeezing back.
“I know that’s not true, of course.  In my head, I know it.  He didn’t just leave Mom, he left us.  But… I don’t know.  Some feelings take root in your heart like a fucking weed, and no matter how many times you try to pull it out, some little bit remains, corrupting everything else, you know?”
She turned to look at Jeremy and found he was staring at her, eye bright and dark at the same time.  And then he leaned over, slowly, carefully, and pressed his lips to her cheek.  There was nothing overtly sexual about the gesture, but still her body surged with heat.
“I know I find you fascinating and inspiring,” he whispered in her ear.  “Most seventeen-year-olds would never consider putting even half as much thought into what makes them tick.”
Gwen turned her head until their noses were almost brushing.
“Well," she said softly, "I have to do something during mass.” And then she closed the fractional gap between them.


But I'm a Fun Guy!

Came across this on my walk today:
fascinating, but rather unfortunately unpleasant smelling
Anywho, I forgot to mention that I officially "won" NaNo back on Sunday afternoon, at least in terms of breaking 50k.  And I'm still on track for my, "write every day for 30 days" goal, too, so yay me!

I really feel like I've come into my own this year as a writer, in terms of being comfortable with and believing in my own process.  I no longer feel like a beginner just floundering around- I feel like a somewhat seasoned writer now, who is too wise for her Jerk Brain's sabotage.  I have the experience and the discipline to make this work- and I'm really passionate about this year's story.  Maybe I'll post some excerpts tomorrow... 


A Tangle of Wild Things

I need a new jewelry box


The Abduction

My aunt and uncle took us to see the Trans-Siberian Orchestra this evening.  They were performing The Christmas Attic.
you will be assimilated
I was pretty excited about it, but unfortunately ended up a bit less-than-impressed.  The musicians themselves were incredibly talented, and I enjoyed the hell out of it every time they were doing an instrumental arrangement.  The laser and pyrotechnic effects, too, were super freaking awesome, and I enjoyed the hell out of that, too.  And it's always fun to go do things with people who are passionate about those things- and TSO has an exceptionally passionate following, which meant the energy was really great.

So those were the good things.

The bad things were  more or less threefold: one, the music was too loud (if I have my ears physically plugged and the music is still too loud, your music is too fucking loud) and not properly balanced (the guitars almost totally drowned out the orchestra, which was particularly disappointing to this cello-lover); two, the animations were distractingly bad (very 90s-era CGI); three, these guys are in desperate need of a competent lyricist.  Every time there was narration, or an 'original' song was played, Nathan and I just gaped at one another over the terribleness of the lyrics.  At one point Nathan whispered, "Why do they keep using the word candle?" and I responded, "Say candle one more time!" and we dissolved into fits of giggles.  I also started mentally replacing the word "Christmas" with "Murder", which added interest back to the proceedings.  ("On this most holy murder eve, the spirit of murder speaks to us all here in the darkness of the murder attic...)

Nathan later pointed out that if only it had been in another language, one we didn't understand, we might have enjoyed it more, and I agree.  Because like I said- the music itself, and the overall performance were just fabulous... but not quite enough to make up for the rest of it.

On the bright side, I did get a fabulous idea for a creepy short story out of it, so maybe that will get posted later...


Our Secrets Lie in Wait

We went up to spend the day with my grandparents, which is always enjoyable, but it was an especially good time today because they both got in a story-telling mood after dinner.  For a long time neither one of them was really willing to talk about their childhoods (which weren't what you'd call "ideal" for either of them) but in the past decade or so they've begun opening up more and more.

I really need to start carrying some sort of recording device with me, to capture some of these stories, because they are equal parts delightful and terrible, but wholly entertaining.  I'd hate for them to be lost.
vixen scribe of the shadows


Return to Normal

The rains are back.
(thank heavens)
I'm having a very hard time feeling motivated right now.  I'm less than 5k away from hitting my NaNo goal of 50k words in 30 days, which technically I ought to be able to knock out this weekend, but the reality is that I'm feeling sulky and in need of a break.  But my other (personal) goal for NaNo was not to skip a single day of writing, sooo... sulkiness can suck it, I suppose.  Even if it's only 500 words, I need to churn it out.


Stupid discipline.

Speaking of which, I've been feeling like such utter crap lately, and today I was reading paleo success stories and realizing that I just need to get back to eating clean.  I feel so much better.  I look so much better.  Life is better when I'm not being lazy.  But not-being-lazy is so much harder than being lazy.  Whiiiiiiiiiiiine.

 Okay, enough of that.  Time to knuckle down and craft words.  500, at least.  2000 for the ideal.  Go O, Go!


A Vision in Copper

As promised:
see that computer?  work work work!
This is my favorite mug, because it is copper and lovely.  Unfortunately, being copper also means that it is a phenomenal conductor of thermal energy, and thus it sucks for hot beverages.  Boo.  So tonight I am drinking hot mulled cider cut with cold, ginger-flavored hard cider, and the temperature is juuuussssst right.

And now?  Back to NaNo!  I'm closing in on 44k, with ten days left to go.  By george, it's almost like practice makes easier...


Tangled in Amber

I have my favorite colors, I suppose, for jewelry and hair...
pretty things


Jack Was Here

The ice wasn't as bad this morning...
see, you can see the glass!

...but I still had to use my library card as a scraper.


A Two Cat Morning

It's been getting super cold and icy up in my 'hood, lately. and it's baffling us all.
see how confused they are?!
Normally November is cold, but not this cold.  Not ice cold.  Where is our rain, dagnabit?!

Anyway I am fortunate that I have lots of fuzzy creatures to snuggle with and keep the cold at bay.  (Plus extra blankets!)

I went to Powell's tonight, to go holiday shopping for my niblings (they all get books: that way I know they'll fit).  I'd forgotten just how pleasant it can be just to browse in a bookstore.  It made me miss my Borders day.


We Hold Our Traditions in Our Hands

Remember how yesterday I was all, "I have a lot of things on my To Do list this weekend"?  Well one of the biggest, fattest Do's on that list was baking my family's traditional Christmas cookies, which are German spritz cookies and unbelievably awesome.
my stupid cookie-press crapped out on me, so they are a different shape this year
It took over four hours to finish them all.  I sort of hate them now, just like I do every year.  (And that's exactly why I only do it once a year.)  But I will ship them out to family far and wide, and it will make them happy and reinforce our family ties, and that is a good thing.

Yay traditions!



I have a lot of things on my To Do list for this weekend...
This was one of them


You'll Never Sweep My Memory Clean

It is a very rare day that I post a photo with no processing.
Today is a rare day.



Today is the pig's birthday.
Unlike the other animals in our household, we know this for a fact.
I like tell people that my dog has done a great deal to prepare me for eventually having a kid, in that I love her and am glad I have her and wouldn't trade her for anything- but holy crap she is inconvenient and probably I'd never do it again.  Unless I was drunk.  I might totally bring home a french bulldog/second child if I were drunk.  They're just so little and cute!


Knee Deep

My boss and I were walking to a memorial service today when we came across a dip in the sidewalk that had apparently become the collection place for all the leaves in downtown:
no really: those are my knees
I was so delighted by that moment, by wading through such deep foliage in my work pants, that I made my boss stop whilst I documented it.

(if only I'd had the time to bury myself...)


Look Out Below

We're having crazy wind storms today.  Crazy.  Crazy to the point where I tried to ride my bike home, and less than a mile into the trip I pulled over and called Nathan to come get me, because it was just ridiculous.

Anyway, as a result of said crazy wind, this sort of thing (in varying degrees of size and scariness) was all over the place today:
ripped from yesterday's tree, actually
It made for a very nervous afternoon walk on my part.



This tree is a staple on my afternoon walk, and it sure is looking gorgeous these days:
wish I could use PS Express to take out phone wires...


Brave Companions

they guard the gates of sleep


Dawn on Her Wings

Nathan and I took Isis for a walk down on the waterfront today, and afterwards we decided to extend it enough to finally check out the land bridge that we'd heard about (and driven beneath dozens of times) but had never actually explored.
it was pretty cool


The Triumphant Return

Today the pig got to go to the dog park for the first time in over six months.
it was pretty great


Patterns of the Fall

I'm posting two versions of the photo tonight, because even tho' I have a definite favorite insofar as "impactful images" go:
(spoiler: it's this one)

I still thought you should see what it actually looked like out there today:
(still pretty nice)
I took this shot during my daily afternoon walk, and I had to interrupt my mother's story to take it (I so often do- it's the only downside to using my phone as a camera), but I think she'll be pleased with the results.

Anyway, it's day six of NaNo, and I'm holding my own pretty well.  I love that I can tell a marked difference from five years ago in my ability to write huge swaths of words, to just let go of my inner editor and get it on the page.  Turns out the mental muscles for writing benefit from years of practice just as much as any physical muscle does.  It's nice.  And comforting.  Which is a pleasant sensation on a drizzly autumn day.



The Long Walk Home

We have been a one-car household for closing in on four years now.  It was a bit of a scary decision when we first made it, but it turned out to work really well for our lifestyle.  It is a very rare event that it inconveniences either one of us (especially me, since I prefer riding my bike), but it does happen on occasion.
watch out for wolves
I must say, tho', that even when I am "inconvenienced", I don't mind it so very much: I like long walks.  It's just sometimes, when it's after dark, I like them better with my 70lb pit bull along...


My Feet on the Leaf Strewn Path

scuffed leather for scuffed leaves

(no, you're not imagining things: this image does look familiar)


Mulled Over

Can't go wrong with a little mulled cider...
...especially when it's been fortified with the hard stuff


The Muse Focus

It's Offically November, and you know what that means-


My goal for today was to churn out 5000 words (which I did).  I hope to get another 3-5k tomorrow.  For some reason I'm feeling the urge to really front-load my word count this year.

Anyway, I sat at the table and wrote, and as I did so I kept this close by my side:

My mother gave it to me years ago: technically it's just a glass fishing float, but I call it my Muse Focus.  That is to say, a Focus for Summoning my Muse.  I have a few items that work for this, depending on what I'm doing (one is a pretty sweet gun belt that belonged to my father), and I think that if they are honest, most authors have something or other that works for them in a similar manner, be it a favorite pen or a certain photo or a pretty rock.  We writers are creatures of superstition and habit: of course we surround ourselves with talismans.