Passing Muster

I took Neeps up to see his great-grandparents today, and it was just a lovely little visit with lots of sitting and chatting in the sun.
The ciiiiiiiircle of liiiiiiiife...

I've spent the past hour or so worrying away at a poem that captures the essence of the experience of seeing my mother's parents love on my son, but it's just not happening.  I think I need to let it percolate a bit.

I'm feeling pretty triumphant in spite of that, however, because as we were leaving, my Oma told me (and I quote) "You're a good mother."  If you knew her exacting standards for, well, everything, you'd be giving me a standing ovation right now.


Cheese-As-Bread, and Other Quirks

Just FYI, you guys, this is how I eat sandwiches these days:
check out that thick slab of spinach
And yes, I'm eating at my desk, as I often do.  Not because I'm required to, but because that way I can use my actual break to take a nice, re-energizing walk.  It's a pretty non-negotiable part of my day, recently, because otherwise the Tiredness overwhelms me and I'm absolutely useless after 2pm.  And since I really hate being useless... walking it is!

The walk is good for me physically and mentally, obviously, but it's also good for my soul, because I typically use it to call my mom and have a random little chat about whatever happens to be on my mind (or hers).  It's like free therapy!

Therapy.  Huh.  That's actually how this little ritual started, come to think of it.  Back in the day, when I was so miserable in my job that I literally thought being hit by a car would be preferable to going to work, I'd taken to taking half hour walks at noon every day so I could (sometimes literally) scream and cry to my mother to get it all out of my system, and thereby be able to continue my brittle, professional facade for another few hours, before getting the hell out of there.

Stars, those were dark times.  Praise all be to The Captain, for rescuing me from the mire of work-apathy that I'd sunk in to, by giving me something worth being present for.  These days I love going to work, and that's in large part due to the company I keep.  He's got that ambition, baby, and he treats me as his business partner, and we are going places.  Awesome places.  You'll see.



Neeps has this one particularly, ridiculously adorable baby-sound that he makes, and I've been trying to figure out how to spell it phonetically.  I put it into one of today's work doodles:
Hwie?  Huie? Hwuii?  Hwee?

Seals are also ridiculously adorable, so it fits.


That's For Remembrance

March is frisking about like a bloom-bedecked lamb, and my rosemary is a veritable riot of color and scent, not to mention buzzing with the song of many a contented bee.
Let us sing together, thou and I


Easter Beasts

Happy Easter!

Last Easter we drove down to Crater Lake, to spend it with Nathan's (also-pregnant) sister and her family.  I remember having pretty terrible back cramps one of the nights we were there, and being so, so scared that I was going to miscarry again (I was only about eight weeks in at that point).  But I didn't!  Hooray!  This year, we drove up to Rainier to spend it with the same (larger-by-two-external-versions) group, and it was pretty darn cute to watch all the cousins interact.

Which brings me to today's exercise!  The Official Listing of the Nibling Call Signs (I've had to invent a couple more since the last time I did this):


I do find it interesting that I call all of my Niblings after various animals, and yet my own child's moniker springs from a root vegetable.  But then I look out at the Honorary Siblings that live around here:

Beetle (formerly known as Skully)

and since at least one other child got "named" after a plant, I think we're okay.


Trail Food and Sun Baths

Today was a fun and adventurous day.

For starters, my buddy Kayla made the effort to show up at my house before 0730 so we could get a nice, early start on our hike up at Beacon Rock.  The plan was to leave the house between 0730 and 0800 (I've learned that when you're packing a kidlet, it's best to work wide windows into your plans) in an attempt to get into the Gorge before the big weekend crowds really hit.

And as it turned out, it was definitely good that we left when we did, because we sure did manage to pack a bunch of misadventure in before the actual adventure.

We got to Beacon Rock and discovered that we had the wrong park pass with us- so Kayla very sweetly offered to buy me the right one as a belated birthday present.  I accepted her generosity, and made the mad dash across the highway to the Ranger Center.  Just as I was puzzling out which of the several doors to knock on, I heard Kayla yelling,

"It's free!  It's free!"

Sure enough- we'd managed to pick one of the 2016 Free Days ("Saturday Spring Day", as a matter of fact) for our hike! Woo!  So I dashed back across the highway (and of course my phone bounced out of my pocket on the way so I had to scramble back to retrieve it as I heard traffic getting closer and closer wheeeee) and we suited up.  It was much colder and windier than we had anticipated (although we are true PNW girls and were prepped, regardless), and I'll admit I was a little apprehensive about whether or not it would actually be a fun hike, or more of a fun-in-restrospect-because-we-survived-it hike (we've all had those, right?).

But then that didn't matter, because we got to the trailhead only to discover that it was closed: apparently an autumn storm had torn away part of the trail.  So.  Change of plans for us.

Long story short, we headed for the next closest hike, only we headed the wrong way.  Twice.  No, wait, three times.  But anyway, nearly an hour after we'd originally pulled in at Beacon Rock (and I'd had occasion to be grateful for the Subaru's all-wheel-drive and high ground clearance), we pulled in at Hamilton Mountain trailhead (almost literally across the street from where we'd starteddon'tjudge) and decided to do the Pool of the Winds Hike.
That baby was confused as hell after all the in-an-out he'd been dealing with.
It was much less windy over there, and much less cold (::coughcoughbecausethesunwashighercough::) so I think it was probably a much more pleasant hike than we'd otherwise have had.

And it really was a lovely little hike!  I hadn't done that one since Isis was a puppy, so it was nice to go back (and not in the rain this time).  Of course, doing it with sixteen pounds strapped to my chest was... an experience.  I was glad to be with Kayla, who was willing to let me take as many breaks as I needed, and also as many as Neeps needed:

Everyone knows the best trail food is fats and proteins.
I highly recommend nursing in the woods, by the way.  It was incredibly relaxing for me, made a lot of fellow hikers smile, and Neeps was utterly taken by the trees soaring overhead.

Poetic Energy in Motion

I had such a good time, and it was so damn good for my soul, that I realized I really need to get back into hiking on a weekly basis, especially now that the weather is getting nicer, and Neeps is getting hardier.

Speaking of which!  As he and I waved goodbye to Kayla from our front porch, I decided that it was so warm and sunny that I should take advantage of it and get him some vitamin D while we waited for Nathan to get home.
Just blowing out camera sensors with our alabaster skin.  No bid deal.
This, in turn, led to some sunbathing.
Check out his boldly clashing patterns.
It was the first time I'd put him directly on grass, and he was quite taken with it.  My wonderful little wild child.  Once I'd decided he'd had enough sun on his skin, I covered him up and got a little on mine.
Yes that is my shirt.  It is merino wool and awesome.


Ol' Blue Eyes

The best part about this photo is that it totally features my coke nail:
Sooooo useful...



The tree couldn't decide if it was dead or alive.

The bark was cracked and falling away in thick swaths near the base of the trunk, revealing a pale wood that was nearly rotted through.  All of the branches on the right side were dry and lifeless, gnarled and twisting black against the bright blue sky.  The branches on the left, however, had put forth dozens and dozens of tiny new twigs, all of which were struggling upwards towards that same sky, and beginning to fuzz with green.

Lady didn't know what to make of it, frankly.


Ranting Robin

This may be part of a story-seed Nathan planted a while back, or it may not.  I haven't decided yet.


If you want someone to notice your problems, be rich.

Especially if that problem is being missing.

See, poor folk disappear all the time- run away, kidnapped, killed- but no one cares.  Well, no one but other poor folk, and obviously we don’t count, or we’d have money.  Every day, dozens of disappeared denizens of the District, and no one blinks an eye.  Can’t notice somethin’ missing if you didn’t notice it was there in the first place, right?  People starvin’ to death in the streets, and you’d think they’re just so many cobblestones placed for decorative effect.  But just one rich fattie vanishes, and suddenly the general population takes notice.

Miles Plenus didn’t know my name, but I knew his.  Everybody in the District knows his name, ‘cos one way or another, he owns at least half of it.  Bully boys breathin’ down our necks for us to pay double the rent we did last week, ‘cos Mister Plenus raised ‘em in the meantime.  And there he is on the television, talkin’ about how it’s his Christian duty to provide affordable housing to the downtrodden, desperate denizens of the District.

Only reason we’re so downtrodden is ‘cos we’re under the heel of the likes of him.  Sad thing is, his rents actually might be considered “affordable” next to what the other guys demand.  He is the proverbial lesser of evils.

Just wish it were only two.

So Plenus goes missing, and while we don’t much care, they do.  Flipping, flapping, jabbering about like so many jays, while we little brown sparrows go about our business in the dirt.


Song for the Sleepless

And now the kraken,
Stirring in his dark chamber,
Unleashes his roar.

No slumber for him;
No slumber for me, either.
Sleep is for the weak.

Monsters are not weak,
And a kraken is monstrous.
(So is a zombie)


Lover of the Light, Lover of the Dark

As one of my old art instructors used to say,
Contrast is My Life


On Birthdays and Elves

It was a very different sort of birthday, this year, in no small part because this is probably the first birthday I've ever devoted any time whatsoever to cleaning someone's poop off their clothes- let alone doing it twice.

One of the bright points of the day was taking a shower with Neeps (any day I get into water with my boy is a good day).  I was keeping up a steady stream of conversation with him, as I do, when I began to explain to him that today is my birthday, and that I am 35 years old.

"That means Mommy is..." I paused to do a bit of quick mental math, "...about 105 times your age.  Wow."

Now that I'm out of the shower and working not with rounded-numbers, I realize it's only like 93 times his age (oh what a difference two weeks can make!)  But even so, let's just put that into perspective, shall we?  I am to my son (in terms of Life Experience) what a 3267-year-old would be to me.

I repeat: wow.

(Also, I guess I can understand why elves and other immortal-type-creatures would roll their eyes at mayfly humans?  The idea of my infant son trying to dictate anything like justice or morality to me, on the basis of his life experience is... yeah.  Why do elves have anything to do with humans, again?)

But back to it being my birthday!

I spent the latter part of the day with Nathan and a pair of our friends, snacking upon copious amounts of food and playing a variety of highly entertaining games.  Tame times compared to birthdays past (::coughcoughpoledancingcough::), but good, especially with a bottle of specialty cider to call my own.

I'm looking forward to the coming year: I fully expect it to be the most interesting yet.  Now here's hoping that it manages to stay on the positive side of interesting, and gets me that much closer to understanding what it's like to be one of the star-people.


Losers, Weepers

Lincoln City has this lovely little tradition called Finders Keepers, where they scatter beautiful, blown glass floats along their beaches for people to find.  It's one of the most brilliant tourist-lures I've ever come across, and it's been going on for about fifteen years.  I first heard about it perhaps a decade ago, and while I've always wanted to participate, I never actually have.

Until today.

It being my birthday weekend, and the ocean being My Happy Place, I decided that what I really wanted was for today to be the day that Neeps got to see the Pacific Ocean for the first time.  In a happy coincidence, today also kicked off a week's worth of "special glass art drop", so I decided that the the time had finally come for me to go beach combing.

If you saw the title of this post, I'm sure it will come as no surprise to you that, in spite of spending a couple of hours doggedly trudging up and down the beach, we did not find a single float.  I did, however, anoint my son with ocean water, and we saw a whole lotta' seals, so it wasn't a total bust.  I briefly considered buying myself a float from one of the various hot shops out there, but I decided it simply wouldn't have the same satisfaction- and this way perhaps we can make it a family tradition to go out seeking for birthdays (since all three of us fall withing Finders Keepers season).  And/or I'll fork over the money for the super-awesome experience of blowing my own, something I've wanted to do since I worked at the Museum of Glass after college.

(No for real- who wants to get me an awesome birthday present?)

What we did find (after a retrospectively-comical series of mishaps that had me growling, "Lincoln City is great- unless you actually want to eat food.") was a wonderful little restaurant called Tiki's at 51st.  They were 1) open, 2) accepted credit cards, 3) minor-friendly, 4) dog-friendly, and 5) had gluten-free options.  (By the time we went there we'd been trying to find a place for close to an hour, and I definitely called them to check on all of those things, because I had learned that apparently double-checking is required in Lincoln City, never mind what the damn website says).

But yes.  Tiki's.  Good food, good people.  I even got a gluten-free cinnamon roll to go, to eat for my Birthday Breakfast tomorrow.


Weary Wee Flipperling

I've been slowly but surely making my way through Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book with Neeps, and the other night we finally finished up "The White Seal" (we're in "Rikki-Tikki-Tavi" now, and it is such fun to read aloud!)  I had never actually read "The White Seal" before (although of course I loved the cartoon as a child) which strikes me as strange, because I had read some of the other stories, but who knows how these things happen.  At any rate, the best thing about reading "The White Seal" was the lovely little poem that Kipling prefaced it with:

Oh! hush thee, my baby, the night is behind us
And black are the waters that sparkled so green.
The moon o'er the combers, looks downward to find us
At rest in the hollows that rustle between.
Where billow meets billow, there soft be thy pillow;
Ah, weary wee flipperling, curl at thy ease!
The storm shall not wake thee, nor shark overtake thee,
Asleep in the arms of the slow-swinging seas.

I've started reading it each night in an attempt to commit it to memory, and Neeps definitely gets called "Weary Wee Flipperling" as a result (he also gets called "My Mowgli" because sometimes he is a little naked frog).  Tonight I started dreaming of ways to turn the poem into another piece of art for his walls, in no small part because my patronus is totally a seal:
Pen in moleskine, naturally
I've wanted to do another watercolor/ink/embroidery piece, and I believe this will be the one.  Now I just have to find the time...


Pests in the Garden, Pt I

I was shaking out the goose down beds in the fresh, clear air when Mother Berchta returned from the village meeting, a sour look on her face.  She glanced over at my progress, grunted (I'd learned a lack of complaint was as good as a compliment, when it came to my mistress) and moved inside to the fire, where I'd set a kettle to warm for her.  Normally Mother Berchta liked a sharp mint for her daytime sipping, but today something had moved my hand to the chamomile, with a scattering of lavender bud.  She poured herself a cup, inhaled deeply, then exhaled lustily.  The lines around her mouth eased a bit, and I smiled to myself.

(I'd been apprenticing long enough to know that when a hand moves on its own, it's generally best to just let it get on with things, and try not to overthink it.)

Mother Berchta brought her cup to the doorway and leaned against the frame.

"Well it's wizards," she said, with the same irritable tone she'd used last week when she'd said, "There's voles in the garden."

"Wizards?"  I gave the snowy white bed in my hands one last snap, then lay it carefully in the grass to bleach in the sun.  "They don't usually come out this far, do they?"

"No," she said.  "They don't.  They’re too busy savin’ the important parts of the galaxy from whatever threat they’ve conjured up."  She rolled her eyes, but did not explain just what had brought the robed ones to our small corner of the world.  I grabbed the final bed and began to shake, knowing she would continue in her own time.

Finally Mother Berchta heaved a put-upon sigh.

"And as if wizards ain’t bad enough, these ones is dark."

"Dark?"  I paused in my fluffing.  Dark wizards might actually be something more than an annoyance.

"Yep," she stood a little straighter, apparently pleased at having caught my full attention.  "Nasty little pests, probably recruiting.  Or else looking for sacrifices no one will notice."

"They'd have done better to stay in civilization, then," I remarked.  "Who notices their neighbors in the big city?  Out here we're all in one another's business."  It was one of the reasons Mother Berchta's cabin was so far removed from the village.

"No one ever said wizards was smart," she shook her head and took another sip.  "Especially not the ones silly enough to go to the dark side."

"Well, what are you going to do about them?"

"Me?  I'm not doing a blessed thing.  Pest control is what I have an apprentice for."  And with that she re-entered the house, shutting the door behind her.


Wordless Wednesday

...aw crap.
Well I've already blown the whole "wordless" thing via the image itself, so I might as well give a few more words of explanation- that was the mug  I got as sweet swag during the Working Mom's photo shoot, and it is holding Mother's Milk tea, and I was drinking at my desk for my non-mom job.  In the background you can see a photo of Neeps, one of my engagement photos with Nathan (taken seven years ago eek!), and two unicorns because why would you not have unicorns at the office, if you could?


Not Just a Case Study

I wrote a very little bit more.  And I'm tiiiiiired.


“From what I understand, my face goes totally blank when the twinsight is on me,” I said as kindly as possible.  She was fresh from the Academy, after all, and surely no more than six or seven years older than me.  “No expression whatsoever.  It’s probably mentioned somewhere in my file.”

“Oh,” her face flushed.  “I’m sorry, of course it is.  You must think I’m such a spaz!”

I smiled.  “No, just eager, and I can’t fault you for that.  We’re doing important work here, after all.”

“Aren’t we, though?”  Her eyes were shining as she continued, “I was so excited when they told me I’d be assisting Guide Loren for my residency.  He’s done such incredible work in the field of Savvy conditioning- oh, um,” she broke off, coloring again.

“It’s okay,” I said.  “Guide Loren helps me maximize my potential- I’m lucky to have him.”

“But happiness, tho!” Rosemary breathed.  “What an incredibly… well it just must be tricky to keep the conditions right for you, that’s all.”

I laughed.  “You’ll have to ask Guide Loren- but as he is so fond of reminding me, he is aided in his endeavors by my naturally sunny disposition.  Apparently it’s not hard to keep me happy.  And any time I feel my cheer slipping,” I teased, “I just think of poor Alan, and feel grateful that I don’t have to spend my life surrounded by the perfect shade of blue.”

“Oh, the pendulum!  Yes, that was a fascinating case-study.  I can’t believe Loren ever figured that one out.  It must have been maddening…” she trailed off.  “Anyway, sorry, I need to remember that you’re people, not case-studies.”

“That we are,” I said.  “And right now this non-case-study needs to get on to her class.  If you’ll excuse me?”


On My Proficiency as a Caregiver

So as it turns out, I'm totally fine going back to work.  As long as I know my son is safe and loved and well-cared-for, I can basically switch mindsets to Professional Mode and not think of him more than once or twice throughout the day (and then I ask for a photo and I get one and it's oh-so-nice).  It's fantastic.  And I realize it may not last, but I'm enjoying it while I can.

The Captain and I had a 2.5 hour meeting today, during which we got one another up to speed on what had happened while I was out of the office, how far I'd come in my catch-up work, and what new things we'd like to implement once I'm no longer drowning in backlogged information.  And at one point he asked me how I was doing, baby-separation-wise, so I explained it to him as best I could;

I have no doubt in my mind that I am and will continue to be an excellent mother.  That being said, I'm not an excellent caregiver.  Don't get me wrong!  I'm not a poor caregiver.  In fact I am a perfectly respectable caregiver- I provide food and shelter and love and engagement- but I do not excel at it, and I do not thrive on it.  Some people do.  As such, I am absolutely delighted to let actual excellent caregivers take care of my child while I go do something I excel/thrive at; running our office and kicking ass on behalf of our clients.  It's a win-win-win scenario: I win because I'm making money for our family doing something I enjoy; the caregiver wins because they're hanging out with the literal world's best baby; and Neeps wins because he is always with someone who can give him their all while he's with them.

(Oh, and The Captain wins because I'm back on his ship.  So it's a win to the 4th power.)

(No, wait- 5th power.  Because my clients are winning, too.)

(Basically I'm a working mother for the good of the land.)


Pants and Their Seats

It occurred to me recently that I might be in need of a little more pantsing.

(No, not like that.)

Allow me to explain.  See, writers can more or less be broken down into two basic types: plotters and pantsers.  Plotters, well, they plot it all out ahead of time.  Pantsers write by-the-seat-of-their-pants.  To be strictly accurate, most writers are a mix of the two, but trend one way or the other.  When I was very young I was a pantser- I think most children are- but as I got older I became more and more of a plotter.  To the point where I think I sometimes pre-write my way into not being able to actually write, for fear of somehow breaking the world-building I've already spent so many hours on.  Which brings us to today, and a story-seed I've had for a while, which I've given the working-name Twinsight.  I've done only the barest of plotting on it- more character/concept than actual plot- so it's perfect to use for pants-practice.  Behold.


There aren’t that many of us living in the Commune- maybe three hundred, if you don’t count the Guides.  It’s a small enough number that I know most of my peers by sight, if not name.

I did not know this boy.

He was tall enough to stand out, and lean enough that it made him seem taller still.  He moved through the crowd with ease, slipping deftly from one gap to the next, bumping into no one.  He appeared to be sizing people up as he went- not in an aggressive way, but more like with an intense curiosity.

He must be newly-manifested, I realized.  Unused to being around so many Savvies- perhaps not even knowing that so many existed in all the world, let alone Madran.  Most of us had manifested in childhood or puberty, but late bloomers weren’t unheard-of.  He must be one of them, and feeling overwhelmed by it all.

As if he could hear my thoughts, the boy looked in my direction; when his eyes met mine he gave me a wide grin.  My insides lurched: something about the dimple at the right side of his mouth transformed his average-good-looks into breath-takingly gorgeous.


I tore my eyes away from the boy and turned towards the voice calling my name.  Rosemary, the new assistant to my primary Guide, had a hopeful look on her face.

“Are you having a vision?” She asked.  I blinked in confusion.

“Why would you think I was having a vision?”

“Your face- it got… I don’t know.  It looked like you were seeing something unexpected.”

Well that was true.  I glanced back at where the boy had been.  He’d vanished, of course.


Misadventures of the Past Twenty-Four Hours

I woke up because Nathan had burned some popcorn.

That's what I thought, anyway, as I lay there in the dark, gagging on the stench.  I peered bleerily at my phone- not quite midnight.  I'd been asleep for about three hours.  And the reek was getting worse.

It's nothing. It's just popcorn, I thought to myself, trying not to be That Paranoid Woman.  But then-

That's not nothing- the smell is too strong... and... chemical?  Oh shit what if Nathan is passed out! Thus did I come flying out of the bed and down the stairs, to a living room hung with greasy gray tendrils of smoke.

Why isn't the fire alarm going off? I thought, rushing into the kitchen to find the source of the smell.  There on the stove, on a burner that was theoretically turned off, were the charred remnants of what had once been chicken and vegetable soup, and a heavy plastic ladle that was melting and burning in the thoroughly ruined pot.

By this point Nathan emerged from his office to see why I was stampeding around the house: the closed door had cut him off completely from the odor (not dead from smoke inhalation- yay!).

We got it taken care of, of course, but the house... the smell is literally nauseating.  Even now, after a full day of open windows, it still smells like an ashtray.  It's horrific.  ::sigh::  Tomorrow's activities will likely include me washing walls...

After that adventure I had a hard time getting back to sleep- my brain wouldn't shut up with the "But what if I hadn't woken up?!" scenarios.  And then of course Neeps woke up for his night-feed, which kept me up even longer.

All of this to say, I did not get a lot of sleep last night, which perhaps explains the events of this morning.

I was scheduled to be part of a photo-shoot for a feature on working moms today (a joint effort by the dynamic women behind A Well Crafted Party and Momma Bear Magazine), something I was very, very excited about.  Since the shoot was taking place a good half hour from where I live, I had Neeps packed up and ready to go early enough that we wouldn't just be on time, we'd be a little early.  We'd been instructed to wear what we'd normally wear for work, but I, in my Motherly Wisdom, was bringing it with me rather than wearing it, because we all know that wrangling infants whilst wearing Office Apparel is a recipe for disaster.

Except (I realized just in time to miss the last exit on our side of the river) I forgot the damn outfit.  (also the damn makeup, jewelry, shoes, and hairbrush, all of which were neatly assembled in a bag so that I could grab it on my way out the door.)  And so I had to cross the river, exit, turn around, get back on the interstate to recross the river to get back home and retrieve the bag, and then start out again.  Normally this wouldn't have been so terrible- an extra 15 minutes, max- but traffic had been really heavy and slow on the way south the first time, and on the way south the second time it was at a literal standstill because of course they raised the bridge.

In the end it took me over an hour from the time I left the house (the first time) to the time I actually made it to the photo shoot.  Not my finest hour.  Although to tell the truth I couldn't help but laugh that me having a child didn't actually have anything whatsoever to do with my tardiness to the "working moms" event.

The day went a great deal more smoothly from that point onward- I loved hanging out and chatting with other working mothers- those ladies were inspiring as hell!  And of course I never get tired of hearing people admire my baby.  I'm really excited to see the results of the shoot, and you can be certain I'll link you guys to the feature when it comes out!


Day Two

I am so exhausted.

Another good day at the office (less time spent on email, that's for sure), another joyful reunion with my son at the end of the day.  Although I feel pretty sure he was giving me the cold shoulder at first, to teach me a lesson for "abandoning" him.  He'd smile and giggle for his Auntie D, then look at me with a deliberately aloof expression.  Little manipulator after my own heart.  Once we were home, however, he warmed back up (my secret weapon is "superbaby").  And needless to say, Daddy received no such reprimand.  Stinker.

Part of me is wondering how I'll ever manage to do anything "extra" any more.  Wake up, work out, work, family time, write (after putting the baby to bed), and then to my own bed at a ridiculously early hour in order to have the energy for the rest of it (admittedly there is about 20-30 minutes of leisure reading in bed before I go to sleep).  You'll notice there's nothing in there about cooking or cleaning, let alone socializing.  ::sigh::  I know I'll figure it out as I go, but it does seem a bit overwhelming at the moment.  Once again I am thankful for being in this situation where I'm easing back in to full-time, because while I'm building my "eight+ office hours a day and then other stuff" endurance back up, I have a few days off to tackle the rest of everything that is essential to living a comfortable life- grocery shopping and laundry, etc etc.

And now?  Now it's time to curl up with my husband for an hour or so of quiet bonding, before I head upstairs for bed.  Because even tho' I don't have work in the morning, I somehow doubt Neeps will see the point in sleeping in.


No Mommy, No Cry

Ladies and Gentlemen, I survived my first day back in the office, and am officially a Working Mom.  A Mother Who Works, if you will.  A Bad Ass Mother Worker, even.

We've known one another for a while now (most of us, anyway- hi new readers!) so I feel I can Be Real With You, as I have so many times in the past, about how I'm feeling:

Pretty freaking magnificent.

I brought Neeps with me to the office, where he kept me company for a good 90 minutes before his Auntie D came to pick him up.  And those 90 minutes were very important, because they showed me, without a shadow of a doubt, that I absolutely cannot do my job properly with him there.

Once he was gone I was able to really dig in- and it still took me until after 12:30 to get through all my emails.  Which was perfect, actually, because it was about fifteen minutes later that Auntie D came back by with Neeps.  I fed him, and then the three of us took a walk (in the suddenly pouring rain) to go get lunch.  The whole time I just kept thinking how lucky I was, to have such a compassionate woman in my life, helping me ease into my role as a working mother.  And she's not the only one: I have a whole flight of wonderful women who have come together to help me in these first weeks: with childcare, with emotional support, with whatever I need.  Even my boss (aka The Captain) has done everything in his power to make this transition a smooth one.  Lucky, lucky lady- that's me.  I wish everyone could have such an amazing support system.

The rest of the day followed the same pattern as the first half (I'd forgotten how icky sitting all day is), leaving me mentally exhausted but really, truly satisfied.  And in spite of my fears, I didn't actually cry*.  Once Neeps was out of the office I seemed to automatically compartmentalize, completely separating my Work self from my Home self.  And obviously I know it won't always go so smoothly, but I'm so glad to have rock solid evidence that I made the right decision about going back to work.  This really is what's right for me, and for my family.

I'm excited to go back in tomorrow, and tackle what I couldn't get to today.  And I might even go in for a few hours this weekend, to polish any stragglers off, and be truly prepared for my, "So You're Back at Work" meeting with The Captain on Monday.  It's a great feeling to love your job- and it makes going home to giggle with my husband and son that much more precious.

*(Full disclosure; I did tear up during the lunch visit, as I stared into his eyes while Auntie D told me about his morning- but nothing made it past the eyelashes.)

Ready Set Go

It is 0730, and I am 100% ready to leave for work.

Of course, I don't actually need to leave for work for at least another fifteen minutes (and that's still giving me twice as much time as I need to actually get there).  Which means that all my careful planning-ahead and building-in-of-extra-time has paid off in my not being even remotely late.  Hell, I could even go back upstairs and put on some makeup, if I wasn't feeling pretty doubtful of it's chances of surviving the morning.

Whatever else happens today, at least I look fabulous, with my new shoes and shirt and cute necklace (thanks Mom!).  I held my breath as I pulled my work pants on this morning (bought last year right before I found out I was pregnant), because I hadn't had the nerve to try them on before The Day (the backup plan was a dress).  Fortunately they fit just fine, which was an encouraging little triumph to start the day off with.

0740.  Five more minutes.

I'm surprisingly less tearful than I'd envisioned.  But perhaps that's because I haven't actually parted from Neeps yet (he's coming with me to the office, where one of his excellent Aunties will pick him up for the day).  We'll see.

Today also happens to be Nathan's birthday, and a tiny part of me feels guilty that I haven't done anything special for him today.  Although I suppose transitioning the household back into dual-income isn't exactly nothing.

Maybe I'll pick up something special for dinner on my way home.

0744.  One more minute.

Which means I'd better wrap this up and put my coat on.

Cheers, you guys.  May it be one hell of a productive day.


Rainbow Nebula Fox Nursery

Last night as I was laying in bed, I had a bit of an epiphany:

I don't have to frame things.

See, I had all this art I wanted to put on Neeps's wall, and I'd been doggedly looking for appropriately-sized (and priced) frames that could be hung on the wall (rather than just stood on a shelf) since before he was born.  And of course I'd having zero luck finding any.

But then I had my great Epiphany, and so today I busted out my roll of painter's tape and went to town.  And then I liked it so much that I went digging through my postcard/greeting card collection and found still more awesome art for my son's walls.  This is the result:
above the changing station
Bonus?  No holes in the wall!  (well, except for where I hung the two canvases)

Next I'll work on the "dragon corner", which will be home to his very fine Targaryen print (which I actually do want to frame, since it's not on cardstock like everything I put up today) and a lovely little watercolor that Nathan did for me back in college (already framed, since it's a standard size).  And I may put the firebird in that corner, too (again- it needs to be framed to protect it, but I'm actually willing to pay to have that one professionally done, if need be).

If I continue at this rate, Neeps's room may actually be the first "totally finished" room in our house.  That we've lived in for near five years.  Don't judge.


This is Not a Cheerful Post

I spent this morning grocery shopping.  I had to hit three different stores to get everything I needed, but Neeps slept through it all, so no biggie.  I had a suspicion that he was not feeling his best, and the 2+ hour nap only served to confirm that.  Poor little guy.

I also spent this morning (and afternoon, so far) trying to ignore the vague sense of impending doom, which is primarily manifesting itself as mild-yet-unrelenting nausea.  Unfortunately, ignoring it is not making it go away, and as I have no desire to dwell on it for the next 42 hours, I figured I'd better go ahead and blog about it, and thereby get it out of my system.

I return to the corporate work-force on Thursday, and I am pretty excited about going back to my job.


I return to the corporate work-force on Thursday, and I am borderline devastated to be leaving Neeps.  Or I would be, if I'd let myself think about it longer than the time it takes for me to say, "Ugh I feel sick no wait I'm not thinking about that la la la!"

I've done everything I can to take things in hand: there are lists and lists (and lists of lists), all so that I can feel some semblance of control over things.  Supplies have been bought and Emergency Information Forms have been filled, Caregivers have been prepped and schedules Arranged.  I have got this.  Except... not emotionally.

I fully expect to spend most of Thursday crying; I figure if I just go ahead and accept that inevitability now, it won't be so bad when it happens.  I'm lucky in that my clients are wonderful and will, I'm sure, understand if I answer the phone sounding like a congested elephant.  (Note to self: add box of tissues to Supplies)

The thing is, I'm totally fine with crying on Thursday, because I don't want to spend any of my remaining time with Neeps in a soggy, stressful ball.  He deserves better than that.  And so do I.


Be Brave, Be Joyful

I've been working on a bit of Intentional Art for Neeps's room over the past week, and today I finished it up (minus spraying it with sealant, which I'll do tomorrow).  I chose to continue the vaguely nebula-ish theme I started with the heavenly foxes I did before he was born, which meant using a lot of purple and silver, with hints of blue and magenta.  It's basically a glitterific version of my own personal mantra, which I think is a good one (obviously, or I wouldn't use it), and appropriate for just about anyone, including little kids.

I started out by doing an under-drawing of the sigil I use to represent the phrase, "Be Brave, Be Joyful":
Kind of like a hula-dancing snowman?
I did this in black indelible ink, because I wanted it to act like the "bones" of the image, upon which everything else would hang.  I didn't necessarily intend for it to show through on the final image and more than our skeletons show through our skin, but it was an important piece of support.  I painted over the ink with silver acrylic, then sprinkled that with silver glitter, and finally went over the whole thing with a wash of purple.  Then I did my best approximation of a rainbow pull* with magenta, purple, and blue glitter:
(basically I just sort of tilted it and hoped for the best, then swirled up the corners with a brush)
Once that was nice and dry (and smacked on the counter a lot to try to remove excess glitter) I came back with black acrylic to write the actual phrase, "Be Brave Be Joyful".  It still needed something from a visual-weight standpoint, tho', so I added some horizontal lines (and thereby accidentally put the I Ching symbol for thunder, which is so incredibly perfect that I'm pretty sure my subconscious must have been in overdrive).

Then, of course, there needed to be more silver glitter over the letters.

But then it was too much silvery glitter, so I went over it with a wash of black, to take down the foreground bling and bring the focus back to the phrase:
Glitter is hard to capture in photographs.
I'm reasonably satisfied with the results, which are pleasingly graffiti-like (and, obviously, appealingly glittery) but I may eventually call this one a Rough Draft and do it again.  (Artists are allowed to do that, you know.)

*tracking that video down made me incredibly nostalgic for my silk-screening days.  ::sigh::  I need more free time/disposable income.


The Sea is Deep

(an explanation)

It was less than an hour later when the moonrise bells began to peal, and a hush fell over the entire Vault.  All of the younglings paused in their work to listen, to feel, as the gigantic Night Hounds passed out of their Kennel and into the world above.  With them went their piloting crews, made up of the brave men and women who could claim the title of Harrier.  It was a far more dangerous calling than those who ran with the Day Hounds, those who hunted secure in the knowledge that the sun weakened their enemies, and drove them into hiding.  The Day Hounds had long hours of seeking without finding: the Night Hounds did near-constant battle from moonrise to moonset.

"Someday," Miguel whispered.

"Someday nothing, if you don't focus on the task at hand," Lydia hissed, scrubbing hard enough to remove every potential trace of Spores from the metal beneath her brush.  Miguel scowled and returned to his own scrubbing.

"What's gotten into your craw today?" he asked.  Lydia was always serious about their tasks, but rarely so cranky about it.

"Oh, so just because I take this seriously, I've got something in my craw?" she snapped.  Miguel swallowed the sharp retort that sprang to his lips.  A Harrier couldn't afford to lose their temper, so he couldn't, either.  They finished their work in frosty silence, then broke to return to their separate homes for dinner.

As he was climbing into bed later that night, Miguel caught the tremor of a Night Hound's return.  It moved slowly through its descent, and he knew it must have sustained heavy damage to be returning so early.  He heard his father- crippled long ago and now restricted to working within the Vault- gather up his tools and murmur an affectionate parting to his mother.  He and the other mechanics will put it right, Miguel thought, and snuggled deep beneath the covers.  Next to him, his little brother Jeshua whimpered and rolled over in his sleep, so Miguel reached out to lay a comforting hand on him.  The younger boy's breathing quickly evened back out, then deepened, and soon he was dreaming peacefully once more. Miguel, however, lay awake and staring at the dim lights in the common room, mind churning through the events of the evening.  What was going on with Lydia?  He'd try asking again tomorrow, while they were out gathering.  Maybe she'd feel better in the sunlight.

Just then his mother came to stand in the doorway.  "Good night, Miguel," she whispered in a voice that indicated his eyes had better not be open much longer.  She moved away and turned the house lights off, but did not come to join them in the bed.  Miguel hadn't really expected her to: she often stayed up to wait for her husband on those nights he was called to tend a Hound.

Miguel's eyes soon adjusted to the new dark, allowing him to just make out his mother's dim silhouette as she nursed the baby in her rocking chair.  The gentle creak of the chair kept time to her soft lullaby, one she had sung to Jeshua, and to Miguel before him.  The words spoke of a time long lost, of a great body of water known as the sea, and how a new world lay across the other side.  Miguel felt his eyes grow heavy in spite of himself, soothed by the familiar tones.

Tomorrow, he thought sleepily.  Tomorrow I'll find out...


The Moon is High

There is a book that I- well, I was going to say "read", but that's not quite correct.  There is a book that I recite to Neeps every night, as part of our bedtime routine.  I say recite and not read, because after reading it for a week or two, I had it memorized.  Once upon a time I tried to have poetry memorized for recitation- now it's board books.  Oh the times, they are a'changin'.


As I was reciting it last night, it occurred to me that I basically use it as a sleep spell, which got me thinking about spells and teaching rhymes and such, and I started wondering how I might turn the silly little children's book into a darker tale.  Like Ring-Around-the-Rosies is actually about the Black Death.

What follows is (part one of) the result of that- feel free to let me know if you figure out the source material!


The boy watched the sun sink in bloody splendor behind the black tangle of trees on the horizon.  Not long now, he thought to himself, and shivered.

"Miguel!" his mother's voice, tight with worry, lashed out at him from the vault door.  "Quit dawdling!"

"Yes mother," he called, and obediently turned back towards the house.  He couldn't help a glance behind, for one last look at the warring colors of the sky, indigo slowly winning out over flame.

"What part of 'quit dawdling' didn't make sense to you?" his mother snapped as he reached the stairs at last.

"Mom, the sun's just now set-"

"Precisely!  Now get below," she gave him a light swat to the back of his head.  "You say you want to be a Harrier- start showing the discipline of one!"  Miguel felt his face heat, the words stinging far more than the blow.

"Sorry," he mumbled, and took off at a trot towards the Youngling's Bath before she could remind him.

He wasn't the last one there, by any stretch of the imagination- but he also wasn't among the first.  His best friend, Lydia, who made it a point to be first at everything she possibly could, waved him down as he entered the enormous, steam-filled chamber.

"Miguel!  Over here!"  Miguel waved back so she'd stop shouting, then shed his clothing, dropping them into the proper baskets and grabbing a small cake of soap from another as he went.

"What took you so long?" Lydia demanded.  She was sitting on the edge of the pool, already covered in white lather, and was systematically working the soap through her short hair.

"The sun has just set," Miguel groused, and jumped into the pool, making a point to splash her as he did so.  When he emerged and blinked the water from his eyes she was glaring at him, re-soaping the parts of her skin the water had cleared.

"Well hurry up, anyway.  I don't want the Titter Twins to take our spot."

Miguel grunted at that, but didn't argue as he began working his own soap into a lather.  Lydia called her cousins, Mariah and Grace, the Titter Twins due to their (admittedly annoying) habit of giggling whenever they thought they'd been particularly clever.  Which was often.  He could see them on the other side of the steaming pool, already working on one another's backs.

"Turn," Lydia said, and Miguel obeyed, letting her scrub the hard-to-reach spot between his shoulder-blades as he finished up his arms.  When she'd finished she presented her own back in turn.  She was more flexible than he, and didn't technically need the assistance, but he eyed the area carefully, anyway.  All it took was one moment of stupid assumption for Contagion to take root.

"Looks good," he said at last.  Lydia didn't respond with words, but instead dunked beneath the water.

Once rinsed, the two of them grabbed towels from the stack, dried off, and hurried into the next chamber to find fresh clothes in their size.  Miguel took a little longer than Lydia- he'd had another growth spurt, and the size he'd been able to wear last week no longer fit.  Lydia tapped her foot, glancing back towards the pool to check on the progress of the Titter Twins.  She frowned, unable to spot them.

At last they were on their way to the Kennel, where the massive, shining Day Hounds awaited their ministrations.

"Damn it," Lydia hissed under her breath.  Miguel followed her gaze upwards to where Mariah and Grace were already climbing into position near the teeth.

"Don't sweat it, Lydia- no one's on the claws, yet, we can still-"

"I hate being beneath them!" Lydia snapped.  They'll drop their brushes on purpose, see if they don't, and then we'll have to interrupt our work to fetch it back for them, the rotten little-"

"Maybe they won't," said Miguel, although he didn't really believe it.  He grabbed two buckets of tools, and shoved one against Lydia's chest, forcing her to grab it.  "C'mon, before someone else takes the claws and we're left doing something tedious, like the hinges."


The Draft Behind the Curtain

I've always been up-front about the fact that this blog is a mix of Real Life and Fiction. Usually it's pretty easy to spot the difference between the two (dragons and unicorns are generally a good tell).  Sure, there's often some Real Life in my Fiction (ex-lovers beware), but sometimes a bit of Fiction creeps into the Real Life, as well, because Real Life is almost never as polished a narrative as we'd like it to be.  Or, as my grandmother used to say, "Never let the truth get in the way of a good story."

Yesterday was an example of that.

What follows is the actual interaction that inspired yesterday's blog, very lightly edited for clarity and the protection of innocents.  I hope you enjoy seeing how I try to keep the truth of something intact, even while altering the hell out of it.

(and for the record, I didn't hesitate at all before I answered his initial question.)


Him: has it been a hard transition?

Me: honestly?  not really.  I think managing my expectations has been key 

Me: and frankly being a lucky son-of-a-bitch is coming in SUPER handy for me at the moment (and always, really) 

Me: Neeps is such a happy, easy-temperament baby that it makes life a shit-ton easier than it might be 

Him: that's perfect 

Me: It's like... yes, it's hard, but hard in the way that anything awesome can be hard.  Climbing a new route or hiking up a steep incline or coming up with the perfect backstory for a character- all of these things have a difficulty that varies from day to day as our bodies and minds go through the shit they go through, but all of them are also really rewarding and you feel fiercely proud and happy when you get through to the other side 

Me: If anything I've been a little surprised that I've taken to it as easily and naturally as I have- it hasn't been as hard as I was braced for.  And I think a lot of that is, as already mentioned, pure dumb luck.  BUT I WILL TAKE IT AND BE GRATEFUL. 

Me: it also helps to have a good partner, for reals 

Me: like last night when i went to shake salt on the green beans and instead dumped out about half the container, and yelled "Son of a BITCH" and Nathan came in and saw what I'd done, he said, "I'll take care of it.  You go sit." which is a GREAT way to not get overwhelmed by shit.  Just having someone come in and say, "I'll take care of it," when you're nearing a breaking point


Is It Hard?

"Is it hard?"

The question is asked by an old friend of mine who has no interest in or intention of ever having kids of his own.  He lives far away from me, travels a lot, and will see Neeps perhaps once or twice a year, at best.  We're currently chatting via, well, Chat, and my fingers hover over the keys for a moment before I respond.  Because even the most simple of my answers rapidly becomes complex:


But also yes.

If anything, I've been a little surprised by how easily and naturally I've taken to motherhood.  I was definitely braced for it to be a much more difficult transition (and my rejoining the corporate workforce next week may yet fulfill that expectation).  But it really hasn't been difficult- weird, surprising, even gutting at times, certainly, but not difficult.  I think perhaps my lifelong habit of throwing myself wholly and unconditionally into love is paying off hardcore with this season of my life, because I have that to anchor me: that deep, primal, almost violent love that makes it the most natural thing in the world that I be able to reach deep and give my son what he needs.

But that's not to say it is in fact easy, either.  Because actually, yeah, it is hard.  Hard in the way that anything awesome can be hard.  Climbing an overhung route, or hiking up a steep incline, or coming up with the perfect twist in a narrative- all of those things are hard, hard with a difficulty that varies from day to day as our bodies and minds go through the highs and lows they cycle through.  But hard as all of those processes are, they are also really rewarding, and you feel fiercely proud and happy when you get through to the other side.

And, of course, it helps to have a good partner.

I don't want to say that I couldn't do this without Nathan, because I've seen first-hand that you can and will do whatever you have to do for your children, with or without a partner, but I will say that he makes it infinitely easier.  Every time I'm reaching the edge of my endurance, I find him there, ready to carry me until I can start walking again.

So no, it isn't hard.  Except that yes, it is hard.  But most importantly?  It's worth it.  Easy or hard, it's so worth it.


Taken With Too Many Grains

Sometime you accidentally do something spectacularly dumb.
Like, say, use the wrong side of the salt shaker.  Just for example.

And then your husband walks in and says he'll take care of fixing it, so you can just go sit on the couch and watch Castle.  (Thank goodness for good lifemates.)


Intro to Jane

Jane Sydney was an eye-catching woman.

The first thing that Daniel noticed was her flaming red hair: he imagined that’s what drew most people’s notice.  Even smoothed back and rolled demurely into a chignon, there was something wild about it.  He reckoned it was natural: she had the sort of translucent skin that spoke of Irish ancestry, although it surprised him that she didn’t appear to have a single freckle.  Odd, for a woman living on the coast, even such a rainy one as Oregon’s.  But then again, she was wearing what he’d swear was a dress from the 1940s or ‘50s: pale blue fabric fitted through the sleeves and bodice, but swinging out wide from the hips.  It came down past her knees, but was short enough to reveal a pair of shapely calves, which tapered down into feet wearing a pair of peep-toe heels, perfectly matched to the bright red of her lipstick.  She might just be the sort of woman who wore big hats and carried a parasol.

And damned if there wasn’t a string of pearls around her neck.

She was engaged in what appeared to be a somewhat intense conversation with an absolutely ancient gentleman, so Daniel turned his attention to the art.  Several different artists had work on display, so far as he could tell, but every piece was somehow nautically-themed.  Appropriate, for a seaside gallery.  He leaned in to more closely examine a miniature watercolor of a small boat dancing on a shimmering violet ocean.

“Is there anything I can help you with?”  Her voice was a pleasant contralto, and when Daniel turned to face her, he saw that her smile reached the corners of her dark gray eyes.  He smiled back.

“I certainly hope so.  I was told you run this gallery?”

“Yes,” she said, and he thought he heard a touch of wariness creep into her voice.  “I own the Storm’s Edge.  Were you interested in making a purchase?”