The Consequences of Chicken TV

One of the afternoons at Lara's house, Neeps and I went outside to pass the time playing in sweet-shaded clover, and watching "chicken tv".
Reality entertainment at its finest

Neeps was absolutely fascinated by the plump little birds, but I didn't realize just how enamored he must have been until this evening, when he revealed that he has added soft little "bok bok"s to his vocabulary.  My darling little naturalist.

I, of course, started making the sounds back at him, which filled him with absolute delight.  And then I added a loud, "BKOK!" to the end, and he just freaking lost it.  Gales of shrieking baby laughter, like to the point where he was gasping for breath.  I've never felt like a more clever comedienne in my life.


Little Love

When we saw the banners outside the museum trumpeting the mammoth display, I was not expecting this.

Bones, perhaps.  Dioramas, certainly, and artists' renditions.  Many thousands of interesting and educational words, of course.  But not this.  Not her.

I've read about her, of course- the perfectly preserved baby mammoth discovered in Russia almost a decade ago- but it's different from seeing her in the desiccated flesh.  Different, too, now that I'm a mother, with my own baby sleeping soundly against my chest.

My eyes prick with tears as I press my fingers to the glass that encases her.  I cannot help it.  She's almost as big as I am, but all I can think of is her mother, unable to rescue her.  Elephants grieve: it stands to reason that mammoths did, as well.  My brain begins to spin out a story to comfort my heart.


My daughter enters the world in a spray of blood beneath a deadly sharp tusk moon.  I wonder, fearful, if this means she will be a warrior for our people, destined to die in battle- but when the Oldest Aunties come they shake their heads at my trepidation.

Not this one.  She is meant to be a great teacher of many peoples, and she will remain when all the rest of our descendants have turned to dust.

What better could a mother wish for her child?  An important destiny twined with a long life.  I nurse my daughter and dream of her bright future.

The moon is dark when my daughter leaves this world, pulled down, down into the mud that is darker still.  There is nothing I or any of the Aunties can do to aid her, but I cry out in rage and anguish, hoping that the strength of my love can somehow bring her back to me.

But death has no fear of love.

You have lied to me!

I am screaming.  I should not scream at the Oldest Aunties- I should show them respect in all things, lest I be shown my place.

But love has no fear of death.

You told me my daughter would outlive us all!  That she would be a great teacher!  But she did not live long enough to see her second full moon- what good are your portents, your signs, if they cannot prevent the death of an innocent?  Why should we follow powerless liars?

I am not struck down.  They are mournful.  They try to comfort me.  They have lost mothers, sisters, daughters of their own, they know grief and they forgive me my sacrilege.

I wish they would strike me down.

We did not lie.  Not understanding a truth does not make it a falsehood.  There is more to this world than what we may know, and your daughter has gone to fulfill her destiny.


A Hike (Ish)

We had decided to hike up to Elk Lake today for our in-by-the-skin-of-our-teeth Monthly Hike, but the Universe had other plans for us.  Which is to say, the Universe decided to make it hot and miserable- so hot and miserable that while we probably could have handled the 4-mile-round-trip-trek (because swimming at the turn-around!), the dogs began to show signs of being dangerously overheated just one mile in.  And so we did the Adult thing and turned back for the car.

Even so, it was a lovely little hike, and I figure two miles is plenty to count, especially in those conditions.  I'd borrowed a hat from Lara, and I was damned glad I did, because Neeps has entered a "rip Mommy's hair out while riding in style" habit that I do not approve of, but am helpless to do anything about.  (Part of me wants to shave half my head.  And it's not exactly a small part.)  But with a hat I was able to hide the temptation from his grabby little hands.
Bonus: looking fly as hell

Because I'd been carrying Neeps in that hellish heat, my shirt was absolutely sodden, and thus I turned it into a purple wind sock on our drive back out of the wilderness.  I was mighty tempted to add my bra to the display, but managed to resist.  Mostly because, if it hadn't actually dried by the time we got back into town, I didn't want to put it back on still damp.  The horror.


Beneath a Pure Blue Sky

The bleached-out sun beats down, relentless, giving the world a slightly-frayed look: colors of summer slowly unraveling into white.  He is a banked-coal weight on my back, delighted by this new experience, the new sights and sounds and smells that are his for the embracing.  A deep blue hat keeps his face in shadow, safe, while a trickle of sweat begins to form in the long channel of my spine.

The woman at the stand gives us specific instructions- "Go to the shorter bushes.  They have the larger berries.  And start in the middle of the row, not the end- you'll find more."

We are in the habit of listening to the wisdom of experts, and it soon becomes apparent that we are wise in our habits.  I find a likely-looking place to start, and crouch down, setting the box- and my water bottle- just so.  Then, because we are the only ones there, I take him off my back, and settle him in a patch of shade within reach of the berries.  I am counting on the novelty to keep my sprout rooted to the spot.

Although they fall swiftly to my attention, the berries on the bushes prove difficult to harvest for tiny fingers new to the pincher-grasp, and so he takes to collecting the fallen.  While I approve of his ingenuity, I am less thrilled by the accompanying handfuls of mulch that are subsequently shoved into his mobile mouth.

I move the box so that he will reach into it for his berries, thereby hoping to avoid a throat-full of splinters.  He is delighted by this development, for it makes his berry-acquisition easier still.  For a while we work in companionable silence; I put a handful in the box, he takes a handful out.  Fortunately his hands are small, and the level in the box slowly rises.

And then I realize that he is in very real danger of asphyxiating himself in his enthusiasm for this new-found bounty, and so I rearrange once more: now the box is out of reach, and one pale, motherly leg forms a barrier between him and the mulch.  I hand him berries one at a time, which slows my collection rate but soothes my paranoia; he is still probably eating far too many for a creature of his mass, but at least they are going into his stomach and not his lungs. He is simply happy- happy to be outside, happy to be eating berries, happy to be with me.  Happy baby boy.

He will not remember this day, spent feasting in the shade of hardy shrubs, but I will- my heart stained, indelibly, with his blueberry grin.


A Three(-to-Five) Hour Tour

We started our little mini-vacation today, spending five days hanging out with Lara up on the Peninsula.  Generally speaking, it's a three hour drive.

Or at least it was, before Neeps got to his current developmental stage.

Now, don't get me wrong- I'm no fool.  I  know that now that we have a kid, things take longer, period.  So I told Lara that we were planning on leaving around 10am, and should arrive between 1 and 2.

It is to laugh.

We did leave at 10 (okay, 10:06), but we didn't get here until after 3pm.  Because even tho' I'd carefully planned our departure to coincide with Nap Time, I had not planned on someone waking up a full hour and a half early, thereby throwing off his entire freaking schedule for the day.


So instead of sleeping through a large chunk of the trip, Neeps was awake.  And... not necessarily pleased about being stuck in his car seat with no one to entertain him (because the back seat was full of away-from-home stuff).

We took a lot of breaks.

It wasn't all that bad, to tell the truth.  We weren't really on a schedule, so I wasn't actually stressed out about it taking so long.  And it was actually quite pleasant to take a long, picnic break in a park, where we all enjoyed the shade and wind and ate junk food and watched Pokemon Go players wander about amongst the pigeons.
family picnic in a strange town!
But we did finally make it!  And Isis is happy as happy can be with her fur-breathren, and Neeps is gratifying pleased to see his Auntie Lara (whom he hasn't seen since January) and of course I am looking forward to a few days of not-working.

And then there's the freaking delicious wine we've been drinking, all grapefruity and wonderful.  Woo, vacation!


In the Eye of a Perfect Storm

I open the door to heaven.

The house is clean and calm and moreover it smells fresh.  It is pleasantly cool, especially in comparison to the heat doing its slinky dance on the porch.  In fact, the hum of the air conditioning is the only sound that greats me.

It is not yet two o'clock in the afternoon.  I am giddy with potential.

You see, my husband has taken today off from work, and is out taking photos on Rainier.  And my son is still at daycare.  And my boss let me off early as a reward.  And- this may be the most important part- the cleaning ladies came this morning, but no one has been in the house since.  Well, no one except the animals, and for once in their lives they seems to have decided they don't actually need to besmirch anything at the moment.

What will I do with all this peace?  Cook? Pack for tomorrow's trip?  Finish the movie we started last night?  Simply sprawl out on a clean floor in blissed-out ecstasy?  Honestly that last one sounds the best... but then again, writing without interruptions of any kind also sounds pretty damn good.

And so here we are.


Mermaid Bait

I used to think that, thanks to my early-childhood training, I wasn't particularly susceptible to advertisements (Except for pizza, man: I see it, I want it.  Every time.  Every damn time.) And when we entered the age of Facebook and Targeted Advertising, I laughed and laughed, because they never showed me anything even remotely appealing.

But I guess after eight+ years of gathering data, they've finally begun to figure me out, because I suddenly find myself... curious.  Curious enough to... click.

And damned if that doesn't occasionally work out in my favor!

Now, if you are a woman, you know what a pain in the ovaries it can be to find a decent swimsuit, let alone a good one.  And if you are a woman with large breasts, you know that the pursuit of decent (hurr hurr) swimwear becomes even more complex, especially if you are in the habit of doing anything beyond laying perfectly still on the beach.  Which, obviously, I am (in the habit of doing "beyond").  So when Mi Ola popped up in my newsfeed, promising me a bikini that would be comfortable and stay put, I was highly skeptical.

But I clicked.

And lo- they had tops specifically designed for large-breasted (and small-rib-caged) women!  And the reviews were... promising.  And the suits were... well, damn cute.  The price was a bit ulcer-inducing, but since I've recently made the decision to start ponying up good money for good quality (and they promised free returns) I went ahead and bit the bullet.

I was torn between two fabrics, so I let Nathan choose: he chose wisely.

The suit arrived surprisingly fast, but when I pulled it out of the packaging I had a brief moment of, "Yeah.  Friggin'.  Right," because it didn't look like it was going to be able to handle my ladies.  But I tried it on anyway...

...and pods of lovely sirens began singing Glory In the Highest, because damn if everything didn't stay in place and look damn good while doing it!  The top was cut lower than I would usually prefer, but that's because usually I'm having to tug the damn thing up all the damn time, and need to leave a little room for "error".  This one doesn't seem like it's going to have that problem... but I'll report back once I've actually worn it in the water.  The way the straps work was like a miracle, because it didn't put any pressure on my neck (a huge problem for me, normally).  The bottoms were also comfortably snug- you know how when you put on a pair of something and you can just tell it's not going to ride up?  Yeah.  Plus they do this cute ruching thing that accentuates the booty.  Good stuff, sisters.

(Seriously, this thing is so good I'm probably going to order a second one in the near future.)

So!  Sometimes advertising works the way it's supposed to, and everybody wins!  Good job, Targeted Advertising!  I'm Proud!


Sinister Little Gentleman

I spent most of the day at home doing lame-boring-domestic things.  But I did take some time to figure out how to set up the sun-shade on the carrier, and then took Neeps for a test walk around the neighborhood.

He showed his appreciation by leaning out from under it (to the left) for the entire walk.  Needless to say, my back is now feeling a bit tweaked, since I didn't have a companion to lure him over to the other side.  Babies, man.  No consideration.
Who needs shade when you can blind passers-by with your dome?


Load Up!

Back when we first got the Subaru, we knew that we'd appreciate its spacious interior, should we ever add a third party to the human portion of the family.

What we didn't realize was that the spacious interior wouldn't actually be spacious enough for two adults, one infant, and one 70lb pigbull and all our stuff.  Not for multi-day trips, anyway.  Or, rather, it's spacious, but not comfortable.  Especially for the pigbull, crammed in the cargo area as she is.  And there's no room for us to change a diaper in the shelter of the car.  Or get to anything with anything resembling convenience.

A few weeks back my brother and co came for a visit, and when they pulled up I noticed that their Subaru was sporting a fancy new cargo box (they have one less pigbull, but one extra kid, soooo...)

"That's frigging brilliant!" I yelled, possibly before I even said, "Hello!"

They left, and I started researching.  And then I started prowling for the best deals.  And then, because we have a long trip up to Lara's coming super soon, I decided it was time to eschew deals and just take advantage of my REI dividends (which were, um, embarrassingly high this past year).

So we declared today, "Going into Portland Day" (yes, it's become an Event.  Blame the extreme increase in traffic over the past decade) and then Nathan casually mentioned that Chick-fil-A has branch in Clackamas, not too far from the REI, and our plans were solidified.

 We got a super-nice salesperson to help us out, and since he was normally a rock-climbing guy, he was pretty thrilled that we'd already done all of our research, and only needed help wrangling our box of choice out to/on top of the car.

(Of course, there was a minor debacle with the one we purchased having a key snapped off in the lock... he was mortified, and then extremely grateful by how chill we were about it.  "Some people wouldn't be," he said.  "Yeah, well, some people are jerk faces," I said, wondering who in their right mind would pitch a fit about something like that.  They literally just brought us out a new one, didn't even make us stand in line to "return" it.)

This is the face of a husband who is wondering why the heck I'm taking a photo of him installing a cargo box.  Or possibly he is gauging my size and comparing it to the interior volume.  Hmmm...
There had been conflicting reports on Teh Interwebz as to whether or not the one we wanted would still allow the hatch to open all the way, but it totally does.  Woo!

So we drove off into the noon-day sun, having rendered ourselves even more PNW as frick.  I can't wait to put it to use next week!

Bonus adorable baby photo.



Slow Swinging Sea

Made a little more progress- added just a hint of color to the background, and laid down the basic seal shape:


Cats Around the Corner

It's coming up on that time again, so of course I went with the only possible animals to represent nine months:
and more rainbows, OBVIOUSLY


Snow Mother

Yesterday the daycare gave me a piece of artwork Neeps had done:
Splashy Splash Splash

"Very nice, son," I said.  "Very minimalist.  I like it."

And immediately my mind began to whirl with how I could add to.  So tonight I sat down and did just that:
It was a lot of fun- I look forward to when he's making more deliberate, purposeful marks, and the stories and drawings we'll do together throughout his life.


Bath Sketch

A boy and his duck


Sparkled So Green

Hey, remember this piece?  Well I started actually working on it.  Behold!
Not much to look at just yet.

Greeeeeeen! (and a little blue)

Now I let it percolate for a while, as I decide how I want to illustrate the seal, and whether or not I want to embroider any part of it.


Severan Prays for Guidance

It can be inconvenient when your deity disagrees with your decision.

I'm leaving this town as soon as I resupply, Severan thought irritably as she knelt in the small ash grove, doing her best to ignore the drunken Drow staring curiously at her.  There's no place for me here.  It's full of thieves and bullies and- and drunkards and what is that wizard doing topside, anyway?  She pushed the thought- all of the thoughts- from her mind.  She needed to pray, to get the the taste of the so-called "Adventurer's Guild" out of her mouth: it didn't matter why the dark elf was wandering.  Severan herself had been- well, not wandering, for she'd been following the star- but she'd been traveling for over three months, and was certainly far from her own home.  And how here she was in the port of Ashmount, and suddenly the pull had vanished.  She needed guidance.  She needed reassurance.  She needed her goddess.

Severan inhaled deeply, then exhaled all of her discomfort and frustration.  Breathed in the silence of the trees, breathed out all distraction.  Focused her consciousness on keeping the breathing pattern, and left the rest of her mind open to Sh'lan's will.

It came fast- far faster than it ever had before, and with far less ambiguity, pouring over her like a waterfall.

This is where she was meant to be.

Severan felt a pit in her stomach.

Surely not.  Stay here?  I all but laughed in the most powerful man in town's face when he offered me a place with his filthy little 'organization'!

But the surety remained, and with it the knowledge that she must return to the Guild.

Are you certain? Severan asked, but of course there was no response.  She sighed heavily, and stood, rubbing the scar on her face ruefully.

"That's it?  No... lights or birds or anything?" said the Drow, clearly surprised.

"That's it," she said.  "If you'll excuse me, I have something I must attend to."


Reverse Course

Think of one dramatic event from your life and write the event backwards.

I sleep.  He tucks me into bed, saying he'll join me soon.  She leaves, promising to be back if we need anything.  They take me home.  I'm glad he wasn't alone.  My husband is there, and my best friend.  I do wake up.  The lights are very bright in the OR, but I don't notice them for long before the darkness returns.  He kisses me.  She brings him to me.  Someone tries to tell me I can't- the other nurse, tone brooking no argument, says she'll find him herself.  I want to see my husband, I plead.  I might not wake up.  I have to sign forms saying I understand I might not wake up. Someone draws him away, to wait for me in the recovery room.  The kind EMT wheels me down corridor after corridor, my husband walking beside me.  They have to take me in for surgery.  We've just pumped a lot of very cold fluid into you.  You will be, he says.  The EMT asks if I'm cold, but I'm not.  I know she will come, so he doesn't have to be alone.  I tell him to update to my boss, and tell my best friend.  I'm okay.  It's okay, I say, voice thready.  I smile.  I open my eyes, and it's my husband.  I can feel the love radiating from the hand, and I think, what a compassionate nurse.  I turn my face to the touch, nuzzling into it.  Things start to come back, but I am so lonely- and then a warm hand touches my bare shoulder, just where it meets the neck.  I am at peace.  Everything is fading, and I think, at least they know I love them.  Textures of rough cloth and smooth cold metal against my naked skin, the slither of tubing, the pierce of many needles.  It's dark- but there is movement in the darkness.  Maybe not entirely lost, tho'- I think I hear my husband screaming at them to do something.  I slump over, consciousness fleeing.  She passes me paperwork to fill out.  I tell the disinterested nurse that I am hemorrhaging.  We make it to the head of the line.  I am feeling weaker.  It seems so unfair to me, to have to wait in line at an emergency room, but I don't want to make trouble.  We have to wait in line.  He wheels me in while my husband parks the car.  We pull up to patient-unloading, and an orderly asks me if I want a wheelchair: I do.  We go, and I text my boss to tell him I may or may not be in tomorrow.  My husband returns home, and I tell him we need to go to the hospital.  I call the nurse-line: they tell me to get to the emergency room.  I'm regretting sending him to the store.  I'm bleeding more- and maybe it's not nothing.  I tell him to go ahead and go to the store.  My husband is worried, but I tell him it's probably nothing; it's not at all uncommon to have bleeding after a miscarriage.  I am bleeding.


Thanks (Again)

I am a person who enjoys writing thank-you notes- specifically hand-written thank-you notes.

I didn't used to; when I was a child I resented the hell out of my mother making my brother and I write them.  None of the other kids had to write them.  But then I became an adult, and the habit was set, and I found that I was no longer doing it out of obligation; I was doing it because it made me feel good to do it.

Therefore it should come as no surprise to you, Gentle Readers, that after my baby shower I very promptly sent out appropriate little thank-you cards to each giver (even tho' strictly speaking, etiquette dictates you need only send them to the people you weren't able to thank in person).  What I'm realizing, now that I'm almost nine months into this whole raising-a-human thing, is that some of those gifts deserve a second round of thank-you notes.

Not, "Oh you were so thoughtful and generous," oh no.  More like, "Holy shit you knew exactly what I would be needing, even if I didn't!"

Hooded towels made from adult towels, so they actually fit past the newborn stage.  Tiny little rubber duckies that perfectly fit a baby's hand and can be used to distract/bribe during changing sessions.  Board books that are well-written enough not to make me want to kill myself, but also short enough to get through at bedtime before infant-meltdown.

You know, the little things.


What I Am (Not)

What I Am Not

parent to multiple children
a single parent
a grandparent
a veteran
in law enforcement
a lawyer 
a musician
an engineer
an elder

What I Am

A person who cares deeply about a bunch of her friends who also happen to fall into one or more of the above categories.

(just something to keep in mind as we converse)


Jabber Jaw

I've been  having slowly worsening jaw pain over the past few months (feels like my jaw is off-track, more than anything), so I decided to go see my dentist about it.

She did an x-ray and says there's nothing wrong mechanically wrong, which makes her think it's tied to the muscles (especially since pressing on said muscles brings some relief).

And then she recommended a night guard.

A $500 piece of plastic that is not covered by insurance.

To which I said, "And what exactly is the difference between this and what I can get at the drug store for twenty bucks?"

She proceeded to give me an answer (which ended with, "I'd rather have my patients do nothing than use a drug-store mouth guard"), to which I replied, "Yeah I'ma have to think about this," because, Gentle Reader, I am 99.9% positive this has nothing to do with my clenching my jaw at night.  All day long, certainly, but not at night, because morning is the only time I don't have pain, and can actually close my jaw all the way.  Which I did tell her, but apparently she... didn't listen?  Or maybe didn't believe me?  For real, what is it with medical professionals dismissing my observations on my body and instead just going for their stock answer?

So I'm feeling frustrated, and have prescribed myself my own treatment to try out.

1) Consciously relaxing my jaw throughout the day
2) Avoiding leaning my jaw on my hand, which I've been in the habit of doing while pumping
3) Making an effort to chew on the painful side (my theory here is that, because I've been chewing on the right side for like a year due to tooth-pain, I've screwed up my alignment)
4) Bringing meditation back into my life in an attempt to help me deal with stress better so that I'm not clenching so much in the first place

If this doesn't work, then I'll try a mouthguard.

But still probably not the $500 one.


Seen On a Walk

I try to take a walk every afternoon.  I generally see at least one interesting or amusing or lovely thing.  Today I got to see all of the above:
Given all the Pokemon GO action going on in the world, I halfway expected this to attack.

This cat literally did not even look up as I approached.  He was unconcerned AF.

A particularly nice collection of vivid colors
Who knows what tomorrow will bring?


Mindful Parenting

I met up with JT to do a little bit of climbing today, which was fine.  I miss being strong and supple, but the only one keeping me from that is myself, so let's move right along to the better part of the afternoon, which was the two of us sitting in one of my favorite pubs, having a drink (and nachos) and talking about our lives.

In specific we were talking about Mindful Parenting: ie, the need to actually think about what you're doing with your child, to ensure that you're modeling not just the behavior you want them to emulate (difficult enough in and of itself) but also the sorts of behavior that you want them to find acceptable towards them. 

See, JT is the father of a seven-year-old daughter, and recently he's had to change the way he handles photos.  As in, if she says, "I don't want my photo taken," he won't take her photo.  If she says, "I don't like that photo: delete it," he deletes it.  If she says, "Don't post that photo," he doesn't post it.

"In other words," I said, "You're treating her with the respect due an autonomous human."

"Well yeah," he said.  "Because I don't want her thinking, 'Well it's okay for someone to disrespect my wishes if they love me,'  If someone wants her to take nude photos and she doesn't want to, I want her to be used to people respecting and abiding by her decisions regarding herself.  And I want her to be not-okay with anyone who doesn't."

Here's to the next generation, folks: may this shit come so naturally to them that they don't have to think about it.



I made a map for the game I'm drafting for my friends.  Since maps are not exactly my forte, I'm actually pretty proud.
Must... repair... scanner...


Mother-Son Time

I was in a bit of a pointless black rage this afternoon, so rather than stay at home and take it out on my spouse, I bundled my son up into his car seat and took him to the bookstore.

I remember when going to the bookstore was a treat.

I remember when the bookstore was my haven.

I remember when the bookstore was my home.

Today it was just a Place to Be Out of the House, and that saddened me.


My son, whom I'd fully expected to fall asleep on the drive over, did no such thing, and instead eyed me with curiosity as I let out a long-suffering sigh, clicked his carrier into the stroller, and pushed it into my former wonderland.

I don't have much time for reading these days, and I've neither the funds nor the acquisitive nature to buy a lot of books, anyway.  The Library is the place for me: and if it turns out I really love a book- enough to make other people read it, then I buy it.  Except even the Library hasn't seen much of me, due to the aforementioned not-much-time-for-reading.  Sure, I've been devouring the Georgette Heyer novels SCurry loaned me, but those (thankfully) do not require a lot of concentration.

All this to say, I was wandering around the bookstore, feeling sorry for myself and all the books I wasn't going to read and wasn't going to buy- but my son was in a perfectly lovely, wide-awake mood, and did his best to cheer me and the rest of the world up with his gurgling and cooing.

Eventually I came across some dice for sale, and since I was in need of new ones I let Neeps 'choose' which set I should buy, by flailing in their general direction.  He flailed repeatedly at the same set, so I figured he was pretty sure about his selection*.  Since they were properly secured in their little plastic case, I let him hold them on the way up to the register, and he promptly turned them into a rattle, keeping rhythm with some secret song only the newly-born are attuned to.  I watched his pure, unadulterated joy with this little thing, and I found the tightness in my chest beginning to loosen.

When the world seems overwhelming with the size of its darkness, we must turn to the smallest things for joy, I suppose.

*"scarab royal blue with gold", for the curious


Daughters of Heaven

Once upon a time, twin girls were born to the Rulers of Heaven.  The Rulers named their daughters Sun and Moon, gave them a magical Orb, and sent them to Earth to live and learn among mortals.  Every nine years the twins were to pass the Orb from one to the other, so that their heavenly powers might remain balanced.  For hundreds of years they did as their parents had instructed, ruling in harmony.  Sun, the older twin, was much engaged with the world and experiences of the flesh- even taking mortal lovers and eventually giving birth to a daughter she named Starlight.  Moon, however, was more intrigued by the realms of magic and the mind, and thus held herself apart from most mortals.  Eventually there came a day when Moon was working on a particularly intricate and difficult spell, and did not want to interrupt its progress by returning the Orb to Sun at the appointed time.  Moon knew Sun never did as much with the Orb as she herself did, and felt her sister wouldn't mind waiting a while longer for its return.  In point of fact, however, Sun was enraged by this breach; but so long as Moon held the Orb, Sun was less powerful than her twin, and could do nothing in retaliation.

During this period of estrangement, a demon stole Starlight.  Sun was able to rescue her daughter, but discovered to her dismay that the demon had separated the girl's spirit from her body, and had hidden the spirit away before vanishing back to Hell.  In despair, Sun transformed Starlight into a beast, so that her body would remain safe while Sun attempted to locate and rescue Starlight's spirit.

By this point Moon was deeply regretting her selfishness: she knew that if Sun had been in possession of the Orb, as she should have been, the demon would never have been able to get close to Starlight.  And so Moon started looking for a way to recover her niece's spirit.  As she did so, she sent one of her servants to return the Orb to Sun.

This did not go as planned.



(I recently had to scramble to create a true-neutral human character.  This is the hastily-sketched background that resulted.)

Frella was born to a jaguar.

Well, technically she was born to a human woman, by the name of Firsha.  But Firsha, like her wandering mate, was a druid.  And Firsha, like her mother before her, preferred to spend most of her time in animal form.  And the form Firsha liked best was that of the jaguar (unlike Firsha's mother, who lived far away in the frozen north and found an ice tiger to be much more comfortable).  So unless something require speech or thumbs, Firsha was found in jaguar form, her young, not-able-to-shift-yet daughter clinging happily to her back.  If Firsha's wandering mate wandered into her territory, the three of them might spend as much as a moon cycle in human form, so they could speak words of love and affection in the common language of their people.  Frella loved those times her father visited, loved to bury her face in the stiff black feathers of his preferred harpy eagle form, loved to listen to his stories from far-flung places.  Too, Frella loved the moonlit gatherings with other druids, a chance to exchange knowledge and wisdom and best of all, still more stories.

As Frella grew older, and began to come into her own abilities, she also began to realize that while she loved the animals of her jungle home, and reveled in the power their forms brought her, she was not like her mother, or her mother's mother: she wanted to walk the world in human form, at least for a while.

And so she did.


Boots to Fill

You know I love my oxblood boots.  And yet, I haven't worn them since my maternity session back in October (one of these days I'll post some images from that).  The reason for that is sort of ridiculous- after the session, I left them in my car... and there they've stayed until today.  At first it was because I was pregnant and couldn't really wear them.  And then I was no-longer-pregnant, but I was... distracted...

But I wore them today!  And they sure are looking good.
Who knows, maybe someday we can recreate this photo, but in reverse...


Patriotic Pals on Parade

We drove up to Eatonville today, to spend Independence Day with Nathan's sister and her family.  I feel really fortunate that they're currently near enough for us to do Holiday Day Trips.  I didn't have any cousins until I was 13 (and I topped out at two cousins, total) so it's very special to me that a) Neeps has eleven (so far), b) several of them are close enough for him to actually spend time with on a semi-regular basis, and c) the older ones are so sweet and loving towards him (the ones closest to his age tend to be a little more bloodthirsty.  Can't blame them, really: limited resources, and all that.)  Few things are more heartwarming than watching my siblings' children play with mine.

But that's not the point of this post!  The point of this post is that one of the 4th of July activities that we participated in as a family was representing Hike It Baby in the Eatonville Parade!  I'm pretty sure it was my first time being in a parade (and certainly Neeps's), and it was quite fun*.

Lined up and ready to go (behold my glorious leggings: SUPER patriotic!)

Yep, nursing boobs = wearing a sports bra to make my go-to party dress family-friendly.
You'll notice Nathan isn't in any of the pictures- that's because he was (shockingly) the photographer, and circling about our group like an inquisitive shark.

Look at that waving action!
Parading is hard work.
After the parade we had a family picnic, where I carefully fed Neeps the food of his ancestors: GF fried chicken, potato salad, and watermelon.  And Cheerios, because what's an 8-month-old's meal without Cheerios.

*The other great thing about today was it gave me a chance to try out our new hiking pack, the bright red Escape by Phil&Ted.  (please notice I matched my lipstick to it)  I liked it pretty well, but as with most adjustable packs, I ran into the problem of my torso being just a little too small for the smallest setting.  Still, it was a lot better than any other ones we've tried, so I look forward to using it out in nature very soon!


Pretty Pots

While my mom was visiting, she and I went out to lunch at the most exquisite little bakery.  Everything was so delicious-looking that I actually took a gluten-pill so that I could indulge a little.  In addition to lunch, we each ordered a dessert, and then shared (obviously).  One of the desserts we ordered was a pot de creme, and it was fabulous.  So fabulous, in fact, that I got a bee in my bonnet about making my own.

I found myself a promising recipe for caramel pot de creme, but suddenly realized that I wouldn't be able to make it because I didn't have any ramekins!  Tragedy!  But then, when I went to visit Oma and Opa, I happened to ask Oma if she could help a sistah out, and sure enough, she could.

To the kitchen!
All the finest things.
I used farmer's market eggs, because obviously in a custard egg quality is exceptionally important.  I also used my Secret Weapon, which is a vanilla extract made for me by Adam and SCurry using bourbon from the distillery where Adam works.  Everything I make using the Secret Weapon automatically becomes 3x more delicious.  True fact.
Whisking and whisking

And then I poured water into the pan.
Vintage floral!

They came out super rich and delicious- too rich, really, for the size I made them in (my newly-acquired ramekins being twice the volume recommended by the recipe) .  But honestly, it was kind of fiddly/pain-in-the-ass-ish to make, to the point where this is one dessert I'm going to officially categorize as Worth Buying.

Still, you never know until you try, eh?


Drama Llama and the Alpacalypse

So this happened at the Farmer's Market today:
Redheads FTW

Also this:
Bushy Beards!

What can we say?  We love us some local celebrities.


Mad Dash

I took a personal day today, so that I could take a whirlwind trip up and see my recently-hospitalized grandfather.  I rode up with my uncle, and back down with my mom, so that was actually kind of nice because it gave me too unexpected (and uninterpreted) hours with her, to talk about this, that, and the other before she flies away once more.

Opa is doing better now (yay modern medicine!) and frankly it did me a world of good to see him handling things (including admin screw-ups at the hospital) in his typical patient, competent way.

I really, really want him to be able to stick around long enough for Neeps to have good memories of him.