Magpie Tales 250

This post is a response to the prompt given by Magpie Tales






Impertinent!
The questions you ask me.
The ones you make me ask myself,
With your hair caressed by spring skies,
and lips
capable of setting Antarctica aflame.

I have no answers to why it should be so.
Why me? Why this magic?

But to your question,
"How would I like to be kissed?"
Often,
fiercely,
if you please,
impertinently.



LOL, I wasn't sure I was going to participate this week.
I always feel a tad silly writing love poetry

Magpie Tales Nov 30 2014

This is my offering inspired by the current prompt over at Magpie Tales



There are bits of me hidden from myself.
I’m sure you’ve noticed them too;
but you don’t mind it.
And now your mystery is woven into mine.
I like that very much.
Do you mind the strangeness?
Odd… shouldn’t I be bothered by this?
And even more oddly, I don’t think I care,
about those things we can’t see yet.
And all that is regular, reasonable,
rational,
fades into nothing
against Love’s chaos.



Go to Sleep Child (Nov 2014)

Go to Sleep Child (Nov 2014)

Go to sleep little one
The water’s been spilt
The clothes have been mussed
But Daddy and I shall love you still
And the fingernail moon floats peacefully over your world
There is no need to fear
Go to sleep little one

Clean white sheets surround you
A roly-poly dog snuffles nearby
Mistakes have been made
But it’s just a little water
But nothing so permanent to make you cry
Mommy’s coffee and Daddy’s cream
Blend beautifully in your world
Why should it not be so elsewhere?

Though there are things being broken that cannot be mended
And more than water spilled under this scythe moon
The cacophony of electric birds keening
Need not trouble you
It is elsewhere
At least tonight
Go to sleep

Please

Blooming Howls 2014

This is my posting for the fabulous Magaly Guerrero's blog party, Witches in Fiction: Crafting Blooming Howls



Tradition Lies Deeply


“I am telling you Fernando, esa chica es rara.”

“Fernando,” Angela said, “do you want to tell your sister goodbye this time or shall I do it?”

Ana could see the weary look in her father’s face from the crack of her bedroom door. “Natalia, we all know how you feel. Now please go and let us deal with our daughter.”

Ana couldn’t quite hear what her aunt mumbled as she went out the door, but her mother’s disgusted 
“Idiota supersticiosa” and the slam of the door carried quite clearly. She scampered back to her bed, clutching her stuffed fox tightly, knowing her parents would be in to see her soon.

They didn’t appear to be much more pleased with her than they were with her aunt.

“I’m sorry I didn’t behave at dinner,” Ana said quietly.

“Ana, you are a big girl now,” her mother said. “You must know better than all this locura about fairy tales and talking foxes – or at least be old enough to know to hide your baby games!”

“You were rude to your tía, mí hija. Whatever possessed you to say such things?”

Ana looked down at her blanket and said nothing. She didn’t think her parents would appreciate “because she’s mean” as an answer.

When it was clear no answer was forthcoming her father sighed. “You know, if I were rude to an adult like that when I was young my parents would have brought out un cinturón and I wouldn’t sit right for days.”

“Or anything hard, wooden, and nearby” her mother said with a nod.

“I won’t do it again. I promise.”

“I’d tell you have to stay in your room the next week, but you are already in here alone all the time as it is. Why don’t you go out and play more with the other kids?” her mother shouted.

“Angela, por favor,” Fernando said, laying a hand on his exasperated wife’s arm. “No postre, for a week. And no fairy tales. Just school reading or something we pick.”

They walked out of the room, her father only stopping to remind Ana to say her prayers before he turned out the light. Ana could hear that they were still talking. Creeping quietly to the door she opened it a fraction to listen.

“You don’t believe your sister’s tontería about demonios, do you Fernando?”

“Of course not. But you said it yourself. Ana needs to get over thinking she’s in a fairy tale or people will think she’s crazy.”

Ana closed the door and went back to her bed. All the talk of demons made the shadows in the room seem extra ominous. She lay under her blanket, saying every prayer she learned in Catholic school. But it was no use. Ana was sure demons were lying in wait for the bad child who told her aunt that a fox would pluck out her eyes for snooping in her room.

“Yuuki” she whispered.

“I am here Ana-chan.” A three tailed fox leapt onto her bed and curled up beside her.

“There aren’t any demons in here, are there Yuuki?”

“Nothing besides me.”

“You aren’t a demon. You’re nice,” Ana said as she sat up. “I’ll bet you’ve never got in trouble for saying something you shouldn’t have.”

The fox shook its head, “Wrong on all three. I’ve been called a demon many times. I’m most assuredly not nice. And yes, I’ve acted and spoken in haste only to repent later.”

Ana’s skeptical look amused Yuuki. “Alright small one, I suppose I shall have to prove it. Your father said you could not read any fairy tales, but he did not say you could not listen to one. You can judge for yourself afterwards, though the very fact I am telling you a story despite the fact we both know your parents would not approve shows I am not nice. Nice creatures do not help young ones disobey.”

“I had been trapped for many generations at this point, bound to serving one family to its 100th generation. My homeland had begun to change since the arrival of Admiral Perry, but my family weathered the changes well, with my help of course. The age of the samurai had gone, but wealth and status were always in style, and my family kept theirs. The one I served at that time was a lovely, but very spoiled, woman. Her husband had met with an unfortunate hunting accident soon after she bore him a son, but she was not lonely. She often attended social gatherings, reveling in the attention she received as a beautiful, tragic figure. Eventually, the attention began to fade, as other topics became more interesting to the circles she traveled in.

She did not care for calling upon my aid too often, but after my assistance with her husband's final hunting expedition, she became less shy about such things. So one evening she called me, demanding I do more to keep her the center of attention.

‘My lady,’ I said, ‘I already use my powers as a kitsune to enhance your beauty so that you are admired by all men and envied by every woman. You know how these aristocratic groups are. Only the most recent gossip of the moment is of interest.’

Her eyes lit up at my last sentence. ‘Yes, it is so,” she replied. ‘It is also so that the one who knows the best and juiciest gossip never wants for attention.  Kitsune, could you sneak into the houses of some people and bring me back whatever news you found interesting?’

Of course I could. It was possibly the easiest thing I had ever been asked by a member of that family. So for a week I crept in and out of the finest and most noble households of that district, reporting every salacious deed I saw. She clapped her hands with delight at all I told her and at the next gatherings she attended, my lady sprinkled the stories onto very attentive ears.

Inevitably, the remarkable accuracy of her tales was soon noted. In my travels I observed that several of the individuals I had reported back on were attempting to send spies of their own into my lady’s household, to see how she came by her knowledge. I advised her it would be wisest to discontinue our activities for a time, at least to allow me to deal with the other spies, but she was reluctant to give up her popularity.

‘My Lady, surely you must see they will not be satisfied until they have some sort of explanation. They will not rest until they know what skilled spies you have or magic you possess to know so much.’

Again, my words provided a spark to her mind. Magic, yes, but not the magic of a lowly servant - magic of her own was the answer. She started putting it about that since the death of her husband she had become more sensitive to spirits and could hear all the secrets they uttered. When pressed for evidence of this power she started giving spiritual sessions as a diversion at parties. Of course I needed to be close by to feed her information. She decided I should be beside her during all these events, in the guise of a simple lady's maid, giving her information through secret signals. I have no great skill in fortune telling, but with all the time I had spent prowling through the various households it was easy enough to predict the outcomes of many of the questions she was asked.

The charade amused me on so many levels. The majority of the people she was impressing normally would trip all over themselves to prove how modern they were, how they had left silly, old beliefs behind. But oh, how those sons and daughters of Old Japan loved tastes of the old tales, provided they weren't too frightening or threatening to their image as modern, enlightened people. I don't believe anyone really thought she was a medium. There were too many attempts to find out what lay behind her knowledge to presume they fully accepted her story. From my spying I found that the general consensus still was, rightfully, she had some sort of secret access through a clever spy or group of spies. But they loved playing along with the story. 

Her fame and popularity grew once more, but it was not long before she was dissatisfied again. Discontent came in the form of a simple girl, the daughter of farmers, who was making a name for herself in some of the villages as a skilled medium. Certainly, the girl was of little real threat to her popularity, but all it took was a tart remark or two implying in this modern era that a peasant was the equal of an elite woman and she conspired to have her thrown in jail. I was not part of that directly as I was quite busy with spy work. But because of information I gave her, my lady held a certain amount of sway over the local magistrate and the girl was brought in. My lady wanted to see her punished for her insolence, so made sure she was available at the time of the girl’s arrest. I stood beside my lady, as was my place as her handmaiden, and watched as they flogged the girl and then threw her in a cell.  

Two things came to mind as I watched. First was that although my oath bound me to serve the family, it did not say I could not serve others as well. The second was that although my oath was to protect my charge from physical harm, nothing was ever said about gossip.

I arranged to spend time at the jail between spying missions, disguising my voice to resemble that of one of the guards. I brought her small treats of good food, to gain her trust and get her to talk. She indeed was a seer of remarkable talent. She only needed to touch another person’s hand and she could see who they were and where their path was leading them.

I convinced my lady she should be there the day of the girl’s release to make sure she had been properly humbled by her experience. Gleefully, my lady agreed, and together we went. As the girl was led out of her cell, I put on my haughtiest voice and said “Wretch, you are in the presence of your betters. Show the proper respect!” And I made sure to grab the exposed skin of her wrist as I pulled her forward.

Of course she knew the second she felt my touch. She pushed me away in horror, as any sensible person might, causing me to lose my balance and fall, revealing my fox tails under my disguise. 

“Kitsune!” she screamed.

All the villagers who had assembled in curiosity at my lady’s visit now were yelling in horror. Perhaps I have a perverse sense of humor, but even during what followed I could not help being amused by how quickly these modern, rational people became no different from the people who lived hundreds of years ago when they faced something out of the ordinary.

“Demon!”

“Evil deceptive spirit!”

“The lady is kitsune possessed!”

“Get out before you curse us all to suffer at the hand of the kitsune!”

I managed to get us both out before any of the stones that were thrown could hit us, as was my duty. My lady stayed shut up in her room in shock for several days. Her other servants left quickly once word had spread that their mistress consorted with evil creatures, and of course there were no more invitations to fine parties after that. Happy with my work, I thought all I needed to do was wait for my lady to waste away in grief over not being the most admired woman in the district and my service would pass into the hands of her insipid son.

But my lady proved hardier than I thought. In a month’s time, this time disguised as a manservant of her son’s, I was boarding a large ship set to sail far away from my homeland, never to return. I heard my brothers and sisters wail for me as the boat departed, but what could they do? The terms of my service were clear: serve for one hundred generations. So where my lady went, I was compelled to go as well. It was well that my lady never addressed me again as long as she lived because I was filled with nothing but bitterness in this strange new land, not understanding a word that was said with no one I could call friend.

Oh yes, I regretted my actions. And how nice can I be if I spent years regretting a helping a luckless girl? The villagers knew me for what I was, a demon,” Yuuki concluded.

Ana looked back at the three tailed fox. “A really evil demon wouldn’t have felt sorry for her in the first place.”

Yuuki gave a barking laugh. “So you’re determined to see me as nice?”

“No,” Ana said. “You like sneaking around and playing tricks. You aren’t nice. Neither am I. Because I am not sorry you had to leave Japan, otherwise I’d never know you. And I am not sorry I said what did to my aunt. She’s awful and someone needs to tell her so. I just could have been smarter about it. That lady you worked for was awful and someone needed to show it. Maybe it wasn’t the nice way to do it - and I still think people should try nice first - but sometimes I think not nice is needed to get the job done.”

“You are an incorrigible child.” Yuuki said. “Do you need me to stay until you are asleep?”

“No. I feel better now. Especially because I think you are trying to go so you can play a trick on someone.”

“I must be getting more obvious as I age.”

“Nope. I know, because it’s what I would do if I were you. Just remember to tell me what my aunt’s face looks like when you scare her.”


“It would be my honor.”


Song Choice: Goodnight Demon Slayer by Voltaire. If Yuuki ever sang a lullaby, it'd be this one

Hunger pains

Just a quick short story I wrote inspired by a conversation from another writer friend. 




Hunger Pains


There was no question; his mews were less robust than his brothers’ and sisters’ from the moment he was born and now they had gotten even fainter. None of the litter had opened their eyes yet but Mayra knew that one would not get the chance, even if she did not intervene. She looked down at the pitifully undersized creature.

 A patched tabby strutted into the alley where Mayra and her brood lay. Lyla gave her a contemptuous look as she got closer.

“You haven’t done away with it yet?” Lyla scoffed.

Mayra didn’t look up. She continued to look at the small kitten, wishing things had been different, wishing he was as strong as the others.

Small white paws…dark fur…white patch on the throat…dark nose…Mayra tried to fix in her mind every detail about him she could.

“Oh, move out of the way. I’ll do it if you won’t. It’s a shame to waste food, even if he won’t make much of a meal.”

Mayra hissed at Lyla. “I’ll do it.”

I don’t know if I can care for the others, or myself for that matter, Mayra thought. She had a hard time finding much to eat as of late, even with Helia’s help, and worried if she could make enough milk for all the kittens. She had hoped for a miracle. Sometimes she’d day dream about one of the two-leggeds taking her and her children into a warm home. But she had found nothing more comforting from them than glass bottles thrown her way.

There was going to be no miracle. Nothing would help the small one now. She knew that this would give her food she desperately needed and buy the rest of her children just a bit more time. But her heart still ached. It would be crueler to let him linger like this.

Mayra opened her mouth and in a few seconds it was done.

“There now. It wasn’t that hard. You first time brood carriers, always so dramatic. You actually have tears right now! I’ve eaten at least 4 of my own kittens and it never bothered me once. They were actually quite tasty. If it wasn’t such a strain to bear the little beasts, I might have another litter, just for the chance to taste one again.”

Mayra hissed and spat again. Lyla raised her paw to strike.

“All right over there Mayra?”

A scarred pit bull loped over to the two cats. She barred her teeth at Lyla. “You wouldn’t be thinking of hurting a new mother, would you Lyla?”

Lyla turned tail and fled. Helia gave a snort in her direction. “I never did like Lyla all that much. She bothers you again, I won’t feel bad about taking a nice big bite out of her backside. Oh, I almost forgot. I got something for you.” Helia ran to the front of the alley and came back again, bearing a large mouse. She wagged her tail excitedly, dropping it at Mayra’s paws. “This is nothing. There’s a whole warehouse full of ‘em. When you and your babies can move, I’ll take you to it. The two-leggeds would probably love having some good mousers. Maybe they’ll need a guard dog too. I already had plenty. This one is for you.”

Mayra ate, grateful for the extra food. She tried not to think that this was the first time her belly felt full in a while. “Thank you Helia. I don’t know why you’re so kind to me.”

“Already told ya. You look like the cat from the place I was before. She was the only good thing about that place and the only reason I made it out.” Helia noticed there was one less kitten curling up to Mayra to nurse. She licked the cat tenderly, deciding not to bring it up unless Mayra did. “It’s been a busy day. I don’t know about you, but I could use a bit of rest.” Helia placed herself in front of Mayra, and lay down.

Mayra picked her head up drowsily. There was something in the sound of the wind that woke her. She sniffed the air. Beside her, several kittens shifted restlessly in their sleep, squirming more closely against each other. A faint whine came from Helia, but she still slept. Blinking, she looked more closely at the shadows near a stack of slowly rotting cardboard boxes. Mayra never had trouble distinguishing objects in shadow before, but instead of the broken glass, mildewed rags and other assorted city trash she was used to seeing, all she could make out was an inky haze pooling around the boxes. As she watched, all of the shadows seemed to take on the same velvety darkness. Mayra shook her head as if that might clear her vision, but the shadows started to congeal into shapes with no relation to their surroundings. A legion of small, fragile figures could be made out, some of which occasionally shifted back to the formlessness of the larger shadow before coalescing into a tiny feline form again.

“Mama” came a tiny mew and dozens of equally high pitched mews of “Mama” followed after.

Mayra hung her head, “I am sorry, little one. You should have been born to a mother on a comfortable farm somewhere, with kind, big two-leggeds to bottle-feed you and kind, small two-leggeds to adore you. I am sorry I was not enough to save you.”

“We know,” answered dozens of tiny mews. “You cried Mama. Only Mamas cry. Not everyone cries for us.” The words repeated again and again like ripples across a pond.

Mayra blinked, “We? Us? There was only one kitten I…” She turned to look at the rest of her babies. They were all still there, still asleep and moving fitfully. “Who are you?”

“Ones who could not survive. Lost and found ones. We have each other. But we still need a Mama.”

“Why?”

“Feed us Mama. We are so hungry. Please feed us.” The small echoing mews filled the alley.

“I don’t know how. I wish I did. You’d still be alive if I knew how.”

“Feed us Mama! Feed us!” came the insistent mews, rising ever higher in pitch and volume. “We’re so hungry!”

“I don’t know how!” Mayra screamed.

“Whoa, Mayra. Hun, you alright?” Mayra felt a large wet tongue on her side. She opened her eyes and saw Helia’s worried face. One of her kittens started to mew and she flinched. It was a perfectly normal and healthy mew of a hungry kitten. She trembled and gave it a tentative lick. The kitten was warm and solid. Mayra moved to start to nurse her and the others started to move closer.

She looked at Helia. “Just a nightmare. I guess I knew the little ones needed to eat now.”

When Mayra was finished nursing her children Helia got up to leave. “I’ll be right back. I’m just going to go to warehouse and get us some food. It’s going to be all right Mayra. Just a couple of days and we’ll all go together.”

Not too long after Helia left, Lyla came into the alley, followed by two cats Mayra didn’t know. “I know Helia’s gone. She won’t be back for a while.”

The fur bristled on Mayra’ back. “What do you want Lyla?”

“Breakfast.”

The three cats started towards Mayra. She hissed at them. All I need to do is hold out until Helia comes back, she thought. I can do that.

But even if she had been well-fed and not weak from giving birth three days ago, Mayra was small and young. The two cats with Lyla were strong and well used to scuffling with bigger opponents. After the first few blows, Mayra was dizzy. The world started blur in front of her. As she fell, she could hear the kittens crying behind her.

I can’t feed you, she thought. And as soon as I’m gone they will eat you.

“We’re hungry Mama,” came dozens of little mews.

“Little ones, I wish you could eat them,” she whispered.

Immediately the shadows from the alley gathered and a sea of small, indistinct shadows crashed over Lyla and her friends. Myra heard their pained yowls but couldn’t see anything besides the forms in shadows pouncing over and over again. Eventually the yowls stopped and even the mass of shadows stopped moving. One small figure came away from the larger body of shadows, and dropped a bit of meat in front of Mayra.

“For you Mama.”


“Thank you sweetheart,” Mayra answered. 





The Second Before The Big Finish

I've been taking bellydance classes with the same teacher for years now. In addition to having a terrific dance style and an enviable level of poise, she happens to be an all around cool person (and a fellow geek girl to boot!). When the chance came to take some extra sessions to go deeper with my dance skills and really dig down into what some of my biggest stumbling blocks as a dancer are, I jumped at the chance.

She asked us to do some mental work about what we thought was holding each one of us back. I suppose I could have answered "knees that have been getting more prone to going stiffer with age", or "a wildly variable schedule that makes me have to work to carve out time for extra drills". But the most honest answer, which I did give her, was that when I start to get a little good at something I also start to get exceedingly self-conscious. I start to realize "hey, I'm actually doing it" and then pull back in, afraid of going for it full throttle.

This isn't a problem I have just in dance. It's pretty much spread over everything I do. Dance, singing, writing...oh yeah, writing. In the millisecond it takes before I hit the perfect note, execute a powerful pose, I stop ever so short of the mark I wanted. 

It's fear really. I start to doubt that I can really pull it off, whatever it is I'm trying, so I stop. It doesn't matter if I've done something well plenty of times in practice, before I'm even aware I've begun to doubt, I pull back.

With writing, there is more of a thought process involved. With every new word I add to a story, especially if it is one I intend to launch for the whole world to see, I start to doubt that I can ever pull off something satisfying. I freeze. Instead I go and find spreadsheets to manage, windows to wash, sock drawers to organize - there's no shortage of things to be done around the house. My hubby, gods love him, isn't the tidiest person in the world, and the kids are only beginning to why keeping things in order is a good idea.

As far as dance goes, my teacher had me drill relaxing everything but the muscles actually in motion. It's actually helped a fair bit. I can regularly get some really nice shimmies and hold them for a decent amount of time now. Perhaps trying to keep my mind focused on relaxing while being in motion crowds out the part of my brain that would normally scream at me to hold back. I need to figure out what the trick for writing is though. It probably has something to do with going back to the time when I only told myself stories in my head, without even ever thinking about sharing it. I was just playing with ideas in my head, letting the ones that most amused me back in for further shaping as the mood hit (that often occurred in very dull classes).

When I figure it out, I'll let you all know.


Villains

My family and I were out for an evening walk with our lazy not-so-new anymore dog Kit (short for Kitsune, but given his girth, I think Sumo would have suited him better). Kit's leisurely pace isn't great if you are looking for exercise, but it is a nice opportunity for family dialog. The topic got around to books we've read. My husband asked the rest of us who was our favorite villain in a book.

I consider myself a reader. Maybe not as voracious of one as I was in my youth, but I do read quite a bit and my mind blanked. LOL, now part of it was the weird blanking out thing your mind does when anyone asks you to pick your favorite anything. But part of it also was that it's not as easy, for me at least, to pick out a favorite book villain as it is in a visual media, like a movie or TV series.

Alfred Bester from Babylon 5 is easily on my top 5 TV/ films villains of all time list

You see, the thing with books is that you are often much more privy to the thoughts of the protagonists, and although there may be a Big Bad they are facing, I often find myself more interested in the main character's internal drama. What is it inside the hero/ heroine that needs to be overcome? What is it the villain stands for that is so at odds with what it is the protagonist wants?

That being said, yes I did eventually come up with some literary villains (Melisande de Sherzai, Mrs. Haversham, The Overlook Hotel, The White Witch from the Narnia books, even He Who Must Not Be Named were stand out villains), but I still haven't figured who was my favorite. I suppose I'll just have to read more books and re-read my old favorites to be sure. September is coming, so I'll have a bit more reading time then. 







This is Not the Smartest Thing to Do in the World - This is a Tribute

Its funny how some things can change - and how some things can still sting almost a year later. With fall beginning to bleed into August with this cooler than average weather, I started thinking about the events of last October and of course Samhain and honoring the memories of the ones I've lost.

Then I saw an old college friend of mine do something incredibly silly on Facebook. He dumped a bucket of cold water over his head as part of something called the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. I asked what that was and he kindly pointed me to a link explaining it.

Let's get something straight: I. Hate. Cold.

My husband calls me as a lizard and says I have the shower set to Mordor. I complain about cold in the winter and when I get the inevitable nagging about how I'll wish for the cold in the oven that is PA in the summer, I can laugh and say, "Oh no I won't). I love the seasons. I love the stark beauty of winter - from inside with a thick sweater and a big mug o' tea or if I must go outside, warm boots, thick scarves and many, many layers.

I have no reason to do this stupid thing. Since Mike's diagnosis I've contributed regularly to ALS and ALS related causes. And then I remembered the words Mike wanted us to remember.

"It's OK. I laughed a lot"

*sigh*

So I gritted my teeth, got the clothes to change into afterwards ready, got one kid to hold a towel while the other kid videoed and just did it.



In related news, dolphins in the Atlantic reported headaches from my high pitched scream


There is no question this is a silly, rather childish thing to do. And as one friend warned me, not entirely safe (I did check with other health care professionals who had done the challenge and they said there were risks, but slight ones. You could get bruised or lacerated by the falling ice. If you have specific conditions with your thyroid or your heart you really should talk to your doctor before trying this). But it turns out there are a lot of very silly people, who like me donated as well as took an ice water shower. Donations towards ALS research have skyrocketed. People are becoming more aware about what this horrible disease does.

And because I do believe in an afterlife, I feel that somewhere Mike is still laughing and then doubling over again with laughter because of who I tagged (like you thought I wouldn't get payback after your bragging about your relaxing vacation. Keep laughing through the ice shower Vineyard Boy!).

I'm glad you laughed a lot while you lived bro. I'll do my best to keep the laughs coming. That's my tribute to you, silly as it is.



Nowhere Fast

The first Five Sentence Fiction challenge I did was so much fun, I decided to try another. This one's theme is Fearless.

"Do you have a bigger ramp?" Reg asked Evan.

Together they dove into the dark recesses of Evan's garage and found, not a bigger ramp, but several paint cans, hula hoops, tarps, bricks, fishing line, lumber and garden tools of assorted sharpness.

They dragged their haul up to Reg's house and went to work piecing together an obstacle course that terminated in a ramp on the edge of the in ground pool.

Reg and Even admired their handiwork, deciding that a flame jump section might be too much for a first run when a scream pierced through their thoughtful discussion.

"Regina Lysette Smith, what are you - no I don't want to know - get your leotard on and get a move on because we're late for ballet class, AGAIN!"


Etiquette for Attending Weddings

This post is for the Five Sentence Fiction blog project. The theme is Rain.

“In my country, when there would be a day like today, where you had sun and rain at the same time, it was said to mark the occasion of a kitsune’s wedding,” Yuuki told Anna.

“It must have been beautiful with all the kitsune dressed in their best robes and the rain sparkling in the sunlight and – oh – there must always have been rainbows at every one!” Anna said.

“Yes it was a grand sight only open to a select few; not that there weren’t those who tried to go where they were not invited.”

“What happened to people who tried to sneak a peek?”


Yuuki pulled out a small, worn pouch of indeterminate color and dubious scent, contemplated it a moment before he tucked it away again and replied, “They learned sneaking into a wedding won't do you any good if you cannot see the bride and groom.”



Another Bite

This is a post for Magpie Tales' blog challenge. This is my first trying this out, and I'm not much of a poet, so I apologize in advance.

The picture at Magpie Tales that inspired this entry




Another bite…

It’s so small really.
Barely enough to make a meal of.

Another bite…

These spoons are so tiny.
You can hardly call these proper mouthfuls at all.

Another bite…

Don’t stop, you’ve had a good deal already.
What’s just a small taste more?

Another bite…

That gurgle is your stomach hungry for more.
There is no acid creeping up your throat.

Another bite…

But they have all gathered here! Just for you!
See! The candles have been lit for this moment.

Another bite…

Complaints? Those would be rude.
There will be none of that.

Another bite…

Do you really think you can stop it now?
Do you really think you can leave it so easily?

Another bite…

See? It’s not too terrible.
You’ll get used to the taste soon.

Just…

Another…


Bite…




It must be...

A long time ago, in the magical decade known as the 90's, my then future hubby and I had a talk about the way things might be were we to come to a more permanent arrangement. At this point, we completely dropped the pretense that our relationship was a fling, the word "love" had been uttered in moments of both high emotion (ahem, it was college) and calm. At this point we both knew, as Ming Ming the Duck might say:




One of the things my hubby wanted was a kosher home. Sure, I thought. Not such a big deal not to have cheese on everything and hey, if I only ate bacon outside the house, that would be a good way to limit at least one really unhealthy food I liked. But there's kosher and then there's Passover kosher.

I loathe Passover.

There, I've said it.

OK, I don't hate the holiday itself. And a lot of the food is good. But the whole house, especially the kitchen, needs deep cleaning. The daily meat and dairy dishes need to be swapped out for special ones that have never touched chamtez (leavened bread) or stuff that's even chametz like. Besides the regular rules, there's no bread, no corn, nothing made on machinery that might have touched bread or corn (we even have to get new salt, pepper, sugar and oils because of that). No pasta except for stuff made from matzoh meal. But most of all, there's no beans and no rice.

NO RICE. AT ALL. FOR ANY MEAL.

Even people on hard core no-gluten diets get rice! Why can't I have rice? There's no leavening in rice. Rice is just sitting there, minding it's own business, being a beloved staple of many different world cuisines...except ancient Hebrew! I'm sure Moses didn't even know rice existed. Why is it on the banned list?!?!? It's not on the no list for Sephardic Jews. Why can't be be Sephardic instead of Askenzai for week? They get to have rice and I'm sure I have ancestors from Spain (that's what my mom says).

One of the worst fights my hubby and I ever had was just before Passover. I spent the day cleaning with little children underfoot and he suggested we go out to eat so as not to have to redo any of the work I already got done. I said, terrific, where to? He suggested a Brazilian steak house.

A BRAZILIAN STEAK HOUSE?!?!?! I'm going to have to eat pretty much like I'm on the Atkins diet for a week, spent all day cleaning while trying to keep an eye on small children and you want all you can eat steak?!?!?!

Yes, we resolved things (we went for Italian instead and I went nuts on the garlic bread) but my loathing of the holiday continues to this day.

This year we had an out of town wedding to go to. The weekend right before Passover. And Passover starts on a Monday. Did I mention the wedding was for his side of the family? (My side would have no clue when Passover starts, nor would they need to, but his side????)

Yeah, I went. I'm actually very fond of the groom and his family. His new bride is a sweetie! And I really like weddings too. I had a great time reconnecting with family I don't normally get to see. Yeah, I've switched out the dishes, packed up the chametz, and won't eat any questionable food in the house (outside the house is another matter; who wants to join me for a sushi lunch that week?) and support my husband's traditions and beliefs. Because in the end, he does support mine, even if he doesn't get them all the time. He loves me. And I love him.

But I don't love Passover. So there.



Natsukashii

This past weekend I was fortunate enough to get to go to a Bar Mitzvah. It wasn't just any Bar Mitzvah, but one for a son of a very close friend of the family who passed away in October. It was a wonderful affair, with so many well loved and familiar faces in one place at the same time.

Oolong was there, as ready to dance as I was. She joked, "We're going to be those two little old ladies at every party who dance together aren't we?" I laughed and thought of younger versions of ourselves, dancing as teens to Rock Lobster, showing the preppies how it's done.

Another good friend sat at our table with his wife. A bunch of us teased him about future plans for children as we bemoaned the fact our children were near or at the age when they wanted to go on dates. With a sheepish grin, he remembered his dating history before finally meeting his amazing wife. We all remembered the days of being "smooth as sandpaper" while trying to figure out the mysteries of love and commitment.

The children had a great time as well. Most of them had known each other since they were in diapers, with Oolong's daughter (I dub thee Rum!) and Mike's daughter (I dub thee Coke!) mostly inseparable as usual (hence the names). The seating at the temple forced them to be at opposite ends of the pew but that didn't stop them from starting a giggle loop that had the whole row of children desperately trying to stifle giggles during a moment of silence.

That of course brought me back to the giggle loop my husband and his friend shared the day of Mike's funeral. I noticed that I wore the same high heels for the Bar Mitzvah as I had on that day. It was impossible not to notice Mike's absence, especially when nostalgia was running rampant, his voice missing in the conversations that went on that day.

It was also impossible to stay sad too long. There was so much happiness in watching the boy, who in his toddlerhood reminded me of a Hummel figurine, confidently lead a congregation in prayer (I dub thee Pepsi!). There was happiness in watching my son with him, joking around the way their fathers had done years ago. There was happiness in hearing the giggles of his youngest sister (I dub thee Sprite!) and my daughter as they ran around the temple. Wonderful memories were being made that day, and as much as there was a small ache in my heart for things lost in the past, joy for the present and the future was there too.




Now "Man On the Moon" and "The Joker" stops me in my tracks
Every time I hear those songs, I go back

I can haz writing plan! - An Insecure Writers' Support Group post

This is part of the Insecure Writers' Support Group posts






So I am going along, reading my blogs when I ran across this post by Magaly Guerrero (who in turn got it from from Ms. Misantropia who got it from Gypsy Spirit Rising) and I thought, "Lists...why is it always lists?"

Things like lists make me twitchy. I hate "haftas" and the thought of rigid scheduling makes me feel like this. But I know I've done great work when I have a solid framework to stay in. So I took this idea and applied it to the spiritual portion of my life, (I might blog about that later) and came up some specific tasks with timelines and everything - and it's been working beautifully. Yay! Go me!

And then Magaly and I started chatting about writing, and the process of writing, and I realized I could tweak this too. I already have my modest writing goal, but I could do with setting up a few more and I mentioned it to her.

Turns out that lady is full of ideas, all of them for more work! The great news is I have written enough small stories for a compilation or two and one of my short stories could be expanded to novel length. This doesn't mean I'm abandoning the novel I'm working on, but it does mean that I've given myself permission to work with other stories I've been feeling pretty good about (but thought needed something more). One the one hand, that seems like crazy talk. On the other hand, the idea of doing more stuff, playing with more characters - it's exciting! And it’s that bit of excitement, as mad as all the rest of it sounds, that I think will help me produce stuff I am satisfied with.

So Magaly, all this is your fault! Thanks amiga!


Yeah I know I used this song on an earlier post. Shush, I like it.


I'm still cool????

I love my mom. I really do. It's just that from an early age I remember looking at the woman and thinking, "Man, she's weird." I'm not talking typical teenage, "Omigawd, can you believe she's my mother!" stuff. No. I remember thinking this at 6 years old. If there was ever a time I wanted to be just like her, it happened before I was old enough to remember.

What my teen relationship with my mother looked like...


Our relationship is much better as we got older, acknowledging the other one is completely strange, but loving them just the same. This is pretty much what I thought all mother daughter relationships were, until I had my daughter. I would never have gone up to my mom and say, "Hey that telenovela you are watching seems cool. Can I watch it?" or "What is that strange dish you are enjoying? Can I have some?" My daughter never grew out of the mimicking mom stage and I was stunned when she expressed an interest in Dr. Who and spicy Indian food (my mom was too - not at the Dr. Who part, but she feels very annoyed her picky eater grew up to be a foodie with foodies-in-training for kids).

She turned 11 early this week, and so far it shows no signs of abating. This terrifies me slightly. Oh sure, I expected it as a baby, and it's amazing to have a steady buddy for Chicken Saagwala and Sailor Moon nights, but I think of all the other things she could emulate - my annoyance at being predisposed to being curvy instead of willowy, my tendency to run myself into the ground to get things done and ignore my health until the last possible minute, my predisposition to keep hurt inward and soldier on until I am ready to snap. No I don't want that legacy passed on. Just like mommy? Oh please gods NO!

But then at the orthodontist's office earlier this week (yeah, she's got mommy's crooked teeth too, poor thing) she got into a conversation with me over the 80's music playing in the office. I explained to her how big of a star Madonna was back in the day and how so many little girls copied her look as Madonna-wanna-bes.

"That's stupid," she said. "Why not just be yourself?"

The orthodontist smiled at us both, and I breathed a sigh of relief.

I'm glad she still thinks I'm cool and shows an interest in all the things I like ("Can I have matcha creme brulee mom?") but I'm most glad she knows that ultimately the best thing to be is herself.


Yeah, I hope she doesn't pick up my swearing either - that's something my mom and I do share LOL

Country Mouse Meets City Mouse







So last weekend was a big adventure for me. I went to NYC on my own for a bridal shower and had the chance to meet and hang out with an on-line friend, Magaly Guerrero. On-line stuff friendships can be strange. I've compared it to falling down the rabbit hole into Wonderland, where the only thing you can be certain of is that things will be quite odd! But I've had a lot of luck when I've met on-line friends in real life, and meeting Magaly was no exception. We hit it off like a pair of giddy teens, messing with our hair, staying up late and going anyplace NYC's subway system could take us.

Although I grew up in New Jersey, my parents had a fear loathing of the city, so most of my experience with is was when I went to the museum or theater as part of school field trips. There was one time near the end of college I went with friends to the Village (though that was the first time I ever tried Indian food...mmmmmmm), but that was much less involved than last weekend's explorations! Magaly was a fabulous hostess and tour guide, so while I can't say I fully got over the sensory overload aspect of visiting (Times Square...so many flashing lights), I'm a bit less intimidated by the city in general.

It was a valuable experience, in that I got to see stuff I rarely ever got to see back in my sleepy suburb, both good and bad. Its the contrasts that really struck me, like hearing some fun music from one of the many street performers and then seeing someone snort drugs right in front of me on the subway. There were the appetizing aromas of the food in Chinatown and then the much less delightful smells that came from the Hudson and some of our fellow subway passengers. It's one thing to hear about a place, and another to jump in with two feet and really experience it! I'm pretty sure some of the details of the trip are going to rattle around in my head and come out as flavor text in a story or two.

While I wish I could have spent a bit more time experiencing the Big Apple (LOL, can I reserve a spot on the futon for later this year Magaly?), I was dead tired by the time I dragged my butt back on the train for home. And I think when all is said and done, I'm a PA girl. I love the city near me, Philadelphia. I love the hills of home. There's something about this area that just feels like it's part of me. Maybe I'll change my mind when I get older, and there's always the chance the weather will drive me insane someday, but here, where I'm typing this blog post and looking at the view from my back door, is where I've put down my roots. And I think I'd like to live out the rest of my days here.

But I still want to visit Japan someday. Just sayin'



JK Rowling and the Half-Mad Ditz: An Insecure Writer's Support Group Post


This post is part of the Insecure Writer's Support Group



The muse circled around my house a few times last month, but admittedly there were times I pretended not to be home. Sometimes it was simply a matter of not being able to get to my laptop for more than a few minutes at a time. But most times, it was a case of nerves. I remember discussing this with a fellow writing friend, the infamous Magaly Guerrero (I'll blog about meeting her on my trip to NY later this week). Although I am comfortable singing and acting on a small stage and even shimmying in revealing cabaret bellydance garb in front of an audience, I don't think either of those experiences prepared me for how naked I feel when I write. And then there's the thought of sharing what I write! 

Last week I read a rather harshly written article imploring J.K. Rowling to just stop writing. The first time I read it, I thought, "Wow, even someone as well known and well loved as J.K. Rowling gets judged and ripped apart harshly! There's no way my work could escape that kind of criticism!" *crest fallen face*

But then I thought about it some more. "Wow, even someone as well known and well loved as J.K. Rowling gets judged and ripped apart harshly! There's no way my work could escape that kind of criticism!" *enthused face* 

Yes, someone out there (probably many someones out there) are going to say snarky and mean things about me and my writing at some point. It's guaranteed. I guess, if I know a rainy day is coming no matter what I do, then it's easy enough to put up an umbrella and just ride it out until the end of the storm, rather than sit and panic in a puddle.

I was also inspired to pick up The Casual Vacancy this month. Great read. It certainly isn't for everyone, especially if you are expecting something as fanciful as Harry Potter's world. But it is an engaging, if dark, character study of life in a small town. I will definitely be reading this again - after I read a bunch of fluffy silly stuff first!




The Waiting

I am in the process of purging myself of a pesky habit. I wouldn't even call it a bad habit necessarily, but a bit like a bad habit, giving it too much space in my life eats up time and energy better spent someplace else. Habits like that are like little mice in a granary. The whole harvest may not be ruined or lost but those pesky things nibble at the good and poop where you don't want them to.

It's not a big deal. I've done this with little peccadilloes before (I love that word by the way - it makes me think of little sins anthropomorphized to resemble a cross between a woodpecker and an armadillo - yes I am weird). In a month, it won't be a thought. But it's that annoying time between now and the end of the month's waiting, when it's still a thing, when it's still pecking at you - bah! It makes me want to wish the time away to the end of that month.

Which is stupid really. There'd be a lot of awesome I'd miss in that month like:

-playing with the kids
-quality time with the hubby
-a cool day trip into Jersey to a Japanese marketplace with an old friend
-a cool weekend trip to New York where I'll meet a new friend
- books to read (I am loving Stardust!)
-bellydance class
-tea ceremony class

Alas, there is nothing for it but to take the slow path. The month will come and go faster than I expected, with fun experiences to fill it up and the absence of a mutant woodpecker-armadillo to celebrate.


A Bit O' Sunshine

Woot! Got nominated for another blogger award.


OK, let's get the 11 facts out of the way:

1.) I'm an unrepentant food snob. It's actually a fabulous way to keep charge of my health. I only blow my calories on stuff I really like. As Anton Ego said in Ratatouille, "If I don't love it, I don't swallow."

2.) That may be the most unintentionally dirty line in a Pixar movie ever.

3.) I am the shortest person at my office.

4.) I actually don't mind snow days too much - unless my house loses power!

5.) I adore Indian food.

6.) Even though Valentine's Day was a snow day with the kids, the hubby made sure to grab some Indian food to eat in once the roads were clear.

7.) The first Valentine's Day I spent with the hubby we watched Army of Darkness.

8.) Though our Valentine's evening was delayed, we continued the tradition by watching an episode of Dexter on our date night.

9.) Although the hubby and I are different religions, we agreed about the way our children should be brought up - as geeks.

10.) Dr. Who is family TV at our place, along with Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

11.) My daughter returned the favor by introducing me to My Little Pony. As much as I wanted to avoid that show, I ended up liking it.

I am also going to stick with just 3 blogs to nominate for this award:

She Who Seeks
Rhissanna
Rue and Hyssop




Like Kids in a Candy Store







“It isn’t fair, Xander!” Emma said, stamping her Mary Jane clad foot. “You always get to go first!” Several nonpareils skittered off the counter to join the larger mess of candy on the floor. One of the few unbroken fluorescent lights in the store flickered and died, which would have made it difficult for the average person to navigate around the shambles. Emma scowled at the light, as if it too was part of a larger conspiracy to make sure she was last, but easily made her way to stand beside her brother without so much as a stumble.

Xander looked at his little sister smugly. “It’s very fair. You didn’t get up right away when I knocked so I went hunting alone. I caught it and I get to go first. You’re lucky I came back to get you. What if it had gotten away?”

Emma crossed her arms over her polka dotted dress and pouted. “I hate you,” she hissed.

The teenage boy circled the bound and gagged man struggling on the floor. He nudged the man with the toe of his designer sneaker. “Aw c’mon, look at him Em. He’s bigger than the last one. Plenty for us both.”

“If you waited for me I could have gotten a bigger one, maybe even two or three!” A sly look crossed her face. “I know where some big ones are and I know how to catch them,” she said in a sing song voice. Emma picked up a sprinkle covered candy apple. She started picking off the sprinkles, tossing them at the man one by one as she circled him. “I’m still going to be hungry right after we’re done here.”

“Oh alright,” Xander said, looking at the man appraisingly. “If you're still hungry, we’ll go after the ones you were talking about right after we get done here. You can even lead the hunt. Happy now?”

Emma tossed the apple at the man’s head, clapped her hands and ran over to hug Xander.

“Get off,” he snapped. “God, do you have to do that all the time? You’re such a baby.”

She giggled, pleased that the hug irritated him. Xander dusted himself off and ran his hands through his blonde hair as if to remove some dirt that had gotten on him.

“Can you take out his gag,” she asked, still giggling. “I like to hear the screams.”

“Do it yourself brat.”

Emma stuck her tongue out at Xander and removed the gag. Immediately the man began to plead. “Let me go kid. Please. All that stuff I said before. I was just kidding. I wasn’t going to hurt you. We were going to have fun. We could still have fun, all of us together.”

“Emma, cover your ears,” Xander said.

Emma recognized the face he made meant business and covered her ears right away.

Xander started kicking the man. “Don’t - you – ever- talk like that around my sister! She’s still innocent you fucking asshole!” He grabbed one of the few unbroken glass bins filled with gumballs and smashed it over the man’s head.

Emma uncovered her ears, looked at the dead man and then looked over at Xander. “You said swear words!”

“You were supposed to have your ears covered. And who are you going to tell? Mom? She taught me how to swear.”

Emma looked at the pulpy mess. “He’s not going to scream anymore. It’s not fair.”

Xander shrugged, then smiled for the first time that evening, long incisors gleaming. “There’s still plenty to eat.  And maybe the next ones will scream a lot.”

“You always cheer me up. I love you Xander.”

“Geez Em, make up your mind. You said you hated me a few minutes ago. C’mon. Dinner’s getting cold.”

“You mean appetizer,” Emma said happily, revealing her own set of fangs. She picked up a bright yellow gumball, swirling it in the remains of the man’s head and popped it in her mouth. “You have to try one like this – it’s so good!”

“You are just too weird Em. Can’t you do anything normal?” Xander said before biting down on the man’s neck.

“You’re too scared to try anything new. I’m going to save more of these to dip in tonight’s dinner,” Emma said, grabbing a handful of gumballs and stuffing them in her pocket.

And with that, she settled down and ate.





That Kind of Love Affair Or An Insecure Writer's Support Group Blog Post

This is part of the Insecure Writer's Support Group blog posts. Sorry it's a day late, but blogs are electricity and internet dependent - which is an issue in the Northeast right now!



I made a simple but fascinating observation about the writing process. I'm moving at a decent clip and being fairly consistent with writing - well, except when I wasn't. Sick family members and snow days are a legitimate excuse I suppose. But I had gotten so good at squeezing my minimum in, that I knew it was just that - an excuse. I know it's because I felt a bit stuck as to where my characters were going, how to get them from point A to point B, and how to do it without it taking forever.

"That's it!" I thought. "I suck as a writer. I don't know if I can manage a full novel. Short stories, sure, but who am I kidding?"

And then while returning from ferrying my newly recuperated offspring someplace or replenishing my pantry (I forget which), something hit me. I knew exactly how I wanted to word things, exactly where the characters were going. I couldn't promise less wordy, but I had an idea. I was so wrapped up in it, I took the wrong exit driving home which irked me because it meant I couldn't get to my laptop as fast as I would like.

Yep, I'm a writer.

I did take a break from novel writing to get a short story ready for the Vampire's Day Soiree at Holly's Horrorland

I still do think short stories are most likely my thing, but I've grown fond of the challenge of novel writing, in a masochistic sort of way. One might say my relationship to writing goes a little something like this...

Keep dancing,

Kestril

Changing the collar or New Year's Tea

This weekend I had a chance to go to a formal Japanese style New Year's banquet. There was delicious food, all traditionally served at Japanese feasts like this. I finally wore a full kimono for the first time (with a LOT of help from a fellow tea student who took formal lessons in kimono wearing - yes, it's that involved you need a class)
The hearth, where the symbolic laying of new charcoal happened.

No tea is complete without this area, displaying a poem that matches the season and seasonal flowers/ fruit. Yep, some times of year you can even use bare branches, but the orange was more auspicious for the lucky new year's symbolism

There are certain rules about kimonos and kimono wearing (hence why some people, like my classmate, go and take a series of classes on it). The idea shape for kimono wearing is perfectly cylindrical, so if, ahem, one's natural form isn't disposed that way, you have to try to make it so. Ladies with generous endowments on top can wear a sports bra and padding around the middle (yep, you read that right - it's OK to make yourself bigger around the middle to get it to lay right). All the various strings holding the thing together are tied very tight around the middle, with the corset, I mean obi, securing and concealing it all. 

I thought the trouble with getting through the ceremony would be dealing with my knees while kneeling. Nope. It was the top of my feet that hurt most when I was in proper position, with my breathing feeling less than optimal while wearing the tight obi when I shifted to sit side saddle.

There are also rules about what sort of kimonos and obis are right for which occasions. I found it was best to run things past the more experienced students first or  have buyer's remorse later. For instance, I fell in love with and bought a gorgeous obi, only to find it was really not suited for a tea student, but for a geisha. (I may display it in my home in some way - it's too pretty not to).




 The other thing I learned was about the collars on the under kimono. White is more appropriate for tea (white with embroidery is OK). The under kimono I got a good deal on? Black collar - only appropriate for a funeral.

Fortunately that was an easy fix. Collars are made to be removable and therefore easily washable. Considering the year I just finished up, there seemed to me to be something very symbolic about removing a collar meant for mourning to add one on to go to a celebration of new beginnings. There's so very much I had to leave behind last year, so many endings to mourn.

But the new collar went on easily. I got complimented on my kimono and I had a very lovely time discussing pottery, tea and even Magic the Gathering. And the food was amazing.

Here's to the New Year. It's gonna a be a bright sunshiny one, despite the damn polar vortex.