Tangled Yarns

Tangled Yarns

Friday, December 10, 2010

Echoes

2:18. The clock’s crimson glow is a warning. Something is wrong. I lie petrified in the bed, expecting the strident tones of a predawn call. A morbid slide show flashes through my mind: dark and gleaming wood of the casket, the family clinging to each other in grief, a grey gloved hand of a pallbearer gripping the smooth handle. Cloying incense and the scent of freshly turned earth surround me. I hear my own sobs, as heavy pain radiates out from my heart.
There will be no phone call. This is not some hellish premonition. It is the echo of your death. Years later, my mind blessedly let me forget the anniversary of your loss. But the body remembers. It replays the agony of it. Lets it reverberate once more.


Run With It should return next week! :)

Friday, December 3, 2010

Run With It 3

Alex’s apartment was at odds with the dilapidated building that contained it. Tastefully painted and attractively furnished, the Den of Seduction was an oasis of sophistication in a desert of frat boy chic. It reflected the perfectly groomed image of its owner. Usually. At the moment, he was a disheveled drunken mess sprawled facedown across his couch. At least he was dressed.

I dropped my bag by the door, shouldered past Cam and took a running leap onto the prostrate fool. “Damn, Alex, you reek! What were you drinking?”

Cursing quietly in Italian, Alex rolled us both off the couch, his 6’4” brawny frame trapping me underneath him. “Moonshine. Won it in a poker game.”

I shoved at him, laughing. “Well, you smell like you slept in the still. How much did you have?”

Toby strolled out from the kitchen, chuckling at my futile efforts to move the uncooperative brute. “Two quarts.”

“Two…” Horrified, I smacked Alex in the head, satisfied with the resulting groan. “Idiot.”

Cam slid onto the vacated couch as Toby pulled Alex off me. I scrambled up, unfazed by the aggravated grimace Alex sent my way. Cam tapped the back of the couch to get Toby’s attention. “Quick. Get some popcorn, the show’s starting.”

“And miss the opening act? Not happening.” Toby dropped next to his love, draping a long arm behind Cam. I spared them a smile; they were such a striking couple. Toby’s lean form and dark good looks were a stunning contrast to the burly tattooed canvas of Cameron’s body. I must have paused too long, because Toby waved for me to get on with it. “C’mon now, I’ve missed watching you take him down a few pegs.”

Alex staggered toward the half wall that separated his kitchen and the living room. I beat him there, cutting off access to the coffee. “Sandie came to see me this morning.”

Alex growled, grabbed a mug from behind me. “You can yell at me for drinking or sex. Not both.”

“Well, I guess I’ll have to gripe about you being a lush. After two quarts of moonshine, no part of you was upright last night.”

That earned me a smack on the ass which morphed into a none-too-gentle shove. “Bitch.”

“In every sense of the word.” Covering the mug with my hand got me elbowed. I almost gave him a quick jab in the kidneys, stopping short when he snatched the coffee pot up. It wasn’t worth getting burned. Instead, I nicked the sugar bowl.

“Like I can’t figure out where that went.” Alex rolled his eyes as he added cream to his coffee.

I stuck my tongue out at him. “You’re too hung over to figure out how to get it without spilling.”

Alex scoffed “I’m not an idiot. Unlike some people, I already have my PhD.”

I snorted. “In porn.”

That earned me a glare. “Sociology.”

Cam and Toby chimed in from the couch. “In sexual subcultures.”

Yes, we have had this conversation before. Often.

It was my turn to roll my eyes. “Which means you have a truly frightening collection of porn.”

“Erotica.”

“It only counts as erotica if it actually has a plot. The rest is just porn. Seven servers full of porn, plus all those bookshelves in your spare room. Face it, Alex, no one thinks you’re smart because you have a PhD. They think you’re a genius because you found a way to make your smut addiction not only tax deductible but somewhat socially acceptable.”

Alex practically preened. “I’m just that good.”

“Last night you weren’t, I can guarantee it. You’ve been a man-whore long enough to know that drunk men don’t perform up to standard.”

“Oh, yeah? What does Stacy have to say about that?”

“That she’s pregnant.” God, I love when Alex is not awake and still sort of drunk. His face is so much more expressive that way. The horror, stark fear and absolute confusion parading across his fine features had our audience leaning on each other to smother their laughter. I knew he’d realize the baby wasn’t his soon enough, but for now his alcohol induced stupidity was so enjoyable.

“Fuck.” He swayed a little and just barely sat on the stool next to him. “I don’t want kids. What do I do now?”

“Get a vasectomy.” A warning hiss came from the peanut gallery to go along with the bemused stare from Alex.

“That doesn’t help me now.”

He looked so pathetic, I just had to have a little mercy. “Oh, sweetheart, it’s not yours.”

He looks up at me hopefully. “How do you know?”

“Because you were too drunk to sleep with her. “ His growl made me laugh. “I’m just surprised there hasn’t been a whole pack of women showing up with your pups.”

“They’d have to know his name for that.” Toby added dryly.

I raised an eyebrow thoughtfully. “That makes much more sense than my explanation.”

Alex ground out, “Which is?”

“Sterility.” I smiled sweetly. Cameron roared with laughter. Toby’s shoulders shook as he leaned his head against the couch. Alex went white, then red, and I held my ground. “What? Think of it this way, you wouldn’t need a vasectomy.”

I slid the sugar bowl toward him with a small smirk. He snatched it up, sending me a mock glare. Whatever retort he was about to make was lost as everyone’s cell phones went off in quick succession. The guys all had texts. I got the joy of a call from Mark.

“You find the boys and all of you get your asses back to the ranch. Right now.”

I felt the fear numb my body and knew my earlier unease was not paranoia. One look at my now deadly serious friends told me I was going to be in trouble for not pointing out Stalker Boy and Blue Eyes.

Damn. Play time’s over.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Run With It #2

A quick volley of texts told me that Alex was at his campus apartment. He found it more convenient for late nights and research than heading back to the ranch in outer suburbs. After packing up my computer, I grabbed my jacket and bag, and then jogged down the two flights of stairs. Classes just let out, so the stairs were crowded. I kept my eyes down and concentrated on getting outside as fast as I could. I don’t usually mind small spaces, or large groups, but too many strangers brushing against me raised my hackles. When one of those strangers stepped in my way, deliberately waiting until I met his gaze before moving, I was unnerved. It was brief, but there was something challenging in his cold blue eyes. Refusing to look back, I swore I could feel his gaze follow me out the door. I tried to brush it off as I hit the fresh autumn air, letting the anticipation of tormenting Alex cheer me.
Halfway there, my unease returned. I hesitated, trying to decide if I should figure out what was wrong, or just hurry to the safety of Alex’s. The quad was full of its normal denizens: those on their way to class navigating around the ones lounging on the grass, or playing ultimate Frisbee. As I tossed my hair over my shoulder, I noticed a broad shouldered fellow heading in the same direction as I was. Nothing strange about that, but the way he slowed when I glanced at him put me on full alert. I decided to pause a moment; pretended to look for something in my backpack while checking out the area. My suspicious friend also stopped a few feet ahead of me, answering a call. I would peg him as an upperclassman, his jeans and jacket too worn and beaten for a freshman, except the school cap had that glossy new look to it. His backpack was not only new, it was practically empty. Now that was odd. It was far enough into the semester that no student left home without provisions. Snacks, notebooks, textbooks, DS, MP3 player – every square inch of space in that bag should have a purpose. Whatever was in it, I didn’t recognize the shape. I grabbed a granola bar from the bottom of my bag, repacked and set off again. I heard the mystery man finish up his conversation as I walked past him, saw him fall into step just behind me.
Just perfect. It could all be innocent enough. Alex had snagged a two bedroom apartment just off the quad where a lot of grad students and upperclassmen lived. I tore into the granola bar packaging. The last thing I wanted to do was eat it, but it gave my hands something to do besides shake. I managed to swallow the last of it as Stalker Boy and I reached the beginning of student housing. I slid my phone out of my jacket, and texted a quick 911 to Alex, hoping he’d at least meet me at the door of his building.  Part of me wanted to turn and get a good look at this guy. Furtive glances had gotten me nowhere. The hat was too low to see his face, and he was just a bit too far behind me to see more than the shape of his brown leather jacket. I didn’t think he was much taller than me. I felt ridiculous. Just one more block away, and I could relax, laugh off my paranoia, and spend an afternoon teasing Alex about the latest editions to his research material, and the notion of him as a father. Picking up the pace, I half-jogged to corner, looking for cars as I crossed the street. Two buildings left, and relief washed over me as the door to Alex’s building opened. A familiar half-dressed form leaned out, but not the one I was expecting. Fueled by adrenaline and sheer joy, I sprinted the rest of the way.
“Cameron! What the hell are you doing here?” my momentum knocked him back a step as he wrapped me in a bear hug. From the safety of Cam’s broad shouldered embrace, I watched Stalker Boy continue on. I felt foolish for worrying about him.
Cam squeezed me tight. “Toby and I finished our project in Tokyo and flew in late last night.”
I returned the hug, thrilled to have him home after 3 months away. Firmly pushing him away, I circled him to see what changes he’d made on his journey. Cam never came back from a trip without a tattoo, especially from Japan. This time he’d had the color on his eastern dragon finished. It traveled up his spine and ended with its head peering off his left shoulder.  We met just after he’d had the outline done. The last six years was told as a story using the art on his body. I moved his elbow length auburn hair out of the way so I could ooh and ah over how well the finished piece turned out. He pulled it over his shoulder and told me which parts hurt the most. This ritual greeting of ours dulled the sliver of fear still needling me.
Sliding my hands down his well muscled back, I leaned into him, pushing him toward the door. “If you spent the evening partying with Alex, why didn’t you keep him from Sandie’s sister? Since we all know he has no impulse control, I’m holding you responsible for this morning’s assault. And where the hell are your shoes? It’s cold out here!”
He chuckled as he unlocked the door and let me lead him inside. Looking down the block one last time, I saw Stalker boy and the blue eyed stranger talking outside the corner store.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Run With it #1

I'm going to try my hand at a serial story. These character have been poking at me for a long time now, it's time they come meet the world. I hope you all enjoy it! Here's episode 1 of Run with It:


Let me tell you about myself.  I’m 26, an only child with long, dark blonde hair and hazel eyes. I work as an ASL interpreter while finishing my PhD in linguistics…
“There you are! Do you know what that sexual deviant did this time?”
My chin dropped to my chest, as the strident tones interrupedt the painful process of filling out an online dating form. I couldn’t decide if I’m relieved or aggravated.
I sighed, turning wearily toward the invader: my zealous Christian colleague from across the hall.
“Seriously, Sandie, you have no business calling anyone a sexual deviant,” I said, hoping to derail whatever rant was on the way.
“Excuse me?!”
 I now had a rabid, insulted 5’3” Jesus freak standing in the doorway of my office.  Might as well keep going, maybe she’ll get pissed off enough to leave.
“You’ve been dating Brian for 6 years, but you won’t have sex with him, and you don’t masturbate. We’re talkin’ some serious deviations from sexual norms.”
Her scowl was fleetingly replaced in quick succession by shock, embarrassment, and indignation before returning with a vengeance. Well, that plan didn’t work.
“Lorelei, I’m not going to get into the reasons why one should stay chaste.”
Thank God for small miracles.
“There are more important issues at hand. That, that, hedonistic heathen slept with my sister!”
I sighed. A large number of heathens have slept with her sister, but it’s probably not safe to point that out. Back to the heathen in question. If she was coming to me, it was a specific one.
“Okay, now that you’ve tattled on Alex, what do you expect me to do about it?”
 That actually stumped her. She looked perplexed for a moment before asking, “Is beating him an option?”
“Not a good one,” That was a stupid question, and we both knew it.
“Why not?” The plaintive wail grated on my nerves.
“Sweetheart, he brought a dominatrix to Christmas. Beating him will not get you the response you want.”
She dropped into the chair by the door with a disgusted snort, rested her chin on her hand, and glared at me. I returned a level stare.
“She’s pregnant.”
 I refuse to ask what happened. I try very hard to not know what Alex is up to. It saves me from feeling the need to bleach my brain.
“And the Anti-Christ is conceived. Prepare for Armageddon.”
Sandie slapped my arm. Hard. “Be serious! He seduced her last night and..”
 “Hold on. He slept with her last night? And just last night?” I rubbed at my arm.
“She’s only been here two days. And we spent the night before at a play.”
I tsked in irritation. “It’s not Alex’s.”
“But they were…”
I cut her off again. “It takes up to a week after ovulation to implant, and another week after that for the test to be able to detect the hormones. Did you forget your basic biology?”
Sandie bristled. “I was excused from class on those days. I’m …”

“Chaste. I know. But that means abstaining from sex, not health class! Jesus!” Annoyance thy name is Holy Roller.
“Don’t take the Lord’s name in vain!”

“Believe me, Sandie, that was a prayer for patience. Y’know what, I don’t have time for this. Alex isn’t the father. Go catch up on 7th grade sex ed and we’ll talk later.” I dragged her out of the chair and shoved her out the door. Leaning against it, I glared at my laptop. Suddenly finding a date didn’t seem so interesting. I grabbed my phone. Time to find the other sexual deviant and give him the news. I smirked. Alex as a dad. I was going to enjoy making him squirm.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Book Review: Intercourses

Book Blurb:
First introduced in 1997 to rave reviews and now an international bestseller from the US to Australia, The New InterCourses: an aphrodisiac cookbook includes more than 145 aphrodisiac recipes for love and romance. Couples everywhere love this book for its romantic results, not to mention its sensual images of food set on the backdrop of the human body, tasty recipes home-tested by couples across the country, and thorough appendix with recommended aphrodisiac vendors, recipes for edible massage oils and bath salts, and charts for choosing the right aphrodisiac for the season of year, time of day, or even stage of the relationship.
InterCourses is organized by foods that have been considered aphrodisiac ingredients throughout history—chocolate, asparagus, chiles, coffee, basil, grapes, strawberries, honey, artichokes, black beans, oysters, rosemary, edible flowers, pine nuts, avocados, libations/alcohol, and figs. Each chapter begins with a photograph of food on the body—an asparagus skirt, a maillot of pine nuts, a tribal necklace of figs. The images bring the food to life in a fresh light, transforming ordinary foods into extraordinary aphrodisiacs.
That’s what InterCourses is for us: an introduction to the experience of aphrodisiacs. It’s an experience for anyone who can believe in the magic of food combined with a little bit of ambiance or love. With sensuality or eroticism. With simplicity or grandiosity. From the anticipated anniversary dinner to the unexpected glass of fresh-squeezed juice, the act of preparing food for another (or with another) speaks louder and clearer than most words. It says, with no exceptions, I love you. I want you. I care for you. You are worth the effort.
May InterCourses help you say what needs to be said.
Bon App├ętit

My Thoughts: Ok, one last book in the foodie category for a bit. But this one is just too good.
I'm a visual person. I hate cookbooks that don't show me a picture of what I'm going to be eating. In this case, I may not get pics of the finished product, but the gorgeous imagery more than makes up for it. Besides, the pictures include the main ingredient, all in very lovely, very artistic, very erotic photos. Some of the ingredients may be hard to locate - like the edible flowers - but it's worth the foreplay forethought. The recipes are all relatively simple, which is good, because it's easy to get distracted when you think about the finished product. I can personally recommend the Champagne laced with Raspberry, French Toast baked in Honey-Pecan sauce, Easy Strawberry Empanadas, and the Chocolate-stuffed Crescent Rolls. On my list to try are the Honey-drenched Figs, and the Rosemary-scented Lamb over pasta. You'd have to ask hubby what his faves are. This book is often pulled out when we discuss having a romantic evening.
You're pretty much guaranteed to be moaning in ecstasy, even if it's only over the food.

Publisher: Terrace
Release Date: January 1, 1997
This book is owned by the reviewer

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Contemplation

Sitting alone in my kitchen, listening to the rhythms of the house. The whir of the refrigerator. The hum of the laptop. Dryer rumbling in the room next door, its bass notes out of time with the high pitched squeak of the washer.  There is a whoosh as the heater kicks in. It makes me realize that I’m cold.
I should be writing.
I should be reading.
I should be cleaning.
I am just sitting. Taking it all in. Or ignoring it all. Depends on how you look at it. It doesn’t really matter.
The shadows are lengthening outside. The glare of early afternoon is giving way to the dull glow of early evening. There is no revelation during this trance, this melancholy meditation. No sense of peace or enlightenment. Only a hollow resignation.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Book Review: Good Eats, The Early and the Middle Years

 I never used to like to watch food shows. Ever. My husband can live with the cable permadialed to The Food Network. A few years back, I turned the tv on, and (surprise, surprise) he had left it on The Food Network. Not interested in the station itself, I began to flip through the online guide, futilely, when I realized that I was actually chuckling at the show currently on.

This was my introduction to Good Eats and Alton Brown. I have had lots of fun over the years watching his antics, skits and silliness. With episode titles like "School of Hard Nogs (homemade eggnog, yum!), Fry Hard and Wonton Ways - how can you not have fun?! I have had even more fun trying out the recipes on the show. The great thing about Good Eats? He explains how to use certain techniques and why, in a fun and easy to understand way. In his own words, Alton said the idea behind the show came down to three names. Julia Child, Mr. Wizard and Monty Python. This show isn't just about Good Eats. It's about good times and good fun. And gadgets. (But never a unitasker. The only unitasker in the Good Eats kitchen is the fire extinguisher.) Alton Brown has the best freaking toys.

So last year, the first book came out. And it's a doozy of a cookbook. (Most of mine are hand-me-downs or bought at garage sales, so I may have a skewed view.) 3 lbs 8 oz of entertainment. Seriously, you can sit and read this book, or at least enjoy the pictures. Not just of food, but of a brilliant maniac in crazy costumes.
But I held off at the time. And now book two came out. There is just as much zany nonsense in this one, and just as many great recipes. Each chapter, in both books, is based off an episode. Many of the great tips, tricks and bits o'trivia are in there, like how to "octo-sect" a chicken.

I totally caved. I don't regret it at all. I now have some of my favorite recipes in a book, rather than searching through the Food Network every time I want to make Hot Cocoa Mix. (It has cayenne pepper in it! I love the kick.) Some of my favorites are not out yet. One more book to go. Next year can not come quick enough! I still want to get all the seasons on DVD, because the books cannot portray the hilarity of the skits. And some of the instructional material is easier to mimic when you can watch what he's doing.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

'Is This Real?'


Song: Lisa Hall - "Is This Real?" Video by lanlailaala


I arrive at the appointed hour, using the code left on my desk to unlock the heavy door. The foyer holds only a small table with a flickering black candle the only light. It’s as if nothing exists outside the wavering circle of light.  I turned and locked the outer door, heart pounding as I commit to the evening. No stopping now.  My body shivers.  Not quite fear, but a delicious hint of it.
 I slowly unbutton my black trench coat, marveling at my hands' steadiness. My sure movements belie the turmoil in my head. Anticipation. Apprehension. Longing. Shame. Skin flushing, I am pulled toward the items on the table. Thick white parchment with red writing demands my attention. Gliding my fingertips over the bold script, I can hear his dark voice commanding me.
 Shoes off.  
Legs trembling, I slide my silk clad feet out of the red heels and leave them neatly under the table.
Coat on the table.
Take up the mask.
I shrug the coat off, shivering again. Focus on making the movement graceful. Pleasing to his eyes, even in his absence. Folding the coat, exchanging it for the satin mask on table. The motions set the candle flame dancing. Tendrils of smoke writhe, like a shadowy promise of what is to come. The warmth flickers against my skin through the lace lingerie, a caress from an invisible hand. My body tightens, longing driven by nervous anticipation. I lift the delicately embroidered mask to my eyes. My pulse races.
His phantom voice whispers instructions once more.
In your place.
 Unthinking, my feet bring me in front of the next door.  My body remembers well where it belongs. Sinking gracefully, gratefully to my knees, sitting back on my heels, I follow the last of his commands.
Wait.
Always the most difficult to obey. The anticipation was delicious, but patience is a virtue I will never claim. My hands twitch as they rest on my knees. I want to touch and be touched. I still the mutinous thumb stroking the inside of my leg. The dark, the silence, they don’t bother me – I can hear him in my thoughts. Picture his presence.  The lack of physical stimulus torments me. In time, my legs numb to the hardwood beneath me. I am floating in the stillness of the room.
I focus on the aching desire, letting it fill my mind and skin. An internal flame licking through my body. Let it distract me, consume me.  The intensity swelling until I whisper, “Unreal.”
Strong fingers bury themselves in my upswept hair, pulling my face and breasts against a powerful, leather clad thigh.
From above, a deep growl, “Oh yes, pet, this is real.”

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Till Death Do Us Part?

Dear John,
                I know I said I couldn’t live without you. I know I was the one to find the voudoun priestess. But really, I think it was the shock and grief talking. Honestly, I couldn’t stand picking up your dirty underwear and wet towels. How did I possibly think I could handle the bits of body parts that you leave all over the place? I’d happily deal with the smell of those nasty cigars over the rotten, reeking stench that permeates the house now. I actually miss slaving over the deplorably greasy food you insisted on eating. I can’t cook for you anymore. It’s not even cooking! I’m sure the neighbors have begun to realize their juvenile delinquents didn’t all just run away. We haven't had a decent conversation since you lost your tongue. And our sex life...
You’re not the man  I married.
It’s over.
I'm sorry.
Sincerely,
Mary

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Eat your dinner

“But Mooommm, I hate eating the skin. Can’t you peel it off for me?”
I ignore the puppy dog eyes my daughter sends my way. “No. All the best nutrients are in the skin. Just eat it along with the rest.”
Petulant stomping toward the table tells me how well my declaration is received. I smile indulgently at her muttering, and finish filling our plates. Swallowing my smile, I shuffle to the table with our dinner.
“Just eat the skin with the flesh, love. If you eat it all, there’s fresh brains for dessert.”

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Adventures in Science


I've been waiting to go to the Museum of Science and Industry for months. It's a fun place to go at any time, but over the summer I got wind of a Jim Henson exhibit coming to town. (Excuse the child-like skip in my step. I love all things Muppets.) I have spent the last few months talking this exhibit up to friends and family, regardless of where they live. (Seriously, come to Chicago. We have the Muppets,for pete's sake!) My husband has been mocking me for weeks. Because we were not going to the Museum to have a fun day, we were going to see the Muppets. It's the only important thing, really. Unfortunately, the above photo is the only one I was allowed to take. No photography inside the actual exhibit. *sigh* But it is a fantastic exhibit, and I will be going back before it leaves in January. Probably without my Philistine husband, who shook his head as I sang the theme song to Fraggle Rock, and my unappreciative children, who looked at me like I was crazy as I oohed and aahed over the props from Dark Crystal. The Philistine was kind enough to take the children as I marveled over sketches and read through the handwritten notes. And then it was off to new sights.
The lobby of the main floor




Our next adventure was in the Science of Storms exhibit.Two stories of high tech wonder that lets children of all ages explore how some of the more intimidating natural events work. Avalanches, tornados, tsunamis, lightening, fires...this place lets you play with them all and more. It was a struggle sometimes to reign in my own inner voice that was screaming, "But it's my turn to try!" Which was, of course, the theme of my children's conversations for the day. It's hard to find that annoying when they are arguing over which hypothesis to test first, and actually using that term correctly. *Proud Mama Moment*


Tornado Alley


We really spent a lot of time in that exhibit. Prisms, rainbows, wavelengths, and water experiments are endlessly entertaining. Yes, I am that big of a dork. I love this stuff. Science discerns the Laws of Nature, but takes none of the wonder away. It is as amazing to see a tornado in miniature through experiments as it is to experience it in real life. Less fearful, but still amazing.





Finally, a pic where they weren't trying to 'shoot' one another with the balls.



We also got to visit the Smart Home, another exhibit that you can't take pics in. Not as exciting as the interactive exhibits, but very interesting all the same. There are some great strides being made in ecofriendly living, if only they could find a way to merge them with existing homes. There's just no easy way for our 1950's cookie cutter house to take advantage of some of the technology used in that house. Some of the other fun things to see, but a pain in the ass to photograph are the Fairy Castle - a gorgeous miniature with painstaking detail and a lovely story. Yesterday's Main Street gives you a short walk to a simpler time. And it has the added benefit of an old fashioned ice cream parlor. There is so much to see it's impossible to enjoy it all in one day. If we hadn't all been so exhausted, ok, if I hadn't been so exhausted, we would have hopped on the train again the next day to finish exploring it all. As it stands, we've promised the kids to go next weekend to see the Baby Chicks in the genetics exhibit. And to learn how to make a whisper travel through a room, and how to make toys, and...yeah, you get the picture.

I had fun going to see the Muppets. Next time, I'm going to see the Museum. The thought of it puts a child-like skip in my step.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Temper

White hot heat pulses through my veins.
Blinding light obscures all thoughts.
I move on instinct alone.
Threats growling through clenched teeth, words I won’t recall after the fury subsides.


Head pounding, hands shaking, muscles aching, stomach clenching, the supernova recedes.

All that remains is a black hole of regret.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Book Review: Firelight

Marked as special, Jacinda knows her every move is watched. When she breaks the most sacred tenet of her kind, she nearly pays with her life, only to  be spared by a beautiful stranger sent to hunt those like her. For Jacinda is a draki - a descendant of dragons whose ability to shift into human form is her best defense.

Forced to flee into the mortal world, Jacinda struggles to adapt. The one bright light is Will; Jacinda knows she should avoid him at all costs - Will and his family are hunters - but the passion he stirs within her can't be ignored, even if it means risking her life... With this provocative tale of supernatural desire and danger, Sophie Jordan introduces readers to an exciting world that will appeal to fans of Twilight, Fallen and Evernight.



Ok, I'll admit that when I saw the Twilight comment, I almost handed the book back to my friend. I'm not a huge fan of the series. But this friend has never given me a book that disappoints, and her unblemished record still stands.

Faced with starting over in a new town, against her will, it would be easy for Jacinda to fall into the whiny aspect of teen angst. Instead, we have a character who can see her own place in her family's difficult situation and makes the attempt to be a team player. The eternal struggle of a teen trying to find themselves and what's best for themselves without stomping all over the ones they love. Pursued by two bad boys that pose different threats to her, she's got tough choices to make, family to consider, as well as her own safety and happiness. And she does it without being a washed out, self-centered wuss. This girl has, forgive my choice of words, fire.

I'm looking forward to the next book, which should be coming out next fall.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

An Apple a day


Sugar & Corn syrup...it starts out looking so rough.

Ok, so I've been a bad, bad blogger. But it's been a bit crazy. Exams, Halloween prep, family drama, and a lovely day with a friend I haven't seen in too long. Once upon a time, we lived in the same town. And had Fabulous cooking sprees. Between her moving away, job and school schedules, we haven't gotten to indulge in a while. But yesterday we managed to sneak in a day of fun. On the menu: upside down caramel apple cake. Ok, that's not all we made, but that was the main dish for the day. I give much thanks to Food Network for publishing this gooey slice of heaven.





After some heat, butter and cream, it just looks so damn lovely






I love trying out new recipes, especially when there's a step like "Make Caramel." Because, really, I will use this information often, I'd be out of my mind not too. It was incredibly simple, and the whole time I kept thinking about all the other things I could make. Caramel corn, Candy apples, Caramel & Cream candies (those are actually in the works)



Silly me forgot to get pics of setting up the pan, but if we hadn't gotten it in the oven quick I would have eaten the batter and the caramel before we got it baked. They were both so good. So to take my mind off the deliciousness baking away, we decided to have some cheese dip with chips. Except we had forgotten to get chips, and no one really wanted to go back to the store. What's a girl to do? Grab some stale tortillas, some olive oil and make some! Best snack ever.

So much better than store bought!

And while they were frying up - we cleaned the caramel pan. The fun way. Just as good as getting the beaters after making cookie dough. We still had time to kill until the cake was done, so I whipped another batch of the caramel for other purposes. It's still hardening so I can cut it, or there's be pics. Messy ones. This stuff is sticky. Imagine that.
Apples slices are a great way to clean up extra caramel. :)

I had to make more. There will be candies ready soon.





 
 
 
 
 
 
The springform pan was the right size, but caramel leaked everywhere.



And the finished masterpiece.



Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Today

The cats contemplate my frustrated visage, heads cocked to one side.
 Muttered curses escape my mouth, captivating the lurking felines.
One wends its way around the shiny onyx divide to see the source of my frustration.
Confused and concerned, the beastie lounges upon the offending item, to shield me from its presence.
Purring, its cold nose nudges my hands, seeking to distract me from my misery.

“Dammit, Kitten! This does not help me write!”

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Freedom

Freedom n. The quality or state of being exempt or released usually from something onerous.

-       From the Merriam Webster Dictionary



“You must have a preference.”
Boxers or briefs. Silk or cotton. Baggy or tailored. My skin itches.
“You have plenty of options.”
Cadmium. Chartreuse.  Crimson. The colors in my closet blur. My head aches as I helplessly stare at them.
 “There’s quite a selection”
Hazelnut. Chocolate. Cinnamon. Vanilla. Coffee. The scents surround me. Besiege me. I am powerless.
“You need to choose.”
Rye or whole wheat. Turkey or ham. Mayonnaise or mustard. The selection is nauseating.
“Just pick already.”
Jazz. Rock. Classical. Rap. Spirituals. Show tunes. The cacophony coming from the speakers is relentless.

I panic from the overwhelming input. Sweating and shaking, I wake.
The nylon straps’ embrace snaps me back to reality.  The reassuring scent of the leather hood banishes the remnants of the nightmare. The darkness is a relief after the vivid horror show in my mind. Master’s hushed footsteps soothe me. Warm water and oatmeal is fed to me. No demands, no choices.
I am free.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Finding Yourself

Once upon a time, I only used the Internet to find information. Movie times, phone numbers, book releases...nothing of importance. It slowly became an excellent way to keep in touch with loved ones, people who already knew me, and for the most part understood me. In all my goofy glory. Over time, I joined discussion groups, met people and made friends. I am always curious as to what sort of impression I have made on these people, who never hear me laugh, or see me actually smile. It's amusing to say something or show an interest in something, and have an online buddy raise a virtual eyebrow (and possibly a real one too) in surprise.


Some of my hobbies scream 'domestic diva' - I knit and crochet. Cross-stitch, bake and I want to learn to quilt. I am a mom, one who is lucky enough to be at home most of the time. (Not knocking working moms! Been there, and it has it's perks too.) I love Anne of Green Gables, and Little House on the Prairie. I was appalled by the modernization of my beloved Holly Hobbie. I love children, and miss working with them. Baby clothes make me coo, every time. Even looking at the colors and images on this site show a much softer side of me than I recognize.




Don't get me wrong - I love all of those things without reservation or shame. I am comfortable with my feminine side. I've even learned to use curlers and put on make-up! I finally own more shoes with heels than with laces. And I don't stumble when I walk in them!


My "Hell, yeah, I lost 40 lbs" Celebration night

Then there's this other side. The one that played D&D and met her husband at a Live Action Role-Playing (LARP) game. Think improv theater meets Rock-Paper-Scissors.  Neil Gaiman's Sandman was a fundamental part of my high school years. I've read Lovecraft, watched Army of Darkness (often) and am an avid fan of Science Fiction is all its forms. I enjoy dressing in everything from my Morticia Addams dress to Renaissance Faire garb. I have a fabulous set of leather and buckle cuffs. And matching collar. They are great for a night at a club. Or LARPing.

I'm not ashamed of that side of me either. It's not one that I advertise, because it has made other people uncomfortable. Or confused. I project the pink and fluffy side far more than I think I do. Especially online. Having hit my mid-30's, there is this pressure to always be grown up and sophisticated. I've never considered myself to be either. But I can fake it for a time. I even enjoy it. It's just another form of playing pretend, like LARP and Renn Faire.

But what voice to use here? The question is balance. An old friend, my oldest friend, was amused that my blog is all pink and sweet, but my first post references the web comic Devil's Panties. She said it fits me perfectly. Another friend, a newer one, laughed that my flash fics went from baking apple pie to...well, that's for this Friday. No spoilers today, sorry. I suppose, for now, I will just go back and forth, the way I do in "real" life. I am not just a Pollyanna nor am I a gothic pin-up girl or strictly a gamer grrl. I am all that and more. I hope those of you that are just getting to know me will enjoy the twists and turns tossed on as I meander through life. I do.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Jack Frost

The frigid air sears my lungs, making it harder to run. My gasps for air and pounding heartbeat do nothing to drown out the scratching sound of my pursuer. Skeletal branches, so hauntingly poetic in the day, petrify me in the dark. The pregnant moon spotlights my every move. The barren branches offer no shadows to hide me. Ice coated brambles grab my sodden jacket. Panic explodes through me. I rip free, and finally reach the clearing that holds my home.
 My sanctuary.  I see the warm glow of the fire in the windows; smell the smoke from the chimney. It’s so close, a mere twelve feet away.
There’s no way to run silently in snow. The glittering crust cracks with every footstep, the sound magnified by my terror. I hit a deep drift and it swallows my leg up to my knee. Exhausted, I struggle to keep moving.
 Chattering little creatures pour from the tree line, an otherworldly dance troupe flitting across the top of the snow.  Their icy skin glows in the moonlight. A part of my soul yearns to dance with them.  It makes me hesitate, just a moment too long. The creeping ice touches the back of my leg, jolting me back to reality with a burning intensity.
Survival instinct spurs me forward, struggling to reach porch.  I hear the radio murmuring “…composed in 1946…” Behind me, the corps de ballet relentlessly spin and leap, erasing the ugly scars my trail left on their stage.  With soaked clothes now made of ice, I pull myself up the steps and stretch desperately for the door. Thick frost creeps down my arm.
“…roasting on an open…”
My fingers stiffen like my frozen clothes; I fumble at the door knob. It is impossible to grip. I cannot even cry as the crystalline beast dances up  my shoulder and peers into my eyes.
“…Jack Frost nipping at your nose…”

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Smart Chicks have more fun

It is always a joy to go to a signing. There is nothing as fun as being a total fangirl in a crowd of people just a obsessed as you are. Last night I had the immense pleasure of attending the Smart Chicks Kick It tour with a few friends. If a signing with fangirls for one author is fun, multiply that by 6.
Alyson Noel, Carri Ryan, Melissa Marr, Kelley Armstrong, Jackson Pearce, and Jennifer Barnes
I've seen Kelley and Melissa before - they came to the wonderful Anderson Bookstore last year, and I got hooked. I'd been reading Kelley's books for sometime, but had never had the fun of going to a book signing. I'm very happy to tell you that the wit and humor that you read in their books is just as apparent in person.


Getting ready for the raffle

One of the things I love about signings are the little things that you learn in passing. The lightening round of questions was particularly informative: This whirlwind tour was planned on a lunchtime phone call between Alyson, Kelley and Melissa....and yet Melissa is clearly considered the ringleader. Who will eventually get them all arrested. They aren't entirely sure what she will talk them into, but every last panelist was quite certain she would be the reason they would be calling home for bail money. (Melissa wants everyone to know she has never been in jail. Thank you.)

In more concrete news- as in there will be books for me to buy - Kelley has been contracted for up to book 9 in her YA Darkest Powers series. And there will be an anthology of stories written by the various authors that have been on the tour. (There are 16, I believe.) In the stories, there will be some lucky individual from each stop that gets to be killed horribly. (Because, as Melissa pointed, to do it at the signing would leave too many witnesses. I don't know why they think she'd get them arrested. She's clearly one smart cookie. If you listen to her, you won't get caught.)



Brilliant, beautiful, and too sweet to be jealous of: Jennifer Barnes



Jennifer Barnes is on her way to publishing the sequel to the fabulous Raised by Wolves, for which I could not be more excited. I grabbed this book in large part because I HATE going to a signing with more than one author and not having read something from each. I do, however, love finding new gems in preparation for an event. And this book is definitely a treasure. I love the new twist on werewolves, and the way I was completely drawn into her world. For the benefit of the spoiler-phobic, I'll stop there.


Jackson Pearce - Full of smiles and laughter.

I didn't manage to read something from everyone, which was disappointing to me. I love being able to talk to the authors about what I liked, and have a chance to ask questions about the characters. But Jackson, Carrie and Alyson were so kind about me not being able to read their work yet. Alyson's book, Evermore, is sitting next to me, impatiently waiting for my attention. Jackson is quite the character. Her storytelling abilities on the the stage were fantastic, and had me laughing every time. I can't wait to check out her books.   And I've check the bank account several times to remind myself that I can't run out to the bookstore and pick up The Dead-Tossed Waves (Carrie Ryan) or Sisters Red (Jackson Pearce) until pay day.
 It's killin' me.


Can you guess which blond, blue eyed wolf this is? Yes. I'm that big of a geek.

I have to laugh at myself a bit. This all started because I'm a big giant geeky fan of Kelley, and couldn't resist a chance to meet her. One year later, I have 5 more authors that I am desperately hoping swing back this way so I can meet them again. There is so much more that is tumbling in my brain to share, some of which, I think would only be funny to those who were there. One more reason to get off your duffs and get to any signing that you can. It's so worth it.



It isn't just the possibility of swag that calls me to these events. Or knowing that my entire collection of Kelley books are now signed. (That's certainly a perk.) It's the laughter and silliness. It's sharing a moment with like minded people, talking to fellow fans about what touched us, or made us laugh. Why we like a particular character, or what we don't like about a particular scene. I walked away from last night with reasons to re-read and re-examine books that I love, to see them from a new perspective. I got encouragement to keep adventuring through my own writing. I got, for a brief moment, to see my some of my literary heroines kicking ass it and tell them how well they are doing it. I hope everyone takes the opportunity to go to a signing. What you get from them is so much more than a signature.

Favorite Fangirl Moment. Smart Chicks Rock.
I am going to add one game here from last night. Pick an author from the tour and tell me which of their characters you'd shag, which one you'd marry and which one you'd toss off a cliff. For me, I have to go with Kelley's Otherworld series. How you could possibly pick anyone but Nick for the first, I don't know. I can only imagine what tricks he can do. *flushes*  Antonio for the second, and Thomas Nast can get tossed.
What about you?


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

How soon is too soon for Halloween?

Does anyone else remember the days when we didn't start shopping for a holiday until the month it was in? School supplies were pulled the first week of September, and the Halloween candy has been taunting me ever since. (Damn you, candy corn!) We still have more than a month until the day actually arrives! Do you really think I could keep a bag of candy in the house until then? Pfft. Even if I didn't have kids, that would take an act of God. And who needs to buy those flimsy pre-made pieces of crap costumes this early?

I think that is the part of modern day Halloween that depresses me the most. It feels like we plan and plot so much earlier for Halloween, and yet we use a fraction of the imagination and ingenuity that I remember from childhood. It's all store bought. It's not so much that people didn't plan for Halloween this early when I was younger, it's that they worked hard for the reactions they got. Peeling grapes for fake eyeballs is a labor of love, no doubt about it.

My mom was never a big Halloween fan, and yet she came up with some great ideas - usually on the fly and costing very little money. My younger sister went as a gangster one year - Al Capone style - in our brother's suit, an old felt hat, and some artfully applied make up for a mustache and five o'clock shadow. The baby in the family (there are 19 cousins on mom's side, and most of us wore this at least once) wore the green sleeper pajamas with pom poms sewn on the front and a goofy clown wig to keep their head warm. The plastic bowler hat got passed around too, to be worn with a white sheet and painted white face. What's wrong with being a ghost?

Freakin' loved these costumes

My family is not the only people that I remember being inventive with costumes. One mom made herself into a Hersey's Kiss with some wire and aluminum foil. A high school buddy wore a dark ankle length robe with a hood. He'd be at the front of the line as a monk, then pull the hood up as he went to the back of the pack, grab his scythe from a friend and take up the rear guard as Death. (Ah, Darbro, you will forever be my Halloween Hero.) What happened to that kind of adventure?

When did Halloween become about pimping your kid's favorite tv show? Or dressing like you have a pimp? I like to dress up, I like to look sexy, but seriously, can we please have some women's costumes that don't look they belong at Hef's house? October in Chicago is not the time to be wandering around half naked.

My sister is the Halloween fanatic of the family, and she plans the outfits every year. They are always fabulous, even if most of them are store bought. She finds ways to make them unique. I acknowledge that the days of strictly homemade costumes are gone. However, this is the first year we have done anything affiliated with anything famous. In honor of my oldest finally discovering that books are better than movies, we are doing a Harry Potter theme.



Can't you just see her poppin' Draco in the face?
 Abby girl will make a perfect Hermione - she's got the wavy hair and know-it-all attitude down to a T. John is excited to don the glasses and scar of Harry. We may even darken his hair for the day. We are buying robes, but sewing on the patches. I'm knitting the scarves, thanks to Charmed Knits. I'm also making some really awesome wand cozies for them to carry their wands around. If I can find the time.what was I saying about it being too early to plan for Halloween...
Just started yesterday. Any bets on if I'll finish in time?

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Thank you for SPEAKing out

I've watched the posts fly through the 'net about the idiot who wants to ban the book SPEAK. And I've retweeted, and shared on facebook some of the blogs that are shouting him down.

I've tried about a dozen times now to add my voice to this chorus, and words are failing me.

I am a rape survivor.

It's a fact that some of my family members are not even aware of. They don't read this, that I am aware of, and if they do...I'm sorry that this is the way you are finding out. It's been a long time since it happened, and there's no easy way to bring up the topic.

There's never a good way or time to bring up the topic, to tell someone what happened. You feel so alone, so ashamed, so afraid. Books like SPEAK are a lifeline, especially to the teens that go through this. So thank you, to all of you who are speaking out, who are finding the words that I can't.

Bea's Book Nook
Jackie Kessler
Sarah Ockler
Raven Ashley
Alison's Bookmarks
Mad Woman in the Forest

I know there are so many others out there that are helping and talking. You have my gratitude and my admiration. Thank you so much.