Tangled Yarns

Tangled Yarns

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Acquisitions vs. Experiences

 Today is my birthday. Amid a very touching number of birthday wishes, I was asked, so what did you get for your birthday. I think the answer was a bit surprising.
I got breakfast in bed, my children played nicely together, and best of all I got to go for a walk. You see, I’d rather be given the opportunity to do something new than receive an actual item. Books are always welcome, and I would hardly scoff at a new outfit. But I’d be more excited about the chance to learn how to make jewelry than get a pair of diamond earrings. So my gift today was being kicked out of the house, all alone, for a few hours.
I live in the suburbs. (Oh the horror!) You could drive through my town and feel that dreary sameness. There are about 12 to 15 different styles of houses in the town, and in any given area you’ll see 4 or 5. Walk a few blocks down, and the styles start to change only to rotate back eventually. We’re an older town, built fast and cheap to provide homes for soldiers returning from World War II. There is a sense of decline, as time and weakened economy takes its toll on the area. On this walk, however, I got to see that despite their cookie cutter beginnings, people have made these homes theirs, given them a unique stamp. Some of it is through additions, my favorite being the oriental themed house a veteran remodeled for his wife, rumor says to help her feel more at home. The details and work are phenomenal. Other endeavors are more modest, but just as effective. Sculptures, landscaping, decks and fencing…I love turning a corner and seeing what an imaginative person can accomplish. (Sadly, on this walk, I foolishly left my camera at home.) The variations are astounding. Some have gorgeously manicured and immaculate lawns, while others are a riot of jumbled wildflowers hiding quirky creatures that peek out at you.
Also, my humble town was not built in a grid, there are twists and turns throughout the streets, and even more fun, the odd sidewalk that leads between houses to the street behind them. Half the time I think they are a path to a house until I’ve almost passed it. Today I took one, just to be adventurous, and ended up in a park I never knew existed. I have lived in this town for all but 8 of my 36 years. Surely, there should be no surprises here anymore, right? Nope. It’s not that the park held anything special; it’s just that the delight of finding something I hadn’t seen was so unexpected. Along the walk there were other treats – a grasshopper as big as my hand (so mad I didn’t have the camera) sitting proudly on a branch not far from my head enjoying the perfect weather, a deciduous tree with needles far softer than the usual evergreens and bountiful crop of fruit (nuts? I’m not sure) instead of a pinecones. A falcon sitting on the edge of someone's roof. I took another impulsive turn later on and found myself out of the residential section and across the street from the center of town.
It’s a quieter place than when I was a child, many of the shops empty. However, we boast of an active theatre, the headquarters for a symphonic orchestra and a fine arts association, with its gallery, gift shop and school. I peeked in the windows to see what was posted for the coming season, and was happy to find that there were people working in the fine arts gift shop. Despite being closed, they were kind enough to let me wander through the gallery and enjoy the beautiful work they collect and sell. Most of it is from local artists, which makes it all the more amazing to me. Oils, acrylics, watercolors,  digital work, photography, textile art, sculpture – wood, glass, metals, paper…with the smell of paint from the work they were doing in the next room and the upbeat rhythm of the music playing echoing through the building. Suddenly I didn’t feel like I was living in the soul killing drudgery one associates with the suburbs. For the moment, I could have been living back in Boston, visiting one of my art major friends in the SFA building.

When I left, I had a lot to ponder.
Meandering back again, taking random turns, generally in the direction of home, I thought about all the things I’d experienced on my quiet walk through my ‘boring’ town. There was a dizzying array of music, one house blaring metal as a boy worked on his car, another R&B while a woman tended her garden. Calypso, jazz, top 40, classical…I couldn’t tell you all of them. And the people I saw were just as diverse. A rainbow of colors, and it fed my soul to see that all of them were neighborly. Not a single person passed by without at least a nod and smile of acknowledgement. A young girl shouted a greeting at me from across the street, and a grandfatherly sort flirted shamelessly with me from his front porch.
My town is not that homogenous, soulless place of nightmares and bad horror movies. Suburbia is does not mean the death of creativity, intellectual pursuits and independent thought. Today I walked through a bastion of individuality, filled with the beauty of nature and human ingenuity.
Thank you, love, for sending me out to walk today. Next time, make me take the camera.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Who me?!

My friend Julie-Anne has passed on the pain er…fun! I am now the official recipient of the Versatile Blogger award. J Now if I could just figure out how to put the damn thing on the home page. This post is my kick in the butt to start posting again. I need to come up with 7 interesting things about myself.
Jeesh. I'm pretty familiar with my life, so none of this seems new and interesting anymore. But here goes:

Practice, Practice, Practice

1.       I was in choir in high school, with a fantastic director. Not that interesting. But because our director was so awesome, my choir was invited to sing in Carnegie Hall in New York City. We sang Vesperae Solennes de Confessore by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.  That link? Not us. I’m pretty sure no one recorded a bunch of amateurs singing, much less uploaded it to Youtube a decade or so after it happened. But it’s still one of my most cherished memories. Thank you, Mr Ulrich.

2.       Also choir related – we went to New Orleans, sang in the Cathedral (holy acoustics, Batman) and got to sing with a jazz band while on a dinner cruise.  Completely different world from New York, but just as awesome an adventure. We rode the train (the City of New Orleans) there and back. Everyone should travel by train once in their lives. And I don't mean the commute to work!

Warren Towers,
Tell me that doesn't look like it could be a prison!

3.       More travel! I went to my college sight-unseen. Never visited the campus, or had even ever been to the East Coast. Took the brave leap to leave Chicago and go to Boston. Difficult, but I never regretted it. I’d move back there in a heartbeat if I could. My first dorm was Warren Towers, which I was told was designed by people who build prisons. I could see that. My last dorm, and favorite housing assignment, was Myles Standish. It used to be a hotel. Babe Ruth stayed there, since it was so close to Fenway. (*sigh* I miss people watching there.) I actually had a room in the main dorm and the Annex over the years.

Myles Standish Hall
See that balcony over the awning?
My window was just to the right..

4.       I was my mom’s Lamaze coach when my youngest brother was born. I was 16. Best birth control ever. It didn’t exactly make me wait for marriage, but it made me far more careful! All joking aside, it was a very wonderful experience. Hard to believe the little guy is now taller than me and in college. Thankfully my kids are already repaying the favor and making HIM feel old.

5.       I collect hobbies. As you can tell, I knit and crochet. Dabble in writing and blogging. I also cross-stitch, garden (sort of), bake, sing, go dancing, do yoga, swim, read, recently tried making candles (very fun), have plans to try making bar soap, have made homemade laundry soap (it smells so good!), like making fun t-shirts(which reminds me I need to get RIT dye and some more transfers) and have fun making decorative, but often useless, knot work. I’m sure there are other things I’ve tried over the years, but they’re not really hobbies if you only do them once, right?

6.       I’m only on six? Dammit. What exactly do you people think is interesting? I like Asian cultures. I think they are incredibly interesting. Japanese more so than others, but I will pick up books and stories about people and history from the orient whenever I can. Origami is fun, but I have a hard time finding paper that I like. It all seems so thick. (Hey look, another hobby. Told you I forgot some.) Oh, and I feel silly expecting people to be at all interested in what I have to say. Which makes this blog an odd endeavor for me. (Does that count as two?)

7.       I love accents! And I pick them up unconsciously. That trip to New York? I came home with a southern accent. (It helps that the only other high school choir there was from somewhere in Oklahoma. And one of the guys was hot. We spent a lot of time with them.) But I cannot under any circumstances successfully pull off an accent on purpose. Except occasionally a South Boston one. Rarely. And only if I'm giving someone shit about pahking yah cah in Hahvahd yahd. You can't do that, you'll get a parking ticket. Just so you know.
Ok. Hope that was interesting enough for all of you. Now to decide who to pass the torch onto.  
Susan K Mann truly has a versatile blog! As she says, she is a woman wearing many hats. It's always fun to stop by and see which one she has on for the moment.
Kelly Metz also likes to mix things up. Photography, writing, work, family - busy, busy, busy! Hopefully she'll have the time to come play and share with us.
and someone I'm new to reading, but find very interesting:
Estrella Azul - even though she's gotten it before. Because she's really got a lot of different and fun things on her site.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Review: Pretty Souls by Julie Particka

Book Blurb: My life followed a simple pattern.

Run to keep my inner wolf asleep. Make sure my blood-sucking foster sister, Cass, feeds. Hunt for supernatural trouble when we should be sleeping. Keep my grades up and my head down.

It was mostly a game.

Until people started wandering around like living zombies. Until people I care about started getting hurt. Until the menace came knocking on my front door.

Game’s over.

Time for the soul-stealer to realize just because he’s hunting something doesn’t make it prey.

Cass and I bite back.

My Thoughts: One of my favorite things about Julie's writing can best be shown by this line in the book:
"The realization that my life could be something other than the colossal mess it felt like on a daily basis elated me."

She writes about life. Granted, she adds some paranormal elements that we mundanes don't get, but that's part of the fun. Her characters live and breathe. They are, despite their otherworldly leanings, human. Elle, for example, is so me at 16. Right down to being in the Color Guard and the "Wait, you like ME?" moment. She my favorite kind of heroine. One I can identify with. She is not the prettiest, or the smartest, but she's certainly not hurting in either category either. She just needs a bit more self-confidence. Even bettter, she doesn't let her self-consciousness keep her from getting things done.

She's also not alone. Her sister Cass is more like the girl I always wanted to be, not without her own insecurities, but still popular and ever cheerful. An unlikely pairing, sisters by fate rather than by blood, the two of them work together to solve the mysteries in their town and keep their new family safe. By the end of the book, they've gotten put together some of the big pieces, and I'm anxiously awaiting the next installment to see how the rest of the puzzle falls in place.

Publisher: Decadent Publishing http://www.decadentpublishing.com/

Released: February 14, 2011

This book is owned by the reviewer

Thursday, April 21, 2011


I struggle with anxiety issues. Random terror that makes me breathless, and not in the fun Marilyn Monroe kind of way. It stops me in my tracks and puts my life on hold. The external me cannot function, every option, every action has unseen consequences, and they are too terrible to contemplate much less risk. But even as my body refuses to move, my mind is never still.
The images are from The Sandman, written by Neil Gaiman,
illustrated by Charles Vess, Copyright 1990 DC Comics, Inc.

Words, phrases, dialogue, song refrains, whole chapters of books…they keep me company and drive me mad. Wheedling, cajoling, pleading, begging, asking, pushing, demanding, bullying, screaming, threatening – they want me to release them, share them, use them.
But that fear, that agonizing indecision locks my lips, and freezes my fingers on the keyboard. Words are dangerous, sneaky things. They mean one thing while dancing sweetly in your head, but once let loose? All your best intentions may be lost. Mercurial little things, words. Impertinent, fickle and utterly unpredictable. To one person, your words may whisper sweet encouragement, while to another bitter, stinging condemnation. And you can’t stop them. Once spoken or written, they take on a life and mind of their own, much like mischievous children. Oh, you think you can make them mind. I mean, really, you brought them into this world, and by God, you can take them out of it. Isn’t that a morbid delusion?

So I resist. Why imperil myself and others with the devastation these merciless little terrors can wreak? Instead I try to calm them. Music, movies, pointless games and, all too often, food. They may quiet for a time, granting me moments, sometimes whole days of serenity. Fool me into thinking I have control once more. So I reward us all with new friends, unread books!

Used with all respect offered to Neil Gaiman and Charles Vess,
copyright 1990 DC Comics, Inc

Because with all the pain words can engender, they can also bring unmitigated joy. Soaring, blissful, take-you-beyond-the-horizon happiness. And the most inspiring thing to me? Is that I find this joy because someone else was willing to brave putting their unruly words out there for others to see. For all that I love music, or that movies can make me laugh or cry, it’s only other people’s written words that prod me to share my own. News articles, books, blogs, posts, tweets – there is something about the image of letters marching across a page or screen that makes me contemplate their meaning more deeply. Ponder their nuances, mull over their tone, consider what made their author decide on those words in that order. Occasionally, all that reflection is overwhelming, and I end up frozen again. But more often than not, it triggers a release. Sometimes it’s a violent torrent, ideas bleeding from my consciousness, leaving me woozy. Weapons that they are, words can wound their owners as well as those they are wielded against. Damned double edged swords. Other times, it’s just soothing. Firm, gentle pressure, a mental massage letting go of all the tension. I never know which it’ll be, or what will spark a reaction.
This time, it was an unexpected treasure. A sci-fi novel, an urban fantasy whose author treated me to some rarely used words, like atavistic, and mitotic. (I mean, really, mitotic? Outside of a science text? Gotta’ love that.) Impressed and amused, my constant companions could not sit still. They’ve been wiggling and giggling all morning, tickling me. They’ve been conjuring funny fairy dances and all manner of silliness until I just had to sit down and let my fingers join in. Hopefully, this time I will not lose the courage to risk letting them dance with the rest of you. If so, please remember that I’ve tried to teach them manners, and I hope they don’t offend you.
The work of these two artists helped shape my love of a good story,
and the belief that books with pictures are not just for kids.
copyright 1990 DC Comics

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Review: Must Love Dragons by Monica Marier

Book Blurb:

Everyone knows that Heroes slay Dragons. Not everyone knows that Heroes also change diapers.

It's the oldest story in the world; boy meets girl, boy marries girl, they have a family. But what happens when the girl makes more money than the boy, and he stays at home to raise the kids? What happens when pregnancy is rough on her, and he has to go back to work? And what happens when she's a dragon, he's a ranger, and a day at the office involves trolls, elves, magic, and lower back pain?

Linus Weedwhacker (shut it, he's heard 'em all) knows first hand.

My Thoughts:
This book makes me all kinds of happy. First of all, it's a fantasy adventure, with Elves and Dragons and Inns that serve questionable food. But even better, it's a fantasy adventure chocked full of snark, sarcasm and silliness. Epic win here.

There's a bonus for those of you who, like me, were card carrying members of the Basement Dwelling Gamer Geek Society (and proud of it!) with the little tribute references to some of our dearly beloved games. But not so much that non-gamers should feel like they are missing anything. It's a wonderfully witty book, that pokes fun at growing older, dealing with impudent newbies and wondering just how good were the 'good ol' days.'

Monica is exquisitely talented, not only did she gives us this gem, with a sequel "Runs in Good Condition" coming out soon, but she also contributes to a web comic site Tangent Artists and delights readers regularly with flash fiction at her blog Attack of the Muses.

Publisher: Hunt Press

Released: September, 2010

The reviewer owns this in ebook form

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Weathering the Storm

Standing outside the modest brick building, a distant rumble gives warning of an approaching storm. Gathering the courage to face what she’ll find within, Grace’s mind flashes to her favorite childhood memory.
Windows barely cracked open to keep out the whipping rain despite the summer heat, she huddles on the stairs, peaking down through the space between steps at the laughing group circling the faded Formica table. Mismatched chairs hold her parents, aunts and uncles as they ante up for the next hand. The radio crackles and lights flicker as the storm rages around this tiny wooden sanctuary.
Auntie Penny lights a few kerosene lamps, in advance of the inevitable power outage, and her dad folds, mockingly accusing his brother of being a card shark. He winks at her as he grabs his battered guitar from beside the staircase. Quietly strummed folksongs replace the static laced rock’n’roll, Uncle Chaz leaning back in his chair to flick off the ancient radio.  The slowly dying light of the radio face made it look like it was going to sleep, a thought that had her yawning. Her mother absently murmurs song lyrics, the sweating beer bottle pressed against her forehead, and contemplates the cards in her hand.
In spite of the bitter storm, and her precarious perch on the stairs, 8 year old Grace feels completely safe and content. Down below are the titans of her world. The day had been spent reroofing the cozy wooden shack, racing the storm clouds that had brought dusk early. Worry had made the grownups tense, barking orders at each other and snapping at Grace when she got underfoot. Feeling the tension ease as their work stood against the tempest outside, everyone was merry in spite of their fatigue.
Sighing, Grace squared her shoulders and opened the door. Somber and serious, her Aunt Caren greeted her in the foyer, and pointed the way to the viewing room. It was agonizing to see how much her aunt had changed over the years. Time made the thin woman frail and quiet, so different from the vibrant woman who fought to work on the roof rather than in the kitchen. Slowly making the rounds to visit her siblings and cousins, Grace noted that the once tight group of adults she admired now sat in different corners of the room. There was no more huddling over a table together, commiserating with family also considered the best of friends. Time had changed more than physical appearances.
Harsh words spoken without thought had pulled them apart. To the point that now even the loss of one couldn’t pull them together. Grace mourned that as much as she mourned her father. She wished she could pinpoint the single instance that had caused such a catastrophic breakdown, even though it was too late to fix it. Her family had been destroyed by a pervasive cancer, just as her father had. One small, unnoticed hurt unaddressed spread to bigger hurts. Maybe if it had been found earlier, if they’d have found the right words, the right medicines, to combat it...
Numbly finding her way to the casket, Grace hears the pounding deluge begin, and thinks of better days.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


My mom says I'm solar powered. And on days like today, I'd say she's right.

I struggle in the darker months, when the shadows loom earlier and earlier, playing on old fears and foolish anxieties. I can manage pretty well all the way through mid-January. The holidays bring a distraction, with Halloween's silliness, Thanksgiving's bounty, and the glitter and gaiety of Christmas and New Year's. Then the is a whirl of birthdays in my life that keep the good feelings going for a few more weeks. But the end of January and beginning of February....that's when I've had it. Even though the days are slowly gathering more light, it happens too slowly in those few weeks. I've had enough of the stagnant darkness. The monochrome look of the world is no longer being offset by joyous colors and music, and Valentine's Day is only a special day because the kids need to take treats to school. I don't hate it, I just don't see the need to feed Hallmark any extra money.

But February 15th...that's a special day. It means we are officially half way through the month. March is coming! And March equals spring. I can endure any snow storm, or cloudy day, because I know the grey grungy snow will slowly sneak away. I went for a walk yesterday, and saw the sneak preview of that.

The sky was no longer the icy blue of winter, but something sweeter. Sunbeams were no longer bleakly blinding, but had the power to bath me in warmth. Patches of meek yellow-green grass peeked through the dwindling mountains of snow. Even the trees seemed to dare show some color. The bark is no longer the wet mat black that so thirstily drinks up the meager offerings of a tired sun. I see hints of green lichen, and some greyish brown peering from the branches. The world is gaining courage and letting it's spirit show again!

I stopped in a few places, just to take in this long awaited change. Closed my eyes, and enjoyed a deep breath that didn't sear my lungs with cold. Heard birds! Chirping, whiring, chittering, calling, gossiping birds. Hear the river of melted water flowing down the streets gutters and into the almost flooding the street drains. That trickle of dirty water rushing around minature glaciers might not seem so special, but to me it's a sign of hope. Change is coming.

When that thought hit me, I had to pause. I do love the longer days, and the gentle warmth of spring. But what inspires me even more is the sense of adventure when I walk in the spring and autumn. Watching for those changes. From here on, I will prowl through my neighborhood, content with walking the same path over and over, if only to see what has been revealed since the last time I passed by. I will revel in the retreat of white, grey and black, losing precious ground to the watery pastels and deep browns of newborn spring.

At some point, though, the oppressive heat of summer will set in, and my unceasing battle with my lawn will be as hated as the struggle to keep the driveway cleared of snow and ice. Summer and winter are fixed entities. They offer no novelties. There are parties, fun, and stunning storms to pass the time, but very little change during those months. I find myself feeling just as sluggish in July's heat as I do in January's frigid weather. By August, I'm begging for fall. I'm ready to see the garishness of hotter months fly south for the winter, leaving me with cooler days, and the steady slide from bold splashes of flowers against vivid greens to flame toned leaves against a greying sky. To again prowl through my neighborhood, to see what changes nature has painted into the landscape.

So it maybe that I need that burst of sunlight, to recharge my batteries after all these months of darkness. I certainly felt rejuvenated after that walk. But I can't help thinking about how invigorating autumn is as well. How much I love the surprises one finds in these seasons of change.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Review: Pale Demon

Pale Demon by Kim Harrison

Book Blurb:
Condemned to death for black magic and shunned, Rachel Morgan has three days to somehow get to the annual witches convention in San Francisco and clear her name. If she fails, the only way she can escape death is to live in the demonic ever after . . . for ever after.

Banned from the flight lists, Rachel teams up with elven tycoon Trent Kalamack, headed for the West Coast for her own mysterious business. But Rachel isn't the only passanger along for the ride. Can a witch, an elf, a living vampire, and a pixy in one car survive for over 2,300 miles? And that's not counting the assassin on their tail.

A fearsome demon walks the sunlight, freed after centuries of torment to slay the innocent and devour souls. But his ultimate prey is Rachel Morgan. While the powerful witch with nerves of steel will do whatever it takes to stay alive, even embracing her own demonic nature may not be enough to save her.
New York Times bestselling author Kim Harrison was born and raised in the upper Midwest, but has since fled south. When not at work in the Hollows series, she spends her time tending orchids, cooking with some guy in leather, and training her new dog. Her current vices include good chocolate, and exquisite sushi. Her bestselling novels include Dead Witch Walking; The Good, The Bad, and The Undead; Every Which Way But Dead; A Fistful of Charms; For a Few Demons More; The Outlaw Demon Wails; White Witch, Black Curse; and Black Magic Sanction.

My Thoughts:
I will not put up the video of me doing a happy dance, but I had to stop often to slip into my dancin' shoes! Jenks will forever be my favorite, but that cookie sniffing shoe maker is making a play for my heart! Trent plays a HUGE role in this book, and I say it's about time. He and Rachel have a marvelous chemistry, and their interactions are always my favorites, regardless of the book. To have an entire book of the two of the squaring off against each other, even while working together. Heaven.

For those of you who have not read this series yet, and are wondering what my fan-girl silliness is all about, I have a challenge for you. Go read the books. What makes them enjoyable is not only the misadventures, the mishaps, misunderstandings and myriad of good-looking men that make Rachel's life crazy, it's Rachel herself. She is the 'everywoman' - who cannot see why her friends see her as special and love her. She looks in the mirror and sees what we all see when we look at ourselves, her own flaws and mistakes. And then she tries like mad to overcome them. Comes to grips with her limits, pushes at them, does her damnedest to what's best and beats herself up when her best doesn't quite do what she hopes, or when she fails to foresee something and things go wrong. Rachel is, in a word, human. And in her rollercoaster of self-doubt and self-discovery, these books full of wonderous fantasy take on an element of reality that balances it all.

Publisher: Eos

Release Date: February 22, 2011

This book was read as an e-book ARC from Netgalley.com

Monday, February 14, 2011

Do your characters misbehave?

I keep going back to my serial story, trying to get the story moving again. I have a few ideas of where it's going, ready to attempt getting them onto the page. And what happens.

The characters decide they want to do something else. Usually nothing productive. All my little ideas that have been floating around get shunted to the side in exchange for scenes like this:

(Rory's POV)

I love lazy Saturdays. The scent of baked apple pancakes still lingered as I immersed myself into my guilty pleasure reading. Totally stuffed, cocooned in the best blanket ever, on my favorite couch, lemon ginger tea steaming on the table next to me, James playing jazz on the piano a few rooms over. Heaven could not be so sweet.

And for that blasphemous thought? Hell gets dropped upon me, in the form of Alex.

"Hey, Ro, know what sounds like fun?"Alex fidgeted to get comfortable, grinding me into the cushions.

"Beating you senseless and leaving you for dead?"

Alex licked the side of my face in retaliation. In the attempt to push him off me, my book got ripped, the tea is all over the room, the table is trashed, I'm not sure where the blanket went, and James is in the doorway making that Spock face - you know the one. Eyebrow up, and completely nonplussed.

Pointing at each other, "I didn't start it."

*end scene*

It's a lot of that. They want to play. They make me laugh. And in the meantime, back in my story, there's this guy in the foyer - been there for weeks at this point. Anytime I point him out, try to get them to deal with him...I get the story about this time, y'know the one, where Toby set the house on fire, or Tara ballgagged Alex and made him army crawl across the living room. It's like hanging out at a family party, rehashing all the old family stories. Lots of fun and kind of pointless.


I will get them to be serious, I will. But right now Rory and Alex are redecorating James' room. They came in with a few bags of magazines and are debating if porn is worse than Justin Bieber. This is going to get ugly. I wish I could just take pictures of what they do.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Turn, Turn, Turn

Dear Mother Earth,

I love the change of seasons.

I need them.

The mud and mess of early spring morphing into the lush multi hued splendor of summer transitioning to the contrast of autumn: warm colors meets cool weather. I even need that crisp splendor of a true winter. Blinding white snow, breathtaking  cold. The kind that sends me burrowing into my cave of covers, hands shivering around a steaming mug of tea.

What I don't need  is this grey sludge. The slap of freezing wind when I open the door. The icicles no longer glitter merrily, they sparkle menacingly as I trudge beneath them to the mailbox, each one threatening to pin me to the frozen landscape.

'Tis well past the time for you to turn over a new leaf. I had my time to love the beauty of stark naked branches against an icy sky. I am well into my hatred of dreary darkness, wet socks and numb fingers.

It's time to gain a few more minutes of sunlight, to lose the ridiculous amount of layers I'm wearing to keep from getting frostbite.

Turn a little faster, please, Mother dear, it is time for another season. I need it.

Friday, February 4, 2011

To Victory

A trickle of sweat runs down my spine as I snap the last wet shirt and pin it to the loaded clothesline. My sunglasses help dull the blinding blue brilliance of the cloudless sky. Stretching my aching arms, I savor the summer scented breeze. Sun warmed grass between my toes, fresh laundry on the line…this is the perfect day. This is a picnic day. I see a pitcher of sweet tea, a basket of food and a good book in my future.
Then I see my nemesis. A black stare leaves me cold. The one that reminds me of our impending showdown. The one that requires me to wear socks and shoes. On my perfect picnic day. I glare back, defiant. I will win this battle.
And then I will enjoy the sweet scent of freshly mowed grass with my perfect picnic. It smells like victory.

The pic is mine. This is dedicated to the Decepticon that lives in my carport and makes me battle it to get the lawn mowed every week. And because I'd rather mow the lawn then shovel the driveway again.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Twinkle Toes

I want to dance through the cosmos
Swirling and leaping through the ballet of galaxies
I want to revel in the beauty of the universe
Painting with infinite hues and unending canvas
But I live in a finite existence
My feet firm on the ground

Photo by Birgitta Lindsey
I found the picture at Stories without Words and you can find more of Birgitta's work at Birgitta's Fine Art America site

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Review: Foreigner by C J Cherryh

Book Blurb: It had been nearly five centuries since the starship Phoenix, lost in space and desperately searching for the nearest G5 star, has encountered the planet of the atevi. On this alien world, law was kept by the use of registered assassination, alliances were defined by individual loyalties not geographical borders, and war became inevitable once humans and one faction of atevi established a working relationship. It was a war that humans had no chance of winning on the planet so many light years from home.

Now, nearly two hundred years after that confict, humanity has traded its advanced technology for peace and an island refuge that no atevi will ever visit. The the sole human the treaty allows into atevi society is marked for an assassin's bullet. The work of an isolated lunatic? ...The interests of a particular faction? ...Or the consequences of one human's fondness for a species which has fourteen words for betrayal and not a single word for love?

My Thoughts: This is not the typical Space Drama kind of sci-fi book. It touches on sociology, politics, family dynamics, superstitions, lingual anthropology, culture clashes and psychology. Not only does it feed my inner sci-fi geek, it feeds my school geek as well!

Foreigner is the first of a series, which seem to be set up groups of three - a very fortunate number, by atevi reckoning. Atevi society is feudal, full of high intrigue, formal manners and strong traditions. The human colony, abandoned by its ship, has built up its island in the image of old Earth - right down to its love of technology for technology's sake. To keep the peace, there is one human allowed on the mainland, to interpret, to regulate the flow of tech to keep it from ravaging the balance of the atevi world. Bren Cameron is the current paidhi, or interpreter. And the planets align in just such a way that his quiet role is elevated to major player in mainland politics. He gets greater insights into the atevi than his training ever hinted at. Often at gun point, or at the least while under fire. For as cerebral as I find this book, it certainly does not lack action.

Publisher: DAW

Released: November 1994

This book is owned by the reviewer

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


“What are the rules?”

Her shoulders droop. She ticks the points off on her fingers with the barrel of the gun. “6 weeks between concussions, I can only shoot him once a month, I can’t stab him with anything bigger than a dinner fork.”
He holds his hand out for the Glock. “And?”
Her carefully blank look fools no one.
“And no kicks to the head while wearing skates.” She slaps the gun into his palm.
“He almost lost an eye last time.”
“Not my fault he didn’t pay attention during a fight.”

Monday, January 31, 2011

The fabric of a story.

People talk about weaving words together to make a story. And I can see that metaphor. There’s the weft and warp creating the underlying structure to any woven piece, just as in story telling. And you can make some gloriously creative images within that frame work. But I don’t weave.
I knit.
Weaving is essentially a grid. Boring straight lines going up and down. My few ventures into weaving left me with plain squares of cloth. How…basic. But knitting…well there are loops within loops. Sudden crossovers, subtle merging of rows, bursts of new colors in unexpected places. It can make something much more three dimensional.
To me, this illustrates writing more clearly. The final work is shaped as you go along, increases and decreases adjusting the parameters of the world, each line is tied in with the last as the thread twists and turns. Occasionally the yarn spits out a giant nasty knot and you will spend hours getting it unraveled so that you can move forward. You can use the same pattern again and again, but each time the finished work is something unique. Each time you attempt it, what you end up with is better formed, more polished.
So I’m not going to weave words. I will knit you a yarn. I hope you enjoy the stories.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Run With It #4

We spent the drive out to the ranch in painful silence. There really wasn’t anything to talk about. We had no idea what was the problem.
It started six years ago, when I was finishing my undergrad degree. Deciding where to go for my Masters. Dreaming grandiose and ridiculous dreams of my future. With my husband, Parker.
We had floored everyone we knew by eloping on Spring Break the year before. Not because anyone doubted we’d get hitched. Just because we’d always wanted the rockin’ reception with family and friends around us. But Las Vegas gets to you, and we were ok with the idea of celebrating once we graduated. Two reasons to party, only once expense. It worked for us.
We found a sweet little shithole of an apartment, were insanely busy, but blissfully, blindly happy. We were busting our butts for finals. The fridge was empty, so Parker went to get some basics: beer, ramen noodles, pop tarts and milk. I only remember that because they found the list on him. He always brought a list, even though he never actually followed it.
He got hit by a car. Not sure the culprit ever even knew they hit someone. They certainly didn’t stick around.  
At the wake some asshat, claiming he knew Parker, made a pass at me. Something about the best way to grieve was to get laid, and he was the man for the job. Never meek or mild, I humiliated him before he was dragged out and dealt with by our friends. I walked into the apartment a few days later to find I had an unwanted, angry guest in the mood for revenge.
Five days in a coma, four emergency surgeries, three months of relearning to walk led to two words that sum up my one goal in life. Never. Again. I will never again be unprepared to defend myself.
I don’t remember any of the attack. I cannot recall a single moment of the funeral, nor being told Parker was dead. The last thing I can remember clearly is being kissed breathless by the man I love. Whispers of encouragement for my exam and how we’ll celebrate that night at home.
Then it’s just pain. And shame and anger.
My first clear memory is a newspaper article taped to the wall, with the words ‘Parker is dead’ scrawled across the top. Toby told me I insisted that be done when I kept forgetting. I hated losing it in front of everyone, and realizing it happened over and over pissed me off. I suppose that’s better than the numbness I feel now.
Cam and Toby lived in our building at the time. Just starting their computer consulting business, they had irregular hours and didn’t travel as far. I was lucky they came home when they did. They saved me. The Asshat didn’t make it. The well deserved consequences of taking on two men who collect forms of martial arts as a hobby. They’ve never told me what happened, and I don’t ask.

Alex’s POV
Dammit. Cazzo. Porca puttana.*
I keep checking in the rearview mirror to make sure Rory is still there. I know it’s stupid, but, fuck, it’s been four years since the last time someone came after her. And the Pack still hasn’t figured out why she’s a damned target to begin with or who is after her.
She’s pale. Silent. Huddled in the middle of the back seat between Toby and Cam, eyes unfocused. Suppressing a sigh, I turn back to the road.
Six years ago, Cam called in the Pack to help with a neighbor who’d been attacked. No. Mauled. Beaten. Bitten. Some Born bastard came for her. It happens, they get bored and want a new plaything. But he didn’t have a pack mark.  Neither did any of the others that came after. It didn’t make sense.
Even knowing how strong she had to be to survive, I can’t get past how fragile she seems. I bet against her living all those years ago, not that I’d ever tell her that. Helluva a fighter, our Rory. She’ll be an Alpha some day.
I look one more time in the mirror. It’s not like she going to vanish from the car. She’s intact, not a scratch on her. There’s plenty of us to keep her safe on the ride home. Hell, we even grabbed James. If the four of us can’t keep her safe…not gonna’ finish that sentence.
A low growl from the back grabs my attention. Toby murmured an apology. I’m not the only one frustrated by the lack of answers. He and Cam have given up more than anyone else in the Pack to solve this. Being away from everyone for months…it’s self-imposed exile.
Rory looks up at me, her eyes meeting mine in the mirror. Normally a laughing greenish-gray, now they hold fear, and trust. She trusts us to get her through this. Like Cam and Toby, I know that the sacrifices are worth it. We won’t betray her trust.
Rory’s POV

Everyone’s tense, even imperturbable Toby is losing his cool. I hate how much everyone has given up to help me. I wish I could tell them why, think of some clue from my past to assist in my own defense. I cower here, amongst my dearest friends, my chosen family, helpless. I see Alex watching me. Meeting his worried gaze, I know despite it all I am safe.

*Italian for 'Fuck. Son of a bitch.' Thanks to the Great and Wonderful Maz for help with swearing like a sailor in Italian. :)

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Review : Badlands by Seleste DeLaney

Review by Jax
Book Blurb: After a brutal Civil War, America is a land divided. As commander of her nation's border guards, Ever is a warrior sworn to protect her country and her queen. When an airship attacks and kills the monarch, Ever must infiltrate enemy territory to bring home the heir to the throne, and the dirigible Dark Hawk is her fastest way to the Union.

Captain Spencer Pierce just wants to pay off the debt he owes on the Dark Hawk and make a life for himself trading across the border. When the queen's assassination puts the shipping routes at risk, he finds himself Ever's reluctant ally.

As they fly into danger, Ever and Spencer must battle not only the enemy but also their growing attraction. She refuses to place her heart before duty, and he has always put the needs of his ship and crew above his own desires. Once the princess is rescued, perhaps they can find love in the Badlands - if death doesn't find them first...

Ok, girl power over for the moment. Sort of.

Steampunk is fun, but it's very Victorian, which means this underlying tone of male superiority that pokes at me. Which is why I love that Badlands produces women like Ever. Stubborn, smart, fierce and wild. Even their princess.

There was a fantastic contrast between Ever's forthright, independent nature and the conniving manipulations of Henrietta. Seleste has a way of really defining her characters, making them stand out. Even the ones who play small roles. It makes the world she built rich and fun to visit. In  a short time, you get to visit the wilderness of an untamed mountain, the wild west of barely settled Texas, and the civilization of the Northeast Union. And can really feel the difference of those places from the people that you meet there.

Publisher: Carina Press

Release: February 28, 2011

More info:

The reviewer got this book as a advanced reader e-book from Netgalley.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Might as Well Challenge

Might as well

The Illustrious Wiswell has an audio challenge up on his site Bathroom Monologues

I've been considering doing audio, and he pointed me in the direction of using Audacity to record. See if you can make heads or tails of it.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Welcome to Hell

I know there was something I needed in the kitchen. What the fuck was it? My gaze sweeping across the empty counters and table, I yank open the drawers. Nothing lights up that light bulb in my brain. The cabinet doors bounce as I slam them shut. Hands to hips, I struggle to remember what led to this hellish scavenger hunt.
Maybe it wasn’t in the kitchen. The office! Of course. Whatever it is must be in the office. I wander through the house, desperately retracing my steps. Every doorway seems to have the power to wipe my memory clean. The chaos of the desk brings me to my senses. Eureka! How silly of me to forget something so simple. It’s in the middle drawer in the kitchen. I’ll just run and get it.
4 steps to the stairs, 7 stairs and 5 more steps to kitchen. All of 60 seconds to get there. I cross that threshold…
Damn it! I know there was something I needed in the kitchen…

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Stop Hating Your Body Challenge

On Tumblr, someone posted a Stop Hating Your Body Challenge:
New Years is coming up, I have a challenge for you.
On your own blog make a text or photo post, about what you’ve learned this year. I want you to make a body positive post.
I want you to make a promise to yourself, to move forward and think positive, to remove toxic people and things from your…
So here's my response:

Last year at this time, I was recovering from a horrible month. I had panic attacks daily, no appetite and couldn’t keep food down when I did manage to eat. I lost 20 lbs in less than a month. Pretty much in the last two weeks of December. It was a horrid way to lose the weight, even if I needed to do so for health reasons.

I’ve recovered slowly from that hell. But kept the weight off, in good ways. Eating good foods, in appropriate portions. Walking, playing with the kids, working out. I’m happy with the way my body looks now.

It’s not a model’s body. I’ve had two kids, which brought about some stretch marks and other changes. No matter how toned I get, you will not see the muscle definition in my abs. But I have curves! Didn’t have those before the kids. And that hell I went through…lost more from my waist than anywhere else, which just shows off the 38D’s that I got from having my kids. Fair trade for the stretch marks, I think. And I love my legs. They look great even when I’m not in heels. I may have thick farm girl arms, but from muscle not flab.

Even still, it was tough to look in the mirror and start to like what I saw. As a teen, my family called me Twiggy. 5’6” and barely 100 lbs all the way through college. Before you think that is an ideal to work toward, let me tell you that I barely had hips, much less breasts. I got stopped more than once to be lectured about eating disorders I never had. I was everyone’s little sister, or just one of the guys. If not for the long hair, I probably could have been taken for a boy. Being Twiggy was not great for my health either. But hitting the 178 lbs mark was not any better. Just different issues, physically and mentally.

I’m mostly healthy now. My weight fluctuates from 135 to 140. Oddly, it’s higher when I’m working out regularly rather than when I stop. Or maybe not…that whole muscle mass thing. Either way, I’ve been skeletal skinny and I’ve been uncomfortably heavy. There were hard parts to both situations. And benefits. I do miss the days when I could eat 2 foot long subs and not worry about the weight. But I’ve gotten many more compliments on my figure, even at my heaviest, then I ever did when skinny.

Now, I love my body. Not because of the size it wears, or in spite of its flaws. But because it’s me. And I deserve it. I deserve to be loved, to be taken care of. To enjoy life and food, friends and fun times. I treat myself with respect and give my body the attention it needs. (Yeah, take that in every way you want. Because, dammit, the body needs that kind of attention. Perverts. *wink* I love you.)

I hope that the lessons I learned this last year are not lost in the chaos of this one. And I hope that someone out there can learn from them too.

Unearthly by Cynthia Hand

Review by Jax
Book Blurb:
In the beginning, there's a boy standing in the trees . . . .
Clara Gardner has recently learned that she's part angel. Having angel blood run through her veins not only makes her smarter, stronger, and faster than humans (a word, she realizes, that no longer applies to her), but it means she has a purpose, something she was put on this earth to do. Figuring out what that is, though, isn't easy.
Her visions of a raging forest fire and an alluring stranger lead her to a new school in a new town. When she meets Christian, who turns out to be the boy of her dreams (literally), everything seems to fall into place—and out of place at the same time. Because there's another guy, Tucker, who appeals to Clara's less angelic side.
As Clara tries to find her way in a world she no longer understands, she encounters unseen dangers and choices she never thought she'd have to make—between honesty and deceit, love and duty, good and evil. When the fire from her vision finally ignites, will Clara be ready to face her destiny?
Unearthly is a moving tale of love and fate, and the struggle between following the rules and following your heart.

My Review:
Do you believe in Divine Intervention? Clara Gardner does. But then she's part angel looking to fulfill her purpose. Just as soon as she figures out what it is. Visions from God should come with a manual.

At 16, how many people know what they are supposed to do with their life? Clara handles the notion of having her fate decided incredibly well.Until her heart takes her in another direction. Will she become one of the sorrow filled Black Wings? Or is it possible that destiny is not as immutable as one might believe?

I love books that leave you with deep questions, ones that make you think about the nature of life, as well entertain. This book did that. It also leaves plenty of room for sequel, which I do hope is fated to come out quickly.

Publisher: Harperteen

Release Date: January 4th, 2011

The reviewer received this book as an eARC from NetGalley.

This review was originally posted on Bea's Book Nook