juushika: Screen capture of the Farplane from Final Fantasy X: a surreal landscape of waterfalls and flowers. (Anime/Game)
Title: Planet of Exile (Hainish Cycle Book 2)
Author: Ursula K. Le Guin
Narrator: Stephen Hoye, Carrington MacDuffie
Published: Blackstone Audio, 2007 (1966)
Rating: 4 of 5
Page Count: 125
Total Page Count: 217,315
Text Number: 685
Read Because: fan of the author, audiobook borrowed from the Multnomah County Library
Review: As a long winter approaches, outsiders threaten both of the planet's human civilizations, native and offworld immigrant. Lifecycle-long years and established offworld settlers combine to create a speculative premise that informs every aspect of the book: worldbuilding, social structure, point of view, plot, resolution; and while that last is too neat, it's just so satisfying to see concise worldbuilding with significant ramifications. The character dynamics operated within that are nearly absent, certainly underwritten—but I suspect this is exacerbated by audio narration, Hoye's in particular. But Le Guin's voice, powerful and sparse and precise, carefully balancing organic daily detail against larger speculative elements, is a sheer delight and offset other weaknesses. I see flaws here, but they don't particularly bother me; this is just what I wanted it to be.

Title: Anne of Green Gables (Anne of Green Gables Book 1)
Author: LM Montgomery
Published: Duke Classics, 2012 (1908)
Rating: 5 of 5
Page Count: 335
Total Page Count: 217,650
Text Number: 686
Read Because: reread, ebook borrowed from the Multnomah County Library (but I own it, and it's on Gutenberg)
Review: The story of a young orphan girl's childhood at a farm on Prince Edward Island. This was one of my favorite books as a child and I owned multiple copies and reread it many times; but I haven't reread it in at least 15 years. It's​ aged surprisingly well, for me personally, but also in the hundred years since its publication. It's beautifully charming; Montgomery's descriptions of nature and the community of Avonlea is lovely, evocative escapism; her intense and playful compassion for Anne, for her dreaming whimsy and enthusiasm and the gentle process of her coming of age, was everything to me as a child and I find I love it still. The plot is uneven, speeding up in the final third, becoming less playful and episodic, more of a summary and interchangeably too idealized and too tragic. But I appreciate the quiet consistency of Anne's character growth, and the payoff of her relationships, especially with Marilla, justifies some of the shortcuts. LM Montgomery's wish fulfillment was my childhood wish fulfillment too, and I still bear it good will; this reread was everything I wanted, all my best memories but freshly engaging, enabling me to entirely gloss over some objective flaws.

Title: Dangerous Space
Author: Kelley Eskridge
Published: Seattle: Aqueduct Press, 2007
Rating: 4 of 5
Page Count: 255
Total Page Count: 217,905
Text Number: 689
Read Because: fan of the author, paperback given to me by [personal profile] thobari
Review: A collection of only seven stories, although the titular "Dangerous Space" is nearly a novella. I picked this up for "Eye of the Storm," which became one of my favorite short stories after I read it elsewhere. It's as good as I remember: a sword and sorcery setting, but an interpersonal focus, looking at fluid queer polyamorous found families and the link between violence and sexuality. "Dangerous Space" has a contemporary setting and secondary science fictional elements, but a similar tone. This is where Eskridge shines brightest, even if the ending of "Dangerous Spaces" is underwhelming: when she writes id fiction, focusing on strange intimacies and art, queer relationships and examinations of sexuality, engaging dynamics and sympathetic character growth.

The other stories are decent to successful; the style and theme that Eskridge is experimenting with in each is frequently obvious and sometimes unconvincing (although the density and unusual language of "Somewhere Down the Diamondback Road" is fantastic), but her voice is strong—she's particularly adept at working a story's themes into its metaphors and language, which brings to life even the clumsier examples. This collection isn't perfect, but I admire the ongoing themes of sexuality and art; and, honestly, it would be worth owning just for "Eye of the Storm."

The aforementioned trio of ridiculously successful books, counteracting a slew of "okay, I guess" books. Weird story about the Eskridge, though: midway through the collection, I received a comment on my review of the anthology where I first encountered "Eye of the Storm" which included "I'll be checking out Kelley Eskridge though"—a coincidence which inspired me to go back and read my review, and discover I'd mentioned that Dangerous Space included two companion stories to "Eye of the Storm." Which is awesome! But I was already halfway through, and hadn't encountered them, so skimmed ahead and—

—those stories are not there. They've never, in fact, existed; I'm not sure where I got the impression, such a precise impression (two companion stories!), that they did; other stories in the original anthology have companion novels, but re: "Eye of the Storm" reviews include such notes as "I am only distraught that there is no novel (series, opus, canon, tie in anything) with these characters."

I chalked this up to parallel universes and/or a fragment of my truly awful memory and moved on, except that: "Dangerous Space," as it turns out, not only has overlapping themes/feeling, it also has reoccurring character names. This isn't hugely surprising—I know creators recycle & reinvent archetypes, characters, names, &c.; and it fits: there's an overlapping logic, to take a slantwise-similar approach to different settings and dynamics. But what a bizarre series of events, to write and unwrite a parallel universe in which there obvious were, were not, sort of were companion stories to this story.

(To be honest, "Eye of the Storm" stands alone. I would happily live in it forever, but it so well establishes what it needs to establish that more isn’t really necessary; if anything, the summary and departure of the last few paragraphs is ideal—it keeps the setting alive and enterable, without the hit-or-miss potential of expanding the canon. I don't need the companion stories that don't exist. I'm just confused about the nature of their existence.)
juushika: Screen capture of the Farplane from Final Fantasy X: a surreal landscape of waterfalls and flowers. (Anime/Game)
CW for discussions of pet death.

Two days ago, I got an email from my father that they'd euthanized Jamie. She'd been having episodes when she'd lose her footing or fall, and panic when she was unable to get up. This occurred when my mother was home; Dad left work, and the two of them were able to calm and comfort her until she could get back up. But these episodes were reoccurring, and only likely to become more common, and they could happen when no one was there; and she'd had ongoing health issues, and the vet had just found a possibly-cancerous mass in her abdomen. So that afternoon they took her in to the vet. They didn't want her to ever be alone and in distress.

She bounced back after the episode and she loved the vet and was excited to be there, and they almost had second thoughts, but this is a long time coming—and even Mamakitty, when we took her in, as sick and exhausted as she was, perked up at the vet because it was a new and distracting environment: that momentary change didn't erase the ongoing problems, for either of them.

This was a long time coming, which is why it feels so hard to handle; or rather, not hard, but distant—James had a heath scare a few months back, and I feel like I said my goodbyes at that time, not preemptively so much as in preparation, and I have done my grieving; but of course I haven't grieved and now I can't seem to start. I'm sure it will sink in when I go home, but I'm not ready for that. This in-betweenness of knowing and not believing, of loss without feeling, is unwelcome but not new; I've experienced similar disconnects before (like when Madison died).

Here's what I do know: We got Jamie the year we got back from England—England is an important landmark in my family's history, Jamie was an era. We named her after Jamie Oliver, because we watched his show while we lived in England, and to preserve the family tradition of giving our dogs gender-swapped names. She was 15, and that's ancient in lab years. My mother told my father about what I'd said, when they made the decision: about valuing the time had, about working in her best interest. She was a ridiculously good dog, ever since she was a puppy; she never had a demon dog phase and we even had a ban on talking about her when when Odi was going through his because no one needed the comparison. When she was old and blind and halfway deaf all she wanted to do was lean against her people so that she knew they were there and loved. She was a leggy field lab & she didn't know how to swim because she had skin conditions as a pup and by the time she was introduced to water she was afraid of it. Every Christmas, she got her own stocking and got to unwrap her own gifts:

She had the knee issues common in labs, and had surgery on both front legs when she was young; for a long time, she was afraid of both the vet and the location in the house where she threw out her first knee. For most of her life she didn't bark, she was an entirely silent dog; only in old age did she sometimes boof when a stranger passed the window. She used to stare out the gap in the blinds for an hour before my dad got home each evening—my mum was the pack leader but my dad was her best friend.

In my first year of college when my life began to fall apart, my mother made a surprise trip to Walla Walla and brought James; they waited in the quad for me to get out of class. I saw a dog across the way and thought, oh, a dog! dogs are great! and then the dog began to jump around because before I even recognized it was my dog, before I even saw my mother, Jamie recognized me across the distance and she was so happy to see me.

She was a sensitive, engaged member of the household, and would get super upset if people fought or talked about politics. She knew tons of commands, most of which we never taught her and were casual sentences, "Jamie, get out of the kitchen." She was our only black lab (the others were chocolate), her fur was rainbow-white in the sun, she liked ear-rubbing the best, she didn't like having her toenails trimmed but would let us do it anyway, and this was Jamie:

Jamie in the Sunlight

I don't believe that pets owe us love, but that it's something we owe them; it is our responsibility when we make them our responsibility, to provide unconditional care and support. But there is no love like the love of this dog, nothing so essential or complete.
juushika: Photograph of the torso and legs of a female-bodied figure with a teddy bear. (Bear)
A few days ago I put something moderately fragile down on a semi-unstable surface for 2.5 minutes, said to myself, "self, be careful not to let this drop!" and then promptly dropped it and injured the fragile thing, about which I care a lot in a stunning display of this is your spacial reasoning with dyscalculia/this is your memory with brainfog/these are your fine motor skills with anemia and anxiety disorders. I'm pretty clumsy, but this was particularly timed: breaking (not beyond repair, but it's the principle of the thing) a discretionary purchase and treasured object, while anxious about another potential discretionary purchase—a sort of universal sign that probably can I not only afford to buy things, I don't deserve to have them. It sent me into a massive anxiety spiral; three days later, I'm still recovering.

I'm absolutely aware that was a ridiculous overreaction. I'm not surprised that it happened, either, because my financial anxieties have easy triggers and I drop things so often that this particular sequence of events was inevitable. But I don't appreciate the obnoxiously obvious parallel: the things I love are fragile, my mental health is fragile, and I'm fragile, one tiny accident (that someone neurotypical could brush off) away from a meltdown.

That's it, the whole thing; no counter-lesson and only time and patience and Devon being exhaustively over-conscientious have helped; nor am I recording for any particular purpose (to record every time Dumb Thing Happened and I had a breakdown as result would be both exhausting and embarrassing) except that the moral of the story, however obvious it is, was so spot-on that it's been stuck in my head as some sort of life lesson. Perhaps writing it down will make it known and done, and I can be free of it.

Mid-80s warm weather yesterday, and Dee and I went out to dinner and coffee (and then I such headache, very sun, I was probably too strung out for it but I can't turn down Thai and Starbucks); it should be, loosely, the last warm day of the year. Gray and steady rain, today; red leaves on the horizon out my left hand window. I'm transitioning into my autumn media, especially visual media; I'm prepping my winter to read list. Dee made pumpkin muffins which were a little dry for me, but I found that soaked if a 2:1 water:maple syrup for a few minutes and then microwaved in a ramekin for 30secs they become individual dense pumpkin bread puddings, best if topped with cream cheese. There are small blessings.
juushika: Screen capture of the Farplane from Final Fantasy X: a surreal landscape of waterfalls and flowers. (Anime/Game)
A bit ago, I got a message on dumb pet game website Flight Rising from a user who had found my book review of The Dark Wife offsite. They recognized my username, verified that it was the same Juu, and then mailed me to point out the small world and to say thank you, both because the review was helpful and because they found it comforting to know someone on dumb pet site was also a reader interested in YA lesbian literature. And if that isn't the best thing, and best reason to have a universal online identity—to have the chance to say, hell no, you're not the only queer lady out there who wants to read about Persephone and lesbians, even within this arbitrary audience; you're not alone and, here, have more books—then I don't know what is. It was a small, stand-alone interaction, but an absolute delight.

(Despite my caveats with The Dark Wife, I feel like this is what makes Diemer's work in particular valuable. All queer representation is, but she fills a particular niche: aesthetically-pleasing genre retellings where lesbians live happily ever after. The fact that can be someone's gateway into queer literature and a tool for exploring and validating their own sexuality makes me happy, even if I thought the narrative itself was just okay.)
juushika: Drawing of a sleeping orange cat. (I should have been born a cat)
I made an unusually long visit to Corvallis, because I hadn't seen Devon for a while and because I was making a trip with my parents to go to Ashland and see some Shakespeare (!! !). I usually travel by train, but Devon and I drove back up today because he had to pick up a friend from the local airport.

This is the sort of thing that only I could do:

As we approached the airport, Devon called his friend to let him know we were running 20mins late on account of traffic. I was unsure if this was traffic-traffic or "traffic"-traffic, as we had stopped for dinner along the way and I legitimately did not remember any traffic congestion. It occurred to me that if it were white lie-traffic, I was complicit in a white lie! so I queried Devon. Devon recounted for me the three (3) episodes of stop and go traffic that resulted from some broken-down cars, which occurred approximately when I was talking in depth about 1) the abuse of Malvolio and its end-game resolution as appeared in this production of Twelfth Night,* 2) the way the B-plot was weighted against the A-plot in Twelfth Night, the ways they were knit together, the depth given to the B-plot, 3) the overlap of an actor in Twelfth Night and Hamlet, and as natural segue, 4) which was the more successful production of the two (spoiler: Twelfth Night), especially in conceit, but 5) that this was one of my very favorite Hamlets.**

Which makes these things the take-away:

My memory is so spotty that I can entirely forget not one, not two, but three separate repetitions of the same event.

I am so engrossed in media criticism that I can carry on a one-sided outpouring of Shakespeare Thoughts that lasts through at least 20-mins-late worth of traffic.

My compulsive honesty is so intense and deeply ingrained that even being adjacent to the possibility of a small lie will cause me anxiety and require immediate clarification/resolution.

* As a type-A fellow antisocial uptight often-socially-corrected personality, Malvolio is one of my favorite Shakespeare characters and I am incredibly sensitive to how productions depict his abuse and its aftermath—whether it's played for fun, whether the audience is complicit, whether his "I'll be revenged on the whole pack of you" does or doesn't diffuse the anxiety of the realization that things have, indeed, gone too far. This one was handled so well! so explicit, so cruel, so unforgiven; he internalizes his enforced socialization, his "smile," but reclaims it, develops it into a tool to use against those that hurt him. It threatens to diffuse and then refuses to, so pointedly. It was all I ever wanted.

** I feel that too much Hamlet discussion and production is given to issues of is he mad or faking (& is he flippant or bereaved); in this production he was all, he was driven to an extremity of emotion and he was numb, impassioned but indecisive, feigning and sincere, sarcastic and authentic. He was complete. That is the Hamlet which makes the play endure, who engages our ambivalence and writes it vast yet sympathetic, and we see ourselves in him, and we fear him, and fear ourselves
juushika: Drawing of a sleeping orange cat. (I should have been born a cat)
Meanwhile, there's this:

August is pretty

After I heard of Madison's death, I went out in the hall (which is where August spends her early evenings, napping outside my door—why not inside on the comfy bed? who knows, but it makes her happy, so who cares) and pulled August into my lap. Don't let her delicate little kitten features fool you: August is surprisingly large and has a solid warm physicality to her, wide soft flanks and handfuls of rich smooth fur. When she came home with us she was a bit uncomfortable about being picked up—she wouldn't squirm out of it, but her tail would twitch and she'd climb away when she could. She used to live in a home with small children, which may explain things. It bothered me a little because I love holding cats, but I gave her her space and over time she's grown increasingly tolerant. But that day she sat in my lap, her torso pressed to mine, and let me hold her with nary and tail-twitch, warm and soft and so solid.

And today so help me if she will not leave me alone for the hour I need to edit pictures and write this post. She is full of cuddles and purrs, and let me clip a mat from her haunches, and she tries to bite my knee but it's too big to fit in her mouth.

I love this cat. She's not a Madison-replacement, although in a way I think I initially intended her to be. She is her own independent beast, and she is ridiculous, and I love her and am so thankful to have her near me right now.

So it seems like a good time to upload what I've been saving up on my hard drive, and give you some sundry August pictures and anecdotes (and one video clip) of the cute and beautiful and silly variety.

+8: August sleeping and kneeding and close up and looking funny. )

That's August.
juushika: Drawing of a sleeping orange cat. (I should have been born a cat)
I'm coming off of about three weeks of various and nearly unrelenting pain. There was the week of back pain followed a brief respite thanks to Devon's visit, a resurgance of back pain which left me bedridden for another week, and as I started to get over the worst of that I ran into some random wrist issues and menstruation-triggered back pain, and as I stopped menstruating I developed a tension headache and some head/neck/eye soreness—with continuing back pain. I took some more medication, which seems to have helped: the tension soreness persists, but is mild; the back issues never seem to end, but I no longer feel like a 90-year-old woman. To say that all of this aggravated my depression would be something of an understatement. I went through a wailing-flailing stage, I hit the utter exhaustion stage, and I'm still recovering mentally as well as physically. I have every reason to suspect that these problems will reoccur, but I'll be heading to Corvallis in a few days and Devon and I can troubleshoot them together if necessary.

Somewhere in the wailing-flailing stage of MY BODY HATES ME AND I HATE IT BACK AND THE WHOLE WORLD TOO, August decided that she was sufficiently safe and comfortable here to begin acting like a complete shite. She was annoying and didn't want to be touched and elsewise did her damnedest to push every one of her boundaries. No lie, it hurt like a motherfuck and I just couldn't deal with it at the time—I had no spoons and suddenly the cat was ransacking the cutlery.

If you look for a knife or a fork
And you think it is merely misplaced—
You have seen it one moment, and then it is gawn!
But you'll find it next week lying out on the lawn.

I survived only by watching two seasons of Star Trek: The Next Generation in quick succession, eating entire bars of chocolate, and desperately pretending I was no longer alive. But survive I did. August is currently sacked out on my bed. Earlier today she fell asleep while spooned around my arm. (Now if only Spike would stop peeing on the windowsill.*)

I believe that cats are people. My people, yes, but people above all—as unique as you or me, with personalities as complete and faceted, and they have moods and relationships and identities. August is an adorable ball of fluff, but she is much more than a particularly warm and wonderful teddy bear. She's a person with moods and desires and an attitude, she's an adolescent, she's trying out a new environment and making her home here for better and worse. A new human roommate may have a bit more grace about it (and just leave dirty socks around, rather than trying to claw the carpet), but we all do this, we all act like asses and then we get over it and the people that matter love us anyway.

I know this and that's what I want when I say I want a cat, but man, what an infuckingopportune moment to learn the lesson for real.

The worst of this all has past. By rights I ought not be sitting up to write this now, because I can feel some substantial back pain creeping up on me; I'm sure that August and I (and Dee and Spike) will have even more adjustments to make when my trip to Corvallis throws another wrench in the works—and elsewise I don't expect "better" to mean "perfect" or "inviolate." But I've found some of the silverware on the lawn, and I expect this, all of this, to be worth it. Today it was, as August purred all over me and put her paws against my eyelids and fell asleep wrapped around my arm. It was even worth it when she was being a shit, but don't tell her that. I am learning to love her not as a wish-fulfillment fantasy, but as the whole and entire person that she is. Of course that's worth it.

No one warned me, but living a real life can be a hell of a lot of work, eh?

* Okay, story time. Spike's urine marking has actually much improved and we're working hard to continue that trend, but Dee and I are still about up to here with his shenanigans. And then today he and August were both on the best windowsill, which was the first thing that Spike began marking and still his particular favorite. She was on the right, which is the side he marks; he was on the left, and contentedly sharing the space. I praised him for not marking, but when he stood up to leave he began to assume the position. I raised my voice and caught his attention, and for half a second that seemed to be enough: Spike looked at me all guilty-like—and then peed on my cat. And the windowsill. But also my cat.

And August looked confused.

And then I had to chase down my confused, scared cat with a paper towel to dry a different cat's pee off of her chest.

So how was your morning?
juushika: Screen capture of the Farplane from Final Fantasy X: a surreal landscape of waterfalls and flowers. (Anime/Game)
Today we let August see the rest of the house.

August, given the run of the house
She had O.O eyes pretty much the entire time and I think her little cat brain came pretty close to going boom.
And she loved it, of course.

Spike slept through a cat sniffing his bedroom (which she actually got to do last night, when the door failed to latch when I went downstairs) and tearing up and down the stairs and jumping on all the furniture, but he did eventually wake up and come downstairs. August has been well-adjusted and settled in since day one and she's cold symptom free, so we decided it was time to let them discover each other. There was some running away and a little hissing, followed by about three hours of this:

August and Spike meeting

And this. )

August pretty much overloaded: there was SO MUCH and she was SO ENERGETIC that she would randomly dissolve into spaz-cat and go running out of the room. Spike was quite calm—a bit hissy, which is to be expected, but mostly he wanted to sniff her and everywhere she had gone, and was patiently willing to back off and give her space (and go sniff another place she had been) while she did her spaz-cat routine and then came back to him. Occasionally she would run off and he would lose her, and then he would pace around meowing (or go meow out a window, because Outside is the place of Other Cats), but there was sufficent shared curiosity that they kept finding each other.

O.O eventually evolved into O.o, and then August began doing everything Spike was doing.

Copycat. )

It was pretty cute, no lie. Based on previous behavior, August gets on well with other cats and Spike is very affectionate towards female cats, so we hope that they'll bond in the days to come. But this curiosity and growing acceptance is a fantastic start. I'm glad it went so well—and it'll be nice to have August as a full integrated member of the house.

Meanwhile, August finally came back into my room to conk the fuck out:

Like this. )

And she's still sleeping now.

This has been your daily dose of cat spam.
juushika: Drawing of a sleeping orange cat. (Default)
I promised August's story, so here we go. Some of this is epically long, but I would rather have it all written down than not. I frown not upon skimming.

On August 22, 2010, August was found as a stray on the city limits of Salem, Oregon: Her history.  )

On July 3, 2011, I adopted her. She's thirteen months old, and I'll be calling her August for the rest of her life. The adoption. )

August was vocal in the car ride home, but not quite terrified. When we got to the house I took her upstairs and into my bedroom, opened the carrier door, and she made herself right at home. I went into this ready to deal with an adjustment period, especially in a shy cat, especially one who's had elimination issues. But August sniffed around and then came over to flop down in front of me, and she has been nothing but loving, social, and well-adjusted since.

I imagine the shelter was simply overstimulating; here in a quiet home, August has blossomed. She's a companion cat, perfectly content to sleep next to you, happier still if she can sleep touching you, and always open to cuddling. She'll initiate active contact and cuddles, sometimes if she's bored or lonely, sometimes when she spots an opening (like right after I climb into bed). She likes pretty much all touch, and will lean into cheek rubs and chin scratches, but she best likes having her tummy rubbed—she flops over willingly, and even wants to have her belly fur brushed (and a good thing, too: it needs it). Petting her chest or back legs can make her a little kicky or playful, but not aggressive. She gives headbumps to initiate contact, and love bites in the throes of a good cuddle. She kneeds and paws at people, gently and with love (and currently with clipped claws, which I intend to maintain). She will change positions a few times to find the optimal layout for maximum flopability. A really good cuddle ends up with her leaning against me, tummy up, legs flopping everywhere, eyes closed, falling asleep as a stroke her tummy.

Yeah, it's that cute.

She's sweet, inquisitive, and utterly engaged—she's occasionally playful, but wants a more interactive toy: batting something around isn't as interesting to her as human-directed play would be. If left in the room alone, she tends to meow for a few minutes and then sleep, but she can occasionally get restless and go in search of people. When there's someone in the room, she spends most of her time sleeping or snuggling, will occasionally wander into and under things, and is open to and initiates plenty of interaction. She's alert to sound but not easily startled, and loves to watch out the windows. She's fond of my bed and always sleeps there, and tends to fall asleep with her back or head pressed to a pillow or blanket (or me). The longer she sleeps, the more floppy and stretched out she's likely to become. She has a healthy appetite and has used the litterbox fine from the get-go, although she prefers to do her business at night or when I'm out of the room (but that may change when she's using an enclosed litterbox). When she eats and drinks her whiskers get in the way, and it makes her twitch her head.

August is a domestic medium hair, almost entirely black, with particularly striking eyes. Her facial features are delicate and petite; her teeth are oversized and knock against you when she rubs her cheek on your hand. The fur on her head, neck, and back is black as can be and kitten-soft; it's fine and short on her head, and gets longer along the length of her spine. Her chest and belly fur is longer, frizzier, and slightly curly; it has a brown tint, and some of the tips fade to cream. It's almost impossible for her to groom, and brushing her tummy helps immensely. Her tail is huge and fluffy, black and smooth on top, fuzzy and brownish on the underside, and she carries it at high and pretty. Sometimes when she curls up, she breathes in her tail fur and it makes her sneeze. Her eyes are remarkable: the irises have an outer ring of yellow and an inner ring of green; when her pupils are dilated the green ring is large and makes her eye entire look yellow-green, but when her pupils contract the green ring all but disappears and the yellow reflects ambient light, varying from golden to amber to orange (especially on my orange bed). All of the color variation is vivid and flattering against her black fur. Her whiskers are long and jet black; she has a stray long white hair that grows from her chin. She's adorable. And, of course, there are pictures.

August and her remarkable, changeable eyes
I expect that I'll end up taking a lot of shots trying to capture the beauty of her eyes.

Hey look, it's what you actually came here for: +7 pictures. )

August is currently locked away in my room while we watch her for signs of illness and let her get adjusted. She's doing beautifully and that I've come to know her so well already is remarkable, but these are still the early days: things are subject to change. In the meantime, rooming with me establishes this as her home in the house and gives us a chance to bond. Eventually we'll introduce her to the rest of the house and to Spike, Dee's cat—Spike used to have a sister and shows ongoing interest in female cats, and we image that he'll be thrilled to have her around; August has previous experience with cats, and should be a good follower to Spike's leader. August is already eager to see the world beyond the bedroom door—it will be a test of willpower to keep her locked away.

But she is happy, and healthy, and so fucking adorable that almost two thousand words aren't enough to express it. So, y'all: That's August.
juushika: A black and white photo of an ink pen. (Writing)
From [livejournal.com profile] sisterite, a meme:

In response to this post, ask me about the first time I did something. It can be anything—the first time I used chopsticks, the first time someone I knew died, the first time I left the country, the first time someone of the opposite sex saw me naked. I'll answer in the thread. Then (if you like) put it on your journal and I'll ask you a question.

Call me strange, but half the reason I'm carrying this forward is because I like the way it's worded.
juushika: A black and white photo of an ink pen. (Writing)
Many many years ago, when I was still a child, I encountered a piece of fiction—I believe it was an animated film, potentially part of a made-for-TV miniseries based on fairy tales, but all my attempts to track down it or any detail about it have proved fruitless—in which a character, who may or may not have been a some sort mermaid, stepped on a tentacle-like plant. It was sharp, or spiked, or in some other way injured her foot and poisoned her. The story's plot was an attempt by her companions to find a cure for the poison while the female character was trapped in a coma, nearing death.

Many of those details are irrelevant. Was is relevant is this: When that character stepped on that plant, I felt it. A sharp, stabbing sympathy pain on the sole of my foot—in the center, just above the heel, where the inner side of the instep draws a line of tender, vulnerable muscle down the foot. Ever since then, painful images, descriptions, or thoughts have been able to trigger that same sympathy pain. It doesn't always happen. It doesn't matter what sort of pain or injury is described. When the response is trigged I feel a stinging, stabbing, slightly cold pain in the sole of my foot, like a woman stepping on a pointed tendril, a tentacle, which penetrates her flesh, just barely flexes inside of her, which stings her, poisons her—all in the moment just before she realizes where she's put her foot.

What interests me though is that—as I discovered tonight—the reverse also works. I was sitting here, after spending too long online again, curled up with my feet pressed to the chair seat, my soles are cramped and sore from it, twinging with discomfort. Meanwhile I was looking at violent imagery for which I tend to have a remarkably high tolerance but on this rare occasion it was getting to me, disarming and disturbing me, paining me—because I was already in pain. I felt the effect of the emotion, and that helped trigger the emotion.

This is no breakthrough in how my, or any, brain works, but I hadn't thought about it before and it was fascinating to see in action.

I've been thinking a fair bit about pain lately—specifically about pain as an intentional intensifier. I have another storybit brewing for Ghost and Aaron (who are not forgotten!) about Ghost's reactions to pain during intercourse. I stumbled upon a drawing of a man touching an open wound on his partner's back and it was in my mind remarkable—so much so that it's had me in search of more equally images of intimacy via pain/violence/wounds (and here we loop around to the event that sparked this post). And the cold weather has my back muscles tighter than usual—which causes unwanted, undesirable pain, but also makes it very intense when Devon stretches my back—more intimacy via pain, because I would let no one else do that to my body.

None of this is new to me—I discovered BDSM far too long ago for that to be the case—but it's been fresh on my mind. I should write that Ghost and Aaron fic bit to put all these thoughts to a constructive purpose, and imagine I shall soon. But for now the thoughts of it swirl: the relationship between emotion, reaction, and pain; pain as an intensifier for social interaction, pain as an intensifier for physical reaction; pain as intimacy, sexual or otherwise. Thinky-thoughts, thinky-thoughts.
juushika: Drawing of a sleeping orange cat. (I should have been born a cat)
So here's a funny story about Kuzco (the guinea pig)...

I just gave each of the guinea pigs one piece of a baby carrot—a round piece approximately 0.5 x. 0.25 inches in size. Dink and Alfie ate theirs, and I gave them a second little round. I reached up to Kuzco's cage, poked his second carrot bit into his hidey place, and he wouldn't take it. Dink and Alfie finished their second bit and Kuzco still wouldn't take the carrot. I could feel his nose, he knew the carrot was there, but he wouldn't take it from my hand.

Then he ran out from under his cover and he still had carrot piece number one jammed in his mouth. He had bitten into it so forcefully that it was wedged between his top and bottom incisors, and he was stuck, carrot-faced, unable to bite the rest of the way through.

I was somewhere between wordless surprise and laughter.

I caught him, eased open his jaw (his little chin was soaked with panicked open-mouthed piggy drool), and then let him eat the carrot bit safely—and in pieces this time—from my hand.

Oh, Kuzco.

ETA: Some pics of Kuzco, just because. Featuring, of course, his poor beleaguered mouth. Piggy lips are some of the cuter things in this world.

Kuzco closeup in black and white

+2 of Kuzco and Woof )

Woof's infatuation with the pigs of course continues. Kuzco is her favorite, probably because his cage is stacked above the one that Dink and Alfie share, and so is too high to look into from dog height. She can stare at the others whenever she wants, but can only see—much less try to slobber on—Kuzco when I take him out of the cage. Therefore he is rare and desirable, and she is compelled to whine when I go near his cage and stares at and runs circles around him whenever he's out.

I'm enamored with that action shot—before and after Woof licks Kuzco. Woof loves to kiss the pigs but Kuzco in particular has no idea WTF that means and why he's now wet up one side of his face.
juushika: Screen capture of the Farplane from Final Fantasy X: a surreal landscape of waterfalls and flowers. (Anime/Game)
I met Devon when I was a sophomore in high school. My social group hung out in front of the auditorium, and for reasons I can't remember he began to do so as well. I was dating someone else at the time, and then broke up with him to date my ex-boyfriend from freshman year, and then broke up with him—and by the end of the year, I was fostering an embarrassing, immature crush on Devon. He was, at the time, gloriously arrogant (although he would probably disagree with me on that): he showed no interest and limited knowledge in what he didn't care about, but in what he did care about (which has always been computer science) he was over-educated and spoke so self-confidently that you were never sure if he was brilliant, or just bluffing very well as he pulled all of that tech-talk out of his ass.

I thought he was intriguing. I thought he was so intriguing that I spent the whole of the yearbook signing party (of course at the end of the year) jumping whenever I saw someone with a hairstyle similar to his because I was hoping it was Devon and I would get to see him again. It was the glorious giddy sort of high school crush where you don't expect anything to come of it, so you might as well enjoy it in its entirety. Over the summer that followed, however, I intentionally forgot about Devon and that crush. I wouldn't be seeing him for months, so it made no sense to think about him for months, and after a few weeks I'd put it behind me.

When school began again the next fall, any attempts to be over my crush were lost. I quickly fell back into my infatuation—and more, Devon seemed to notice me too, this time around. We had a class together, which is where he says he first became interested in me. After school, my social group used to ride my bus together and go walking, killing time before [livejournal.com profile] ishmael_ started work. Devon lived in the clear opposite direction, but started coming with us anyway, and we would wander aimlessly and talk. By way of our social group, Devon and I spent more and more time together. He found out I had a crush on him; I learned that he had a crush on me.

Just after winter break, while it was pouring rain and miserable out, the two of us went walking together after school. We talked about how we had no plans to date anyone, but how we were still attracted to each other. The sky was gray, I borrowed his raincoat and still got soaked through, and by the end of the afternoon we decided to go out on a few dates and see if there was something there worth breaking our own rules. On our first date, we went and saw The Recruit. On our second date, we went out to sushi. On January 31st, we decided to make the relationship "official." Considering we were still in high school, it was a fairly mature way of going about things. For Valentine's Day, he bought me the best chocolate I've ever had and a bouquet of carnations—because I love them, and don't much care for roses. At the end of the year, although we had originally decided not to, he took me to prom—I wore a black dress and a beaded shawl, he was uncomfortable in a tux and dress shoes. A few nights later, the morning after the senior all night party, we sat in the back of a friend's car while we waited him to come back from an errand. Neither of us had slept. I told him that I kept thinking it, but felt like I wasn't supposed to say it: I loved him.

At the end of summer, we broke up. I was going off to school in Washington, and neither of us wanted to begin the next phase of our lives feeling tied down—we were afraid it would keep us from enjoying and engaging in our future and make us resent each other. The breakup was excruciating for both of us, but we went through with it and I went to Whitman single. We stayed in constant contact, and what we felt for each other never faded. It was painful to pretend otherwise.

That October, Devon and two of his friends came to pick me up from Whitman to drive home for my sister's birthday. On the drive back up, our car broke down just outside of Pendleton, and we were stranded there for six hours while someone could drive up from home to rescue us. While sweating, hot, and miserable, stuck in the middle of nowhere, Devon and I talked and by the end of the day, we had gotten back together. It was unintentional and avoidable: we didn't know how not to be together, how not to touch, how not to love.

Although it was precisely what we had tried to avoid, we began a long distance relationship while I was at Whitman and he was back home. We ate up phone minutes, talked online, and he came up one a month so that we could spend the weekend together. Looking back on it, we decided to date the start of our relationship from January 31st, 2003—the day we began to consider ourselves a couple. We don't count the breakup as time off or a restart because, despite all the best intentions, the heart of our relationship never changed.

We've been dating five years, and so there is of course much more to the story of my relationship with Devon, but [livejournal.com profile] lupanotte wanted to know how we met and how we fell in love—and so there's that. I could have told it differently; goodness knows there are words enough. Walking back from our second date, night had fallen and the ground was slick with rain, and the liquid spread of reflected street lamps put us in a black and white photograph, the distance blurred under the shortest depth of the field. When we sat down to talk about the state of our fledging relationship, he told me to look him in the eyes and see his pupils dilate as he looked into mine—see there the passion and pleasure that he found in the sight of me, and know that he meant it when he said he wanted to be with me. When we broke up, I cried, curled fetal, on my bedroom floor, and I felt as if I had no skin, only a raw-lipped gash that I had ripped myself. When we were trapped in Pendleton, he gave me a shoulder massage and then I leaned back into him, a movement so natural that I did it without thinking, and he wrapped his arms around me, and I was at peace.

There are many, many words—but that is the start of the story.
juushika: Screen capture of the Farplane from Final Fantasy X: a surreal landscape of waterfalls and flowers. (Anime/Game)
On and off, I have dreams about the guinea pigs multiplying. Actually, I have all sorts of guinea pig dreams quite often, but multiplication is a pretty common theme. In the one I can most vividly remember, the guinea pigs got loose and I had to chase after them—there were about five, not just my set of three. When I grabbed some of them, they would slip right out of my grip like those toys from the 90s did, slipping faster, even squirting away, when you panicked and tried to hold them firmer. But when I grabbed Kuzco (I think it was Kuz ... might have been Alfie) he shrunk when I squeezed him, shrunk and shrunk down to nothing—and then from the gaps between my fingers, a bunch of tiny little miniature guinea pigs slipped out and started running around, no bigger than the size of my thumb. I kept trying to catch the pigs, and they kept escaping and multiplying. There was no forward movement or story—just a lot of scurrying, grabbing, and ever more and more pigs.

Keeping that in mind:

Today I was cleaning the pig cage. First, I moved Kuzco to the small temporary/travel cage, then I emptied his half, then I gave it a temporary liner and moved Dink and Alfie over to that side. I do this every time I clean. So with everyone set up, I was halfway through cleaning D&A's larger half of the cage, shaking off poos and hay, making piles of towels ready for the wash and towels that needed to get a good shaking outside, and all of the sudden a guinea pig comes wandering around the pigloo to stand right in front of me.

I swear to god I thought I had gone crazy for a second, and that the pigs were multiplying, because one was in the travel cage and two were on the other side of a metal divider, and yet there was a piggy, standing right in front of me.

It turned out that in tugging out the towels, I had twisted the divider and opened up a small gab between divider and cage side—a gap for my too-curious Dinkster to squeeze through. He looked at me like I was crazy when I jumped away as if for once he had scared me. So there was a otally normal, boring explanation. But that half second of staring at a magically appearing unexpected pig on the wrong half of the cage was one of the most surreal moments of my life.

That is all.


juushika: Drawing of a sleeping orange cat. (Default)

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