juushika: Photograph of the torso and legs of a female-bodied figure with a teddy bear. (Bear)
I had a dream last night that I made a deal with a witch so that she would spare my family, the price for which was unrelenting pain in my lower back, like the witch's thumbs digging into the muscles at the base of my spine, a localized, piercing, unremitting pain. (Last night was also the onset of my period; cramping means the first 24 hours of my period is reliably my worst back pain of the month.)

1) This is beautiful imagery; it's not actually how my pain presents but my internal mythology still wants to internalize it as a metaphor for my back pain, to live alongside the black dog as a metaphor for my crazy. 2) But if that's the case, what bargain did I make and why have I not got shit from it? 3) I suppose this is the thing about chronic conditions: to assign them meaning seems to give them purpose or justification, but the valid truth is that they have none—and pointlessness is a big part of the experience. 4) Apparently Hexenschuss (literally: witch shot) is a German word for lower back pain.

I had a quiet Halloween: I took Odi for a walk while listening to Tanis, and on the way home we passed a lovingly-decorated yard, including a cluster of human-tall handmade carnivorous plants; someone was out finishing the decorations and I was able to compliment them on it. We only had four groups of trick or treaters, and Dee answered the door. One day I'd like to be energetic enough for Halloween as an event, I suppose, but I've grown content with Halloween as a season, September through the start of December, and then the long dead spread of winter after that.

My only regret, then, will be watching social media make an immediate left turn to Christmas Town. I think stretching out festivals of light (especially in modern times) deadens their effect, and would much rather embrace the dark seasons so that they have something to contrast. There's still so many haunted stories for this time of year! Sleepy Hollow's bare branches and leaf litter is best in November; there's so many books about the punishing, barren wilderness of winter (the second of Cherryh's Finisterre books is waiting on my shelf for then).
juushika: Screen capture of the Farplane from Final Fantasy X: a surreal landscape of waterfalls and flowers. (Anime/Game)
I just returned from Corvallis today; came back to Portland to a very excited dog and two! cats, which I don't yet take for granted. August was not her usual snuggleself on my return home; she was preoccupied by Gillian, by how his presence changed our interactions. (She is still, always, my favorite; she knows that.) But five minutes before I sat down to type all this, they were playing with the same piece of ribbon.

I went down to Corvallis for the start of Hanukkah. My sister was working late on the first night, so I just lit candles for the family. She was home all day on the second, so we did latkas and a family candle lighting and half of the holiday gifts and then I decorated the Christmas tree while listening to Christmas music, as one is wont to do during Hanukkah. They bought new lights this year, LEDs in a crystalline white, so I went out of my comfort zone for a light, white-toned tree (I tend towards red and brass, with a preference towards a wooden cranberry garland and wooden amanita decorations). I don't have pictures—my sister took some, but hell if I know where they got posted—but consensus is it turned out well.

Devon rearranged his work schedule during my visit so that he was home by sundown, bless. I also had some simple, precious downtime with him. For Hanukkah he gave me a Kobo Mini, which is my first e-reader—I still prefer traditional books, but this opens up giveaways and more library lending and lots of free classic literature, on a display I like and without any icky Amazon ties. My parents gave me a remote for my camera, which lets me add myself to the pictures of my cats if for some reason I'd want to do so.

(Devon is also giving me a Christmas gift—the way he's distinguishing and celebrating each holiday this year means a lot to me. I'll probably see my parents around the week of Christmas, when they make a day-trip up to Portland.)

(I gave my sister Beats earbuds, which turned out to be quite timely as her earbuds had just been damaged. I gave my mother The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making, which I've wanted to give her since its release; I gave my parents a pair of ceramic bird garden sculptures by a local artist. Devon's gift is his when he comes for Christmas; Dee's will be here when she gets back from visiting her family at the same time. I'm rarely a good giftgiver, because I am chronically low on spoons and have no money to my name; sometimes it just doesn't happen. This year it's all working out beautifully, everyone is getting the perfect things, and I'm so glad.)

It was bitterly cold last night, and after some back-unrelated (the worst canker sore I've ever had—my pain tolerance is exceptional but this was one of the worst things I've lived through) reliance on pain medication I'm back to being med-free and I spent last night with the sort of stabbing back pain that can only be brought on by insomnia and shivering, and I still don't mind. It's cold and crisp followed by bouts of slate-blue rain; it's coffee-drinking weather, and in the dark nights we raise shining lights. I took the train at 6a, which is my favorite time to ride it (until 7a, when the loud gentlemen got on and seriously, dudes, shut up), I took a nap with my cats, I lit candles and Dee gave me a fantastic and immensely useful pair of fingerless gloves. Winter has always been a strange time for me—through my childhood my extended family wintered in Texas and Florida, which are decidedly non-wintery places; as a young adult I've spent years bouncing between locations and living arrangements and multi-family gatherings of mixed success; always as a cultural Jew who celebrates Christmas it just becomes a bit ... strange. I hate Christmas as a multi-month institution, and would never want to do something extravagant for any of the winter holidays. But while autumn is my season, there is something so powerful to me about the symbol of a light in the dark, of lit trees and menorahs. I don't begrudge winter and I don't fight the night; I like the contrast, and what it means to flock to the comfort of that light.

So, yeah. It's a good time of year.

(Many thanks for all of the Kuzco-related condolences. I've had some good time to reflect, if not overtly grieve, and am gaining some distance from it; I'm really doing fine.)
juushika: Photograph of the torso and legs of a female-bodied figure with a teddy bear. (Bear)
I was playing Animal Crossing and thinking late-summer thoughts this evening, about to wrap up, when I glanced out the front window and saw Mamakitty's tail whisking by the corner. (Should you need a refresher: this is Mamakitty.)

Here's an open secret (secret insofar as I'm afraid that if I say it will happen, something will go horribly wrong; but if I keep a veil of "probably not definitely," then I cannot be disappointed): Dee and I are planning to adopt Mama when the weather gets cold this year. We felt awful for her in the chilly, raining winter last year—and in the intervening months, Odi will have more time to grow up and learn to be not quite so OMG A CAT A CAT. But this is an idea we've been flirting with for some time, and all my caution aside it will most likely happen, and I can't wait. In preparation for adopting her, Dee's begun feeding her—taking over the duty from our next door neighbor. It's heartbreaking, the number of cats we're now feeding on the front porch: fascinating to watch while eating breakfast, but you just don't know how many neighborhood strays/outdoor cats there are until you're providing food.

After the tail sighting, I grabbed a few treats and went outside. One of the cats that eats the food is a skinny almost all-black shorthaired beast that I'd thought was skittish—but after I sat on the porch for a few minutes that kitty just came over to me and demanded in-depth scritches. So many scritches, in fact, that when Mamakitty came out from under the porch the black kitty batted at her with a territorial NO MY PEOPLE HANDS MY TOUCHIES. I did some wide-armed dual-cat scratching to pacify everyone until black kitty got bored, and then it was just me and Mama.

When I tried to go back inside she stared at me through the window screen and made me feel sad, so I ended up spending quite some time with her and she got oh so many treats.

You can sense the death of summer, now. The hundred degree days have passed (fingers crossed and fate willing); apples are falling from the tree out front, startling Mama with each thick thump. I found an over-eager red maple leaf on a tree when I walked the dog today. It's not imminent autumn, but it's the inkling of it: end-summer dry deadness promising a blaze of color; early harvest promising abundance.

The gray wood and white rails of the porch, those dead dry leaves, our seedy and still beautiful front garden all flatter Mama, bringing out the calico in her coat and the contrasting white blaze. She's a beauty, this cat, and absolutely ridiculous. She's fluffy and stout, a round thing; she gets awful mats, but our neighbor has been brushing them out of her and that means, one day, I'll be able to do the same (I love grooming animals way more than a simple "love" would imply). She's skittish, but loves treats and cuddles; she'll reach her paws towards you if you try to walk away, and when she's happy she drools so much that she leaves polkadots on the floor. All cats are perfect, but this one is especially magical and she'll fit right in to our house of strange people and weirder beasts.

But today she was right at home on our porch in the cool breezes at the dying end of summer.

That's nice, Juu, you say; how about some pictures? Well, okay.

Mamakitty through the window. )

On the porch with Mamakitty, 1

Hanging with Mamakitty on the porch, +2. )

With bonus:

August drinking from a water glass
Oh where, oh where has my cat's dignity gone
Oh where, oh where can it be...

For the record, this was a whole lot funnier before August knocked over a glass, spilling water onto my keyboard and causing apparently permanent damage: the "p" has been broken for a week, and the primary enter button seems to come and go. How many words really do use p, you ask? SO MANY WORDS and I have to use the onscreen keyboard to complete all of them.
juushika: A black and white photo of an ink pen. (Writing)
Dear Universe,

I think that's the best addressee. With these things, it's hard to be sure. Lately, the warm muggy weather finally broke; it's been wet and cool outside, almost too cold, and last night I had to nudge the window almost shut and the cat slept curled against me and half under my blankets.

So my request is that, perhaps, I wake up tomorrow and it's September. I would love nothing more than to just skip over summer. I know it's not a particularly reasonable request, and there'd be all sorts of awful consequences for the flora and the harvest—but if it could be done somehow, then I'd really like to do it. I'm okay skipping only as far as September 1st: I could survive a lingering week or two of hot weather. It's three months of it that I'd rather do without, especially in the face of the beauty that's been outside my window the last two days. I don't want to give that up.

So let me know how that sounds, yeah?

Hopefully,
—Juu
juushika: Photograph of the torso and legs of a female-bodied figure with a teddy bear. (Bear)
I'm on a search for books set in, or with a sense of, winter. Where I live, winter means cold, bare branches, heavy rain, and ice; snow is welcome but not necessary. I'm more interested in the season's desolation and wildness than its celebration—horror, gothic literature, and the moody and atmospheric are welcome; warm firesides make welcome contrast, but transparent feel-good Christmas stories don't interest me. Fiction is a must, and I'm not fond of high fantasy; other than that, all genres are welcome.

Suggestions? Thank you!

Crossposted to [livejournal.com profile] bookish.
juushika: Photograph of the torso and legs of a female-bodied figure with a teddy bear. (Bear)
This afternoon, Dee and I walked to downtown St. Johns. The sun was slanted, yellow gold through the cloud cover, and a pair of cats greeted us along the way. We went to Starbucks, where I had a pumpkin latte as spicy and smooth as the best and first of the year. We did a window-shopping tour of the local boutiques—one had metal leaves and burlap trick-or-treating bags in the window, one is like a real-life Etsy and I wish I could show it to you—and bought a book at the local bookstore, which was preparing for a new window display filled with blown glass pumpkins. We went to a favorite local restaurant, where I had a rich savory pizza topped with spinach, roasted garlic, and handfuls of bleu cheese. For dessert, we split a pumpkin cheesecake with a gingersnap crust, sour cream icing, and caramel topping—it was so spicy, so rich with golden pumpkin, and you wish you could have had some. We walked back through mild rain, not too long before dusk. At the house we changed into warm dry clothes and watched Nightmare Before Christmas to inaugurate the month of Halloween.

Candy corn and candy pumpkins closeup
(As always, page views for this picture have rocketed since the season began.)

This is my city. This is my season. It is all so beautiful.
juushika: Drawing of a sleeping orange cat. (I should have been born a cat)
It is 70 degrees Fahrenheit outside and the sun is still setting. Perhaps this shouldn't feel like a minor miracle, but it does, and I'll take it.

On Saturday, Dee and I drove into downtown Portland to meet [livejournal.com profile] sisterite/Lyz and a whole flock of others—Lyz's boyfriend, their roommate, the roomate's friend, a friend, and the friend's boyfriend, if I'm remembering it all correctly. They were visiting Powell's because, well, wouldn't you? And then we all went to Deschutes Brewery for lunch, which was surprisingly nice (not that I had my doubts)—I had the spinach flatbread (garlic cream sauce, sun dried tomatoes, whole milk mozzarella, chanterelle mushrooms, fresh local spinach, finished with garlic parmesan aioli) which was pretty much a sauceless pizza, rich and savory but, without sauce, not too heavy, with a wonderful kick from the aioli. When Lyz and her gang left—we only had about two hours with them, but, given that they were driving a round trip through Washington, that's understandable—Dee and I dropped back into Powell's. We browsed a bit, and in the last room as we were thinking of leaving we found the $1 "literature" section where I picked up a book about dog people (thus the sarcasm quotes) and another random fantasy of manners-esque find. Then we went across the corner to a roomy, all-amenities Starbucks, and I had my first pumpkin spice latte of the season. I hate it when these go away each year, but the blessing of their seasonal nature may be that the first is the best you will have all year: creamy and golden and spiced and just ask Dee, I would not shut up about how delicious my coffee was.

Lyz should be coming back through town this weekend, and we hope to grab her for a little longer if we can. One day we may even kidnap her and keep her overnight in the living room, with its delux pull-out couch—but shhhh, don't tell her that. The short visit was nice, and the day in downtown was quietly spectacular (and escaping into air conditioning was quite the added bonus), but I like a visit I can dig my teeth into, with less noise and fewer people and longer conversations, and a BPAL smellathon might be nice too.

Today we woke up to overcast skies and fresh cool air. The max temperature today was ten degrees cooler than yesterday, and it's looking to do so again tomorrow, and then so help us we may actually have low 70s for the rest of the month and see the actual advent of autumn. That's a cause for celebration, here. Dee dropped me off at Starbucks while she ran all number of shopping errands, because cooking food becomes more appealing when the house isn't already cooking you. I had a conversation about the book I was reading and OryCon with one not particularly socially adept middle-aged male, and then a 20-some indie artsy female thing brought in a large bag containing a small and mewling cat so that she could feed it about a cup of whipped cream. Something tells me that the average Portland Starbucks is a mite bit stranger than your average Corvallis Starbucks. I convinced (well, asked) the barista to take a slightly-expired free birthday drink card (because the hot weather has not been conducive to coffee drinking, either) and had a second pumpkin spice latte which so help me was just as good. I wrote a review, and figured out that my back is still not recovered from these last few days of pain, and when I left it was still a reasonable temperature outside.

I could get used to this, you guys. My eyes are peeled for turning leaves. My pumpkin necklace should be in the mail. We have the energy to do things again, energy that these long days have summer have been draining out of us. Today we had stir fry. Not burritos! And now the sun has set, and there's a cool breeze. Dee brought Spike out of prison and downstairs, and August is trying so desperately to get him to chase her around the house. And I'm happy.
juushika: Photograph of the torso and legs of a female-bodied figure with a teddy bear. (Bear)


Snow on the leaves, November 23 2010
Loathe as I am to admit it before Thanksgiving:
Winter is here.

It started snowing last night, and against my predictions it lasted long enough, and the ground got cold enough, to stick. It was so cold, and the house smells so strongly of snow, that I couldn't sleep all night—so just after dawn, I finally got up and took some pictures.

The early snow comes while autumn still lingers: the trees have shed most of their leaves, but they cling to some; the leaves which have fallen are still bright and fresh on the ground. This morning, the settling snow is knocking down the last leaves by the handful, and it silver-dusts those that it can't bring down.

It's quite striking, actually.

Because we're wimps here and don't know how to deal with snow, school's been canceled which means that Devon doesn't go into work today. I foresee warm clothes, cuddling, and hot cocoa. Maybe at some point, I can sleep.

+2 snow on leaves pictures. )
juushika: Photograph of the torso and legs of a female-bodied figure with a teddy bear. (Bear)
Every now and then I pack my laptop to take it somewhere, and never unpack it when I get home. Often it's simply that I'm lazy, but it tends to coincide with periods where I don't want much to be online—because that's what ends up happening. I use Devon's desktop sometimes, but it is uncomfortable and inconvenient, so when my laptop is hiding in a bag I do little more than check my email and move along, which has been my habit lately.

It puts me out of touch but serves me well, particularly when I do want some time away from the computer. I've been reading and, having caught up with Castle, began watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and much enjoying myself in that quiet way. Halloween and All Saints' passed with nary a whisper, which would have been a disappointment were it not for the wonderful days which preceded them; but as the seasonal focus turns swiftly towards warmth, company, and gifts, I find that I'm still in the mood for darkness.

I understand why thoughts begin to turn to heat and comfort, both physical and emotional, about this time of year—when winter comes on in earnest and there is need of both. Yet the bane and boon of Corvallis is that it is a temperate place: it rains here, it rains for nine months of the year, but all it does is rain. We get ice sometimes, but snow rarely, and more often than not the temperature hovers somewhere decent. It's still rainy and cloudy, you have to learn to live with the wet, and come spring one is glad again to see the sun—but our winters are never bitter, they never beg such a strong need for warmth and comfort, however welcome the both may be.

And the deader the season, the more haunted. I read The Raven to Devon just yesterday, and "Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December." The leaves fall and rot and leave the trees bare, the sky stays forever gray, the land is monotone and stark—and wet—and that's as haunting as the darkest October night.

But then, I'm also of the opinion that the hottest, most barren months of summer are haunted, too. You can blame The Red Tree for that.

Regardless, the season for scares may be mostly past but I still want them—gothic novels, misty atmospheres, the dark; fairy tales too, fantasy, stories of borders blurred and haunted; vampires and demons and some dark humor are also welcome. I'm glad that I'm still in the mood for such things, because there's a lot of them that I didn't get to in time for Halloween—and the coming months are long, and dark, and begging to be filled.

So I'm reading, and watching Buffy, and enjoying myself.

Adopt one today! Adopt one today! Adopt one today! Adopt one today!
juushika: Photograph of the torso and legs of a female-bodied figure with a teddy bear. (Bear)
I'll just put The Crow on the background while I go about my business and entertain myself this evening...

Or I could watch the whole thing through with my complete attention. That works too.

But I will pause it to blather for a bit.

Autumn for me—or rather, this general time of year—is more than a season or an event. From the first rains (which usually come when it's still rightly summer) through the dark dead of winter marks a time when the world is cooler, blazing out and dying, darker, wetter, quieter—and I am more alive. I come alive under with the lowered sun, the falling rain, the colder air. As there are places which are home to me, there is this time of year: I can live elsewhere and elswhen, but it's here that I thrive.

This dying and dead time of year comes, for me, with many things: brighter colors, better clothing, more beauty and comfort in and out, but it also marks a change in my media consumption. I'm oddly sensitive and must match my media to the seasons, probably because when I consume something I do it not in bites but by gorging. I read dozens of books, I watch a movie dozens of times. If what chosen media doesn't fit my mood and the world around me, then it is distinctly out of place.

I started this year with Sleepy Hollow. Ironically when the film first came out I didn't see it—the whole thing (action-y film about classic literature? hah!) seemed vaguely daft to me. But at some point Devon and I bought it on a whim because it's Tim Burton, and when is Tim Burton ever bad? (Well, rarely, at least.) Now I watch it constantly through autumn, but it's the beginning of the film that I really come to see. The plot is interesting, the casting is delightful, but it's the setting, mood, and scenery which I love—honestly, it's the opening credits which get me each time:



Let's keep going while we're going: +6 more screenshots. )

This is not quite my autumn—the world around me is paved, for one; trees here are denser, younger, and, in the autumn, redder, and our mist is never quite Hollywood perfect. But we create media (as artists, as viewers) and media creates us: this is autumn in my mind, the tones and atmosphere, the onset, the color, the wet, the beauty. So much beauty.

I pulled out The Nightmare Before Christmas when seeing Halloween candy on shelves no longer made me rage about painfully premature advertising. I once burned out a DVD player by watching Nightmare on repeat for, approximately, a solid week. Now I have the soundtrack and revisited soundtrack to add to the rotation and so spare Devon's DVD player, but still: Nightmare is not something I take lightly. I can watch it with completely attention, or just have it as background noise; I can delight in the Halloween aspects, or the Christmas themes; I can, and do, keep it on all the time. It, for me, encapsulates the season.

But today, Devon dug out a box from the garage, one that I packed for easy access storage but then got buried: these are things I wanted nearby, but didn't need on hand—and then I didn't see them for a fair few years. This afternoon, with Devon and his dust-allergies off visiting a friend, I organized the closet to celebrate. Our media—games, movies, and CDs (remember those?) are now in polite, neat stacks. But what matters most in all of this (at the moment at least) is that, found and freshly organized, I now have my boxset for The Crow.

My best friend in England was the one that introduced me to the film. I remember her with great fondness, but that movie night (The Crow, The Matrix, and some random episodes of Buffy) is perhaps my favorite memory of us—for a variety of reasons, but this film is one of them. My father gave me James O'Barr's original comic a year or two later—he had to track it down used and at a not-insignificant cost, because it was at the time out of print, and it is one of the most wonderful gifts I've ever received. It was one of the first comics, also, to make me cry. I say all of this because my love for The Crow as both book and film (and my fondness for the sequels, even the silly Salvation) is very personal. It's a goth classic I'm sure, it's melodramatic and gritty and wonderful, and I am not the only one that's seen the film hundreds of times.

But my love for it is intense, and intensely personal, and I have been away from it for so long—and so tonight, as I go to start it up again, I watch it with my complete attention. It is a dark and rainy Devil's Night.
juushika: Drawing of a sleeping orange cat. (I should have been born a cat)
My parents this weekend were out of town this weekend, seeing plays, so I housesat and dogsat. It was good timing to be with the dog, because Jamie recently had a few lumps removed, one of which biopsied as cancerous. This is not halfway as bad as it sounds—it's not unusual for dogs her age and breed, she's starting some preventative medication, all in all this is mostly a early warning and she's going to be fine. But we all dealt with cancer in our last dog, Cokie, and that was tough on all of us—so we're pretty shook up. I was really upset when I first found out, but a few days spent cuddling with James has done wonders to calm me. It's not good news, but it's bearable news, news we can act on. And right now Jamie couldn't care less. She things her pills are treats, her sutures are healing fine, and as a dog will, as Jamie does, she is loving every single day.

And when you live every day with all your heart then you can be happy ever after, even if it's only a short time.
—Virgina Lewis, The 10th Kingdom


But I suspect she has many years more to go.

And I took pictures! I suppose that's a perquisite for dog visits. I'll admit that I love this first in part because of all the color in the background. The second is purely sunlit—when sunbathing, she glows. There are also a few pictures of some of the other animals in my life.

Jamie sleeping

+1 Jamie, +2 Dude and Madison, +3 Kuzco and Woof )

The weather has turned hot—unpleasantly so sometimes, but the animals love it. The cats (Dude is black and white, Madison is the tabby) enjoy the sunbeams almost enough to share the same breathing space—not something they often do. The pigs have been feasting on fresh grass and enjoying occasional trips outside, as per these pics of Kuzco outside. Woof thinks that this last is epic awesome: she's part sheepdog, and thinks the pigs are puppies; when they're outside, she runs circles around their cage and watches them eat. She can get a little overeager (I think all of the pigs have had an overenthusiastic dogtongue explore unwelcome places by now), but for the most part she's an angel with them.

It is warm, the earth is glowing, and while I am a fan of autumn myself it is so far a lovely summer.
juushika: Photograph of the torso and legs of a female-bodied figure with a teddy bear. (Bear)
Water on the windowpane

This is what autumn and winter usually look like where I live. (That's condensation on the bedroom window, looking out at a pine tree.)

But not today. We have snow! Enough to cancel school, and even Devon stayed home from work today. It is beautiful, so light and fluffy that you can barely feel it (though the freezing fingers don't help.) Furthermore, Woof would like to say that that snow is awesome. Despite the temperature, there's some beautiful sun rays for the pigs to bask in. As always, click through for larger pictures.

Snow! Three pictures. )
juushika: Photograph of the torso and legs of a female-bodied figure with a teddy bear. (Bear)
Two days ago, spring arrived. I don't put much by calendar dates for the seasons, even those that are less arbitrary (such as solstices and equinoxes), because while they are good general guidelines, they sometimes reflect little about actual local weather patterns, temperates, and seasonal change. So February 1st (the "traditional" date for Imbolc) passed and I didn't blink—it was still very cold, here, just a week past our only snowfall of the year, cloudy and overcast. But yesterday morning, Devon and I awoke to brilliant sun streaming in in the gaps between the blinds and, more importantly, a wave of heat washing over the bed. We opened up the window and the air that came in was temperate and green—not the dryness of Oregon summer or the moist thickness of the winter, but a vibrant life-colored breeze, just this side of cold, rich already with the life of the sun.

So calendar date be damned, spring showed its first signs on February 15th this year. No doubt the sun will recess again soon, and we'll have the heavy deluge of spring rains, but that's how the weather functions here—when in doubt: rain. Nonetheless, if there ever was a time for Imbolc it's been these last few days.

To celebrate, since I don't quite have my life in order (yet? again?) to say nothing of my religious practices, I just took the guinea pigs outside for some fresh grass. Therefore a picture: that's Alfie, chowing down on fresh growing green grass, outside and in the sun. The sun indeed was almost blinding bright—Alfie and I share very sensitive skin and eyes, so we spent our time largely covered in long sleeves/towel and turned away from the sun. He was also adorably skittish, scrambling up onto my lap whenever he heard a door squeak or a power tool from one of the neighbors turn on. Alfie and I aren't that close, so being Protective Pig Mommy today was a good bonding experience.

Dink on the other hand has fewer reservations. A loud squeaky door makes him jump onto my lap, but otherwise he eats eats eats like—well, like he had just found a treasure trove of grass, and he would be damned if he wasn't going to find a way to eat it all, right now. Dink doesn't freak out about much, really, and he does love his grass. I took Kuzco out separately, after putting Dink&Alfie away, and he spent the whole time climbing on to me and looking scared. He's always like that, to tell the truth, but you think his love for fresh grass would outweigh his OHMYGODI'MGOINGTODIE fear of, you know, everything else.

Pig neuroses aside, it was lovely out and they were happy to fill their fat tummies, and spring has indeed shown its first light. This isn't my favorite season by far (that would be autumn) and indeed I'm terrified of the sun, but even I can appreciate the cycle of the seasons and the light and growth and warmth of these first warm days.
juushika: Photograph of the torso and legs of a female-bodied figure with a teddy bear. (Bear)
Step One
- Make a post (public, friendslocked, filtered...whatever you're comfortable with) to your LJ. The post should contain your list of 10 holiday wishes. The wishes can be anything at all, from simple and fandom-related ("I'd love a Snape/Hermione icon that's just for me") to medium ("I wish for _____ on DVD") to really big ("All I want for Christmas is a new car/computer/house/TV.") The important thing is, make sure these wishes are things you really, truly want.

- If you wish for real life things (not fics or icons), make sure you include some sort of contact info in your post, whether it's your address or just your email address where Santa (or one of his elves) could get in touch with you.

- Also, make sure you post some version of these guidelines in your LJ, so that the holiday joy will spread.

Step Two
- Surf around your friendslist (or friendsfriends, or just random journals) to see who has posted their list. And now here's the important part:

- If you see a wish you can grant, and it's in your heart to do so, make someone's wish come true. Sometimes someone's trash is another's treasure, and if you have a leather jacket you don't want or a gift certificate you won't use—or even know where you could get someone's dream purebred Basset Hound for free—do it.

You needn't spend money on these wishes unless you want to. The point isn't to put people out, it's to provide everyone a chance to be someone else's holiday elf—to spread the joy. Gifts can be made anonymously or not—it's your call.

There are no rules with this project, no guarantees, and no strings attached. Just...wish, and it might come true. Give, and you might receive. And you'll have the joy of knowing you made someone's holiday special."

So here we go! What I want this holiday season (in no particular order)... )

The best way to get in contact with me regarding any of this:

My contact information. (Can't see it? Want to? Just ask.)

Paypal: swiftskyes AT hotmail DOT com.

Do you have a holiday wishlist? My funds are (quite) tight, but I'd still like to gift where I can. Feel free to comment with your list, or a link to your own.
juushika: Drawing of a sleeping orange cat. (I should have been born a cat)
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. I'm celebrating Thanksgiving in pieces: My parents are out of town, visiting my sister at her school, so I had Thanksgiving meal today with the boy's family (grandparents, parents, brothers, aunt, cousin) and I'll see my parents on Sunday, when they get back. Dev's family's gathering is a pretty traditional Thanksgiving dinner, except that they have it at lunch; my parents and I will probably be more low-key, having a traditional Sunday breakfast with pumpkin pie, but we'll see.

In the meantime, I'm homesitting for my parents, watching the house and, more importantly, the dog. Jamie—our black lab, she's about six now. Despite the fact that she sleeps all day, it has been wonderful to see the pup. I've taken videos, and I will put them up on YouTube when I get back to the apartment, so that you may all see the cute.

I've been meaning to blog for a while, but I haven't been feeling well. The depression has been pretty bad, lately, and I've been doing little more than fighting to wake and fighting to sleep. So it goes.

But to the point: every Thanksgiving post must include 1) wellwishes, and 2) thankfulness. And while I'm not all that cheerful lately (read: ever), I do have good things to be thankful for.

I am thankful for my guinea pigs. Dink, Alfie, and Kuzco snuggle, popcorn, give kisses, and talk. They are adorabe, and they remind me that some love is uncomplicated. They are the lights of my life.

I am thankful for Devon, my boyfriend. Over the years, his love has proven to be unconditional and endless. He lends both stability and joy to my life, and while I think he's crazy for loving me, I am so thankful.

I am thankful for my faith, and for the faith itself. I'm still cautious and stumbling, but CR offers so much and delights me—in research and in practice. I feel blessed that I ever found that little FAQ on the internet, and that small influences continue to draw me back to it.

I am thankful for the public library, for Borders gift certificates, of Amazon gift certificates (hiding in forgotten boxes), and for a boyfriend that buys me BPAL. Books, a wealth of books, and always the decadence of BPAL, are welcome distractions and shiny spots of joy. They help me feel much better.

I am thankful for my parents, who love me fiercely, despite it all—and I love them. They provide for me, much more than I deserve. The time I spend with them, in phone calls, in Friday night pizza dinners, are truly joyful.

I am thankful for the other little things—favorite films, favorite games, good moments, good friends, new ideas, small chances, good days, lovely weather, my choices.

Yourself?
juushika: Drawing of a sleeping orange cat. (Fuck!)
I don't know why, and I would be hard pressed to explain how, but my back has been exceptionally painful the last few days (three, perhaps?). It's not the stabbing pain of spasms, but more like a constant throbbing with sharp beats in it where the pain spikes, like a pounding headache except that instead of making it hard to think, it makes it hard to sit still. No position, sitting or lying down, seems to make the pain go away, but constantly shifting positions at least keeps it from getting worse (haha—like "not worse" is really all that much better). So I guess what I'm trying so say is that I hurt on a level that could be approximately described as "very badly." I do not approve, it is making it hard for me to do anything (as being incredibly uncomfortable and fidgety makes it hard to stay focused on a task for very long), and I request that it stop, please and thank you.

So that's fun.

On a better note, Samhain yesterday was quite nice, even if Halloween was a bit of a letdown. I'm still having a hard time delving in to specific outward CR acts—I'm very much plagued by that self-conscious sense of not knowing what the fuck I'm doing. Truly, that keeps me from doing so much. Nonetheless, the day rose with a thick layer of fog which, if any thing, certainly meant that the arbitrary October 31st date was well suited in this case. I went out walking. I detoured away from the preserve that I normally visit, and (under the comforting cover of the mist, because I feel so self-conscious if I'm afraid people from the road or houses might see me) I wandered off into a wild field across the way, which was thick with dew and absolutely lovely. I left an early offering (half of my breakfast, an organic apple—we picked up Liberty apples from the farmers market last weekend, yum) in a small copse that grew there, and then went walking out by the park somewhat further along the road, and then out through a back path, onto a residential street, and into another field, mowed and de-blackberried but again uncultivated, and then beside the railroad tracks until I finally came to another street and could make my way home. It was a much longer loop than normal, but since I spent so little time on the roads, I have no idea how long. Perhaps three miles?

Back at the house, I look a long shower and then cleaned around the house—using the start of the new year as a chance to clarify and clean a bit (not as much as I would have hoped, but still more than nothing). I set up my altar again (it's been packed away for some time), spent some time with my photo album, which goes back to my great great great grandparents on both sides of the family (proof that there is a purpose to middle school genealogy projects!), set out another apple and some seed pods (nuts and seeds are always quintessentially Samhain to me, as they reflect both the fruitfulness of the season and, as dried and emptied husks, the end of the harvest and the start of winter), and lit candles for the gods, the land spirits, and for the dead—the large pillar candle this time, though I usually use it for the divine. I placed it all nearish the window, with a clear view in from the night to the glowing lights.

I was a bit excited about the prospect of, for the first time, giving out candy for Halloween. This is the first year since 2003 that I've been living residentially and facing the street, the first time I was likely to have trick or treaters. But not only did I grow very tired at nightfall (my sleeping schedule is still very, very messed up), I also had a total of two groups ring my doorbell: one before I had any candy to give them, and one after I had gone to bed, and so Devon answered the door for me. So now I have a shit ton of leftover chocolate in the freezer, and that was a bit of a let down. A pity, really, as it would have been nice to have a few visiting souls—I see a very pagan root to modern Halloween, and I love that, and would love to appreciate it again, to work it in to the religious energies of the day. But, due to sleep and the fact that there were still almost no visitors ... no dice on that. Ah, oh well.

The chocolate will be nice, at least, provided I don't make myself sick on it.

On a less meaningful but truly wonderful pair of sidenotes:

I found a scent that perfectly matches that amber resin that first made me want to try perfumes at all: BPAL's Haunted (soft golden amber darkened with a touch of murky black musk). I cannot even begin to tell you how happy this discovery makes me. My most recent order turned out to be quite a nice one, but nothing tops discovering that a whim "oh that sounds nice" imp addition turned out to be the one scent that I've been looking for all this time.

I'm back to writing again, following this period of pain, depression, anxiety, and insomnia—none of which are quite gone. 1k words a day, I know what happens now (even though I had to reach for a few last bits of unexpected climax), and I want to get this draft done by the end of the month. No word count as of yet, because I haven't typed anything in ages.

I have a headache vying with my backpain now, so that's all for me, and instead I get to go lie down and bemoan my damned body.
juushika: A black and white photo of an ink pen. (Writing)
I'm no longer sick! I think the death of the cold can be timed to about midday yesterday (it's 4a? now the day before yesterday), but it was certainly gone by this morning (now yesterday morning). It left as quietly as it arrived, though much faster, thank goodness. Period has also passed, and with it my cramps. Back still hurts, but it's normal hurt now, and so easy to ignore. So, on the whole, I am back to my old self: achey and whiny and headachey, but without the chest cold or the dizzy spells. Yay! Thank you to all of those that wished me well. ^_^

On the other hand, the boy has been complaining of congestion and sneezing, and it seems to be more than just my piggies, so he seems to have picked up my cold. But he looked better today than he did the day before, so methinks he's fighting through it well enough—and definitely faster than I did. Fingers crossed.

What else does no longer being sick mean? I could wear BPAL—and smell it! Today was Jack, because it's autumn (true Halloween pumpkin, spiced with nutmeg, glowing peach and murky clove; this is very light and sweet and innocent on me, almost creamy but mostly waxy, like the smoothness of a candle with a pale orange pumpkin scent) with just a dot of Casanova to bring out the spices (a rakish blend of leather, anise, lavender, bergamot and amber with tonka, lemon peel and lusty patchouli, which still makes me sneeze on the drydown but is my ideal spicey layering scent). It's wonderful what just a touch of Casanova does—it gives a spicy, deep brown edge to sweeter scents, and worked wonderfully with Jack. It's interesting—Casanova was a frimp, and yet I have a deeper relationship with it than almost any other BPAL perfume. From layering it with Antique Lace to having it bite my finger to layering it with other sweet scents like Jack ... well, it certainly has proved useful. And, since I just add the smallest little tiny dot of it, I really never have to worry about the imp running out.

Anyhow.

I went out on a walk through the nearby wetlands preserve today. Of the walk to the preserve, of the preserve itself, and of autumn and death. )

That's enough lengthy and grandiloquent wordsmithing for a bit, wouldn't you say?

Other wordsmithing is going wonderfully well, which is to say I wrote just over 2k words today, typed about 1.5k, and know where I'm going next with the novel. More than that, I'm delighted with my work, and will probably do a bit more of it before I sleep. I was surprised by how smoothly it came today—I could not write fast enough, and only got to an ending point when I ran up on a few paragraphs that I had scribbled ahead of time and now have to slightly resituate into this altered setting. I felt like I could have kept going for quite some time. I also managed to work out a surprising number of kinks without quite noticing: where they are (well, what it looks like and why; I did at least know where they were going ahead of time), how they got there, and what trouble they're in now. There is still some more dekinking to be done before the end of the novel, the biggest of all is, um, how does it end? But on the whole, today's progress was exceptional and I'm feeling confident, again, with where I'm going.

On the other hand, I killed another pen, and now only have one that's comfortable in my hand, and the ink seems reluctant to flow well for me, so—I may need to go pen shopping. I suppose there are worse evils.

Wordcount: 110,000+ typed, 7,500 handwritten.

Previous Accomplishments: Getting to the vampire city, getting writing in general back on track, more male characters (yay!)

Upcoming Challenges: How quickly should they get to where they're going within the city? How long does this New Male Character stick around?

Currently Reading: Dracula, Bram Stoker; Season of the Witch, Natasha Mostert; Tales of the Witch House and Other Weird Stories, H.P. Lovecraft.

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

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