Aalot of things strike me as cute and cuddly.  The normal — baby animals, of all kinds.  Who can resist a baby sloth?

My favorite things are soft things.   Right now I am cuddled up under a very soft electric throw, wrapped up in super fuzzy soft blankets.  I think snowmen are adorable.  Monkeys make my heart melt.  Foxes are a delight.  I went to a huge park in Florida where they let Macaques run free over several acres of land, and the humans would walk through fenced in (on all sides) pathways.  The monkeys would rattle little plates on chains, and smack their little hands imperiously on the wood frame work, demanding raisins from the visitors.  I will never forget their little fingers touching mine as they accepted my offerings.

My favorite image, when you turn toward romance (for this is the month for it) is of a sweet hearted man in a thick, comfy sweater, pottering around the garden with a cup of tea and a book.  That, to me, is a rather idealistic image.

This weekend was good.  Mum and I went to a state park for our first walk of the season.  Raccoon Creek State Park was very lovely.  The weather was in the 60’s, mum and I didn’t need a jacket…we just walked freely.

My favorite part was getting to the waterfall…you could walk into the cave, the mouth surrounded by ice.  The lake was also iced over, and it was really rather beautiful.  The ice was jade green, though the photos don’t show it.

 

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The witch made her a promise, and she hoped the witch would keep it.

Every day she went out into the woods and she collected something.  A twig.  A dried grass with a soft buff of seeds, feathers.  She glued them together with the glue the witch gave her, every day she would carefully drop a tiny bit on a plate, then use a needle to prick the ring finger on her left hand.   One drop of blood, mixed with the green white of the glue.  She used the glue and the blood to connect the things she found, building them into a box.

It was the shape of a heart.

In the next room, her husband coughed weakly.  She looked through the door, saw him leaning, weakly against the table.  “Do you need me?”  she called.

“No…just a little out of breath, is all.”

And one day, the box was done.  She waited for one of his bad nights…he had far too many, and she used it as an excuse to sleep in another room, the box on her chest.

The next day, she placed the box on his chest, holding it over his heart.  She stroked his hair away from his forehead, traced her fingers over his features with the lightest of touches.  “I love you,” she breathed softly, “I love you, I love you.”

And when the dawn broke, she took the box outside, and buried it.

And he was better.

And she was worse.

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I purposely skipped yesterday, because to be honest my Tumblr is a collage of likable things…I love that about Tumblr, that you can lose yourself in beauty.

Favorite fragrances?

I am weird about fragrances.  Anything too sweet, too floral will give me a headache, though I genuinely like lavender and roses.  I can bury my nose in rosemary and breathe for hours.  Limes and citrus make me feel like sunlight is in my head.

In general I avoid anything scented (sometimes it is impossible to find scentless deodorant) but I do like getting essential oils.  I do sometimes scent my handkerchiefs with lovely scents by scenting a piece of muslin and putting it in the bottom of the handkerchief drawer.

Currently I am binge watching Elementary and hand sewing.  One of my friends made me a magnificent outfit, but the skirt was too long so I am re-sewing the hem.  It’s a magnificent, heavy velvet, a pleasure to sew.  I have been very sick — no fencing tonight, so sewing and TV watching is very comforting.

I have been desperately wanting to hike, but it’s been so cold.  Just a nice long walk, admiring the world.

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The rose petals fell from the bushes and climbing vines that surrounded them, sliding with a soft susurrous across the stone mosaics, twirling and falling into the rectangular pool.

The men and women of the court lined the edges of the court yard, all silent, except for the breeze that stirred the brances and leaves, that scarrted the rose petals, catching in hair and hems.  She approached the pool with her head held high, the dark coils of her hair carefully pinned, but her feet hobbled in fetters.  Matching fetters graced her wrists, which she held, her elbows straight out, her wrists heart-high.

She met the eyes of the king as she neared the edge of the pool.  She let her gaze flicker to all in front of her, the toes at the very edge of the pool.

She turned.  She did not waver.  She looked at her attendants, her heels at the rounded endge of the marble.  It felt cool under her feet as she slipped them just a little further, until her heels were hanging over.

A second, time to take a breath, and she let herself fall back into the petal covered depths.  She sank into the sun light streaked gloom, years of rose petals giving the water an oily sheen that seemed to make the rays of light glitter.  Red petals, like drops of blood, swirled around her, joined by white petals, yellow, pink.  She waited, counting in her head.

She did not like to keep lock picks in her mouth, not after the time she swallowed it, but today she had had no choice.  She pushed the picks with her tounge, shifted so she could use one finger and her mouth to manipulate the pick into the lock.  Years of practice took over, and soon there was a success.  One fetter fell away, and the second hand was easier to free.  The feet easier still, those fetters joined the others in the deep.  Twelve sets of fetters littered the pool floor.

She let the air out slowly, hovering in the silence.  This was her favorite part, the quiet and cool and the brush of rose petals.

Finally she came out, climbing out of the pool, her attendants coming forward with towels and a hand up.

“Someday you will fail,” the king said.  “Someday we will figure out where you hide the lock pick.”

“But it is magic, your majesty.  Magic!”  She rejoined.

“Something new for tomorrow, I think.  Perhaps a box.  With swords.”

She bowed.  She already knew what she would do.

 

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I had a hard day yesterday.  Today is not much better, but I wanted to update.  (I have the next update, for today, half written.  It’s a tiny piece of fiction.  I just wanted to separate these.)

 

There are many beautiful words.  Susurrous.  Ebullience.  Alabastar.   But it is the context that makes words truly beautiful.

I love you.  I wish I could help you see how beautiful you are.  I am here.  You are not alone.

In pieces, these words mean nothing.  Together, they mean everything.

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Or, shush, let people enjoy things.

I don’t like how this day makes people feel – the false expectations.  The feeling the media seems to throw over you – that if you do not have anyone today, there is something wrong or you should feel bad. I also hate the false expectations placed on people who are in a relationship…the stress.

We allow ourselves to be told what to feel or think to give us emotional expectations –  though how can we fight it?  We are indoctrinated from our earliest years, it seeps into our hearts and souls before we even know to fight it.

But, the other half. What I like.  I like celebrating.  I like there to be an excuse for people to hang out and be happy and love each other.

I bought mum and me books and tea and ordered our favorite candy – chocolate covered cherries.  I used today as an excuse to indulge myself and treat my mum.  I read a book – Charlaine Harris’ A Bone to Pick and sewed on my brown velvet doublet.  I am so excited about the doublet, it will have coppery trim to bring out the brown in the doublet – it is about the shade of dark chocolate – and the sleeves will be lined in red taffeta with pearls – doublets often have removable sleeves (I say often…probably supposedly 98% of the time, but I am hazy because I don’t really want to know, because if I really knew then I would have to do it the right way.)  and these would then be reversible.

So, instead of thinking about what I lack, I thought about what I had and took care of me and mine. It’s been a pretty good day.

I hope yours was even better.

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Ffalling in love with writing was easy.

You live out in the middle of nowhere, stories become your friends.  Stories on the long bus rides to and from school, stories while you play, stories while you fall asleep.

To this day I think more in stories, I often day dream things to help me figure out what to say or what to do.  I would rather day dream than think about my day.  I’ll solve a problem or think about a decision if needed, but once the ship of my life is turned in the right direction, stories again are what fill my brain.

So it was not such a huge step, going from stories in my had to writing them down.  It’s such a different set of mechanics…things don’t have to be so thoroughly planned or understood in day dreams as they are in writing (though to be honest, the better you get at writing the more you slip things into day dreams to keep them sensible) or so perfectly plotted.  I love how writing makes you flesh out the world, the people, how you have such a larger palette of words and tools at your disposal.  If I were to write down a day dream – and I rarely do – it would change so very much between the mind and the screen.

As I said, I rarely write down day dreams, because I try not to think over much about what I am writing except when I am stuck.  I prefer to have that moment of discovery at the screen to keep me motivated to keep writing.  If I day dream it. I have already experienced it and I am les motivated to sit and type. Perverse, right?

Tthat brings me to soft candle light.  A couple of times the electricity has been knocked out for days where I live.  The last time I was in the middle of writing something…2009, I think.  We were without power for 9 days.

I lived by candle light. I did not have a laptop so could not write until the battery ran out, so I wrote by candlelight and by the light of kerosene oil lamps.  I read by it, covered by high heaps of covers to keep warm, cooked by it on a propane camp stove.   It is a kinder light, in some ways, yellow and gentle, but the shadows are deeper.  More things can hide in the corners.

To me, candle light is not overly romantic, but a mark of a time of quiet.  Nothing is quieter than a house without electricity, especially in winter during a snow storm.  No cars pass on the road.  The snow smothers most incidental sounds and the animals are in hiding.  All electrical appliances seem to hum, even if the sound is nearly undetectable, and with the power out all that white noise is gone.

I like it, to be honest. That absolute silence.  BUT, I like flushing toilets (nothing says fun like walking down a steep hill with a bucket or two to try and fill it at a creek you hope is not completely frozen over) and automatic heat more.

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Ii think, in a previous post, I said that A Knight in Shining Armor was my first romance novel, but as I thought about this post a little throughout the day, I realize that I was wrong.

When I was 14?  I think?  The neighbors – I live on a road that has no close neighbors, but the ones down the road would circulate bags of books.  Mum would go through them, but mostly they were the thin Harlequins that, while perfectly fine, held no interest for either of us.  She was hoping for adventure novels (fantasy, SF and mysteries and thrillers are her cuppa, you never found f/sf, but sometimes you got lucky and got the latter.  Or a Stephen King book.)  but usually had no luck.

I went through the bag one summer, and found a copy of Jude Deveraux’s Velvet Angel.  It had knights on the cover, and, flipping it over, I saw that it took place in Medieval Times. So, of course, I read it.  And that started the summer of reading every historical romance I could find and afford.  Up the road there was a used book store, and we’d stop, and I would stop and try and find something.  Jude Deveraux was particularly prized, as were the early Joanna Lindseys.

I got into Julie Gardwood because I was at a flea market, and I was either kind or honest – I don’t remember which – and the book seller insisted on rewarding me with a book.  So, I quickly picked the first book to catch my eye, The Gift, which I fell in love with immediately.  Such an adorable book.

Teresa Medieros, Laura Kinsale – I adored them all.  To be honest, I think that a lot of who I am as a person and as a writer comes from reading these books.  I am in love with love, in love with the fall and the happily ever after.

I have happy memories of one summer, laying in my folding plastic chaise lounge under the pine trees, reading.  Then going in for dinner.  Then reading, unable to go to bed until I had finished the book.

There was a joyful abandon, there.

Eventually, I got married.  And then I wasn’t.  Romance novels didn’t hold the same allure. ..perhaps I love faith in the happily ever after for a bit, or it just hurt too much.   And though I have been able to read some romance novels since – I reviewed for Affaire de Couer, though my poor, generous and long suffering editor soon gave me the “Treasure from Other Genre” books as much as she could – it has never been the same.  I purged maybe 90% of my romance novel collection, keeping only a few favorites.  I love romantic subplots, I write them very happily, but I changed.

But someday, maybe, I will change back.  And my old friends will be waiting for me.

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Ii often have fictional crushes.  I never really crush on actors…I crush on characters, how they inhabit the roles and what they bring out of themselves to fill out the character.  I once sat and tried to see if this was a window into what I wanted in an ideal mate, and I had to say, probably not.

I loved Tom Pullings sweetness and confidence, William Mowett’s poetic warrior spirit.  Boromir – and Richard Sharpe’s innate nobility and bravery.  I will almost always have a crush on Athos, though I am not sure why – he is a problematic favorite in many ways, but perhaps it is that idea that you can heal someone and make their lives better and then live forever after in devoted bliss.  Let me assure you, honestly, that I am quite certain that in real life that would be a path to shame and despair.

I like Daryl Dixon a lot…all competence and strength and such development over the years.  The Darkling from the Grisha series, even though, of course, one would say he is even more problematic than Athos.

I like stories, and I like men with stories.  I like kind men, wise men, competent men.  Men with scars on their faces or on their hearts, yes, but not really tortured souls, though I fear that is crack in my fictional crush life.  (Hello, Snape.)

Sometimes the crushes are fleeting, two hours, three, and I am done.  Sometimes they inhabit my head, whisper me stories that I take apart and change and make my own.

In other worlds, I have been writing again, and am less —  when I am stopped in my writing I feel grumpy and discontent — so that uncomfortable feeling has faded.  Something Horrid that I was going to do to Tasmin at the end of the book (to lead to the next book) happened much earlier, and I am glad.  Because it works, and because I don’t really like cliffhangers.  I like to finish a story — what if I die and never write another book?

I am reading Amy Tan’s The Valley of Amazement.  I am unsure how I feel about the book.  I love Amy Tan’s work, but — nothing at all to do with her writing — I am frustrated by the story itself, because I am not sure if I like where it is going.  I will give it every chance, which isn’t hard…It’s AMY TAN, and the writing is very involving…but I wonder if I will really be happy at the end.  We shall see.  Then I will have to make that decision I hate — should I keep a book on my shelves because I own a ton others by the author?  Or should I get rid of it?  There’s a weird bit of me that likes being complete, at least when it comes to books.

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Tthis one was hard because of the sheer plethora of songs I like…and my horrid love of…erm…love songs.

So.  Let’s see.  “Love Me Tender” by Elvis – that’s rather lovely, isn’t it?

 

Love me tender,
Love me sweet,
Never let me go.
You have made my life complete,
And I love you so.

Love me tender,
Love me true,
All my dreams fulfilled.
For my darlin’ I love you,
And I always will.

I love the sentiments; they are so ideal.

Then, there’s also “Never Tear Us Apart” by INXS.

Here’s the video, with lovely men wandering around lovely Prague.  I was a bit of an INXS fangirl when I was younger, and sometimes when I hear this song I find myself missing Michael Hutchence just a tiny bit.  The part about the wings always struck me a little.

We could live
For a thousand years
But if I hurt you
I’d make wine from your tears

I told you
That we could fly
‘Cause we all have wings
But some of us don’t know why

I was standing
You were there
Two worlds collided
And they could never ever tear us apart

Something newer…um…aha.  Damien Rice, “Colour Me In” — I love the earnestness of this song…though I wish he’d come up with a rhyme other than “Like a dogless bone.”

So come let me love you
Come let me love you
And then… colour me in

Well I tried to control it
And cover it up
I reached out to console it
It was never enough
Never enough…

So I tried to forget it
That was all part of the show
Told myself I’d regret it
But what do I know

I love the refrain of “Come let me love you.”  Let me love you.  Let me prove myself.

 

 

 

 

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