Saturday, October 26, 2013

I Love This Time of Year

Several years ago, I was a member of a large online community, and joined a group that aimed to celebrate the Irish heritage of its members. It was a fun little thing, and I took to regularly posting Irish jokes, or the lyrics to traditional Irish songs - they started calling me the group's bard. And so one year I wrote this poem for them, drawing on the traditions of Samhain and some additional folklore. It needs some work, as I'd like the opening and closing lines to not rip off William Allingham's The Fairies, at least quite so blatantly. I'm sure there are other lines that are, if not blatant rip-offs, at least highly derivative, but I am at a loss to remember all of my sources at this point; I strongly doubt that the 15th line is original, because I like it too far, far too much for that to be the case. Still, I love this time of year, and either tonight or tomorrow, I plan to create a fun playlist on Spotify full of Halloween-y-type songs. I promise it will be full of Zombina and the Skeletones, and will probably also include soundtracks to Evil Dead: The Musical, and a punk version of The Rocky Horror Picture Show soundtrack, assuming I can dig up those CDs. I may post a link to it here, if I remember. Anyway, here's the poem:


We dare not go a-hunting, warns the poet,
For fear of the good folk in red caps.
A history of imagination weaves rich tradition around Samhain:
The new year begins with a new cycle in darkness;
The good folk dance with ghosts; witches make spells;
And the barriers between the worlds fade.
The dead, and those yet to live are able to walk the earth—
They are honored with feasts and entertainment,
While in the stillness of the dark half
Glimmers of new beginnings ready themselves for our hopes.
The festival of the dead is our final harvest,
Our livestock brought down from the hills to live closer and warm,
And the family works together, and whispers together:
Of fallen angels too good to be lost;
Of the lost gods of fallen Ireland with every charm but conscience;
Frightening tales of the pooka, born of the race of nightmares—
And witches, who sing their ancient rhymes and fly off
To their home in Slievenamon or over the Wicklow hills—
Their spells smell of the grave.
Up the airy mountain we go,
And down the rushing glen we return
To celebrate the closeness of the gods in the closing of summer.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Cheetah Pizza

Another weekend of Crypticon has come and gone, and it was a lovely time. That said, for all that we've done there over the last five years that it's been at that location, there's been one thing that's always managed to slip off our personal itinerary.

We still have never eaten at Cheetah Pizza.

It was totally the plan this year. Friday night supper: TGI Fridays. Saturday breakfast: hotel breakfast buffet. Saturday lunch: CHEETAH PIZZA. What happened?

We were exhausted, basically. It got away from us. But it's something I still regret, because I just can't figure out what cheetahs have to do with pizza. I have so many unnecessary and wildly speculative questions about this place.Why does Cheetah Pizza seem like a good idea? Is it very quickly made? Is it very quickly delivered? Is it made with real cheetah? Is it made by real cheetahs (every pizza is just a gazelle with its throat ripped out on real savanna-baked dough?)

Is there a rival restaurant down the street called Hyena Tacos? Can I order up some takeout from Hippo Wok?

Am I really just asking all these questions because I'm hungry and am kind of loopy as a result?

Thursday, July 25, 2013

The Prairie Is My Garden

Who is that rider so early in the afternoon?
The wind is cool but the heat
Beneath is frightening
Too many clouds in the sky
What is it? The Norwegian boy
With his father’s horse?
The pastor, or someone from the bank?
The flowers – they are enough, time to go back in
Western skies parallel western lands
Endless, stretching onto forever, seeing miles from a good spot
Empty and rich – with color, with life with dangers
The land parallels the sky –
They are alive, and they are related
Close kin, almost twins
Rain and scorching sun, and the tornado
Crops and drought and locusts
We take what we can,
We live as we must
But the prints seldom last
For we, like the flowers in her hand
Fade in time.

The semester that I took a creative writing course, one of the assignments for the day was to visit the on-campus art museum, and write a few pieces based on the works that were on display at the time. The Prairie Is My Garden has always been a favorite of mine, and this is one of the things I wrote that day.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

New Books, New Rules

At this point, I've accomplished all of my major goals when it comes to playing WoW. All of the things that were driving me to log on and play for a little while every day after work have now been completed, and then some. My warlock and hunter are both at level 90, my shaman is *finally* at level 80, and I got my paladin up to level 65, dropped blacksmithing, picked up jewelcrafting, and leveled that up to an Outlands-appropriate level. I've achieved Exalted status with 3 factions in Pandaria (Tillers, Anglers, and Order of the Cloud Serpents, for what it's worth), and I did some older rep grinding and hit Exalted on a few BC factions, just for kicks. I obsessed over the pet battles, striving always for that rare capture (I'm still a little pissed that a rare cheetah cub still eludes me, that adorable bastard), and I've actually got quite a hefty stable of rare battle pets, including my level 18 panther cub, which started out as a level 1. This is kind of a point of pride for me, I will admit.

For anyone that's not up to date on World of Warcraft doings, I'm sure most of that was pure gibberish. I mention it largely due to the fact that for the last few months, these goals, as satisfied as I am with them, have been a larger distraction to something that has been lurking in the back of my head for 15 goddamn years, and which lately has been demanding more brainspace, if not actual (or frequent) action.

I have this novel, you see, that has been a bitch and a half to rewrite. I wrote the initial draft when I was in high school, constantly writing away before classes began, or after I'd finished in-class assignments, and after school - often during play rehearsal when I was not needed on stage or on book (on book, for those non-theatre people reading this, usually refers to when someone (often a stage manager or assistant director) follows the script and assists the rehearsing actors when they can't quite remember a line). I wrote two sequels to this novel, and another stand-alone novel as well, during my high school career. It may not have been *good* writing (hahahahahaha "may" - it's actually kind of terrible, you guys), but I wrote a lot. I'm not even going to try to bullshit anything about quantity versus quality, because it's just bullshit and silly and not the point.

Entering college, the characters and general idea of this first novel of mine stuck with me, and I started the first rewrite. I changed things, as is the point of any rewrite, but I didn't ultimately get too far. Other things ended up getting in the way, and I spent less time writing. There was a semester where I took a creative writing course, and yet another rewrite began, but while my overall output improved, it seemed like it was getting harder to write.

I have been out of college for more than ten years  (what was I thinking, that I graduated when I was 20?) 7 years now, and I write very little these days, as anyone who follows this blog can attest. Fiction has always been more my calling, and writing about my own life is just boring. My thoughts and feelings and the events of my life don't change that much, and don't feel worth taking the time to put onto a screen for internet strangers to glance over. I've also developed a sense of privacy (nobody is more surprised about this than I am), and there are things that I just don't want out there - at least, things that I don't want out there in this location.

But things feel like they're changing. I'm 30 years old now, and while I admitted long ago that the life of a professional writer was one I could probably not live up to, what with the necessary discipline of writing every day, and all, there are still these people living in my brain. Even though I've spent very little time actually putting down words about their lives, I have spent quite a lot of time indeed devoted to working it out. I have gone over portions of this rewrite again and again as I try to fall asleep, distracting my brain from whatever my anxiety has decided would be great fun to torment me with.

What's more, I've been reading new things. For such a long time, the books I was reading were limited to those I already owned. My collection is pretty good - I can read a bit of a book every day and not repeat a book for at least a year or two. But that's no way to grow or feed my brain. So I recently took an opportunity to hit up the local library and just read something different. I picked up a book I thought might be fun (but failed to actually catch my attention enough to make it very far) and a steampunk book, which I fairly devoured. I have a new author whose books I need to start collecting, and a new genre to continue to discover. Good times!

So I'm out of goals in WoW, my main distraction, which means I am less impelled to log in every day, apart from sheer habit. I'm becoming more aware of, and dissatisfied with, the incomplete nature of this book, this story, that has been with me for half my life. And I'm reading new things that are wonderfully engaging.

New books, new rules.

I decided, while on my way home from work today, that each day, I will not log into WoW until I have written something. Maybe I will glare at my screen for an hour and come up with nothing, but you can't edit a blank page, and I'm sick of not even trying. I want to have a completed version of this novel that I can be at least moderately pleased with. I want to have solved the problems my first draft created. And it might be nice to actually have a few copies of that book out there. It would be especially nice if people felt my books were worth giving money to me for one of these copies. And it'd be quite nice if I could move on from this rewrite to its sequel, and to complete that bastard, and so on, and so forth.

But it has to start somewhere, and so since I'm reading new books, there are going to be new rules that go along with them. I very much hope that these new rules will foster a bit of personal discipline, which I could maybe carry into other areas of my life that need it, such as the matter of my personal fitness and eating habits.

Many things to work on. I have to start somewhere.

Sunday, April 14, 2013


As tens of you know, large portions of South Dakota, if not the whole state, are currently being terrorized by our constant nemesis: WINTER.

This is baffling, even to people who are South Dakotans, because it is April, and WINTER was supposed to have been defeated for another 5 months or so to make way for our other nemesis: ROAD CONSTRUCTION. But WINTER had one last trick up its sleeve.

We got hit early this week by nasty ice storm, which was followed up by a snowstorm that dumped several inches of snow on top of the already thick ice.


I woke up the first morning of the storm to find that we were getting some leaks from our ceiling. Note: ceiling =/= roof. We have another floor on top of us. Some of the leaking was coming in from the area by our balcony, but it was still not pleasant to wake up to. Then I actually stepped out onto the balcony and took the second photo. Already, you can see that the weight of the ice was starting to cause branches to break and fall. Please to be taking note of the large tree on the left.


I walked home from work and took a few photos. I can only describe the weather at the time as "frozen rain." Didn't seem right to call it hail. It wasn't sleet or snow, though, and it certainly wasn't "freezing" rain. It had already frozen. The course of the day was continuing to take its toll on the local trees.

 That night, while I was in the bath, I heard my boyfriend step onto our porch. The sound of the door sliding open and shut seemed oddly loud, but I didn't think too much of it until he came back inside and told me that the tree outside our balcony had lost a large branch just as he stepped outside. So of course I finished my bath and had to take a photo.


There was more tree carnage on my way to work the next day.

I spotted this on my way to work that day, as well. I suspected it was someone's misplaced/forgotten jacket. It was frozen solid to the bench.
There is a continued theme, here, is there not?

That large tree outside our balcony has split in half. The weight of the ice and snow on the large branches of either side of the tree finally caused it to split right down the middle. 

There was too much tree carnage for just photos. Had to take some video, as well. This was on my way to work after the snowfall.
And now this was on my way home.

Temperatures have been warm enough through yesterday and today that white a lot of melting has happened already. I'm pretty tired of this winter bullshit, though, I can tell you that much.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Photodump: kitty paws and kitty noses and butterfly wings


We call him Mister Big Eyes for a reason.


The ever-popular "jelly-bean toes".



I can't remember if it's Cyric's paw or Isis's. The black-looking leg makes me think it's Cyric's, but it could be a trick of the light & is actually Isis Grey.


There's that nose again! Eeeeeeeeee!


Greedy butterfly, trying to get that whole orange by himself.


I long for an actual macro lens, instead of my shoddy macro lens attachment, which is pretty crummy at getting a decent portion of the frame in focus. Or, maybe I should long for some actual skill at photography, instead. Hmmm....


I got lucky.


Butterfly wiiiiiiiiiing! And butterfly buuuuuuuuuutt!


This is not a kitty paw, or a kitty nose, or a butterfly wing. It is a flower. I included it as a surprise to you all. Are you surprised?


Back to the butterflies!


I nearly stepped on this guy.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Happy Saint Patrick's Day

My family, on my mother's side, has not been in the US for that long a time, historically speaking. The genealogy that has been done so far traces our personal history back to a Nathaniel Irwin, born 1778 in Ireland, died 1869 in Ohio. We might not have all the info on all of Nathaniel's descendants, but one of his postulated sons, Stewart Irwin, born 1812 in Tyrone County, Ireland, is my direct ancestor. We don't have records of exactly when Stewart came to the US (the notation I have is only that he came through New York), but we know that his wife, Sarah Richey, who was also born in Tyrone County, came to the US through Philadelphia in May of 1848.

That's really all I've got to say on the matter. In other news, I did manage to get some kickass green streaks in my hair, thanks to a good friend who is skilled in the ways of doing kickass things.