Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Resolutions? Oh crud.

I am not a resolutions kind of woman. Never have been. Once in a while I would set a goal, but other things always took precedence. I distinctly recall as a child writing in my diary in the upper corner of the page every day how much I weighed, and how much I hoped to lose. The thing was, I didn’t have a weight problem at all then; I had a really bad body-image then. My weight never really changed, of course, so I stopped tracking it after a bit… and also stopped writing in my diary too. I wonder what happened to it?

Now I really have a reason to write my weight on the top-corner of that proverbial page. I gained a ton of weight when I was 20, when we moved back to the United States. It was pure culture shock for me, and I had left everything behind, friends, familiarity, and my horses… my whole life. I just fell into a really horrible depression and blew up 40 lbs in something ridiculous like 4 months or something, and just kept plumping up after that. And I’ve had a heck of a time managing it since.

It’s annoying to think that I never really was fat; and that I should have felt good about myself when I was busy being critical of every curve. I had a nice body… an hourglass body, nothing to be ashamed of. For a while, I was kind of a hottie. Now I want it back, damn it! I want to feel good about myself! At 37, it’s probably too late to hope for hotness again. Heck, I’d settle for size 14 and being able to cross my legs comfortably again. ::smirk::

Then I heard a little thing on NPR about New Year’s resolution—and that 40% of people who make them, achieve them. That’s significant. What’s more, they said that people who declare their goals are more likely to follow through because they’ve established a benchmark and told the world they’re going to work on it. They’ve made themselves accountable.

So what the hell. I’m making myself accountable. Will I follow through? If I don’t then I’m one resolution down already. Here’s my list. Some are easy, some are not. But they’re not impossible. They did stress on the NPR show that you should set manageable goals… I didn’t say “Lose 50lbs”… I just said lose weight…

We shall see. :)

Friday, December 26, 2008

Notre Petit Maison.

This is our little house. We bought in in '04; in a rush to find a place. This picture was taken early in the morning of the Dec. 19th, before we really got whomped with snow.

Our tiny house.... Only a few of the windows actually open, it has a roof underneath the roof, squirrels and bats live in that odd space; the only heating source is a propane fireplace stove, and sometimes a mysterious smell of sulfur comes wafting up from the ether, so silver tarnishes in doubletime because of it. Irritating. And we do unfortunately have some very entitled seasonal neighbors from Beaverton (also known as "New California") who can be about as pleasant as our sulfur problem. We have a full-time neighbor on our other side with tons of cars coming and going at all hours, and the distinct aroma of a certain type of herb emanating from his house once in a while, and we still prefer them to the seasonal Beavertonites. Yes, they're that smug and annoying.

Issues aside, this is hands-down my favourite home ever. "Why? It's so tiny," you ask. "It's so far away from your job in Portland... Are you insane?" In short, yes. I am insane.

I am an a great advocate for 'living small' and humbly. In fact, I get really persnickety at people who dwell in oversized behmoth houses for no really good reason except to show that they can afford* it. I was even added into an article about small living in 2007. I have wanted to live in a cottage all my life. It probably stems from the heavy diet of British children's books I read when I was a wee thing where quaint Cottages are a mainstay; but a cottage (although ideally mine would have dormers and a thatched roof) is what I wanted, so a cottage is what I got. Okay, so it's still a bit cabiney, but I'm working on it.

We got it for a disgustingly low price as houses go, just before the Real Estate bubble inflated local prices to astounding levels. We were pre-approved for a higher amount of money, but I was determined to stay within our means (and looking at the mortgage crisis, I am so pleased with that decision today), so that (and my being a naturally bad neighbor who doesn't play well with others) led us to a very rural area, and to our little home. Anything in our price range closer to town would have probably involved our having to procure iron remote-controlled security gates and a pack of rabid rottweilers.

Across the gravel road is a row of houses that lines the Sandy River. So we can hear the whitewater rushing at all hours, and access is only a few steps away. At night, it's so dark, you can see the Milky Way. And when you're tired of the commute, then a little snowstorm is all the excuse you need to stay cozied up with the dogs by the propane fake fire with ceramic logs, and sip your favourite tea. We've got deer, and bears and racoons, and all types of forest fauna. The array of birds is incredible.

It's also managable for me when Husband is away on site helping to build wind turbines. Oh, and the dogs do love it too

So this is it. Notre petit maison dans la forêt.

*meaning, in debt up to their eyeballs.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Some Christmas Baking & Christmas Swag.

So I decided yesterday to bake my traditional Orange Cookies. I do them every year, much to my husband's chagrin. He doesn't quite like them because he dislikes citrus in baked goods. But I love them, and I'm sure if you like citrus, you will too; it's a very subtle flavour, and please don't feel confined to oranges... substitute it with any citrus you like. Lemon is especially good too. This cookie dough also works very well as a hard-shell for tarts. :) Shall we begin?

Indeed, Christmas is not christmas without cookies. I'm planning to make several kinds of cookie, but this one is my fav. You begin by blending the 'wet ingredients', which includes the sugar, but let's not quibble.. :)

Cut the butter up into little cubes, and add it to the mixing bowl. Then add the egg, vanilla and sugar. Grate 1 tablespoon of orange zest, and one tablespoon of juice from the orange. Feel free to take a break to eat the rest of the orange. :) Mix that into a 'slurry'--the butter should be broken up into tiny parts by the mixer... it's not a pretty sight, but it smells heavenly. Now it's time to toss in the 'dry' ingredients.

Add all the dry ingredients to a bowl and give it a stir. Then with the mixer running, pour the mixture into the slurry until it's well blended. It should become a fragrant ball of dough.

And voila. Wrap it up in wax paper or saran wrap and chuck it into the freezer for a spell to firm that butter up again before you work the dough.

When it's chilled it's the perfect dough for cookie-cutters. Roll it out to about a 1/4" to 3/8", it's a soft cookie like a sugar cookie, and it shapes beautifully. Bake at 425º for no more than 10-15 minutes. Keep a close eye on them. Let them get a bit puffy and a very light golden brown. Let them cool. Then it's time to do the icing.

I keep the icing as simple as possible. Powdered sugar is a wonderful thing. You can blend it with a splash of orange juice, with milk or in the case of this batch, I used heavy cream. I don't have specific measurements for you, I just dumped a pile of powered sugar into a bowl, and then added splash after splash of liquid and stirred it until it reached the right consistency. I didn't colour it, but I could have, and I didn't add any flavourings, which I could have as well. I dipped the cookie top into it, twisted it as I pulled it away, and put it on a wire rack. I quickly sprinkled the desired decoration on top while it was still moist.

I couldn't find silver dots I wanted at the store. :( So I used sugar sprinkles, peppermint sprinkles and white chocolate strawberry curls. Mmm.

They're about 60% gone already. ::eep:: Give them a try, they're subtle and delicious. The orange flavour is not overwhelming at all, but it's there and it's GOOD!

As for this morning, it was an orgy of wrapping paper shreds and squeals fo delight. And I scored this year! I got so many great gifts... I may be revealing more of my nerdiness than I would care to share, but I got the whole Star Trek the Next Generation series this Christmas, AND ....

I got a real dress-form at last! OMG!!!! SCORE!!! I also got sushi-making supplies, books on pattern-making, lovely garden ornaments, and lots of other wonderful things! I'm so spoiled. I am now going to climb onto my pile of booty and lord over it, being sure to growl and snap at anyone that comes near it. ::hee hee::

Merry Christmas everyone! And a happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Ode to the Burgerville Chocolate Hazelnut Shake (& more)

Served 12/31 to 2/1.

Oh, wholly sustainable Chocolate Hazelnut Shake.
King of all frosty beverages,
Rarely seen, fleeting and transitory,
Like the elusive Golden Lion Tamarin,
Only more delicious.

Your perennial numminess,
Replete with hazelnut crumbles,
Topped with whipped cream,
Fills the 100% renewable container,
Just as it fills my soul.
And my stomach,
Which is about to burst,
Because I bought the large.

My tree has been up since Thansgiving weekend. As usual,we got the potted tree so we can try to give it a chance at life when it's all done being decorated. I used all my snowflakes on it this year. Yes, I'm obsessed with snowflakes. I have them in all shapes and sizes. I think my tree is very pretty. I also used my collection of icicles. It's still small. I'm working on it though. My family isn't the 'save the ornaments every year' kind of family, so I don't have any special ornaments to display. I hope if I ever have a child, I can start that tradition.

Outside it's frigid cold for Oregon. A thin layer of granular snow makes everything look so clean. The brightness from my window-lights shines out onto the snowy deck, casting a shadow off the wooden horse that has a saddle of snowy sedum. It's lovely and warm inside.
Simon has been enjoying the cozy winter on the sofa chair. I had to take a picture of this just to prove what an indolent little fuzzball he is. When he's not chewing everything up, of course.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

100* Truths About Me.

This was stolen from my friend Steph's site. I do have thiefy tendencies when it comes to Memes. They require much less work and much less imagination from me than a standard post would. So woo-hoo, I say.

1. Last beverage – Water
2. Last phone call – Phone call purchasing department.
3. Last instant message – A while ago, with hubby.
4. Last song you listened to – Farewell Marian (Classic English Country Dance)
5. Last time you cried – Last night, reading sad book.
6. Last text message – Hubby, yesterday.

7. Dated someone twice – No.
8. Been cheated on – Yes.
9. Kissed someone & regretted it – Yes
10. Lost someone special – Oh yes.

11. Amethyst, Royal Blue and Warm Burgundy Red.

12. Fallen out of love – No way. It’s gotten stronger if anything..
13. Laughed until you cried - Just this past Saturday with Sis & Guy on Martini night.
14. Met someone who changed your life – In the past month? No.
15. Found out who your true friends were – I believe I have, yes.
16. Have you kissed anyone? – No, because Hubby’s been gone for 5 weeks.

17. What is your favorite flower? – The tulip.
18. How many kids do you want to have? – I’d be happy with just one. God willing.
19. Do you want to change your name? – Already did when I got married.
20. What did you do for your last birthday – Quiet Dinner with Hubby & friends Tara & Xian.
21. What time did you wake up today ? – 5:20 AM
22. What were you doing at Midnight last night? – Writing on Facebook that I probably should be in bed.
23. Name something you CANNOT wait for – Dec. 20. Hubby comes home.
24. Last time you saw your father – September of 2007.
25. What's one thing you wish you could change? – My past.
26. Have you ever talked to a person named Tom? – several Toms, actually.
27. What's getting on your nerves right now – Menstrual cramps.
28. What's your real name – Stephanie
29. Middle Name – Lynn.
30. Zodiac sign – Pisces
31. Hair color – dark brown with an increasing amount of grey.
32. Long or short – Fairly long when wet, when dry & curly much shorter.
33. Height – 5'4”
34. Tattoos – None. And I’m too old to get one now without looking like I’m desperately clinging to my youth.
35. Righty or lefty – Right handed. Right brained.

36. First surgery – Had shard of turkey-bone removed from the ball of my right foot (don’t ask)
37. First piercing – ears, first and only. Too chicken to do anything else.
38. First best friend – Jerome Sparks
39. First sport you joined – Horseback riding.
40. First pet – Black Pug named Snow-white.
41. First vacation – I have no idea.

42. Eating – dry vanilla granola cereal
43. Drinking – Chai Green Tea
44. I'm about to – go to the restroom.
45. Waiting – for the right financial opportunity to come along to change my life.

46. Want kids? – God yes.
47. Want to get married? – I am already.
48. Careers in mind? – Even now at 37, I am still up in the air on that.

49. Lips or eyes? – eyes. They are the window to the soul.
50. Hugs or kisses? – Oh, nice, enveloping, lingering hugs where you lean your whole being into them completely… I like those so much.
51. Shorter or taller? – Silly question. 95% of women instinctively want taller. It’s genetic.
52. Older or Younger? – Older. Nothing beats experience.
53. Sensitive or loud?– Weird choices, oddly matched, but Sensitive – I’ll handle the loud.
54. Hookup or relationship? – Random hookups can only do damage, no matter how much people try to deny it. Relationship or bust.
55. Trouble–maker or hesitant? – Those too are badly matched words, but I’ll take someone who’s playfully bratty over someone who’s fearful and hesitant any day. Who wouldn’t?

56. Kissed a stranger – Yes, a few times during New Year’s Parties.
57. Imbibed hard liquor – Is this Meme meant for ten-year-olds or Menonites? Of course.
58. Lost glasses/contacts? – Yes. And have had glasses chewed up by my dog too.
59. Run away from home – fantasized about it many times as a child. Never followed through though.
60. Been arrested – Almost, but no. Friends got caught, I didn’t.
61. Turned someone down? – Yes.
62. Cried when someone died – Uh… Yeah. This question is absurd. I do actually have a soul.

63. Yourself – yes, but I let other peoples’ doubts create more in me.
64. Love at first sight– Lived it. Yes. I knew my husband was the one the first time I laid eyes on him. His smile melted my heart..
65. Santa Claus – I believe in what Santa Claus represents. As proven here.
66. Kiss on the first date – If it feels right, why not? Just don’t do it for the wrong reasons.
67. Angels -- I believe there are some exceptional people in this world who would qualify as such. Especially George Soros if he decides one day to grant me lots of funds to realize my business dream. ::heh heh::

*apparently the original meme author ran out of questions to ask well before they reached promised quantity of ‘truths’. So in this case, this is 67 truths about me.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


Oh my goodness… Off the chart adorableness occurred just a while ago and I rushed back so I could share it before I forgot a single detail.

Today I went for a sushi fix to my usual haunt Sushiland in Clackamas. It’s right next to the DMV. It’s a busy place. I was seated next to a little girl of oh, no more than four or so, I’m not sure. She was on my right, and her mother was one seat over. She was the picture of cuteness. She had blonde hair put up into two little pigtails on the top of her head, and they simply both coiled into two perfect curls. She had wide, grey-blue eyes rimmed with startlingly dark lashes. She wore an eggplant coloured jumper over an off-white turtleneck and ivory tights. She had tiny leather mary-janes of brown leather, and a deep red pea-coat was draped over the back of her chair. I immediately thought that mommy dressed her very well.

She was fidgety as the little ones can be. She was unabashedly eating some shrimp and salmon nigiri with her fingers, looking about as she chewed thoughtfully. She was very chatty and engaging. She asked me a billion questions, about the colours and shapes of my keychains to silly questions about my cell phone, and she asked to try on my gloves, which I allowed her to do despite her sticky hands. She chatted with mom, she chatted with me and continued to eat.

And then it happened. He came. He was seated on my left. He was a large older man, round of belly and white of beard. In fact… he kind of looked a lot like this guy:

…except he was wearing a red Big Dog t-shirt and a coordinating flannel over it with jeans, and a pair of Carhartt boots. He had dried paint on his shoulder. But heck if he did not look exactly like Santa, down to the neatly groomed beard. He even wore oval framless glasses, no kidding.

And for a second there was quiet as he took the little sauce dishes and filled one with a little soy sauce and a lot of wasabi and the second with yummy pickled ginger. And then I saw a certain little face sliding into my field of vision from the corner of my eye, slowly moving forward to look around me. I leaned back a bit, and she kept staring and leaning in to get a better look at him.

Then she whispers very loudly to me but it can be heard by anyone within range: “Is that Santa?”

I whisper back: “Maybe. You should ask.” Her mother is smirking and of course this scene is not missed by the two or three other people on each side of our foursome; more people who are charmed by this suppress charmed grins.

“Are you Santa?” she calls out much louder. The bearded gentleman leans forward so he can see her and replies in a rich baritone,

“Maybe, maybe not.”

“What are you doing here?” she quickly responds, taking his ambiguous response as a resounding yes. It’s a good question; what is Santa doing here, he’s got so much to do? It’s already so close to Christmas!

“I was doing some chores and thought I’d have lunch.”

“You like sushi?”

“I do” He replies. “Just like you.” She smiles broadly.

“You’re doing chores?” she asks, anticipation in her voice.

“Yes. I had some things to do today,” he replies; all patience and sweet, kind-hearted indulgence.

“Are you getting presents?”

“Yes, actually.” The sushi place is in a promenade of shops. “I also had to get my driving license renewed,” he added, speaking very slowly and deliberately.

“Driving?” she repeats, eyes wide. “To drive the sleigh?” she then blurts. At that point nobody could resist the cuteness overload anymore and a cacophony of chuckles just exploded along the line of chairs at the sushi bar.

“Maybe. Maybe not,” he was his answer, his cheeks quite rosy. I swear to you, the guy somehow contrived a freakin’ twinkle in his eye. You should have seen her face. They left not long after and she called out while waving her free hand emphatically: "Bye Santa!" as her mother led her by.

I was charmed right out of my Børns. Seriously, that's just bizarre. I thought I had stumbled inadvertently onto the set of some really sickeningly saccharine Christmas movie or something. Disgustingly cute.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

I do not like Wal-Mart.

I know lots of bloggers rail against the monster that is Wal-Mart, but I am just peeved at this company beyond words.

The last time I set foot in a wally-world was probably in the late 90s-ish in Salem, New Hampshire. I bought a half-barrel for the porch on my first house. They'd just opened the store, and I remember the throngs of people from Massachusetts clogging up rt. 28. I took a back-way and never went back. I went to the local nursery after that, it wasn't worth the drive to save $2.50.

Then I started to hear about some of its questionable business practicies, and its manufacturing methods, and the sort of labour industries they support where their employees are treated only slightly better than slaves. Hey, as long as it's cheap, right? "Let's lower product quality to save us manufacturing costs, let's be the ones to determine what the components will be used in the manufacture of our electronics and the ingredients in the consumables, so we can be sure that we don't overpay for anything." Lowest-bid construction and assembly... That's Wal-Mart quality!

Then I watched a documentary that enlightened me (and further infuriated me) on how Wal-mart treats its own employees, and how they put union-prevention over their employee and customer safety, and I won't even go into their environmental practices. I think the saddest thing I learned from that documentary was the number of small businesses destroyed by the appearance of a Wal-mart in communities across the country. Who can compete with that? Wally-world then figured out a few good 'green' things to brighten their image a bit. "Oh, maybe you'll forget what a heartless machine we are if we change out our light-bulbs."

I have my undercurrent of Wal-mart hatred, I confess. I never shop there, not even when we're broke. I glower in disapproval at anyone I know who confesses to shopping there. To me, it's feeding a beast, no matter how dire our economical situation is. Support LOCAL business. That's my motto. That's how smaller economies keep afloat; throwing our money at Wal-mart's stockholders won't.

Then they came out with their new commercials with their new mantra on them.

Wal-mart... Live better.

Live better. So unneeded consumption, in the eyes of Wal-mart, denotes a better life. Having more means acheiving happiness. Consumerism completes you. That's disgusting. And blatant.

But this last event... where some poor man was murdered in a consumer-frenzy during a 'door-buster' sale for flatscreens and digital cameras... It makes my heart hurt. Owning something should not create such a clamour that human life and personal safety suddenly doesn't matter. An 8-month pregnant woman sustained injuries... It's like people were turned into blind, panicked, stampeding wildebeest just to get that 40% deal on the portable DVD player. And what's worse, the store didn't even close up for long, just long enough to clean up the mess. And there was no pause in the never-ending commercials about with people bragging about how they got this great item from Wall-mart for so cheap. It's so disrespectful. It's disgusting. It's inhuman. And disheartening.

Merry Christmas to the family of the man who lost his life over a door-buster sale. Maybe Wal-mart gave them a few coupons for their trouble.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Sisterly Love.

I love my eldest sister to the point of no return. Of all my family, she counts as the most pivotal person in my life besides my husband. She almost raised me to some degree; she watched over me, and showed me the essentials when nobody else did. When she went off to university, I was left completely without allies and became invisible. She’s that important to me.

She is also the person I am most comfortable with. With her, I don’t have to worry about hurting feelings, crushing those proverbial eggshells, I can just say things that come from my heart and know that she won’t take it personally, and that she listens on the most part. I can also act like a complete freak, and she will laugh and laugh. Making her laugh is my favourite thing, and I will go through tremendous lengths to do so, even at the expense of the public. For instance, yesterday, we stopped at Michaels for some crafting supplies, and I decided it would be funny to sing* “Jingle Bells” in an exaggerated Jewish accent at the top of my lungs to the store music. “Jingle oll da vay!! Oy vey!” We also tend to break into some insane dance-moves in other stores to whatever crazy muzac they’re playing. My sister does a mean running-man. I usually prefer the manic-robot myself. We are a public menace—all for the sake of our personal entertainment. It’s so obnoxious it hurts.

But I have to declare it… my sister makes me crazy. She's been staying with me on and off since July, while she wrangles some consultant work here in Portland, and moves her life from New York to Pensacola. She makes me nuts. Yes, she does. Two obstinate control-freaks in a mountain cabin together. I’m sure you can imagine.

Having hubby gone, I am doubly grateful for her presence though. She keeps me engaged, and interested, and comes bopping into my room like some caffeine-hyped-Pollyanna on weekend mornings to drag me out of bed so she can have her eggs Benedict at the ZigZag Inn. Then it’s off for some retail therapy. I get to follow her around while she spends inordinate sums of money on stuff for her new Pensacola home she never sees. Her houses are always like Magazine shots… and she dedicates a lot of time and $$$ to make them so. Not that I’m jealous or anything; I won’t think of the raw pine barn-board that lines most of the walls in my house (that her cat seems to think is the perfect media for claw-sharpening).

Ah well. She leaves after Christmas. I will miss her, but I have to confess, I will be glad to have my craft-room back and more importantly, destrocto-cat will be destroying trims and baseboard in her old colonial instead.

Okay, I will miss her. She’s like my best friend. Even with the satanic cat and her early-rising tendencies.

I'm lucky to have her.
*I use this term loosely

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Giving Thanks

Once, I remember during a workshop, we were asked to make a list of what we were thankful for. That same year, I hosted my very first Thanksgiving on my own in my first home. I wanted to carry on that idea, so I set votive candle cups at each place setting, and had each guest light the candle and tell the rest of us three things they were most thankful for. It seemed sort of gauche when I set it up, but it ended up being extremely profound. People become shamelessly honest and sentimental when there's turkey and dressing in front of them, I guess. ::tee hee::

So I made a list this year. It's silly, not very profound, I confess, but it is true. These are not in any particular order; it's taken directly from my addled brain, where thinking of one thing will present other things that I am grateful for. Frankly, I could have probably filled the back of the list page too in tiny print. :)

I'm also grateful for press. We (the ORS) got a very nice article in the Portland Tribune last Thursday for the Winter Ball. Awesome.

I'm also grateful for a four day weekend. SWEEEEET!!!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone. May your tryptophan-induced stupors be blissful.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Happy Friday!

A jig (bigger)

Oh, joy, it's Friday. It's been a tough past week. I've been struggling with a cold and sinus infection since last week, and I had to function on a normal level with work, and also to be focused and somewhat coherent for the Oregon Regency Society annual Winter Ball. I expected to rest up a bit on Sunday, but unfortunately, my shop-a-holic sister had other ideas, starting by waking me up early for eggs benedict at the ZigZag Inn.

But somehow, I got through the week. Thanks to Dr. Grise and his kind Rx for a nice six-day antibiotic treatment that has made my painful throat and sinus calm down significantly. I made it! Yay! It's been a looooong week. I've been looking to Friday since Sunday night. ::teehee:: It's time to recoup.

I plan to sleep like I've taken up hibernation as a hobby. I plan to make lots of tea, to sew a bit, but if not, that's okay. I plan to find a good movie on DVD and watch it, or maybe just turn it to Sci-Fi Channel's "Really Bad B-Movie Saturday" all day, and watch bad actors feign terror at badly made distasters and randomly contrived monsters. I plan to speak to my husband and to tell him I miss him at least five times. I plan to give myself a foot-spa treatment, and to do a mask on my face. Yes. I will enjoy the peace and quiet before the sister returns to drive me insane. I will snuggle my dogs prolifically. I plan to wear pajamas all day, every day, and only put shoes on to walk to dogs. I will put my hair in two braids and not bother with it. I plan to make lots of comfort food. I plan to play some games online, and maybe even write a bit. And if all I do is sleep, eat and putter around, big deal. It's my weekend. I've earned it, darnit.


Happy Friday all.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Bad Blood.

I've gone and done it again. I've spoken my mind. I've let someone have it as my husband says; "with both barrels". And the result is bad feelings. I can't help but feel ambivalent to some degree. I upset people who are constantly disappointing my husband, breaking his heart; I enraged people who have been disingenuous and selfish, I laid it all out for souls who pay no attention to us at all, unless they need something, who pretend to care about someone because they seek only financial benefit from them.

So I just can't bring myself to feel bad for speaking my mind. I am only sad that I put my husband in an uncomfortable position.

I am like that though. As a mean, I'm an affable, kind, loving person. I seem like a sweet powder-puff on the most part; but I learned the hard way that it's important to be honest with you sentiments, and it's important to never allow anyone to take away your power by keeping your mouth shut. It's just not worth it. No relationship on this earth is worth swallowing anger, or keeping festering resentment like that. And you push this powder-puff enough, and you hurt or threaten the people this powder-puff loves enough, and I just stop caring about sparing feelings and saving relationships that are not beneficial... and then it all comes out. The Beast is set loose, and my words usually at this point have been stewing and fermenting for a while... aquiring a little sting and some acidity. They spew out in a cascade of the past five year's worth of resentments, and voila. It's out on the table. This is how I really feel. While I've been smiling at you, I've been biting my tongue. And when the Beast comes out, it's usually not a salvagable situation. Usually when the Beast speaks, relationships end.

I was unbelievably harsh, yes. But there wasn't a single thing I said that wasn't 100% honest or truthful in what I expressed. Whether or not it fell on deaf ears at this point, is irrelevant. I don't expect anyone is mature enough to stop, look at what I expressed, and come to some ephipany that will lead to great change or improvement in relationships, or honesty in communication. People aren't like that. When faced with hard truths, people usually choose to return with a counterattack, and to justify themselves, and to shut it down so no effort is further required on their part. It's easier that way.

Well. It's all out. People are up in arms and angry. They don't want to speak to me anymore. I do not feel too terrible about that for some reason. In fact, I feel like I've just removed about 550 lbs of dead-weight off my mind. I'm glad they know where I stand. If their silence is the price, oh well.

In the end there's only one person who matters to me. That's my husband. The people who seek to interfere are peripheral and unimportant. He doesn't usually voice his anger and his frustrations. I have less to lose, so I have no qualms doing so. Maybe, at least for him, it will have a positive effect someday.

So Evil Stephanie strikes again. ::sigh:: C'est la vie.

I think a fat cat is in order. Fat cats are always good to lighten a situation.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

The weather outside's delightful.
A fire would be so frightful.
Our cheeks have a happy glow,
Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.
Yes. I love winter. Adore it. Can't wait for it.
I miss my husband too. :(
New project in the works. I will share when I'm good'n'ready. ::teehee:: It's a thing for my etsy shop.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Mr. Hurried.

Every morning I see lots of things on my long commute. I recognize a variety of cars that share my route. I see lots of people who wait reliably every day by bus stops, and people who walk most regularly to and fro. There are a few that intrigue me.

I've already discussed my affinity for Crazy Asian Guy. I've been missing him a lot this year. He drives down the hill most of the time, I catch him as he is turning around, the yellow bus already through the light. I miss him.

However there is another intriguing character that I see every morning; once again, a denizen of 92nd Avenue.

He's a silver-haired gentleman; not old by any means, but his hair is silver. He is very... prim. By that I mean he has a very conservative, almost British look to him; I swear, a bowler hat would not look out of place on his head. He carries an umbrella, which he uses as a cane when it's not raining, and in cooler months he wears a black or camel trench-coat (depending on the day) that looks very large on his lean frame.

He is always dressed quite immaculately. A nicely fitted suit, shirt, tie, shiny black shoes... and he walks along 92nd towards Sunnyside with a purposeful air, eyes locked firmly on the ground before his feet, his pace quick and most determined.

He has a nice face. A quiet face. The sort of face you'll see atop his slight body, huddled in one of the couches at your local bookstore, little oval glasses pointed at a book you're probably likely not likely to pick up; with a title like "The Evolution of The Trebuchet and Other Ancient War Machines". He seems shy. He seems meticulous. He seems interesting.

I wonder every day what he does. Is he an attorney? An accountant? A Kaizer Permanente Administrative person? Where does he end up at the end of his hurried walk? Where does he emerge from? Is it a tidy space with everything in its place? Does he have a little egg-cup, plate and a coffee cup drying on his dish rack every morning, the crumbs from his toast carefully swept up into his napkin? Are his pencils all the same height? Are the ends chewed? I think not. Is he lonely? Is he married? Does he have someone to kiss his cheek and smile at him? I don't know. But I want to. I sort of feel... connected to him. Like I should wave to him with a smile of recognition if he should happen to look up-just because I feel like I want to know who he is. But that doesn't happen, he always looks down, and scurries along, his umbrella gripped firmly in one hand, and his thin briefcase swinging in the other, his coat whoosing against his pumping legs.

What's his story, I wonder?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Lord Leon De La Forêt

Lord and Master of the estates of La Forêt, Lord Leon is an imposing presence; the pinnacle of a family line that has graced nobility for generations, and the proud cut of his profile is evidence of his refined breeding.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Another Meme and some other stuff...

Stolen from "Posie Gets Cozy", one of my favourite blogs; a one-word answer Meme.

  • Where is your mobile phone? Here.

  • Where is your significant other? Errands.

  • Your hair colour? Natural.

  • Your mother? Satan.

  • Your father? Fragile.

  • Your favourite thing? Creativity.

  • Your dream last night? ::shrug::

  • Your dream goal? Entrepreneur.

  • The room you're in? Office.

  • Your hobby? Sewing.

  • Your fear? Desolation.

  • Where do you want to be in 6 years? Comfortable.

  • Where were you last night? Home.

  • What you're not? Polyanna.

  • One of your wish-list items? Funding.

  • Where you grew up? Brabant.

  • The last thing you did? Sneeze.

  • What are you wearing? Clothes.

  • Your TV? Escape.

  • Your pets? Manipulators.

  • Your computer? Drug.

  • Your mood? Ambivalent.

  • Missing someone? Wednesday.

  • Your car? Stompy.

  • Something you're not wearing? Makeup.

  • Favourite shop? Ikea

  • Your summer? Sweltering.

  • Love someone? Irrevocably.

  • Your favourite colour? Lavender.

  • When is the last time you laughed? Always.

  • When is the last time you cried? Yesterday.
Give it a whirl!

It's been about four days that Husband is home, he leaves Wednesday. My heart is growing heavier with each passing moment. It's been a strange weekend. I took Friday off to spend with him, and the whole weekend just zoomed by. Now I'm at work during the day and he's at home doing his thing. It's hard not to allow my sadness pervade the time we're together. I find myself clinging to him and tears starting to form in my eyes. This is very hard. I don't know how military wives to it; if I get this emotional just for a six-week span, where he's not in immediate danger, where he's still inside our borders... I can't imagine how the army wives can do it. Okay, so most of them have children to focus on, but it is still beyond me. I feel like such a whiner. This is very difficult. I let the dread of the goodbye build up, I blubber like a fool as I send him off, and then I feel numb for days.

I comfort myself in knowing he's working for a good company, and doing something good for the world. He's helping Vestas to build wind turbines.


I'm thinking about selling some of my image originals. I figure since most of them are scanned and available for prints if need be, I might just unload the originals of the 'office specials' I create periodically. I'm curious to see if they sell at all. Maybe I'll frame them up really cute. We'll see.

The ORS Regency Ball is one short week away ::panic:: I haven't even made my ballgown yet. I have the headpiece and the shoes done, but that's it. I may have to go in my Regency skivvies. ::tee hee:: Oh boy. We'll see what happens. :)

An update, and maybe something whimsical soon. I also owe you another installment of The Tredwell Secret. I haven't forgotten.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Tenant problems.

It’s a drowsy Tuesday. It’s damp; my world is covered in a blanket of soggy yellow leaves and the floor of my Jeep has a puddle on it. It is the kind of day I want to stay in bed snuggled with my two dogs and my sister’s dog and cat. Husband is coming home for six days on Thursday. My tummy is all butterflies.

Our roof, it seems, has become home to a few creatures that keep my dogs up all night with their skittering and scratching in the bay window above our heads. A few weeks ago, I discovered the space where they’re possibly getting in—a large gap in the siding under the soffit of our bedroom bay window. Before, I noticed a smaller crack up in the very high eave on the other side of the house, where Batty McBat and the Clan McBat have apparently set up home. I’m okay with bats, more bats, fewer insects… And it’s neat in the summertime, when it’s dusk and you start to see them come out, and you can hear them squeaking just barely within my hearing range. Very cool. They are usually quiet residents, that are largely beneficial (I won’t think about the guano up in the roof space…) however Mr. and Mrs. Squirrel McDouglas, and I’m thinking perhaps many little McDouglases, having fattened up on our plentitude of peanuts and seed and corn through the spring and summer, have gladly taken up residence in the thick bed of cozy insulation; and they are not exactly ideal tenants--especially when every ten minutes, my dogs jerk their heads up and growl at the ceiling all through the night. The only reason I’m getting any sleep at all is because I sleep with earplugs.

I’m concerned about how to evict them. I suppose I’ll have to discuss it with husband when he returns on Thursday (yay yay yay yay!!!). I don’t want to kill or hurt the little guys, but I don’t want them in there, or causing by their presence, other creatures (such as skunks or raccoons) to feel compelled to make it a multiple species unit. Oh no.

I sincerely want to go a full night without hearing the telltale tap-dance of my furry tenants over my head, and then suffering through the unavoidable successions of bristling of canine hackles, growling, staring at empty ceilings, keyed-up alertness and lots of jumping on and off of the bed to investigate possible other noises. Simon and Flower have told me in none-so-many words (mostly in half-growls and barks) that they would be glad to rid me of the squatters, all I need to do is lift them up into the attic-space and let them solve the problem for me. I told them that involving them in the eviction would cause too much of a disturbance for the other upside-down suspended tenants and that it’s not my ideal solution. They do not agree—and they remain most keen on every little noise the McDouglases make.

Hopefully my husband will have ideas for less violent solutions. I hope so, anyway. I foresee a winter of much coming and going for midnight snacks. Oddly, Douglas squirrels are not nocturnal. So then do I have to worry that this is not the McDouglas family up there, but instead the LePew family? Oh the horror.

Be sure to vote today.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Miss Sparrow glides by

Goodness knows where it comes from sometimes. I guess it's another exercise in weirdness on my part. And it's once again one of my 'office specials'; made with little time, a sharpie, mechanical pencil, those poor, muddy coloured pencils and my odd sense of whimsy.

It's another beautiful day here in Oregon; a golden autumn day. Leaves are falling into colourful carpets, crows riffle through them to find tasty treats beneath. The sky is very light pastel blue because of a thin layer of wispy clouds... and a squirrel is ferreting things away for winter.


Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Farewell Tony Hillerman.

Tony Hillerman was born in Sacred Heart, OK on May 27, 1925. He was the youngest of three children, having an older brother and sister. His father, August A. Hillerman, was a storekeeper and farmer. His mother was Lucy Grove Hillerman.

He attended school from 1930-38 at St. Mary's Academy, a boarding school for Native American girls at Sacred Heart. He was one of several farm boys enrolled there. Sacred Heart was near a Benedictine mission to the Citizen Band Potowatomie Tribe. For high school, he was bused to Konawa High School. He graduated in 1942. He returned to farming after a brief sojourn to college and after his father's death.
In 1943, he joined the U. S. Army, serving in combat in World War II. He was awarded the Silver Star, the Bronze Star with Oak Leaf Cluster, and the Purple Heart after being wounded in 1945. (These injuries included broken legs, foot, ankle, facial burns, and temporary blindness.) He was discharged in 1945.

After the war, he attended the University of Oklahoma, receiving a B. A. in 1948.
He married Marie Unzner in 1948, to whom he is still married. They have six grown children.

From 1948-1962, he worked in a variety of journalist positions. He was a reporter for the Borger News Herald in Borger, TX (1948), city editor for the Morning Press-Constitution in Lawton, OK (1948-50), political reporter for UPI in Oklahoma City (1950-52), UPI bureau manager in Santa Fe, NM (1952-4), political reporter and then, editor for the Santa Fe New Mexican (1954-63).

In 1963, he returned to graduate school in English at the University of New Mexico. He was an assistant to the University president at the same time. He joined the journalism faculty of UNM in 1966 after receiving his M.A. He taught there until 1987, serving as department chair from 1976-81.

Although he says he feels great for the shape he's in, his health has been a concern. He told PBS in 1996, " I am 71, have now-and-then rhematic arthritis but now very badly, have in-remission cancer, have had a minor heart attack, have one mediocre eye, one tricky ankle and two unreliable knees due to being blown up in WWII. "

His memoirs were published in October, 2001. It won the Agatha Award for Best Non-Fiction.

Tony passed away in a NM hospital on October 26, 2008.

Biography courtesy of University of Missouri - St. Louis

His Navajo Mysteries
  • The Shape Shifters. New York: HarperCollins, 2006.
  • Skeleton Man. New York: HarperCollins, 2004.
  • The Sinister Pig. New York: HarperCollins, 2003.
  • The Wailing Wind. New York: HarperCollins, 2002.
  • Hunting Badger. New York: Harper, 1999
  • The First Eagle. New York: Harper,1998.
  • The Fallen Man. New York: Harper,1997.
  • Sacred Clowns. New York: Harper,1993.
  • Coyote Waits. New York: Harper,1990.
  • Talking God. New York: Harper,1989.
  • A Thief of Time. New York: Harper,1988.
  • Skinwalkers. New York: Harper,1986. Reprinted 1987. Bestseller List, 1986. This book won the Western Writers of America Spur Award in 1986.
  • The Ghost Way. New York: Harper, 1984. Reprinted 1986.
  • The Dark Wind. New York: Harper, 1982. Reprinted 1983.
  • People of the Darkness. New York: Harper, 1980. Reprinted 1982.
  • Listening Woman. New York: Harper, 1978. Reprinted 1979.
  • Dance Hall of the Dead. New York: Harper, 1973. Reprinted in 1975. MWA Edgar Allen Poe Award for the Best Mystery Novel of the West, 1973.
  • The Blessing Way. New York: Harper, 1970. Reprinted in 1978. This book was a finalist for the Best First Novel Edgar Allen Poe Award.

A complete list of his works can be found here.

Monday, October 27, 2008

One spooky night...

In the light of the moon they steal through the night,
A slinky black rat scurries on by.
A stealthy skunk sneaks among the brittle leaves,
and a big black raven rustles papery wings.
These creatures can only be up to terrible things!
For someone has carved a hideous grin
into an unsuspecting pumkin's thick ruddy skin.
Snap and hiss, what do we hear,
A match has been lit somewhere quite near.
A candle is lit. And what does the light show?
Three halloween friends cast in its glow.
I confess. I feel cheated. I never got to do halloween as a child. It wasn't practiced where I grew up. I had one or two occasions to dress up in costume, but I'd never gone trick-or-treating or thrown rolls of toilet paper all over someone's home. Sounds simply delightful.
I have a friend named Maryanne Piro who is quite proficient at Halloween Art. You can find her selling prints at the fair in Salem Massachusetts each fall. She's a wonderful lady with a pure soul; and her witches and pumpkins are a whimsical wonder to behold. If you're in Salem this Halloween, stop by her table and say hello for me.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

A Quiet Saturday.

My husband has been very doting recently. Yesterday he sent me a fresh bouquet of autumn roses at work. These came with a little box of chocolates too. Mmm. He likes to do the 'just because' things on occasion. He has an account with ProFlowers and he uses it quite frequently, the silly man. ;) In my last job there was a girl that worked there who would get visibly upset whenever he had flowers delivered to me or he brought them to me. She would spend the rest of the day slamming things around and making snippy comments. I discovered later it was because her significant other was wholly unromantic and never made special gestures like that--and that's what she hoped for in him. I felt sorry for her, but her display of resentful behaviour I found quite entertaining after a while. ::tee hee::

I am lucky that I have a husband like this. He is very sweet, and very thoughtful; and three years married and I still get 'just because' flowers. When tulips are in season (my favourite) he is alway sure to send me a vase full.

He also bought me a 'Dutch blue' tea-set I've been coveting for a while. He ordered it as a gift for our anniversary. So this morning I made myself my usual soft-boiled eggs and little toastlet strips (Tati used to call them 'petits soldats'), and I sat down to enjoy tea using my new set. I steeped up some of my precious Summer Pudding from Whittard of Chelsea. I am miserly with it since it's been discontinued in the US, and it's expensive to purchase from England. It's the most fragrant, delicious tea I've ever had. It's a black tea infused with strawberries, raspberries, redcurrant and blackcurrants. You open the tin and this incredible aroma just overtakes you, and when you brew it, oh, it's fantastic.

That was my treat to myself this morning. As I set it up, I thought it would make a pretty picture, and I think it did.

I then went on to perform one of my most important civic duties. It's time to submit my election ballot to the state of Oregon. First I want to read up on the measures and such. I love it that Oregon has a vote by mail system. It affords me the time to read up and become educated on the goings on in my region and statewide. There are several devisive issues to vote on this round, and that's not including the presidential election. I do not have the luxury to simply strike a party-specific dot on my ballot and be done with it. I'm a libertarian, slightly left leaning, but I have very conservative views on some matters, and very liberal views on others. I suppose that comes from being raised overseas by Naturalized citizens. It allows for a different perspective, I think. People would probably look at my ballot and think I'm just all over the place. I just try to be objective and keep a broader perspective on what I vote for; I will try not to let my passions or the things that are relatively minor in the greater scheme of things influence my choices.

Please take the time to vote. It's so important. Don't assume what you think has no effect on the outcome. Every one of us should make ourselves count. Well, it's time for me to open my envelope.

Friday, October 24, 2008

A Fairy Tale.

When I was a little girl, I read a fairy tale that I cannot find anywhere today. I don’t even recall the title. It has the classic moral lessons of the standard fairy tale, but for some reason, it has stuck with me more the others.

It is a tale of an unwanted stepdaughter, very Cinderella-ish. I don’t remember the names, so I’m going to make them up for the purpose of retelling the story. It certainly won’t be exact; I don’t remember the whole thing, but just the gist of it. So I rewrote it in a slapdash sort of way just for fun.


Nadia had a stepsister; Irena. She was a blond-haired, pretty girl with rosy cheeks and blue eyes. But that was as far as her prettiness went. Irena was a willful, spoiled girl. Her mother, Aurelia had been a woman of means, and she had married a humble baker. It had taken much of her pride to accept her new life, however she loved her new husband, and while he lived, she helped him with the bakery, and treated both girls very well. Irena was always treated with a bit of a preference by her mother, which can be understood, but when Nadia’s father passed away, everything changed.

Nadia was the opposite of Irena. Her hair was raven black, and her eyes stormy-grey, and her skin was a pale, soft peach. She looked very much as her father had; and that alone made it difficult for Aurelia to even look at her, for it made her miss her beloved husband more every day and caused her great heartache. Every day, Nadia became less and less of a member of the family.

Aurelia had inherited the running of the bakery. And the girls, who were becoming young ladies, were old enough to help. But Aurelia decided that Irena was too pretty and delicate to do the work of the bakery, and so Nadia was forced to wake up hours before dawn every day to bake the wares for the shop. While Nadia toiled by the hot oven, kneaded dough, mixed heavy batters, and cleaned up after herself, Irena would laze about upstairs, eat the freshly baked goods, have new gowns fitted and occasionally come down to the bake room to tease Nadia. Aurelia only woke when dawn had arrived, where she would open the shop and sell all the goods that Nadia had worked so hard to make. Nadia worked hard and did not complain. She was proud that her baked goods were loved by their customers, and so she threw herself into her work, loving it because her father loved it. And the bakery thrived because of her work.

As the months wore on, Nadia’s tasks increased until she was little more than a servant; cooking the meals and cleaning up after her stepmother and stepsister. And worst of all, they took her for granted.

One morning, Irena was feeling particularly spiteful, and she came down to the bake-room to tease her stepsister. Nadia was making four dozen fresh pear tarts for a special wedding, and she had them all laid out on the worktable. Irena slid the tray off the table and onto the floor and then ran away.

Aurelia heard the clatter of the tray and Nadia’s distressed cry, and she came down to the bake room and saw the mess on the floor. It was too late to make new tarts for the wedding, and she became infuriated at her stepdaughter.

“What have you done, Nadia! What a horrible thing to do!” she shouted. Nadia shook her head. She knew that if she told Aurelia that her daughter had done it, she wouldn’t be believed and it would enrage her further to think that Nadia was trying to blame her beloved Irena. So she didn’t say a word, she simply knelt down to clean up the mess. Aurelia pushed her down onto the floor, right into the spoiled tarts and then screamed:

“You have ruined us all! Oh, what shall I do? Master Black will never buy our pastries again if we ruin his daughter’s wedding! Oh, what shall I do?” Aurelia paused, tears falling from her fearsome eyes. “You! You horrible child! Look what you’ve done to us. Look! You get out. GET OUT! And never come back!”

And so Nadia did. She got up off the floor. The front of her was gown soiled from the spoiled tarts, and she climbed the stairs to the shop, and left right out the front door, carrying nothing with her.

She fled the small village. Because of her hard hours in the bake-room, she had no friends there. She had no idea where she was going. She simply walked. She followed the main road into the forest, and within a few hours she became lost.

As the sun set, she finally noticed a light among the trees and went towards it. She came upon a very humble cottage in a glade. There were some chickens and ducks, and a small cow out in a small stick enclosure. Inside, a lean fire burned in the hearth. Nadia rapped softly on the door.

It was answered by a spindly old woman. She looked very old and very frail. Nadia greeted her with a shy smile and asked if she could come in. “I will feed your goat and your chickens in the morning, and make you breakfast if you allow me to sleep by your fire,” she said. The old woman reflected on this for but a moment and then stepped aside so Nadia could come in. The old woman was just having a supper of a thin soup and a crust of bread and she offered some to Nadia. Nadia took only a little out of politeness—there wasn’t very much there for the old woman, and she didn’t want to deprive her when she had so little to give. When the old lady retired for the evening, Nadia took her place by the fire and slept there with no blanket or pillow.

She awoke long before dawn as she was accustomed and so she got up and looked about the place. She found there were ample supplies for baking in the cupboard, so she got started making a beautiful breakfast for the old lady, in addition to making her some bread for lunch and supper. She found eggs under the warm bellies of the chickens, and apples on the old woman’s tree, and she milked the cow. She swept up the kitchen area, and tidied the cottage.

By the time the old woman awoke at sunrise, Nadia had a tray for her to eat in bed; a fine breakfast of delicious pastries, hot porridge with fresh fruit in it, and fresh milk. She delighted in the presentation, and ate it with relish. It was such a treat.

When she got out of bed, Nadia took the tray away and cleaned it up. She thanked the old woman profusely for her kindness for allowing a stranger in her home and sharing her food. The old woman smiled.

“Oh, my dear, you are so kind and helpful, you are most welcome. Because you were so good to me, I would like to offer you two tokens of my great appreciation for the breakfast and the beautiful breads you made for me.

Nadia was reluctant, but she did not want to be rude and turn down the lady’s offer. The old woman opened an armoire to reveal a row of cloaks. “This is what I do; I make cloaks. Have your pick, you can choose any one of them. You should not be out alone with nothing to keep you warm.”

Nadia’s eyes scanned the tidy row of cloaks, they were all lovely; they ranged from very rich silken cloaks with gold cording and fine ribbons to adorn them, to simple linen ones with no trimmings. She chose the plainest of them all; a pine-green cloak that had no embellishments, not even a clasp to close it at the neck. She accepted it graciously, and thanked the old woman again and again, slipping it over her shoulders. To her, it didn’t matter how it looked, it was the most thoughtful gift because it would keep her warm on a cool day.

“You’ll need a clasp. Come with me, I have many of those as well.” The old woman opened a drawer and revealed a multitude of clasps, and again, they represented a wide range of quality and value. There were clasps shaped like frogs of gold, clasps shaped as butterflies of silver, but what Nadia pointed to was a simple clasp with a brooch shaped like a little bird carved of wood.

“This is too much,” she said, her eyes brimming with tears, “I thank you so for your kindness. I never thought anyone could be this generous.” The old woman beamed with pride that Nadia had such delight over simple gifts, “Think nothing of it,” she replied, “it is my pleasure.”

She sent Nadia along with a kind hug. Nadia emerged from the cottage, warm in her new cloak, and heartened by the kindness of this old woman. She had no idea where she was going to go from here, but the path seemed clearer somehow, so she took it. The narrow path eventually led out of the woods into a small village that neighbored hers. It was a quiet morning, and the only sound in the village was the trickle of the fountain in the center square. Nadia found it, and sat down at its edge, utterly devoid of ideas. As she pondered some children came to her; a little girl and a little boy, both richly dressed in fine clothing. They greeted her with open smiles and she smiled back at them. The asked her name, and giggled with her. They asked her to tell them a story, and she did. They asked her to sing them a song, so she nodded to them, and thought of one she liked.

Nadia’s voice rung out like the song of a nightingale; and the children fell still from the power of it. As she sang, her cloak transformed itself in a shimmer into a garment of immense beauty; the drab green linen becoming an emerald silk edged in silver cording. Her clasp turned into a golden nightingale, her tattered, soiled gown became a soft, billowy gown of snow-white muslin.

The children’s father, a widower and nobleman turned the corner into the square looking for his children, and beheld her. He fell instantly in love with the dark-haired beauty with the angel’s voice. He came to her, and took her to stay with his sister; and only a few days later, she agreed to marry him.

Nadia was not a selfish soul, and she renewed her connection with her angry stepmother and jealous stepsister. They attended her wedding. Irena’s fingernails were caked in flour. It seems that when Aurelia’s hands were in threat of getting dirty, then Irena wasn’t so delicate or pretty anymore that she didn’t need to work. Aurelia complained to Nadia how hard it was to get Irena out of bed to work in the bake room every day.

Nadia recounted to Irena during the wedding, the story of the magical cloak and the old woman and how she came to meet her loving husband and to have two beautiful children. Irena decided she would do the same, for she believed she deserved such fortune herself.

So she followed the road into the night, and found the cabin of the old woman. But Irena is not a giving soul, and she did not offer to help the old woman when she opened the door. But the old woman let her in anyway. She ate most of the old woman’s watery soup and bread. She insisted that the old woman share her bed with her so she didn’t have to sleep on the floor.

Irena did not wake early to make her breakfast. She slept long after the old woman had gotten up, and when she did wake, she asked if she could eat some of her bread. And before she left, she said: “You gave my sister gifts before she departed, where are mine?” The old woman wordlessly opened the armoire, and Irena saw all the cloaks and her eyes grew wide. “Oh, these are beautiful,” she cried. She reached in and took the finest cloak, a red silk velvet cape, and threw it around her shoulders. The old woman then went to the drawer for the clasps, and she picked the golden frog as a closure. Without a thank you or farewell, she skipped off to the fountain to find her nobleman.

But as it is fated for those who are selfish and ungrateful, the sheen of the fine new gifts gave way to the ugliness of their owner. She sat on the fountain and sang only to croak like a frog, and the gilded frog clasp turned into cracked, old wood. Her billowing cloak of red silk velvet turned into a thin, threadbare, stained and moth eaten thing. And no nobleman found her. Instead a pig-farmer was passing through who thought her golden features pretty and he decided he needed a wife to care for him and to help him with his farm.

Aurelia continued to run the bakery, only now with no daughters to do the work for her.


Happy Friday everyone. ;)

Friday, October 17, 2008

A Tag from Lovely Lauren

I read the blog belonging to the ever-lovely Lauren; a creature I know from my Regency group. She and her husband are some of my favourite members of the ORS. Lauren is a lady of deep faith, profound goodness and immense beauty of presence and spirit and I absolutely adore her. Do visit her blog... she's an avid costumer (and not a cheater like me either, she hand-sews her work ((with help of course))). The way that she loves her dogs and other 'fur-babies' reveals so much about the kind of person she is. Anyway, enough gushing about Lauren... let's get on with the tag:

Write 6 random things about yourself

Okay then.

1) I speak four languages and grew up in Belgium.

2) I have slippers that look like bear-feet.

3) My favourite time is weekend mornings, waking up late, and being snuggled and greeted by two delighted, waggy-tailed dogs.

4) I was featured in a 'living-small' article in American Profile for my tiny house.

5) I write, review, edit and am looking to become a publisher of fantasy and children's books.

Edit: Apparently I don't know how to count. I see that it says 6 random things, and I realized I only posted 5. I'm such a doofus; here's number 6))

6) I am a sedum thief and collector. If you have sedum of a variety I don't have, I will steal a pinch of it on the sly.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Three Years Today.

Today marks the third wedding anniversary for my husband and I. We are still newlyweds. It's sort of strange, because it both feels like it's been forever, and it seems like it was yesterday all at once.

I spent a lot of time planning for the wedding. I made the floral arrangements, hair-pieces for the flower girls, the jewelry gifts, the cake topper and all manner of other things beforehand. My wedding, even with the venue (the Timberline Lodge), cost less that $5500. Believe it or not. That doesn't include the dress, which was $600.

The thing is, you spend all this time planning and planning, being a control freak, making sure everything is just right, and then the day goes flying by so fast, you don't get a chance to take in the end-result. Thank God for the invention of the camera, that's all I have to say.

As weddings go, ours brought its fair share of drama (mostly induced by my very evil mother who just delighted in offending just about every single guest in some way or other). It seems you can never escape having one or two people who are determined to take your special day and to turn it into something about themselves. It's really unavoidable. It's a side effect of having family, I guess.

I was so nervous. All sorts of things went wrong, as they often do. The first thing was that as I arrived with my gown and accessories, my mother took a bag, and disappeared with it, bringing it to the ballroom. It happened to contain some of my more necessary items, like the undergarments and my veil. After someone went all the way back to my house to see if we'd left it there, it was discovered that my mother had ferreted it away and left it there while she and my step-father-in-law went out for a smoke together. She was not in the room when I got dressed.
My mother, during my shower the week of my wedding, told me that I had to choose between her being there and my father being there; it couldn't be both. That was probably one of my most heart-breaking moments, since I had planned for him to walk me down the aisle and to give me away. I had the song picked out for the father-daughter dance. But my parents hadn't bothered to take the full year of advanced notice to make arrangements for my brother's care so they could both attend my wedding. So she put the decision on my shoulders.

They also forced a distant family member into my bridal party last-minute without telling me ahead of time (yet somehow she had a dress of the right colour... Hmmm). She was adorable, and it wasn't really an issue, but it was typical of how a wedding can sometimes be taken from your hands and can become an entity of its own--how your vision and plans often come second place to pleasing others. Sometimes, your wedding can become the avenue for family members to play out their politics, to reinforce grudges, gestures of forgiveness and amending relationships. It's more like two family reunions coming together in a clash; like two highly reactive substances being rent together to create a massive out of control ballooning explosion.

I had nobody to give me away, so Kurt and Michelle, the world's best wedding officiants, recommended that I have the congregation of guests give me away as a collective. That was a great idea. And it kept me from melting down.

The Timberline Lodge is a big tourist draw, and as I was waiting to go down the aisle, a Japanese lady asked that I take a picture with her. I was so flustered I must have looked like a freak in the picture.

My slip-on shoes kept coming off, and I had to descend shallow stairs before I got to the aisle and a gazillion eyes were on me and I'm a notorious faller and stumbler.

My flower girl trucked down the aisle at mach-V.

And then I stepped down the stairs gingerly, reached the bottom unscathed, and then looked up to see my husband-to-be waiting for me.

Everything else just stopped mattering at that point. I saw the love in his eyes as he gazed at me, and I couldn't stop grinning. I floated down the aisle, oblivious to the cello music I'd insisted on, oblivious to the decor, the candles, the bridesmaids, the fidgety flower girls, the photographers who completely ignored my shot-list and took over my wedding... everything. It was just him and me, with Kurt coming in occasionally with some important words.

The reception was such a blur, I hardly remember it. We didn't even have time to eat anything of substance... we were so busy walking around and talking. We did our first dance, and then my husband's parents got up to leave, and my mother took that as a signal to shut things down, and then boom... two hours early, our wedding was over, and I was standing in my gown, barefoot downstairs, wishing the out of town family safe travels.

It was really and finally over. All those months of buildup... poof. Gone.

The next morning, I awoke to my husband saying: "Wow. It looks like someone poured milk in the valleys." My husband, I thought. Standing by the window looking down the mountain. And indeed, it was a crystal clear day on the mountain, and below, mist laced in and out of the clefts of the hills.

Despite all the madness and sadness; I was overcome with this sense of wellbeing; of everything being right with the world.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Quibbly Costumers, Graveyards and Mondays

My bonnet pattern has been inciting some dissention among the die-hard costumer set recently. It has come under attack by a couple of know-it-alls on youtube, who are determined to nyeh-nyeh it as much as possible. I rreeeeeaaaallly cannot abide people who pick stuff apart like that simply to make themselves appear knowledgable.

Anyway, it seems the height of the crown is too high for the regency period according to them. I can only roll my eyes and sigh. I based the pattern on fashion-plate images and a couple of existing historic bonnets from the MFA in Boston... but when you make a pattern in buckram, you have to sacrifice things like flares at the top and such--and you also have to provide for the materials you're working with. You're not working with straw, you're working with a stiff fabric that requires structural rigidity. But these ladies are most determined to tear the whole thing down. Oh well, I say. Have at it if it helps.

Either way, those who bought the pattern love it, it meets its purpose quite decently, and creates a bonnet that looks most regency and amazing with a spencer and reticule. :) I haven't had any complaints yet, except from these nit-pickers. My advice... get a life ladies. So you think it's imperfect, who cares? Really? The hard truth is that there were no mass-produced garments during the early 1800s. People made their own clothes; yes, there was an overall fashionable look, but I am certain that the rules and creativity varied in as many ways as it does today. The fashion plates and portraits show a wide variety of styles, and so I'm prone to believe there were. There are no period 'standards' except the portraits and plates, and the few surviving garments, and they all are as different as they are the same. Get over it. The end-product is identifiable as a regency look and it makes the wearer happy. That's all that really matters. So in summation to the quibblers: Bite Me.


Anyway... today is Monday, my least favourite day of the week. The new drawing above is what I wish I was really doing right now. Mondays should be reserved for napping and snuggling. It should be the new law.

I took a spin today at lunch to visit the Davis Graveyard. There is this family down the road from my work that has become quite infamous for their incredible halloween yard display. This year's was especially good in the tombstone department; lots of quips and silliness; and lots of Joss Whedon references, not to mention Eddie Izzard; "Cake or Death?" If you're in the Portland area this October, do stop by... you won't be disappointed. They are artful creators of Halloween decor, including these really insanely cool wraith/harbinger characters of all hooded, droopy black robes with skeletal hands. The tombstones are a laugh. They are off of Tacoma/Harney near Johnson Creek Boulevard in Portland.

Check 'em out. Anyway, that's it for today. Another installation of the Tredwell Secret is coming soon. ;) Promise.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Shut your bearded piehole Billy Mays.

Okay, this is out of character for me... Okay, not really, but still, I am just annoyed by Billy Mays. Who in their right mind would want to buy a product simply because someone screams at them to do so? Do they really think his incessant screaming is just the incentive consumers need to make them pick up the phone? I think, at least for me, it has the opposite effect; the longer I am exposed to him, the more I am consumed with rage against his obnoxious loudness and his junky, cluttery, low-quality consumer product.

I mean really... who hires this guy? The National Society of American Advertising Sadists? Why do they insist on inflicting him on viewers? It's just cruel. The man only has one volume... deafening. I feel sorry for his wife and family being forced to hear that man day in and day out--they must have to buy many earplugs just to maintian their sanity....

...OR... what if they all scream the same way? Maybe the whole family just goes around shouting everything they say...

Hm. I can picture them now, all of them wearing embroidered-logo polos, with dyed beards (even the the little Sally Mays), sitting around a dining room table that was polished with Orange-Glow.


Tuesday, October 7, 2008

I do adore you so.

A Confession: having a roughish time of being alone, I feel myself want for affection. You see, I come from a pretty unaffectionate family; and it took some adjustment for me to become accustomed to the gentle sweetness of my husband; and sometimes it is still kind of overwhelming to me.

There are creatures that bring out that affectionate side of me. Children, dogs, baby animals and my husband. In order to warm up to people and be really affectionate, I have to step across very uncomfortable boundaries that have been part of my life for years. I'm also more easily affectionate with men than with women; obvious reasons aside (teehee) I think it's because of the guilelessness of a man's motives as opposed to the more complicated motives of a woman. I have a hard time hugging my girlfriends. A very hard time. There's no lack of enthusiasm, but I just don't know how to be affectionate to non-family without under or overdoing it. So I remain restrained.

Dan is away. And for the five weeks of torturous solitude, I find what I am missing most are the soft embraces where he will wrap his arms around me, and he kisses the top of my head. Just thinking of not having that when I get home, my chest feels heavy and empty all at once.

Being alone in my first apartment, I did well. Now, having known what it is to be content with another person, I am not handling the solitude very well at all. Instead of using this empty time to be creative or filling it with projects, I find myself doing things that allow me to avoid being alone with myself... watching movies or television, sleeping, filling my day with useless, mindless tasks. It's harder than I expected it would be. I miss my husband so much.

I decided to force my creativity today and create an 'office special' during lunch. And here's the result. Oddly, and yet not, it's an image of affection. A mother clutching her little daughter. I chose raccoons because I saw a pair of them last night taking a casual stroll down our road last night when I went outside to take the garbage out. They are so adorable.

"I do adore you so." I suppose it is to some degree, my own wishful thinking. How I would have liked things to be between mother and I. Hug your children. Trust me, it will make them better people.

Monday, September 22, 2008

The Tredwell Secret; Chapter 1

Chapter 1, The Tredwell Clan

Theodore and Marcus had been the best of friends since before they were born. That would seem impossible, but it is a claim these two friends confidently declare, as they were one hundred percent sure they remembered sharing many a conversation from inside one mother’s belly to the other, while their mothers knitted their first baby blankets together. They both had identical picture frames on each of their bedroom walls, depicting an image of their mummies together, round-bellied and glowing, each holding a delicious cupcake at a special tea party baby shower held for the both of them at Miss Laura’s Tea Room only two weeks before Marcus was born. Theodore claims he remembers exactly how delicious those cupcakes were. Marcus was older by Theodore by eleven days.

Their mothers were best friends from childhood. They’d grown up together on neighboring farms, gotten married to brothers in a double wedding, and had gotten pregnant at nearly exactly the same time, each and every time. If one had a girl, the other one would too, and if it was a boy, then they could count on the next baby to be a boy. It was just like that. All the cousins’ ages matched; each family had one eleven year old girl, one eight year old boy, and one fussy, pestery little girl of three each. It turned out that there would be a new set soon, for one mummy had just discovered that a new baby was to be born, so that set the other mummy to check for herself, and she discovered she too was expecting. So a whole new pair of cousins was on the way. So far, the only boys in the clan were Marcus and Theodore, and they were hoping for a set of boys to balance things out. They were already far outnumbered by girls right now. For the time being, they had one another to rely on. And like their mums and dads and sisters, they were quite inseparable.

The families were neighbors. The stone farm cottages were the childhood homes of both of the mothers, and now were where they raised their families. The farm plots bordered one another along an old low stone wall which did little to keep their sheep and goats from escaping into the others’ fields. There was a rarely traveled narrow gravel road that connected the houses by their long walnut lined driveways. The only traffic the road saw was the daily visit from the milkman, the bread man, and the postman. Occasionally, grandparents would come by, or friends or acquaintances would come for a resplendent holiday supper and to laze by the respective fires afterwards; but on the most part, it was a quiet road that dead-ended at the gate of Kennick Farm, the larger farm that wrapped all the way around both farms.

Both families shared the same surname because the two lady best friends had married brothers. They were called the Tredwells. There were the Hill Farm Tredwells and the Valley Farm Tredwells. Marcus came from Hill Farm, and Theodore from Valley Farm. Marcus and Theo were together from first in the morning until suppertime. At school, their desks were side-by-side. They were indeed the very best of friends.

Text and Artwork; Copyright© 2008 ~ Stephanie Johanesen


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