Sunday, December 30, 2012

Dreamtime Dreamscape: Deconstructed Home

Last night I had a long dream. The alarm went off early and we were going to get up and see a movie, but decided not to because we hadn't gotten a lot of sleep for a few days. Instead we slept in. I had a lot of hours of sleep that wasn't quite REM sleep, but was at that dreaming stage. My dream was long and complicated and very strange.

My husband and I were at our house, sleeping in the basement. There was a storm upstairs. We didn't wake up for it. When we got up in the morning, our house was destroyed. The walls were gone. Literally gone. All that remained were some broken studs, some collapsed windows, and the roof. The roof was intact, but laying half hazard in pieces on the ground. The ground was grass, now that I think about it that was strange too. Though we were in the basement, the floor wasn't built on top of the basement, but it was still all grass, the basement was just a hole in the ground with a slat board top on it.

The house, it turns out, was just siding nailed to studs with some windows cut into it, and a roof stacked on top. Somehow it had stood like that for hundreds of years, even thought the siding was aluminum and defiantly not a hundred years old. Somehow no one had noticed this, including us when we purchased the house.

The neighbors were out, but they were my family and some friends I knew and they were all trying to help out, picking up pieces of the walls and roof and trying to find anything of use. I asked where the cats were, and some of them were sitting and sunning on the scraps of wood, but a few were in the yards around us. Ara was sleeping in the neighbor's yard in a planter as contented as a cat could be. They said they would watch over the cats for us until the insurance company could fix our house back up.

I called the insurance company and they said they would be right over. I remember thinking and wondering if they would not notice the fact our house originally didn't have walls and would pay to have actual walls installed or if we'd just have siding installed again.

I went downstairs. The downstairs opened up into a secret lab. I'd dreamed about this secret lab before. This time I was in a different section, where the lab work was done in smaller rooms filled with white boards and green liquids bubbling in beakers, and classrooms were filled with students hopeful to get picked to join the secret society of scientists  I didn't know what they were making.

I was put onto a computer and I was logged into it. It was full of icons and hyperlinks and was hard to look at. The text was bright colors and the background was yellow. I clicked an icon at the bottom of the screen and the all the text and background changed colors but it was even harder to read. I clicked on another link and the colors changed again. The icons were distracting, I couldn't work. I kept clicking on them to try to make them minimize and they kept coming back and every time I clicked, the colors on the screen changed.

There were thousands of icons in marching rows across the bottom of the screen and as I clicked they started marching up the sides and top like ants. The screen kept changing, even turning animal prints at one point. The minimize buttons like Windows 98 icons marching endlessly like a centipede game drove me crazy but I couldn't stop because I couldn't find the log out button because I couldn't find it in all the colors of hypertext.

Somehow I realized I was no longer in the lab, my entire computer station had been on an elevator and was inside my house, in the corner where my office is inside my real home. I looked up and saw the house was rebuilt. The walls were zebra printed just as the screen was as I'd just clicked on a zebra printed icon. Every time I clicked on an icon, another layer of paint was put on the walls.

My husband was standing next to me, he was talking to me but I had been so absorbed with trying to find the log out button I hadn't heard him. He spoke to me again. He was asking me to click on another icon. He told me that each time I clicked, the walls were built up. The insurance company had only paid for the siding and studs for the walls, but they had built the floor and roof correctly. The only thing we needed were walls.

Somehow the crazy desktop icon program made workers come out like busy bees and redo our walls as the icons said. If I clicked on one that said zebra print stucco walls, they put up those kind of walls. Then if I said floral wallpaper, those went on top. Layer after layer the walls were laid on, until they became the correct thickness of real walls. All I had to do was click on enough icons to proper thickness and insulation, then pick wall colors we liked, then log out and the computer would go back to the secret lab.

So that's what we did. With a purpose, the icon marching became less frantic and more of a fun game. I imagined what it would be like for people to some day peel back the layers of the walls of the house and wonder about all they found.

The house finished, the cats came back, and in the manner of dreams, everything shifted again. We needed things to fill our home.

We were shopping. We had a baby boy with us. It was our child, but somehow I knew it was from the secret lab, so it was our child but also not our child. We carried our baby around in a bassinet inside a shopping cart. I thought it was strange, but my dream said it was the way babies were carried. No one carried a child around outside a shopping cart. We were looking for clothes at a Sears and neither of us wanted to be there.

The little boy started crying and my husband had to go ask for someone to get a sweater down from one of those racks up high and I took the boy from the bassinet in the cart and held him. I had to hold him close and he stopped crying and everyone was looking at me strange because I was holding onto my child instead of making him suffer inside the cart. I felt very uncomfortable, but even though I knew this baby wasn't ours, I wasn't going to make him cry alone. I knew he was just scared.

My husband came back and the salesperson asked me to put the boy back in the cart, he said it was unsanitary to have a baby outside the cart. My husband asked me why he was outside the cart and I told him the boy had started crying and showed him the tears. He glared at the salesperson and took the boy in his arms and soothed him and held him close and told me that the little guy was ours and we were going to love him no matter what anyone said and little boys were not germs. Somehow I knew that's what the experiment was, it was something about little boys being germs, and my husband had proved that they weren't germs because humans don't take care of germs and don't hold germs when they cry.

I woke up soon after that. There was something else about the baby, but I don't remember. Something about a winter jacket and I was holding the baby in the jacket aisle. I know something else happened with the cats, too, but I can't remember the details. It was a very long dream. I seem to be having a lot of dreams of computers and secret labs lately. Anyway. Very bizarre!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Max writes poetry

Once upon a gooshies dreary, while Max pondered, weak and weary,
Dreaming dreams no kittah dared to dream with his back on the floor
Max snored, nearly drooling, suddenly there came a tapping!
As of something grumbling, rumbling in his bellah like a bird flown before!
"Tis the gooshies! I ate too many gooshies from before!"
Then with a loud burp he proclaimed, "oops... Nevermore..."


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Making comic book origami

So I made this and this.

I've been going to our local comic shop a lot with my husband lately. We are kind of comic people, we read a lot of comics and we both collect them. Our comic guy has a ton of $1.00 comics that are so cheap because they're not considered "sellable quality," i.e. the covers aren't in perfect condition, or the staples aren't right, or a ton of other small details which makes them not perfect to be put in the back issue boxes. The best part is, they're cheap, and I can look through them freely.

Marvel Hero Origami ball - Capitan America and Cyclops

I came up with the idea of cutting them up and using them as modular origami. First, I needed a design. I decided on a modified from a brocade design which features a central cube surrounded by broad ribbons. I use this particular design a lot, it's simple to fold and can be used in a hundred different ways.

Marvel Hero Origami ball - Spiderman! Cyclops!

I simplified the pattern until I had two large ribbons of comics showing on each side of the square, plus smaller corners in the center. I mocked up a demo ball, marked where the images would show, unfolded, and made a template.

Aquaman Origami ball

Then bought a few comics, and snatched a few free ones to test it out. Each comic has to be cut pretty precisely to get the pictures to show up nicely. It's pretty easy to just cut up comics randomly and end up with pictures of just random buildings or text bubbles, which isn't interesting or useful. It takes a lot more patience to have pictures of your heros show up on each side of your origami and it be nice and dramatic.

Aquaman Origami Ball, he's so angry!

I'll be making more of these as time goes on. They take a while to make.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Old School Wrestling Reviews

So I've been posting on G+ about the wrestling pay per view's that hubby and I have been watching and I realized I should keep the posts here as well in case anyone wanted to happen on them later. So here's the first few I wrote, starting with WrestleMania 2, then Survivor Series 1987, the first Royal Rumble, WrestleMania 4, and lastly SummerSlam '88. (I skipped reviews of a couple in there.)

For anyone who wants to know... I didn't get into wrestling until I met my husband about five years ago, and I knew almost nothing about it until him. I go into a lot of these shows not knowing a lot about the wrestling at the time, but knowing a bit about the future of wrestling and what the end result has become. My husband keeps as much of the pay per view results from me as possible so they are exciting and as if I'm watching them live. I do know a lot about wrestling now, especially the politics of the time, but I may not know a lot about specific wrestlers. Anyway, I hope you enjoy my semi-fresh take on all of this.


WrestleMania 2

Hubby is working me through the old pay per view's from WWE and WWF from Wrestlemania 1 to the present. So far we've done WM1, Wrestling Classic, WM2 and tonight was WrestleMania 3!

Out of them all so far, WM2 was the worst. I would skip that one in a heartbeat again. It was very boring and the match quality was dull. It didn't help they had actresses as commentators and they didn't know what the heck they were doing, so most of the time they were just going "Oh geeze, look at that" or "boy, he looks really good in those tights" and it was pretty stupid.

WM3 was, of course, the best. I mean, come on, it had Randy Savage vs. Steamboat. Widely considered one of the greatest matches in WM history, I can see why. Up until now, most of the matches I've seen have been slower, more methodical, even the ones with the greats. Savage and Steamboat immediately hit it off with a fast paced, high flying match totally unlike any other match seen in any of the previous pay per view's. I can see why it was so revolutionary for it's time and why people were in awe of the match quality.

In retrospect to the Hulk Hogan era, I can really see where he was such an egomaniac. I didn't get into wrestling until after it came out that he was a pretty terrible person in real life, so I have no real love for the guy. Seeing his promos and his wrestling, I can see why people flocked to him as the big main event, he's got the 'it' factor to draw crowds, but sometimes you can see in the faces of the people working with him that he's really an ass. He had a promo with Vince where Vince just looked disgusted the whole time. It's not something you would see until you looked back on it years later


Survivor Series 1987

We watched the first Survivor Series tonight in our Sunday history lesson.

It wasn't nearly as good as WrestleMania 3. I mean, how can you top Savage vs. Steamboat? Still, it was really good.

The women's match was awesome. If you want to watch a women's match that has women that know how to wrestle crazy good, watch the survivor series match. The Jumping Bomb Angels won and they were phenomenal. I was seriously impressed.

The tag team survivor match was really boring. It was a let down for sure because the Hart Foundation, Bulldogs, and even the Killer Bee's were in the match, but they focused so heavily on the Young Stallions that it just was so drawn out. Every two seconds the Young Stallions were kicking out of yet another pin. They were obviously pushing the team, but it was done poorly.

The first match, with Savage/Steamboat's team vs. Honkey Tonk's team was fun to watch. It's hard not to like Macho Man Randy Savage, Ricky the Dragon Steamboat, Honky Tonk Man, and all the others in that match. Watching it now, you can really hear the respect Gorilla Monsoon and Jessie Ventura had for them.

Lastly, since this is after all the nonsense with Hulk Hogan has come out, with him being such an egomaniac, you can really listen to some of the things Jessie Ventura says about the Hulkster and realize Jessie is probably telling the truth, just under the guise of being the color commentator. After the match with Andre and Hulk, Andre won fair and square, but Hulk had to come running out and do his posing, instead of letting Andre get any sort of chance to bask in his moment. Jessie kept saying what an ass Hulk was being about it. I can see at the time how Jessie would have been coming off as a jerk about his commentating, but how it was all true. I feel bad for Andre in a way, though I know Andre had his own set of personal problems too.

Anyway, it was a pretty good PPV. Better than WM2, not as good as WM3. Next up is the first Royal Rumble, which technically wasn't a pay per view, it was a television special, but since it was the first royal rumble, we're fitting it in next Sunday anyways (unless the actual WWE pay per view sounds interesting enough to watch, which we are still undecided about).


First Royal Rumble

Ok, so it was actually a TV program, Vince McMahon didn't think the Royal Rumble would be a success, so he had it on TV, then when it ended up being a huge success was all like "So, about that new pay per view program..."

First, the women's tag team match was awesome. It was the Glamour Girls and the Jumping Bomb Angels. This is one of the last runs for a women's tag team division and it's a bummer because the match was amazing. I keep hoping a couple women in the current WWE programming comes out and makes the current creative team watch these women wrestlers and let the current women wrestle like the women back then did. It's awesome.

The Royal Rumble itself was really fun. I went in without knowing the results on purpose. I could tell they hadn't perfected the experience, there was a lot of moments where wrestlers weren't quite sure what to do, but that made it feel a little more real. It was fun. I got to see a lot of wrestlers in their 'debut.' It'll be fun to see how Ultimate Warrior, Hillbilly Jim, and a few other of my favorites keep going in the PPVs that follow.

Rick Rude and Ricky the Dragon Steamboat also had a match and it was amazing. Only problem I had with the match was some lady spent the whole match yelling into her megaphone. Mouth From The South she wasn't. Drove me nuts! However, the match quality was so good, I just told myself she was Jimmy Hart on estrogen, and paid attention to Rick Rude and The Dragon have one of the best matches of the show.


WrestleMania 4

So Sundays we are going through the old WWF/WWE Pay Per View's in order. This week was WM4 where the World Heavyweight title was vacated, so there was a tournament to decide who was going to win it. It was very exciting. I like tournament PPV's, and this one was full of matches.

A couple of things of note.

If you want to be a really good face almost immediately, bring your toddler (ala Ricky the Dragon Steamboat) or your dog (The Bulldogs) or your parrot (Koko Be Ware) to the ring with you. Instant approval. If you want to be an instant heel? Threaten said children or animals.

The production quality was starting to improve as well. WM1 and WM2 had pretty terrible production quality, camera angles were rather dull, the lighting wasn't bright, and the "over the top-ness" just wasn't there yet. In this WM the interviews all had quality looking backdrops, the lighting was all bright and focused, and the camera work was starting to become high quality. Part of that might be because it was held in Trump Plaza.

Matches were really good. They got the humor going with the Bulldog's match with Bobby the Brain and his dog catcher's outfit. Brutus the Barber Beefcake's match with the Honkey Tonk Man was really funny, the expressions were great. There were interspersed with some good serious matches of quality wrestling. Even the Hogan match wasn't bad, and I normally hate Hogan matches.

Macho Man of course stole the show, how could he not? Wrestling four matches and still winning the gold in one night is something no other wrestler has done, and probably never will do again.

Lastly, as a remark on current wrestling... One thing that really stuck out to me is the referees. I really wish current referees had the ability to be as agressive as these referees were. They were constantly in the faces of the wrestlers and always making calls. Yelling at the wrestlers, really getting the crowd into their calls, I really think that's missing. Referees need to be allowed to have steel spines in the current WWE shows. Let them be a lot more dominate than they are now, they made a lot of the matches.


SummerSlam '88

It's been a few weekends since hubby and I watched our pay per view. This week we're up to Summer Slam '88, the first ever Summer Slam!

The big event was Mega Powers vs. Mega Bucks in a tag team match. Macho Man Randy Savage and Hulk Hogan vs. Andre the Giant and Million Dollar Man Ted DiBiase. I've seen this match before, but it is a fun one to watch. If anything for the interplay between Hogan and Randy Savage at the end when Hogan's all grabby on Elizabeth and Randy's all like "Hey Hogan, you want tonot touch my wife, ooh yeah?" The match quality is of course excellent. I mean, come on, it is Savage and DiBiase, even Hogan's semi-decent wrestling can't muck that up.

For the rest of the PPV...

The Honkey Tonk Man lost the Intercontinental Championship to the Ultimate Warrior in a very short match. Honkey Tonk had been IC champion for a very long time at this point, 454, days, the longest reigning IC champion (a record that still holds to this day) and Warrior beats him quickly and fairly, which gave Warrior a huge push to being powerful and dominate. You can really tell that Honkey Tonk is a great wrestler. The match is probably a minute long, but Warrior comes out, does a clothesline that lands him east/west and is supposed to knock him out. Then Warrior does a drop off the top rope for the finish, but the positioning is wrong, Honkey Tonk does this smooth motion with one of his arms to just move his body north/south at the same time that Warrior does the drop. It's so slick and perfectly timed that it seems like Honkey Tonk was 'knocked out' the whole time, even though he was moving. Nicely done.

Jim The Anvil Neidhart and Bret The Hitman Hart both wrestled, and you can see they're starting to find themselves in their gimmicks. Jim has an anvil on his tights now, and Bret has his hearts. It makes me want to see a documentary on the tights and designs of the wrestling gear. Their match was good, too.

I also decided that if you have a pet, you can't be a bad guy. It's like, impossible. Also, Rick Rude's tights are awesome. Simply awesome. Brother Love's segment with Jim Duggan was funny. There was no diva match, so no commentary there.

Overall the PPV was fun to watch. It was a shorter one. The matches were good, they're getting the effects down really nicely. Sound quality still needs some work. Most of the wrestlers have entrance music, but strangely it's mostly the bad guys, the good guys often didn't have entrances.

Next time is Survivor Series '88!

Flash Fiction: Words with Power

On G+ I got two prompts, one was for a flash fiction about someone being unable to speak, and one was for an object "charged" with magical powers. I sort of melded the two of them together and came up with this story, which turned out quite a bit longer than expected. About a man who gets cursed by his ex-wife to live a life with only 1,000 words to speak.

Words have power. I was cursed by that power at first. The object my ex-wife implanted inside me gave me only three thousand words. She forced it inside me with witchcraft, a sick smile on her face as she told me the curse was “because I never shut up. Now no one would have to listen to you talk again. Who cares about your stupid fat life, you bastard! You only have three thousand words left to say, so choose them wisely. You’ll die if you say any more. Ha! Serves you right, you old cow.”

In retrospect, I should have guessed she was a witch.

The first thousand words I wasted cursing her name and telling everyone I knew what had happened. I didn’t believe it myself. How could I die from saying too much? It wasn’t until my belly started burning where the object had been lodged and I started dreaming of the number of words I had left that I started to believe. I stopped telling everyone I knew what she’d done.

My friends hadn’t believed me anyway. She had charmed them. I had no friends left.

My next hundred were spent trying to keep my house, my children and most important to me, my money. She took all that from me. I dreamed I had only one thousand, five hundred words left.

I said less and less every day and it felt like I was trapped, no one could understand me or my pain. It made me angry. I thought to myself, if I could not say words, perhaps I could write them. It seemed to work at first, I wrote and my stomach felt fine. But, when I read my words, or when anyone else read them, then the pain came back. If anyone read them, the words fled away. The letters I had sent out I quickly found and burned.

My dreams were angry and were filled with the loud clicking of abacuses beads covered with words, snapping down onto the fragile wood frames.

I drank. When I drank, I got drunk, and then I spoke again and my body burned and the dreams came again. I stopped drinking. I could not even drown my sorrows, she took even that from me. My children could not see me, the court ruled me unfit because I could not speak to my own defense. The witch moved on with her life, taking everything I owned with her.

I wandered, silent and alone. I became invisible. No one notices someone who has cannot say anything. Weeks passed and the only things to pass my lips were the meager meals I was able to scrimp from gutters and dumpsters. I lost weight. Even the street thugs refused to look in my eye as I became another insane homeless bum, begging with a dented can on the corner. I developed a twitch. Weeks became months. I could not even make a sign to beg for food, I tried, but if the sign was read, the abacus of words was counted, and I was closer to death. The pain in my belly made me burn the cardboard sign to prevent anyone from reading the words I had so painstakingly written.

Somehow I clung to life.

Revenge was the reason at first. She took my words, but she could not take my thoughts. Twitching there in my own filth, shoving things that could hardly be called food past my lips in bouts of panicked hunger, I thought about carving the witched item out of my gut and feeding it to her. Savage thoughts, dreams of the rabid and insane. Yes, at first revenge kept me alive. It kept me warm.

Revenge alone cannot keep a person without words alive for long. How could I have revenge if I could not even explain myself? She would see it in my gauntness and my mangled body, but would she really know how I had suffered because of her curse? I could not tell her of the misery she had caused me. Would she care? Would her death really do anything?

Shamefully it wasn’t until months after that I wondered what had become of my children. It only proved I had never been much of a father.

How long can someone be miserable before they pick themselves up out of the gutter? A year passed, then two. I found myself wandering. I found I was good at being silent. Silence gave me strengths I did not know I had. I learned to hunt. Outside cities food was easy. If one made no noise, animals would come with patience. Inside the cities, other humans would leave perfectly good food in their trash if one was patient. Other dumpster divers respected my silence. One tried to teach me sign language, but as the familiar tightening in my gut came over me when I signed a word, I realized the witch left even that avenue closed to me. The woman did not understand my sudden withdrawal from her lesson, but I could not explain. 

Years passed again, I spoke no words. It became easier with time. I drew into the shadows and became so familiar with them, they became home. I looked back onto those years I had spent endlessly talking and wondered why I wasted all those words.

My curse changed. No longer a curse, but not a blessing. Not yet. I lost track of time. How long had it been since words passed my lips? My thoughts changed. My body grew older and I grew more still. Time seemed to grow longer. I could sense the movement of time around me, but without the words for seconds, minutes, days, time lost it’s meaning. I moved with the seasons.

I didn’t realize how much time had passed until I was in a vibrant part of a city with parks built for children. The sparkling sounds of laughter caught my ears. The heaviness in the air spoke of a distant thunderstorm. It was a day of distant power in the sky. I felt strange, but something drew me to the children’s laughter. Their brightness was like fireworks in my mind. Children never minded the dead cold or oppressive heat, they reminded us adults that weather meant little if you could ignore it for the frivolities of fun. I only wished I had learned such lesson when my own children were young.

I came to the park. My eyes were drawn to one child. He was silent, never speaking while all the other children screamed with glee around him. I looked around and saw my daughter, all grown up and older than I expected. I expected to feel anger or crushing sadness, but I was calm. All those years wasted in anger and regret. She led me to a bench and the little boy silently came to my side. It made no sense, but I felt as though I had known the child all my life.

“Good to see you father. Mother,” my daughter said, without preamble, “cursed the family when she cursed you.”

I raised a brow. If I nodded, it would be a word. The boy reached for my hand. I had not touched another person in a very long time. His hand was small, but strong.

“All the males we have are now born mute, it is that thing in your stomach. Any male born in the family will be born unable to talk, a half a man. Cursed! We know all about it, we made mother tell us everything before she died.” She continued. She dug out a phone and started pressing buttons on it. “I’m getting the rest of the family together. I don’t mean to sound rude, father, but we’ve waited a long time for you to come home and I don't want to waste any more time. We know how to reverse the spell, so you can talk again and you can get our boys to be able to speak. We need you to do this, father, we’ve been looking for you since we found out, but you’ve been impossible to find. All the men have been useless to us without their voices! Do you understand?” Her tone of voice was a little condescending, as though I was unable to comprehend what she said. I was used to this tone of voice, but it was sad to hear it from her.

I sighed. The boy looked up at me and I looked down at him. His eyes were endlessly brown, the color of a field after it’s been freshly plowed.

After so many years of solitude, I was plucked from it and thrust into a whirlwind of activity. The boy was joined by two other males. My son was an adult and the other was a grandson, a teenager. All three were as silent as I. They all lived in the house the witch had taken from me. I was happy to see my son and grandsons. We could not speak, but I knew what they were saying with their deep eyes.

While my two daughters and their girls got the witch’s chambers ready my boys showed me what they had done with their silence. While I had wandered, they had found paint and ceramics and music. My son could play almost any instrument so beautifully it brought tears to my eyes. My teenage grandson made ceramics with a skill I had never seen. The little boy painted dragons that soared as if they were flying on the page. Such skill!

The chambers in the basement were readied and I was brought in. A book was laid out, opened to the page for the counterspell that would release the object inside my belly and for the first time in many years I thought of what it would be like to speak freely again. My daughters and granddaughters were eager, but I needed time. I read the spell and counted the words. Exactly two hundred. I counted against my inner abacus. I had two hundred and one.

I tried to turn to the next page of the spell book, but my eldest daughter stopped me. I shook her hand off she grabbed my wrist. “No, father, those words are not for you.” Her voice was firm. Again, as a mother would speak to a child. It reminded me of the witch.

I narrowed my eyes and took her wrist in my hand. I had years on her, hard years in the streets. I had lived a life she could not imagine. I had suffered because of this object. I had learned to be at peace with it, but I was not going to use all my words except one and nearly die without knowing the consequences of my actions. My own daughter was not going to push me around simply because I could not speak otherwise. No one on the streets pushed me around, and neither would my daughter. I glared at her and firmly took her hand off my wrist. Something in my gaze made her shudder. She looked away. I turned the page and continued to read.

The next page spoke of the curse put on me. The object inside me would kill me, but only if I spoke all my words. If I never spoke again, I would essentially live forever. So would my sons. Their lifelines were tied to mine, no wonder they looked younger than my daughters. They would not be able to speak any more words than I would be able to, even if they gestured a word, no one would understand them. In the margins I read words left by my ex-wife, she expected I would have gone through my words in a month. A quick death. If the curse was removed, I would age immediately, and my sons would become ‘normal.’ I assumed they would lose the creativity the lack of words gave them.

I finished reading and closed the book.

“What?” My eldest daughter asked, outraged. “Why won’t you cast the spell?”

I shrugged, a non-committal reply that did not count against my words because it had no meaning. I motioned to the boys, who all let out sighs of relief. They had known. We started for the door.

“You can’t do this! You have to reverse the spell! No one will understand you, you're cursed!"

I stopped and turned around, pausing to think. I had to remember how to form words, how to make my lips work and move my vocal chords.

I smiled at my daughters as I finally realized the truth of what the witch had done, many years before. Mentally I counted. Nine hundred and ninety nine. Four men can live off that many words for a long time.

“No, blessed.”

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Vivi's Awesome Fire Skills

Just in case any of you were wondering. Yes. Vivi can set things on fire. She is really that awesome. 
Burning! Everything is burning!
Evil Vivi!
(Disclaimer: She can't really set things on fire, but she would love it if she could! These are just pictures I had fun doctoring up for Caturday.)

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Dreamtime Dreamscape: Blue Sludge Zombies

So yesterday we went to the comic shop and I looked at some of The Walking Dead trades, and a few days ago there was a zombie conversation on G+, so I suppose I was on a zombie kick in my dreams. Last night I dreamed of zombies.

There was a zombie infestation and we were getting away from it. The zombies were shamblers, not that fast, and they were well rotted. I don't remember the specifics on the group I was with, but I think it was my husband, my cats (somehow) and a few of my friends. We were all well versed in surviving in the wilderness.

We came upon a suburb full of expensive houses, mansions really, and there was a group of humans already there. We came in from the lake side and we were fighting zombies all the way. Mostly we were hitting them with baseball bats and crowbars, conserving our ammo. Every time we hit one, they would explode into blue sludge and we were very careful not to get any of the sludge on us. We were pretty much experts at this. Though the dream was tense, it didn't feel like we were under any threat. We knew what we were doing.

The mansion we were headed for was brightly lit and we were confused, it looked like there was a party going on inside. There was a good solid permitter around the mansion, the mansion was built on top of a tall cliff and there was a fence built around the bottom and top of the cliff. Curious, we decided to climb the cliff.

In the manner of dreams, we scaled the cliff in seconds.

Up top, we could see the people were having a rather elaborate party, huge bonfire, lights strung out everywhere. It was really fancy. We came up all in our army fatigues, covered in dirt and mud and people were in their finery and like they were at a cocktail party from pre-zombie times. Our group was stunned. The cats broke off immediately, I assumed for the shrimp cocktails.

The host, a rather pompous looking fellow that reminded me of one of Johnny's old bosses, came up and told us they were celebrating that the community had survived and had decided they were going to live on this super safe cliff and ride out the zombie plague. They assumed they were safe because the zombie population had thinned below them to several hundred, rather than the thousands that had been there before.

My dream shifted here. I was suddenly in a secret underground lab where I was privy to information about the zombies. Smokey (one of our cats) was there, he was a scientist in charge of coming up with an antidote to the blue sludge that created the zombies. My dream is fuzzy here. All I can really remember is white walls and the feeling of being thousands of feet underground. This underground base was where it all began. Somehow the blue sludge started the plague down here. The place was enormous and built to withstand anything. There was a really long hallway and the zombies were unleashed at the end of it, so they started sealing these huge bunker doors, one after another. The doors were big enough to drive semi's through and they were a foot thick of solid steel. They shut with huge reverberations. Each clanged shut. One after another, again and again. There must have been a half dozen doors before they got to the room we were in. I asked the scientists if we were safe and they said even with all those doors we weren't safe. The zombies would find a way through the doors. They would claw at them, or find ways through the stone walls themselves. Zombies would stop at nothing to get to living flesh. That's why you always had to keep moving. The moment you stopped moving was the moment they zeroed in on you and you died.

I shifted back to the cocktail party and I told the pompous host this. He wouldn't believe me. I told him again, explaining that my cat was part of the group that studied the zombies, how they hunted in waves and as long as you kept moving they wouldn't kill you. He still wouldn't believe me.

It wasn't until we'd stayed two days and the zombies started hacking out chunks of the cliff below us and more zombies started showing up that he started to believe us. By then, the blue sludge had pooled under the base of the cliff.

In the manner of dreams, everything shifted. All of a sudden we were in the middle of a zombie fight. Somehow I just knew the people that had decided to stay put had done something stupid and we were saving them, me and my party. We were getting everyone out of the mansion city and moving them. Everywhere we looked, people were being hit with blue sludge and turning into zombies. We ended up saving a few people and a few children because while I thought the cats were looking for shrimp cocktails, they had found a secret exit through the base of the cliff.

There was more to the dream, but that's all I remember.

Anyway, strange dream. Blue sludge and zombies. Oh, and our cats saved the day.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Binx tries to eat our breakfast on Caturday

Binx tries to eat our breakfast, but we know he just ate his kibble, so we know he doesn't really need our eggs and bacon. That doesn't stop him from trying! Oh Binx!


Friday, November 16, 2012

To the pits! Avocados, that is.

I made a new avocado pendant for Etsy. I enjoy making these, but I don't think I've made a real post about them, so here we go. Basically what I do is I take avocado seed/pit and while the seed is still soft, I carve into them with a nice sharp knife. As the seed dries, it becomes a much smaller, much harder wood seed, which I can then put an eyelet through. They make nice pendants, which I then varnish and sell on Etsy.

So here's photos of one. This one I decided to really try to make the carvings as deep as I could, the effect was really nice. I plan on trying this again once I get another few avocados!

Front view

Side/back view

Top view

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Spider-Cat vs. The Green Doglin


Spider-Cat: BRING BACK THOSE CHEEZ CRACKERS, Daddy bought those for me!
The Green Doglin: No way Foolish Spider! Daddy got them for ME!!!

Spider-Cat is, of course, Smokey. The Green Doglin is Sam, one of the dogs hubby grew up with. Sam is a huuuge cocker-spaniel who was notorious for eating just about anything. Smokey loves cheese crackers, and Sam loves, well, eating. So of course there would have to be a show down between the two of them over cheese crackers!

Oh, and The Green Doglin doesn't get around via a Goblin Glider like in the comic books (ala the Green Goblin). He gets around via his awesome farts. Since Sam eats anything (I do mean anything) he has terrible farts, so he gets around via his Ass Glider (TM).

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Friday, November 2, 2012

Origami: Dragon Scale Fold

EDIT: Ok, so I double checked, what I made is actually the dragon scale, which is here and is slightly different than the fish scale, which I have done, but didn't do today. I'll do another blog post on the fish scale!

I've been going back and forth on folding origami masks. I'm taking a break from the origami balls I've put up on Etsy. The idea I have is for a fish mask, so I've been looking into scales. After getting maddeningly frustrated with the prototype I had going, I went to youtube. (Link is for the fish scale, which isn't what's below, see Edit above.) I will post on the prototype later. I found dragon scale folds, and here's the result. Sorry the picture's so crummy, it's with my laptop camera.
Dragon Scale Fold out of a square page of a book
It's a nice fold. Once I figured it out, it makes sense. It's basically a squash fold done over and over in a repeating tessellation. The scale pattern has to be done with the correct folds. I want to try it with a larger sheet of paper when I have more time to get more scales going, seeing as I only had time to do two scales.
Dragon Scale Fold from the side. Nice depth to it!
The squashing fold motion is complicated at first and rather frustrating. Book paper isn't the best for this kind of thing, it doesn't have any fold memory. The second you unfold book paper, it just forgets you folded the paper, especially for small folds, so forget pre-creasing anything. Useless! It made doing the second scale really annoying.

Also, you have to do the top scales and work downwards, at least, I had to do that with the book paper.
From the back. 
From the back it actually has a really nice effect and what I would want for the mask. I'm going to look into finding out how to get this look for the mask without doing the complicated folds for the front. Perhaps I can simplify the front folds somehow. The paper looks upside down, but it's not.

From the bottom.
You can really see the square base fold here. I'm getting very familiar with square bases as it makes nice scales and was what I was using in my prototype. It does look nice! Square bases, how useful you are! Get familiar with them, chaps, I will be using them a lot!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Vivi makes choices on Caturday

Vivi's eyes came out two different colors in this picture quite naturally. I think it was because she wasn't sure what she wanted when she came into the bedroom.

On one hand, she could cuddle up with us and be cute, on the other, she was always willing to use her claws. Oh, the curses of being a Basement Cat. Always having to decide, be cute and cuddly or vicious and evil?

(Basement cat, FYI, is a term for black cats, not that we stuff her in the basement!)

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Origami: Star Flower SG1 Modular Origami with Chyiogami Paper

Finished the modular origami ball I was working on, it's up on Etsy! It turned out pretty good, considering it was my first attempt at a ball without any sort of starting point. The other balls I did without a diagram all started from a base unit that I modified, but this one began without a base fold in mind.

We decided to call it Star Flower SG1 for fun because it just seemed to fit.

This was made with the chyiogami paper, which was a delight to work with. It's easy to fold, making crisp folds that stay nice and sharp. It folds sharply along the bias of the paper, and along the 45 degrees most of the design used. My only problem is the paper was a little slick. I was gluing the ball together anyways, but if I was going to do this model without glue, it would have been very difficult with the slippery chyiogami paper.

Star Flower SG1 made with Chyiogami Paper
I ended up making a tassel for this one out of thread after someone on G+ linked a picture of an origami ball with a tassel. It looked very classic. I think I will do this for a lot more origami balls.


The ball is hung via a wire I actually stripped from an ethernet cable, the orange is the wire's cover. I have a long length of ethernet wire that was cut somewhere in the middle, so it's unusable as intended. It makes very good wire for origami to hang with because it's flexible and, well, free. The beads match nicely.

I might try the design again, with a few tweaks. I need to change how the units fit together, it's not very stable. I also might try collapsing the points of the flowers into pillows to make a slightly different looking design, something I would try with a square model before I try with a 30 sheet model, of course.

Anyway, that's my Star Flower SG1, enjoy!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Flash Fiction Nightmare Fuel: War Games

For G+ in the month of October there have been some prompts for Nightmare Fuel. The picture for today and a song by Woodkid ended up with this story. It's a little gory, more along the lines of a horror story, so I'm putting the story beyond the jump. Enjoy! 

Friday, October 19, 2012

Dreamtime Dreamscape: Cat messes and Past selves

Last night was the first night in a long time that I had a dream that I remember. It was a very strange one, built in parts that skipped over one another. We'll see if I can keep up in any sort of sense.

At first I was in an auditorium. I was one of several women being picked to become a queen or princess or something. It was a dating game almost. I didn't want to be there. The prize was the winner would be able to date the prince or king, and potentially help rule the kingdom, if the people of the kingdom liked you enough. I didn't want anything to do with it. I sat near the back and found some paper and decided to make paper cranes instead.

I found a backdoor to the auditorium at some point when the people in front, girls that were eager to please this king, were led off for their interviews. I snuck off and was transported to a huge forest.

I've been in these woods before. It's always fall and the woods are always flooded. Water came up to my knees. Cold water, crisp and still. Even though I walked through it, I didn't make any ripples. Golden leaves floated on top of the water. The trunks of the trees rose like quiet sentinels. The air was biting but refreshing. Everything felt sterile and clean.

As I walked, I came upon a house stuck in the middle of this giant flooded woods. Water somehow hadn't gotten into the house and I opened the front door, which was just an inch higher than the water level. Somehow my clothes weren't at all wet and I didn't track any water into the house.

Once inside, I was transported again, away from the woods I've dreamed about before and into a big city. I was in an apartment. I had already been picked by this king. It was actually my husband. Somehow he had found out that his great uncle that had died had been a great leader and he had died. Succession rules meant my husband was now king, but he had to make it seem like he hadn't been married to me before, so he had to act like he wanted to pick the other women, but chose me instead, knowing he wanted me to be his queen.

Neither of us wanted to be royalty.

We had to be in a big parade, so we were all dressed up and put on a giant float. The dream was blurry here, I don't remember exactly what happened. I remember a vague sense of unease at being in front of so many people.

When the parade was over, we were back in the house in the woods. The water was still flooding the woods and hubby and I were left alone. The cats were in the house, but we couldn't find them. They were nervous at being in a new house and had thrown up all over the house. Hubby went to find them and I started to pick up the cat puke. It was everywhere, on the clothes strewn around the house, on the couches, all over the floors, the sheets. Everywhere I looked, I found more messes. I started sweeping up the messes, even though they were wet.

It was actually pretty gross. I have no idea why I dreamed of something so gross. Perhaps my mind just wanted to dream of something disgusting.

At some point I ended up in the living room of the house and looked out the main bay window and saw a car sitting just outside the front of the house.

I knew that car. It was my old car, the one that broke down a little under a year ago. I wondered what was going on and went to the window and looked out. I was stunned. I was sitting in the car. I looked like I was dead because the water in the woods actually came over my head and my head was flopped over to the side. My skin was pale, sickly looking. I tried to open the front door to rush outside to get to my own aid and help myself, but the door was locked.

Somehow my dream self figured it out. I was looking at myself, only a past self. Somehow I knew that I was watching myself from a year pervious when I had sat outside this very house waiting for a realtor and fell asleep in front of the house. How I knew this, I have no idea. I stared at my past self and wanted to tell my past self about everything that happened in that year. I wanted to warn myself about things that happened so I could be prepared for them. I kept pressing myself against the glass, wanting to warn myself.

What would I tell my past self? What would I warn myself about?

Strangely, I kept telling myself to warn me about the explosive cat puke and how gross it would be to pick up.

I woke up shortly after that.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Making Origami Base Units

I just finished what I think will be the final base unit of the next modular ball. It's based on the balloon base. I made this one after fiddling around with a sheet of paper I had pre-creased into a combination of the most basic combination of base folds and went from there. Once I found a base set I liked, I kept folding until I ended up with a middle I was happy with, and a pocket/tab set that would work to hold a modular unit together.
Finished base unit
I make it sound so easy! Trust me, I was two seconds from smashing the darned thing before it finally came out to this. The orignal sheet of paper is pretty mangled as it is. Lots of folding and refolding. Origami is about patience. Lots of patience. It took a few days.

It will be a 30 unit ball, so the pocket/tab needed to be at 90 degree angles to work best. I could base it off another angle, but this is easiest for me. I'm not that good yet.

I'll be making it out of a trio of matching chiyogami paper, one of the brown sets I just picked up.

So here's all the pre-folds I did while coming up with the template. Also, don't look at my terrible nail polish.
Lots of folded templates
Ha! That's a lot of near balled up bits of paper!

I do a lot of marking my paper so I know where bits go after I unfold them, that's why there's those pencil marks. Often I'll outline a particular part in a specific color or loop when the paper is folded so when it's flat I know where it was when it was folded. Helps me see how it all goes together.

It can be surprising how often a bit of paper you think started out on that side of the paper ends up all the way over there. Folds get funny like that.

If you ever want to wonder about dimensions folding in on one another, take up origami and mark your paper up once it's folded, and see how the marks end up when the paper's flat. You'll be surprised.

If you fold paper to make figures, along the designs that people have already made and set out, you don't really have to get into all the abstract thinking of it. I only get into it when I start thinking of my own designs. Especially with modulars. Each base unit has to connect to three other base units on one side, each three connects to five, 3 connect to 5, connect to make 30. 30 make a ball. Once you make one modular ball with 30 units, it's easy to see the pattern.

A quick example... The minty ball I did, I wanted to make a central hole in the base design, but if I just folded the base unit down, it hit the next base unit because the second base unit hits that spot, so I had to do a reverse fold so the base units went down, then back up. As long as the base units all had a down, but back up, design, they would all fit together.

A lot of it is trial and error. I have a stack of cheap origami paper I use for trial runs. As long as I can get a trio to match together to make a base 3 unit, then 5 to make a base 5, I can make a base 30 without having to make a entire trial ball.

Dreamtime Dreamscape: Science and Driving

Last night I had a dream about a famous scientist  For some reason I had to ask him something very personal. Before I could, I had to make sure he would listen to me. In order to do this, I had to come up with some reason for him to take time out of his busy science filled schedule to listen to me in the first place.

I knew that something happened to his daughter in traffic when she had been a young child. My dream kept flipping back and forth here from a formal dinner scene where I was overhearing a conversation about the scientist where I heard the story about the tragic accident during rush hour traffic, and a later conversation in an online hangout where friends were discussing a new technology about self driving cars.

I decided that self driving cars were my ticket to talk to this scientist. I had to find a way.

I researched and found that Google was working on a prototype car that would drive itself through rush hour traffic and was running endless simulations. Somehow I found out that through a program I had, I could use my e-mail address to actually watch the simulations.

They were fascinating to watch. I called the scientist up, I had to show him and I knew he would talk to me about whatever the personal question was once I showed him the simulations they were running.

I called him. Somehow I got through. I told him to use the e-mail address he had that was like mine, and he started watching the simulations. He was as excited as I was about them. We started talking like old friends without much preamble. We wondered together how the program would take into account people that didn't have the automatic driving, and watched as they stuck some old drivers into the equations. Blue drivers were normal humans and red cars were automatic cars. Round and around they went. Dream time sped up, and we watched them do real time simulations on race tracks with real cars outfitted with the real computers that made the cars run without humans driving them.

In my dream, I was imagining what I could do if I didn't have to drive to work. What could I get done if I didn't have to spend so much time commuting  Somehow in my dreams I forgot that I work from home. I also forgot that I started the dream wanting to ask the scientist a personal question. I woke up soon after.

It was a rather science filled dream, taking me back to my college years. A little strange in that regard, I haven't had a dream that focused on science in a long time. It was very analytical  All throughout the simulation period of the dream I was imagining different scenarios for the programs to run and watching them percolate through the dream program.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Modular Origami: Minty blue geometry

Here's the origami ball I've been in the process of making. Finally finished! Tomorrow I'll take official pictures and post it on Etsy.

The design and diagram of this origami ball was all done by me, I didn't follow any set diagram. So this is another one that was pretty much created by me. I'm pretty proud of how it turned out. The swiggly lines are inked on with fancy ink with a fountain ink pen I got in Italy, which is shown on the new picture on my about page on Etsy. It's one of those glass pens where you have to dip it into the ink. It was fun to use.

All done!
I hope someone buys this one, it'd be awesome to have these things in someone's home. They'd be great ornaments for the holidays, which is why I've been in a frenzy to get so many done lately.

The folding was more complicated than the last few I've done, but it didn't use much beading.

Next up is one with chiyogami paper. I've got a few ideas muttering around in the back of my brain for that one. I might do a different design overall for that one, more of an open ball instead of the closed ones I've been doing.

Below is how the pieces looked before I put the ball together, 30 sheets of minty blue paper, all ready for being inked and glued together. All my balls don't need to be glued, but since I do sell them, I glue them for stability. The color does look different between the two photos because the bottom one was taken with my web cam, so it's not quite right. When I take the photos of the ball outside, the colors should be a lot more accurate.

Pre-folding


Friday, October 5, 2012

Dreamtime Dreamscape: Empty Closets

My dreams lately have been few, and hard to remember. This happens for long stretches of time. I'm on a new medication for my migraines, I wonder if this is partially to blame. I did have one dream of which I remember fragments.

I was at the house I grew up at in Minnesota. I was cleaning out my bedroom closet. This was a chore I had to do a lot as a kid. I was cleaning it out because we were going to do a garage sale. I got distracted halfway through cleaning it, and so everything in the closet was taken out and something happened to it.

Things happened, I don't remember what exactly. Some of it was important, but I don't know why. I went to this flea market to buy some things. It was behing held under a huge white circus tent. I needed to get a gift for my husband, who was having a birthday. I wanted to get him something he wouldn't expect.

I wandered through aisles of random tables of items until I got to a white room, tucked in the back of the tent. It had hardwood floors, and exactly like my bedroom back home, only it wasn't the bedroom I had been cleaning. The bedroom I cleaned had been as it was as I was a child, with blue carpet stained by too many art projects, a bunk bed, and closet filled with clothes half hanging all over the place. This was the bedroom as it was after I left the house, with white walls and hardwood floors, where the closet was as perfect as a Martha Stewart closet, with labeled matching boxes filled with unknown items that were never mine. It felt wrong to be in the room, looking at that strange closet that had once been mine. It was alien. Looking into a mirror and instead of seeing one's own face, a stranger's eyes looked back.

I turned away from that clean, pristine closet to see the white walls and hardwood floors stretched out far past the dimensions of my bedroom had plastic folding tables lined with plastic tubs filled with oil paintings. I looked in one of the tubs. The paintings were signatures of famous baseball players written in multiple languages. Each player had painted their signature in beautiful font in five languages, in a color of their choice. They were works of art.

I decided to find one of my husband's favorite baseball player and buy his signature. I started searching down the tubs.

At some point my dream must have shifted, because I don't remember much beyond this. I do remember a feeling of satisfaction that I found such a perfect gift for my husband, and a general sense of sadness about the closet that was no longer mine. I suppose I feel a general sense of sadness about that house. It's been sold, so I'll never see that bedroom again, but that room hadn't been my room for years.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Migraines: Pain and Relief

I wrote this on 8/25/2012 when I was having a migraine. I had to take an imitrex, the pill I take while I'm having one. More for reference and as a semi-journal entry. In case someone wants to read what it feels like, this is what it's like. I was really tired and that made it really hard to suck it up and deal with the pain, so I was pretty emotional. Anyway. Here it is. Good writing fodder, I suppose.

I wake up with my head splitting. I feel sick, my stomach trembles with heaves that don’t quite make it up my throat. I would like to throw up, but I can’t. I try to do my morning biking, and while my blood is pumping hard, for those 20 minutes, my headache eases and I feel better. The moment I stop... the headache returns tenfold. My sinus’s feel full. My heart feels like it’s got a weight on it, pounding hard in my chest. My hands shake, my arms shake. I want to lay down but I have to work.

I type, but my fingers keep skipping around the keyboard on their own accord. I feel like crying, but I’m not sure if the lump in my throat is a sob or it’s just my stomach hurts so bad.

I tense up, then force my shoulders to relax. I sit back and make myself have good posture. It releases the pain for a split second before it’s back again. I wonder, am I hydrated? I drink a bottle of water. My hands shake as I hold it to my mouth. The water doesn’t seem to help, it just makes my stomach more upset.

I feel hopeless. I don’t want to take another pill, I hate the way the imitrex tears at my stomach, makes my blood pressure spike, and I’ve taken too many of the pills so far. But the pain in my head tells me I must take them. I can’t think, every time I try to make a rational thought it feels like something is lodged between my eye and nose. If I get a respite from the pain without the meds, then two seconds later the pain is back two fold. I want to dig out my eyes. I can’t even look at the computer screen without it feeling like someone’s shoving daggers into my iris’s. I wince every time I try to work at the computer. I darken my monitor as much as I can, but then my eyes have to strain to see, and that makes the pain just as bad. It’s always either too bright or too dim.

My heart pounds, each thump reverberating through my skull and behind my eye. I start to panic. Do I have a migraine, or is it something worse? Maybe the feeling behind my eye isn’t a migraine at all! Maybe it’s something like sinus pressure, or maybe it’s cancer. Maybe the blood pressure spiking is because my heart is that weak. Maybe I have to eat badly because I’m diabetic and the migraines are diabetes related? I wish I knew.

The imitrex starts to go through my system. It makes me jumpy at first. The pain is still there, digging behind my eyes and my nose, and the side effects kick in. My blood rushes so hard through my arteries that when I put my finger to my neck, it feels like my neck is throbbing with each beat. My arms feel tingly and bloodless. My hands continue to shake.

I get tired, fatigue washing over me as I try to deal with the feeling of my head being too small for the pain.

I try to focus on work, keep my mind off it, but my hands keep shaking and every time I try to think, all I can think about is the pain and the side effects that hit me, one after another. All I want is to not feel the pain behind my eyes. It drives me insane, feeling that constant pain. It doesn’t hurt badly now, but it’s enough to feel like my nose is in the wrong place again. That constant feeling of wrong-ness is like sand under the skin. It itches and hurts and won’t go away. I get antsy and try to work some of it out by shaking my legs. That makes my stomach bounce up and down and makes me feel motion sick. I pick at my nails because feeling the sharp pain of a hangnail feels better than the constant pain from my head. At least I can rationalize the hangnail and don’t have to worry about it.

I just feel sick.

The pain starts to lessen. It’s like a release of pressure behind my eyes. The imitrex burrows a hole through the pain and drains it. If my migraine is like having a sack of blood pressed up against my nose and eyes, the imitrex pokes a small hole in the sack and let’s the blood drain away into the rest of my body where it belongs. My shoulders relax. The pressure is being released. Some of that pressure goes to my stomach, where I know I’m going to be constipated for a few days.

The pressure isn’t relieved entirely. The pain still presses against my eyes, but at least it’s always moving out as well. That sack of blood is still going to fill, only now the imitrex made a hole, so it drains out at the same time instead of building and building until my head wants to burst.

My hands still shake, but I can manage it well enough. Without the pressure in my head, the hands are just shaking because the imitrex raises my blood pressure. It’s something I know, something I can deal with. The more I relax, the less everything shakes.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Flash Fiction Challenge: A novice revenges the rhythm.

Flash Fiction challenge for Terrible Minds in which we were to write 1000 words with the sentence "A novice revenges the rhythm" somewhere in the piece.

I haven't written much lately, so I figured I should get started back into the writing habit with some short fiction. This is what I came up with. I hope you enjoy it. Feel free to comment.

“No, no! Pizzicato! Strings, you must pay attention, just one note off in this section and you will ruin us all,” Conductor Spalvortzia yelled.

The violins winced.

The nobles that paid for the orchestra demanded flawless concerts and so the conductor expected the orchestra’s playing to be perfect. Only a few measures prior Spalvortzia had berated the flutes harshly for missing their beats by the smallest breath. Such high demands were within his rights, yet it seemed he was being merciless. The orchestra had always delivered beyond expectations, without such harsh treatment, so why now?

Spalvortzia had chosen an older piece. Not only had they never seen the piece, but they had been practicing it non-stop for a week without a single benefactor hearing it. It was unheard of. The orchestra believed they had completed it flawlessly, but Spalvortzia required even more. Tensions were high.

“Again! From the top!” Spalvortzia yelled. He raised his baton. He no longer needed to look at the sheet music in front of him. He’d had the music memorized for years. The priceless sheets of vellum held deep secrets in each perfectly placed note. Secrets he never shared with anyone.

The orchestra raised their instruments and readied themselves. He could sense their frustration.

He closed his eyes and took a quick intake of breath. He let out the breath and lowered the baton. In perfect unison the clarinet began. Ah, so sweet. So gentle it started. He tempted to smile.

She was the best clarinet in all the five kingdoms. From birth she had been nestled with a clarinet in her hands. She knew how to play before she could walk. Her fingers had been bent to caress the silver keys. Ah, so lovely.

From the sweet clarinet solo the timpani joined in, so soft it sounded like the faint thunder miles away. Cello joined, a sleepy sound. Then a playful flute, a morning bird. Each instrument joined, bringing their nature and weaving it into one another. The piece was perfectly written and a masterpiece beyond words. He had heard it so many times in his mind.

The sound amplified. He could feel it in his bones. The energy, it was there! His breath quickened. His hands buzzed and he closed his eyes. There, beyond his vision, he could see the light forming. It was so flawless. The magic, the summoning. The aching need to see, the need to feel. The texts were true! Oh Gods, the electricity of it buzzed along his nerves. It was like lightning. Life in his baton, coursing down his hands. He could see it and it was better than love! He needed it more than he needed to breathe!

Spalvortzia’s hands kept moving with the rhythm but his heart beat faster and faster. His ribs were paper thin, his heart was going to rip from his chest any moment and fly into the perfect sound of the orchestra. The crescendo of the music filled his heart and his mind and all around him all he could see was the light the magic the music. It blinded him. The agony was pure. It was rapture. Every muscle in his body felt like it was on fire. It was the torment before release. It was ecstasy!

Then!

Then the horns sped up too fast.

The magic fell apart. The whole thing crashed around him in a cacophony of sound. Shards of magic pierced his skin. He felt impaled by the edges, but it was just an illusion. He fell to the ground. Had he been flying? Someone shrieked. Had everyone felt that? Someone in the orchestra broke out into spontaneous sobbing.

He stood and screamed at the horns. A raw sound. “A novice revenges the rhythm! What kind of idiots are you! This is your purpose! Your life has been devoted to this one task and you foul it up like a child? Are you pigs? Were you not raised to make music?” The horn section shrank away from him. “Your lips have been trained since birth to create music, yet you refuse to pay attention to my baton!”

The first chair horn stood up. His right hand cupped permanently to hold the notes from the horn’s bell within his misshapen hand. His mouth was perfection for horn playing, but the long lips looked irregular on his face. “I apologize for my section,” his voice was raspy from disuse. It suddenly struck Spalvortzia how inhuman the orchestra was.

Rich nobles, bent on the desire for flawless sound, had learned how to breed their musicians like cattle. Winds and brass musicians were designed take a constant input of air through the nose, down to the lungs and out through the mouth without suffocation. The changes made it nearly impossible to speak. Most of them hardly spoke.

Spalvortzia was about to say something else when the harpist’s said softly. “We will do it again, sir, and do it correctly.” She smiled. Her arms were unnaturally long. Like the pianist’s, her fingers were extraordinarily long and had a sixth finger. Like all the others, her shoulders had been altered to take the weight of her instrument. “This is the first time,” she said, “that I felt that before. The magic in the music. Is this why we’ve practiced so hard?” Her voice carried through the hall, tremulous but with a hint of a new emotion.

The anger he’d felt washed away.

“It is why we must play.” He tapped the ancient score. “We must play it perfectly. Not just note, but tone, pitch, emotion. Everything must be perfection for the spell to work.”

“Spell?” The first violin asked. Shoulders were thickened on one side for his instrument to rest against. The opposing arm was thin and delicate for bow strokes. “As the legends say?”

“Yes. The drought, the famine our five lands have suffered from, all can be cured with the magic spells found in these texts. It’s why we were born. Have you not wondered that?” Spalvortzia asked, looking over the orchestra. Few of them had wondered, he realized. “We are not just playthings for the nobles, objects to play their symphonies and keep them entertained while the people suffer. I will show you. We are an instrument of change, of hope. We were born not to entertain, but to change the five kingdoms! For that, we must be perfect. Again, from the top!”

He felt something different in the orchestra. He smiled as he raised his baton. Something different? Hope?

Friday, September 21, 2012

Migraines: Having one

I wrote this a few months ago while I was in the middle of a migraine. I wanted to have something to look back at so I could really describe it to my doctor, in case he needed to know specifics. I have a second one written from a few weeks after this one, which I will post later. At the time I was laying on the couch, waiting for my pain pills to kick in. Feel free to comment or ask questions as you like. I have a lot of experience with migraines, after all.


I stare at the wall, feeling that pain behind my right eyeball. Someone is stabbing my eye. Over and over, it repeats until I have to close my eyes and shift my body out of the lamp light, so my eyes don’t see the light. It hurts less that way. My sinus’ feel tight, like they are stretched out over my face, pressing against my nose. Breathing through my nose feels funny. Like I’m going to break out in a nosebleed any second now.

I close my eyes and for a second, they become so heavy I cannot open them. The feeling passes. Now it just feels like the lashes are glued together.

I try to take deep breaths, to ease the pain, but that thing behind my eyes doesn't stop the unrelenting push and stab. Which is it? Push? Stab? Both? It extends down to my jaw. My teeth feel flattened. My mouth hurts in the back and I keep imagining my molars are going to crack the next time I chew on something. It feels like I could make diamonds out of coal, so tight are my teeth against each other. It feels good to clench my teeth, takes some of the pressure away from my eyes, but it doesn’t last. Seconds later my jaw aches and I have to open my mouth and wiggle my jaw back and forth to relax it.

My eye throbbs. I swear I could lift my eye out and see yellow fatty substances behind it. Like a cancerous growth, pushing on the back of my eye next to my nose. I want to scoop the yellow fatty substance out with a tiny spoon, between the eye and the bone making up my eyebrow. I know if I could scoop this pain out, it wouldn’t be there.

I dig my thumb between my eye and nose, where the eyebrow bone meets and push hard enough to indent the eyeball. It brings a flash of relief, enough to make me feel better and enough to make my head feel worse once the relief is over. I drag my thumb down my eyebrow to my temple. There I can feel the swollen muscle (or maybe tendon) there, resting. No, throbbing. I press it. Oh it feels good. I press it again, harder, grinding my thumb into it. I wonder how hard I can press on my temple before I do some serious damage.

I start pinching the skin together between the temple and my eyebrow. It hurts, but it’s a good hurt. It’s not the pain behind the eyes hurt. I grab a fistfull of hair next to my temple and put on it, hard. Pulling makes the pain go away.

It lasts a whole minute, then that thing is back, pushing on the back of my eye.

I put my fingers on top of my eye, right below the bone and press gently. It feels like I’m pushing my eye back into my head. I know I’m not, but it feels like it.

I open my eyes, close them, open them again. Everything is bright, blindingly so. Even moving my eyeballs around, looking from one corner of the room to the other, hurts. What causes the eyes themselves to hurt when they move? Well, migraines of course. I swear something is there behind my eye, but I know there isn’t.

The pain is enough to drive me crazy. I want to snap at everything and be churlish, but I can’t. Life doesn’t end just because you’ve got a bad head. My eyes are heavy and gritty. My body is not yet tired, but my head could pass me out at any second. I’ve already taken my meds, they make me tired too, and the only last 6 hours instead of the 12 they are suppose to last.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

But not the Arakins!

Had some birds outside, chattering away. I wrote this while I watched them and the cats.
Brought to you in the style of But Not the Hippopotamus by Sandra Boynton, one of my favorite children's books.

Binx looked at the birds, sneaking towards the window. One cat was interested!
But not the Arakins...

The birds kept yammering. Smokey came running in, sneaking behind Binx. Two cats were interested!
But not the Arakins...

The birds started a little tiff. Max looked up from licking himself and snuck towards the window, now three cats were interested!
But not the Arakins...

Vivi, hearing the chatter, came creeping in and got up front, peeking over the windowsill. Four cats stared hungrily at the birds!
But not the Arakins!

The birds started flying about, a huge ruckus abounded! Bird calls filled the room! Finally it became too much!
But yes the Arakins! She ran to the window as fast as her legs could carry her, joyously awaiting the chance to watch the birdies!

...

And they all flew away.

(But not the Cheri-bears, who was too scared to join in the fun.)

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

New background! My bookshelf.

So I updated the look of my blog, as I have wanted to do in a while. The new background is my main bookshelf. Complete with various knick knacks and stuffed animals. Some of them are hidden, so here is the bookshelf in it's entirety. I have quite a few little things. A Sackboy I made myself. A porceline doll I got from my aunt when I was a little girl.

There's a couple of Wall-E figures. Strawberry, my first stuffed bear I've had since I was a newborn is the very not-so-pink bear, and Gimpy is the actually-pink bear. Big Blue Eyed Bastard is next to Snowball, two stuffed animals my hubby gave me soon after we met. Kirby is also a hubby gift. The snail with wings clay figure I made.

Of course Brent Week's the Night Angel trilogy is there. Almost every Dragonriders of Pern book by Anne McCaffery. The Luck in the Shadows trilogy. The entire run of Redwall books in hardcover, which I have been collecting for years... A bunch of cookbooks. First book I ever wrote, which was Beauty and the Beast 2 from 4th grade. Yeah. A lot of books. I should list them all some day!

My main bookshelf


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Migraines

Some of you know that I have a history of migraines. They are chronic beasts, I typically get them once a week, for a few days. I've been getting them for years, and only since getting health insurance from the job I've had for the past five have I been able to get any consistent care for them.

As one can expect from chronic migraines, they have controlled a significant part of my life.

I don't remember when I started getting them. I know it was in high school. I remember downing way too many ibuprofen one time while working on the set of the high school musical and shaking while trying to use the band saw. I was laughing because the pain was so bad, I just couldn't handle it.

I didn't really understand them for most of my life. They were just bad headaches. Really bad headaches. They got worse under fluorescent lights and around computers. I had a hard time concentrating. I went days at a time where it felt like blood just pounded between my eyes and my temples. I just assumed people had headaches every day like I did. My parents had headaches a lot.

When I started working at my current job, I started getting them almost every day. I worked on the phones when I started. The constant talking wore on my head. My jaw started to click after my shifts. The pain radiated into my temple, then into my eyes. Staring into the computer for long shifts didn't help either. Once I got health insurance, I started keeping track of my migraines.

When I finally got to see a doctor about them, I had a lot of data. He sent me to a neurologist quite promptly. I was put on a medicine for the bruxism that developed because I grind my teeth. Later, when my blood pressure became high, they put me on some of those meds too.

About two years ago, I had a migraine strong enough that it ended me up in the emergency room, which is when I found imitrex, the blessed drug that I take when I'm having a migraine. I love this medicine. It keeps the pain at bay. If a migraine is a build up of pressure in my head, then the imitrex drills a hole and releases that pressure. The fluid still flows into my head, but the pressure never builds up. If that makes any sense.

The imitrex side effects are terrible, though. It makes me really sick feeling. My stomach cramps up, it makes me both unable to eat from nausea and extremely hungry. I get really tired, but it gives me a buzz. It slows my thinking, so it takes me a long time to think things through. I get really lethargic. I just don't want to do anything, because the effort to get up and move just doesn't seem worth it. It's almost like a depression, but it's more apathy. If I have to take the imitrex for more than a few days, the effects compound, landing me in a funk. However, if I don't take the imitrex the moment I start to get a migraine, the medicine doesn't work, and I have to take twice the amount.

Anyway. So in the past few months, I've been getting very long migraines, with very few breaks between. I went back to my neurologist (a new one) and he started me on topamax, a medicine that's supposed to prevent migraines, not just stop them before they happen.

I've been on it for about two weeks now and so far I've been pleased with the results. I have been through two weekends without a migraine, which is pretty impressive for me. It's kind of strange. I've been doing a lot more work around the house. I've been more positive thinking. I am tired, but it's not mind-numbing. I want to take naps a lot, but it's not an exhausted tired.

All in all, it will be nice if the topamax works. I'm hopeful so far. It's been rather nice going without a migraine for two weeks. I've gone without one for two weeks before, but never without the general feeling of the doom of "when is it the next one coming?"

Heck, I made it through a movie without a migraine! In a theater!