Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Our Call to Regift

It is Christmas eve. Well, it's not evening yet, but let's ignore that for a moment. Colorfully wrapped presents repose beneath a shimmering tree. Go ahead. Take a picture of the momentary splendor. In a handful of hours, the paper will be strewn across the floor, several of the candy canes will have mysteriously disappeared, and the spell of the unknown will be dispersed. You may receive clothes, books, games, and maybe even that new CD you've been dieing to get your hands on. Some of these  may not be quite to your taste, and that's okay, right? You can always regift it next year, and doesn't your cousin even have a birthday next month?

For the last few weeks, we've been hearing sermons about Jesus being sent to us as a child so that He could die on the cross, the perfect lamb, to save us from our sins. It's the ultimate gift, a Savior who loves us without restraint. What do we do with a gift like this, a gift that is valuable beyond compare? Many of us accept it gratefully, place it on the mantle, and gaze at it fondly from time to time. Being a Christian would be far easier if that was all that is required of us. Neither are we only called to be His servants. Christ is a Christmas gift like no other. He is a gift we must pass on with jubilation. In our culture, we regift what we don't want and greedily cling to what catches our fancy, but instead, Abba would have us give our greatest gift to others. In doing so, we do not lose it; rather, regifting the love of Christ enriches our lives as Christians. Not to mention, it's the best gift you can pass along, even if it isn't immediately received from your friend, family member, or acquaintance.

In this holiday season, we are called regift Christ, to share his limitless love with others.

I know this post isn't very long, but it's something I've been wanting to post since the fourteenth. Maybe it's something one of you needs this season, maybe not. Regardless, have a safe and merry Christmas. You are loved beyond comprehension and compare.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The Unexpected Gift

In the early morning,
before the sunrise,
little padded feet
approach the Christmas tree.
They are not the child's;
she rests above.
They are not Santa's,
for he has come and gone.
These belong
to a Christmas kitten,
covered in soft,
tabby fur.

She stalks the stocking
of the little girl.
She thought she saw it move.
it moved.

The stocking falls over,
toppled by one quick whap.
Candy falls out,
but doesn't skitter.
It is the mane
of a little
that draws the attention
of a pair
of gold green eyes.

Oh, alas.
The unicorn had no chance.
Pounced upon,
and licked.

A light clicks on,
and a gasp breaks free.
Little Tina on the landing.
Her unicorn badly mauled.
She doesn't cry.
She doesn't scream.

She laughs,
and that
by far
is her favorite gift
that night.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

A December Update

This is not going to be one of the stunning posts, just a warning in case you read through this expecting an astounding conclusion and, in your bitter disappointment, decide to revolt.

A few days after Letter to Green Bean Casserole, my mother decided to make a green bean casserole. I may or may not have consumed roughly half. It was glorious.

I've been rereading George MacDonald's Phantastes, and, as I also recently watched the Jim Henson movie Labyrinth, I'm toying with writing a research paper on Fairyland being a medium for growing up in stories. It's an exciting proposition. I could use Phantastes, "Goblin Market", The Chronicles of Narnia, Peter Pan, and other wonderful works of literature. That may not be until the summer, however. And speaking of papers, Ace informed me that he fully intends to post the paper he mentioned in his last update. It is on the topic of sexism in video games, and while I don't game myself, I am interested in the topic. 

Recently, I widened my internet presence. I decided to use the name Onevartist, for the simple reason that it will be easier to find than Kara Smith (apparently there are a lot of us). I have a deviantArt and a Google+. Yay. I have a YouTube as well, and I'm hoping to post bible study videos in a few years, with the help of my friend Christian, but as of yet I haven't posted anything there.

Well, I do believe I have exhausted my supply of relevant information. Stay warm this winter. I'll do my best to post again later this month.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Thanksgiving Again

It snowed today. I woke up to see huge, fat flakes meandering their way down. This lasted for two or three hours before it promptly melted. No winter wonderland for exploring just yet.

In a few hours, it will be Thanksgiving. There aren't really many songs for this holiday, except the few designed for elementary students. Why? Because it's hard to sell products on a day when we are to be thankful for what we have. Why else does Christmas music invade our homes earlier and earlier? Anyway, it has been a while since my last list. I am a blessed child of God, and I will not turn a blind eye to the blessings he bestows upon me.

  1. Amazing parents who have raised me in Christ's ways and who love me dearly
  2. Being near my big sister after a month of her absence
  3. Being able to talk to my sister with nothing held back, just like when we were little, despite the little time we are able to spend together these days
  4. Staying up late with my sister last night
  5. My close friend Christian and his amazing taste in music
  6. The music Christian gave me on a flash drive that made my day last week
  7. My Lizzy kitten (Lil-Bit) who curls up with me every night, sometimes even under the covers
  8. My church family
  9. Being told by one of my church members that when she looks at me, she sees my great grandma (who was an extraordinary christian woman)
  10. Big brothers who treat me like their own blood
  11. My visit with Ace and Kirito yesterday
  12. The christian webcomic From Nothing
  13. Hugs
  14. Music
  15. Books
  16. Naps
  17. Art
  18. Chocolate
  19. More chocolate

Tomorrow, I will visit with family and celebrate the many, many blessings my Lord has showered on me and mine, but in the following days, I won't forget my blessings, and I will continue to try my best to be a blessing to others and show them the love of the King through me.

Happy Thanksgiving, and have safe travels.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Letter to Green Bean Casserole

Dear Green Bean Casserole,

It was a pleasant surprise to be able to renew our acquaintance at the church dinner. As of late, we have been quite out of touch, which is unforgivable on my part. Indeed, I had forgotten how thoroughly I enjoy your good company. It was a pity that you were unable to extend your stay more than a few minutes. We did used to be such good friends.

Part of my purpose in writing you is to extend an invitation to Thanksgiving dinner with my family. You would be most welcome to join us, and my sister would be exceptionally pleased to see you again as well. I will personally ensure that there are enough plates. Our mutual friend Turkey has already told me that his attendance is assured, and Stuffing is eager to hear from you. I do so hope you will come.

Hope to eat see you soon,

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Another Birthday

This post is on the topic of my big brother Ace. He is often insane, as far as I am concerned, and I doubt he could count how many times he has hurt himself with reckless behavior, but he has fun and he hasn't died yet, so I let it slide.

His birthday was Saturday, so I put together a little present for him.

It's a jar of paper stars designed to resemble the stars in Mario that give the player invincibility for a limited time. Considering his last blog post, I think he needs a little invincibility every once and a while.

Since Ace became my big brother during my freshman year of high school, he has always done his best to keep me safe. To reiterate: Ace is not actually related to me, but once I started calling him Big Brother, he took the job head on. He insists on screening any potential boyfriends and can be relied on to say they are not worthy whether or not he has actually met him yet. He really does care.

I met Ace at lunch the first day of my freshman year (note: he was a big, scary junior). At our school, there were two lunch periods, and I, of course, was in a period where I knew basically no one. I was near the verge of tears, but one of the upperclassmen took pity on me and let me sit with her. I was more than a little shy and didn't say much. When her boyfriend came to sit with the little group we were part of, all chances of me peeking out of my social shell were obliterated. There were several days, in fact, multiple weeks, during which I refused to speak to him. He terrified me for the simple reasons that he was older than me and he is a boy. The girls in our little lunch group tried to make me comfortable around him, often saying "He's just a big teddy bear!" I did not believe that.

Eventually, I did learn to trust him, and he became one of my closest friends. So, happy birthday Big Bro. Do try not to get hurt more than necessary. :)

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Befriending Big Brother

Today is my big brother Kirito's birthday (called Death on big brother Ace's blog). The youngest of my honorary older brothers, he is also the most recent to be adopted, as it were.

I had been aware, for a few years, of Kirito as an upperclassmen. I'd seen him repeatedly in the halls and had the vague knowledge that he was smart and played computer games. He was on academic team as well, and would quite often give people mint gum for no real reason. I found it fascinating, the different kinds he would produce, all mint: spearmint, winter mint, etc. Naturally, I wanted to befriend him. There was only one problem: I am incredibly shy.

My freshmen year, my sister and I became fans of the writer Ted Dekker, and it is only natural that we would share the names of any other fans we came across. Kirito was one my sister mentioned. Almost the entire school year later, Kirito and I were both on a bus letting other people off before us. I had been reading Dekker's Thre3, and I still wanted to befriend Kirito. However, I was terrified to start the conversation, so I readjusted my hold on the book to a position that, while it was slightly uncomfortable, looked natural and allowed him to see the cover. Somehow, it worked.

"That's a good book."

"Really?" I looked up at him (he's actually quite tall).

"Yeah." He smiled gently.

And there lay two problems in my plan.
  1. I hadn't read enough of the book yet to make it into a conversation. 
  2. Even if I had, I was too shy to do so.
My junior year, I signed up to help an elementary teacher during one period of the day. I was assigned to Mrs. T. There are several Mrs. T's in the elementary, and I was relieved to find that another student would be helping her that period too. I could bluff about knowing what I was doing and follow the student to her room. I quickly discovered that Kirito was that other student and that he didn't know either.

In the Mrs. T's classroom, we could have very easily spoken rarely, staying to our own tasks. That is not what happened. Starting the first day, Kirito would talk to me. I had never heard him talk so much before. He told me about anime, music, and multiple other topics. Many days, he would work with one earbud in, and I would look up from helping a student to see him air drumming to the music. A few times, it looked like he was pretending to beat the children over their heads. He wasn't though; he was just lost in the music. I came to know his quirks of behavior: how he can't tell a story he likes without standing up and how he practically glows when he's talking about something he loves.

We would talk in the hall after that period too. He could make me really laugh, something that didn't happen often that year. We discussed choice weapons in a fantasy setting. His was the scythe, and he correctly guessed mine: bow and arrow. We also discussed Ted Dekker. He didn't remember how he knew that I was aware of his love of Dekker's books, but when I brought them up, he beamed. "You remembered!"

My junior year was hard. I had days when all I wanted to do was curl up in a corner and cry until I passed out from exhaustion. I felt alone, utterly alone. My closest friends were disappearing, some had graduated the year before and others were gone for different reasons. I don't know if I could have survived the school year without him.

So, long story short, happy birthday Kirito. I am so glad you talked to me and became my big brother.

Monday, September 22, 2014

The Blood Drive

I have never given blood before, not because I didn't want to. Circumstances have always worked against my desire to help. Thursday, I was able to break that pattern. I decided to donate blood.

I was nervous, to be perfectly honest. That's normal. Who wouldn't be nervous the first time a lifeless, plastic and metal mosquito feed on a vein?

As I walked into the room, a nurse smiled at me and handed me the forms I needed to fill out. After the paperwork, I sat at a little desk with another nurse. She brushed back a strand of short blond hair as she fastened the cuff of the blood pressure monitor around my arm. As it tightened, a snake strangling its prey, I felt each pulse of blood with thundering clarity. Only a moment and she was scribbling down my blood pressure (110/69) and pulse (73) onto a form. Next came my temperature (98.6). I watched as she prepared to prick my finger and calculate my hemoglobin. I'd had that done once before and watched her little device cautiously. It sharply bit my finger regardless. Hemoglobin came back as normal as could be expected (14.4).

I let my mind stray for a moment while a little machine nearby whirred. Of course the little tool for pricking fingers had shot its pointed end out so quickly. If it were slower, people would have time to flinch and pull away. The blood that came out was dark, a deep burgundy that made me think of my sister.

I vaguely became aware that I had grown hot. My head felt fuzzy and muted, grey even. I figured that, like being nervous, this was normal, but there could be no harm in asking, just to be on the safe side.

"Is it normal to feel hot and light-headed?"

She blinked and frankly answered, "Nope. It means you're not giving blood today. Lie down in the floor and put your feet in the chair." She left me and went in pursuit of a damp cloth.

A third nurse leaned around the side of her desk towards me. "Are you okay, Sweetie?" Her voice sounded odd, like I was under water.

I nodded.

I stayed there for about twenty minutes, head against cool concrete. If I had been left there much longer, I may have struck up a conversation in my head with the nearby trashcan. Eventually, I was given a little food and a cup of water before being released back into the world.

Oh well, there's always next time.


Herot saw Grendel
come to feast on man flesh in joy.
Beowulf said no.

A terrible fight
and Beowulf is victor.
Bad dude lost his arm.

Grendel’s mom was mad.
Then our hero killed her too.
Beowulf. So cool.

He went home and ruled
for fifty years in glory.
Fate ruined it all.

Dragon went raging
through peaceful Geat countryside.
Beowulf said no.

Though now old, he fought.
The dragon wounded the king.
Oh, that had to hurt.

Men were cowards, but
young Wiglaf ran to help him.
Young fool or hero?

The dragon got killed.
There was lots of gold to loot.
Beowulf. He dead.

Funeral is sad.
Dudes are shamed, got no fame.
Wiglaf is the man.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

A Work of Art

All across the country, students are gritting their teeth, rolling their eyes, groaning, and generally doing decent zombie impressions as they begrudgingly return to school. The little ones seem to enjoy the entire education process more than about sixth grade and up. This is partly because so much of what they are exposed to is new and partly because they want to see their friends. They don't get to see their friends nearly as often during the summer as they do during school.

I have never quite fit into the "normal" category. In my beginning years of grade school, I was friends with almost everyone, but I would spend recess walking around the playground singing to myself. I was happy to be my own person by myself. Whatever factors allowed me to be that way (more than likely the A+ parenting I received) also allowed me to befriend all of my teachers. It was probably the end of my first grade year when I realized that I wanted to give presents to them before school let out. There were a few days left, but it was the last day that I would have art that year. When my teacher blew the whistle to summon us to our line that would dismally trail behind her, eventually being secured indoors once again, I quickly bent over and scooped a few pebbles into my hand.

After recess, we wound our way through the white washed halls, past cells in which crouched exuberant kindergarteners and world weary second graders. We were a prison line of excitement, a snake of wildly separate individuals. The art room door loomed above us all, and through it was a haven. Yes, we were still required to sit in our seats, raise our hands, and not scream, but it was here that our individuality could shine, even when we were told to do the same project as all the others. I adored the teacher. She had short white hair, but somehow we never saw her as old. My mother said that she had taught my uncle. It would not surprise me to learn that it was that endeavor which turned her hair white. Still, she always had a smile in her eyes. She loved art. More than a teacher, she was an artist. She ran an art studio, and still does, that my mother took my sister and me to once. No one else was there other than my teacher. She welcomed us in, gave us each a can of soda, and showed the two of us (my sister had her classes too) to a table where we could draw. The windows had art pieces standing in them so that light could shine through. I thought that it was one of the most beautiful places I had ever been, and entering her classroom for the last time as a first grader, I felt a full appreciation for her efforts with the snot nosed young of the human race in our little town. I waited until the other kids were busy with their work, then went up to her desk.

"This is my favorite rock, and I want you to have it." I handed her a little brown pebble, one of the few I had picked up only moments before on the playground. It was of an oval persuasion, brown and smooth. I told her it was my favorite because I wanted it to have the meaning for her that I intended for it to have. I felt horrid for not telling the truth, even if I had a good intention behind it.

Second grade started, and I was excited to see all of  my friends that I didn't really talk to all that much. The first day of art, I claimed a seat by myself and blissfully started on my assignment. Not long after, the art teacher walked up to me, smiled, and placed a gift on my desk. A sun-catcher of sorts, it was constructed of metal that had been melted and left to set around shards of glass.

Glass and metal, not unlike those large panels in the windows of her art studio. Here was a little piece of her that I would treasure for many years to come. I took it in my hands and felt all the changes in texture. There was a sea shell on the right side, just thin enough to let the light illuminate it the smallest bit. And then I noticed it. Above the shell was a smooth, brown, oval pebble. I had given it to her, and she had turned it into art.

She was the art teacher for elementary and the Jr. High. I had her for many more years, and she was always a friend. She didn't talk to me any more than the other students, but that was how it was with all of my teachers, all of which I considered friends. One year, I developed a loathing for water colors. I didn't have the control that I wanted. She introduced me to water color pencils, which fascinate me. She retired when I was in Jr. High. After she left, I didn't have time in my schedule to take art again until high school, so I never met the new art teacher. Art remains a releasing of energy for me, a directional flow.

The pebble is, in some ways, quite like my heart. It's a little thing, pretty in its own simple way. When I gave my heart to Father, He took it and polished it until it shone in the beauty He had always intended it to have. What is more, is that He set my heart in His plan, His plan being the most beautiful of all. Some days, we forget that, leaving it on the wall and allowing dust to slowly blanket the shimmering creation in our eyes, yet all it takes is the slightest glimmer of sunlight to remind us just how truly lovely His great art, His plan, really is.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Having Cats is Rather Like Having Children

I like taking walks. Wandering along paths with the sky above me, surrounded by trees and grass, is, for me, soothing. My mother says that, when I was still very small, when I cried and cried, she would take me outside, and I would go still, staring up at the trees. Outside is a place of peace for me.

A few weeks ago, I decided to go out to the goat pasture nearby. It's where my mother used to walk when she was my age. She had taken me there a few times, so I know the way. I set out across the field towards the gate, and I had barely passed the little pond when Sparkle came trotting up to me. She is, perhaps, the sweetest of our cats. I petted her a little and continued on my way. When I reached the fence a few minutes later, she was still following me. I didn't want to lead her off of the property, so I walked back to the little pond, Sparkle following me loyally. I sat down at the edge of the pond, and, after she had determined that I was not going to fall in and drown, Sparkle settled down in the shade of a tree. For a while I prodded some pond scum with a stick, at least until I felt certain that Sparkle wouldn't follow me.

I made my way back to the fence, refusing to look back in case that might encourage her. When I reached the fence, she was at my feet again. Maybe, just maybe, she wouldn't cross the fence. I climbed up and over the fence and continued on my way. A few yards later I heard panting so loud that it could have been my grandparents' Labrador. It was Sparkle. She looked up at me and mewed quite quietly. Looking down at her, I knew she would follow me all day, even if it killed her. It was ninety degrees outside. She'd pass out from dehydration and exhaustion. I picked her up and carried her all the way home. She wasn't happy about that. Sparkle is not one for holding still for long periods of time, especially when she's being held against her will.

I opened the back door, and she sprang from my arms, nearly tumbling down the stairs to the cool basement. Promptly, she located a shadow and flopped over, still panting. My mother and I sat down beside her. Despite her excessive panting, Sparkle still insisted on purring as she was petted.

We set a bowl of cool water beside her and talked a little.

"Having cats is like having children, isn't it?" I commented, watching Sparkle's heaving side as she stretched out so that she could rest her chin on the floor too. It did make sense. Cats will follow you about just because they love you, as will children, and, just like with Sparkle, having children often means you can't go where you want or do what you want, but you don't really mind all that much.

"Yes." There was a laugh in my mother's eyes. A laugh that said "More so than you know."

Monday, July 14, 2014

Thoughts of Thoughts: Ponderings and Reflections

I absolutely love talking with my mother. She is one of my closest friends and my greatest confidant. Recently we had a discussion on thought and action. She has been reading Emerson and will occasionally look up from the pages and talk with me about what she has just read. We have had multiple little thesis statements in these discussions. One such statement is that thinkers are not natural doers. They still do, but their natural inclination is to think. This was moments later backed by a quote from Emerson's "The American Scholar": "Action is with the scholar subordinate, but it is essential... Without it, thoughts can never ripen into truth." Any thoughts are just theory without the experience that life provides. It is living that shows theory to be truth. Action is not only food for the body; it feeds thought as well.

Allow me to now clarify that in this post thoughts are not of the "solving cancer, world hunger, and the environment" nature. An example of what I mean would be this thought that I have been turning over and over in my head for the last few weeks: clouds are in-between beings, caught between smoke and snow, rising and falling. It's the little reflections and ponderings that I mean when I use the word "thoughts," not the grand scale intellectual entities that tower in the brain, squashing all little thoughts with their enormous gravity.

My mother and I are both thinkers, ponderers and reflectors. A task that should take fifteen minutes will stretch to an hour when in our hands. This is unintentional. We simply become unwittingly lost in thought.  My father grumbles about it in occasion, but we all know he loves us (my mother, after all, controls the flow of X-Files seasons to the house). To us, thoughts are the water of a mental creek: slow, clear, and calming. Both of us journal. Writing down thoughts and occurrences tends to clear our minds, helping us to relax and stop reviewing the day over and over. "Going back though my journals, I used to have thoughts on life and human nature," Mom sighed during our conversation, "but since I started teaching it's been 'do the laundry,' 'do the dishes,' and so on."

"Teaching and alcohol," I agreed. Since Mom started teaching, the fact that Cyril Conelly once said that teaching had killed more writers than alcohol had has turned into a household saying.

"Yes. Yes! Where do I find those thoughts when I'm cleaning a dirty toilet?!" Just to clarify, she does not clean toilets as part of her teaching job, but rather, as part of her own home's upkeep.

"In the dirty toilet." I wasn't exactly sure what I meant, when I said this, but the half idea sounded good.

"How do you mean?"

 "Make the toilet the metaphor."

"Go on."

"Lots of thoughts are metaphors. Take the dirty toilet and shape it into a metaphor for life or teaching. For example, I've been viewing the cats' litter-box as a zen garden of sorts. Cleaning it out, little mountains and valleys form. The world is a little zen garden of chemicals and poo."

"Chemicals and poo," my mom laughed. "I'm looking forward to this blog post."

I hadn't been planning on blogging it, but as I scribbled up a rough draft, it seemed plausible and maybe even good. Of course, there were thoughts that Mom and I didn't discuss, but certainly there will always be things left unmentioned and unconsidered in any discussion. Including the following that caught my eye as I was rough drafting and it stepped off its train into the station of thoughts bustling about in my head.

Each of us is unique in the way our thought pattens behave. Our thoughts carry the faintest touch of ourselves, near invisible fingerprints. It is the individual touch thoughts receive as they pass from one human being to the next that allows them to grow and expand. Thoughts are influenced by people as much as people are influenced by thoughts.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

A Letter to Spiders (#4)

Dear Spiders,

Stop that.
There is no need to deploy your largest mercenaries. If you continue to do so, they will all be rendered two dimensional like the first one.
This is not a threat. This is a guarantee.
Go away, and please don't come back.


Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Beautiful Encounters on a Walk

The weather has finally reached my favorite temperatures, mid-seventies to mid-eighties, with gentle whispers of wind. Windows are open throughout the house, and the area that I sit in is almost always caught in a pleasant cross breeze. I love early summer. Nearly every other day, I climb over the fence and walk in the field behind the house. The grasses reach my waist and brush against my wrists as I meander here and there. It could almost be a setting for one of those commercials that feature such settings, usually advertising hair products. However, low lying black berry briars, burrs, snakes, and other agents of nature make wearing skirts, shorts, sandals, or flip-flops horribly impractical. On one point I do have to agree with advertisers: a field in the summer is certainly beautiful.

I've started to take my camera with me almost any time I go outside. As a result, I have a lot of pictures, most of which are from Friday and Sunday. I generally go straight to the larger of our two ponds, take some pictures, and sit and think for a while. There is always a chorus of little frogs making big noises, a dance of water bugs and dragonflies, and the fleeing of tadpoles. When I was little, we lived in a house with a clear, shallow creek on either side of the property. I would wade in and catch tadpoles, feeling their slippery skin against my fingers before letting them back into the creek when the water ran out of my hands. Tadpoles give me a sense of calm, one that I can soak into my heart as I sit on the pond's bank, so, late Sunday afternoon, I decided to go to the pond again. Before I even left the yard, I came across someone who had visited the driveway that morning.

He was a particularly fearless three-toed box turtle. He had gone straight up to one of the cats and then my bare toes before changing directions in favor of a worm that was trying to keep from drowning in the light rain. The turtle was also munching on the dried out worms that had died a day or two before. I had always imagined the dried ones would be something like bacon bits but with more protein. It's actually surprising that I never tried eating them when I was little. When I saw him again that afternoon, he was on the other side of the yard

Looking up from visiting with my reptile acquaintance, I saw that my trip to the pond would be delayed. I had set out later than usual, and the cows had beaten me to my destination. Since they were there first, I sat on the fence for a while and took pictures of them with two of the cats nearby, one of which was my sister's cat, Shadow, previously referred to as Insta-purr.

Eventually, I hopped down on the other side and explored a part of the field that I had previously been uninterested in. The difference now is that the thistle there is in bloom. A large, yellow butterfly was perched on one of the blooms, and I was hopeful that I could get close enough to get a picture before it left. Because of the distraction tactics of Shadow and Sparkle, one of the sweetest felines I've ever come across, the butterfly was long gone when I reached the thistle. However, I did get a few good pictures of the two cats.

Taking pictures and playing with the cats, I realized that when I sat down, or even crouched, the grasses came up past my head. A field is a wonderful place to hide in the summer, so long as one keeps an eye out for cow patties.

Although the butterfly had left the thistle, two fat bees were busying themselves there when I arrived. They buzzed and hummed around the purple blooms. Bees really are such pretty insects; sometimes I am baffled by the fear held by many who are not allergic. The thistle was beautiful with or without bees or butterflies.

When I finished with the thistle, I went and sat on a part of the fence that overlooks the road we live on.  On the other side of the asphalt is a wood. There are pale trees that speak of age with their cracked trunks and reaching branches. I would hardly be surprised to learn that the door to Fairy Land was there. I wouldn't be surprised to learn that there was a door in our woods either. All forests and woods have a degree of magic to them. Why else would so many fairy tales from so many different countries take place in forests?

When the cows left the big pond, I scurried to its rocky banks. Most of it is surrounded by a steep incline that levels off at the top. On one side is the pond and on the other is the woods. 

I like to sit there and think or just listen to music. It is a safe place, a place where I can fill the sky and fields with thoughts and musings. I took some more pictures and mentally noted places that would be nice for pictures of people. I don't often get human subjects to work with, so I do my best when they are available.

Satisfied with the pictures I had taken, I left the pond. It was getting relatively late, but there was still enough light that I loathed the idea of returning to the house. Instead, I made my way to the smaller pond, following trails of trodden down grass that the cows had left behind. At one point I had to stop to pull a bur out of my sock. I reached the bank and plopped down. Unlike the larger pond, this one has hardly any slope to it's bank; the ground is almost level. I looked at the edges of the water and saw little black water snails moving about, climbing over each other and searching for food. It was then that I realized that someone was sitting next to me.

He was a little western ribbon snake, black with yellow stripes. Having grown up in the area, I knew he wasn't venomous. I slowly pulled my camera from its case and turned it on, careful not to startle him. He held perfectly still. I took several pictures of him, each time expecting him to dart to the water. When I finished taking pictures, I tried to encourage him to run away. I lightly touched the tip of his tail a few times, but he only curled the tip away a centimeter or two. Carefully, I stroked his middle, smooth scales sliding past my finger. He still made no move to leave. If he wanted to stay, I wouldn't argue. Turning my gaze from the sweet little reptile, I looked out across the pond.

I love reflections and light. The pond was quite simply lovely to see, and there was a slight breeze. An orange image of a battery blinked at me from my camera's screen. I had taken several pictures in the last few days, so it wasn't any surprise. I took a few more pictures and looked back at the snake. Slowly I reached toward him where he could see me then took pictures as he sped away across the water full of clouds, little head held high.

As I waded through the tall grass on my way home, I thought about Father. He takes such care with every little detail: each of the snake's scales, each whisker on my silly kitties, and each breath that I take. He doesn't do all of this out of obligation. He does this because He loves so entirely and so vastly. More beautiful to me than that which He creates is His love.

This morning, I looked up the western ribbon snake and something caught my attention: the eyes of the adult snake pictured. They were small in proportion to its head compared to the one I sat with on Sunday. I checked and there was the text to confirm my new suspicion. "The young are born from late June to September... At birth, young western ribbon snakes are from 230 to 250 mm (9 to 10 inches) in length." That was the right length and relative time of year, and it would explain why he has such large eyes. He's a baby. He didn't run from me immediately because he hasn't learned to be afraid of me. People are wrong when they say that ignorance is bliss. Ignorance is only frustration and uninformed mistakes. Innocence is bliss.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Summer Ramblings

Right. I should probably post something.

Hello again. Not much has happened recently in ways of adventure, which I regret. I probably need to do something to fix that. Little things have been happening though. I made pudding recently, and I am pleased to inform you that there were no spiders involved. Not that the world has been spider free, mind you. They've certainly been popping up here and there: the back of my bedroom door, a few times on the living room floor, on the wall, and, the most nerve racking spot, the ceiling.

Also, I now have a laptop, finally. My computer was a Dell that was maybe fourteen years old. It ran 2003 Word at any rate. The laptop is also a Dell, her name is MollyHooper, and I love her very much. Unfortunately, she already has a smattering of cat hair on her, but in this house that really can't be helped. As a result of having Molly, I probably spend a little too much time online. Okay, not probably, I do. A few days ago, I watched ten episodes straight of Sword Art Online, an anime that came highly recommended by the youngest two of my older brothers. I agree with them that it is amazing and I understand that many people spend far more time online and could watch probably the entire show in one sitting, but I can't. Even not watching videos or playing games, spending too long in front a screen will give me a nasty headache, and I've learned from experience that those headaches will persist into migraines. One particularly nasty headache that didn't quite make it to the migraine rating was induced by watching all of Attack on Titan with a friend. I was enough out of sorts to not feel like eating much, but I doubt I would have felt up to eating even without the headache. If you've seen it, you'll understand perfectly. In a way the headaches are good thing. I do things other than stare at a screen like drawing, sleeping, and reading. At my father's recommendation, I've started investing time in his collection of Cherie Priest's books, beginning with Four and Twenty Blackbirds, which I've almost finished.

I've been journaling more frequently. Still not quite daily, but it's an improvement, much the same as my blogging: more frequent than before, but not as frequent as I'd like.

A nice thing about summer is that I seem to have more time to see with my poet eyes, as my mother would say. Usually this means I run around barefoot in the grass, clutching my camera. I may post some more pictures, seeing as it is easier to transfer pictures from camera to computer, now that I have Molly. We'll see.

I feel like I've cheated. This isn't really a blog post.

This is a blog post. Rambling is not cheating.

Monday, May 26, 2014

A Writers' Questionnaire

I was challenged to do this over a month ago. I only just found out. I think this means that I need to get on more often. If any bloggers that read this want to, I strongly encouraged them to fill this out on their blogs as well.

1. How much writing do you do on average?
Not enough. No only have I not blogged recently, I am also somewhere over a month behind in my journaling. Hopefully, I'll get back into rhythm this summer.

2. What's the last thing you wrote?
A journal entry about rain, wet robins, and colors.

3. Is it any good?
It was all right. It wasn't something that I edited or put much effort into, but it certainly wasn't bad.

4. What's the first thing you ever wrote that you still have?
My second grade journal. It has six entries, the formatting and spelling are terrible, and it takes a bit of effort to decipher the handwriting.

5. Favorite genre of writing?
Personal anecdote, oddly enough. Until I really started blogging seriously, I was strictly a fantasy writer, but there's something about my own stories that makes the flow more real. Second to that are fairy tales.

6. How often do you get writer's block?
If I'm trying to write a book, about seventy percent of the time. Blogging is maybe forty or thirty. Journaling is almost never.

7. How do you fix it?
I leave it alone and draw. I have periods where I can draw, but I can't write, and I have periods where I can write, but I can't draw, so I bounce back and forth. I almost always have a creative outlet somewhere.

8. Do you save everything you write?
Only when it comes to my journals. Other than that, I still have some papers from high school and one from junior high, but I try not to keep everything.

9. How do you feel about revision?
"It is perfectly okay to write garbage as long as you edit brilliantly." C. J. Cherryh

10. What's your favorite thing that you've written?
Probably "Hooded," but I think that if I put my mind to it I could write something better.

11. What's everyone else's favorite thing that you've written?
I don't exactly know. Possibly "Attack of the Killer Migraine," but no one has ever told me a favorite.

12. What writing projects are you working on right now?
Catching up on blogging and journaling.

13. What's one genre you have never written, and probably never will?
Most of nonfiction. I'll write anecdotes and maybe an essay or two, but I detest writing research papers, biographies, and histories. I likely will have to write some in the future, but I seriously doubt that doing so will be my own idea.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Big Sister, Poetry, and Related Things

My apologies for not blogging last month. I had a lot going on, but that's really not an excuse.

I was able to spend last week with my sister, which was one of the best things that has happened recently. The first day that I came home from work when she was home, we were wearing matching shirts. She didn't wake up that morning until I had already left, so there is no way in happened on purpose. We spent a lot of time together, usually laughing. I took some very beautiful pictures of her. Some of my favorites were accidental takes when she was laughing. She's amazingly beautiful when she laughs.

It's National Poetry Month! Huzzah! I'll try to post some more poems while I have the excuse to. I'm still going to stick to free verse. I can't rhyme. Not well anyway. I tried to make a version of "Way up in the sky, the little birds fly" for worms. After hearing my attempt, my mother made her own: "Way down in the dirt, the little worms flirt." See? That's cute. Mine? "Way down in the dirt, the little worms squirt."

That is why I don't rhyme.

Have a lovely day! 

Masquerade's End

The room stands gracefully full.
Bright colors swish
against slender ankles.
Ideals dance with dreams,
stepping in perfect time
around the ring, casting a spell.
Take care to not be caught.

Laughter finds an echo
in the gentle cacophony
and ricochets off a single heart.

There is no comfort here.
The food does not fill.
The spell is only an illusion.

A hand reaches up,
unties the chains.
The mask falls,
Strewn glass and gems.
Far gone feathers.
The metal frame contorted,
bent grossly out of shape.

Cast aside
the glamor.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Valentine's Day 2014

Happy Valentine's Day! I hope you are the recipient of many hugs and much chocolate. In my life are many prominent couples: my grandparents, my mom and dad, my brother Ace and his fiancee, and my youngest brother and his girlfriend. These couples are horribly sweet, and I love them very much.

That being said, there are some pretty awesome singles in my life too: my three oldest brothers (as far as I know), my wonderful older sister, and some of my close friends. Some of those said friends are rather proud of being single and celebrate the fourteenth of February as Singles Awareness Day. I don't quite think that the word used should be awareness though. Celebration, that works better. Awareness is most often used for diseases. It makes it sound like we're going to die unless we get boyfriends (or girlfriends as the case may be). Please, enough with the melodrama. Being single is actually pretty awesome when it's all said and done.

  • All the chocolate you buy can go to you (and deserving friends, but they don't have to know that you have chocolate, and what they don't know won't hurt them).

  • So much time is freed up when you don't have to be in contact over text or social media all the time, let alone actually being with someone.

  • You don't have to shave (to be quite frank that does apply to both genders).

  • Money spent on gifts and dates can be spent another way, say books, video games, car or truck, or even chocolate. (There's no going wrong with chocolate.)

  • You don't have to check with the boyfriend before you schedule something. It's really all about spontaneity.

  • You can drop off of the grid of communication for a full week and no one would make a fuss. 

  • Bacon.

  • You can be as geeky or crazy as you want. No one will restrain you.

  • There are no friends of the boyfriend that you really dislike that you have to put up with, when there is no boyfriend.

I thoroughly enjoy being single, but I won't bash couples. They have the gift of one another. Please don't complain about them being happy together. That doesn't speak well of you, even if you're otherwise awesome. 

So, happy Valentine's Day, dear couples. Enjoy each other. In your loved one you have a constant comfort and (hopefully) entertainment.

Happy Singles Celebration, dear singles. Don't worry about being a third wheel. Be a unicycle! Those are really cool and take a lot of talent.

Much love,

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Olympics, Singing, and Life

I generally curl up with a book if someone decides to watch sports. They bore me for the most part. However, I do have a love for the Olympics, winter and summer. I'll cheer for pretty much any country, especially the Europeans and Canada. It's not the competition that draws me to it. If that were the case, I'd like the usual sports more. It's the athletic heights that the athletes reach, their amazing ability and grace. I love it.

My favorite winter Olympic sport is figure skating. I've loved watching it since I was little. The skaters are so graceful. There's something in a skater's posture and face when a routine is done well, something that beams a mixture of excitement and relief. I've always thought it was one of the most beautiful parts.

As a high school student, I would go to choir competitions. I liked listening to the sound of a choir wash over me. I especially enjoyed listening to solos and small ensembles. There, like in the Olympics, I could focus on an individual. At the end of a song well sang, the singer's shoulders relax and a small smile emerges. It reminds me of the skaters, their excitement and relief rushing out and blending together.

Occasionally, I'll even listen to the reporters during the Olympics. Sometimes you hear them say that an upcoming part is difficult for the particular athlete. When I heard them say that about one of the skaters this year, I realized that in a way singers are more like traditional athletes than we tend to think. There's always that one part of a good song for a singer, that one part that is tricky, a jump in notes or change in rhythm. Sometimes we mess up obviously, even enough for those who don't know the music to tell. Just like the figure skaters who fall, we have to jump back in and finish like nothing happened. It's a lot like life too, now that I think about it. Figure skating, singing, and living are all art forms. We push the boundaries that we think are there. We break the mold and shine, just like Christ intended us to.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

A Visit to the Bookstore

Early Monday evening I entered Barnes and Noble. The chill from outside loosened its grasp and drifted away from me like smoke. There were more people than I would have liked, but I'm an introvert, and, as such, would prefer as few people as possible. Doing my best to remain invisible, I wove around the bookstore patrons. Despite any discomfort I might feel around them, they were there for the same reasons I was, reasons that were made of paper and ink.

I stopped by the journals first, a habit I had picked up from my mother. Many of the blank books were familiar faces: a leather lion, a yellow ribbon bookmark peering from between pages, and a variety of green leaves. A few that I recognized were the same as some of my mother's. Several new faces murmured their mute hellos as well. I picked up one that I'd inspected before. Its black cover was rough as I traced the clockwork design on the front. Gently opening it, I flipped through the pages, blank save for the black lines, and inhaled the sent of unused paper, the sent of potential.

I moved on to the graphic novels and mangas, taking a few detours to avoid people perusing the fiction and poetry shelves. Peeking into the desired aisle, I smiled slightly and moved on to the next one. The graphic novels and manga had a slightly different atmosphere. In other sections, readers stood back from the shelves or sat in chairs, but here, those who felt quite at home sat on the floor in the middle of the aisle. On days when other customers were few and far between, I would do the same until my legs fell asleep beneath me. Monday, however, I moved on to the other books for the time being. I flipped almost every book over to read the back, occasionally opening them to read the inside of the dust jacket. Cover art and titles are far from reliable in defining a book's worth. Still, only a shelf away from the graphic novels, I could hear the college age boys that occupied the floor. There were a few mentions of characters they all seemed to be familiar with, and then they began to head out.

"What's that one?"

One of them picked up a book and flipped a few pages. "It's about a hipster."

"I don't want to read about hipsters."

I waited a moment and put down the steampunk book I had been holding, moving to investigate Barnes and Noble's stock of graphic novels and manga. My attention shifted from book to book, art style to art style, before I wandered back to the fantasy, where a book of dragon history caught my eye. I smiled. I have a love for dragons. Taking it into my hands, I opened it to the middle and found a copy of Lewis Carroll's Jabberwocky. Eventually, I drifted back to the front to do some people watching. Many in line were adults, more than likely parents. They seemed worn, but perhaps it was simply the effect of the holidays. A pair of girls near the line stole my attention for a moment. They both were shorter than me, likely in high school or early college. The taller of the two had short red hair and wore a black pea coat. She embraced her friend.

"I didn't expect to see you here!"

"I read!" The shorter one replied indignantly. Her hair was dark and fell a little past her shoulders. She wore a dark shirt with a wide, but not low, neck line.

I smiled a little. They reminded me of myself with my friends. It was the clothing styles as well as the fact that I wouldn't expect to find my friends in Barnes and Noble, even though I know full well that they read.

I came home with one book. It was enough. Two days before, I had downloaded ten new books to my kindle, many of which were for free. I have reading material. I go back to work tomorrow. The books not yet read will be a comfort to have ready as well as a torment to ignore, as it is with all books.