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Eternally And Ever Ermine Street
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Date:2010-10-31 20:36
Subject:Happy Halloween!
Security:Public

It's been a year since the last time I posted a blog and a lot has happened in that year. Although I love writing and posting blogs my life has become a bit more complicated recently which means that I've had less time to devote to it. More responsibilities mean less free time, but the changes have been good so I guess I don't have much to complain about. For example, on a career note, I've been invited to be on more committees dealing with educational policies and I've been nominated for Who's Who in America in 2011. There's been a lot on my plate for a while now.

That having been said, I love Halloween and I love writing and sharing stories on Halloween so I've been writing a story to post here this year as I have done for the last three years. It's called "Terribal's Tale" and it's been great fun to write. At the last minute, though, I ended up going to the Rally for Sanity/Fear in D.C. yesterday and so I lost a day to finish my story. Rather than post it today without a proper ending or final edits, I'm going to postpone posting it until later this week. It won't technically be a Halloween story anymore, but it will still be Halloweeny and, personally, I keep a little of the Halloween spirit in me every day of the year. If you're really in the mood to read one of my Halloween stories on Halloween this year, then feel free to check out, for the first time or once again, one of my previous story blogs -- "Moss: A Halloween Tale of Magic", "The Mirror" and "The Crooked Woman" are there for you to peruse any ol' time.

So I hope you have a lovely Halloween. Enjoy it in good spirit! I'm off now to eat candy corn and do some (minor) mischief. This begins my favorite part of the year -- Halloween moves into Thanksgiving which becomes Christmas which turns into New Year's Eve which blossoms into Valentine's Day -- and I wish you the very best of it.

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Date:2009-10-31 20:14
Subject:Moss: A Halloween Tale of Magic
Security:Public

 

     She wasn’t dead.  She suddenly knew it was true.

     Her skin was bruised, raw and bleeding where it had hit the rocks and gravel on the road.  Her mouth hurt like hell.  Gingerly, she swept her tongue across teeth -- one molar broken -- roof  and cheeks.  She tasted the coppery tang of her own blood -- minor damage, all things considered.

     Ayda sat up and moved her aching limbs as she looked around.  She must have bounced once she hit the road, been knocked out and rolled unconscious onto this meadow.  The sun was high but she wasn’t certain how long she’d been exposed to it.  The last time she remembered anything it was night time.  The moon had been high and full.

     Well, she couldn’t sit here forever.  They wouldn’t be coming back and she wouldn’t be sad to never see them again.  Good riddance, in her opinion.  She was lucky to be alive with no serious injury to remind her of what she didn’t want to remember.  The past had always been easy for her to forget.

     It didn’t take much effort on her part to follow the road westward and locate a town.  There Ayda was able to purchase or trade for some tools, food and personal effects.  A few inquiries confirmed that the meadow where she’d been saved was unoccupied and had been abandoned by a family long ago.  There was still a cottage but no one knew the state it was in.

     “I doubt anybody around here would stop you if you wanted to take it over,” the woman who owned the general store told her.  She was blowzy and friendly and, Ayda suspected, more than a little bit nosey.  “But I don’t think you’ll like it much if you did.”

     “Why not?”  Ayda asked.

     “The woods around there aren’t safe ... for anyone.”

     She heard the note of theatrical warning in the store owner’s voice and smiled a bit.  “How so?”

     The owner waved her hand dismissively in front her.  “Oh, don’t worry.  No one’s been killed there.  It’s not that kind of dangerous.”  She handed Ayda another bag from behind the counter.

     Ayda made no comment and the woman continued.  Her story was clearly too good not to share with a new audience.  “It’s more that strange things happen there -- magical things that seem real, but aren’t somehow.  The whole town steers clear of there.  It’s enchanted.”

     Ayda slung the last bag over her shoulder.  “Sounds perfect,” she told her.  “I’m looking for a little enchantment.”

     “Do you need any help carrying all that?”  The store owner asked her as she turned to leave.

     “I’ll manage.  Thanks.”

vvv

     Throughout that spring and early summer Ayda worked to create something she’d never really had before - a home.  Every time she pounded in another nail or planted a new seed this home grew and, in fact, the land itself seemed to be helping her build it.  It breathed life into her work making it grow and elaborate on a massive scale.  In truth, Ayda felt a bit like an instrument doing her part in a larger plan over which she had little control.  But, since it was satisfying to watch her labor succeed, she didn’t worry overmuch.  In her experience, there were far worse masters to work for.

     It didn’t take Ayda long before she noticed that she wasn’t alone in that wooded meadow.  For instance, her cottage and garden showed daily signs of fairy activity.  The little scamps left face impressions on her kitchen windows and bit holes in the leaves of their favorite plants.  Uncertain of their intentions, Ayda decided to attempt to make friends.

     To that end, she would occasionally leave her kitchen door open while she was outside so that they could easily find the tiny sugar cookies she’d make and stack in what she hoped were fairy-appealing towers.  She also left bundles of leaves from the plants with the most holes on her doorsteps and window sills at night.  Since the cookie towers and bundles of leaves disappeared with little fuss, she figured her offerings had been accepted.  No further escalation of fairy activity ensued.

     Then, one day, out in the soft soil in her garden, Ayda saw something that gave her pause.  She often saw the tracks of rabbits and raccoons and deer in her yard, but never moose and never human.  But, sure enough, she found a flurry of both types of tracks in her garden that morning.  The moose tracks were large and deep while the human tracks, which were also large, were oddly bare, each toe easily discernible in the loose earth.

     Ayda looked at these tracks with some concern and wondered what they could mean.  As the store owner had told her, very few people from the town came to see her in her enchanted home or even bothered much with her when she came into town for supplies or conversation.  The idea that any of them would wander around her home at night -- let alone barefoot -- seemed extremely hard to imagine.  Yet, there was no mistake.  For some reason, she had bare human footprints in her yard.

     Not long after that she began to see the moose, at first out through her window, and then, one afternoon, she looked up from pounding in a replacement tile on her roof to see it watching her from a safe distance near the woods.  It was long-legged and had a big barrel-shaped body, yet it was elegant, its antlers extending in wide curling branches from its sturdy head.  Its gaze was steady and it almost looked curious as if it found her fascinating to observe.  She wasn’t certain from her vantage point, but she guessed that it was an adult male.  It returned her gaze for a moment or two longer before stepping quietly back into the trees.

     It was at night the next time anything unusual happened.  She had managed to twist her ankle that afternoon jumping from a tree branch farther from the ground than she’d realized, and she was nursing it with some cool well water in a bucket when she heard tapping at the window near her door.  Thinking it was probably fairy mischief, Ayda ignored it at first, but the tapping soon became insistent enough for her to hobble over to investigate.  The light inside obscured her view of the outside, so she turned down the lamp and peered out across dark meadow and into murky woods.  She saw nothing.

     That is when something large and strong slammed against her front door with enough force that she heard a crack.  Surprised, Ayda stared at the door in disbelief only to fall backwards onto her butt when the door was rammed again with equal force.  It held, but for how much longer, she didn’t know.

     In a panic, she scrambled on hands and knees, her ankle throbbing, and grabbed the first weapon she could find, which was the kitchen knife she had used to cut her bread for dinner.  She got up and hopped back to the door and waited.  When nothing immediately happened, she began to get angry.

     “Who’s out there?”  She demanded in a voice gruff with an anger that was only slightly more powerful than the fear she felt.  She was self-sufficient and strong, but an unknown assailant wasn’t something to underestimate.  For the first time in a long time, Ayda was in survival mode her body alert for the next attack.

     “Hello?”

     The voice was breathy and sexless and clearly coming from just on the other side of her door.

     “Hello?”

     The hairs on the back of Ayda’s neck went up and she swallowed slowly.  “Who are you?” She demanded with far more bravery than she felt.  “What do you want?”

     This was greeted with further silence before the voice spoke again.  “Ayda,” it said with certainty and familiarity.  “Don’t you know me?”

     Ayda moved back from the door.

     “Ayda.”

     “Go away!”  She yelled.  “Get away from my door!”

     This demand was answered with a silence that lasted long enough for Ayda to believe that it had gone.  But she slept uneasily that night her body still on high alert.  The next morning she stepped out her front door with trepidation.  The door was damaged and there were slight scratches on her windows near the door.  There were also moose tracks marking the ground in front of her cottage.

vvv

     The next time Ayda went into town it was several months later when summer was beginning to shift into fall.  She hadn’t seen any sign of the moose again and she had begun to forget the fear she had experienced that night.  Ayda wanted to spread word in town that she was looking for people to help her take in the harvest.  Her garden had yielded far more than she had planned, considering its size, and the area near the woods to one side of her land consisted of pear and apple trees she had only just discovered.

     The trees had probably once been planted and tended by deliberate human hands, but they were now wild and practically rolling over with fruit.  Ayda and the other beings in the woods couldn’t consume all of the bounty, so she wanted help picking the rest.  She told the store owner and a few others of her plans offering to pay helpers in vegetables and fruit.  The next day more than a dozen people arrived on her doorstep.

     Townspeople kept coming over the next few weeks as the air cooled and green leaves turned russet-purple or gold or scarlet.  Some of them were friendly, some of them were not, a few returned for a few days in a row, most picked for only a day, and all of them left with their pay slung in bags over their shoulders or in carts well before sunset.  All, that is, except for two intrepid souls, Shylo, a girl who lived not far from Ayda’s place and Moss, a bachelor who seemed rather rootless.

     Ayda had had very few friends in her lifetime.  She was, in truth, a solitary person, but she was also adaptable and she began to like enjoying a meal and laughter with Shylo and Moss after a day of harvesting.  Shylo was very curious about her and asked innocently impertinent questions that Ayda answered carefully so as to be polite without revealing too much.  Moss was more reticent and quiet as he watched her talk and laugh with kind brown eyes and a reserved smile of his own.  If he spoke, it was in a voice that cracked slightly with lack of use and in which he made unusual observations as if his eyes saw the world differently than everyone else.

     When Shylo was needed more on her parents’ land than Ayda’s, and she reluctantly stopped coming daily, Moss stuck around.  She found his company welcome and allowed him to camp anywhere he chose on her land.  He helped her pick and preserve what was left of the harvest and then happily stayed to enjoy the food and sunny fall weather.  It wasn’t very long before Moss moved in to share Ayda’s cottage with her.

     Over time, Ayda got to know Moss well not only as a lover but also as a close friend.  Like her, he was a solitary person and he liked to venture off on his own once or twice a week in the morning only to come back late at night happy to see her but quietly exhausted and smelling of earth and air.  She never pried into his business and he, likewise, never pried into hers.  They managed to create an individual togetherness that allowed for intimacy without sacrificing autonomy.  It was, for a time, exactly what Ayda wanted.

     “How do you feel about children?” She asked him one day at breakfast in late-autumn.  The leaves had almost all fallen off the trees and the ones that remained had turned black and crunchy.  She found the starkness beautiful.

     Moss knitted his brows in confusion.  “You mean like Shylo?” He asked as he reached for the apple preserves.

     Ayda smiled.  “Yes, eventually,” she said.  “But I was thinking of smaller ones than that.”

     She watched and waited as understanding began to dawn on his face.  He smiled brightly at her and then nonchalantly turned his attention back to his breakfast.

     “So, when do you plan on these children stopping by for a visit?”  He asked.

     “In the summer sometime,“ she told him as she took a piece of toast from his plate.  “And I’m hoping there will only be one.”

vvv

     “He’s a big strong buck, that one, eh?”  The peddler asked her as she looked through his cart for metal utensils.

     “Hm?”  She asked since she hadn’t really been listening to him and wasn’t interested in doing so then either.

     The man made her uncomfortable as most people did when she didn’t know them well.  But she felt an additional level of caution with him and had done since he first knocked on her door that day peddling his wares.  Ayda had learned to trust this instinct the hard way and her currently contented life didn’t change this knowledge.  Still, new tools were hard to pass up lightly.

     The peddler nodded in the direction where Moss was hauling oversized branches through the snow to the house where he could chop and stack them for fuel.  They had managed to trade with Shylo’s parents for a shaggy cow for whom they had built a small barn and from whom they now got fresh milk and cheese, both of which she craved.  The cow, like the peddler, and now Ayda, watched Moss as he worked.

     “Your man, “ the peddler clarified with another nod in his direction.

     “He’s not my man, “ Ayda told him and pulled out a large soup spoon that looked like it had possibilities.  She found his presumption irritating.

     “Well,” the peddler laughed with a meaningful glance at her burgeoning belly.  “It looks like you’re his, at any rate,” he said in a jolly fashion.

     Ayda looked at him and pointed the spoon at an area between his eyes.  “I’ll take this one, thanks,” she said.

     He took the hint, raised his hands as if in surrender, and concluded their business without further comment.  But, just as she started to walk back to the house, she heard his unwelcome voice once again.

     “Your man like to take long walks in the woods and down by the marsh?”  He asked.

     Normally Ayda would ignore someone in a situation like this, but, for reasons she never understood, she turned and faced him again.

     “What’s it to you?”

     The peddler shrugged.  “It’s nothing to me, “ he said.  “But maybe it should be to you.”

     Ayda said nothing and waited for him to speak his mind.

     “People warned you about these woods, I take it,” he continued.  “How they can fool you and trick you into believing something that isn’t there?”

     Again, Ayda made no reply.

     “You might want to follow that man of yours,” he said, an unfriendly smile curling up the sides of his lips.  “See who he is, and who he’s with, when he’s not with you.”

     Ayda watched the peddler go, her heart beating fast as if in fear.  She didn’t like him and, in her experience, those you don’t like aren’t worth listening to, but something about what he said rang true.  She stood there for a long time until she felt Moss’s arms wrap around her from behind.

     “Are you cold, Ayda?”  He asked her, his mouth against the back of her head.

     “A little bit,” she said.  She turned in his arms and squeezed him close, sharing her body warmth with his.

vvv

     Days and weeks passed before Ayda decided to follow Moss on one of his weekly trips.  She said goodbye to him as usual, checked his progress through a window, and then followed his tracks through the snow once he’d disappeared from view.  She moved quietly, her belly balancing her forward on her toes.  She could see him faintly in the distance and, when he stopped, she stopped too and hid behind a large tree.

     Glancing from behind it, she watched him go to a specific tree where he dug through the snow and dirt at its roots.  He eventually pulled out a brown bag and dumped its contents.  Amazed, she watched as he shucked his boots and clothing and stood in naked glory in the middle of the freezing air.  He put these clothes in the bag and hid it once again.  Then he began to don the original contents of the bag, one limb at a time.

     She gasped as Moss disappeared and an adult moose took his place.  The moose turned slightly in her direction, but she quickly hid and waited patiently.  Eventually she looked out again only to find him gone.  In a slight daze, Ayda walked around until she spotted a marsh and walked toward it.

     The moose, Moss, was there along with about six other moose of differing sizes and, she guessed, sexes.  They were chewing on sparse vegetation together like a human family sharing dinner.  Moss looked in his element and he greeted another moose nose-to-nose when it approached him.  They both began to chew from the same bush.  Ayda turned and began to walk quickly back home.

     What she had thought she would discover by following Moss, she didn’t now know, but the truth was more than she could imagine or quickly process.  Moss was the moose who had been in her meadow last year.  Of this she was now certain.  He was the creature who had left both moose and human tracks in her garden, since he was clearly, somehow, both at the same time.  He had talked to her through the door she had been too afraid to open that horrible night.  How long had he planned his human life with her?  Did he plan to stay with her forever or live this half-life forever?  Or, worse, leave her forever to be a moose again?

     Jealousy and betrayal seared through her as she slammed the cottage door behind her.  She cursed the peddler for giving her doubts and herself for being so weak as to listen to him.  But, then, Moss should have told her.  Moss should have loved her enough to share this with her.

     He found her, sitting in the dark in the living room, when he came back hours later.  He asked her what was wrong, and clearly didn’t believe her when she told him nothing, but, as usual, he didn’t pry.  They cooked and ate an uneasy dinner together.  She watched him from across the table and wondered how he could still be hungry.

     Ayda had heard of shape-shifters, of course.  Who hadn’t?  But, hearing about and knowing are two different things.  She began to look at Moss with new eyes and fancied she could see the moose in him.  Why hadn’t she noticed his long lashes before or the oddity of his speech?  Why hadn’t she wondered at the delicate strength of his wrists and ankles?  She felt sad and stupid and out of these feelings came the need to hurt him.

     The next day she got up early and, under the pretext of gathering more firewood, backtracked to where she had seen him dig up his moose skin.  She trusted that he would keep the same hiding place, and this trust was rewarded when she easily located the brown bag.  She took it and hid it under her jacket and then secretly stashed it at the bottom of a chest in the cottage once she got back home.  She had originally planned to burn it, but she found this harder to do once the soft pelt, so familiar and yet unfamiliar, was in her hands.

     The next week, when Moss went off on his “walk” Ayda wasn’t surprised when he came back early looking distressed.  She didn’t question him, as was their wont, but sat with him and tried to feel pleased that she had made him stay with her.  And she did feel pleased that she could control him and his time with her.

     Within two weeks, though, Moss was ill.  It was as if his energy was leaving him in tiny increments.  He still went away from her a couple of days a week, but he always came back within a few hours exhausted and without his usual glow.  They barely talked anymore and he barely ate anything.  When she snuggled up to him in bed, he felt boney and so very cold.

     One day, when the icicles on the eaves of the cottage began to drip from the warming rays of the sun, Moss couldn’t leave bed.  Distress finally replaced Ayda’s anger.  She got into bed with him and hugged and rocked him against her large stomach.

     “I’m so sorry,” she told him.

     “For what, Ayda?”  He asked and, defiantly, she told him everything.  She told him what the peddler had said and she told him about following him where she had discovered his secret.  She told him how this had made her feel and, deeply ashamed, she told him what she had done.  She went to get his moose skin and showed it to him even as she confessed that she had wanted to destroy it.

     “You still can, if you want,” he told her.

     “I don’t want you to die,” she told him.

     “Glad to hear it,” he said.  “But I’m not dying.  I’m just becoming only human.”

     Ayda stared at him in disbelief.  “You mean you can be just one or the other?”

     “Yes,” Moss breathed.  “What do you want me to be, Ayda?  I want you to decide.  I want you to be happy.”

     So, Ayda decided.

vvv

     Ayda’s daughter was born in late summer just as the garden was beginning to renew itself.  Like her mother, she was independent and determined -- and more than a little bit headstrong -- so she began to crawl and talk at about the same time.  By the following summer she was an unsteady walker and a frequent talker.

     Ayda was planting when she heard her daughter’s baby voice announce, “There he is.”  Her chubby finger pointed to the spot in the woods where Moss had emerged and was walking toward them, his brown bag in one hand.

     “Yes,” said Ayda.  “There he is, baby.”

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Date:2009-09-29 03:37
Subject:Wild Oranges
Security:Public

Wild orange scent
Colors my imagination --
Tickles my nose
Tastes like pepper
Heated to liquid
Dribbles down chin
Across forearm to escape
Seeking tongue
Watery sweet
Luscious in mouth
And sticky on skin
When I awake from dream.

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Date:2009-08-04 10:45
Subject:From The Recipe Folder: Hot Cross Buns
Security:Public

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Hot Cross Buns Recipe (makes 2 dozen)

Ingredients: 1 cup heated milk; 2 envelopes fresh dry yeast; ½ cup sugar; 2 teaspoons salt; 12 tablespoons oil or melted butter; ¾ teaspoons fresh cinnamon, ¾ teaspoons fresh nutmeg; 5½ cups unbleached flour; 4 eggs; 1 cup raisins or currants; 1 egg white; A pinch of salt; 1-2 tablespoons water; 1 cup confectioner's sugar; 2 tablespoons milk; and ½ tablespoon fresh lemon juice.

Directions: Heat milk in a saucepan on low until it is warm enough that you can still hold your finger in it without burning yourself. Take the pan off the heat and mix in the yeast, sugar and salt. Add oil or butter, cinnamon, nutmeg and one cup of flour. Stir in the eggs one at a time. Add the rest of the flour. Fold in the raisins or currants. Knead dough on a lightly floured flat surface for ten minutes. You may or may not need to add more flour. The dough will become smooth and soft, not sticky, and elastic when it has been kneaded enough. Let the dough rise in a warm place in a lightly oiled bowl with a clean kitchen towel covering it for an hour and a half. The top of the stove (if it isn't on) or the top of the refrigerator are both good spots for this. The dough will be double its original size after an hour and a half. Cut the dough into approximately twenty-four buns. Roll each into a ball between your palms and place onto a baking sheet. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and leave them to rise in a warm spot for one hour. Once they've risen, mix the egg white, water and pinch of salt together into an egg wash and lightly brush the whole top of each bun with it. Cut an X into the top of every bun with a pair of kitchen scissors. This is the "cross" part of the name of these buns and is based upon the Christian remembrance of Jesus and the cross. Bake the buns in a 375 degree Fahrenheit oven for twenty-five minutes or until they turn golden brown on top. In another bowl, combine the confectioner's sugar, milk and lemon juice to make a glaze. Drizzle this glaze over each bun after they have cooled. You may use the glaze to make a cross as well. Enjoy!

I'd never made hot cross buns before, but I like to bake and I recently came across this recipe in my recipe folder. So, despite the heat, I thought I'd try making them on the evening of July 30th. I halved the recipe, as I normally do when I first try out any new recipe. I do this as a precaution so that, if I mess up, I've only ruined half the ingredients. By halving this recipe, I ended up with twelve buns. I used raisins instead of currants since those were what I had on hand. I used brown sugar instead of white, canola oil rather than butter and added a half cup of whole wheat flour in with the all-purpose unbleached flour I normally use when I bake. I did this to give added nutrition to the basic recipe. I also used muffin tins rather than a baking sheet for baking since I was interested to see how this would affect final bun shape. Otherwise, I followed the recipe as it is and was pleased with the results. The buns were puffed and oval on top while narrow on the bottom. They were sweet, but mainly they tasted like soft and savory bread buns lightly perfumed with spice. The lemon-lickey glaze was the best part and next time I'll make more to act as a dipping sauce on the side. Feel free to let me know if you make them and your results.

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Date:2009-08-04 08:44
Subject:Poetry: Elements
Security:Public

I was inspired to write these poems back in the middle of my super hectic June when I was reading Cait Johnson's book, Earth, Water, Fire and Air: Essential Ways of Connecting to Spirit. It outlines the meaning of these four elements in astrology and in various religions around the world. The book is broad and, in some places, makes questionable generalizations about whole cultures and historical time periods, but it is overall a well-written and, to me, highly inspirational book on the subject.

I wrote the following poems in first person so as to personify each element and to give them a human voice. I wrote them as they came to me as I read through the book. Although I consider each poem to be personal and emotionally expressive, they aren't meant to be read as various personifications of my own character or experiences. I will state here, though, that I do have all four elements in my astrological chart. From this information, you may draw your own conclusions ...

Rock

I am solid ground -- stillness
Cradled darkness
Rock scent
Out of me tendrils peek
And purr
Upward to the sun
Into me shivers shift
At motion forever
Forever seeming stop
A layer hiding layers
An uncertain stability
Without -- sheer fall
Nothing really moves me
And yet
I move it all.



Drop

I am salty wet --
Sexy sensuousness
Fatal beauty wrapped
Around you.
In me -- cleansed
Purity drop-by-drop.
And fall from sky
Or burble up from land
I blanket, I ripple
I wash, I quench
I drown
I am basic bath
And I accept your innocence
Your tears -- Your all
You are one with me
And out of me you grow
A fresh thing renewed.



Flame

I am rogue radiant
You love me and you hate me
Welcoming
My light for eyes to see
And my warmth --
A comfort familiar.
On par with hearth and home
Simple -- satiating
Solving loneliness with flame.
But
Let my tongue flick wild
And skin turns to ash.
Joyous -- and too late unknowing --
I dance upon your body
Making pyre
Forgetting what you mean
In my desire to engulf
To consume
To make my mark known.
To set you free
In dust rising upwards to the sky.




Breeze

I am invisible vastness
Winged and majestic.
Below me
Is where birds fly.
I am clarity of breath.
A lack means death
But enough is refreshing
Like a breeze.
I soothe -- I caress
Essential yet easy to ignore
Until gone.
Until destructive.
I shatter your smugness
With tornado
A fury of mindfulness
You'll not soon forget.
Try to grasp me and I am gone.
Your love
Until forced into box
Or bent to your will
Simply understood I am
Yours eternal
Surrounding and unseen.
Life itself
In every exhaled sigh.

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Date:2009-05-02 15:32
Subject:Jasmine
Security:Public

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Date:2009-05-02 14:17
Subject:Trendy Girl
Security:Public

I have a Twitter account.

I know. I know. You don't have to say it.

Anyone who knows me knows I'm not much of a follower, but a new friend encouraged me to visit Twitter. So I did, and the next thing I knew, I had an account! Despite the ridiculous amount of hype, which generally turns me off, I find it to be fun -- much more fun than Facebook (hello) and almost as much fun as MySpace. And, as anyone who knows me knows, I'm all about the fun.

Check it out if you'd like. I don't Twitter all the time, (there are other things I find fun too), but I do on occasion.

http://www.twitter.com/berlin_berlin

On another trendy note, a special KT Tunstall show I went to back in July of '07 and blogged about in October of that same year ("Tipsy Girl Does Midtown Manhattan") has been broadcast lately on PBS. It's actually been aired a couple of times over the past two years here in the U.S., but they've made it HD now and included it in a PBS series called "Live From The Artists Den."

So far this series only seems to be a part of the New York/New Jersey PBS broadcast schedule, but I wouldn't be surprised if this expands to other areas. It was shown this past Thursday, April 30 on WLIW21 and it will be shown again on WLIW in another few weeks on Saturday, May 16 at 10 pm. If you're in New York or New Jersey, have the time and want to see a great show, tune in. KT looks like a sparkly traveler from outer space and the songs sound solid. I'm also in the audience. Betcha can't spot me!

For those of you not in the area, but who are still curious, you can see a three minute clip of the show at the The Artists Den website:

http://www.theartistsden.com/episodes/tunstall.shtml

Tease, tease, tease.

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Date:2009-04-14 04:10
Subject:Flea Bitten
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My friend Laylage Courie writes and performs plays with her company Luminous Work. She staged a reading of one of her award-winning works -- "(stillness)" -- on February 22 at the renowned The Flea theatre in Tribeca. The following pictures are from the afterparty and trip to a local Thai restaurant that sidetracked some of us into a funky furniture store. Laylage is the femme fatale with the croissant. Enjoy!

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Date:2009-04-14 03:41
Subject:Bushwick Brew
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The Brooklyn Tea Party is a fun and professional party-cum-show (mainly show) that a group of musician roommates and their beloved cat Chuck Noblitt throw in their Bushwick apartment whenever the mood strikes them, which is usually about once or twice a week. There's no admission charge, but there is a reasonable expectation that cash will be placed into the hat passed between acts. Musicians are paid via this method. I first became aware of this unique opportunity to see new music last year and I've now gone a few times. Friday, December 19, 2008 was one of those times and it was a special holiday themed Tea Party with caroling, hot apple cider, and, of course, interesting acts and music. I brought my camera to see what I could shoot. Please read and view more hereCollapse )

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Date:2009-04-12 21:52
Subject:Update
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My friend Przemek Jaremko and his friends' video entry for the Flight of the Conchords lip-dub contest was chosen as one of the winners. For reasons only the producers and, perhaps, stars can probably explain, the winners were celebrated not individually, but collectively in a video edit of the song "Hiphopopotamus vs. Rhymenoceros" called "Final Fansterpiece" that can be seen here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Up5Lr6oJYlM

Przemek's video is featured second in this edit and quite extensively throughout and I'm glad it got the recognition it deserves. P told me that the video was also featured on HBO, but I can neither confirm nor deny this since I don't have that channel. For those of you who do, and saw it, perhaps you can let me know how it looked. I, personally, think each winning video should have been featured separately on HBO, or at least been honored separately, but since this contest was presumably largely for promotion of the new season of Flight of the Conchords, I doubt this was ever part of the plan.

Check out their original vid in its entirety here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lk9UAKgG0oI&feature=channel_page

Oddly enough, I've been working on a couple of short videos of my own these past few months. I have no plans to enter them into any contests, but, once they're done, I'll be sure to post them here for perusal. They've been enjoyable thus far to make, so I hope they'll be enjoyable to see as well. Fingers crossed!

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Date:2009-04-12 20:17
Subject:Restoration
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I’ve been doing yoga off and on now for nearly ten years. I started doing it primarily because I was interested in it as an exercise. Save for a few moments in elementary school when I played soccer and kickball, I’ve never been one for team sports. I am an active person, however, so I mostly enjoy those sports I can do on my own like swimming, dancing, running, etc.

Yoga appealed to me initially because, like those other physical activities I like to do, it could be done in a solitary way with no extra equipment save your own body. Like dance it was lyrical and artistic while also -- like running and dance -- being physically challenging. Like swimming it was low impact and made me feel good (euphoric and refreshed) afterwards like I’d given myself a special treat by doing it. It didn’t take too many sessions of yoga before I was quite sold on it as a great overall alternative form of exercise.

As my acquaintance with yoga has grown, though, I’ve begun to see more layers to the practice and to my experience of it. Over the years yoga has provided me with tangible evidence of its physical effectiveness. My muscular strength, lung capacity, cardiovascular health and flexibility have all improved greatly since I started doing it. Depending on how often or what kind of asanas or poses I do I can either maintain or reduce my weight. I also have far fewer aches and pains in my joints that I noticed came from too many hours at a desk in front of a computer or book or commuting several days a week with a big book bag on crowded buses and trains where there was oftentimes little room for long legs. Stress, I found, had physical consequences that could seem debilitating and permanent until I returned to my regular yoga practice. Stress, I found, was an intangible entity that yoga could help me to manage.

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Date:2009-03-17 01:01
Subject:Shhh
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Date:2009-02-11 01:28
Subject:A Little Light Lipping
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Przemek Jaremko is an old friend of mine. We were in a period acting class together not so long ago and back then we were partnered for a scene. It was a comedic love scene in Oliver Goldsmith's play "She Stoops To Conquer" (he Charles and I Kate) and it required us to perform 18th century English comedy of manners. It was quite the experience, successful after much rehearsal, and we bonded over our scene filled with tea, fans, corsets, ties and (practically) kiss-less love. Yet, aside from the occasional sighting and pleasant exchanges, I haven't heard much from Ol' P until recently when he emailed me to let me know that he and some friends have entered the Flight of the Conchords lip-dub contest.

I have no idea how the judging is going, but I think their effort is pretty darn good so I'm going to share it. The contest calls for an original video for the infamous FotC's gangster-folk cross-over song "Hiphopopatamus vs. Rhymenoceros". Przemek and his partners' video was shot in several cool (and cold!) locations around New York City last month and, like Goldsmith, has as one of its themes lusty love -- practically perfect for the season. The lip-synch is good and the moves are sweet so, if you're interested in spending an amusing three minutes, check it out using the link below.

P.S. Przemek is performing Bret's Rhymenoceros lingo and I genuinely feel that our period acting rehearsals really helped him nail this complex part. However, I take absolutely no responsibility for the facial fuzz or the aviator goggles.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lk9UAKgG0oI

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZbbxA8a_M_s

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Date:2009-01-12 10:53
Subject:Does Anyone Still Love You In New York?
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Is there joy in what you do
Or simply obligation
Would your gramma be proud
She taught you to be you
Is your precious time spent careless
And then forgotten
Does anyone still love you in New York?

Is your tongue wicked-whipped
A lash you sometimes use for sport
Would your arms hold something
More than obvious determination
Do your fingers itch for smoke
While your lungs gasp out for more
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Date:2008-12-31 18:26
Subject:Sur Moi, Le Déluge
Security:Public

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Snow is much better than rain.

There. I've said it. I'm going far out onto that limb and I'm declaring quite firmly my loyalty and alliance to the snow camp. I thumb my nose at the rain camp. In fact, the rain camp is welcome to bite my butt hard.

Doubtless my snow preference is, in part, because I spent a good deal of my childhood in parts of the country where snow happens, quite naturally, in seasonal patterns. Seasons are very familiar to me and you will never hear me complain when an old season ends and a new one begins. Why bother? You can't control it and, in the end, if you wait long enough the season you hate will fade into the next and then the next. I like the change. It keeps me interested. It's hellacious to have almost exactly the same kind of weather day in and day out. How boring.

That having been said, though, when I started walking to the Mercury Lounge on Thursday, December 11th, I wasn't expecting that the switch into the winter season would be heralded in New York City by the excitement of a cold that still wasn't quite cold enough to turn precipitation into lovely snow. What do I mean? Rain is what I mean. Lots and lots and lots of rain. Lots. I exaggerate not even one iota. Please read and see more hereCollapse )

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Date:2008-12-31 16:16
Subject:Army of Vince
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On Wednesday, December 10th, I wandered through the dark and the soft rain as I made my way to Ludlow Street and The Living Room to see Vince Scheuerman of the D.C. band Army of Me perform a solo acoustic set. The Living Room is similar to a number of music places scattered throughout Manhattan where, although entrance is technically free, there is an expectation that drinks will be bought by patrons to make up the slack for the venue. Some sort of receptacle is then passed around during the show for stray cash so as to make up the slack for the performers. It seems an unfortunate and ass-backwards way of running a music venue to me and, it would seem, that even The Living Room might agree since I recently heard about a show there that included a ridiculous $15 ticket price.

Eh?

But this was days before what could be a possible complete sea change for the venue, and I know The Living Room well, so I wasn't fazed going there to see yet another performer. What made the evening of the 10th particularly special was that I would get to see Scheuerman perform again for the first time since I'd seen him and his band at Irving Plaza with Ambulance LTD and The Wonder Stuff in the summer of '05. Talk about nostalgia! It turned out to be both the first and the last time I saw the band play live, although I've been following their career ever since. Obviously there could be very few excuses that would keep me away from a chance to see even one member of the band play live again.

When I arrived, there was a very festive band playing what sounded to me to be klezmer-inspired music. Please read and see more hereCollapse )

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Date:2008-12-25 18:47
Subject:My Tree
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Happy Holidays! Wherever you are and whatever you may celebrate, I hope that, in the spirit of Dickens, you will keep it in your heart all throughout the year. May you live well in the Past, Present and Future and keep their lessons near. Bless us every one.

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Date:2008-12-25 18:27
Subject:Hot Chocolate and Harmony
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On Tuesday December 9th, well before snow carpeted the city in white, I met up with a friend for an afternoon and early evening of New York holiday cheer. We met at Rockefeller Center and watched the hussle and bussle around the Rockefeller tree and ice rink for some pleasant minutes before walking a few blocks uptown to the Omni Berkshire Hotel on 52nd Street. Although there are many places throughout New York City that are known for serving a satisfyingly steaming and sweet mug of hot chocolate -- Jacques Torres, City Bakery, La Maison du Chocolat, to name but a tiny few -- the Omni Hotel boasts a restaurant next door, the Fireside Restaurant, that offers this plus comfortable seating and a lovely street scene view. It is also conveniently close to Rockefeller Center. Please read and see more hereCollapse )

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Date:2008-12-16 11:32
Subject:Ting-ting-a-ling
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On Sunday, December 14, I was happy to be invited to watch The Ting Tings perform three songs for the Last Call with Carson Daly New Year's Eve show this year. Although people who don't live in New York may not be aware of this, some of the performances they see on tv that take place in the City on NYE aren't taped live on the night. Some of them are taped live weeks in advance and aired as if in real time. I was taking in the romance of the season at Rockefeller Center earlier last week (blog and pictures coming soon) and discovered that I would miss by a few hours a Katy Perry New Year's Eve performance being taped just east of the tree.

Darn. I missed that one.

The Ting Tings, for those of you who don't know, are from Britain or England to be a bit more exact. They're from the town of Salford (near Manchester) to be even more exact and the band consists of singer/guitarist/percussionist, Katie White, and drummer/singer, Jules de Martino. Their music has dance, punk and rock influences, which isn't a bad combination in my humble opinion. I like their "We Walk" demo that they have up on their MySpace page at the moment. Please read more hereCollapse )

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Date:2008-12-06 16:33
Subject:Photo Shoot
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In August of this year I was hired to take pictures of the New York rock band, Blueberry High Heels. It was the first time I'd met the band or seen them live, but I was familiar with their music from their colorful MySpace page. It's oftentimes difficult to build enough of a rapport in such circumstances to make any pictures worthwhile, but I immediately felt comfortable with the members of BHH -- Greg, the drummer, was mellow and sweet, Dylan, the guitarist, was sharp and private, and lead singer/bassist, Dede was fiery and smart. It was a pleasure to spend some time capturing them en pleine aire.

The following shots were taken on a street in Alphabet City (some may recognize exactly where) as life went on around us. There was an ambulance on the street that day, garbage was piled up on sidewalks for disposal and locals came and went as we worked. These pictures proceeded shots, which can be seen in a previous blog I've posted here, I took of them later at their show.

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