S is for…

SPRING!

Okay, so not everyone is as excited about it as I am. The cats would especially like it if this particular season would skip them all together as it involves trips to the vet, flea and tick medications not to mention the indignity of windy rain that keeps them indoors (why this is an affront and winter’s snow seems just a fact of life is one of many feline mysteries).  And the allergy sufferers in the house are cursing up a storm between sneezes, but I’m happier.

Warmer weather, easier walking conditions, thinner coats, all of these things make me happy. And every spring I’m seized with the uncontrollable urge to wander the gardening sheds of every store around me. I develop wonderous plans in my mind of urban gardening, fresh tomatoes (though I hate whole tomatoes, so I guess I’d stew a lot of them), cucumbers, Romaine lettuce, and daily salads. Then there’s the flowers. I guess this stems from my grandfather. The man had a green thumb like nobody’s business. He could get anything to grow. My mother would often bring him things other people mistook for kindling on our kitchen sills and within a month he’d have it flowering. It was also where my grandfather talked. He, like my father, rarely spoke. When he did, it was in his garden. Telling me how to make roses grow and when to trim things back, how his lilacs remained lushious and full all summer when everyone else’s had long sinced passed. Mixed in amongst the gardening tips were little stories. How he was called CanvasBack in the army because he never could win a boxing match. How he couldn’t believe there were films with sound and gave his best buddy a bloody nose over it. How much he fell in love with this one woman walking along side the road on his way to the barracks.

Every spring, when my roses bloom, I think of my grandfather and smile. So S is for Spring, and smiles.

R is for

Raven

I grew up with the superstition that if you saw a single crow/raven, you had to blow it a kiss, otherwise it would bring you sadness. I’ve always thought that, despite the sadness (if you saw two together, it was good luck so I guess that kinda balances things) they were beautiful creatures. Smart, adaptable, had a weakness for shiny things. And mimic like you can’t believe (live in Canada and it’s the damnest thing when your car won’t turn over in the winter and you hear a BIRD repeat the sound, then fly away laughing at you). It was this facination with the Raven that was the genesis of a novel that’s in tatters, begging screaming demanding waiting to be put back together and sent in.

Hunin and Munin, Thought and Memory, are Odin’s ravens. They are Elderkin and can only enter this world by way of the Blood Of The Gods, when it is mixed with the blood of an Anchor. Each Anchor is specific to each Elderkin.

Hunin comes through first. And finds that an Ancient evil has resurfaced. One that may be more than Hunin and his unprepared Anchor, Rhiannon, can fight alone.

Q is for…

Quiet.

When writing, the quiet of pre-dawn before everyone else is up or late at night when everyone else had gone to bed is my best time for working. I hear all the character’s voices easier, I’m not half listening for the dryer to stop of a voice to yell for my help. Quiet is soothing too.

It’s also very rare. I love the quiet but I can’t always seem to get it. What do I do when I can’t get it?

1. Soundtracks. Scores to be specific. When I need inspiration or help catching the mood of a scene while other people are around me, I listen to scores. They’re Tony-tiger-great!

2. White noise. http://simplynoise.com/ has a great online station that lets you customize your white noise somewhat to what works best for you. I also downloaded rain on a tin roof from iTunes and that helps too.

3. Headphones. Not little ones, I’m talking the padded ones like you wore when you were in school. My brother is in the business and knows what headphones would be sound cancelling. Guess what I got for Christmas? But they muffle sounds when worn without being plugged in too.

So how about you?

P is for…

Pooka.
I love mythology. I love learning all sorts of new creatures. When I read Vanessa Unveiled by Jodi Redford, I came across the Pooka. *Curious about the book? Here’s the description:

Resisting two magical mischief makers definitely wasn’t in the job description.
Vanessa Darby, a bounty hunter and tracker for the Veil Alliance League, figures things can’t get any crappier than her car breaking down on a deserted highway. Until the two dimension-hopping renegades she’s been assigned to capture lure her to their magical love nest in the woods and entangle her in a web of seduction.
How the hell is she supposed to resist a pair of gorgeous male pookas who possess a wicked talent for bringing the sexy?
Rand and Braeden have searched more than three centuries for their one true bond mate. Now that Vanessa’s been dropped into their arms, they have no intention of giving her up. Even if it means agreeing to her terms: If they can’t persuade her within forty-eight hours that the three of them belong together, they’ll give themselves over to the authorities. But convincing a woman who doesn’t believe in love, or the concept of forever, is no easy feat. Particularly with one doozy of a dirty secret from their past waiting to trip them up.*

So, what’s a pooka? Well, Jodi Redford takes some artistic license, but here’s what Wikipedia has to say about the matter:

The pooka may be regarded as being either menacing or beneficent. Fairy mythologist Thomas Keightley said “notions respecting it are very vague,” and in a brief description gives an account collected by Croker from a boy living near Killarney that “old people used to say that the Pookas were very numerous…long ago…, were wicked-minded, black-looking, bad things…that would come in the form of wild colts, with chains hanging about them.” and that did much to harm unwary travelers.[6] Also, children were warned not to eat overripe blackberries, because this was a sign that the pooka has befouled them.
In contrast, the phouka is represented as being helpful to farmers by Lady Wilde, who relates the following tale. A farmer’s son named Phadraig one day noticed the invisible presence of the phouka brushing by, and called out to him, offering a coat. The phouka appeared in the guise of a young bull, and told him to come to the old mill at night. From that time onward, the phoukas came secretly at night and performed all the work of milling the sacks of corn into flour. Phadraig fell asleep the first time, but later concealed himself in a chest to catch sight of them, and later made a present of a fine silk suit. This unexpectedly caused the phoukas to go off to “see a little of the world” and cease their work. But by then the farmer’s wealth allowed him to retire and give his son an education. Later, at Phadraic’s wedding, the phouka left a gift of a golden cup filled with drink that evidently ensured their happiness.

There’s an old legend around here, that if you take the fruit that’s overripe, you’re taking the fairy’s share. I was surprised to learn that in Ireland, it’s the pooka’s share. And pookas have their own day, November 1st. The only day they’re required to be civil.

Any creature you might want to share?

O is for …

Oath.

I’ve always loved this word. The age it invokes. The promise. The sense of honour and duty.

Not sure what it means?

oath
  1. a solemn promise, usually invoking a divine witness, regarding your future acts or behavior; “they took an oath of allegiance”
  2. a commitment to tell the truth (especially in a court of law); to lie under oath is to become subject to prosecution for perjury
  3. profane or obscene expression usually of surprise or anger; “expletives were deleted”

In one of my new favourite books, Angel’s Blood by Nalini Singh, the main character Elena has offended Raphael, archangel of North America. He wants her to do a job for him, though. So Elena tries to figure out if she can get Raphael to swear an oath to her. She has to word it carefully, she thinks. And then the thread drops. It’s not a huge part of the book, but I really wished that the author had spent more time talking about blood oaths. She comes back to it in the most recent entry in this series, Archangel’s Storm, but not so much. I absolutely love the series, though.

N is for

Nobody.

This is my letter to Mr. Nobody, who attacked an 8 year old boy.

You are not important in your own life, so you chose to take someone else’s. But I will remember Martin Richard, who held up a photo asking for Peace. Not your name, because you are Nobody.

You are not brave. So I will remember the IMMEDIATE response of many brave people who ran towards the explosion, not away. They ran to help, because they make the world a better place. So I will look for their names in the news, not yours. I will look for the doctors who treated the injured, the police who helped get people to safety, the other runners who aided total strangers, rather than you. Because you are Nobody.

You are not smart, because you attacked people who are not scared of you, not reacting with fear and hate. The people of Boston are strong, intelligent people who are not easy to push around or intimdate. So I will admire them, not you, because you are Nobody.

You are Nobody. You have failed.