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Month: January 2017

The Art of Making

Picking up a hobby is difficult.
You have to be willing to suck.
You have to dig deep and admit that you know absolutely nothing about this potential new hobby, but you would like to know more. Not only would you like to know more, you’re willing to put in the hours, weeks, months, and years of suck in order to get an even halfway decent. This is generally easier when we’re children. When we’re children we suck at everything, so one bit of suckage amongst the pile isn’t going to really deter us from at least attempting it. It’s why children have such fun pretending, and trying this new thing and that new thing. Something eventually sticks and with persistent effort they become better and better and suck less and less.

This lack of fear in the face of failure is so important in creating things. But the more we progress through school, the older we get, the less we fail at things. That’s natural. We begin to fear failure because at first it reminds us we’re still children when we desperately want to prove we’re older, and stronger. It’s a sign that what we do should be taken seriously and that we have value beyond being the product of our parents. I don’t think we ever really think of it in those basic terms. I don’t think most people even conceptualize this at all.

But it is definitely coded into our society. Or at least in Western society. That’s unfortunately my only frame of reference and the one I grew up in, if anyone else happens to read this and would like to weigh in on how their culture weighs risk/reward and failure/success in the arts I would love to hear it.

Right, so, western society has this problem with failure. Failure is bad, wrong, no good, horrible, it’s the worst thing that can happen to a person. Success is the goal, the key to the castle. If you’re not a success you’re a failure. There is no middle ground. It’s okay when you’re a kid, up to a point, there’s an implicit understand that as a child you’re going to suck at things because you don’t know any better.

It’s generally why hobbies that persist past childhood and adolescence tend to stick around for a while. I’m not about to get into a larger discussion of how western society and capitalism play a role in trouncing any and all pursuits that don’t also confer monetary reward.[western society and capitalism play a role in trouncing any and all pursuits that don’t also confer monetary reward.] And that hobbies and artistic pursuits are graded on a scale where the effort to become proficient becomes less desirable the older you get as a result of being less unique. That’s a topic for another time and I might pin it so that I can come back to it later.

And let’s not forget that gender plays a serious role in any and all artistic pursuits. Cis white men are given more importance, more credence, and conferred more celebrity/expert status for their hobbies. Women and other minorities have to pass a never ending line of hurdles and gate keeping even if they are more proficient, are more of an expert, etc.

This is one of the many failings of patriarchy and while it isn’t coded as important as other tasks it’s an intrinsic part of western society, so much so that talking about it feels odd.

All of this comes back to the idea that at some point, once we pass our teens, there is less importance placed on Making, Creating. We internalize the fear of failure and the unspoken capitalist view that unless it’s commercially viable there is no value in it, so it becomes harder to pick up hobbies as we get older. And very hard to stick with them.

I have two main hobbies, writing and fibre arts.

Writing remains a hobby only because I have yet to find commercial success. I’m pursuing commercial avenues, and I’m writing original pieces and this blog for that end. But ultimately writing is still one of my hobbies. I’ve technically earned more monetarily from my fibre arts than I have from writing, in that I’ve actually sold product from dyeing fibre and yarn.
In the case of both writing and knitting there was a case of pursued interest. I was interested in writing enough through high school and college, and had enough feedback through roleplaying and cooperative writing sites to make a concerted effort in getting better. I was given the opportunity to suck. To continue to suck because I showed real interest in improving.

In the beginning, I had no idea I sucked. I thought I was writing brilliant prose. It’s the wonderful ignorance one has when they’re just beginning to write, they have no concept of tropes, clichés, retread plots, because a) they are calling upon movies and books they’ve read, but do not yet have the subtly to bury their reference points b) are still amazed by the ideas that are springing from their minds.

Let’s face it, there’s an awe in realizing that the words you’ve written are your own, they came from your brain.

This is heady stuff.

It is hopefully enough to carry us through that awful horrible middle territory where we recognize how much we actually suck, and how much more work to do.

But first, we need spaces to suck. And I mean Suck. Where we can write the purplest of prose, wax philosophic on green or blue orbs, write sentences that have no definable subject. Break every rule of grammar even as we relearn them. We need to be given this opportunity, because, without it, we never grow.

I think this is why I also picked up knitting and stuck with it. There was the awe in creating something by hand that didn’t previously exist. There was a significant period where I wasn’t aware of my lack of knowledge so that my joy was able to flourish while I gained more knowledge. There was an intrinsic challenge that kept my interest. I mean yeah there were boring parts. For the longest time I was so utterly sick of scarves that I avoided them for a long time after started knitting other things.

I put time, effort, and money into my craft, and expanded my knowledge base to include weaving, dyeing, and then spinning yarn. I’m on a wavering scale, knitting is at the higher end where I have the experience to try my hand at some damn complicated lace.

I have enough knowledge of colour theory to make some rather pretty hand dyed efforts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And I can seriously weave if I’ve got a good teacher with me to handle the spots where I’m a little deficient.

 

It’s important to have a hobby. It’s important to make things that didn’t exist before. I think it’s important to not decide on a hobby on whether that hobby will net you money. Not because monetary gain is inherently evil or some bullshit like that, but rather because your time is worth more than just money. I spent a lot of time trying to monetize either one of my hobbies and while I’ve decided that I wish to pursue a writing career — a career I’ve wanted in one way or another since high school but never had the courage to follow my convictions — the pursuit of that career is secondary to the pursuit of the hobby itself.

I love writing.

I love crafting sentences and picking just the right word to evoke the right emotion. I love when writing is easy, and even as I curse it, I love when writing is hard. And if you’ve found my site, you’ve probably been writing long enough to know that writing is hard. So damn hard.

It’s hard having disparate hobbies, or at least apparently disparate hobbies. We get stuck in this idea that we can only have one thing we can be good at, one thing we can excel at. And yes there is a certain amount of truth is taking the time to perfect something. But perfection isn’t the goal, persistence is. Pursue something because it is fun, because you receive joy from it. Hobbies can your spirits, and offers comfort in times when things are difficult.

If you want to learn something new, if you want to do find a new hobby. Do it. There are plenty of ways from the local library to youtube. Find a guild. Believe it or not you’d be surprised and how many things actually still have local groups and guilds.

The take away from this, at least I hope, is that creating is important. I’m going to finish this post with a quote from Ricky Gervais. I really like this quote. I snagged it from somewhere, feel free to share it, the message is important.

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Flash Fiction — You are Like Winter

“You are like Winter,” he whispered in her ear.

Nis snorted, and hugged her thick cloak tight around her shoulders, and hunched closer to the fire. The singer was young and thought himself a flirt. Thought he would woo an old woman with a few pretty words and drag some coin from her purse before the night was done. At least he did not touch her, Mother be praised he didn’t touch her. She was too tired, and she needed all her strength for her climb in the morning.

“Leave me be, boy. There are younger and prettier ones in this tavern for you to wheedle coin from.” A serving lad came by and deposited a bowl of thick stew and a tankard of strong ale in front of her. She ate to fill her belly, force some warmth into her bones before the morning. It made no difference. No matter how many times she came here, no matter how many times she ate until full, she could never drive away the chill.

“But you are, Lady,” the young dwarf said. “You have the winter winds in your hair and ice in your eyes.”

Nis didn’t look up from her bowl of stew. “My hair is white because I am old. My eyes were brown and now have clouded because of cataracts. Because. I. Am. Old.” She gnawed on a piece of gristle. “What else would you like to compare to the winter? Am I dark and unforgiving as a late winter eve? Or perhaps my wit is biting as north wind atop the mountains.” She laughed, loud and harsh amongst the din of the tavern. “I have been praised by far better than you, my dear dwarfling. What is your name?”

He flushed red from the tips of his ears and lost the cavalier grace in teenage awkwardness. Nis felt a small pang of guilt and pushed it aside with more food. Better a harsh lesson early than never a lesson at all.

“Vindir, ma’am,” he said.

“Oh dear me, named after that fickle one?” She said and pat his hand. “Oh don’t look like that, Vindal isn’t the worst of the lot. Many poets are named after him. You’re young yet, and I’m too old to be twisted by some lovely words.”

He shivered, and the fingers of his hand turned blue under her cold hand. She pulled it back under her cloak and finished her stew before it froze on her as well.

“Who are you?”

“Not the question you want to be asking, now is it?”

“If I ask the one I want, I’ll get in trouble.”

“And when has that stopped you before?”

He flushed again, but straightened his shoulders and looked her in the eye. Not many had the courage to do that.

“What are you?”

Nis met the young dwarf’s eyes. He had magic about him, a small bit, not enough to make a living as a mage, but sufficient to give him some luck. Enough for him to see past the face of things. She settled back in her seat and sat up to her height. “Tell me, Vindir, what moon shone on the night of your birth?” Her voice was stronger than it had been all evening, had lost the raspy aged quality. She had few nights left, they would forgive her an indulgence.

“There were three moons present in the sky, Halla, Myr’s and their daughter, Nis.”

“A lucky auspice to be sure, yet you weren’t named after them?”

The dwarfling winced and shook his head. “I was born in an elven village, away from our home. It was heresy to name a child after one of the Eight. And ill luck followed us in those years. Mum got sick, and Dad blamed it on the bad omen of the three moons. We left the elven lands and travelled until I was well into my forties. I was given the proper rituals on my fiftieth birthday, and reborn during the Feast of the South Wind.”

Nis sighed and nodded. “Myr has followed your steps hasn’t he, young dwarf?”

The young one flinched, and she bit her tongue to keep from snapping at him.

“He has, but tis unlucky to call attention to it.”

“Death stalks all mortals, young one. He is no more affected by luck than the wind can be changed with a prayer. He has not followed you out of spite or some vindictive nature. Likewise, he is a god and deserves respect. Your family gave you a secret name in those first days. I know for I know the names of all the children born and the names upon their hearts. The first whisper a dwarf hears through their own screams. You were named for him then, and I will rename you now, Myrnis Volfstag.”

Calling upon that part of her being taxed her greatly and she slumped into the chair. Her lungs rattled with each breath she took, and she could hear caution in the shadows. ‘You’re about to kill me father, it is too late to show compassion,’ she thought.

“You’re… you’re..”

The poor boy had gone very pale, and Nis had been right about the little bit of magic he had could see beyond appearance. She waved her old hand, beckoning him closer. He hesitated, well, he might have some brains after all. She narrowed her eyes, and he flinched and came closer.

“What am I, little Abhartach?” She whispered, her voice cold as winter.

“Don’t— don’t call us that…. Not you. They named us after their demons, their fears.” He gulped aware of who he spoke back too.

She inclined her head. “You speak truth, I apologise. Tell me who I am, young dwarf.”

“You’re her, you’re the goddess. You’re the Crone, Mother Winter, Daughter of Spring. You are Nis.” His voice trembled, his whole body shook. “You’re not supposed to be here. I’m not meant to see you. Tuathan speak with their gods as friends. Dwarves don’t.” There were tears at the corners of his dark brown eyes and sweat beaded on his brow. His paltry magic was amplified the longer he looked at her. Looked and really noticed who and what she was. Terror and awe clung to his shoulders, and his knees were half bent, unsure if he should kneel in her presence or flee into the storm outside.

She took his hand and held it tight, preventing any foolish action.

“The Tuathan and their gods have their own relationship, they like mucking about in the affairs of their creation.” She turned Myrnis’ hand over and looked at the lines along his palm. “This is not your story, Myrnis. You did not leave when I told you, you continued to look even when your magic warned you to turn away.” She pat his shaking hand. “I have given you the gift of your name, no dwarf should be denied their true name.”

“Please, Goddess, I did not mean to be rude. You looked lonely, and I only wished to make an old woman smile. I did not mean harm.” He was crying, but he hadn’t pulled his hand from hers, he hadn’t stepped back, too scared perhaps.

She released his hand and left frost trails spread along his palm and up his arm. He shuddered as warmth returned. “Best you go now, young man. This is not your tale, go find a fair lad to bed and forget what you have seen this night.”

He ran. They often did when given the opportunity, when released from the gaze of immortality and power. He fled the chill of her aura and found someone much warmer, much younger. Nis settled back into her chair, ordered more food and drink and stayed by the fire until it dwindled and the tavern closed.

***

Her cloak did nothing against the winds on the mountain. The sharp rocks cut into her hands, and her blood dripped into the gathering snow. Sleet battered her as she climbed. Each step was agony. Her joints ached with cold, the chill born inside her had found an escape. She slept, clinging to the stones, trembling in the wind as blood ran down her hands and her hair snarled and knotted in the wind.

It took her days to climb to the top of the mountain. Day and night of endless climbing until she collapsed at the peak, gasping for breath, unable to tell where one hurt began and another ended. The wind had died down. She did not wait for the pain to subside; it never would. It was part of her now. She stood on raw and torn feet, her cloak hung about her body in tatters. She shrugged it off her shoulders and let it fall to the snowy ground below.

She greeted death naked, back straight, chin up and proud.

A figure stood across the plateau. He was bone white, pale of skin, eyes, hair, and his clothes were a soft dove grey. He looked at home atop the icy mountain, as much a part of the scenery as the snow itself. He carried a sharp scythe in his left hand, and he held out his right to her.

“Hello father,” she said as she stepped forward. She did not take his hand, nor did she seek comfort in his arms.

“You are late,” he said. “I thought I would have to go find you.”

“We have played our parts for aeons, and will continue to do so until the end of time. What makes you think I would shirk my duties?”

“He was a lovely young lad.”

She laughed. Not the croak she had in the tavern, but a full bubbling laugh of her in spring. “Father, you’ve been listening to the Tuathan too much these decades. Has Piran turned your head with the romance of mortality? Are you going to start creating clerics to worship you and bow at your feet?”

He glared at her and let his hand fall uselessly to his side. “Are you ready?”

“What, no witty banter before you kill me?” She waved her hand before he spoke. “Enough, I am tired, and I want to sleep. Mother is already mourning, and I would very much like a rest before Spring.”

Myr stepped forward and placed a hand on her shoulder. “I will miss you, sweet child.”

Nis felt tears sting her eyes and she brushed them aside. “Do not be gentle with me. Do not lie to me here and now on this earth that will hold my blood.”

“My dear, I never lie, and I am always gentle,” Myr said above her. “I am ugly, hated, and feared in equal measure. But I am always gentle in the end.” He hefted the scythe over his shoulder. “It is you, my child, that is the lie, you are the cruel one.”

The blade came down, and she felt cold air, a bite against her neck; then nothing at all.

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Dear Media, I am Tired. That doesn’t mean I’m done fighting.

Dear Mainstream media,

I am tired.

I am so very tired of this conversation.

We seem to have it every year. Every month. Every week. It’s the same conversation. I’m surprised you’re not tired of it as well. I have spent my life looking for representation, for mirrors of my life. Characters, plots, situations, scenes that echo and resonate within my soul. I have asked, yelled, begged, and pleaded with producers and directors, writers, for a scrap.

I get the same tired excuses. The public isn’t ready. Just a little while longer, you’ll see. Hey remember that movie that came out seven years ago or two years ago, that was representation right? I mean it did win an oscar. I’m greedy and unappreciative when I request for a story that doesn’t end in tragedy. When I tell them putting a cis man in a dress isn’t representative of trans women and is actually harmful to trans women I get shut down, ignored, told I’m being too needy.

I have turned my attention to subtext, the underlying message of the text we’re given. I have spent decades being taught how to disassemble and reconstruct the greater meaning in our media and I have used that knowledge to plumb the depths of pop culture to find those like me. Those who can’t come out, or forced to remain in the closet their writers and producers have designed for them. All because the greater public is ‘not ready’.

I’ve been told I’m seeing things, or ‘how could I really know, did one of the directors actually tell you this’. I’ve come face to face with defensive refutations of queer subtext. I’ve met with offensive refutations that threaten violence. How could I possibly want to see “that” on my screen??

I’m a thirty-five year old trans man. I didn’t know I was trans until I was twenty-five and I was so happy to know who I was, and so terrified at once again ‘not being normal’ I hid. I was a mess, and I had nothing to show me that there were more people like me, that I wasn’t alone. My media representation  is thin on the ground, there are less than a handful of mainstream movies, they’re often oscar fodder and the main character is trans and tragic in equal measure. The narrative is clear in these films. To be trans is to be deficient and society will punish you for it. If you think I’m looking too hard at this, understand that this is the message that is being given. Boys Don’t Cry is a true story, the message is clear, society punishes the different. Albert Nobbs, whether the reveal is ever made to the rest of the cast is neither here nor there, the moment the audience is aware that he is trans (and let’s face it, the message in this film is not that trans people exist it’s that women dress like men to get ahead, not because they’re actually men) it’s only a matter of time before either society will step in, or his own tragic humanity will be his end.

Other representations such as the french film TomBoy, are so horrific in their equating of genitals = gender narrative that it’s worse than having no representation. Documentaries and other dramas are there and most of them end in death and sadness and pain. Reading the descriptions of these movies, written by cisgender heteronormative is equally as disturbing as these characters are stripped down to genitals or disguising themselves or somehow hiding the ‘truth’. Summary narratives are even worse than some of the films and misgender so much I’m left twitching.

And I think something that’s a real sticking point in all of this. The characters, unless it’s an indie film with limited release that it’s quickly buried, are played by cisfemale actors.

Yes this is a problem. No, I shouldn’t be ‘happy with what I get.’

Movies are boring me now. I’m tired of seeing cis male power fantasies, cis male revenge fantasies, cis male underdog stories. Your heterosexuality has been pushed down my throat until I have choked upon it and I am still expected to say please, thank you, and may I have some more.

That ends. I’m done. I’m tired of your promise for representation ‘someday’. The public will never be ‘ready’. There is no mythical readiness for when the public can stand my existence. I am here. I am not going anywhere. The public takes it cues from its media and pop culture. The more media shows that I am not a tragedy, not a sin, not somehow evil or wrong, the more it includes me, and includes me properly, the more the public accepts that.

I’m going to defend my right to see queerness in everything. I’m going to continue being aggressively queer, and show how media can be queer, and how it should be queer. I’m going to write my own novels and I’m going to promote representation of who I am, and others. I’m going to create intersectional stories will well-rounded cis women, trans women, trans men, POC and disabilities. I’m going to own up when I fuck this up. Because I am still learning, and I’m still unlearning a horrible system that has misrepresented me and others for more than a century.

Stop asking me to defend what I see. Stop asking me to prove that characters are queer. I’m fucking tired of this argument, but I’m not done fighting, not by a mile.

Sincerely,

Finn

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Flash Fiction — Baking

Not all trolls live under bridges. That’s the way of the past. Some trolls live in subdivisions.

Margaret peered out behind the curtains for the fifth time in as many minutes.

“Keep that up and they’ll know you’re staring,” Crissy said as she sipped a cup of tea. “You’re being nosy.”

“I am not,” Margaret said. “It’s not everyday you see new neighbours, it’s not like this neighbourhood sees much traffic.”

“Did the Brewster’s place finally sell?” Crissy asked obviously indulging her.

Margaret sighed and stepped back from the window and plopped into the seat across from her sister. “It did, three weeks ago, but I haven’t seen hide nor hair of the new family.” She leaned in closer to her sister and lowered her voice. “Rumour has it they’re human.”

Crissy coughed on her tea. “Human? In this neighbourhood? You can’t be serious.”

Margaret hmmed and took up her cup. “I am, I heard it from Martin Hornespeck, he lives next door to Brodie Hammerfist, the realtor. And he said, all Human, all smooth skinned and no horns to speak of. Barely six feet at the tallest.”

“Well that just won’t do,” Crissy said. “I’ve finally gotten my gardenia to blossom properly this year. I’ll not be driven out of another neighbourhood because of bloody humans.”

Margaret waved a green hand. “Don’t you start. They might be nice.”

Crissy snorted. “Sure they even invite you in for tea before they chop your head off and stick it on a pike in their front yard.” She pointed her perfectly manicured finger at Margaret. “They used to do that you know. Professional Troll Hunters. Don’t care if the laws changed to protect us.  That’s just for the pretty folk,  the pixies and the elves.  Humans don’t trust ugly magick folk.”

“Speak for yourself,  I’m bloody gorgeous.”

Crissy shook with laughter.  “Says the ugly sister. What are you bringing to the guild potluck at the end of week. I’m not going upstaged by your blueberry muffins again.”

***

Margaret held the pie in one hand and straightened the hem of her shirt nervously. Damn it all, she was a warrior raised, former High Witch of Grabthar the Honourable,  and here she was, terrified of one human. Get ahold of yourself, she thought. She knocked on the door, four quick jabs against the wood, shaking the door in it’s frame. Damn strength.

A few minutes later the door opened enough to see the chain lock still in place and a small human staring through the opening. It was dark out, the sun had long since set and only the small light above the door shone, mostly obliterated by Margaret’s shadow.

“Hi, just wanted to welcome you to the neighbourhood. I baked you a pie! No, no need to come out please didn’t mean to frighten you. I’ll be on my way.” She said in a rush leaving the pie on the stoop. She did not flee back to her house. She walked purposefully. She wasn’t afraid of a human.

***

Three days later, Margaret opened her front door to find her pie plate, cleaned with a gingerbread cake on top and small card. She took the cake into the house and set it on the counter. The card was miniscule in her hand with a hastily scratched, “Thank you, the pie was delicious. -H”

***

And so it went.

The gingerbread was delicious. Too delicious. She was the best baker on the street, she wasn’t going to let someone tip her from the top spot. She returned H’s cake plate and included her package of her best chocolate chip cookies.

The following day a lemon loaf arrived on her step with a small note. “Is this a baking war ;)? Would be better if I knew your name. -Harriet.”

Margaret cut off a large piece of lemon loaf and took a bite. “Fuck,” She moaned. Not fair, definitely not fair. She grabbed her baking bible off the shelf and flipped through her recipe index. “This means war, Harriet.”

Chocolate espresso cake with a raspberry chocolate ganache.

The next day only a note arrived. “You fight dirty, Peggy. Keep this up and I’ll have to invite you to dinner.”

Margaret cackled. She loved winning.

***

Harriett’s date squares were perfect.

Margaret left a cherry kirsch cake the next day.

Millionaire bars were countered with rice Krispie squares with home made marshmallow.

The war of the fruit cakes lasted for two weeks and Margaret didn’t care a whit that she was the source of the rumours. It was the most fun she’d had in months.  The notes had turned to letters,  long hand written things in dainty envelopes.  She should tell Harriett not to give so much away in a letter to a witch, and Margaret felt a twinge of guilt each time she held back. She didn’t wish to scare her new friend, but the arrival of a deep dish apple pie with butter crust and the accompanying letter now with a spot of blood in the corner forced her hand.

She sent across a small note with a batch of oatmeal raisin cookies.

“Full disclosure, I’m a witch and you’ve managed to send me hair and now blood. I’ve burnt them so they can’t be used against you, but be careful. I’d like for you to retain your free will when I get the courage to ask you out. 😉 “

***

No baked good for five days.

Not a crumb.

Not a candy.

Margaret tried to ignore it, but she’d been having fun. Had she said too much in the last note? She tried to concentrate on other things, her loom was languishing in the studio and she had several orders backing up, but each time she sat down she kept thinking about baking goods, or that she heard someone on the stoop.

Alas, nothing.

This was ridiculous.

Another three days passed and she was getting rather tired of her own behaviour. She was so discombobulated even her magic was getting out of hand. Her plants were dying for fucks sake and she was a hedge witch. That never happened.

A timid knock sounded on the door and Margaret startled, breaking her favourite tea-cup with a crackle of magic. “Fucking hells, Peg, get a hold of yourself.”

The knock came again, louder this time, but still… small. Like it was coming from a small fist. Margaret hurried to the door,  adjusted her bright blue hair in the  mirror,  took a deep breath, and opened it cautiously, the sun still enough of a pest to cause issues if she wasn’t careful.

“Hi, Peggy, it’s me, Harriet,” A small dark woman woman said lifting a picnic basket half her size in both hands. “May I come in? I don’t wish to intrude, but you didn’t seem to be getting that courage to ask me out… So I thought I would bring dinner to you.  and I think you’ll  agree I’ve won the baking war.”

Margaret snorted and stepped back from the door. “Pride goeth before the fall, Harry, or so they say. I can’t open the door, not without stone damage, but come in.”

“Oh dear me! I’m so sorry,” Harriet squeaked. She opened the door just wide enough to slip through and shut it quickly behind her. “I didn’t even think.”

Margaret closed the front door and turned to look down at the human in her home. She was tall for a human,  dark hair pinned into a bun,  dark brown skin and a bright blue smile. She carried a picnic basket that she had to have purchased at a troll supply store given its size.

“I’m fine, and you know for next time. I usually have a few more protections on the front door, but they’ve been on the fritz lately. Here, let me take that basket and we can go into the kitchen.”

Harriet handed the basket over. “Thanks,” she said following Margaret.

She set the child size basket on the counter and unpacked a full course meal, dark blue eyebrows raising as she pulled out each new dish.  Steamed root vegetables in garlic butter, four different dishes showcasing a different kind of squash. A fresh salad with walnuts, pecans, and fresh berries. Pastry that smelled of brie and cranberries, and a large box of french macarons in a rainbow of colours.

Margaret stared at the feast and looked to Harriet who blushed from her hairline on down.  Margaret was in so much trouble. Margaret cleared her throat.

“This is lovely.”

“I wasn’t sure if it was true, but I heard that trolls were vegetarian. The macarons are because I’m a sore loser.” She said and Margaret wasn’t sure, didn’t know Harriet well enough yet, but if there wasn’t mischief in Harriet’s eyes, she’d eat her pearls.

“I am, we are, thank you,” she stuttered, “this looks wonderful.” She took two plates down and turned the kettle on. “But if you think I’m giving up just because you claim these are the best, you haven’t met me.”

Harriet grinned and hopped onto the seat across from Margaret. “I love a good competition.”

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Midnight Catscapes

**ported from my medium account**

 

2017 started off with a bang for me.

I live in a smallish apartment with three fanciful animals. A dog, Buffy, age six and two cats, Kili and Fili, age nine months. The pair came to me to via a friend at work after I made a rather frantic plea to find something to take care of a sudden mouse issue. They’ve not only done a wonderful job of that, as you would assume they’ve added greatly to my life even if the apartment has gotten a bit smaller as a result.

Fili and Kili are indoor cats. The only time I’m aware of them being outdoors was on their way here, and while they do enjoy busying themselves around the entrance, they’ve never made a dash for the door.

Until December 31st 2016 at 0015 as I took the dog out one last time before going to bed. And it had to be the skittish one. See, their names are scarily accurate. Kili is all cuddles and grand adventures and throwing herself around the apartment with great abandon. Fili is long serious stares, attacking from the shadows, and reminders that he comes equipt with tiny instruments of death on his paws.

Fili is skittish, and does not like to be cuddled. In fact when picking him up the best way to describe his reaction is that he turns into a toy. He breathes, but that’s about it. I don’t pick him up often because I don’t wish to terrify him and it’s easier to let him make the decisions regarding touch. Yes, I let my cat give me consent before I pet him. Saves me from getting torn to shreds, saves him from being traumatized.

Unfortunately, on that fateful night, in the brisk cold of a Canadian winter, my cat, Fili, decided to panic at the sight of the dog, and flee outside of the apartment not upstairs. This of course led to led to panicked yowling and indecision. I ran forward, he ran away from me, or rather crawled, claws out screaming his lungs out; “I DO NOT LIKE THIS! WHAT HAVE I DONE! STAY AWAY FROM ME YOU FOUL CREATURE!”

He proceeded to find solace under my neighbours back porch. And continued to scream. I ran inside for treats thinking they might work, but lo, I was sadly mistaken as another feline arrived at the familiar rattle of a Temptations bag. This cat, friendly though it was, ensured that Fili wasn’t going anywhere.

He saw the other cat as it came to investigate his hiding spot and he stuck both furry middle digits up and yowled a firm ‘fuck you’ to all and sundry.

I called a friend of mine who was blessedly and thankfully awake and we attempted to lure Fili out by tying his sister to a pink harness and dragging her ass out in the cold.

It didn’t work.

I think I got another middle finger and that was it.

Left with no other options I posted on facebook and plead with local friends and cat lovers to be on the lookout in case he decided to wander once the terror displaced.

In the morning, I took the dog for a walk, and then tried to locate my poor kitty once again. I left tuna out for him and spoke with several neighbours so they knew what he looked like. My next door neighbours are absolutely the sweetest people I’ve ever met and they put a pillow out for him and I gave them a bag of treats should they see him.

I didn’t see Fili again until 2300 on December 31st.

I had to work New Year’s this year so I worked backshift on the 31st and the 1st. A friend at work very kindly took me down to my apartment to have another look and once again I tried to use his sister to coax him out. I at least got a look at him, but he wasn’t coming near me for love nor money. Disappointed but hopeful, I returned to work and rung in the new year with coworkers, returned home and went to see I could spy the cat once more.

He was more amenable to the dog than he was his sister. He was damn near ecstatic seeing Buffy outside and proceeded to dodge my every move to grab him as he showed her all his hiding spots and scratching posts. It would have been cute if I hadn’t been exhausted.

I managed to grab a few hours sleep and then trudged out into the rain and sleet to attempt another shot and dragging him in to no avail.

I ended up wet, and chilled to the bone for my trouble and the cat just blinked at me and avoided the entire thing by staying just out of arm’s reach.

Desperate measures and all that. I spoke with a friend on facebook and worked out a plan to get a live trap to contain my knife wielding mini death machine. Dad picked me up the next morning after a too short nap and I came home and set it up with food, and made another attempt with the dog.

It didn’t work.

Eventually I had to go and do adult things like laundry and wishing my father a happy birthday. Whilst waiting for him I took the dog out once more and proceeded to use her as a carrot to bring Fili up the driveway.

SOMEHOW THIS WORKED.

I panicked when he nearly got to the door because I was terrified that his sister would join him and the two would abscond on a Bonnie and Clyde-esque adventure in which they take over the neighbourhood leaving destruction and chaos in their wake. They’re crafty; I know they’re capable of this.

On went the harness again and my father arrived to find me with my apartment door open, holding one cat in a neon pink harness in one hand, while I gripped the dog’s leash for dear life in the other. Fili, bless him, was five feet away and whipping his head around between me, the door, and now the car in increasing panic.

The next twenty minutes could have been written into a sitcom for all of the ridiculousness that followed of two grown men attempting to contain a small cat and use a dog as bait. Kili continued to be useless, the harness having zapped her of her ability to move. After the aforementioned twenty minutes I gave up and returned to entrance of my apartment to release Kili back into the safety of the house.

As I closed the door I heard an offended yowl that roughly translated to “HEY FUCKER WHERE YOU TAKING MY FAMILY!”

I flung open the front door, hid behind it with Kili in one hand, the dog snugged up against me as tight as I could hold the leash in the other and I held my breath.

An interminable moment later, Fili clawed his way into the house and flew up the stairs as fast as he could. The cat came back.

If this is how my 2017 is destined to go, it’s certainly going to be a bit of a ride.

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A weird and warm welcome

So this blog is going to be a mix of topics that keep me entertained and conversational blogs such as this one. I’m still learning how I’m going to format and go forward with this blog so the next month at least is going to be a mish of stuff. One might say it could even be a mash.

There will be essay type posts coming soon, I have one several in the works including on the breadth of story telling with Pixar and Miyazki, a series about world building in fiction which leads into a how-to series. Also there will be some diversity posts, explanatory posts regarding how and why the term ‘cis’ matters (an old post from an old blog of mine) and others that touch on trans narratives and those topics that touch close to home.

Currently I’m a little less prepared than I had hoped to be, a combination not anticipating how busy December really would be and then the last three days have been taken upw ith worry over my cat, Fili. He ran away on Friday and while  I know where he is I can’t reach him or convince him to come back into the house so I have to set a trap for him today and hope that will finally bring him home.

 

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