Dream of Two Butterflies

b_by_starrceline-d5soy0gIn my dream, I climbed into the back seat when I saw movement.  Two newly emerging monarch butterflies from cocoons nestled around the edges of the back window.  I remember nearly forgetting about the monarch caterpillar my son and I found so long ago at the park one day (which never really happened in waking life either).  One of these must be that same caterpillar.

I reached out and began helping the one still stuck in the cocoon when I saw a spider on the back window inches from my face.  I almost left it, until I realized this particular spider may potentially harm the butterflies.  I grabbed a CD case and squished it.  I cupped both butterflies, flapping in my hands with gentle flutters and brought them in my home.

This was my home in the dream only, the first two rooms empty (I never saw the other rooms, but I knew they were filled and lived in).  I only just moved in.  I let them loose and started calling for my son.  That was when I noticed the first room was actually an indoor porch in desperate need of cleaning.  There was an obstacle course of broken furniture and old junk, nothing in particular that stood out except for all the spider webs that might snag my butterflies.

However, none of these webs worried me.  It wasn’t that I knew they couldn’t catch my butterflies.  It was more like they were natural and presented no danger to them; as though they were butterfly beds instead.  I went through the open door into the first room of my home.  It needed cleaning as well, but it was empty and only dimly lit.  It only needed a good sweep and mop job.  There were a few dried leaves on the floor.

The most notable and worrisome feature were two large, black bumblebees.  They flew around each other in circles and almost looked more like gigantic flies instead.  I normally like bumblebees, but these two were intruders and I believed they posed a danger, if not by stinging, I knew they might feed on, or at least slam into and damage my butterflies.

Interesting enough, while I chased the bees around with the first object I could find (it was slow and awkward, too much airflow resistance), my cat Mew came in the front room briefly.  He’s our orange kitty.  Usually Yin might feature in my more symbolic dreams (she’s my black cat, Mew is technically my husband’s).  I briefly pictured him posing a danger to the butterflies and just as quickly dismissed it.  He ignored the one now flying into the room completely.

He tried helping with the bees though when they zoomed closer to the ground.  That’s when I found our fly swatter and upgraded my weapon.  My front room butterfly was at least safe as long as I kept the beeflies distracted.  I knew the one still on the front porch was perfectly safe, despite the mess out there.

I woke just as I smacked one beefly in midair.  The dream held background noise, but none of it felt important.

Upon waking, I researched the symbols that stood out.  My first hit for Monarch Butterflies was this interesting post:  Butterfly Dreams — The Monarch.  Very interesting.  It reminds me, yesterday was horrible…to start with.

I went to bed Saturday and laid there, praying to the divine force I’ve felt in many areas throughout my life from Christian churches growing up, to a friend’s Wiccan prayer circle to mother Earth for planetary healing, to simply being in the woods and admiring the miracle and inclusive feeling of life and nature.  I’m agnostic for a reason.

I once, in recent years, finally prayed for something personal.  So many people suffer around the world, far more than I ever have.  After a certain age, I never prayed for personal things, only other people.  On that day though, I felt lost on my life path, wondering if I truly wasted my time with this writing thing.  I spent several moment in thankfulness for what I have, and then simply asked for a little guidance.  You know me,  I thought to this force.  I’m hard-headed about my own worth and abilities.  Just, please, I don’t know, a sign, one even I can’t deny.  Am I wasting my time with this writing thing?  Is my purpose elsewhere?

Almost immediately after, I found my very first super-praising, hard-core fan online, gushing over my writing.  Not a relative I could dismiss as loving it because it came from me.  A new member of my writing group at the time.  A stranger.  I was always the cheerleader, I never really had one of my own before.  She goes by Ash on the internet, by the way.  I value my writing buddies and mentors, my supportive family members, and many others who have supported my writing and provided feedback and critiques.  Ash was the sign though, out of nowhere.

She currently studies somnology, she gets very busy during school.  As much as she cheerleads my work, she’s pretty amazing and inspiring as well.  My current, primary writing buddy, Kyrias/Katje, is also such a blessing.  The bit of writing I do is because missing her while I game drags me back into writing every time.

Anyway, I reached a similar point in my life Saturday.  I’ve been struggling with how little I’ve invested in my writing regardless of that moment over a year or two ago.  I hate disappointing my gaming friends, a few of which recently returned to the game that swallowed most of my free time since 2005.  I’ve been feeling the stronger pull toward writing for a while now.

My husband’s leg started acting up again.  He dislikes when I tell others, so I won’t say much more.  It just makes me wish we had enough to get him everything medical he needs for this, or at least the time off he needs for more thorough recovery every time his legs act up again.  I remembered Ash and how I felt recently about my writing.  You know I rarely contact you for me.  I honestly believe Ash was your last answer.  I should be writing.  You also know how indecisive I am.  What project might be more successful?  I’ve no idea what to work on, I just know I’m so thankful for the home life you’ve given me.  My husband and son are wonderful and they at least deserve better.  I’ll do the work, but maybe a hint on the right project when I wake up?

Careful what you ask for!  I woke up and found a recent friend on facebook changing her mind about a discussion we had.  Long story there short (especially since this is long enough), she posted an all-caps, (about) 12-line paragraph cursing out the type of person she kept misinterpreting me as.  I understand why that type of person makes her angry, she had a good reason.  BUT, I also knew she mislabeled me as that type, so I was currently the primary, unmentioned target of her all-caps, violently expressed insults.

I ended the friendship as calmly as I could, apologized, wished her a nice life, unfriended, then blocked her.  Then I cried.  A lot.  This isn’t the first time a friend connection went south and ended with flung insults (though it was the worst) of being a moron in some fashion.  I thought maybe I really was a moron.  Maybe all my ideas and thoughts were really just very bad and idiotic and my other friends were always too nice to say so.  Maybe they just bide their time until I slide back into cheerleader mode, the quicker to be rid of my “intelligent” thoughts and ideas.  Don’t stop reading because of the pity party!

Katje helped talk me out of this, making her a bit late to the farmer’s market errand she needed to run (thanks again, by the way!).  My husband also helped a LOT when he returned home after work.

Anyway, before that help, I googled “How do you know when it’s something wrong with you?”  I also thought Okay, what am I supposed to learn from this?  I should work on better phrasing?  The first google result was 10 Ways I Know There’s Nothing Wrong With You or Me.  LOL!  That’s a first!  Usually you hear about depressing search results when they differ a bit from what you typed.  I read this and thought, but it also applies to my former friend as well.

I walked around with very little energy.  I need to eat something.  It’s after 2pm.  Michael’s already eaten twice.  I didn’t want any of our food (too processed) and the grapes tasted weird.  I put tater tots in the oven.  Still too processed, but at least something.  I thought about laying down until the timer dinged.  I trudged back to my desk for a drink first and felt one of the most bizarre sensations ever.

First, I felt very nauseated, but it passed quickly.  Immediately following that, my posture straightened and my heart beat harder, just once.  I felt lighter, but not quite light-headed, as though my posture bent naturally before from a weight.  Now it straightened and my whole body felt lighter because nothing rested on my shoulders any more.  I no longer felt tired.  The most striking difference in feeling, however, was my upper chest and the bottom half of my neck.  It felt shielded by titanium, a difference that made its former state feel raw and far too open.

I swore so hard the bones there were not that strong before that I asked my son to come over so I could compare the general state.  Bewildering.  Oh, there’s a solid bone structure here, a sternum, was it always that strong?  Of course there’s a sternum.  Why does it feel like these bones are new?

It seemed as silly to my logical mind, but also still profound and new.  My posture was naturally so much straighter that it began hurting my back.  I also noticed that I felt skinny despite my excess weight; healthy, rather than hugely bloated.  My first thoughts…someone helped me shield something…or prayed for me, right at that exact moment.

Chakras stuck in my head though.  I researched them and found a few pages, one that suggested viewing each one as an open flower in meditation, then closing them to buds after.  They claimed that chakras left open served as a beacon for negative spirits and forces like moths to a flame.  I can’t find that one now.  I did, however, find this chart about closed and too-open chakras.

Last time I found an alternative, active sort of spiritual healing, the results took my breath away and pretty much healed my PTSD with repetition (Cord cutting).  I learned this from a fellow empath on facebook, Kris Bethea.  I believe I will post soon on that technique for those interested.  I also felt a build-up in energy.  Any time I sat down, my whole body felt twitchy with a need for movement.  I got up and decided on moving meditation.  Combination clear-my-head and exercise.

I called that list with colours back up and pictured each point, a flower unfurling open.  I expected more difficulty given the first site’s description.  Some were already opened in my imagination, others flew open as soon as I got there (like books bent backward in an open position on one page for too long–next time you open them, springs straight there).

My husband came home at that point.  All shields were down and he helped my heart with the remaining pain.  My mouth ran, quite a lot.  When I feel emotional, usually it closes off my ability at vocal communication.  I struggle with crying so hard I can barely speak.  Both were in sync at that point, heart pouring it through my throat and out my mouth.  After he helped me feel much MUCH better, Pounce (one of our cats) gave me my exercise cue by stepping on the game mat and starting a random song.

After exercise, I showered.  I pictured gunk flowing away from me and clearing up into positive at my feet.  I cut cords all around, swept them away, flung them over the horizon in each direction.  I pictured the negative threads losing power until dissipating and flying up into the air in the distance as fireworks of cleansed and renewed energy.  I added those visuals to my routine because I got it in my head that I didn’t want those threads attaching to other people in that direction.

That got Katy Perry’s Fireworks stuck in my head.  I sung it haha (hey, I like singing, normality is just a bunch of rules in the way of fun and acceptance, and I was alone anyway).   I’m playing it now just because.  My focus then returned to the chakra flowers.  I meditated on each one, fanning out the petals, picturing each dusted off.  Then I pictured them twisting closed into little coloured buds.  Then, for extra healing measure, I pictured a bubble of protection around each.  Red, orange, yellow proved difficult and dirty in my imagination, almost damaged and fragile, though large.  It responded to shielding the least and took a lot longer to see any kind of solid bubble around.

I reached green, at the heart, and cried at how large it was, how pretty and vibrant despite the day.  Green is my favourite colour.  Maybe for this reason?  My favourite part of people?  She closed into a bud far easier than I expected after yellow and the extra bubble shield was very comforting.

Blue.  Green’s been choking you off a while now, scared you’ll hurt someone like today.  Scared family may reject your heart…what we’re doing now, the oneness you feel in so many places besides church.  Stronger than the church.  God, goddess, oneness, the divine’s true face.  The personal connection.  We are the temple because that light isn’t just out there, it literally is part of us.  We are part of it and each other.  Funny, I learned that in a pentecostal church, but they still talked like it was all separate anyway.  Blue closed in a gentle swirl, trusting my heart wouldn’t strangle it so much.  Bubble shield, no more vines from the heart around you.

Violet, right at the third eye.  When I got here, the flower looked different.  With closed eyes, I saw it as an after-image, like I’d been staring at a flower-shaped light.  It vibrated and pulsed up there.  Far more of a purple light than mental imagery, more 2D, flat, just like an after-light in your vision.  I had no real idea.  I stared in at it.  How do I furl that closed?  It pulsed larger, then smaller, a bud.  I shielded it.

I reached the crown.  Okay, a white light on top of my head.  So a large white…flower?  I trailed off in my mind too because, as I spoke it and started imagining it, I found that unnecessary.  There it was.  Like a large white and glowing waterlily with my scalp as the lilypad.  I shook from the power and sobbed in the shower.  Hard.  Not a small flower like the others.  This one was as large as my head and beautiful.  The most gorgeous thing I’ve ever imagined, let alone seen.  We all have one of these up here?  My lip is quivering as I write this now.  I cried far stronger spiritual release tears at that moment than I ever have before.  Yes, even in church when I was Christian, for those who think I’ve finally stepped fully on Satan’s turf.

God, however you envision that force, whatever gender, personified, or not….  As a Christian, I was always taught how ugly and unworthy we all were…and yet, somehow, we’re special to God.  It wasn’t until I saw that flower that I realized how wrong that first part is.  We’re part of the garden.  The force that ties us all together is what we sense as our higher power.  Our petals might get dirty, damaged, and wilted, maybe even become weed-like to other flowers within ourselves or to others’.  However, we’re still a special part in the garden, each of us.  The divine force works through us using these spiritual centers and our more corporeal existence.

One problem I’ve had with the God I was taught growing up…so many make horrible excuses for all the bad things in life that happen.  Excuses like:  God cleansed them away, anyone who experiences bad things deserved them, they’re Godless heathens, they didn’t pray hard enough, or pray right, or believe enough.  I can’t reconcile that.  I’ve felt pain and hardship.  I can’t eplain it away like that, not even if it was just a test, or a hardship to help me pull others through the same experience…why not just stop the hardships?  Why test us then send us to eternal torment when we fail?  Isn’t life hard enough?  Isn’t the truth confusing and hidden enough already?

Instead, this divine spirit I feel connecting us all…we’re part of its actions.

Suffering and evil exist because not enough of us on the physical ground of this garden prevent it, for whatever reasons.  We’re one of the best physical tools for the corporeal world.  Each with our own purpose.  Some tools appear more useful than others, but only because their job is more obvious, or more crucial at a certain moment in time.

My job is storing telling and communicating, possibly even healing one day.  Not nearly as heroic as some directly on a spiritual battlefield of negative vs. positive forces, helping other crown-flowers find the sunlight.  However, I can’t imagine life without great storytellers and artists either.  I think such a life lacks inspiration.  We’re the light rain.  The rain doesn’t plow, sow, fertilize, transplant, fight back pests, or a large portion of other things keeping the garden healthy.  It provides a cool drink of life to the thirsty.  I hope my contributions are as worthy as storytellers before and after.

After I finished being awestruck, I let my crown-flower furl closed with great reluctance.  I remembered the beacon for negativity moths though.  My personal buds in the garden are still too inexperienced.  I pictured a protective bubble around the large white bud, then I finished my shower (the only guilty part–how much water I wasted!  Yikes!).  Somehow, I know I won’t need that much water again.  I don’t consider it a waste…more like an impromptu baptism of sorts…I still felt badly enough for a silent apology.

Then, at a decent time last night, I went to bed.  I woke with the monarch dream in my head this morning.

I also just wrote way more than intended.  I haven’t even finished looking at my dream and the meanings.  Interesting the first monarch butterfly meanings should mention the orange, sacral chakra.  Two butterflies for the 2nd chakra.  To quote Siannaphey’s linked post above:  The sacral’s main chakra meanings relate to the feeling of emotions (self-confidence, one’s power), sensuality, security, commitment and honour in relationships and clairsentience or clear feeling.”

I’ve been sorely lacking in self-confidence.  I pull in from the fear it causes way more often than I should.  I distract myself from writing with video games instead during my free time.  I frequently feel powerless, especially recently with my perpetually jobless state and my husband’s chronic leg condition flaring up again.

I looked up the number two and its meaning.  A bit for any family still reading this…just because non-western culture came up with something, doesn’t mean it’s not of the force we call God.  We’re not the chosen people, nor are we the only gentiles to feel a connection to this and name it from our own personal understanding.  Aside from that, keep Joseph the dreamer in mind.

I’m about to touch on numerology, it’s the oldest meaning-by-numbers system around that I know of.  The definition of 2 from numerology.com also made me cry, more tears of relieved truth, like in the shower.  It lost me a bit with Hera and somewhat with the end where the negative was only partially applicable to my past self (I’m generally not vindictive or vengeful.

When you lose my loyalty or betray my trust, I’m just done and I turn my back completely, rather than waste more energy in your direction).  Perhaps the black bee-fly things were fears or people I’ve encountered that I fear may not let me turn away and harbor a spirit of vindictive vengeance toward me?

Or maybe I am and that’s still buried so deep I only see it with my past self, regarding the man who molested me.  Yeah…until recently I actively wished his bad karma on him soon.  Now…I hope he improves as a person for the benefit for others.   I don’t actively hope he has a miserable life whenever I think of him…but I don’t hope his life is good either.  Also, I think of him far less now.

Either way, it was the beginning half-coupled with the butterflies that resonated.  I do a LOT of bending.  I also feel constantly under-estimated, especially by my inner critic.  She’s frequently a loud-mouthed bitch too, especially if she has help from other people.

Bumblebees, apparently, may represent hidden dangers.  They were really just the size of bumblebees though.  They were all black and flew and buzzed around each other more like giant flies.  Flies, according to a random dream journal (that I just realized was the 2nd google result) represent:  Nuisance, neglect, filth, or feelings of being unclean. Flitting from one place or activity to another.”

These two definitely represent negative in me more than the number two’s negatives.  Hopefully not “nuisance” so much, but I’ve definitely been feeling unworthy and neglecting life’s directional pull.  When it comes to thinking of writing, I most definitely flit around all over the board from one activity to another, unsure on which one I should land and focus.  When I smacked one fly before waking, I was somehow up in the air, like I was floating and flying around as well, now that I think on it.

I got up on a ladder at the edge of the room and then just followed the flies around swatting at them in the upper half of the room, all over it, without a ladder, but also without a sense I was doing something unusual.  I believe I swatted the one fly successfully out of the air near the middle of the room.  I never bothered looking up “room” because I already felt sure this was my inner home of some sort, whether in general, or my creativity, my “work” room or my “spirit” room…maybe both.   Given what I said about garden tasks, probably both.

The porch out front is messy.  Spiders, in particular, their webs, represent creativity (spinning a tale).  My butterflies and creativity need to get along, so it makes perfect sense I hold no concern if the butterfly out there should land in a web.  I need it to find one of those webs and focus on it.  The mess is because of how cluttered and dusty and rusty my field of creative ideas is.  As they exist now, many are just in pieces, in boxes, broken furniture I can’t sit on, many collect dust.  The webs might be the new ideas I planted among all the old clutter.  That certainly explains why they were thick and white in random spots of things covered in grey dust.

At 33, I suppose you could say I am approaching mid-life.  I’m near the center of the room and I just found the right tool and smacked down the fly of neglect and unworthiness.  Now I just need to smack down the fly of focus.  I woke up.  Now I need but choose the idea I focus on before I swat that fly down as well.

Hah!  Maybe this means all my current ideas are a worthy pursuit!  Or maybe I’m tying this way too much into writing and not enough on healing to help my family’s financial situation?  Maybe the clue lies elsewhere in a dream detail?  I squashed the spider (a perceived threat, rather than creativity, I think) with an undetailed music CD (I love singing…or maybe it’s an idea tied with music…or my blog itself!)…cat, Mew in particular.  I believe it was Mew, our only orange cat, for the same reason it was orange Monarch butterflies–the 2nd chakra.  The same dream dictionary says cat:  Independent, having strong ideas about how things should be, lithe and adaptable, mysterious”

A main character that possesses these qualities?  An idea that expresses how I think things should be?  My most recent new idea, Fairy Tale Shuffle comes to mind.  Everyone has a story (the leading theme).  That resonates.  Orange is:  “Bold, outgoing, assertive, invigorated and/or Autumn, or the “winding down” of a phase or cycle”  Hm…the main character is bold, outgoing, assertive, and invigorated.

But that last fly could represent the need to smack down one idea as well as the idea smacked down.  Flitting from one place to another could represent my world-reality-portal-hopping idea, Order of Chaos.

A more obvious, meta-indicator is the large update the dream just inspired…writing something new that incorporates these ideas.  Maybe some day…but I think I’m feeling a pull more toward recent ideas.  Maybe a few ideas and not just one.  Fairy Tale Shuffle keeps popping in my head.  Then again…I chased those flies all over that room.  If the middle represents the middle of my life, then that idea was all over the edges as well.  THAT idea would be Order of Chaos, my oldest idea, recently rejuvenated.

Pretty handy I’ve been considering putting the main character from Fairy Tale Shuffle into my private Storium game “Into Chaos” based on the portal system from Order of Chaos.  Got it dream, thanks for the message and direction.  Better get started…right after I cook dinner, yikes, this post took nearly six hours!

PS Not saying I’m done with video games.  I played Pokémon a little this morning as I ruminated on my dream.  I’ve got my personal quest now.  Gotta raise my cooking skill, get my food buff, then aim for this expansion’s level cap.  I think I at least hit the first expansion’s cap yesterday.  I just got a little lost today by all the newly downloaded content.

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I’d love to hear any thoughts or comments you had while reading this.  Ever experience something similar?  Have questions?  Input?  Need more input!  Johnny 5 is alive!  Wait…wrong movie.  Talk at me in comments!

Butterfly icon at the beginning of this post made and copyrighted by Starrceline.  Please credit her if you use it.  Thanks, Starrceline, so pretty!

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Silent Rain 11: Ren

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LesarathumbnailASilent Rain
Episode 11:  Ren

By the time Lesara finished wading through tasks and arrangements needing her attention, she found the human boy already washed and dressed in a robe large enough it served as a blanket.  He looked far paler, though human skin tones already seemed paler and more orange than any kaldorei.

She sat on the edge of the cot and placed the back of her hand to his forehead.  Still burning hot.  The boy mumbled something and scrunched up his face.  Chaos laced his thoughts.  Fever dreams; just like a sick saber cat.  Lesara smoothed his hair and closed her eyes, thinking on the gentle warmth of Elune’s light emanating from her finger tips.  She let the warmth cool a little at a time, using her hands like the wet cloth from Padraig’s memories to bring down the temperature.

Once the boy’s forehead felt cooler, Lesara focused on channeling the warmth of Elune throughout, gentle and subtle, so as not to raise his temperature again.  She pictured the light making him strong and healthy again, helping his body eradicate infection.  When she opened her eyes, she saw more colour in the boy’s cheeks and he slept more sound.  His dreams relaxed in the form of a bizarre world of metal creations, but he seemed thrilled by them.

The healing sessions took a full week before the boy was awake for any significant length of time and speaking in more than confused rambles.

After another long meeting discussing the war in Hyjal and refugee situation in her home, Lesara walked into her chamber and found the boy sitting up with her aunt’s book open in his lap.  He frowned at the elvish text, held firm with one hand in the cradle of his lap, while the other picked idly at his blanket robes.

She felt the curiosity in his mind, along with a simple appreciation for the script, rather than understanding the contents.  Clearing her throat, Lesara approached the cot-side with a gentle smile.  “You’re finally awake, I see.”  She linked their minds with the meaning of her words.

Ren put a small hand to his forehead and furrowed his brow.  “Yer doin’ that?”

Smiling wider, Lesara sat at the foot of his cot and nodded.  “I’ve been practicing with your friends, Jon and Padraig.  They’re downstairs.”  In only a week’s time, the two human men pitched in whenever they could.  With the near-constant mind-linking for translation purposes, they quickly proved their guards a wasted resource.   They now counted as additional refugees, rather than prisoners.

Ren shook his head.  “I was out that long?”  He closed the book and Lesara felt a mental pressure for more memories of the past week’s events along with a rush of jumbled questions.  The strength of that pressure from this boy surprised her, as though the mental connections were far more familiar for him, as opposed to the human men he arrived with.  Flashes of memory from recent events, up to the vine attack and her near-death encounter with Elune, flowed in the wrong direction, yanked away before Lesara managed to slam the mental door with a gasp.

They both looked at each other with eyes widened by the shared fear.  Recovering her composure first, Lesara looked away, sat up straighter, and assumed her peaceful mask.  “Are you alright, Ren?”

The boy nodded slowly, too slowly.  Shock.

Lesara placed a hand on his knee, calling on Elune’s gentle warmth.  The sensation washed over the boy and he relaxed, blinking several times.  “What was that?”  He swallowed hard and found Lesara’s eyes again.

“Unexpected.  I’m sorry.”  She smiled then.  “You must have a natural gift.”  She patted his knee before clasping both hands in her lap.

“You died!”  Horror and amazement warred in his voice.  “And those things!  Who was that lady?”  She heard a muted version of a dozen more questions from his thoughts.

“My people are immortal.”  Lesara squirmed a bit.  “It’s difficult for us to stay dead if a priestess is close enough for healing…unless the dying kaldorei lets go…on purpose.”  Silence stretched between them while Lesara wondered where to start with the other questions.

She looked over at Ren, who was staring back as though viewing his first sunrise over the ocean.  Just on the surface of thought, Lesara viewed flashes of a lonely life, and an oft-disappointed, but hopeful Ren.  A boy pretending Padraig could be his father, or at least a big brother.

He fancied a vague image of the wife Padraig mentioned, Thieren, as his own mother.  She starred in fantasies of Ren wearing a ridiculously poofy pink robe and longer, braided hair with his faceless mother, laughing and sharing a group hug with Padraig, sharing a large meal, or playing with each other’s hair.  He seemed pleased and embarrassed by this fancy.

The memories moved backward, wondering how his parents died, why people died.  Why did they leave?  Did they leave?  They probably died.  The habitual loneliness felt like a hollow space in the pit of Ren’s stomach.  He lived with other children before, but they ignored him.  Ren was strange.  Not at all like other little girls.

Lesara resisted a strong impulse to hug the poor girl and comfort her.  She knew lonely too well.  “Not a boy after all…”  The response sounded lame after the flood of memories.

Ren nibbled at her bottom lip and shook her head, then looked up in slight panic.  “Don’t tell, though!  Please?”  A new flash of memories, other young girls being grabbed by shadowy figures and carried off into a dark sense of foreboding mixed with a woman’s voice chiding.  Such things aren’t safe for little girls.  Multiple memories of various boys allowed on a week of adventure with approved heroes left her behind, feeling bitter and angry.

“You needn’t worry about that now.  It appears your people consider gender backwards.”  Lesara sent back brief memories of her brother and father receiving similar limitations.

Ren giggled.  “I think I’ll like it here.”  She bounced over and threw her arms around Lesara.

A surge of warmth and energy, along with easy, almost desperate affection came from Ren and Lesara found the laughter infectious.  She grinned and hugged the girl back, enjoying her as thoroughly as she might an innocent saber kitten.  Now, if only her mother would let her keep Ren.  She began rehearsing special pleas in her head and fought dread at her mother’s likely responses.

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Episode 11:  Ren

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Sticks, Stones, Broken Bones, and Words You Can’t Take Back

Dragonflymuse

The screaming matches between my sister and I were infamous with cousins that ever paid witness.  When she was old enough, she was in charge and babysat my brother and I often while our mother worked.

She wasn’t my mother, so naturally, I wasn’t so cooperative.  In my defense, she often hounded me when we disagreed, rather than dropping it, and sometimes about little inconsequentials.  In her defense, I could be a really spoiled brat.

Today’s memory centers on one particular fight.  The fight that taught me insults, even ones hurled in the name of “just being siblings” are never an answer.  I was in middle school at the time (my sister is 5 years older), and my sister just experienced a severe allergic reaction that left her face disfigured (temporarily).  Edit:  Apparently I was mistaken, it was poison ivy…which I suppose is still an allergic reaction.

I knew she was very sensitive about how badly the itchy bumps warped her features and went one insult too far.  During a fight, I yelled something about her being an ugly monster who looked like a troll doll, then I watched the direct, crumpling effect that had on her expression.  A crushed look made painfully clear despite the lumpy reaction that at some point swelled one or both eyes shut (I’m fuzzy on the other details).  She cried.  I felt like the absolute worst human being on the planet.

It was the last time I used insults during heated arguments with anyone, especially people I care about.  Also, I don’t allow kids to insult each other during arguments around me either.  Kids tend to listen to me, a few tested my resolve, but stopped (in my presence) after a brief lecture/lesson that includes this story.  The people we care about in life are precious.  Even when we wanna yell with frustration about what they do (or don’t), the world is cruel enough, such words should come last from those close to you.

Now I have the philosophy, if you wouldn’t allow someone else to talk about your loved one like that, why would you turn around and do it?  I’m excepting playful insults that don’t touch nerves.  I still call people silly things when messing around.  I’m specifically talking about the ad hominem logical fallacy (the “I win the argument because you suck, you’re stupid, and your mom is ugly” fallacy).

It might be better if we were as quick with compliments, but we never really learned that until after we grew up.  Some never learn it.  For me, I already tore someone I care about down once.  Seeing the immediate effect still hurts my heart; words from my mouth.

I want genuine compliments and positive emotions that uplift others to come from my mouth far more often than any criticism or complaint, especially when it regards those close to me.  There are enough people in the world to tear them down.  Let it be my place and role to help build them up.

Not that I never get in arguments now and fart rainbows in my sleep.  There are exceptions to this.  If someone asks me for an honest critique of their work, they should prepare for just that.  If I’ve had it with a particular behavior, I’ll likely contact the offender about it and express myself.  If you’ve bullied someone or stomped all over someone I care about, don’t ever expect a compliment out of me.  If you’ve ever broken my trust, don’t expect to get it back, no matter how calm I might act around you.  Heck, I’ve still engaged my sister in shouting matches since that time.  Not many, though none while we were living in separate buildings.  This post isn’t about or for those situations and people.

It’s about telling my sister I’m sorry, confessing one of my worst memories, and maybe nudging others toward more mindful and encouraging discourse with one another.  Just because we don’t always agree, or disagree often, doesn’t mean I dislike or lack respect for you.

How about you, any confessions on words you wish you could take back?  Feel free to cleanse yourself in comments.

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Around the Harry Potter World

 

Dragonflymuse

In the Harry Potter series, JK Rowling created a fantastic wizarding world many around the world (myself included) enjoy.  We even read (and/or watched) sample tastes of the wizarding world in France and Norway/Sweden (with students from as far away as Bulgaria) in the fourth book/movie.

I imagine many, besides myself, contemplate what this same wizarding world looks like in other countries and cultures.  While the magic system, as written by Rowling remains largely the same (I think some cultures, for example, likely won’t be using Latin-based spells or even wands as a “channeling” focus for magic, but much of what can be done with these tools should remain the same), I think many cultural differences in form and practice would surface from one culture to another.

And arises the point of today’s post…a question for you, but first:  I remember daydreaming away how this or that culture might practice magic in the Harry Potter world.  I even started a fanfic in which I intended spotlighting some of the Japanese ways within the Harry Potter world, featuring a Japanese-British student.  I even spotlighted on a Japanese term to call the muggles (a firecracker dud…it’s in my notes somewhere). Then I felt presumptive and lost in research on Japan.

My fanfic since moved somewhere closer to home and ancestry (for myself) and now features an Irish-American girl (Emily) whose family moves back to Ireland just before receiving her Hogwarts letter.  However, I still possess this silly desire for fleshing out more of Rowling’s world in fanfic style.

In this case, I plan on fleshing out a bit more of the Irish sidhe (fae) in the Harry Potter world.  Emily’s life is a lot more heavily tied to the sidhe world than she realizes.  I know the fae world has been done and redone ad infinitum, but I hope I’m bringing a fresher turn.  Plus, the fae world simply enchants me, personally can’t get enough.

Emily will make close friends with a girl from the very large continent of Africa.  More research, I know.  I intend on looking closely at the plethora of different cultures within Africa before lighting on one that easily writes itself into Rowling’s world (and my fanfic within it) and I can maybe spotlight it at some point.  This friend will be from an African wizarding family, so one of the African wizarding worlds will play a role the way Hermione and Ron’s upbringings played a role.  As you can see, “this friend” is nameless so far, and probably will remain so until I decide exactly where from Africa she’s from.  I have her personality down and how she fits in the friendship.  She’ll be the ambitious one that keeps the trio going and makes Emily’s life a lot more active.

Emily’s other friend is 100% for my son, a boy named Michael who grew up on the heroic tales of Harry Potter and wants nothing more than hearing “Gryffindor!” from the sorting hat, just like said hero and his friends…but ends up in Hufflepuff.  I know the sorting hat takes your decision into account, so Michael will be a hat stall.

In that is a cute memory as well.  When I told my son about my plans for his character within the story, including the above statement nearly verbatim, I watched his face fall, much like I imagined the Michael in my fanfic when the sorting hat places him in Hufflepuff.  He asked why, trying very hard to hide his disappointment.  I explained about what I read from Rowling on the differences between Gryffindor and Hufflepuff, and how each displays bravery.

Cliff notes:  Gryffindors often display bravery for the sake of bravery and are a bit prone to showing off.   Hufflepuff bravery stems from loyalty.  She also mentioned something about how many Gryffindors were in the final battle for Hogwarts because it was brave and backing out, cowardice.  However, probably all Hufflepuffs were in the battle because it was their school, and in many cases, their friends as well, being threatened, and they were standing up against something wrong out of loyalty.

I said, “Now, I could be wrong, but I think a great deal of your bravery comes from loyalty first; standing up for others, especially your friends and family, or standing up for things you believe are right.  The Michael in my story will eventually learn the same thing and be glad the sorting hat ignored his hero-worship.”

I saw pride beaming on his face at this point and felt tickled that I accurately predicted each stage of his character’s emotion regarding house placement.  I told him, if it really mattered that much to him though, I’d put him in Gryffindor anyway.

He told me, “I like that a lot.  Don’t change a thing.”

If you’re curious, another difference from my fanfic to the original, obviously now, is it happens after Harry Potter’s schooldays.  Where the original story follows 3 Gryffindors, mine will follow three friends from different houses, none of which are Gryffindor.  Since Slytherin house still exists (otherwise Harry wouldn’t feel the need to calm his son’s worries about being placed in it), in my fanfic, I want to address the good and strengths in Slytherin as well.  I don’t know, I feel it’s passed due for a positive face and reminder that an entire group of children don’t really deserve the “evil comes from here” classification.

Anyway, to the question!  I’m curious, how do you envision the wizarding world of Harry Potter from your various homes and cultures?  How do you envision it for the cultures of your ancestors, or simply a culture you love studying or married into?

I’m thinking crystals and new age, with a bit of wicca is the easy answer for the United States.  However, I’m gonna turn it a bit on its head and amuse myself by thinking the US wizarding world stylizes themselves as secret super heroes.  Not parading around saving people while in costume, but the whole super hero and villain thing regarding helping or taking advantage of normal humans while keeping an international wizarding statute of secrecy.  They also probably go home from the wizarding school every day over here, rather than a wizarding boarding school.

An international wizarding satute of secrecy is pretty important, I think, otherwise one country/area/culture exposing magic results in some worldwide exposure, toppling Rowling’s cannon.  I’ve no wish to topple the cannon.

I’m curious about all kinds of ideas and a conversation on what all my readers think Rowling’s wizarding world would be (how is it the same, how is it different) in other places?  Comment away!  If you write your own blog post on the idea, please, by all means, link us there in comments.

Let’s talk about what the Harry Potter world might be like around the world.

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Being Odd Never Bothered Me Anyway

DragonflymuseI stop still when my father grabs my hair.  His grip is gentle, but I’m afraid of pulling anyway.  My scalp always was sensitive.  “What are you doing?”

“French braiding your hair.”  I can feel him moving my hair in segments starting at the top of my scalp.

Memories of my mother french braiding my hair over the years, sometimes by request, flood my mind and I begin objecting.  Even when I asked for the braid, she braided it so tightly every movement in the process felt like she’d tear out clumps any moment.  I remember my mom said the tight rein on the braid was necessary or it fell apart.

Furthermore, I remembered last time she french braided my hair on request.  It still hurt and all my little, uneven hairs poofed out within the hour, making the braid look like a sudden prison break in a nudist colony (you’re welcome for that image).

“I won’t hurt you, don’t worry.”

I doubt he’s listening.  “French braids always hurt going in, and they look like crap when all my little hairs poof out.”  However, he remains silent, still maneuvering my hair around and I realize he’s braiding it far too loose, but it actually feels nice.  I think, maybe a loose braid works better with my hair.  I can always take it out later if I don’t like it.

He finishes and I thank him, last night’s dream takes a brief detour until I remember the braid and never checking it.  I look in the mirror and see the goofiest hairstyle I ever laid eyes on.  Far from being a French braid, my hair is swept up in a giant poofy wave with little pearls and bows tied in a pattern throughout it.

And my waking brain thought the Leia buns my mom put in my hair once were horrid.  I hate poofy and I am not fond of bows, pearls I can take or leave.  In the dreamland, however, it was merely different.  I thought it odd, rather weird, but I never bothered removing the style.  You can think a Marie Antoinette up-do attempt but poofier, more hair and bows all over, and as attempted by a father rather than a professional stylist (who may or may not be a father).  Either way I accepted it and moved on.  Being odd never bothered me anyway.

The source of the dream (I think; watch it directly on youtube to get the captions to work):

Over the past two days, I’ve felt my potential ready to burst through and take command of my life, resisting constraints once placed on it I always accepted.  It’s like that video from frozen, in slow motion.  I should be building ice castles and defying frost bite any day now.   Gonna let it go soon,  cause being odd never really bothered me anyway.

Apparently, in dreams, the person in certain roles reflects the role they fill in your life, rather than the person themselves.  My mother’s family has the tightest holds on what I should be and do (though, don’t let the dream fool you, they are very supportive and nurturing, and my mother is my first inspiration for writing after my sister), but for some reason my father always represented the source of my creative spirit and thirst.

They’re divorced now, so I’m treading a fine line with feelings here, but I guess I’m saying, I inherited the spirit and thirst from my father while my mother nurtured the direction and care…though I love singing too, my mom is pretty good, but my dad inspires my love of music.

Okay, look you two, since you both sometimes read my blog, you both inspire me, okay!

I think this dream is telling me it’s time to let go and follow the thirst again after nurturing and feeding the form for so long.  Boiled down simply, quit pulling myself so tight in when it’s never fully controlled nor hid who I am anyway (yeah, I’m the little nudist hairs I guess…look, they’re only nude because my hairs don’t wear orange jump suits).

Not that I’m actively hiding who I am, I just show it in small doses to special people…and when it comes to my mother’s side…  Sorry, I just can’t follow the exact spiritual path tread by many of you.  It’s a personal journey for me.  Don’t be too pleasantly shocked when I share in whatever eternal glory awaits anyway.

As for my father’s side…I don’t know them nearly as well, so I guess there’s much less a pull to fit perfectly and agree with the rest of the braid?

——————

How about the rest of my readers?  It’s almost the day of resolutions for those of us who begin our years on January 1st.  Is there some old tie or control keeping you down?  Cut it loose and let it go.  Share your potential in comments and look to it for your resolutions and inspiration.  Live in the spirit and paths that call you and embrace brilliance.  Even if you still need experience…I still need experience!  I plan to let go and play like I own the game anyway.

Time to see what we can do.

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Playing With Fire

DragonflymuseJust stopping by the old blog for an update sharing the Christmas digital art I made for my son.

After the Hilltop Vista model edit art I completed (shared in the post before this), my son really wanted a drawing of his favourite character for Christmas.  I told him I tried drawing a pandaren, but I really couldn’t pull off turning a real human model into an animal person.

Hey, he already told me lying was perfectly acceptable when used as a disguise for gifts and surprises.

And so, I turned Kirilee, the lovely model whose original stock photo you can find by clicking her name in this sentence, into the pandaren fire mage, Mingji.

No background
And then we have the finished version where I clone-brushed my art over a very slightly edited World of Warcraft screenshot:

Framed and Signed

Mingji is one of the pandaren from the Wandering Isle (which is actually the back of a giant turtle).  After helping both horde and alliance who crash landed, Mingji chose to help the horde thereafter.  My son hasn’t really created a story or background for her, so I don’t know why she chose horde or what her personality is like, only what he wanted her transmog (visual appearance gear in-game) to eventually be, and of course, what she actually looks like.  The virtual frame and signature are because he wanted it framed and signed by me *laughs* so there you are.

I don’t know about anyone else, but I think I most definitely improved in model edit art from the two Hilltop Vistas posted before, to “Playing with Fire.”  I definitely challenged myself a lot with this compared to the hilltop vistas.

For those that are thinking about (already) giving up on my blog series, Silent Rain, I’m toying with the idea of taking the updates to every-other-week, or once a month so I can complete an illustration for each episode.  I have half the next episode written, and half of  a model edit completed for it.

I’m not sure I can turn out visual artwork that quickly though, it invariably causes double procrastination (a feeling I can’t turn in the next episode without the artwork and vice-versa), but it may make Silent Rain more attractive as a blog series in the long run.  Anyone still care enough about Silent Rain to weigh in here?  I know I’ve neglected it so badly I probably lost my audience (my fault, sorry again!).

I should have more time for it now, however.  I guess the question is rather silly before I’ve even completed an episode with an illustration.  Even if no one’s reading them anymore, I WILL finish Silent Rain, if only for myself.  It helps that I’m playing world of warcraft again and not entertaining a silly notion about finally finishing a nanowrimo again.

Gonna actually try to finish the model edit illustration of the next episode AND the next episode itself and get them up tomorrow.  Hopefully anyone who’s interested will have a fresh new episode tomorrow at some point.

Happy Holidays!

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Fickle, Fickle Muse

Dragonflymuse

As I already mentioned in my last post, it’s Nanowrimo time!  Supposed to write a 50k+ word novel during November.  As usual, my muse dislikes being forced to write just because everyone else is doing it.  I’ve not been letting her procrastinate as much.

As a result, she switched tactics on me.  I’m in a visual artsy mood FAR less often than a writing mood.  It takes a rare mood visual arts time…at least if I want a result better than stick figures.  That mood strikes maybe three times a year.  It’s struck at least three times this November.  You saw Earthbound’s cover in my last “Fiction Friday” post.  Today I share the other two, related projects using a new style.  I’m pretty proud of the result, even if I did trace two real-life models in the same pose, right on top of the picture.

Can’t compare it to all the awesome art I see from others or I’d give up so shortly after exploring this new form of drawing my characters (and before improving and learning better shading from it, how to do it without tracing, eventually, etc.).

Anyway, presenting more Nanowrimo procrastination:

Hilltop Vista

Illumyn Starsong (a friend's night elf) and Alasgida (my human) from World of Warcraft.

Illumyn Starsong (a friend’s night elf) and Alasgida (my human) from World of Warcraft.

Now turn the lights off for…

Starry Hilltop Vista

Illumyn Starsong (friend's night elf) and Alasgida (my human); World of Warcraft original characters.

Illumyn Starsong (friend’s night elf) and Alasgida (my human); World of Warcraft original characters.

Before I go further, both works owe their existence to SenshiStock and her two models in this picture.  I would also like to thank Mattifemaule for her tips along the way, and inspiring me to give edit-over art a more serious try with her excellent works (I especially love how she does hair).  The clothes were partially inspired by outfits in my screenshots on both of them, but were more than I could handle at my level, so I added some different (and less) details.

Now, you can probably tell by how much less shading and extras are in it, but everything else in the picture (fireflies, clouds, sky, tree, water’s edge) are all done by hand without a reference…and all with a mouse because I have no idea how to use an artboard and ended up giving mine away to my brother-in-law who not only knows how to use one, but really wanted one.

I did two versions because it occurred to me after making a daylight one, that Illumyn is a NIGHT elf…they are more active at night, and Gida isn’t really a morning person anyway.  I hope you enjoy them as much as I enjoyed making them.

———–

Fiction Friday focus:  About the characters in the picture (and why it seems cozy-romantic).

Illumyn and Gida have been best friends through more than one reality since they were little kids.  They also lived through each other’s personal traumas together.  Along the way, Gida discovered her romantic feelings for Illumyn, who returned her affections once Gida expressed them with a surprise kiss.

However, while Gida was more serious about the romantic side of their connection, she found out the hard way that Illumyn, while loving her, was “Only gay for Gida.”  Illumyn considered their affectionate encounters a natural extension of how close they were, but still longed for a romantic connection with the right guy…whom she found and married, eventually.

She sailed away with him to uncharted lands, leaving Gida to carry on alone.  In Illumyn’s player’s defense, her connection was rotten during her finalé, leaving wow-RP, and involved a LOT of people.  In short, those things contributed to the bummer “ending” between Gida and Illumyn.

They still care deeply for one another, but at a distance.  Gida stopped thinking in a romantic fashion for Illumyn once she realized how Illumyn viewed their relationship.  Still, given how private and withdrawn Gida is, Illumyn is the only person she cares about in her life, both past and present (lone wolf).

I linked a few older fiction posts (mostly in order) from Gida’s perspective below.  Note, speaking of the moon after a romantic fashion=talking about Illumyn with a safer code name for Loomy’s protection.

Sun Dappled Innocence

Gida’s Reminder

The remaining entries are all after their brief, romantic relationship.

Paper Sun

Cloudy Nights

Fight (language warning)

Stars  (In response to a fiction piece my friend posted from Illumyn’s perspective, as the character fondly remembered games of chase while sailing on a ship under the stars, taunting Gida to come catch her again).

Silent Moments

Forever Goodbyes

Count Me Out (“Love Is In the Air” festival AKA Valentine’s Day Song)

Had Enough (PTSD/history song)

Stand in the Rain (Another song entry)

 

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Earthbound

Dragonflymuse

Here I am!  Sorry about how frequently I neglect my blog.  I honestly plan on finishing Silent Rain, and hopefully posting more often in the future.

No new Silent Rain post today though, I plan for more episodes starting in December.  Why wait?

The excuse follows!

I’m trying Nanowrimo again!  I’m more dedicated this time around, I may even win my first Nanowrimo (requires writing 50k words on a new novel in November).

I spent the last month and a half before Nanowrimo writing notes on this.  To show how serious I am, I procrastinated by creating a cover and back jacket blurb.

Ta-da!

Dreamy Earthbound CoverCover Background
I think it’s pretty good for my first major photo manipulation piece.  Maybe next Fiction Friday, I’ll share my favourite rough draft scene so far.  I think I chose a decent first line, at least:

Red ribbons swirled on the water’s surface, elegant and intoxicating.

—————–

Any feedback?  Other thoughts?  Are you doing Nano?  What’s your project?  Did you make yourself a working cover as well?  Let me know in the comments!

Image photomanipulated together using the following stock:

fantasy sky bg 12 by joannastar-stock

Mother Earth by jraco

muse by fdjs

Premade background 1 by Muse-of-Stock

Thanks to all four of you for making my working cover of Earthbound possible; hugs all around!

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The Slow-Learning Chef

Dragonflymuse

That’s me!  Growing up, my mom preferred having the kitchen to herself.  As a result (and tomboyish lack of interest), learning the art of cooking took me quite awhile.  In fact, I’m still learning!

Memories of bad results pour from my mind over the years.  My dad’s bewildered and entirely amused comments about how I managed to screw up box mac-n-cheese while staying with him (it all stuck together in one solid chunk).  A manager forcing me to start the spaghetti at one of my first jobs even though all the managers knew, if it wasn’t something I had to just throw in the oven, I’d find some way to mess it up.  “Who can’t cook spaghetti?!  That’s just an excuse and we have no time.  Make the spaghetti!”

Well, she got in trouble for that one.  I made the spaghetti.  I told myself…I can make mac-n-cheese (in a small pot, not a huge metal cauldron!).  Somehow I screwed that up and it was just like my pre-teen disaster with mac-n-cheese multiplied by about a thousand.  There were no chili-macs at Steak-n-Shake that day.  Removing the ball of starched together spaghetti was NOT fun.

Then I met some people who consistently shoved me down the respect totem pole in several areas.  Despite making a stew everyone (including myself) found absolutely heavenly a few years prior, I bought it.  Constantly repeated statements about how horrible and hopeless (or at least mediocre) a cook I was, complete with mocking laughter tends to do that to a person.

I only recently began trying again with my husband’s support (I love him so much, he’s been such a blessing for my self-esteem in all areas).  Thanks to him I stopped saying “I’m a horrible cook” too.  Our own verbal confirmations can do as much damage as those shoved at us from others.

So, one of my recent creations, and possibly the one I’m most proud of:

Potato Veggie Dish
My husband and I absolutely LOVE this dish.  After joining Lose It! (if you haven’t joined it and want to, please comment or email me the email you want to join with, I get a badge for referrals ^_^ )  I found cause for more pride in my recipe.  I make a total of six servings and one serving stuffs me full at dinner with only 350 calories (Wow!  Most clear illustration ever tasted that veggie calories are more filling than junk).

A few people recently asked me for the recipe, so…yeah this entire post is an excuse to share the recipe and tie it in with my Memory Monday theme.

Ingredients:

Screen-cap of the recipe off Lose It! 'cause I'm lazy that way (and hope they won't mind).   Edited for added red notes when the servings/prep on my Lose It recipe weren't clear.

Screen-cap of the recipe off Lose It! ’cause I’m lazy that way (and hope they won’t mind).
Edited for added red notes when the servings/prep on my Lose It recipe weren’t clear.

The calorie count at the top is for the entire large bowl of ingredients (6 servings).  The picture of my lunch is about half a serving.

Basically, most ingredients are finely shredded (especially broccoli since I hate the texture).  I also like my carrots thoroughly cooked (rather than crisp), so the potatoes are in the largest chunks (4-6 chunks per potato).  This is so they don’t turn into mashed potatoes after all the cooking, stirring, and shaking I do.  Spices and smaller-piece ingredients go on top.  Then I pour in about 1/4 cup hot water (just from the tap), in small amounts to provide some initial “steam” juice for the vegetables I used from my freezer stock, and to more evenly distribute some of the spices on top.

Now, my oven and crock pot are out of commission.  So, I created this meal with the microwave.  I put the bowl in without a lid, and cook on high for 5 minutes.  Pull it out, try to break up iced vegetable chunks some more, and see if I can close the lid yet.  If I can, I close the lid and hold it over the sink with thick oven mitts on and shake the whole bowl, turning it upside down and shaking it a little.

Back in for five minutes.  Next time it’s out, the fluffier vegetables have usually cooked down enough that I have enough room to stir them up now.  Stir, close lid, shake over sink again, including turning upside down.  Back in for 5 minutes.  Repeat until thoroughly cooked.

I keep neglecting accurate time-keeping for this, but last time it took me two hours to do a bunch of dishes, chop all the vegetables up from fresh (I depleted my frozen stores), walk back and forth to note the exact amounts of everything I was putting in (before I just dumped stuff in), and then cook it in 5-minute increments.  I think I finished the cooking part in 30-45 minutes.

Sometimes I have no potatoes in the left overs but a bunch of the shredded and blended vegetables at the bottom.  In this case, I love adding it to a few cups of rice or a chicken noodle dish for other lunches/dinners.

Since I am such a “slow-learning chef,”  I’m sure many better ways exist for making this.  This is my way, it is tasty, and it feeds my family one very healthy dinner my husband and I love (and my son tolerates), and usually feeds me for 2-3 lunches after.

Now for lunch!  Yum!

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Silent Rain 10: Prisoners

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Rain

LesarathumbnailASilent Rain
Episode 10:  Prisoners

In total, twenty refugees, more than half of them children, the rest fathers and other adult males without druid training, arrived.  Some of the men helped carry three wounded on cots; two sentinels and a druid.  The prisoners carried the human boy’s cot.

Astranaar spared ten sentinels as guards for the journey.  They stopped long enough for supplies before riding off with the two outriders.

Narel, with a few of the novice house priestesses, guided the men carrying wounded soldiers to the first rooms up the stairs, tending their wounds and needs immediately.  Meanwhile, someone ordered the prisoners sent below and sealed in an under-used barrow specifically made for prisoners.  They spared one guard for that door.

With Narel’s daily care, Lesara often forgot last week’s events.  Only nightmares and various dull aches, especially around her neck and throat, served as occasional reminders.  As heir and hostess, she kept her symbolic place, over-seeing events and any potential disputes or unusual problems.  In other words, doing nothing while two glaives and either Valyndriel or Shalya guarded her in shifts.  Most staff ran easily without direction, knowing their roles.

However, when Lesara inquired after the prisoners, she found no one willing to do more than provide them food.  Then Shalya told her their location.  Abandoning her formal position, Lesara marched into the dungeon barrow, leaving her guard catching up.

“My lady, your mother won’t like this.  It isn’t proper!”  Shalya tailed her close.

Lesara’s left ear twitched briefly toward the sound of both glaives, Ranera and Shestelle, following just behind Shalya.  “One of those prisoners is with fever, and only a child, besides.”

“Feverish?  Like a beast?”  Shestelle’s tone bristled against Lesara’s concern.

“You forget our unique gifts and your place.”  She paused a moment before continuing.  “The child is sick and adults, cooperative.  Since everyone else is too busy, I will not see them die or mistreated when I can do something about it.”

“Your mother–”  Shalya this time.

“I’m well aware  of what my mother wants of me.  I’ll deal with it when she returns.”  Halting in front of the barrow, she addressed the guard.  “I’ve come to see the prisoners.”

The guard nodded back and pulled aside a spy slot.

“Open the door, please.”

“Right, sorry, Lady Ethala’Aman.”  The guard ducked her head and checked the slot, then stepped aside and turned the locking mechanism.  The heavy stone doors grated apart.

Both of the stubby-eared, pale men inside looked up at Lesara and her guards.  One was sitting on the ground in the far corner, hands resting on bent knees in front of him.  The boy slept heavy on the only cot, the head of its poorly-stuffed mattress centered along the back wall.  The other adult prisoner bent over the boy’s side.  He straightened and glared at Lesara.  He growled clipped and harsh-sounding words; guttural compared with Darnassian, the flowing kaldorei tongue.  He ended with a pointed gesture at the clearly sick child and took a step forward.

Ranera and Shestelle drew weapons and took point, blocking Lesara from harm and view.  The man in the corner mumbled something back at his friend and received an exasperated sigh and a short, frustrated response.  Lesara wedged her hands, palms together, between the two glaives and nudged them apart.  “They’re unarmed males.  I can handle any trouble they cause.  Besides, he’s clearly angry about the child.  Step aside.”

The glaives repositioned at Lesara’s shoulders.  Looking over her shoulder, Lesara spotted Shalya guarding their backs, before she refocused on the angry pale-skin.  The glaives’ threat subdued him and he bent over the child again, feeling the boy’s forhead with the back of his hand.

Lesara noted his warrior build though he stood at least a full head shorter.  Dirt and exhaustion covered both men.  She joined the more vocal one from the other side of the cot.  The boy was just as dirty and still in the same style clothing as the other pale-skins, though his held far more tatters.  They were older than either adult’s, less finely made…not finely made at all.  Holding the dirty cloth between her fingers at the boy’s collar, Lesara furrowed her brow.  They were ship-wrecked and left in wet clothing.  No wonder he has fever.  Blanched skin under all the dirt, at least compared to the color in the two adults, worried her most.  Memories of helping her father tend sick sabers ran around in her mind and she wondered if she might attempt those same steps on a pale-skin.

She reached with her mind toward the adult male opposite her and applied gentle pressure.  He looked up and nodded.  She pressed further, silent long enough that images and foreign words began taking on meaning she understood.  My people never get sick.  How do we help her?  The thought came attached with a younger Lesara helping her father care for sick sabers and the sense of a question.

The pale-skin responded aloud, mumbling and shaking his head.  In response, she saw the vague images of a pale-skinned woman caring for a different child, a little girl, along with blurred and vague images of what happened out of his sight when the sick room’s wooden door closed on him, left in helpless and nervous fidgeting.

“I understand.”  Lesara nodded and placed the back of her hand on the boy’s forhead; the heat worried her more.  She sent back images of caring for the boy in better surroundings and relocating the two men in nicer quarters.  The man answered with a weary smile and spoken gratitude.

Speaking up, Lesara addressed the guards.  “I want this child safely relocated to the spare quarters beside my own.”

“A prisoner so close?”  Shalya frowned.  “Your mother–”

“Would probably be furious and say no, but she’s not here.  Either the child’s moved near my quarters or I begin sleeping near his.”  She straightened and adopted her mother’s most imperial expression and stance.

“Yes, my Lady.”

“The prisoners will also be moved to a guarded guest room, a proper one, with two places for sleep…and a chance to wash up.  Find them new clothes, even if they’re too big.  Have their old ones washed and returned.  Have the same waiting with the boy in his sick room.  Ranera and Shestelle will accompany me to the gardens for necessary herbs.  No mistreatment will befall them undeserving.”

After walking behind the glaives and out the doorway, she paused.  “Oh, and they have names.  You’ll find Jon in the corner, Padraig chastised us, and the boy is called Ren.”

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Prisoners

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