He had great legs. I couldn't help but notice them as he walked up the street. Couldn't avoid noticing really. He was obviously homeless, carrying his life around in what looked, from my vantage point in the passenger seat of our Forester, like a laundry bag.

I don't remember his face, though Fuzzy said later that he was bearded. Don't remember his shirt – though I know he was wearing one. A sweatshirt I think. I vaguely recall it being the dusty blue of a faded sweatshirt. The kind of blue that usually reminds me of summering by the shore, and wearing carefully faded rolled-neck sweaters against the chill.

I remember the way he peered up one street, and then slipped round a building to walk up the other. And I remember glimpsing legs, lean, strong, brown from the sun, and possibly a lack of washing.

He wore khaki shorts over sweatpants nearly the same color. Or, rather, they were sweatpants once upon a time. Now they're mostly holes and frayed edges.

But the thing that made me go home and clean out the closet; the thing that pushed me into the guilt that I often feel when I see street folk, was that his feet, inside his blue sneakers, were bare.

I had an urge to run across the street, and tell him to hang out at OSH at dawn, if he wanted to work as a day laborer. I had an urge to invite him to use our shower, to offer a hot meal.

I had an urge to hand him a pair of socks, freshly laundered, bleached to blinding white. I can imagine how soft cotton must feel on such mal-treated feet, how the whitewhite cloth would look against the tanned skin of his calf.

I did none of this things.
“That homeless guy,” I said to Fuzzy. “He had great legs.”

They're walking across my memory even now.

Weekend Updates

I have this rule that I have to do one productive thing every day, and this weekend I've had to really stretch things to meet that rule. Well, I did clean out my closet, sort of, and I did do the banking I meant to do, so I guess that's two things. But today, I've done next to nothing.

My allergies have been acting up since Friday, and yesterday and today I was forced to take actifed. Well, the generic version. Actifed makes me sleepy and grumpy and dehydrates me, but at least when I use it I'm not nauseous from mucous and I can breathe. But I took it yesterday on an empty stomach, and it sent me into such a spin that I've slept away most of my weekend time.

It was cool and damp and stormy on Friday and Saturday. I love that weather. Most of the time I find in invigorating and inspiring.

This weekend, we indulged the dogs by giving them bully sticks. Bully sticks are to dogs what chocolate is to women. Heaven in chewable form. (If you're not a dog owner, you'll find it gross, but bully sticks are basted meat, baked and dehydrated. Specifically, they're made from the parts that bulls have, and cows don't. They're smelly, and dogs /love/ them.)

Well, at least the dogs did something fun.

Neither of us have felt well all weekend, and Friday night I picked a fight with Fuzzy because he was supposed to be home at a specific time and wasn't, and didn't call, and I was already pissed because C-dog ate one of my black t-shirts. Brand new. Never even been warn, and now it's a rag.

So she spent most of Friday night on the deck, alone, until I was calm enough to let her in without yelling at her.

I'm ashamed at myself, because at one point I wanted to hit her. (I didn't. I would never hit an an animal. I don't even believe in spanking children.) But really, it's not her fault. She was out of chewies, and was trying to tell me. And, after all, puppies exist to teach humans to put things away.

Many of my friends, co-journallers, etc, have commented that they've been unusually moody this month, and I've noticed that I myself have been downright bitchy. And I hate that I can't control this bitchiness. I only hope that it's an April thing, and will go away when the month changes.

In other news, the job thing is solved. I'm now an independent contractor (yay me), and though they didn't agree to my salary proposal, they countered with something that's actually more fair, and works out better for me.


Is it May yet?

Candle Magic?

Tonight, in an effort to inspire an LJ friend who didn't know what to write about, I pulled an Observation Deck card.

It said, Observe a ritual.

Tonight while I was online, one friend paged me to say that she'd lost a family member just then, and within an hour another friend sent me an instant message that her father was dying, and that she'd found her favorite ferret dead in its cage. And I'm still grieving over the death of my best friend's dog, earlier this week.

“I'll light a candle for you,” I told the IM friend. “And you and yours will be in my thoughts.”

“You don't know how much that means to me,” was her response.

Well, maybe I don't know for sure how she feels, but I know that the act of lighting a candle, and watching the flame helps to center me, to warm me, and to give me strength.

I'm not a particularly religious person. Actually, I'm not religious at all, and while I do have a spiritual side, my beliefs are a mishmash of different elements of religion and spirituality that work for me. So, while I am quick to light candles, and spare a special thought for the person the candle represents, I don't say any specific prayers, or call on any deities.

I light a candle for a friend having a personal struggle, and visualize it's heat as the warmth of a hand being held, or a supportive hug.

I light a candle for the loss of a loved one, mine or someone else's, and visualize the flame as a beacon, leading everyone toward peace.

I light a candle in tribute to an animal who has gone to the rainbow bridge, and think of the unconditional love we pet-owners are priveliged to receive.

I light a candle in memory of a relative or friend, and see their face in my mind, and the flame warms me just as the memories warm my heart.

Tonight, I have three candles burning.

Terrible Tuesday

It's been an eventful day. In the span of one workday, I quit my job, was fired from the same job, and was then rehired into a slightly modified position with a better pay scale and more flexibility.

Obviously I have an odd definition of 'terrible'.

It began with my ongoing frustration with TempAgency to pay me on time. Oh, they managed all right for the first five months of my three-month assignment, but since the beginning of April, every check has been late. The first one arrived on Saturday. The next on a Monday. And this week's check still hasn't appeared in my mailbox. (I'm supposed to receive them on Fridays.)

Then there's the small matter of: My contract was supposed to be three months long, it's been six and no one's bothered to check on how I'm doing.

I skipped lunch hoping to zip home early, and instead got roped into an emergency notary appointment for some people who didn't bother to return their title company's calls and had to sign something RightThisVeryMinuteOrWe'llLoseTheLock! Of course they'd be the types who had to read every line of the thing they were signing, even though it's a required form, and they were being given a copy to take home. Ah, well, an extra $20 in my pocket helped a little. And Fuzzy was held up, as well, and also missed lunch.

We finally got home around 6:30, hot, tired, and feeling faint. Cooking would have knocked me out, so we ordered pizza: Note – the six-cheese pizza from Papa John's is best on thin crust, but don't order if you don't like strong cheese. One of the six is gorgonzola.

Total non-sequitur: Gorgonzola cheese makes me think of Xanth.

I logged on to my usual roleplaying game hoping for some nice light soothing RP between my character and her weyrmate (she's pregnant, he's been fussing, and so has his dragon), only I was still all faint and crabby and ended up picking a fight. Fortunately the player in question is a dear friend, and knew I'd had a day that was causing me to seriously vent. I owe him lots for his patience.

And now it's nearly one, and I'm too tired to write anything creative, and too awake to sleep.


Wednesday has to be better, right?


Whine-mode, cancel.

Today, I Quit My Job.

Well, sort of.
I told the temp agency I was severing my relationship with them because I feel that they're incompetent and irresponsible.
And I sent the actual workplace boss a long email explaining that I liked him, and his company, and would be happy to work directly for him, but I couldn't stay with TempAgency any longer.
And of course, technically, this all happened last night.

If he's willing to negotiate based on the proposal I sent, well, cool. I can live with that.

If not, well, I'm fortunate in that we don't really /need/ two incomes, it just makes things nicer.

And not working would force me to seriously write, and not just play at it. And my mother's been asking me to spend a week in Baja – could fly into Cabo, spend the night at one of the ostentatious waterfront hotels, spend another night in Todos Santos, and then go bask by the Gulf of California for several days. Mmm. Tempting.

And then there's this headhunter who calls me with offers I decline, at least once a month.

So, no matter what happens, life should be interesting.
And oddly, I feel at peace.

Scents and Scentsability

Forgive the punnish title, please. It's late, and I'm tired.

A while ago a local radio station used a section of it's morning show to solicit listeners' favorite smells. I didn't call in, but ever since then I've had an entry about scents lingering in the back of my brain. A Yahoo IM chat with my mother today dragged these thoughts to the front of my brain, and this is the result.

I've mentioned before that I associate Chanel No. 5 with Rice Pudding, because of my Aunt Molly and the family diner. And I think I've also talked about the scent of straight pins, when I box is first opened. Yes, intellectually I realize it's the smell of machine oil and metal, but to me, it's just pins.

But there are other smells, less definable, that I also love. Crayons, with their combination of construction paper and wax smell like childhood, to me, and even though I have horrible allergies, I love fresh-mown grass.

I love the smell of coffee, almost more than the taste. I love the smell of chocolate, preferably dark. I love the way liver smells when it's cooking, but not the way it tastes. (I ask, how can something smell so amazing, and then taste like rawhide?) Mint, in any form, is always something I love to sniff, and roses – real roses – .

My other favorite flower is the carnation. I love the clove-y smell. And while I abhor smoking, pipe tobacco has a sweet smokey smell I adore.

But the scent that's been on my brain all day is the smell of the beach. Not just surf and sand, though those are wondrous in and of themselves, but the whole beach experience. The smell of sunblock, and a little sweat, of surf and sand and sunshine. The tired happy feeling of coming home from a day at the shore, and showering, dabbing Noxema on the sunburned section of your nose and cheeks, and then slipping into a freshly-made bed with cool sheets. This – this is the beach smell I mean.

I saw a card at Barnes and Noble last night, while I was there on a book-buying orgy, of two little girls walking in the sand, both with braided hair, half undone, carrying sand pails, and flip-flops, and I could smell that beach smell.

It's the scent of innocence.

Christmas in April?

There's something special about reading the latest work by a favorite author and revisiting a fictional world that you've come to love.

I read a lot, and have many authors whose works are dear to me. A. S. Byatt doesn't write series, but I have a lot of Byatt-books on my shelves, for example. Kathleen Norris's three books are all very different, but I treasure all of them, keeping them on the same shelf as Madeleine L'Engle's non-fantasy novels (and her Crosswicks journals).

I still have the complete collections of A.A. Milne's poetry and Pooh books, right near the boxed sets of the Anne of Green Gables series, and the Little House on the Prairiecollection, and The Chronicles of Narnia. More recently, I've added The Black Jewels series to my collection, and I've got all the books in both of Laurell K. Hamilton's universes.

I can't forget the mysteries. Dorothy Gillman's main character may be older than my grandmother, but I love the Mrs. Pollifax stories just the same, and Jim Qwilleran's sleuthing Siamese cats, Koko and Yumyum are taking up a lot of bookshelf acreage in my house.

And then there's Margaret Maron. Most people familiar with her work will think of the Deborah Knott books, but my favorite character of hers is Sigrid Harald. Sigrid's tough, awkward, and in some ways totally unlovable, which is probably why I love her as a character. In some ways she reminds me of Sara Paretsky's V.I. Warshawski, but really she's her own self.

I first encountered her in the San Jose Public Library, where I found a book called One Coffee With which is one of the later books in the series. Reading both backwards and forwards, I managed to find most of the books in which Sigrid appeared, and loved them all. I never bought them, but I wish I had, because they're mostly out of print now.

Tonight I was dragged back into Sigrid's world quite unexpectedly. I already had five new books in my arms, and I was doing the ritual, “I'm ready to go now” search for Fuzzy. I turned a corner, and there it was, smiling at me in all it's green-covered glory. Corpus Christmas, by Margaret Maron. A Sigrid Harald novel.

Christmas in April.
Can't wait to read.

Survey Slut Strikes Again

invited people to take the following survey. This is copied from my reply to her entry.

Are you feeling lucky, punk?
What's the stupidest-sounding Native American place-name (that actually exists)?
Navesink…it's in New Jersey…
If you were taking the welcome rain on vacation with you, where would you take her to?
Baja Sur, Mexico, cuz everyone should get to dip their toes in the Gulf of California and watch the dolphins frolic, while sipping margaritas.
When was the last time you fell down in public?
1997. It was dark, there was ice. I am not a klutz.
Give an example of rape in art.
The way Maplethorpe's work was turned into something dirty.
If you were a herb or spice, which one would you be? (No picking the flower you were in survey #4.)
Give ANY solution to the Palestine-Israeli conflict. (NO “I DON'T KNOW” ANSWERS! I will KILL you! kynn, you don't have to answer this one.)
I'm not sure there is a solution. But I quite liked the space station idea mentioned above.
What color is your ethernet cable?
Sunshine yellow
30 menopausal women == T-shirts. And bumper stickers. “I forgot my estrogen. And I'm armed.”
Do you step on worms after a rainstorm?
No. But I once read an essay that claimed the purpose of shoes was to keep the worms from tickling the bottom of your feet.
Create an original Magic Marker color/flavor combo.
Mocha-Chai Mauve
Can I go home soon?
I couldn't say. But I'm leaving at 3:30, whether they like it or not.
Your most annoying relative is:
3000 miles away.
Remember those people that fell through the floor?
But they landed on a trampoline, and shot through the ceiling, after…
If someone made an action figure of you, what accessory would be sold separately?
The red backpack of doom – which contains a day-planner/bludgeon, among other things.
Name a teacher that humiliated you.
Sixth-grade teacher at Salida school. Strangely, I've blocked his name.
Three candles dispel the darkness: _____, _____, and ______.
Tea, oranges, good books.


I'm sitting in my office drinking my morning macchiato. E. brought bagels in for everyone, and I love bagels, so that was a nice surprise. And a welcome change from his usual Krispy Kremes, which I no longer eat.

I haven't felt much like writing lately. No. That's not true. I have felt like writing, but there's been a severe lack of communication between my brain and my hands. Too much effort, some days, to pick up a pen, or tap on keys.

I've slipped back into recluse mode these days. It's bad, I know, cutting myself off from people, especially people I've only recently met IRL, and really would like to get to know better, but I'm in a mood where I'm snippish and bitchy all the time, and I just don't think people who don't live with me should have to deal with that. For that matter, I don't think should have to deal with that, either, and I really try to just go hide with a book when I can't bite my tongue, and he's been so patient. . .

I started a short story, and let read the beginning, but a) I suck at fiction and b) the characters are telling me that there will be a sex scene, and I'm not sure I can write the scene without it being cheesy and stupid. There's a series of essays running through my head, most of which will end up in OD, not LJ, but the story is first and foremost in my brain, and even the other ideas battering at me won't be released until I figure out how to finish it.

I've spent the last two nights reformatting computers. My laptop decided that it would no longer let me open O2k stuff – anything – or play dvd's, so I spent Sunday doing that (after the taxes were done, and between naps), and then last night I reformatted the Sony, and feeling extremely stupid, because after searching for half an hour for the Certificate of Authenticity for WinMe (yes, I know, sucky OS, but it lets the pen-tablet/monitor work)I realized that it was, in fact, taped to the side of the computer, and on top of that, I didn't even need the damned number. I was angry at myself because I thought I'd lost it, and after three years as a Gateway tech, I know better than to start a format w/o having all my media handy.

My weekend was completely self-indulgent. I spent Saturday morning at the salon, getting a spa pedicure, a manicure (love the feeling of hot parrafin between my fingers), my eyebrows waxed, among other things…Said – Azam's husband – acts as host to the women in the salon, and kept bringing me hot tea with lime, and offering cake, which I kept declining. After a long nap, I stirred and we went to the mall, where I bought all new makeup, and more clothes (can there ever be enough clothing in one's closet?) and one of those herbal paks that you nuke and then drape over your shoulders. I should really bring it to work, but the microwave here is disgusting.

I'm almost done with the novel Stones from the River, the last of my recommendations from Princess Ella at OD.

wrote about Rostropovich, and ever since, my cello has been glaring at me. “You haven't played me in weeks,” it murmurs in it's low, burred voice. “It's not so hot that you need to worry about over tightening my strings. I'm lonely. Play me.” Part of the problem with me playing is that when I've been typing all day at work, my arm aches too much to hold a bow when I come home. And while I want a spiffy new lightweight graphite bow, I can't really justify the price of one. And admittedly, I hate to practice with my husband home. I need the freedom to make mistakes, or to work on one section of an etude for an hour, if need be. And I can't do that with him in the house.

Still, since I've told that I'm not playing 7th Sea any more, I'll have Friday nights to devote to music and writing. And I'm looking forward to those blocks of me-time.

Oh, Happy Day!

I've neglected doing the taxes until the last possible second, because while I suspected that our income had changed enough that we wouldn't owe a small fortune, I wasn't certain.

But now they're done. And not only do we not owe the Feds anything, but the refund is more than the balance of what we're still paying off from LAST YEAR.

We don't owe the state anything either.

Beer all round, for those who want it.