Favourite things

Today I am mixing Favourite Things Friday with something I am Thankful for: Technology.

When one lives so far away from what was familiar and home, things like e-mail and Skype become invaluable. I skype with two of my best friends weekly, email with others, and this Thanksgiving, Skype let me play show and tell with my youngest niece and watch my family play Monopoly.

And, I don’t have a photo of her doing this, as she is doing it right now, but one of my other Favourite Things is my housemate, Ros. She has been so supportive and helpful during this insane month of NaNoWriMo, and right now she is baking the pie I was going to make so that I can keep writing my novel. Thank you, Ros!

Word count: 40441

Blessings & joy

Congratulations to Thomas and Felicity Gasbarro!

Today my dear, dear Felicity married her love. She is a true friend, loyal and thoughtful and fun and loving. When I told one of the groom’s friends that I live in Scotland and had come for her wedding, he said, ‘Wow. Felicity sure does have a way with really connecting with people.’ And she does. She is beautiful of heart, of spirit, and today she was a beautiful bride. I am so thankful that I came to her wedding, that I could share with her joy. Even if it did mean I was giving her up for good and there wouldn’t be any chance of her returning to Scotland now. The Town hasn’t been the same for me since she left, and I miss her, oh, so very much. But I am blessed to call her my friend and to see her so full of joy, love, and happiness.

Congratulations Felicity and Thomas. Thank you for letting me share this day with you!

May 2011

Books read in May:

  1. Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie. Poirot at his best? I enjoyed it, though was a little put off by the ending.
  2. Wildwood Dancing by Juliet Marillier. A wonderful retelling of the Twelve Dancing Princesses and the Frog Prince set in medieval Romania.
  3. The Outlines of Mythology by Lewis Spence. A short little book about the study of mythology.
  4. The Vanishing People: Fairy Lore and Legends by Katharine M. Briggs. Briggs, perhaps the best folklorist I know of, talks about fairies in Britain. Informative as always.
  5. Sula by Toni Morrison. Two girls grow up in a black community in Ohio in the early 20th century. One gets out, but that doesn’t mean she had the better life.
  6. Gifts by Ursula K. Le Guin. The people of the Uplands have strange gifts, each unique to their clan. A boy blinds himself because he cannot control his gift; a girl refuses to use hers.

Best new read of the month: Wildwood Dancing.
Best non-fiction of the month: The Vanishing People.
Best (only) non-genre of the month: Sula.

Last month I also read six books and said it was a disappointing list. I don’t know why. Six books seems a standard, or even impressive?, number for books read in a month. Maybe I was feeling particularly ambitious in April and was disappointed. Anyway, all of the books read this month were enjoyable. Two months in a row now I’ve read non-fiction, and I already know there will be some included for June. Hopefully reading non-fiction will become a habit because I have a few books sitting around that need reading…

Today is not only a special day for reviewing the books I’ve read the previous month: it’s also JuNoWriMo Eve! I’ve read countless folk and fairy tales over the past few days, and have puzzled and thought, and tonight have solved some of the remaining problems that were bothering me. Now I just need to finish writing up the outline, plan the opening scene and start writing as soon as it’s 1st June!

Also, today is my birthday. It has been a very, very, very pleasant and good day. From receiving wonderful and thoughtful gifts, to running around the house following clues for my gift from Ros (clues that were hidden under my bed, in my favourite book, behind a mirror, in a cupboard…), to having a lovely lunch with one friend and tea with another, to cooking a delicious huge dinner of steak, potatoes, and veggies, to skyping with another friend… it has been a very good day. Thanks to all who have made me happy!

My birthday shrine.

And what did Ros give me? A citrus juicer and an egg shaker (though not a tambourine). 😉


God alone knows how many hours were spent just like that, just me and Pokey curled up on the couch. I have tried and failed to explain to others the rapport, the understanding Pokey and I had with each other. To him, I was another cat; to me, he was another person. And nearly three years after his death, I still miss him dearly.


I have a new favourite song. Go listen to ‘Benediction’ by Maeve.

May the Lord bless you and keep you.
May he shine a light upon your face
May you feel the heat of his glory in your bones
May you know his kindness and his grace

May His love define your ways of living
May you see his face among your friends
May you live your story empowered by his love
May you be comfortable walking in your skin

May you find your worth from your maker
And live in freedom all of your days
May you grow in the sense of who you really are
May his light show you the way

May you know that you have the power
To add beauty and grace into this world
May you discover all your gifts and give them generously
May you listen for God’s every word

My Ebenezer

Here I raise my Ebenezer
Hither by thy help I’ve come;
And I hope by thy good pleasure
Safely to arrive at home.
Jesus sought me when a stranger,
Wandering far from the fold of God.
He to rescue me from danger
Interposed his precious blood.

-from the hymn, ‘Come thou fount of every blessing’.

It’s been happening at odd moments here and there across the past couple of weeks: I’ll be listening to the radio while doing dishes, or walking into town, to a friend’s house, down a perfectly mundane street and think, ‘Yes, I love this place’. This afternoon, restlessness drove me out of the office and down to the sea. Despite it being chill, damp, windy, I walked the length of East Sands and back. For the most part it was only me and the waves, the gulls, and the flock of swans gliding across the bay. I don’t go down to the sea nearly often enough, but the deep pull of the tide has already cast its spell on my heart, the crash of the surf resounds always even in the silences of night. I thank the Lord my God that of all the shores I could wash up on I was cast here, to this small town on the edge of the North Sea.

‘There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because he first loved us.’ (1 John 4.18-19)

When worlds collide

Usually I go visit Sarah and David, but this time they came to visit me. This past week I have had the immense pleasure of trekking around Scotland with Sarah and David. We climbed Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh, explored the castle and cathedral in St Andrews, hiked along part of the coastal path, and wandered around Stirling before heading back to Edinburgh again. It’s been a delight to show such dear friends my favourite haunts and to have them see what has become my life now.

Perhaps the highlight of the week was our lunch on Wednesday, which we shared with my other dear friends, the Sharpe family, for my birthday picnic.


(Somehow Casey managed to avoid getting photographed, hmm…)

I wish there were an equivalent in English to a sentiment I love from Spanish, to say that someone is hermano de mi corazón or mía hermana de mi alma. For to have friends so dear is truly to have brothers and sisters of the heart and soul.

Predawn light

predawn castleWhoever said ‘it is darkest before dawn’ hasn’t waited for the sunrise in the northern latitudes. It is incredibly bright for at least an hour before the actual sunrise. After finally falling asleep sometime after 1 AM, I was woken up at 3:22 AM. While fumbling around to find a clock I happened to look out the window and saw the slim crescent moon hovering over the horizon, rising just before the sun. Since I was up, I decided to see if I could take a picture of it. It was surreal being outside at 3:30 AM to watch the moon and sunrise. And of course, the entire time I was thinking, ‘Why didn’t I do this when the sun rose at 9 AM?’ The clouds quickly hid the moon, and while I waited for them to part, I walked up and down the Scores taking more pictures.

predawn sea .IMG_8342

I went back to my room at 4:30, so I didn’t see the actual sunrise, but I was tired and cold. I sort-of slept, and I’ve been exhausted all day, but I guess the cool pictures I got made the disturbed sleep worth it. I’ll post the rest of my pictures on Facebook eventually.

Yesterday I got two very large packages in the mail, from Kelly and Sarah. I was gong to wait to open them until my actual birthday, but I heard suspicious rattling in one of the boxes, and, afraid for a repeat of the Japanese Tea Set Misfortune, decided to open them early while I skyped with both gift-givers to pre-empt possible disappointment, and, well, to celebrate early. And, I just have to say, I have the two bestest friends ever. 😀


IMG_8351A tea mug, loose leaf Jasmine tea, and The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman from Sarah (as well as a cookie recipe book which foretells all sorts of baked delights in the near future). Now, a word about The Graveyard Book. I mentioned some time ago that Neil Gaiman was the keynote speaker at the Sigma Tau Delta convention, which Sarah went to. I knew she was going to get the book for me and have it signed, but, neither of us were prepared for the signature. If I didn’t already love Neil Gaiman, I would now, if only for the amazing, awesome signature and drawing he did in my book after three hours of signing books. Yeah I’m pretty sure this is one of the best signatures I’ve gotten in a book. Thank you Sarah!

IMG_8353The other three books, including the Kelly-Approved Edition™ of The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco, which may very well be the Smartest book I ever read, are from Kelly; along with a copper medallion of a unicorn, map bookplates, an SCA publication, and approximately one and one-half New Yorker’s that I can reassemble if I so choose. The short-story anthology comes with good timing as I am about to finish The Compass Rose by Ursula K. Le Guin, and Midnight Never Come will supplement my dwindling unread-fantasy collection, and, well, The Name of the Rose speaks for itself. Or it should. Yay books! Thank you Kelly!

I am quickly losing coherency, so I think I’m going to veg and watch movies until I’m able to actually fall asleep. Hopefully I’ll sleep uninterrupted tonight. I shall leave you with another one of my favorite pictures from this morning:

I found a bug.

I found a bug.

Speed Chess

Since Kelly seems unlikely to post any pictures or about her wedding, and since I said I would, and since she is back, and therefore able to exert her wrath upon me for doing so, I am. 😉

I know it’s blurry, but it’s one of my favorites, because everyone was laughing. One of the things that characterized the wedding in my mind was just how much laughter there was. It was wonderful.

There were also tense moments as well, such as just before it was time for Kelly to go in. We had an unheard-of hour of downtime before the ceremony during which we had to wait. One of the topics of conversation was Candide and cannibalism. Of course, Kelly was impatient. To distract her from pacing, she and I played a few games of speed chess. (She won the first game, and we didn’t get to finish the second.)

What’s really amusing to me is that when I was going through Ian the Photographer’s photos, I came across a picture of Philip and Eric playing checkers on the same board.

Chess, however, is far superior.

Anyways, the ceremony itself was lovely, as was the actual wedding. I’m glad my services as back-up bride were not needed, and as a witness were put to good use. I managed to work in The Importance of Being Earnest and The Sparrow into my toast, references which were lost on most of the audience, but Kelly got them, and that’s what mattered. (An earlier draft also included Lord of the Rings and Dune, but that ran a little long. Alas.) Afterward, we dodged Ian best we could, until Kelly and Philip could make their grand getaway.

Kali and I were left behind watching them drive off. This is another favorite picture. It, ahem, does remind me a little bit of our running joke about Scandalous Headnotes… but also of cousins, and how much I love Kali, when sometimes it seems a miracle we’re friends at all. ❤

We went to the Brubakers’ after-party at Kelly’s grandmother’s house, and then I drove away, leaving Oklahoma behind me.

Kali likes to make me squirm… Anyroad, there ’tis. A rather short and sweet summary. (Mainly an excuse to post some pictures.)

One heart

Congratulations to Mr. and Mrs. Alex and Julie De Hoyos!

After eight years, finally! 😀 All things in good time. It was a very elegant and simple wedding held in Unity Hall of our church, very spiritual too. I can’t express how happy I am for them. I wanted to cheer when they finally said, “I thee wed.” Huzzah! Hooray!

As usual, I find faith to be a curious thing with impeccable timing. One of the passages read was Colossians 3:12-17.

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

For the hundredth time I’ve said today: amen and amen.