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Journal: Once upon a time 4

Journal by SolemnDragon

I'm fed up with scandals, with people who have no right to talk giving advice on other people's marriages, with all of the nonsense and silliness and the thinking our lives are private or not private or really just wishing other people's were.

So here's a story.

It really wasn't the little dragon's idea. There were five boxes, and only one of them had turned out to be lump sugar, and the rest had turned out to be tea, so she'd gone looking for a marker to label the tea so she wouldn't get confused. This meant a lengthy trip from the pantry to the drawing room (where Mother's writing desk was) and along the way, she'd been distracted by the cook.

The cook was in the middle of making a something with butter and pears and golden syrup, and hadn't noticed when the little dragon set her feet down in the treacle. The dragon hadn't noticed, either, so she was very surprised to find her feet sticking to the mantle, where she'd stopped en route to rest on her way to the writing desk.

She was further dismayed when her attempts to rub out the sticky footprints landed her in the fireplace, where soot and treacle made their usual terrible combination. At that point, the dragon couldn't figure out what to do, so she just meeped loudly for a little while, hoping someone would come along who could help her clean her feet and get to the writing desk before she could forget what she wanted to label. Unfortunately, mother and Emily were out in the garden, and cook was singing merrily in the kitchen, and the long wait for rescue led to a nap among the warm coals of the fireplace, grubby feet and all.

Had the family known what would take place, they certainly wouldn't have hired a chimney sweep for that day. But they DIDN'T know, and the dragon (who was by this time fast asleep, and dreaming of jam-tarts and emeralds) had no idea, either. Her first idea of it came as she was rudely scooped up among the ashes and dumped unceremoniously into a bucket.

"EEEEP!" she leaped out of the bucket, leaving sticky black footprints up the arm of the workman's shirt.

"Ahhhh!" He stumbled backwards, thinking he'd finally met himself a soot goblin. (In all fairness, being covered in ashes, the dragon looked nothing like a dragon and a very great deal like a soot goblin.) He swatted at the dragon, who took to the air, frightening the man very nearly out of his wits.

"EEK!" he shouted, swatting at the dragon. "Flying goblin!" The dragon (who couldn't see very well because of the ashes) attached herself to the first thing she could land on to try to sort herself out. This was the man's shirt, and he began shouting and reeling about the room, trying to detach her. This only made her hold on for dear life.

  At this point cook, who at least TRIED to keep a watchful ear out for the dragon, heard the commotion and came racing in, covered in flour. She saw the chimney sweep attacking their dragon, and let fly with the bowl she'd accidentally carried with her in her haste.

The chimney sweep (whose name was actually Mr. Bellers, and he was a very nice man when he wasn't terrified, as most of us usually are) gave another yell as the bowl hit him in the shoulder. Batter flew everywhere, including onto the dragon, right into her eyes. It also flew into the chimney sweep's eyes, which is surely the ONLY reason why he crashed into the drapes (it couldn't possibly have been that he was aiming a punch at the cook, even though it may have seemed so at the time.) The dragon scrambled blindly to catch hold of something that wouldn't hit her in reprisal. Anything. Cook- debating between continuing to pursue the attacker and stopping to rescue the dragon, who had made it as far as the mantle again- decided to make the best of both worlds, and seized the dragon with one hand while hip-checking the chimneysweep heavily. He crashed through the glass door into the garden, and landed right in front of where Mother was weeding.

The cook crashed right after him, by now having gotten hold of the tongs, and (still waving the bewildered and unhappy dragon in her other hand) was alternating between fierce blows at the sweep and loud cries of sympathy for her "poor, defenseless duckie..."

The sweep, on the other hand, had both arms raised, trying to defend himself from a flour-covered shouting woman waving a blackened, flaming, wing-flapping bundle of indignance in one hand and the fire tongs in the other, and really believed that he had the worst end of the affair.

Mother took one look at the mess and decided she'd better keep her gardening gloves on while she sorted it out.

This was how the mislabeled tea ended up causing an entire room to be cleaned, a dragon to be sent to bed early, and the cook to be given a half-day's leave to collect her wits. It's also why the chamomile patch went untended, because mother had her hands full just getting things cleared up again. Every party involved felt injured and insulted, and she had to call for order many times just to get the story straight.

In the end, the sweep comany paid for the glass repair. Cook was commended for her courage, and out of the goodness of her heart even sent a pear tart over to the sweep company, who listened in disbelief as Mr. Bellers then poured out his tale of woe, feeling more than a little abashed by his violent response to the frightened dragon (who really wasn't any bigger than a sparrow, but if you've ever seen a sparrow get loose in a room, you'd know just how much trouble that size can be!) The dragon even wrote him a personal letter of apology (which adventure led to the Inkstand Affair and the Great Blotting Paper Debacle, but that's another story) which was delivered to the sweep's house by the chimney care company. But it was no good; he'd given up his job to be an elephant trainer with the circus, to the great delight of his two children. He did feel badly for frightening the dragon so much, though, and sent her and Emily tickets to the circus, which they very much enjoyed. And although none of the involved parties ever went too near the fireplace at home again without a very watchful eye on the rest of the room, it may almost be said that they lived happily ever after, after each had been well scolded and had been given a chance to take a bath and calm down.

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Journal: The motorist's prayer 4

Journal by SolemnDragon

The motorist's prayer

Forgive me, o lord, for my infidelities: it's hard enough to stay on the same road, let alone the same lane.

Forgive me, please, for yelling at the idiot in front of me, who's about to do the same damned-fool thing that i always do, and is still cheerful enough to wave to me about it when i'm so far gone that i can only cuss.

Forgive me for crossing four lanes without so much as a signal. Wide is the path of temptation.

Direct me, lord, because i'm a lost soul, and still haven't stopped for directions.

May those who love us, love us well. Those who do not love us, please turn their hearts, and if you cannot turn their hearts, at least MAKE THEM USE THE FREAKING BLINKER, BECAUSE THAT'S WHAT IT'S THERE FOR!!!!

Teach me to accept thy red lights and speed limits, and grant me good companions that i may use thy car pool lane without rage or impatience.

Forgive my wrath, or at least get this bastard out of the passing lane before i have an aneurysm or something.

Watch over my brakes, and deliver me from potholes and deer, the sworn enemies of the traveller. Though i drive on the edges of the borders of insanity, i will not pick up the hitchhikers of discord or despair, for thou art my navigator and my co-pilot, responsible for the map and the milkshakes. I will not disrupt thy re-folding of the map, but shall trust in your knowledge and have faith in your ways. I will even try to learn to let you touch the radio, eventually.

Forgive my haste; i wasn't aware that it was posted 45.

For the grace of green lights, and the times that we have driven with contentment and a full tank, we thank thee. May thy presence on all roads be as a speed trap for our enemies, and a comforting seat belt in times of hazard.

Thank you, o lord. Amen.

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Journal: try this for a bad dream 8

Journal by SolemnDragon

i'm watching from a sort of third person perspective as a story unfolds.

A man. Regular guy. Setting is a random town, he was just passing through on his way to somewhere. He meets a girl, they have dinner. Get along. She's pregnant. He's falling for her anyway. They go to have a drink at the hotel, of course nonalcoholic for you, he say.

Hm, she says.

It's a small town bed and breakfasty place. Three other guests. They talk, he ends up falling unconscious.

Wakes to screams. Which stop, abruptly. He leaves the room to find that she's killed- and eaten- most of the other people in the place, three guests and two staff. She's hungry. She won't eat him, don't worry, she says. Worst part? She's an alien of some sort, and eats them by some form of acid/enzymatic process which leaves them dry, white, half-digested shells, covered in a sort of white coating like the bloom on chocolate or the alkali on homemade soap.

It's horrifying to him, he's sure he's gone mad.

She's going to have her baby. He wants to help at the same time he wants to be nowhere near the place. He figured having the baby will incapacitate her, maybe he can go and get help to get rid of these creatures that prey on his species. (My species.) The baby will kill her, of course, it always does for her species.

She catches him, ties him, says this is the way of her people, i thought you wanted to be around for the birth?

Besides, she says, you know he'll be born hungry.

***

And that's why eating meat is a problem for me, this imagination of mine.

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Journal: Scenes from home 5

Journal by SolemnDragon

dragon: what klind of origami would you like?

blinder: a panda

dragon: (busy folding) um... i think it might be a kind of monkey-panda.

blinder: all right.

dragon: (folding some more, checking mistakes, and looking at diagram) Maybe not a monkey. Maybe more of a... um...

blinder: Whatcha making, dragons?

dragon: i give up.

***

dragons: look, i made this! (holds up little origami box shaped like a house)

blinder: it's a... thing!

***

kitten likes the age-old game of parachute sheet, which consists of us trying to make the bed while she runs around like crazy. We always joke about her hunting "bed mice." Well, one of my origami projects got caught up under the sheet as she was running around and we were trying to make the bed.

kitten: MOMMY! Bed mouse! SAVE ME!

*kitten promptly panics*

blinder: If she ever caught a real mouse she'd die of a heart attack

dragon: so would the mouse.

blinder: "Mouse, you were NEVER SO SAFE. If you had to be caught by a cat... "

dragon: we're using the term "cat" pretty loosely, here.

blinder: she'd probably snuggle it to death.

***

kitten: get-out-of-bed-and-get-me-a-dish-of-milk!

dragon: kitten, it's the weekend. Here., Have a kiss and now let me sleep.

kitten: MEOW ("get-out-of-bed-and-get-me-a-dish-of-MILK!")

dragon: If i do, you're getting your MEDICINE, too!

kitten: ...never mind...

(kitten will gladly wait for milk if it means her meds wait, too.)

***

kitten: CHOMP! (bites my hand.)

dragon: OW!

kitten: i'm sorry i was asleep and i thought it was a steak

dragon: hmph

kitten: CHOMP! (bites my hand again)

dragon: HEY! OW!

kitten: i'm sorry i was awake and thought it was your hand

***

Whenever i cook rice, kitten gets excited because i might be making sushi, and it might involve tamago. I never met a cat who liked eggs so much. I think it's weird. It makes it very surreal to cook a stirfry with rice when the cat's there yelling at you to add eggs.

***

User Journal

Journal: Dragons and dentistry (not a true story) 7

Journal by SolemnDragon

You may not realise this, darling, but dragons have a long history of dental care. All dragons do. It comes from chewing on all that armor- think of it as a worse habit even than chewing on popcorn seeds (which, by the way, your dentist has asked me to request you please refrain from, as he really doesn't need to buy another car just yet.)

All dentists are required to at least minor in some form of mythological dentistry. I met one once who treated unicorns, and said that really, unicorns are all right, it's the headache docs who really make the money there. You slam into a tree with that thing, and you know it for a week! Another specialised in hydra teeth. It's not the teeth themselves, but the sheer number of heads that got to be a problem- thirteen heads and one pair of hands makes for VERY time-consuming dental hygeine routines! But i digress. Those dentists who specialise in dragon dentistry are a special breed. Kind... brave... and preferably, fireproof...

One day, the dragon had to go to the dentist. The blinder robot cheerfully bundled her up in his pocket and headed for the dentist's. She could have flown, of course, but it was a nice day for a walk, and he'd asked nicely if he could carry her. Along the way, he stopped to let her talk to her friends the ducksThey were hanging out by the lake with their colouring books, since it was already afternoon.

They were glad to see her, but she was still unhappy. The dragon had a toothache, you see, and the phrase, "grumpier than a dragon with a toothache," was not invented idly.

They got to the dentist's office. The dentist came out, wearing his heatproof goggles and flameproof suit. "Hm." He considered the blinder robot carefully. "Let me get the robot doctor, he'll know how this should go."

"BEEP!" cried the X-Bl1nd3r robot, indignantly. He'd been to see the robot dentist only recently, and wasn't about to get another checkup without warning!

"Meep!" cried the dragon, in a muffled tone, from his jacket pocket.

"Meep?" the dentist knew that there must be a dragon around someplace. He reached over by the counter and got a pillow, and the robot took the dragon out of his pocket and put her on it. The dentist held out his hand and introduced himself.

The dragon, who was feeling PARTICULARLY temperamental (and her tooth hurt terribly) didn't even have the energy to kick the offered hand. She sat down in a disconsolate heap, and stuck the end of her tail in her mouth sadly.

"Oh, a toothache, eh?" The dentist was very wise in the ways of dragons. This wasn't so much due to his years on the job, as to the fact that years on the job tended to weed out those who weren't wise pretty quickly (despite the best efforts of the fire department.)

He held out a sparkly rock. The dragon, distracted, let him open her mouth and take a look with nothing more than a warning movement of her left foot.

"Yep, we can fix that up," he told her reassuringly. The blinder-robot smiled and trundled out to the waiting room, where he sat down with a copy of Robotic News and read an article about quantum roboting.

The dragon came trundling out herself not two hours later. "And NO FIREBREATHING for at least two hours!" called the dentist after her. She nodded and waved at the blinder robot. He picked her up and gave her a hug.

"How did it go?" he asked. She shook her head sadly.

"Mrphmmmmglrg..."

"They had to use a lot of nixie drops, huh?" Blinder knew that nixies- the watery cousins of pixies- brew special potions just to numb the various mystical nerves for dentistry. It was their cheif source of income, really. Everyone remembers that terrible case of the ogre who was given basilisk meds by accident? He looked in the mirror and spent two days stoned out of his mind- they're VERY careful about these things ever since. So the dragon was sure to have gotten the official, certified, tested-and-approved, accept-no-substitutes, not-available-without-your-dentist's-supervision nixie drops labelled "DRG-PRPL" which of course, are for purple dragons and only purple dragons.

It wouldn't be long till they wore off. She was busy making an appointment for her follow-up visit, as best she could with a numb mouth.

"Beep!" He picked her up and put her in his pocket, where she promptly fell asleep. He waved goodbye to the dentist (who was rubbing his shin- he supposed she'd managed to get a couple of good kicks in after all) and they headed home, where they sat on the floor and read comic books until the nixie drops had worn off and it was time for dinner.

User Journal

Journal: scenes from home 3

Journal by SolemnDragon

blinder: do you want some grape juice?

dragon: no

blinder: i was kidding. I meant, "you hate grape juice. You're tired of it. You're so sick of grape juice that you could just KICK THE NEIGHBOURS!"

dragon: ???
(bursts out laughing)

***

"jaws" is now called, "show me the way to go home," because the song got stuck in my head and now whenever "jaws" is on television, blinder starts singing the song.

***

Sometimes with "show me the way to run away, i tickled the dragon and i'm gonna be slain, show me the way to run away" as the lyrics.

***

dragons do a mean shark impression. Not a very good one, but certainly a mean one. Kicking people and everything.

***

dragon: i want to go to the movies

blinder: is anything playing?

dragon: no.

blinder: really?

dragon: Nothing is playing, we'll stare at empty screens.

blinder: i meant, anything good.

dragon: No. Nothing good is playing. I don't care. We haven't been to the movies in awhile.

blinder: all right, we'll go to the movies.

dragon: is anything playing?

***

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Journal: Almost time [flowers] 4

Journal by SolemnDragon

http://www.masshort.org/showpage2.asp?page=2_0

The theme this year is "breaking the rules," and should be interesting.

Lessons learned from flower shows in previous years?

1. Get good directions.

2. Bring the chair or borrow one there; it's no good dragons spending all the energy getting around and none on enjoying the show.

3. It won't take that long to see it all. A couple of hours, and you'll be all flowered out.

4. Dress nicely. It makes it more fun.

5. BRING FOOD. Granola bars, sandwiches, whatever, you'll be mighty hungry by the time you leave if you don't bring food. The mediocre pizza available isn't fit for eating.

I hope to attend this year, and maybe bring a group again, that was fun.

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Journal: fathers and mothers, hate and its children 17

Journal by SolemnDragon

what a weird week.

i spoke to my father's mother.

She's so glad to have her babies back. i don't mind her, though i hate drama in all its forms and am coming to see where a lot of stuff came from in the family.

I also spoke to my father's significant other. Oh, my gods, i adore her. She's smart, collected, and seems well grounded. Ever meet someone and say, oh, the world is a sane rational place in spots, after all? Yeah. She's like that. Kind of a murphy brown sort without the sarcasm or alpha traits.

Of course my mum feels lost in all this, it's hard for her to have us speaking to that side of the family. But we have to. We were the kids, it's our lives here and our father who died.

My brother and i have totally forgiven each other for our parts in each other's pasts. We had to. Sometimes it seems like we're the only ones interested in breaking the cycle.

I couldn't sleep last night. I'm on overload after all these conversations. I needed a good cry and some quiet time. I had a long IM conversation with my brother about all this. He couldn't sleep, either. Funny how we react the same to some things.

We were brought up angry. We grew up obediently angry, and mine turned inward as eating disorders and such, and his turned outward as rage. We've both had to fight those fires as we got older, and aren't done yet.

We spent some time talking, because it would be easy to turn on our mother, for keeping secrets, for teaching us to hate. Easy, but ineffective. We don't WANT to hate any more. If there's one thing we agree on, it's that we don't want to repeat their mistakes. Our parents were both hardened in a lot of ways by their hard lives, and we don't want to live like that if we can help it. So we talked about this being the reason to forgive- not because it is deserved or undeserved, but because we don't want to be punishing people. It doesn't matter whether turnabout is fair play. This isn't about what is fair. This is about something else, maybe about what is true to us, i don't know. But it has nothing to do with fairness. I give up on fairness; i don't know enough about circumstances to know fair. I only know about keeping people from doing more harm, and keeping ourselves from turning out like the people whose mistakes harmed us in the first place.

For me, it's a little easier. I'm a little older, and mum thinks i'm a girl so she relates to me as one. Also, i'm profoundly softhearted and want to stay that way. So i really understand my mother's mistakes. She was so very young when she had us, and had it so tough dealing with our dad's addictions. She relaly believed that he would hurt us and wanted to keep us form that, and i understand this. We're adults now and don't need that protection. We might not have needed so much then. I don't want to drag my mother over the coals of regret. There's been enough sadness and anger and misery on all sides of this. Surely, as adults, we can choose to have less of it now?

That's what i'm choosing. I'm too tired for all the drama, i really am.

We were not given much chance to love out dad- the bitterness of the split left us with that. I think it would be a mistake for us to now take away from the validity of our feelings for our mum because she made mistakes. After all, the whole point is that it was wrong for us to lose that, and i don't want to be back in therapy in ANOTHER twenty years, trying to get my feelings straight about my mum's side.

So we talk about anger, and my brother's anger, and our struggle to forgive all sides while still keeping some perspective on where things went so seriously wrong.

We're trying to choose who we want to be. I want to be someone who isn't angry any more.

My self image has changed a lot in several days. My father painted. He was a musician, too- go figure. He was also a genius of the first water- he turned down a full scholarship at MIT in his adult life. I never knew that. I never knew any of it. I always thought of myself as a sort of clone of my mum, because i've never had anything else to compare to. My talents that i didn't get from her were aberrations, inexplicable and foreign.

Now they aren't. His handwriting, Kate tells me, is something i will have to see to believe. He had an absolute knack for assessing situations and that's why he did so well in geology and hydrology, where he spent his time seeing what was under the surface.

I dream of water; i always have. These things suddenly have context, i suddenly know why i am earth and water. I suddenly know where i got the crazy painting gene, and the intense music gene. And suddenly my brains are not the gift of only my mother, and i'm related to someone else who went to school.

My grandmother- "Gramma," she insists on being called- is a colourfully verbose, dramatic woman with an overbearing nature but a good heart, i think. I think we're in for some being babied for awhile while she grasps that we grew up. (Or doesn't grasp it.) I can live with that; i've certainly put up with worse from family before. When i need distance, i'll take it.

I'm wondering whether this will force a reconciliation with our sister. I don't know, though. I don't have it in me to hate her, either. I'm just done with that. I still have my angers, and they are powerful, powerful feelings- but i just don't feel the need to take them out on anyone. I'm tired of that kind of thing, i just want people i can love even if they make me sad. I'm too tired, too whole, too old. I just want to be soft of spirit and independent of all of them; to be my own person and love as i see fit.

i'm not good at it yet. I finally got to sleep around 245 and got up at 6, so i'm exhausted... but a lot more peaceful. Even the bad dreams couldn't break my sense of calm over this. We'll see.

My bro comes up this weekend, we'll go meet Kate. She wants to meet blinder, too, and considers him to be part of her family.

Well, so do i, so that works out nicely. They better get used to him now, because otherwise they'll just have to later.

Who do you want to be? Do you know? Who do you have to forgive to get there, and how are you doing it?

User Journal

Journal: Normal feelings 7

Journal by SolemnDragon

One of the weirdest results of growing up with families that don't operate by the normal rules- blinder and i share this, and know that we have it in common with a number of other slashdotters- is an uneasiness with emotions. Feeling that they're out of place, merely for not having had confirmation of much normal over the early years.

I've been heartened by a lot of conversations with people lately. It's normal to feel grief. It's normal to feel grief even if your father wasn't a part of your adult life- in fact, that adds to it, because i'm also sad that he wasn't and now can't be.

It's normal to be thunderstruck by the death of someone you loved very much as a child, even though you may have frozen over that part as much as possible as an adult.

It's normal to be sad when someone dies. Whether you were close or not, and closeness or distance as an adult in no way negates the closeness as a kid. In some ways, it only renders it sharper in relief.

I'll say it: i miss my dad.

I'm still here. I'm reading you all, i'm still having happinesses and sadnesses. This is a learning experience for me, as i fumble through what are ultimately very normal, healthy emotions (and so are actually rather refreshing, because at least there's something good at the heart of them. Not an anger, a bitterness, or an outrage, but just a good old-fashioned kid-loves-dad sentiment that i didn't know was still lurking back there. Regardless of whether he deserved it then or since, regardless of who he was and what he did or didn't do, the fact remains that he was my father, and at the time, i loved him very much, and still do because of it.)

I used to wear my hair in braids, from the time i was very little up till about junior high. I braided it myself. Remember, i've always had long hair until now. I love my short hair but even when i dream, i have long hair. So i used to have these braids, and i would loop them up and fasten them with those clever toggle-bands that are perfect for small hands to manage. My father thought it was strange and funny. His other daughter had no such inclinations, she was platinum blonde and had none of the compulsions i did. I would brush my hair carefully, put it in braids, and fasten them up. I did that every day for many years, i had to- it kept it from getting tangled. (There is a story to how it began, but that has no place here. We'll leave it that i had good reason to begin caring for my own hair early and was very fastidious about it.) He found it fascinating, like a little old woman, and would tell me i looked like a little heidi or something, with my funny looped up braids. Gods know how i got the idea to do it, it seemed like a good idea one day, i suppose.

I think of it now because my first thought on realising he wouldn't meet me was: He'll never see my haircut.

He'd be so surprised.

Everyone who knew me as a child is surprised, people have trouble reconciling the child with the comb and the clips, behaving like an eighty-year old, putting up her hair with her eyes closed, purely out of habit, with the ruffian-like pixie cut creature in the mirror now.

I confess i sometimes still reach for hairpins in the morning. It's a habit. I still feel a blank where i should be brushing my long hair at night. But it's still nicer to have short hair, and i like it. I think my father would have liked it, but he would have been surprised, after seeing how seriously i began.

I've gotten progressively lighter over the years in disposition. I began as such a serious little child, so responsible and sober. I had levity- i'd sing songs and laugh- but my disposition has gradually turned from the old-maidish little one i was, with my careful braids and my hairpins, to one of more outward gentleness, less fierce and more free. I like it better. I hope it continues. We are not always who we begin as, and my father certainly proved that.

I have my mother's looks. Specifically, i have my mother's father's mother's looks. I'm the image of Clouey, they tell me, with her brown hair and her diminutive stature. Did you know i'm the only one in my immediate family with dark hair? Really. My mother and most of her siblings were light-haired, my father's family is positively ashen. I'm a throwback. I have no idea what i inherited from my father's side of the family except perhaps his appreciation of rocks. He turned out to be a geologist; my initial thought on that was: Well, THAT certainly explains a lot.

His mother was stunning in her youth; now she's about 80. I haven't decided whether to contact them or not. I don't know whether they'd welcome it.

His mother always wanted me to cut my hair as a child, but i'm not counting on her remembering that now. Isn't it funny how the world goes around?

User Journal

Journal: Grief and peace 7

Journal by SolemnDragon

I know a lot of people are critical of how public i make my emotions, but to me it makes sense. Being able to express them means that i can share what i'm going through, and maybe hear things that some of you have gone through in exchange. I'd like to thank those of you who shared your similar-but-different experiences with me, and my guild members who talked to me about it.

I at least was able to identify a lot of what i'm feeling about the death of my father. Let me give you some background.

My father was a heroin dealer and a common thief. He had some truly sterling qualities, according to my mother (or he wouldn't have taken up with him) but i never got to know what they were. He ruined a lot of people's lives through his addictions, and spent a large part of my childhood in jail and detox.

One new emotion that i'm feeling is compassion for him. Now that i know, with certainty, that he is beyond a doubt unable to hurt anyone ever again, and stopped hurting people BEFORE he died, i can feel some compassion for the years he spent lost in his addiction. I can understand why he wouldn't contact his children- who might not have wanted to hear from him.

I can't, as one of my siblings has chosen to do, simply gloss over it to justify my having loved him when he was my dad. I did love him, of course i did, it's what kids do. Under the proper circumstances, children are little affection engines, churning out enough hope and love and family happiness to justify all of the mess and heartache and tough choices they bring. Yes, he was a dishonest and harmful man at the time, and i'm going to have some tough moments reconciling what i remember of him with the possibility of a whole and hurting person under all of that. Like i said, compassion and forgiveness are not feelings that i have had in respect to my father. It may be unfair that i only begin to feel them after he's dead, but it's the first time in my life i've known him to be anything other than actively harmful to other people. My hope was always that he was in jail, where he could be forced out of the drugs. I still don't know whether he did that there or of his own accord. Either way, I know it's not an easy thing.

I am sad. I am so very sad. I'm still a little angry, i still feel cheated not to have gotten to know him, i regret not looking him up. Gods know i googled him enough times just to see if i could find what he was up to, and never found anything. I know my brother and sister have looked for him, too- i wouldn't know any of this had it not been for my sister's sleuthing. I owe her for that (if she were on speaking terms with me, i'd thank her, but she refuses to hear from me.)

At the same time that i'm sad, i feel like i can start closing some of the open wounds left from his time in my life by laying him to rest, mentally. It's a gift i don't have in regards to my other parents. A poor exchange for knowing he's dead, but i'll take what comfort i can. I'm glad my other parents (yes, plural) are alive but i will need a lot more time to sort out the tangled webs between us. This one is easier; i only have to sort out my side of it. There will never be any feedback from his. That's the heavy loss part. I found my father again and lost him, in the same breath of news.

I will skip telling you about the tough memories. There were a lot. Let me tell you one of the positive ones... when i was a child, he would take us sailboating. We couldn't swim, so we had to wear life jackets (and to this day, i fear swimming in the ocean because he decided we needed convincing that giant turtles would eat our toes.) I remember the sea and the salt air and the motion of the boat- back then, i never got seasick, and my memories of my father, the good ones at least, are irrevocably tied up with white sails in the sunlight and the gentle ripple of waves as we managed the sails. I haven't been sailboating since; i never could bear it. I might go now, i think i can stand it now.

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Journal: Hard News 14

Journal by SolemnDragon

Sol,
(email from my mum)

(my sister) called... Friday night, to ask for -'s (Jr. - you guy's father's) social security number.
I found it for her, and she confirmed that the name and information she found on the social security web site was correct. I am sorry to have to tell you that he has passed away, last October 21st. Place of death was listed as -, Mass. She looked in the phone book, and found his address. He had been living in B-, Mass. She got in touch with people out there, and has told me that he had a long relationship with a woman named K-, who reported that he had died of complications around a liver transplant which he received as a result of liver failure. He was diabetic. She also reports that [my father] had been clean and sober, and that he had gone back to school and had become a geologist, with a minor in Chinese.
I am sorry to have to write this to you - it's a situation where if I tell you, it's not a great thing, and if I don't tell you, it's not a good thing. R[My sister] has had a good deal to say about this whole situation, which I will not go into - it's her stuff. She has gotten in touch with [paternal grandmother], and reports that M- and D- [father's brothers] are still around. If you want more information, please get in touch, and I will help you how ever I can.
Again, I am sorry to have to write this to you, and I am sorry for this loss.
Please remember that I love you.
Call if you want to.
Mom

____

I've been out of touch with my father for twenty years. This really messes with me. I don't know how i feel- sad, and angry, and i'm glad he straightened out, but that makes it somehow harder, because i never got to know him as a decent man who was clean and sober.

I think i have some grieving to do. But i also need to find out what i can, now that we know where he went. I'm glad he made himself a new life, but it doesn't make it any easier to have been a part of the old one.

meep. i think i have something in my eye, and it might be a tearstorm.

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Journal: Totally Untrue Facts 11

Journal by SolemnDragon

The first ship in space was actually the "Albatross," and was launched from a giant catapult in 1585. Unfortunately, it caught fire in the process. On the bright side, fires don't burn in space.

In 2002, the space station collided with the charred remains of the Albatross, and sent it hurtling into the ocean. Alas, re-entry caused reignition, and the only remaining fragment set fire to a maritime museum in England.

There are more than 500 species of Lemur, and all of them are named some variation of, "Morty," except for one stubborn old specimen in a zoo in France, who refuses to answer to anything but "Agatha."

In 2000, Ethelred set the record for most laundry done in a one-year period. He managed it by sneaking into other people's homes and doing their laundry, too. If you challenge his record, he'll feed you to the trained dingoes in his backyard.

Wood chips are an excellent source of flavouring for beer, and that's actually what most breweries now use instead of hops.

Hopscotch was originally a dance done by the Finnish, who would chew burning coals while jumping the grid.

The tune, "ring around the rosie" actually refers to a diamond heist, in which the jewels (including the stone from the ring of Rose MacMorris, which was one of the finest gems ever set into jewellery) were transported in a pocket sewn into the gown of Miss Posy Arabelle Clarence. The "ashes, ashes" part refers to the fact that she then burnt the city of Newcastle to the ground in her getaway. The gemstones were never recovered.

Coffee has six volatile chemicals which would kill you in twelve cups, if it weren't for the fact that caffeine is an antidote. There's a reason that you don't feel well after a cup of decaf.

Snowshoes were originally developed for walruses. When it became obvious that walruses didn't need them, the locals took them away from Crazy Bert the snowshoe maker, and gave them to sensible Mike the local civic leader, who hit on the idea of using them to walk on snow. Unfortunately, on his first trip, he was mauled to death by a walrus (some say at the instigation of Crazy Bert) and the snowshoes were handed down to Mike's grandniece, who thirty years later reintroduced their use, after Crazy Bert passed away.

The only squirrel with real flight capacity is the Flying Appalachian Pine Rat. It's also the only squirrel with molars, and a taste for beech trees. It's on the list for extinction, so if you want your own, shoot it soon.

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Journal: Book Review: Fabulous Origami Boxes 4

Journal by SolemnDragon

Today, we're going to review a book. It's called, "Fabulous Origami Boxes," and it's done by Tomoko Fuse.

Now, i'm notorious for my love of origami, though not for my talent for it, and there's a very good reason for that. While i delight in the soaring ratios of the crane, i very often produce the humble flapping of the duck, to my great chagrin and the insult of ducks everywhere. When i go home today, and see the daily hate letter in the form of a pond minnow nailed to the door, you can bet it's because another delighted fan came across some of my work and immediately took reasonably well-justified affront.

Tomoko Fuse has no such troubles. I suppose it's my own fault for picking up a book labelled, "FABULOUS" boxes, and not one labelled, "VERY UNIQUE BOXES THAT EVEN A BLIND FOOL COULD MAKE IN ONE TRY." They're fabulous, i have to give them that. There are two kinds represented: those that are unit origami, made of several pieces along similar patterns... which will make you feel dumb because no earthling could have thought of them... and those that are going to make you feel dumb for only being able to make a bowl. Please note that none of the interesting ones are made from one sheet of paper. They are all made of multiple pieces of paper, which means that you need to schedule extra time for staring blankly at not one, but four sheets, and that's just to make the bottom half.

It's good book. The diagrams are clear, and I've come to deeply appreciate that. The instructions are less than usually muddy. (I've developed a fascination with the way some origami artists aim for both perfect clarity and trade secrecy: "Grasping the upper corners, pull the top flap down while turning the model 1/4 turn counterclockwise, squash fold the inside flap and execute a perfect double axel, recite the lost book of Mortimer the Gypsy while flipping the model inside out, fold the bottom left corner under your knee, and THERE YOU HAVE A FINISHED PTERODACTYL!")

This book is mercifully free of most of that. She's a good instructor, and while I expected more types of model ("This is a folded set of flaps. Here you have them assembled in a square. Make more of them, and they turn into a hexagon. Make more and you get more corners. If you had gotten an A in geometry, you wouldn't need me to tell you this.") at least i can appreciate the pretty boxes and admit that she deserves the price of the book just so i have a place to go when i need something to put dead minnows in for storage or regifting. "Dear Quacks. I am hereby returning your minnow AND your restraining order, which i have folded into a representation of a frog. Yes, it is too a frog!")

Onething i like about it is the pics on the first few pages. If you're anything like me, yours will look more like the rocks and shells photographed than the actual boxes. That's all right. Too many books don't have pictures to give you an idea what makes this artist qualified to tell you how to turn a double axel in the first place; i like a book that includes real examples of the artist's work. From the look of her tiny little flowers, I'm betting she can turn a triple axel, at the very least.

  It's a pretty good book, and i'll give it four cranes, one for each on top of the little 'crane-topped' box. I'm sure the ducks will love it.

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Journal: folding, knotting, writing. 10

Journal by SolemnDragon

When you fold someone an origami bookshelf, be aware that it takes a lot of miniature books to fill it.

Also be aware that having written one funny story about a teacup dragon, it will be expected that you will write many, many more.

And that it's very hard to tell a story in eight VERY small pages.

On the bright side, i've filled one of four shelves.

I haven't been doing any real writing lately. I'm FINALLY coming out of my flare (after a month! )Blinder is actually at home in the evenings now, which helps, because we can split up things like housework again, and i get more rest.

Yes, it turned out that the yoghurt i was eating to control the colitis had gluten in it, thus making everything worse and prolonging my autoimmune flare. Oh, the excitement. I'm feeling much better now.

In fact, i got a 25 minute workout running (on the machines) last night. There's an "interval training" cycle on the elliptical, i'm thinking i might see what it does, after i'm back into a routine.

So, since i'm back, maybe i'll start telling stories again.

In the meantime, i'm still knitting the same shawl. Blinder wants me to knit a blanket. Should i knit it in panels, and sew them together? Or try to knit a huge thing? I think panels. First i have to learn to knit a buttonhole to finish the shawl with, and i wish i'd put in a bit of shaping. Instead it's just a big rectangular thing that i'm going to block out as a shoulder-hugging shawl. But it will be good and warm, and that's what counts. I wish i'd gotten enough yarn to make a matching hood. It's a nice yarn. After the shawl, blinder wants me to work on the blanket. I told him he'll have to go with me to choose the colours.

I don't like most of the methods i've seen for buttonholes. I may have to knit some experimental ones in the friendship scarf for a bit.

(Pancho, drop by to knit soon, i kneed some knitting company. And bring that purty lady of your'n, we like her. )

And that's the news from the lair.

How y'all?

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