elaby: (Anthy - Wing)
All my friends have been doing this meme, so it's made me want to fill it out too :) Unsurprisingly, my answers to several of the questions are the same as Rachel's :)

100-question meme )
elaby: (Kirk and McCoy - Reboot BFFs)
Apologies for being terrible at the livejournals! Rachel is begging me to post these XD And I'm not sorry that she is!

We had the MASSIVE AWESOME FINALE of our Shadowrun game this weekend, and it was incredible. See Rachel's journal for a recap. My character, Mika, is a pop star/part-time thief whose millionaire foster father decided that his next business venture would be to use Mika's music and giant fanbase to summon an ancient horror. Mika had to kill him with an orbital satellite death ray that she hacked with her brain. Fun times! (She's going to need therapy.)

I drew Rachel's character Lindir and his soon-to-no-longer-be-ex-boyfriend, Gil. Gil (an NPC) patiently put up with all of us lunatics invading his bar every few days and using it as our home base. He left Lindir at the altar when he found out that Lindir had been KIDNAPPED AND GIVEN A CYBER LEG. (This is what happens when you use the Big Book of Backgrounds to create characters XD You roll dice and consult tables for random events in your character's history. As you can see, there are some weird ones.) But because Jason is an awesome GM, we learned in the course of the game that Gil has cyber-limb baggage because of his little sister having run off to become part cyborg.

Lindir is FABULOUS.


Gil is skeptical. As he should be, considering who hangs out in his bar.


Another thing Gil is: sorry.
elaby: (Anthy - Rainbow)
I'm happy to finally unveil something that's been months in the making: Rachel and I have started a blog together!

Arboreal Rainbow

This summer, while we were spending a quiet week dogsitting for our friend Bethany's adorable puppies, Rachel and I decided that we wanted a place to chronicle our story and preserve the some of the precious bits of our lives together. We came up with the blog name Arboreal Rainbow as a meeting of the symbols we both love best: trees for me and rainbows for Rachel. It evokes the image of rainbows living in the treetops.

We only have a few posts so far, but we plan to add all sorts of things, from knitting adventures to tea reviews to the story of how we met. I hope you'll take a look! <3
elaby: (Watson - Writers read)
This spring, as we drove home from the Fairie Festival, Rachel and I talked about how we could make our lives more like how we felt when we were there. We decided that we wanted to rearrange some of the rooms in our house; one of these plans was to make the guest room on the first floor into my library/office and move the guest room upstairs. Rachel has her studio, and before this, we'd said that the Temple Room upstairs was my space, but I never completely got comfortable there. As lovely as it is, it it's a hassle to keep temperate because it's stifling in the summer and unheated in the winter.

We wrote up how we'd do it, complete with graph-paper models of both rooms and a step-by-step moving plans. Last week, we set the plan in motion.

Pictures galore! )
elaby: (Vocaloid - Miku sings (deep teal))
Rachel and I went on a whale watch yesterday -- Rachel's first ever and my second, though the first was long enough ago that I don't remember much about it. It was one of the best experiences of my life.

This morning, though, I was going about my business, getting ready for work as normal, when I got suddenly very sick. I'll spare you the gruesome details, but I think it was due to dehydration (it was pretty hot yesterday, even though I tried to drink a lot of water on the boat). So I stayed home and slept until noon. I feel worlds better now but exhausted, so I'm writing up our adventure.

I don't have very many pictures because I was too entranced, too captivated by the whales to try looking at them through a viewfinder. But I do have one or two :)

The whale watch was out of Rye, NH and was organized by Granite State Whale Watch. Rye is one of the prettiest towns in New Hampshire: it's located on our teeny tiny inch of coastline and is home to Odiorne Point State Park, the Seacoast Science Center, rolling dunes, bird-filled estuaries, really nice beaches, and about a hundred eye-popping mansions. The sun was out bright as we drove down the shore road past all of these and made our way to Rye Harbor.

Rye Harbor

We got there about a half hour before the ship was going to depart, so we got a pretty good seat on the starboard side near the bow. It was HOT waiting for the ship to leave; there was a bit of a breeze but it didn't do much against the sweltering sun. Once we started moving out, though, the wind picked up and it was utterly perfect.

Rachel bought me a hat at the ticket counter, and I was very glad I had it!

Me on the Granite State Whale Watch

I was pretty much exploding with excitement, and as soon as we started moving, Rachel was too <3

Rachel on the Granite State Whale Watch

We chugged out past the harbor walls and caught a glimpse of some harbor seals on the port side of the ship. As we passed the Isles of Shoals, the captain told us a bit about the islands (although I could scarcely hear him over the sounds of the engine).

It was such a gorgeous day, with the sun blazing above and the horizon swathed in haze, creating a pale shimmering curtain against the blue sky. I always expect the energy of the ocean to be this deep, heavy, mysterious thing, imposing and powerful, and that's how it is with your legs in it on the beach... but out there on the water with the wind and sun and the sparkle of the waves, it just felt free. Light and floaty and untethered.

The first whale we sighted was a fin whale, the second largest creature to ever live on earth. They're the most commonly sighted whale near Jeffery's Ledge, the bountiful feeding area we were exploring. This one was identified as Dingle, a whale they see pretty often. It was so, so huge. Its black back with its small curved fin kept sliding up out of the water and in again as it sent plumes of breath up. The ship turned to keep it in our vision, so we watched it long enough to recognize the extra-arched back that signaled a deep dive. It came up again for several more breaths every five or ten minutes.

After we spent some time with this whale (and a couple of minke whales that we could just see in the distance), we moved along to explore some more.

The next thing we came upon was a surprise: a basking shark. We could see its dorsal fin puttering along (the naturalist narrating the whale watch said that they normally can only see basking sharks on calm days because their fins aren't visible in choppy water). It didn't notice us for a while and so it swam quite close to the boat, and we could see its huge, grey bulk just beneath the surface. Basking sharks are the second largest shark in the world (and they only eat plankton!). It was pretty amazing because the fin whale hadn't gotten close enough to really see any of it except the parts that came out of the water.

Next we encountered another fin whale, Crow. This one came closer and closer, finally close enough that we could see the swoop of paler grey coloring just behind its blowhole. The whale's skin shone a gunmetal color in the sunlight. Then, as we all watched spellbound, it sunk under and resurfaced again right next to the ship. Its fin breaking the surface was incredible to behold. It lifted its head slightly out of the water -- something neither it nor the other fin whale had done -- and the naturalist pointed out its white lower jaw. Fin whales are asymmetrically colored and only the right side of their lower jaw is white. It was so beautiful, so amazing, that it took my breath away. I think it raised its head to get a look at the ship, because it was so close by.

The next whales we saw were both humpbacks <3 And I got a couple of pictures of the first one! This is Patches, a humpback that Granite State Whale Watch sees frequently but hadn't encountered yet this season, so they were really happy to see him.

Here's Patches' back as he started curving for a deep dive.

Patches the humpback whale's back

And here's his beautiful tail!
Patches the humpback whale's tail

We got to watch him dive over and over, displaying the unique pattern on his fluke as he went down. When he was at the surface, we could see the most remarkable thing -- his white pectoral fins shone an incandescent green underneath the water. The next one we saw was called Quill, and gave us an equally impressive show. Humpbacks are so lovely -- I would love to see one a little closer <3

Eventually our time was up and we had to turn back. But on the way back, just past the Isles of Shoals, we saw a bunch of harbor porpoises! They were splashing around, feeding, and a flock of gannets were gathered around them. Once or twice we saw their dark silvery backs arch above the water.

Back in Rye Harbor, we talked to the naturalist and some of the interns and adopted a humpback whale, Owl (for Athena).

We #adopted a #whale named owl! :3

It was such an experience, full of wonder and amazement. Whales are such beautiful, otherworldly creatures. I want to go on another soon <3
elaby: (Last Unicorn - Unicorn)
I'm starting to work with tarot again, and I think it's time for my less-used decks to move on to other owners. Is anyone interested? All prices have shipping included.

Llewellyn Tarot - $15
This beautiful tarot is sumptuously illustrated with watercolor paintings of figures from Welsh mythology, including Rhiannon, Bran the Blessed, Myrddin, and Ceridwen. See the Amazon listing here. The price includes a full book, The Llewellyn Companion, that explains the cards and associated mythology.

The condition is like new. The cards aren't even out of order -- I don't think I ever used it. There is no box, though, just the sparkly bag shown below.

Tarot decks

Tarot decks

Winged Spirit Tarot - $15
This was my first tarot deck, and as such it's gently used (no frayed edges or anything). The illustrations are flowing and starkly outlined, reminiscent of stained glass, and the figures are lithe and dancer-like. Here's the Amazon listing. It comes with the box and a little booklet describing the cards and their meanings.

Tarot decks

If you're interested, shoot me an e-mail at elabymoon (at) gmail.com or leave me a comment here :) I'm flexible on the prices too. If you're not interested but you have a few minutes, I would love a signal boost!

<3
elaby: (Manuscript - Winged horse)
For the past few weeks, a Baltimore oriole has been visiting me.

The first time I met him, he was chirping his little birdy head off outside a coworker’s window. Sitting about twenty feet away, I wondered what the sound was, but I was engrossed in work and couldn’t see where it was coming from. My coworker leaned out of her cubicle and hissed, “Katie! Katie! There’s this gold bird outside!”

The windows of our office building are reflective on the outside so that people can’t see in. (We must have privacy as we type away on top-secret insurance documents, I suppose!) Because of this, birds are always mistaking our windows for a twin tree to the ones outside and attempting to land in the reflection. Usually they just skitter along the glass; once in a while, they get a little more forceful.

This particular coworker sits near a big evergreen tree that presses up against the window, and when I answered her summons, I saw a bright orange and black oriole sitting in a branch, inches away from us. Because they can’t see us, birds tend to land on the sill or on close branches and allow us to get a really good look at them.

This one was utterly stunning. His black back was shiny, and the feathers on his breast melted deep yellow to the most vibrant orange. He had bright eyes and a smooth, charcoal-gray beak that he opened to sing for us a melody that would become familiar over the next several days.

I got to know that song very well. Every time I heard a clear “chirp chirp-a CHIRP chirp... chirp!” I’d look around for the oriole, and there he’d be: either sitting in the tree outside my window, jumping about in the bushes right below the stone sill, or perched on the sill itself, his little face peering up at the glass and wondering, as my coworker put it, “Why won’t that handsome bird in there play with me?”

I haven’t seen him for a week. I think perhaps he’s moved on. But it was such a blessing to see him here, up close, in all his dappled night-and-day glory <3

elaby: (Maude Fealy)
A few weekends ago, we celebrated my dad's birthday at my parents' camp in Roxbury, Maine. It's a beautiful camp -- it's a very small house that someone used to live in all year round, so it has all the amenities like heat and running water :3 And more bathrooms that our house has! XD It's such a cozy, comfy place, and the area is BEAUTIFUL. We drove to a state park one day and I took a whole bunch of pictures.

Trilliums! :D )

:D

Mar. 12th, 2015 09:15 pm
elaby: (Vocaloid - Miku singing in the rain)
Cut for budgetary discussions. )
elaby: (LotR - Galadriel smiles)
Sunday I woke up with a sort of “nothing sounds fun to me today” feeling, until Rachel remembered that she wanted to go buy some plants for our offices, and I perked up immediately. She convinced me to leave the house without showering first (always a hard sell) and we ended up running ALL OVER THE WORLD and having many adventures.

First, we went to breakfast at the Wooden Spoon, a little local place that serves platter-sized pancakes, only takes cash, and always has a line out the door. Pancakes, waffles, and the restaurant’s signature grilled cinnamon roll were ruled out because of my decision not to eat eggs, and I instead had a large serving of home fries and their homemade toast. So delicious! We spent breakfast talking about Majora’s Mask and our current troubles at Snowhead Temple.

After breakfast, we stopped at Salmon Falls Stoneware, a local pottery studio that makes really amazing high-quality stuff. I won a gift certificate a few weeks ago at the movies (just by spinning a wheel!) for an oil lamp, and we decided to pick it up. The store and studio are mingled: the front shop has the “best” pottery stacked on shelf after shelf, and a door leads to a labyrinth of rooms of less expensive “seconds” (perfectly sound but the designs are sometimes a little blurred) that merge with shelves of unglazed, drying pottery. It’s so much fun to wander through.

We chose an oil lamp (number 531) in “Mountain Berry” and got a bottle of lamp oil with the gift certificate. We also picked out a coffee mug (number 311) in Blue Green Vine and a beautiful little dish that’s not listed on their website. It’s about four inches across and has scalloped edges and a raised image of a teapot in the middle. It also has a beautiful crackled glaze of blue-green glass around the teapot. We’re going to use it as a tea bag/tea ball holder <3

Then we moved on to the main event! Wentworth Greenhouse :3 It was such a glorious soul-balm to be there among the plants, in the warm, moist air. It seemed like there was no one there when we arrived (it was probably around eleven by then and they were open since eight) but ten or fifteen minutes later, the place suddenly FILLED with people. The greenhouse is mostly a gardening supply store but it also has a large display area, teaches classes, and hosts (or used to host?) the local winter farmer’s market, so it’s a big place. The display area has some of the most lovely exhibits. My favorites are a huge urn overflowing with succulents, some vertical wall-gardens with moss and teeny blobby plants, and an entire bed made from live flowers complete with a leafy patchwork quilt and branches for a canopy. They also have finches <3

Rachel and I wandered among the houseplants for a while and I dithered over choices until we found someone to advise us. Since my office is climate-controlled and I sit right near a window, I had a lot of options. I had pretty much decided on one of the string-of-pearls plants (a succulent) when the guy who was helping us showed us over to the ferns.

FERNS. My heart delights in ferns. He said they were easy to care for, so I looked through them and one delicate, bushy beauty with tiny lobed leaves caught my eye. I picked her up and she was perfect. I felt the kind of love one usually feels toward a small furry animal. We explored a bit more (and I chose a string-of-pearls as well) and we found someone to help us pick out the right size pots. We told her we’d be keeping them in our offices, and when she saw my fern, she said, “Oh, maidenhair ferns are probably the hardest ferns to take care of... I’m not trying to be negative, but are you sure that’s the best choice?” I felt like somebody wanted to take my kitten away. Imagine, if you will, a kind gardener looking concerned and a little chibi Katie hugging a plant and screaming “MINE! MY BABY!”

In fact, what I said was that I wanted to try, so she told me all about how to take care of it. I think I have a good chance of keeping it alive from what she said about placement and watering. It’s so beautiful <3

The gardener repotted our plants for us (for free!) and gave us all sorts of encouraging advice about how to take care of them. It was wonderful. I was so, so elated when we left. We decided to deliver our plants to our offices right then so we wouldn’t have to mess around with them in the cold Monday morning. It was a really good idea – we helped each other carry our pots in, and after we dropped them off at my office, we went to Street for a late lunch (a nifty restaurant in Portsmouth that serves street food from all over the world). We shared a vegan bibimbap and some amazingly good curry fries :3
elaby: (Cheburashka - Juggling)
I’m going to talk about food and my dietary choices :D I’ve learned that food is something that touches people on an extremely personal level, so please know that my decisions, my likes and dislikes, are what’s best for me and only me – I would never want anyone to feel belittled or as if I think they should change their own choices because of what I do. Just sayin’ <3

Decisions )
elaby: (Holmes and Watson - Heart)
We had a pretty busy weekend for one where we didn’t have anything planned!

On Friday, our gaming group got together for L5R – always a fun time :3 There were satisfactorily arranged marriages, drug trafficking, a giant freaking oni who very nearly walloped us (but was vanquished thanks to Kyo-san’s two well-placed knife-to-the-nuts thrusts and Kirito-san’s awesome Matsu badassery, set aflame with divine fire by Satomi-san!), and a plan to reinstate the Hare Clan! Hahaha we’re an ambitious bunch XD

We got up on Saturday morning and immediately set to shoveling off the porch roof, which is flattish and was covered by a 3-4 foot snow drift. Heavy snow/freezing rain was forecasted for Saturday night, so all the local radio channels and so forth were telling everyone to clean off their roofs. There have been a lot of collapses lately. We climbed out the temple room window and shoveled and pushed snow off the edges, carefully keeping close to the house wall. It was done in about 40 minutes, much to our relief!

After that we flopped about in exhaustion and played Majora’s Mask until the afternoon, when we ventured out for lunch/dinner at Popover in Epping. I also discovered that I somehow own only one pair of jeans (where did the others GO? O_o) so we went shopping and I got a nice pair for $10 at Marshall’s. It’s getting hard to find the style of jeans I like (i.e. somewhat baggy) since even the supposed “straight leg” jeans at Dress Barn were skin-tight. I also got some dress pants at Dress Barn and they’re very lovely and comfortable, but I discovered today that they have no pockets >_<

We got groceries after lunch and drove home as the snow started. It kept up into the night but didn’t amount to a lot (haha, in comparison to the snow we’ve gotten lately! It was about 5 inches or so).

On Sunday it was WARM WTF (around 40) and the sky was blue and it was GLORIOUS. When we were out at Target in the morning, we saw an entire flock of cedar waxwings in one of the trees – I’ve never seen so many at once before. They’re my favorite birds and they’re so pretty; they remind me of spring and herald good things. I counted 24 in one tiny tree, scarfing down berries, and there was another tree full of them too.

We’ve been watching Flea Market Flip on Netflix and we fell in love with a dresser that one of the teams had decoupaged with old love letters, and we have a beautiful dark wooden desk that we picked up off the side of the road last summer…

So off we went to antique stores to look for letters :3 We didn’t have a ton of luck, but we did find one nice letter dated May, 1890 from a pastor’s wife to a friend describing how her family was settling into their new parsonage after moving. There was a really cute part about how her husband had just gotten a new cart and all she could see when he took off in it was a cloud of dust and pedestrians staring after him “in wonder” XD

A letter from May 22, 1890

We also found some really beautiful postcards with photographs of pretty ladies (actresses, I assume) and flowers. The messages on the postcards are all in French!

French postcards found while thrifting

The other letters we found weren’t very long so don’t suit our purpose perfectly, but they were cheap so we bought them anyway. I think they were being sold for the stamps on the envelopes (we saw a TON of empty envelopes at the antique stores for stamp collectors). We also got some Easter post cards and a few pretty Valentines. One of the Valentines is from one man (or boy, perhaps) to another <3

Easter postcards from our antiquing adventure

A Valentine, To Master Earnest Morgan from Master Frank

I also discovered an interest in Wedgwood pottery. I went to the Wedgwood museum/factory in England when I was there in 2001, and I thought they were pretty then, but I’m especially drawn to the classical imagery now. Most of the jasperware pieces are covered in beautiful classical ladies with flowing hair and dresses, with little winged babies and trees and things. They’re so beautiful and smooth and cameo-ish, like the figures are emerging from within the porcelain. We saw some green and purple pieces (along with the more popular pale blue) that were really stunning. I didn’t buy any, but they ranged from under $10 to over $100 at different antique shops, so there’s a good variety of prices. I want to learn more about the different designs and maybe find a couple that I really love. I don’t have a collector’s instinct but I long to have something to search for when I go antiquing. Letters are definitely going to become something we always look for :)

We didn’t end up finding enough letters to cover the surfaces on the desk that we wanted to decoupage, but we’ve decided not to decoupage it anyway. Instead, we’re going to lay out the letters and post cards and put a slab of clear acrylic over it (like glass). That way, we can swap out letters and things when we find new ones :3
elaby: (Starsky & Hutch - <3)
Today has been a perfect Valentine's Day <3

We slept in this morning and I was so excited to give Rachel her gift that I made her put on her glasses and stay in bed and I ran and got it XD I wrote her a poem and inked it on this beautiful brown scrapbook paper with a faded castle in the background, and then I glued it on a border of scrapbook paper covered in faded brown and red embroidered roses. I was rather proud of myself. She loved it <3

Our plan had been to visit Shalimar India for dinner in Portsmouth, but since it was supposed to snow today into tomorrow (TWO MORE FEET WTF) we went for lunch instead. It's our favorite Indian restaurant. We always get the vegetarian dinner for two, which includes the best vegetable soup in the universe, two samosas, two entrees (Rachel had Shalimar Baji and I had Chanaa Masala), rice, raita, naan, and rice pudding with chai for desert. I always bring half home and end up STILL stuffed XD While we ate, we set down in writing our GRAND PLOT for our BJD characters' timeline and the multiple AUs we have going XD We need a freaking flow chart to catalogue everyone's reincarnations/parallel timelines/whatever. We have, let me see -- a Roman incarnation, an Anglo-Saxon incarnation, Council of the Chosen (the circa-2000 vampire-werewolf-paranormal RP monstrosity that started it all, which Rachel and I took part in during college), a secret agent AU (BECAUSE WE SAW KINGSMEN LAST NIGHT AND HOLY CRAP IT WAS MIND-BLOWING), the Pacific Rim AU, Taylan and Dante's recent reboot where they live during an apocalyptic vampire/werewolf war, a post-apocalyptic the-Earth-reclaims-itself world where Aster is from after the end of the vampire/werewolf war, a post-post-apocalyptic scary technology-overrun world where Poppy is from and ultimately where she goes back to become, uh, deified, and finally the mermaid incarnation which takes place AFTER Poppy's final reset of the planet.

HAHAHA BEST VALENTINE'S DAY LUNCH EVER XD

After that, we stopped at Home Goods because Rachel wanted a pretty wooden tray like [livejournal.com profile] willow_cabin has to arrange her crystals in, and we ended up getting a couple of really cool things :3 We did find a wooden tray, and we also found two dishes for our altars: Rachel's is silvery-iridescent and kind of shaped like a pyrite sun, and mine looks like greeny-metallic lotus petals. We also got two incredibly awesome teapots: they're both white porcelain, and the body of one is in a basket-weave pattern with a handle like two reeds twined together with a tiny bird on the lid, and the other is shaped like a conch shell. I've never seen a teapot like it. Rachel also got a little sugar dish with a bluebird handle on the lid that she plans to FILL WITH GLITTER. I kid you not. We also got two heart-shaped taper candles that are, as I type, flickering on our dresser-top altars.

We got home just as it started to snow, and I suggested that we swap out some of our less-loved teapots for the new ones. We went through the tea things and set a few items aside for the donation box, and then this led to a whole living-room-wide decluttering. We rearranged three high shelves (one actual shelf and two tops of hutches) and one bookcase. Our collection of lesbian Willow Tree figures got a nice clean space (yeah, I'm sure they're meant to be sisters, but they're ALL LESBIANS IN OUR HOUSE - we have these ones: wifeys, totes girlfriends, not just for sisters, LOL SHE'S MY WIFE NOT MY MOM, and yeah, married).

After a good few hours getting rid of stuff and reorganizing, we took ourselves upstairs and played Fantasy Life all evening :) It's snowing outside and we have nowhere to go tomorrow; it's shaping up to be a great weekend.
elaby: (Last Unicorn - Unicorn)
Happy Imbolc, my beloved friends <3 We got home from Florida and our joy-filled, relaxing visit to [livejournal.com profile] songtoisis this morning around 1:00 a.m., with no flight problems whatsoever on our return trip, and today it's blizzarding again. I need to sit today and reflect on all of the wonderful experiences I had this weekend, but I wanted to share with you a letter I received in my e-mail from my city's mayor. I've always generally approved of him for his politics but I didn't know a lot about him personally, and this letter is at the same time beautiful, inspiring, and touches me as a pagan. What he writes about is very appropriate for Imbolc. I was very impressed when I read it, and it's kind of amazing (and new) to feel an affinity with a political figure like this. He was also New Hampshire's first openly gay mayor, which is just extra wonderful to me <3

The Mayor's Corner

In Memory of City Councilor
Marcel Hebert, Ward 3

Winter can be unforgiving for most of us. The lack of warmth, sunlight and forced hibernation begins to take its toll as storms continue to batter us, and temperatures remain low. However, there is a deeper natural meaning hidden in the darkness of winter if one is only willing to look. Winter is nature's way of forcing us to slow down, recharge our energy, re-evaluate our goals and prepare for the coming rebirth of spring.

It reminds us as we look out our windows or observe through our travels throughout New England, that despite being surrounded by death, warmth and rebirth of life will occur. It is with nature's message that we can be inspired to celebrate life and its brief magical moments, to endure all of its joy, pain and sorrow and yet be thankful for the time we were able to walk with friends and family.

The Somersworth City Council Family, City Manager and I, are saddened by the loss of our colleague, Councilor Marcel Hebert. While the emptiness Marcel leaves behind cannot be replaced, we are blessed by the memories of his humor, wit and dedication to the home we all call Somersworth. It was impossible for anyone who had a conversation with Marcel to not walk away with a smile on their face. It is these memories which will continue the legacy of Councilor Marcel Hebert.

The Tao Te Ching, a classic Chinese text written between the 4th and 6th century BCE, is a base of spiritual guidance, celebration of life and daily wisdom. One of the writings of the Tao speaks of morning. "Greet the dawn. This is your miracle to witness. That is the ultimate beauty. That is sacredness. That is your gift from heaven. That is your omen of prophecy. That is knowledge that life is not futile. That is enlightenment. That is your meaning in life. That is your directive. That is your comfort. That is the solemnity of duty. That is inspiration for compassion. That is the light of the ultimate".

With each and every sunrise, let us not only celebrate the blessing of our life, but the lives of each person who have walked with us on our journey. Let the warmth of the morning remind us of the joys they brought us, and of their dedication and sacrifices. With the promise of a new day, let us rededicate ourselves to living life to the fullest and becoming the keeper for our fellow brethren.

Sincerely,
Mayor Dana Hilliard
elaby: (Lestrade - CJ <3 guh.)
I had a really nice, low-key Christmas. We invited my parents over to our house on Christmas Eve and ate delicious appetizers and desserts. We popped Christmas crackers, played with the little toys inside, looked at nineteenth-century photographs of Kittery Point (where my parents and I grew up, not to mention both sides of my family going wayyyy back), and giggled over a Victorian young woman’s health and hygiene guide I borrowed from Rachel’s library.

On Christmas morning, Rachel and I drove over to my parents’ house with three boxes stuffed full of gifts. We ate bagels for breakfast, opened the stockings (a Rachel tradition! My family always opened stockings last, but we converted when Rachel joined us :3), and spent the next several hours opening presents. We open them one at a time so everybody can watch <3 I was very blessed with goodies this year! Here’s a run-down of my favorites:

- Additional RAM for my laptop. It makes SUCH a difference! My laptop only had 2 MB before, and just opening/closing Text Pad was a nightmare. Heaven help me if I wanted to open more than five tabs in Chrome. Now I have 8 MB and things work so much faster. I can actually load multiple .gifs now without Chrome asking me if I want to kill the page!

- Rachel got me a set of Lord of the Rings sampler teas from Adagio <3 <3 <3 IT IS SO COOL. Teas include White Tea of Kings, Elevenses, Wizard’s Grey, Second Breakfast, Barrels of Tea (the only one I’ve tried so far – DELICIOUS), and Enchanted Tea.

- My parents got both of Rachel and me Fantasy Life, a 3DS game that we absolutely adore. It’s a mixture of questing, crafting, and monster-slaying where you’re able to choose a Life (like a profession – I’m a cook right now) and improve at it until you’re a master. You can switch Lives as often as you want so you can experience all of them, and your progress in previous Lives remains the same. The plot is charming and the dialogue is hilarious. I have yet to become frustrated with any aspect of the game, which is really remarkable. I love it <3

- I got two books on Neolithic tombs and monuments, one that explores the spirituality associated with them and one big coffee-table book full of lush photos. I can’t wait to immerse myself in both of them.

- Aster got some really badass new clothes, which you can see on my Flickr. She also got a gorgeous pink/purple galaxy-patterned sweatshirt which I haven’t taken pictures of yet.

- I got a DVD of AKB48’s documentary, To Be Continued, which follows their career throughout 2011. It’s swoonworthy. They’re all so freaking cute. It had a lot of interviews and discussed how they’re encouraged to put their personality into their performance (when most of them assumed they’d have to conform to a specific “idol” image). I don’t know how much of it is fabricated for the fans, but they seem to really care about each other and consider themselves a family.

- Rachel got me several scarves from Mexicali Blues on sale, and they’re soft and happy <3 I’m wrapped in one right now! I also got some flannel-lined khaki pants (man, should’ve worn those today ¬_¬), a sweater, and some socks at the L.L. Bean’s outlet. Yay for discount Bean’s clothes!

- We took advantage of the Fable Tribe closing sale to get a bunch of gorgeous Glamourkins <3 <3 <3

We had snacks for lunch, as usual (chips and dip, devilled eggs, crackers and cheese, and nuts), and lasagna for dinner with my mother’s apple pie afterwards – she makes the best apple pie known to man.

This year, I took the week after Christmas off, for the first time (when we weren’t traveling to Colorado) since I graduated from college. It was PHENOMENAL XD We spent whole days playing Fantasy Life; we visited bead shops and stocked up on varied and nutritious bird food for the finches; we moved a table my dad had fixed up for us from my parents’ basement and set up a new doll photography area; we went to the movies TWICE IN ONE DAY (something I’ve never done before XD Made possible by a movie gift card I won at work and my manager’s holiday Chipotle gift card); we cleaned and rearranged and flopped around doing nothing. I had to go back to work on Friday, but I was one of three people in the office so it didn’t feel like a “real” work day. I haven’t had such a relaxing holiday in a long time :)
elaby: (LotR - Legolas looking back)
I haven't posted anything in my art tumblr for years, but I was struck with the need to do Tolkien fanart and there seems to be a really nice, thriving Silmarillion fandom over there. So I drew a picture of Thranduil. If you like, have a look!
elaby: (LotR - Gandalf smoky)
We saw The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies on Tuesday! And as I’m suffering somewhat from post-series withdrawal, I wanted to blather on a bit about it.

I can’t believe it’s over ;_; SILMARILLION MOVIE, ANYONE? RIGHT? RIGHT?
T_T

On the whole, I really enjoyed the Hobbit movies a great deal. They were lighter in tone than the LotR movies (but not as light as the book) and they felt like they kept in the spirit of the other films. In the interest of organization, I think I’ll break this up a bit XD

Spoilers, natch. And you know how long-winded Tolkien makes me. )
elaby: (Half Acre - Crack the sky)
Happy Solstice and Yule! I wish love and warmth and happiness to all of my friends as the days start to lengthen again and midwinter takes hold <3

Rachel and I had a really nice weekend. On Saturday, we visited some friends in Boston and had a really, really happy and fun time. Our friends down there are such awesome, kind people <3 We drove home in the evening to host a Call of Cthulhu gaming session (Cthultide! :D) and the campaign was predictably insanity-inducing. My character died horribly – run over while trying to get into the escape vehicle, then put out of my misery by my friends-turned-brainedwashed-cult-followers – but there was so much hilarity that I didn’t mind in the least. My character was lots of fun to play: she was a published paranormal nonfiction author who’d had some really creepy shit happen to her, and she was also a technophobe, so I had all sorts of fun pretending not to know how to work the digital camera the GM brought (complete with local photographs as clues!). She also had inherited her grandmother’s pendulum and I used it mostly to my advantage, although for the first hour or two I don’t think I ever rolled under a sixty no matter which dice I used XD

The next morning, we slept until 11:30 (!!! That’s what happens when you’re up until half past two gaming with a tableful of awesome friends and load of delicious desserts :3) and then we ventured out to Trader Joe’s to pick up food for Christmas Eve, which we’re hosting at our house. We were happily surprised to find the mall area much less jam-packed than we expected, but we got our couple of groceries and beat a hasty retreat nonetheless.

When we got home, Rachel worked on sewing projects for Christmas presents and I started making our Solstice feast. Our original plan was potato soup, which we changed to corn chowder thickened with Rachel’s famous Best Mashed Potatoes Ever. I started by washing and peeling the potatoes.

Potatoes for Solstice soup!

More photos, dinner, and our ritual )
elaby: (LotR - Legolas looking back)
I have the day off tomorrow! :D And that is a wonderful thing, because today I helped finish the biggest case at work that I've ever taken part in. It came down to LITERALLY THE LAST MINUTE. I am a noodle-person now. I surely have fewer brain cells than when I woke up this morning.

Tomorrow, I plan on wrapping presents, doing yoga, having lunch with Rachel on campus, and going to oil painting in the evening. My painting teacher is putting on a student art show in January, and I'm going to be in it! I have one painting to put in so far; I hope to finish another, but I'm behind on it because it was too snowy (and I was too peopled-out) to go last week.

I'm very excited for Yule/the Solstice on Sunday. Rachel and I are planning to make a Solstice feast for dinner and then we'll have a ritual with candles and bells.

I think we have all our gifts bought, or at least the materials to make them. The gifts we'll be sending to friends through the mail may be a little late this year ^^;;

The other night, when we were getting the trash and recycling together to put out, Rachel ran and got me and insisted that I come outside with her. I didn't have any socks on but I put my bare feet in my fleecy Bean boots and bundled into a coat and followed her outside. It was cold and the sky was extremely clear, and Rachel showed me how one particularly bright star on the horizon was twinkling, flickering, and visibly changing colors from white to red to blue like a Christmas light. The stars were so bright that we could see the Milky Way. Rachel showed me Orion's bow, which I honestly had never realized was visible before. The stars were so brilliant and flickery, like you could see what they were made of. As I was looking up at them, I saw a shooting star <3
elaby: (LotR - Galadriel blue)
Comings and Goings

Rachel’s parents are visiting us right now, which is really nice <3 Her mum has been out a couple of times this year to handle Gramma stuff, but we haven’t seen her dad for a year and a half, so it’s wonderful to get to spend time with him. He’s currently up north visiting his family and Rachel’s mum is staying with us to visit Gramma, who’s been in the hospital. The poor old lady is just getting more and more confused. She knows who people are (in general) and is fairly calm most of the time, but she’s never quite sure what’s going on or what’s been happening to her at any given moment.

Last night, Rachel’s mum taught us how to make stitched bead stars. It was SO much fun and so easy, and I love how mine came out:

Bead star

I want to make a million more!

Prehistoric Monuments

Lately I’ve been having a surge of interest in stone-age monuments like Newgrange and Stonehenge. I’ve always felt a connection/fascination with barrows and passage-tombs (I blame Tolkien for terrifying me with them and Brian Froud for telling me faeries live in them). When I was younger, I had a very vivid dream about being inside one. It seems like the less available information there is about a time period, the more I’m interested in it – my favorite part of Anglo-Saxon England takes place before Christianity arrived to help people write things down, and now I’m very interested in prehistoric Britain. I’m especially interested in the monuments that include stone-carvings (like Newgrange has) and ones that were erected to align with the solstices. Learning about the daily lives and religion of the people who built and used these places excites me. I’ve asked for a couple of books for Christmas :3

Rachel’s brother and sister-in-law currently live in England, and we want so desperately to visit them – both to get to see them (which we hardly ever do) and to sightsee. My dream vacation would be a folklore/history/pagan-themed tour of the U.K. It would include visits to so many Neolithic and Anglo-Saxon sites, and probably a great many locals giving me the side-eye for my epic amounts of squee. Newgrange has a lottery where you can be chosen to enter the barrow (!!!!!!!!!!!!) on the winter solstice, when the rising sun illuminates the passage and falls on the spiral-carved stone at the end. SO. AWESOME.

Reading

Because it’s winter and this time of year always gets me in the mood for some Tolkien, I’ve been reading Unfinished Tales, a compilation with notes of some of Tolkien’s unfinished bits of lore. It’s fascinating because it gives little details about the characters and shows how Tolkien’s conception of them changed over the years. I have the vapors for Galadriel, so it’s especially exciting that there’s so much content about her. My favorite bit of knowledge is this:

So, Fëanor, right? Elf of extremely bad judgment who made the Silmarils, shiniest of the shiny gems, and was so possessive of them that he got a large portion of Elves booted out of Valinor and subsequently triggered generations of tragedy and warfare? In those gems, Fëanor captured the light of both of the Trees (the pre-Sun-and-Moon gold and silver trees that lit the world) and he was inspired to create them because Galadriel’s hair was the color of the light of both Trees mixed together. He begged her three times for a lock of hair, just a single strand – but Galadriel told him to get bent because he and his lust for personal glory creeped her out.

AND SEVERAL THOUSAND YEARS LATER, SHE GIVES NOT ONE STRAND OF HAIR, BUT THREE… TO A DWARF.

I can just see her graciously handing her gift over to Gimli as the Fellowship depart Lothlorien, and Gimli walking off with little hearts popping over his head while Galadriel turns toward the Halls of Mandos to righteously give Fëanor the finger. As Rachel said when I regaled her with this story: “Wow, long game.” XD

I love that lady.

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March 2016

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