Ponderings from a Procrastinating Prognosticator

Archive for February, 2012

Writing: The Magic Ring

Posted by samatwitch on February 26, 2012

Apparently, February 26th is National Tell A Fairy Tale Day in the United States, so I thought I’d celebrate in this corner of Canada by posting one of mine. 😉

This started as a short story written for my Children’s Lit class.  The requirements were that it had to start with “Once”, although it didn’t have to be Once Upon a Time; end with “After”, although it didn’t have to be Happily Ever After; the story had to include the colour green, a talking animal and a magic amulet of some sort.  (My original story did end with “after” and not Happily Ever, but I have since expanded this as the beginning of a possible book.  You may recognise Brenna from “Frog For Rent”.)


“Once you cross the bridge into the woods, you will no longer be under out protection, Brenna,” said the Queen to her daughter.  “We can watch you through our magic mirror, but by the time we reach you, it could be too late.  Wear this ring, and guard it carefully.  If you need help, twist the green stone three times in a counter-clockwise direction and help will come to you.  But remember, only use it when absolutely necessary, as there is a limit to how much magic one person is allowed to use on a quest.”

“Thank you, Mother”, said Brenna,  “and thank you, Father, for the basket of food and the bottle of water.”

“The food and water have been spelled so that you will never run out of either no matter how long your journey lasts, Brenna,” replied the King.  “The folded square of material in the bottom of the basket will open to become a safe tent for you to sleep in at night.  Be careful, my daughter.”

“Don’t worry, Mother, Father,” said Brenna, her eyes dancing in anticipation of her great adventure, “I have Samantha to protect me, don’t I, Samantha?”

Samantha, her tawny and black fur sparkling in the summer sun and her whiskers pointing straight out, looked up and purred her answer, “Always, Brenna.”

And so their adventure began.  Brenna, the eighteen-year-old daughter of the King and Queen, accompanied by her ever-faithful talking cat, Samantha, set out to find her childhood playmate, Trevor.  He had left his home several weeks before, and nobody had heard anything from or about him since.

As they traveled along the path towards the woods, Brenna and Samantha talked about how they would find Trevor.  Samantha could smell his scent, even though it had been weeks since Trevor had traveled this way.  Brenna’s talent was being able to communicate with animals, even if they weren’t magical like Samantha.  Brenna knew Trevor had been going to the neighboring country to seek his fortune, but he had promised to send word when he arrived and she had heard nothing.   That was not at all like Trevor.

All too soon Samantha and Brenna reached the bridge, on the other side of which lay the unknown forest.  Cautiously they walked across, knowing Brenna’s parents could no longer protect them.  They were truly on their own now.

Brenna and Samantha continued along the path, going deeper and deeper into the dark woods.  The farther they walked, the thicker the trees and the closer together they grew, until the two companions had barely enough room to walk on the path.

Startled by a sound behind her, Brenna turned around, only then noticing that the path disappeared as soon as they took a step forward.  It was a one-way path, never a good sign.

Finally the trees seemed to be a little less dense and, in the space of a few minutes, they stepped into a clearing, in the middle of which was a pretty little cottage.  Samantha warned Brenna not to go inside, but when the princess asked her cat if Trevor had done so, Samantha had to admit that he had.  That decided Brenna.

At first she knocked gently on the door, but there was no answer.  Brenna knocked harder.  When there was still no answer, she opened the door and entered the small house.  Everything inside was dainty and pretty, but it was evident that Trevor was not there now.  When Brenna and Samantha turned to leave, however, they discovered the door had disappeared and none of the windows opened.  They were trapped!

Brenna started to explore the cottage more thoroughly and came across a small door, just big enough for her to walk through.  Even though Samantha did her best to discourage her, Brenna stepped over the sill.  Immediately, the door closed behind her, and Brenna found herself in a large, dark corridor, filled with an unpleasant odor.  Having no other choice, Brenna held her breath as much as she could and, accompanied by her faithful cat, she followed the tunnel for a long way before it opened up into a very large cavern.

Her eyes went immediately to a cage hanging on the far side of the room, and she gave a cry of dismay as she recognized Trevor trapped inside.

At the sound of her voice, Trevor looked up in alarm, “Go back, Brenna, go back.  This cave belongs to an ogre who has been keeping me captive and trying to fatten me up for a meal.  I’ve been hiding most of the food and feeding it to the rats whenever the ogre goes out, eating only enough to keep my strength up.  But I’m afraid he’s losing patience and is going to eat me anyway.  Go back before he sees you!”

Just then the ground shuddered and rocks rumbled.  It was too late, the ogre was on his way back into the cave.  Brenna tried to hide, but although the ogre’s eyesight wasn’t very good, his sense of smell was excellent.  Before you could say, “Abracadabra”, the ogre and plucked Brenna from behind the chair where she was trying to hide and popped her into a cage identical to Trevor’s.

“Please, Mr. Ogre,” said Brenna, “please let us go.  We’re really not good to eat.  We’re tough and our muscles will get caught in your teeth.  How about some tasty bread and cheese from by basket?”

“Bread and cheese,” scoffed the ogre, “I want a nice juicy snack, and you look just about the right size.  You’re sure not big enough for a whole meal.”

“That’s right, I’m not,” said Brenna bravely, “but I can help you find all kinds of lovely food that you’ve probably never tried before.”

“Like what?” asked the ogre, becoming curious.

“Like nuts and berries, and honey and … oh, all kinds of delicious things.”

“I’ve never tried any of those things,” said the ogre.  “But I’m sure they’re not as tasty as a young lady such as yourself.”

“Oh, but they are,” replied Brenna, “even more so.  I told you, I’m tough and not very tasty at all.  Why don’t you at least try some of these things?  If you don’t like them, you can still eat us later.”

“Brenna!” cried Trevor, “What are you saying?”

“Don’t worry, Trevor, Mr. Ogre will like the new food so much, he won’t even want to eat us.”

“I hope so.”  Trevor was not convinced, but he knew how determined Brenna could be.  “I hope you have a backup plan.”

“I do,” she whispered, rubbing the green stone of her magic ring.

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Posted by samatwitch on February 15, 2012

I’ve never posted anyone else’s posts here, but this is such an excellently written article equating rape with being stung with bees I had to.

Angie's Anti-Theistic Thoughts

It is simply shocking that in the year 2012 people are still getting stung by bees, even when we all know perfectly well the best ways to avoid this. Clearly, people are being frivolous and uncareful in their personal protection and if they took this kind of threat a bit more seriously, maybe they wouldn’t hate themselves so badly after an attack. So, in the spirit of victim-shaming, let me share with you the best methods for avoiding being stung by a bee. Remember: if you are stung by a bee, you should immediately consult this list to discover what you did wrong. It is never the bee’s fault, always yours. With that in mind, let us begin.

  • Invest in the best locks and doors you can. Never enjoy a summer’s breeze. Having an unlocked or open window is like an invitation to a feisty bee to invade your home and puncture…

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Christine Miserandino’s Spoon Theory

Posted by samatwitch on February 13, 2012

I know, I know.  I haven’t posted here lately.  I actually have a post or two I’m working on but they’re not ready so I thought I’d cheat and steal this from my Tumblr account.  It will go along with the others coming.

This young woman has written an excellent article about what it’s like to live with chronic pain, in her case Lupus.  My pain is nowhere near as bad as hers, or as Maurissa Tancharoen’s, who wrote an elegant post on how she lives with Lupus.  The spoon theory makes perfect sense to me, although I think for me it’s more like a cup of water, where sometimes an activity takes a few drops and sometimes it will take almost the full cup, but for me, I’m usually able to replenish it by resting.

I have degenerative disks in my back which also affect my legs.  On good days, I can walk to work in 15 minutes, walk home in 15 or 20 and sometimes even do a 20-minute walk at lunch time.  On the (thank goodness extremely rare) bad days, it can take me 45 minutes to an hour to get from my bed to the bathroom, into the living room to take an Advil and back to bed, in my small one-bedroom apartment.  (I do keep some Advil and a bottle of water by the bed now.)  I’m fortunate that those days are rare and that I so rarely took even an aspirin for my headaches/migraines/ankle problems growing up that I can get relief from one or two Advil and haven’t had to resort to stronger pain meds – especially since Advil tends to make me sleepy.

Although I don’t have to make the same kind of – or as many – decisions as Christine talks about, there are some I have to make.  Do I need to do laundry tonight or shall I empty garbage?  Both cause me pain so doing only one in an evening is the best choice.  If the arthritis I’ve developed in my left thumb and first finger is flaring up and makes it difficult to cut up meat and vegetables for the stir fry I had planned, I’ll probably have eggs or something simple.  If I lean down to pick up my cat, chances are very good that I won’t be able to do much else for at least half an hour, so she better give me good cuddles! 🙂  (And often she jumps up by herself.)

One of my favourite things to do is making cookies to give to friends for birthdays, holidays, as thank yous.  Standing up to bake and leaning over to take them out of the oven are now things I have to consider with respect to what else I need to do.  The same goes for entertaining.  Because I love to do it so much, I will continue, but I try to do as much as possible beforehand, and I take at least one day after to recover.  Fortunately, sitting is something I can do, which is odd for disk problems, but good for me. 🙂  Therefore, when I’m cooking or baking, I sit for a couple of minutes, usually every hour to begin with, then gradually as the day goes along, it’s about five minutes for every 15 minutes.  But when I sit down to dinner surrounded by good friends, interesting conversations and much laughter – always laughter – my cup is replenished at least half-way and that’s good enough for me.

I’m very lucky, in that I have friends who give me cleaning ‘vouchers’ as birthday and Christmas gifts, who come over to visit and empty garbage and recycling, who do the dishes for me after a big dinner, who will go out of their way to drive me somewhere.  Even at work, my coworkers will lean over to pick up something I’ve dropped so I won’t have to.  On days when I’m well enough to sit up but walking is a problem, my supervisor or a coworker will pick me up and bring me home.  (It helps that I live so close, of course.)

But the ‘good’ days still outweigh the bad by a long shot, days where I’m grateful that I can still walk to work and back; that I’m a long way from having to use a cane or walker or scooter; that I can enjoy the salt air, the beautiful mountains and ocean that I can see on my way to work and the park in which I work, which teems with wildlife – bald eagles, flickers, Canada geese, ducks – for most of which I have been foster mother – and currently five coyotes, not to mention all the dogs, other birds, etc.  I have friends and family that I care about and who care about me, a job I like and an annual charity event that is worth every effort I put into it.

Usually I end up with a ‘cup’ half-full at the end of the day (which is how I’ve always looked at life anyway!), and if I don’t, it’s because I’ve been doing something I love – entertaining, baking or spending time with friends – so it’s still worth it to me.

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