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The Song of Derenemyn

My birthday was a few weeks ago, and I got some cool shit. I got to TOUCH AN OTTER’S PAW AND NOSE. I got a fire hook/marshmallow roaster that looks LIKE A FREAKING RAPIER. I got a mandolin that’s over a hundred years old because MY WIFE KNOWS I LIKE TO PRETEND TO BE A BARD. It was a good birthday, I’m sayin’.

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I almost look like I know how to play!

But the greatest gift of them all was a song. It was a song my wife wrote for me, and she recorded it, and played it for me, and I cried like a baby. Derenemyn is the name we gave our home. It means Hill of Oaks in Elvish. We’re nerds. It is a song about us and our time together. I wanted to share it with the world, so here it is. The lyrics are below. (She also wanted me to apologize on her behalf for the shitty midi instruments. I will not. I love it.)

The Song of Derenemyn

Once before and long ago

A brave young man was made to know

A year of joy and bitter woe

In his loving of a maiden

 

He met her at an olden fair

With whipping wit and golden hair

Like magic, she did him ensnare,

This maid of Derenemyn

 

A year went by, and still he yearned

And when the fair at last returned

He told her how his heart had burned

For the maid of Derenemyn

 

In summer sweet, they planned to wed

They laid in groves as marriage beds

As fairies light around them tread

Midsummer’s joy proclaimin’

 

And yet one day, the maid grew ill

He held her, but it worsened still

He eased her and he tried to will

The balm of Derenemyn

 

But fear and tears and furrowed brows

Could not keep them from their sacred vows

So Summer’s beauty once more roused

And they wed on Derenemyn

 

Though Summer is not made to last

And yellow took the green of grass

So Autumn made the leaves of brass

And set the hills aflamin’

 

And as it did, they tried to find

A cure to ease her troubled mind

And leave this sickness soon behind

And return to Derenemyn

 

Though the crisp of air filled her heart with song

She knew the journey would be long

But with him, she knew where she belonged

To him, on Derenemyn

 

The bitter chill whipped in the air

The leaves turned brown and the oaks were bare

So he built a fire beside her chair

As the dark of winter came in

 

She struggled all the day and night

Her body weary from the fight

And all joy vanished from her sight

All joy but Derenemyn

 

So the hailing oak threw his arms up high

And touched his hand to the silver sky

And the snow came falling by and by

On the side of Derenemyn

 

As all things come and all things go

Like summer and like melting snow

So spring with creeping green did grow

The forest’s soul reclaimin’

 

And so her weary body healed

And spring in her was soon revealed

Her eyes glowed like the greenest field

In her home of Derenemyn

 

And they danced and laughed and they sang once more

Twice happy as they were before

And loved each other ever more

In the woods of Derenemyn

 

Once before and long ago

All things did come, and then did go

But lucky few will come to know

The joy of Derenemyn.

The Brave Girl

This is the short story I wrote for my wife for Valentine’s Day. As I’ve said previously, it’s the first story I wrote after 4 years or so, and it was the first thing I needed to write in a very long time. She inspires me every day, and I wanted to share with her a little glimpse of how she is in my imagination. This is a small part of her, and since people asked to see it and she said it was okay, I’m sharing it here.

Also, the drawing is a sketch I made of Spaniel Day Lewis for the Valentine’s Day before this one, and since he also graces this story, I thought I’d share it, too. I’d illustrate the whole thing if I could, but I sadly lack that talent.

Once there was a girl who lived in a house that was down a hill and up a hill away from the woods. The girl loved the woods very much, and was often found there, exploring the hidden places and listening to the music of the trees. She was very bright and imaginative and kind and clever, and a million other wonderful things besides, but most of all she was brave. She felt no fear under the boughs and amidst the brush, even when the shadows lengthened, because she loved the forest near her home. There were always adventures to be had there, and she would run or skip or stalk or sit quietly, however the mood struck her, as a branch became a wizard’s staff or a wind-borne blossom sprouted fairy wings or all the birds gathered to sing her a lullaby.

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5 Things That Make Me Happy and Giggly Like a Newborn with Gas

The original intent for this post was very different. It was entitled “5 Things That Make Me Mind-Numbingly Furious” and I was planning on writing it because I was in a foul mood for a variety of reasons. I felt tired and petulant and my inner child was drumming his heels on the floor and screaming at the top of his lungs about how life was unfair and throwing breakfast around and the rest of the conclave that makes up the ownership of my brain wanted to beat the living shit out of him, although they were on the verge of conceding that life really is pretty goddamn unfair and the wailing toddler was making a lot of sense and maybe the only solution was to lash out at everyone and everything and maybe mix in a little turd-throwing and so on until one part of my brain was like “Hey, let’s write a blog post about shit that makes us honest-to-fucking-god pissed, not fake pissed” and the rest of me was like “good idea” and so I wrote the preamble and was about to list the things when I stopped and realized that maybe, just maybe, thinking about things that actually make me mad would probably do the opposite thing of making me less mad and only more mad and it probably wouldn’t be funny so my Inner Adult finally put his coffee cup down, told everyone to shut the fuck up, table the blog idea, and just fucking think about something else before Inner Adult took Inner Gaggle of Whiners to the woodshed and tanned some asses.

Side note: If you want to wake up angry, watch “Too Big to Fail” just before going to bed. It’ll take an effort to resist waking up, getting into your car, driving to New York, and indiscriminately driving up and down the sidewalk on Wall Street in an attempt to rid the world of “bankers” one thump-reverse-thump-drive-thump-reverse-for-good-measure-thump-and-what-the-hell-one-last-time-thump-reverse-better-be-sure-thump at a time. Or maybe that’s just me.

Thump-thump-thump-thump-thump-thump

Thump-thump-thump-thump-thump-thump

Anyway, short story more succinctly put – I didn’t write that post.

Instead, it was suggested by a nightingale near-and-dear to me that instead of frothy anger blog, try writing “5 Things That Make Me Smile-Til-My-Face-Hurts Happy”. After blinking several times as my brain tried to process the concept of “happy” mixed with “my blog” I decided to give it a shot. So here we go – 5 things that make me happy as shit on a day where I’d normally rant about the inconsistency of hotel waffles.

I know, I know – this is new to me too.

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Father’s Day Thoughts

Warning: This post is probably as personal and serious as I’m likely to get on here. It won’t be very funny. It will, however, be genuine. You been warned.

Father’s Day is coming up. For many people, it’s a day to give their father a suitably crappy gift and give the old man a hug. I see a lot of ads and sales and heart-warming hey-ain’t-Dad-great stories and I think that’s pretty cool. For a lot of other people, Father’s Day means not much at all. There’s a load of deadbeat dads, kids who don’t have their fathers in their lives, dads who abandoned their kids and whatnot. For some, Father’s Day is a reminder of someone who abused and terrified them. Not such a great place to be.

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My Spoiler-Free Mass Effect 3 Review

A recent picture of me, Commander Aravan Shepard.

Now that I’m sitting down to type this, I’ve realized that I have no idea who this review would be for. If you played Mass Effects 1 and 2 and loved them, then you don’t need my encouragement. If you played them and hated them, it doesn’t matter what I have to say, because (mild spoiler) Mass Effect 3 is a lot like the first two. And if you have never played Mass Effect at all, then I wouldn’t recommend starting with ME3. Buy the first one and play it. If you liked it, play the second. If you liked that, buy this one. But maybe you’ve played the first 2, liked them, and didn’t know if this one would be any good. Maybe you’re scared. Understandable. I was apprehensive in the extreme. Already this year I’d played a game I was really looking forward to, only to find cruel, bitter disappointment. Maybe it would happen again.

Well, after 30 or so hours of multiplayer, then playing from 6pm to 3 am Tuesday, then 10 am to 2 am on Wednesday, then 11 am to 10 pm Thursday, I can give you my opinion of the game. It’s only one guy’s opinion. Maybe you will disagree. But here is my eleven-word review:

HOLY FUCK THIS IS THE GREATEST GAME I HAVE EVER PLAYED.

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V-Day, Whitney, and Other Random Stuff

I haven’t gotten a chance to watch The Walking Dead yet, but I plan on doing so soon and posting my heartfelt and warm fuzzy feelings about it. So in the meantime, I’ll just spew some random things circulating around my head on this lovely Valentine’s Day.

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On Being Nonreligious

I don’t believe in any kind of god. That probably comes as no surprise to anyone who reads my blog even semi-regularly, because I’ve indicated as such multiple times. I’m not ashamed of that fact. Being an atheist and saying so isn’t a big deal to me. On the other hand, I’m not one of those people who make atheism a religion and insists on preaching about the power of nonbelief and how ludicrous religions are and hypocritical and blah blah blah. I don’t honestly give a flying fuck what you or anyone else believes in. And like the Golden Rule, I’d just like the same in return. I don’t want to talk about religion or debate it, although I can. I have no interest. It’s the same thing with discussions about politics: there is not one thing I can say to a believer that will make them change their minds, and there is nothing one of them can say to me that will change my mind. So what’s the point? People who get off on debating that shit in person or on Facebook or Twitter and feel the need to fire slings and arrows at The Other Side constantly are really fucking tedious. I believe the Washington Redskins are the greatest organization in the history of the NFL. That doesn’t mean I’m gonna proselytize about that every day.

Anyway, what got me thinking about this was a recent article on Slate about how atheists are treated, particularly in the Bible Belt, and comparing it to closeted people so afraid of persecution from the community that they dare not come out of the closet. It’s mostly personal anecdotes and study results, including the 2006 University of Minnesota study on the perception of atheism. Ever since I read it, it’s percolated in the back of my brain. I mean, nothing in it was new to me, and I don’t experience the same kind of shunning from my neighbors that the people in the article describe – I don’t talk to my neighbors anyway, because the geographical oddity that resulted in us all deciding to live in the same area is a flimsy basis for me to put in the effort to talk about mulch and the weather – but I’ve found myself thinking about it off and on ever since.

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You Can Call Us Crazy, That’s Fine

Lady Aravan and I put our house up for sale about three weeks ago.  It generated a lot of interest – and continues to do so – and we did receive an early offer (that was low to the point of absurdity), so it was suggested that we begin to take a closer look at some properties in the areas we were interested in.  My Lady and I did have some specific criteria that we were looking for: land (enough land that our neighbors wouldn’t be on top of us, and if we couldn’t see them at all, so much the better), a good house, and not terribly far away from our respective jobs (which in many cases were in opposite directions of where we were looking).

So, we set up two appointments, one for a house we’d been looking at for close to a year that helped inspire us to want to move in the first place, and then another one, a bit closer to civilization.  The first house had a beautiful 6-acre lot, with nice pasture area and a great outbuilding.  Problem was, the house was so bad and unusable that I’d have preferred living in the outbuilding and letting the animals live in the house.

The second one, though.  Oh my.

The eBook Adventure Begins in Earnest

When I published The Curse of Troius through Createspace, I was excited for two things: I now had an actual printed book that I wrote in my hands, and I could look at Amazon.com and see my book for sale across the country.  I felt good about it, to see all those hours and days and months that added up finally resulted in an actual tangible result.  I suppose it was a shadowy imitation of the experience of having a child (I wouldn’t know for sure, but in my imagination it is): something unique that only you could have created, now in the world.  All I know is, Lady Aravan probably thought I’d lost my mind as I sat holding it, giggling and shaking my head in sheer wonder. Read the rest of this entry

Adventures in Cooking

I am not a foodie in the food snob sense, but I do love food, no question.  I’ll try anything at least once – and this after a childhood so picky that my name might as well have been “No Potatoes and No Beans”, my response whenever I was asked what I wanted for dinner – and I’ve experimented a lot more in last 6 months, making hummus and homemade mayo and stuff like that.  This past week, though, I did some pretty cool stuff that I ended up really happy with. Read the rest of this entry