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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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Smoke Detectors Can Kiss My Ass

This is my brand of smoke detector. I hope it dies in a fire.

“Smoke detectors save lives”. So says everyone and everything on the internet. Every day, a smoke detector saves umpty-bumpty lives while simultaneously providing a much needed ornamental flair to the otherwise drab ceilings of our homes.

I hate them ever so much.

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5 Things About LARPs and Hurricanes and Assorted Other Stuff

1. I played in a LARP two weekends ago. It was a different kind of game than ones I’d done in the past. The game is set in post-apocalyptic America where most of the population is either dead or Infected – like the “zombies” in 28 Days Later, fast and angry – and you are trying to get by and survive along with a group of other would-be survivors. It took place on a campground that had a replica ship, castle, and fort on the land, all of which were incorporated into the game as actual locations to explore and fight in. Combat was simulated using Airsoft weapons from pistols to shotguns to assault rifles along with “boffer” weapons – essentially replica weapons made with PVC and foam padding so it doesn’t hurt when you accidentally closeline someone.

I had a fucking blast.

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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.

A Good Weekend

It was a good weekend, but one that didn’t last quite long enough (not that they ever do).  I hadn’t mentioned it here before (I don’t think, anyway – continuity is hard), but Lady Aravan and I have put our house up for sale.  That means that every weekend and some weeknights, we have to scrub the house down, gather our beloved pack of pooches, and get out of sight so people can look at the house.  We got an offer that we’ve been countering and going back and forth over the last few days, so we’re hopeful that it sells soon.  We are looking for a rural farmette in PA, or failing that, just a private location with some acreage.  Yes, I hate people that much, and yes, it will be key during a zombie invasion.

Priorities.

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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

Tracing My Bongo Burgers: A Day on the Farm, Part 2

This series of posts describes my recent trip to Bobolink Dairy Farm.  I decided to break it into chunks because I apparently have a lot to say about it.  Today’s entry chronicles the journey itself.

Dawn broke on the big day as we woke up to head to the dairy.  Actually, dawn didn’t break until well after we’d woken up, bu that just made it feel all the more farmier.  A quick breakfast (cereal and a protein shake for me; leftover homemade pizza and cottage cheese for the Lady.  Seriously.) followed soon after, and then we got bundled up.  We knew it’d be in the 30s and we’d be tramping in snow, thanks to an email from Jonathan White, the cheesemaker and half the head of Bobolink Dairy Farm, the other half being Nina, his wife, who bears the lovely description of Dancemaker on the website since she is a ballet dancer as well, and who teaches breadmaking classes. Read the rest of this entry

Tracing My Bongo Burgers: A Day on the Farm Part 1

This series of posts describes my recent trip to Bobolink Dairy Farm.  I decided to break it into chunks because I apparently have a lot to say about it.  Today’s entry is sort of an introduction and background.

For Valentine’s Day this year, Lady Aravan got me the coolest present ever: a trip to a farm to take a cheesemaking class.

Now, to a lot of people, that might sound like hell on earth, or at least dull and pointless.  I mean, Wal-Mart has all the cheese you’ll ever need, right?  Perfectly yellow, helpfully shrink-wrapped, every single one of each variety tasting exactly the same as all the others.  Such perfect uniformity is yummy! Read the rest of this entry

Being Sick

You heard it here first: getting sick royally blows.

No, no, bear with me.  All that excitement you feel at the idea of a sore throat, hacking cough, a nose that goes from plugged tighter than the vacuum seal on the goddamn International Space Station to a sudden pouring rush like the freaking Niagara?  See, it actually isn’t all fun and games and getting off of work and sleeping like a cold remedy commercial.  It actually really really sucks.  It’s nothing like you see on TV.

Totally blows. Read the rest of this entry