Tag Archive | prompter: anke

A Good Life

To Anke’s Prompt.  I found I didn’t want to make it dark this time. 

🎃

The field had been warm, sun-kissed and sheltered from the wind. The soil was rich and the rain was lovely.

Now the air was cold and the Vines were drying up. The pumpkin, and all its siblings and cousins, were full-grown, ready. In two more weeks, maybe four, they would start going back to the soil.

The pumpkin saw its family being taken away, moved on wagons and carts. The ground was cold. The sunlight was thinning and the pumpkin could not reach the nutrients in the earth any more.

“This one! It’s gorgeous, look at it!”

Hands lifted the pumpkin and carried it, brought it into bright light and turned it around and around.

The knife shaped and altered the pumpkin while the voices cooed over it. “Beautiful! Awesome!”

The candle flickered inside the pumpkin and the moonlight shone down on it. Visitors stopped and praised it.

The pumpkin would go back to the earth soon. For now, it was pleased.

A Different Stripe

Written to Anke’s prompt. 

🦓

When you spend your time trying to learn as much as possible about the other people around you and working on finding the best in all of them – sometimes by viewing them by your cultural standards, sometimes by theirs, sometimes by some neutral third party – and then you find them using a kind of casual racism against creatures you think of as being the same as them, you tend to find yourself a little shocked or, if you are like me, a little stupefied.

I was, I’m afraid to say, used to the casual racism of humans towards the magical races, especially the categories we called The Small (or Tiny) Races and The Beast Races – Tinies, Pixies, Gremlins and the lot in the first category; centaurs, harpies, fauns and such in the second.  But I spent a lot of my time talking to Zizney, and thez, it seemed, treated all smaller races as, well, smaller but not particularly lesser, just curious. And the worst I had ever heard any of the Smiths say about another dragon was a sort of personal insult, along the lines of “messy and untidy scales.”

Now, I full well know the danger of extrapolating such experiences out.  Not only is one dragon different from another, a dragon is inherently different from a harpy, and so on.  “We are all people” is a good way to treat people but not a good way to try to understand behavior patterns.

But knowing the dangers of something is different from remembering and internalizing those dangers. So when I encountered Leeland, the dapple Bay centaur from down the street, passing by the new neighbors’ stable, I was stunned to hear him mutter “ugh, Zebra-centaurs.”

I was actually stunned enough that I stopped and stared at him.  He was several steps along before he stopped to look back at me.  “What?”  He flicked his tail at me.

“’Ugh?’” I quoted back at him.  The family moving into the stable was, indeed, zebra- looking, the stripes going up into the clothing they wore over their humanoid torsos. “Really?”  I didn’t even have the words for I thought you were one of the good guys, come on.

Now that I think about it, those would have  been the words.

“They’re not centaurs.  Everyone thinks they are, and, I mean, in English the word is just zebra-centaur, but they’re no more centaurs than zebras are horses.  They’re pushy.”  He wrinkled his nose and pushed out air in a very horsey gesture.  “And that’s the problem.  They’re going to come in.  They’re going to be loud and pushy and in everyone’s faces, and everyone’s going to say ugh, centaurs, and it’s not us, it’s them.”

I didn’t really want to interfere in intra-species – or inter-species – troubles, but I couldn’t help myself.  It’s what I do, after all.  “So you know these zebra-centaurs already?”

“I know about zebra-centaurs.  We’ve been through this before. They’re loud.  And messy.”

I lifted up an eyebrow.  “And all centaurs are brilliant scholars and great aims with an arrow,” I added, as if I was agreeing with him – with Leeland, who was a blacksmith.

“That’s not true!  That’s…”  He huffed at me.  “That’s not the same.”

“Well then.  Perhaps I’ll have your family and the new family over for dinner, and you can all explain it to me.  In detail.”

“…With tea?”  He looked at me out of the side of his eye.  I smiled at him.

“Yes, of course, with tea.”

“… I can handle loud and messy for that long.  Fine.”

I hadn’t solved anything.  All I’d done was planted a seed, and it might never take root.

But when you spend your time trying to learn as much as possible about the other people around you, sometimes you have to spread that back out a little, like collecting manure, and hope it doesn’t stink up the place too much in the process.

🦓

I had been watching: https://youtu.be/DEaWFX5nzg0?t=174 over my husband’s shoulder. (Ignore the part on cats; they’re wrong). 

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January By the Numbers Nine: Baking (blog Post)

January by the numbers continues (still a day off~)!
From [personal profile] anke‘s prompt “baking” – a blog post.

I love baking in Winter!

I like baking in summer, too, and it helps that the way our house is laid out, you can run the oven in the kitchen without really heating up the living room or our offices too much, so I can bake bread and cakes all year round if I want to.

Mostly, though, in the summer I bake cookies.

I have been making bread every Sunday for a few weeks now, and I find I like it. Start the bread with a sponge the night before or early Sunday morning, and then by 2 or 3 in the afternoon everything’s ready to go, and we have fresh homemade bread for the week (anything left over and gone stale, or the bread experiments that didn’t quite work, get dried in the oven and frozen for stuffing or bread pudding).

But I like baking cakes, too, pies, crisps, biscuits, cookies… Small Batch Baking, although it has its flaws as a recipe book, was a really good start for me. If I make a cake, a lot of the time it’s somewhere between a mug cake and a small batch recipe in one of my tiny pans or ramekins (I have a tiny bundt pan. It is the world’s most adorable bundt pan). That way, we have cake for a day, just enough frosting, and then it’s gone, poof.

Last night, I made a Small Batch Banana—Pecan bread pudding (forgot the pecans), with, as above, the ends from a few weeks of homemade bread (Since homemade bread stales a lot faster than store-bought). If you’re going to make banana anything, my suggestion is: wait ‘til the bananas are black or nearly black, and then halve the sugar the recipe calls for. You get full banana taste that way! (Also, much easier to mush up).

Honestly, I could talk all day about baking. My husband does the cooking… but I do (almost) all the baking in the house, and I love it.

And it makes the house smell so nice.

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January By the Numbers Six: Swishy Skirts

January by the numbers continues~
From [personal profile] anke‘s prompt “Swishy skirts;” a blog post
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This one has to be another blog post, it just calls to me too much.

I once had a boss’s boss (the Dean, to be specific) call me nunnish. Me. I have not gone through some sort of huge personality change; that was me as started writing Addergoole as what was supposed to be bondage-and-d/s porn. I wasn’t nunnish then, I’m not nunnish now.

But I love skirts that hit my ankles or, better yet, nearly the floor. I love layers of skirts, and have gotten positive comments more than a few times from co-workers for the nice “layered look” of my skirt, only to have them be rather surprised that it’s just two thin maxi skirts layered to make one warm pretty skirt.

I remember being teased in middle school for looking like “Little House on the Prairie.” Okay, granted, I was teased in middle school (in my district, this was 6th-8th grade, ages 12-15, or the most awful, horrible awkward years I can ever remember existing) for just about everything. But the skirts were definitely up there.

Didn’t stop me. There’s a picture of me at my 18th birthday party (writing this now, it seems unlikely I was ever 18), and I am wearing what had to be my favorite swishy skirt ever. My mom bought it for me from one of the Hippy Stores on Hippy Row (Monroe Avenue, downtown Rochester, at a point when it was head shops, hemp-clothing stores, tie-dye and organic recycled shoes), tier after tier after tier of super-thin patterned rayon. I wore that thing until every seam in the bottom 6 tiers had ripped out at least a little, and just tied knots in them to keep them from dragging on the floor.

If you handed me that skirt, new (in my size) today, I would wear it till the seams all ripped out again. Swishy skirts are my thing. They’re as much a part of me as writing.

Bonus: three of them layered over leggings is way warmer than jeans. And I get a kick out of walking for firewood in my carhart, barn gloves, and skirts to my ankles.

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January By the Numbers Five: Glitter

January by the numbers continues~
From [personal profile] anke‘s prompt “glitter;” another apocalypse story.
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There were big things and small things that Gemma missed.

She tried to focus on the big things most of the time: reliable food, heat, running water, electricity. Medical care, drugs. Those were the things that were going to keep her alive, keep them alive. Those were the things that required all of her energy, that first six months.

Shelter, even. Shelter wasn’t as hard as the other ones, because there were still intact buildings, but then you had to protect your mostly-intact building from everything, and everything was a much longer list of threats now than it had been six months ago, a year ago.

Food, same thing – you could find canned goods, preserved goods, but eventually, all of that was gone or gone bad. Same thing for drugs, and when they found a doctor they guarded her with their lives. Running water, electricity, those were the hardest, and those were the least important, at least in the short run.

But when she went to sleep at night, Gemma missed clean, bright colors, frivolous painting, swishy skirts. She missed glitter, and giving someone a card just because you could. She missed decorative clothing — light sundresses and bright-colored t-shirts and mismatched socks on purpose, not because your feet were freezing.

She had not been one of the magi before the world cracked. She had heard of them, the way you hear about CEO’s, Fortune-500 sorts of people, but magic was for the 1 percent, the super-important. She’d been a barista.

Now, though. 90 percent of the surviving population had something — a piece of a broken city they carried, a cracked charm, a wound that held some small fragment of magic. And in her own fragment, Gemma held light and heat, sunshine in a hand that no longer worked well otherwise, pierced by a piece of rebar.

Late at night, when she had done all she could towards their survival for the day, Gemma would sit up in her bed and aim her magic hand at the wall. She’d focus, thinking about candy hearts and ribbons, Hallmark cards and picnics, and she would project the tiniest little lights onto the wall: Glitter. It sparkled and shone and danced on the walls, and, for a few minutes, Gemma barely even missed running water and espresso machines.

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January By the Numbers Four: Sunrise (Fiction piece)

January by the numbers continues~
From [personal profile] anke‘s prompt “sunrise;” an apocalypse story.
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Katarina woke at sunrise, the heat of the May sun warming her skin.

She didn’t open her eyes right away. She lay there, splaying her hands on the ground, letting the warmth soak into every bit of her.

She’d never expected to see the sun rise again.

She wasn’t sure she had another sunset coming, but if the sun was up and her skin was warm, she was going to delay the moment as long as possible. She was going to soak up every bit of sun before she let herself see how bad her situation was — and how bad the world’s situation was.

The explosion last night had — no, not an explosion, that was far too small a word. The cataclysm last night — had shaken everything. It had knocked out power across, as far as they could tell, the whole continent. There was no telling about the rest of the world. It had shattered buildings, buckled roads, and left fields and rivers both burning.

Katarina had been pierced with a flying shard of stone, right between the ribs. Rough triage said it was non-fatal and quick self-inflicted surgery confirmed it. She’d survived the explosion.

She was not nearly as sanguine that she’d survive the men that had come for her. It hadn’t been her hand in the spellwork, but she had survived, when the ones who had done the deed had not, and someone needed to pay.

She opened her eyes. The world had survived, in a matter of speaking. For three, four hours there, she hadn’t been sure it would. But the sun was lifting over a burning horizon, and, for the moment, at least, Katarina was still alive to see it. She smiled.

Every sunrise was a blessing. And the men standing, armed, just behind her, they narrowed the focus of the day. All she had to do now was make it to sunset.

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January By the Numbers Three: Butterflies (Fiction piece)

January by the numbers starts here!
From [personal profile] anke‘s prompt “butterflies;” a story of Addergoole (Year 9 character)
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“So, I’m going to teach you a few very important things, and when you have figured them out, I want you to be sure you think about them as examples, not just as truths in themselves. Allegories, all right?”

Alhandra remembered her father’s stories for years. The one about the monk who climbed the mountain. The one about the monkey who made bad promises. The one about the princess with the sword. This, this always stuck in her mind, in part because he didn’t start out like he always did:

I’m going to tell you a tale, and when I’m done, perhaps you can tell me what you learned.

All of his tales were lessons, but these, somehow, these were supposed to be more important.

So Alhandra remembered.

“Butterflies first. Pretty things, butterflies, small and fragile, right? They’re not the most dangerous-looking things around. Lots of people are like butterflies, angel. They look pretty, they look weak, like they won’t last too long. You know the sort.”

Allhandra nodded. She knew the type, all right, even then.

“Butterflies can be poison. And people who are beautiful, they can be poison, too. They can be deadly.” He touched her hair, gently. “They don’t have to be. The little butterflies that wander around the meadow behind the house, they’re safe. And not all pretty people are poison – that’s important, too. But you know about the viceroy butterfly, how it imitates the monarchs? Remember that. Some people are poison in a pretty coat, and some people are harmless and look like poison.”

“So… look beyond the wings?”

“It’s more important than you’d think it is, princess. Not just the pretty faces, but the pretty words. Not just the pretty words, but the soft touches. You have to really, really know someone before you know if they’re poison or just pretending.”

“What’s the next part?”

“Noam!” Alhandra’s mother had called from the back yard at that point. “Noam, it’s time.”

She’d had to wait for another day to learn about sharks.

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The Words of Magic, a story-bit of Stranded

This is in part to requests for non-Roundtree (Seasonal Siblings) Stranded stories, part in reply to anke‘s rather old request which I could not find if I’d fulfilled or not. And because the discussion around said request involved the Language of magic TV Tropes Page…

📺

“Eye of the blind, open for me.”

Most people, Nilsa knew, didn’t need to do chanting.

“Feet of the crippled, walk forward for me.”

As a matter of fact, in all of her time working with the Strands, she’d only met one other person who did formalized ritual with their Strand-spells (and only one other person who called them spells).

“Mouth of the mute, speak your words only to me.”

She drew the final line in her chalk diagram and settled into the middle of it. She’d talked to several Workers who thought that her teaching had gone awry and that had caused her dependence on spell and ritual, and three who had heard of Strand-weavers who used rituals and chants.

“Windows gone dark, open your curtains to me.”

Which was a lovely thing, in theory. She knew there had been others like her; she knew why, more or less, she was the way she was.

“Clock of the world, show what your hours have seen!”

But until now, she hadn’t had a way to see why her teacher had crippled her Strand-weaving like this. She opened her eyes wide, as the projection began playing on the wall, thousands of Strands working together to make a video of the past.

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