Tag Archives: friends

Travel: May 22, 2014: Trains to New Horizons

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The 22nd was a travel day. We got on the train in Koma, switched to the shinkansen in Morioka and rode it to Kyoto.

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We crossed several rivers like this, wide and shallow, though I don’t think that these were the mouths of rivers.  Perhaps they were.  I spied the sea several times from the train windows, though I never could get a pictures of it.  I showed itself only in flashes, past cities and towns that soon themselves disappeared behind steep mountainsides.

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A full day of travel and an unfamiliar city leaves one pretty disoriented, and though Kari had looked at the map, and we’d both seen that it ought to be pretty easy to find our hostel, we had the look of tourists—and not just because we were lighter-haired than the majority of the population.

Another cherished memory of the goodness of people remains a boy maybe our age who, while we were looking at a map, went out of his way to come up to ask if we needed help—in English even. He pointed us in the right direction then sped back the way that he had come, which is how I know that he changed his course to help us.

Our hostel, Hostel Kanouya, was in a traditional style house down a quiet side street surrounded by other traditional homes. The owner of the hostel greeted us and helped us up a very steep set of stairs to our room. The area was wide. It was only the two of us, so there was room for both futons and a small table with comfortable floor chairs.

Having settled ourselves and our bags a bit, we went out in search of dinner, and found a nearby restaurant nearer the traditional Japanese style. We took off our shoes and settled onto seats that let our feet hang into almost a trough below the countertop. It was late. There was only one other patron in the restaurant, a middle-aged man, who seemed to be friends with the restaurant’s owner. They were chatting amiably while he ate his dinner. We ordered a favorite of Kari’s, Kansai-style okonomiyaki, which Kari described to me as something like a hearty Japanese pancake, but I would say is some wonderful combination of hash browns and omelets with several sauces drizzled over it as well as red ginger to give it a really delicious and pleasantly varied zing. While our hostess mixed ingredients and cooked the okonomiyaki on the hot griddle that ran the length of the countertop, she kept chatting with her friend, and I let my attention wander to the crime drama that was playing on the TV beside us. Kari and the two friends exchanged eager questions and answers while I smiled and bobbed my head and waved hello when introduced.

It was a wonderfully pleasant way to end the evening.

All photographs are mine.  Click to see them larger.  All maps are made using Google Maps.

Challenge: Legal Theft: What Pleases Punch (448 words)

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“You look pleased as punch.”

Iain smiled contemptuously. “Punch is rarely pleased.”

“And you rarely are either,” she smiled, “so what’s the occasion?”

Iain threw himself into the cushioned chair by the window, where the sunshine gilded his blond hair, Sadie noticed. Sadie looked away from him. He was disgracefully handsome especially with the rare, glittering smile.

“I saw a friend of ours today,” he said.

“Oh?” Sadie prompted, darting him a quick look.

“Yes. Gareth.”

“Gareth?” Sadie yelped. When last she had seen Gareth, he had been trundled, shoved into a cart, his hands and feet still in fetters. Gareth had gone quietly after the judges had spoken against him. The vote against him had been unanimous, and his sentence had been a lifetime of hard labor at an iron mine. Iain had told Sadie then that he didn’t think that Gareth’s life would be that long.

“Yes. Gareth.”

“How—how is he?”

Gareth and Iain had been inseparable as children. It surprised Sadie that Iain could speak now of Gareth lightly. His voice should have been gruff. He should have been angry, hurt. Sadie could not even think about Gareth, think about how he had looked that day with his clothes and already shaggy, black hair disheveled from a night and a day in the dungeons and his wrists red and raw from the iron cuffs without her heart shrinking in her chest.

But Iain smiled. “Better than I expected.”

That told Sadie little. If Gareth was alive then he was better than Iain—or Sadie—would have expected.

Sadie’s patience expired. She growled, “Iain—”

Iain laughed—actually laughed, throwing his head back.

“Alive,” Iain said. “And well. And strong. And free.”

“Free?” Sadie gasped, her hand flying to his throat. “He escaped? Where—where’s he?”

“Not escaped. Wronged.”

“The judges know?”

“The judges sent for him. He’s downstairs.”

“No,” said a voice, deeper than Sadie remembered but still with a familiar smile that made her heart burst, “I’m not.”

Sadie yelped, “Gareth!” She flew from the chair and across the room and into his arms before her second breath. He was laughing, and Iain was laughing with him, and Sadie was crying and beating Gareth’s chest with her fists, telling him to stop, but the laughter was bubbling up from her belly too, and she didn’t think she could stopper it, though she wanted to be angry at him for not coming sooner, and with Iain for not telling her right away, but she was undeniably happy, and soon she was laughing too, and she was holding onto Gareth to keep herself upright, and he held her, and he kept her on her feet.

I am a thief!  And I am back!  I stole this line from Gwen of Apprentice, Never Master.  Tomorrow she will post the piece that she wrote using this line.

Challenge: Legal Theft: College Visit (533 words)

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Catherine surveyed the room, little pink feathers, bits of duct tape and other hot pink detritus covering the room, Lady GaGa blaring from the speakers, “So you’re ready then?”

“Yep,” Cate grinned from amid a pile of pink tissue paper.  The shiny, pink paper bow was in danger of slipping off when she cocked her blonde head.  “Think she’ll be surprised?”

“Oh, she’ll be surprised,” Catherine agreed.  April would be surprised by her friend in her living room, surprised by the redecoration, but she wouldn’t be pleased by the mess that Cate had created.  Cate had driven in that morning, sure to arrive after April had gone to work, and Cate had landed like a hurricane.  From her car she had unpacked the hoard of shiny paper and bright duct tape, feather boas, and a binder of CDs from the late 2000s.

“Just like college,” Cate beamed, looking around at the decorations.

Catherine very much doubted that even in college April had kept her living area this cluttered and colorful.  The April that Catherine knew was neat and tidy and quiet, enjoying a cup of tea and a book at their bistro table in the kitchen on her days off, whose idea of a party was the two of them, a movie on tiny TV screen, and a bowl of popcorn.

“Okay, well,” Catherine said, “I’m going to leave you to it.  She should be home in a bit.”

“Stay,” Cate begged.  “We’re both her friends.  She’d want us both on her birthday.”

So Catherine stayed in the room decorated in plucked, pink boas and fashion duct tape.  Cate sat there like a present, glancing every few moments at the door, while she told Catherine stories of April in college, stories that didn’t sound like April.

Cate was telling her about the time that she, April, and a friend named Lianne had snuck out to decorate a friend Ruby’s car with sticky notes when the lock turned and Cate gasped and spun toward the door, staring at it with all the eagerness of a child towards the ice cream van.

April opened the door.

And she stopped.

And she stared.

Cate leapt up and emitted a noise that oughtn’t to have been audible, the bow falling off her head.

April echoed her.

Catherine had a quick glimpse of her bright grin.  She clearly wasn’t distressed by the mess at all if she had noticed it around her friend.

And then they were hugging in the middle of the living room that had been transformed into a pink mess.

“Happy birthday!” Cate squealed, and April, hugging her, began to bounce up and down, and Cate joined her.

As they broke apart, April turned to include Catherine in her smile, and through the neat and orderly April that Catherine had lived with these seven months in her slacks and button-down top, Catherine saw the April that Cate described, chaotic and beaming and ready to pull a late-night prank, and Catherine realized she still did not know April as well as she would like.  She wondered if she should hide all of the sticky notes in a top cabinet and maybe all the duct tape too.

I am a thief!  I stole this line used by the The Babbling Buzzard for this original short fiction piece.

Links to all of the legal theft stories can be found here.

Also, to Bek at BuildingADoor, whose birthday is coming up.  I wish I could show up with duct tape.

Harry Potter and the Attack of the Threads

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It’s most odd.  I keep dreaming myself into Anne McCaffrey’s world.  The first time it was a fight between F’lar and Eragon over the position of Weyrleader.  That was the morning after I’d spent the day reading Dragonflight; I wasn’t terribly surprised.  But the second time, I’d not even been thinking about the book consciously.  I dreamed myself into a relationship with a dragon that I was supposed to use, in addition to flaming arrows, to defend a castle-like Hollins campus against some invasive plant species.  Unlike Threads, it was plant, not fungus, and it did not come from the sky, but spread like any ordinary flower.  I don’t know what it’s nefarious purpose was, unless it was an allergen.  Dragonflight was not, I didn’t think, a particularly life-changing book, but maybe I’m supposed to be working in a similar vein?  Why won’t my brain let it go?

Really, it seems that my life over these past few days has been devoted to–surprise, surprise–homework and plotting times and means of transportation to Harry Potter 7.2.  Oh my gosh, friends, it all ends here!  The current plan is Grandin at midnight with one of the Children’s Lit groups, then with Erin Friday afternoon.  Then, of course, with you all in CT later.  So… much… Potter….  A few hours of sleep will likely be all that separates my first 2 viewings….

And yes, I caught a few minutes of the live broadcast from the London premier and I watched the highlights clips afterward (which altogether was probably all of 6 or 7 minutes, so I don’t feel badly about that).

I dare not miss a midnight showing because I’m afraid I may need to write about it.  Oh.  I got a job.  🙂  Or I think I got a job.  Following a link from PotterCon 2012, I found their sponsor, Wizarding Life Network, and on the top of their page was a link advertising for writers and editors.  I said, “Why not?” and applied to be an editor.  I got an email the other day from the owner saying congratulations on being chosen as a writer.  So… not an editor, not the experience that could get me to a copyeditor position or an editorial assistantship, but what fun will it be to make up news articles in the character of one of the wizards living in J. K. Rowling’s fantasy!  If things do start getting published and/or when I’m more sure of what I’m doing, I will let you know.  Only problem is that I’m pretty sure that this job can’t pay….

I mentioned that I have a group with which I think I am going to see HP7.2.  I’ve been invited to join several groups.  Today, actually, I began to feel like I’m finally starting to make connections, maybe even friends.  I hope this is a persistent feeling.

We had an email-based discussion of the German satire of didactic children’s picture books, Strewwelpeter by Heinrich Hoffman, and you know, while it was insane to try and keep up with so many emails and responses and responses to responses, it was a really good discussion in which all of our ideas were heard, in which we got to interact, albeit not face-to-face, on a more one-on-one level.

This is short, but every time I start something new….

I play with technology and visit people

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I’ve been pretty awful about being timely with these posts, haven’t I?  Sorry.

It’s been a while since I’ve actually talked to you about June.

Let’s see… what’s been going on?

I’ve been having all kinds of trials with technology.  Round about Friday a giant storm came sweeping through our county, with a possible tornado in the next town over, really quite near our house.  Trees were downed all over the place, sometimes three per a yard.  About a third of the town was without power and I’m not 100% sure everyone has it back yet.  Our yard was very thankfully missed.  No downed trees and the power remained on.  Since then, though, our cell phones have been occasionally dropping service, so if you’ve called and I’ve not gotten back to you, I may never have gotten the call.

In addition to that, someone has invented a Mac virus.  Meg, the family computer, caught it.  It comes up as a warning that other viri have been found on the computer and that we need to install the antivirus software that has just been automatically downloaded onto our computer.  We let it run for a while before we realized what it was.  Now we know.  I spent a few hours disinfecting Meg using the instructions from the Apple website.  It was a really well-constructed virus.  I felt really accomplished when I was done and so far -knocks on wood- no damage seems to be done.

Yesterday too I got a new computer!  A 13-inch MacBook Pro with 320 GB of hard-drive space!  Talk about upgrade.  That being said, one of today’s projects will be to try and get it in working order, to work on getting all Leigh-Anne’s information onto… the new girl.  I’ve managed Skype and Flash and gotten all (I think) of my iTunes music into this version of iTunes.  That was a project.  iTunes kept freezing if I tried to download too much at once and then I found a bunch of music missing and had to go on the hunt.  As I type, Office is downloading some “critical” update.

Otherwise, I’ve finally been able to get to see people!

I spent an afternoon with Ms. Sheeran, mostly talking over who we’ve heard from and who we  haven’t, but also a bit of whatever might be coming after Big Girl Day.

Sunday night Erin, Rachel, Nicole, and I actually discovered O’Connors Public House.  There is an Irish pub in our small town!  It was a fun little place with cosy booths, decorations of bottles and knick-knacks in a sort of Appleby’s fashion, and good food.  I ended up with cider and bangers and mash, which–alas!–were not as good as any English pub fare, but still not bad.  We spent our time talking about everything!  Gossip, Harry Potter made his usual appearance, Twilight, The Brave Little Toaster, Merlin, all the movies that are coming out and all the ones we’ve seen with college friends, fanfiction.  I love these girls!  It’s never as if we’ve ever left one another… except that there’s much more to talk about than if we’d seen one another everyday.

Rini and I got together yesterday to make cookie dough and watch High School Musical.  We talked a bit about job opportunities, but mostly just relaxed with one another.