Starry Wanderer or Name That Bowl!

One of the steps in the tea ceremony ritual is to take time to admire the tools used. Called haiken, it's a chance for the guests to take a close look at the items and for the guest to explain a bit about them, how they were made, their history, etc. The last tea ceremony practice I went to I had a chance to bring in a bowl I bought. And it definitely had a story behind it.

I first fell in love with this bowl while browsing the net when my friend Oolong was over.

The picture is from the Etsy shop I bought it from, Art To Hold

 I have a weakness for things with a celestial or star motif and this bowl just called to me. Tea bowls are not exactly inexpensive things, and at the time, I thought I'd put off getting it. But when a few weeks later I was in need of retail therapy (this was about the time my family got the news a very close friend of the family was nearing the end of his battle with Lou Gherig's Disease) I remembered this bowl. My friend loved the night sky as much as I did but for very different reasons (mine more metaphysical and his very strictly scientific). So I bought it.

And I waited...and waited...and waited...

Somehow, for some reason still unknown to me, Etsy grabbed an old address to send it to, my parents' old home half a fair sized state away. Never mind that I had placed an order just a week before and it came to my home just fine, as had the all the other orders I had ever made through Etsy.

I contacted the seller, who was super sweet about the whole thing (really I can't plug his store, Art To Hold enough - if anyone out there is in the market for a Japanese chawan or tea bowl, do check his shop out). He helped me track down phone numbers for the post office to try to sort things out. I got a hold of an actual human being at the post office near my folks old place and she found the package and pulled it so it could be sent to the correct address, no additional charge to me or the Etsy seller.

And then I waited...and waited...and waited...

Somehow, for reasons slightly less obscure but no less frustrating, my bowl got caught up in some strange sorting process based on the bar codes on it and kept pinging back and forth between a few different post offices. It got as close as Philadelphia before it got bounced back to somewhere else it wasn't supposed to go. I got to be quite friendly with the postal employee I has contacted initially. We apparently were both big tea lovers. She collected tea pots and one of her most cherished pieces had come from Japan. I actually talked to her the day my friend died and her kindness then, as well as throughout the whole thing, is something that will stay with me.

Finally - on my son's birthday which happened to coincide with a full moon no less - the bowl arrived in one piece at my home. The first person to drink from it? My friend's daughter, who loves Japan the way I and her mother do and loves the stars the way her father did.

My cha-do set, with it's snazzy new bowl.

So I related this whole story to my tea class and finished with "It really needs a name after all it's been through." (It's pretty common for distinctive tea tools to be given names). I asked the Japanese speakers how they might translate "Starry Wanderer" in Japanese - and got blank looks. Some concepts are hard to translate, but I may play with it it until I find a good translation. In the meanwhile, although it doesn't have a Japanese name, it does have a song.

Song Choice: The Wanderer by Dion

3 Guesses, First 2 Don't Count...

There's a blog hop over at Lexa Cain's that asks people to talk about their dream destination...

Yeah, so is anyone out there shocked Japan is mine?  Didn't think so.

My intro to Japan started the way most Gen X-er's did. Anime. Though my first anime was not as well known in the US as the ones most people my age connected with, it's widely popular in Japan (I swear I'm not trying to be hipster about it - in fact if more US folks discovered this old school gem, I'd love it!). The main character's design is reminiscent of Snow White - if Snow had to dress as a boy and kick some ass sword fighting!

Princess Sapphire kicked royal butt back in the day when competent girl fighters were rare

One of the places I'd have to visit in Japan is the Osamu Tesuka animation museum, as he is the creator of Princess Knight (Japanese title: Ribon No Kishi) and is generally known as father of modern anime and manga, because so much of the style of anime derives directly from his work.

I also need to pay homage to a modern master of the art and visit the Ghibli Museum. For those not familiar, Hayao Miyazaki is a co-founder of Studio Ghibli and director of some of my all time favorite movies.

If you haven't seen Spirited Away, do it now!!!

Some time needs to be spent in Osaka. This city is known for it's culinary delights. A famous expression says that citizen of Kyoto will ruin themselves through extravagance in clothing while those from Osaka will ruin themselves though food.

I'm not a baseball fan, but I've adopted the Hanshin Tigers out of Osaka because of my desire to visit the city. Plus their fight song rocks.

I'd love to soak up some older culture and history of Japan as well, so Kyoto is a must. The tea school I belong to, Urasenke, is based out of Kyoto. Also I'd love to catch a performance of traditional Japanese performance arts there.

Speaking of Japanese arts, I want to visit sites sacred to Benzaiten, Goddess of the Arts and a Lady I have high regard for. There are several sites sacred to Her but the one I want to visit the most is in Enoshima, where one of Her most famous legends takes place (Her taming a dragon).

I was thrilled when I discovered this song about Benzaiten by Blackmoore's Night

So where would you go if you could go anywhere?

NaNoDeJaWriThrmo...or something like that (An Insecure Writer's Support Group Post)

Part of the Insecure Writer's Support Group postings

The good news is that I have made a nice start to the novel. I've got an outline, chapter summaries for the first few chapters, a nice chunk of background info (world building sort of things and character summaries) and most of chapters one and two written.

Nope, didn't win NaNoWriMo this year - and I didn't expect to.

I expected it to be a kick in the ass to start writing down ideas that could fill a novel, and it was that. I also knew the combination of the emotional roller coaster I've been on, along with my fear of failure was a rich petri dish for procrastination to flourish. So my goal was just to start, just see I could get something done, even when I felt not so great. And possibly see where my procrastination temptations lie. I can't say house keeping is usually so alluring I can't resist it - but when the choice is between that and trying to figure out the perfect words to describe a scene, well, let's just say my house looked awesome in November. Also, I am glad Candy Crush has a limit on lives.

My actual goal is to have a rough at least 80% done story by the end on January, making this a 3 month jog instead of a 1 month sprint. It's just more realistic for where I am. So while I feel, yeah, I kind of was lame in making writing my priority in November, the 3 month goal works. I'm not giving up; I'm taking it at my own pace. The goal isn't to hurry. It's to finish.


(Just a quick poem I worked on yesterday, after a vague sort of dusting of snow.)

The snow was much deeper then
and you and I were much younger.
But when it glittered at just the right height,
and the powder of it was just so

we’d run.

Leaving nothing
but sprays of crystalline glitter and prints behind us

we’d run,

when good folk were working, cooking, studying
and generally intent on busy-ness.

That might have been me too,
when I was even younger still,
cocooned beneath cinder and cement,
looking outside and longing,
but afraid.

The snow is not right yet.
The leaves are mostly gone.
But the sky still has not made up its mind.
Eventually it will,
and when it does

I’ll run.

NaNoWriMo 2013! (An Insecure Writer's Support Group Post)

This post is part of the Insecure Writer's Support Group

Between my last IWSG post and this one a lot has happened. The two biggest things of course were the passing away of a dear friend of the family's and the passing away of my dog, Faye. There have been points where I'm doubled over with grief, but there have been good days too. I remember my friend Mike once commenting on a story I once wrote. He was rather annoyed with me, because he felt my writing was good and it irked him I didn't do much with it.

I tend to be the kind of person who dismisses compliments, rationalizing that they are mostly out of fondness for my quirky self and not based on any actual merit. This annoys the hell out of my husband by the way. But I've had enough friends and family whose judgement I do trust telling me I need to give my writing a serious shot and NaNoWriMo's timing couldn't be more perfect, so here I am, testing out what I've got.

I can't completely put aside all of October's grieving - I'll probably be crying for quite a bit but I have done some writing I've been proud of during this period, and while I may not meet the word count at the end of November, I'll be pretty darn far along by then (and December looks relatively calm in terms of activity this year).

So New Moon, New Year (my fellow witchy folk understand what I'm talking about) and a new look for the blog. How do you like it? The artwork was created by the amazing Sunshine Shelle (I saw the original in her etsy shop and had to make it mine). And I owe a lot to Magaly Guerrero at Pagan Culture for helping me get the fine details just the way I like them (and for checking for typos). It's just what I needed to mark my new fresh start.

Get ready NaNoWriMo, because here I come!

I have found it is difficult for me to be sad and listen to Motown

Twelve Times Seven And Change

This is a quick story I wrote soon after a big event in my life. I won't claim its perfectly polished but I got what I needed to get down on paper.

For everyone who has ever loved a pet. And most especially for Faye and Muffin. Love you.

Twelve Times Seven and Change 

August 2001

Muffin padded silently up the stairs of the quiet town house. Although he didn’t need to use the stairs strictly speaking, he found he liked doing it anyway. Although it was smaller than the houses he had shared with TheBoy, walking up and down the steps reminded him of those days when they lived together. He got to the top, found the door to TheBoy’s room and walked through it.

The corgi puppy that lay at the foot of the bed heard Muffin as he entered. She cocked her head and blinked sleepily at him but didn’t seem scared or even surprised at all. This would have astonished the man and woman also sleeping on the bed. Just this morning the puppy had been barking aggressively at a plastic bag blowing in the wind, sure it was up to no good. But then again, the corgi knew right away it had nothing to fear from the strange dog, although it just walked right through a closed door. Ghostly golden retrievers were one thing; plastic bags that seemed to move by themselves were another.

“Welcome to the family!” Muffin said.

The corgi wagged her stump of a tail a bit, got up and nudged the woman’s foot. She muttered something about eggplants, rolled over, but otherwise stayed asleep, oblivious to the visitor. The man didn’t move at all, just continuing to snore.

“Who are you?” the puppy asked.

“I’m Muffin. I’ve known TheBoy since he was a puppy.”

The puppy gave him a puzzled look. “Since? He’s still a very small puppy though he’s gotten big enough to walk on his own sometimes with Mommy and me. She has to push him in a stroller or carry him otherwise.”

Muffin started to laugh, which rather offended the small corgi. She gave a soft bark and growled a bit causing the man to mutter in his sleep a bit, “Shh, Faye. Just a few minutes…”

Faye stopped making noises, not wanting to wake up Mommy or Daddy but whispered fiercely, well at least as fierce as a corgi puppy could, at Muffin. “Stop that! You’ll wake them up!”

“They can’t hear me,” Muffin said. “But they can hear you just fine, well your barking at least. You have to love humans, the crazy things can’t understand a thing we say, but they do try hard. At least TheBoy does.”

“The only thing TheBoy tries is to steal my food from my food bowl. And I think the other day Mommy fished one of my puppy teeth out of his mouth. He chews on everything!” Faye said exasperatedly, pleased she at least was above such undignified behavior. Then she looked over at the crib at the side of the room fondly. “Still, he’s very cute and doesn’t mean any real harm. It’s a good thing Mommy and Daddy have me here to keep an eye on him.”

Muffin successfully controlled his laughter this time. “TheBoy likes to chew on food a lot, but he’s never chewed on anything he couldn’t eat. Maybe it would help him if he just chewed on things. His Mate sometimes gets annoyed when he eats too much.”

Faye suddenly understood. “No, Muffin. You have it wrong.  This,” she said, motioning with her snout to the man on the bed, “is Daddy, not TheBoy. TheBoy is in that crib over there.”

Muffin frowned. “No, Daddy and Mommy live in a big house someplace else. Their pups are all grown, but they are over there a lot with pups of their own and…”

“No,” Faye interrupted. “I think you’re talking about Grandma and Grandpa.”

“No I’m not.”

“Yes you are.”

“Am not.”

“Are too.”

They bickered this way, oblivious to the simultaneous groggy bickering of the humans, each insisting that it was the other one’s turn to walk Faye. Finally the man got up, motioning to Faye who managed a final “Are too!” before he led her out.

May 2003

“Hello Muffin,” Faye said as he came through the bedroom door. The woman lay asleep with a toddler boy curled up beside her and a new occupant in the nearby crib.

“Hello pretty lady,” he said roguishly.

Faye rolled her eyes. “You’d flatter a toothless old dog if you thought it would get you somewhere.”

“This is true,” Muffin said. “It’s a shame I didn’t know you when I was in my prime.”

“I wasn’t born then,” she said dryly. “Though it’d be nice to have you here more often. Two pups! At least TheBoy doesn’t go in his pants anymore – and don’t start that again!” she said, noticing the beginning of Muffin’s laughter.

“Sorry. But TheBoy is still TheBoy to me.”

“That is entirely too confusing. We need to decide on something we can both agree on. I wish you were sensible enough to see that.”

“Well, maybe we can come to some agreement on the pups’ names.”

Faye thought for a moment. “Mommy calls TheBoy, I mean the older pup, Little One sometimes. I’ve heard her call the new pup Little Two.”

“I like that! How are you holding up with human pups in the house?”

“Well, it’s hard right now. Mommy is still tired and I’d like to get walked more. I know she will when she feels better. Thanks for playing chase with me sometimes when I’m bored.”

Muffin gave a snort. “I can’t believe they call that The Running of the Corgis. I mean I know they can’t see me, but still you’d think someone might notice something”

“They can’t help being humans. Besides I think sometimes Mommy and Daddy notice something,” she added kindly. “Right now they need help noticing when Little One and Little Two are beginning to move in their beds. It’s a good thing they have me here to let them know if they miss it!”

At that, the baby started stirring in her crib. She blinked her eyes sleepily and looked at the two dogs.

“Aw!” said Muffin. “I think she knows her name. Who’s a cute Little Two?”
She looked at the ghostly dog and reached towards it. When she couldn’t grab on to it, she began to howl.

“Loud, isn’t she?” Faye said proudly. “I hardly need to bark to let Mommy know.”

Both woman and toddler woke up. The woman rubbed her eyes. “OK, OK, honey. I guess I can’t complain. That was a half hour you let me sleep. Faye must be crossing her tiny little legs by now.”

Faye looked indignant “She’s one to talk. She’s no giant among humans either,” she muttered to Muffin.

Muffin was too preoccupied with the baby to comment. Faye remained annoyed until the woman came over to her, with the now soothed baby in one arm. “Good Faye,” she said scratching her with her free arm. Let me get her in a sling and I’ll get you out back real quick.”

“I come too!” said the toddler.

“OK, then let’s get the baby in the stroller and make it a real walk. What do you say Faye?”

Faye barked enthusiastically.

December 2007

“Did he always snore this much?”

Muffin contemplated the man peacefully snoring on the bed.
“Nope. That happened as he got older.” He looked carefully at him and tested out the name he and Faye had agreed upon. “Sleeping OK Goofball?”

The man murmured incoherently, a quick smile flitting across his face before he rolled over.

Muffin wagged his tail. “He likes it!”

Faye nodded approvingly. “I thought so.” She padded over to Muffin to look at the man. “I rather like Goofball’s snoring. I find I have a hard time going to sleep at night without it. That’s why I like staying up with him.”

“You sleep just fine during the day,” Muffin teased.

“Well, it is less busy with both Little One and Little Two gone for the day.”

“How is Loca doing with them gone?” Muffin asked. He wasn’t entirely sure about the new name for The Mate, but Faye insisted that there was a song that described her perfectly with that word in the title. (Faye wasn’t terribly happy that it mentioned cats, but thought the part about mocha skin and voodoo dolls sounded about right. Muffin still thought Shorty was better, but Faye was very offended when he suggested it.)

“She was sad for a bit. But thank goodness I’m here. I’ve got her on a good schedule with walking so she gets plenty of sunshine and exercise. Doesn’t she look healthy now?”

“Almost as good as her dog.”

“Flatterer,” she said, but pulled herself up as tall as her frame would allow her.

October 10, 2013

“Muffin I’m so tired.”

Muffin knew this kitchen. It was the one he had so many happy memories of, with Goofball and his family a long time ago. He knew today Goofball was very, very sad, so was Loca. And he knew why.  An old friend of both of theirs had arrived in the Summerlands just a few days ago. Before Muffin came to see Faye, he went to see them. They weren’t too far from this home, standing out in the rain with other friends in one of those odd parks with small stones spaced neatly apart from each other, near a large box ready to be lowered in the ground.

 Muffin looked at Faye and knew it wouldn’t be long before she made the journey to the Summerlands too.

“Hi pretty lady,” he said.

“I’m an old lady, Muffin. And something is wrong. I feel it in my tummy.” The usually self assured corgi looked nervously up at Muffin.

“Don’t be scared Faye. You’ll love the Summerlands. I promise.”

“I’m not scared about that. But what if Goofball and Loca don’t come back in time? I don’t want to go and not say goodbye.” She started to whimper. “Oh Muffin, I don’t want to go! Who will make sure Loca takes her walks? Who will stay up with Goofball and comfort him when he can’t sleep?”

“They will have to manage Faye,” Muffin said kindly. He curled up next to Faye and began to lick her. “But I will stay right here with you until they come back – and they will come back soon. You will have chance to say goodbye, I promise pretty lady.”

October 22, 2013

“Muffin, it’s happening today.” Faye gingerly raised her head and managed a feeble wag. She wanted to save her strength. Little One was upstairs after giving her a worried look before heading up to his room. Loca wasn’t in, but Faye knew she would be back soon from getting Little Two from school. Goofball still wouldn’t be home for another couple of hours.

“I know. I’m here to help you when it’s time.”

“I walked Little Two to the bus stop this morning,” she said proudly. “I had the energy for that. But I’ve never been so tired and my tummy hurts so badly now.”

“Beautiful and tough, I’ve always liked that about you,” Muffin said.

“Flatterer,” she said and dropped her head to the ground again.

Loca and Little Two came back in.

“Mommy how is Faye?”

The woman looked worriedly at the small corgi. “I’m not sure. Maybe, she just ate something that really didn’t agree with her. You know how she loves to eat dead earthworms after a rain. Did you do that again puppy?” she asked as she scratched behinds Faye’s ears.

Puppy, Faye thought. No not for a long time now. I guess everyone is in a flattering mood.


Faye could hear Loca’s howls from the other room. She heard the horrible sadness and wished she could get up to tell her it was going to be all right. Not too soon after that, a human came and carried her away back to the room where Loca and Goofball sat, looking red eyed and weary.

Why can’t humans understand dogs? She thought.

I don’t know.  It’d make things so much easier if they could. Muffin was in the room too. Faye thought it was odd she could hear him and he could hear her without speaking, but then realized that it might be because she was so close to the end.

Goofball and Loca stroked and cooed over her. Faye smiled. Silly humans, it’s going to be alright. I am so glad, so very glad you are here though. I’ve had a happy life, as good as any dog could ever hope to have. Oh why can’t you understand me? Please don’t cry. Muffin’s right here. I won’t be lonely when I go to the Summerlands. And I’ll visit whenever I can.

The doctor is coming, Faye.

I’m ready. I love you Goofball. I love you Loca. Tell Little One and Little Two I loved them too.


They walked out of the townhouse. It was strange to both of them not to have the familiar jingle follow them out.

“I always liked taking her out at night, spending a little time looking up at the stars,” the man said.

The woman said nothing, but looked up too.

“Hey, that cloud looks like a Firefly class ship,” the man said, trying to make the woman smile.

She did. “Goofball. But, yeah, I can see that. Hey look at that one. It looks a little like…”

“Yeah, pointy ears, it looks a lot like…”

They held each other looking at the corgi shaped cloud for a long while. From her vantage point in the sky Faye smiled at the couple.



The Summerlands was everything Muffin promised and more. It was like the biggest park Faye had ever been in. There were woods, like the ones Loca and Goofball loved to walk her in. But there were also fields and even city areas for those dogs who loved and missed those types of places. Faye found she had the energy of a pup again and quickly made new friends there. She played chase and even enjoyed a bit of wrestling now and again. Today she lay peacefully under the shade of a tree, watching Tank, Barkley, Sugar Bear, Charlie and Muffin running around as fast as they could in the adjacent clearing. Squiggy also lay in the shade with her.

Tank trotted up to her. “Muffin said today is the day. Are you ready?”

“Yes,” she said happily. “I’m a little bit nervous though.”

“You?” Muffin laughed. “Just wow them with your good looks.”

“You’ll do fine Mamita,” Charlie said.

Sugar Bear nodded, “This is a happy day. It always makes me happy when I see my family get a bit bigger.”

“The new addition will need a hand, learning about the family,” Squiggy added.

“They’re a great family!” Faye said. “I can’t wait to show them off. Coming Muffin?”

“Really? I thought you might want to go on your own first.”

“Nope. I really want the company if you’re willing handsome.”

Muffin didn’t need to be asked twice. “Well then, let’s go pretty lady.”

They made the journey easily, finding the house they were looking for right away. Side by side they went through the front door and found where the new dog was comfortably curled up, perfectly happy in its new home. It raised its head as Faye and Muffin got closer, wagging its tail. Muffin nudged Faye forward.

“Welcome to the family!” she said.

First song choice with this story. It helped me think of the title for this story

Second song choice for this story. It  reminded me of  my initial fear of dogs and how I found love trumps fear any day

A Masked Soul's Wish

This is the second of my postings for Magaly Guererro's All Hallows Grim 2013. 

 For all my little kits, both the ones I bore and the ones I didn't
And for Mike, who loved tails and tricks

"...He is a prankster, that one, cousin to Old Man Coyote. 
He wears a hundred faces and knows a thousand tricks"
Sarah knew a measure of relief. "So I shouldn't take him too seriously?"
"That is more difficult to say. He is like a still pool in that he reflects your heart."

- from Moonheart, by Charles deLint 

A Masked Soul's Wish

“Tell me a story!” Anna asked. “Tell me a fairy tale!”

Yuuki considered Anna for a moment.  The baby roundness of her face was steadily giving way to the features of a young woman.

“Aren’t you a bit old for bedtime stories?

“No,” Anna said. “Besides, I asked for a fairy tale. Everyone knows that real fairy tales are too dark for little kids anyway.”

Yuuki laughed. “True. Very well then…

Once, a very long time ago in a land far away, there was a proud samurai, a veteran of several battles and honored by all his peers for his nobility and valor.

If it were noted that he had survived some skirmishes while some of his closest allies fell, people would speak of his cleverness and cool head for battle. If some observed that he was very fortunate that a nice portion of some of the wealth of his fallen allies found its way into his hands, people would speak of how he also took in the families of some of his comrades, even going so far as to marry one of the young widows to ensure she would be looked after. If there were whispers of dark circles under his new wife’s eyes or bruises on her arm, well those would be countered with declarations of how fortunate she was to be the wife of such a distinguished man and that the costly silks he kept her clothed in covered most of the unsightly marks. And if busybodies, who had nothing better to do with their time, spoke of how odd it was that he never seemed to keep the same servants for very long and that a good many of them seemed to have vanished from the earth once they left his employ, they were told that it may be better for their health if they found other things to occupy their time.

Well, a reputation like the samurai had does attract some base attention, and eventually it attracted the notice of the most infamous of yokai, kitsune. Now I have seen the word yokai translated in your language as demon, but personally I am not sure that is entirely accurate. I think a better description might be found in the old storybooks you love so much Anna. Yokai are fairly close to the idea of fairy creatures. Not the insipidly sweet sort that flit about, only speaking in tinkling voices, but the sort that creep about the darkest corners of the woods with voices filled with either honey or brambles depending on their whim.

In any case, a skulk of kits began to frequent the samurai’s estate, first drawn to it by the curious piles of bones and meat sometimes tossed just beyond its borders. Later, it became a game for them to go into the estate itself and boldly steal some of the samurai’s belongings. The samurai eventually noticed and began to observe the creatures, finding out where their den lay. One day, he hid behind a nearby cluster of rocks. When the kits ran off to find some mischief, he left his hiding place and laid out some traps for the little beasts. He had just finished setting up the last one when his attention was caught by a faint shining inside the den. Using a nearby fallen branch he managed to nudge and roll a pretty jewel to where he could just reach it. The samurai admired it for several moments when suddenly he heard a loud noise behind him. A very small kit had stumbled into one of his snares. Pleased that he was successful so soon, the samurai started preparing a fire to burn the creature in.

Terrified, the kit called out “Oniisan!” and at once a slightly older kitsune appeared, caught partway between human and its true fox form, with its mask obscuring its features. The samurai smiled even more broadly, now quite pleased with his good fortune, and addressed the kitsune.

“It seems I have two things that are of great interest to you,” he said holding up the glowing jewel with one hand and indicating the kit with the other.

“Please,” the kitsune said, “let my little brother go.”

“Oh, you ask for that before your hoshi no tama? Your little brother’s life over the gem holding your soul?  That is quite noble for a yokai! It is always heartwarming to see those who value family above themselves. I am a reasonable man; I will give you both back in exchange for 3 promises. One promise for your brother, one promise for your hoshi no tama and one for all the items your brothers and sisters have stolen from me. Is that a deal?

The kitsune nodded.

The samurai’s smile grew as large as an oni’s. “Firstly, I ask for you to follow my orders and be my protector. A man does not attain the level of prestige that I have without leaving a few people unhappy. I want you to protect me from assassination attempts or other such harm.”

“I will serve you and protect you so no enemy’s blade or fist harms you.”

“Second, I want you to always tell me the truth.”

“I will not lie to you.”

“Thirdly, you will serve not only me, but my family, for a hundred generations.”

The kitsune hesitated a moment but when the samurai moved to throw the little kit into the fire, the kitsune agreed to all the terms.

“Wonderful!” the samurai exclaimed. “The timing for this could not be more auspicious. My daimyo will be visiting in a few weeks and I need to have everything in readiness to meet him. I want you to prepare a feast, something magnificent to raise me in my daimyo’s esteem.”

The kitsune look startled. “Sir, I am honored by your estimation of my abilities, but I cannot conjure all of a feast from nothing. The best I can do is create an illusion of a feast which will leave your daimyo and his company famished.”

“Then what good are you?” the samurai fumed.

“Please sir, I can still be of help. I have some familiarity with your daimyo’s tastes. Perhaps I can see what the abilities of your servants are so I can suggest how to improve upon them where necessary.”

The samurai grumbled, but agreed this was a good idea.

First the kitsune sampled the meals prepared by the samurai’s cooks.

“Not bad,” the kitsune said, sipping on a delicate broth.

“But is it good enough for my daimyo?” the samurai asked.

“Well, it will do…”

“That isn’t good enough. I want the best!”

“If it is the best you want,” the kitsune said, “I do know of an exceedingly talented cook whose meals will be sure to please your daimyo greatly.”

“Where can I find this cook?”

“Ah sir, that is the advantage of having a kitsune as a servant. You do not need to go looking for this cook, I can use my skills to enchant him and bring him here to you this very evening!”

“Wonderful!” The samurai declared.

“Very well sir. Now that we have the food taken care of, what of the entertainment? Surely a feast of this caliber needs some talented musicians to add another level of refinement.”

“Why yes, of course! We can hire some musicians from the neighboring village.”

“Well,” the kitsune said hesitantly. “Are you sure they are the proper caliber of musicians to perform for your daimyo’s retinue?”

The samurai was not sure. “Should I have them play for you to see if they will be suitable?”

“There’s no need for that,” the kitsune replied. “I also know of a group of musicians complete with a singer whose skills will impress your daimyo. I can bring them here in much the same way as I can bring the cook if you wish.”

“That is an excellent idea!”

That night the kitsune brought the samurai all the people he had promised. The samurai sampled the cook’s food and listened to the musicians’ and singer’s performance to make sure he was satisfied. As the kitsune had said, all of them were exceptional. Still the samurai pushed them hard to practice their skills until the appointed day, to make sure that their best efforts would be given. He dealt with these new additions in much the same manner as he had always run his household and if they were a few bruises richer, at least their skill sets had improved during the time spent under the samurai’s supervision.

The daimyo and his retinue arrived at the appointed day, with the samurai’s household more lavishly decorated than anyone had ever seen before, thanks to the kitsune’s skill with illusion. The daimyo however was distracted, and in a somewhat sour mood, responding only as much as courtesy demanded and hardly commenting on the loveliness of the samurai’s estate at all. The samurai was not too concerned by it, certain that the feast he had planned would raise not only his daimyo’s spirits, but his own rank in the daimyo’s eyes.

 At the feast that evening, the samurai watched his lord to see if the meal agreed with him. From the very first bite the daimyo smiled. The daimyo’s retinue noticed the change in their lord and began praising the samurai for the exquisite meal.

One took a moment to whisper to him, “This is wonderful! I have not seen him happy since his favorite servants disappeared.”

The complimentary chatter in hall ceased abruptly when the musicians filed in. The daimyo’s eyes fell on the lovely young singer.

“What is the meaning of this?” he roared.

One of the daimyo’s men shouted, “What is our Lord’s favorite concubine doing here?”

A terrible commotion followed right after, wherein tables were upset, the singer fainted, the cook was dragged out of the kitchen and the samurai was seized by the daimyo’s retainers and ordered to commit seppuku at dawn the next day for the insult of kidnapping and mistreating the daimyo’s favorite servants.

The kitsune visited the samurai that night.

“You!” The samurai shouted. “You lied to me. You said you would protect me!”

“I never lied about anything. I knew all those servants would be pleasing to the daimyo precisely because they were his favorites. Also I have kept my word about no outside harm coming to you. No one has actually struck you. You are merely being held until you commit seppuku tomorrow and even that is harm you will be inflicting upon yourself. No enemy is responsible. In fact all of this has come to pass because of your own greed and pride. How am I to protect you from yourself?

But I am not without sympathy. Even now I can help you. If you wish me to unlock this cell and let you escape I can.”

As the samurai rose to head towards the door, the kitsune spoke again. “However, your daimyo still is staying at your estate and has your entire household at his disposal. I wonder - what will he do if he finds you gone? Will he ask another member of your household, your son for instance, to take your place in committing seppuku to restore your family’s honor?”

The samurai glared at the kitsune, knowing full well that would be the daimyo’s course of action if he escaped. “That is no choice then!” He sat down again.

The kitsune turned, leaving the holding cell and said, “It is always heartwarming to see those who value family above themselves.”

At dawn, the kitsune’s whole family turned out to witness the samurai’s seppuku ritual. The kitsune had one last promise to keep before passing over to serve the samurai’s son. When the kaishakunin, the second in the seppuku ritual, went to cut the samurai’s head, he found that he could not, no matter how hard he tried, so the samurai died slowly of the cut he made himself in his own belly.”

Anna shuddered delightedly at the conclusion of the story. “And what of the samurai’s son? What was he like?”

Yuuki replied, “He was not the man his father was, but he could not be called pleasant to interact with either.”

“What of the third generation? The fourth? The fifth?”

“Much the same. Arrogant, rude, but not quite reaching the lofty standards set by their ancestor.”

“And the hundredth generation?” Anna asked, her eyes wide.

Yuuki smiled tucking the sheets around the girl, “Ah that one! She is as noisy as any kit, chattering when she should be sleeping. She is a hard worker and has a far kinder heart than her ancestors. But her guardian will nip her toes if she doesn’t go to sleep soon!”

Anna yawned. “Liar,” she said. “And it’s my choice to stay up late listening to stories. You can’t save me from myself.”

Yuuki laughed, gave Anna a quick kiss on her forehead and with a flick of red tail, slipped quietly out the window.

Song Choice: Tricksters and Fools by Lynx

Here's a little agit for the never believer

This post is the first of 2 postings for Magaly Guerrero's All Hallow's Grim 2013 blog party

My mother in law told me when I got married that I didn't get one guy; I got a slew of them. You see for most of his life my husband had a tight knit group of friends. They were around so much that I started referring to our first apartment as a home for wayward boys. I suppose I could have gotten sick of them all, but the thing was I liked my husband's buddies and as time went on his long time friends became my friends as well.

The one that he had the longest was Mike. The became friends when they were around 8, when they snuck out of a Yom Kippur service geared for little kids to find a big box of Hershey's chocolate bars and proceed to eat them. Yes, this is a big no-no on Yom Kippur - but then again, there was Mike...

"Then again, there was Mike..." was a phrase that made it into lots of funny stories. There was the time Mike needed a middle of the night pick up at a Dunkin Donuts off of a highway because his car broke down. He was still wearing medieval garb from the wedding he attended when he looked at my husband and said, "They sure do get a lot of weirdos here at this time of night." There was the time he got a bit tipsy during his bachelor party and volunteered to see if the fluid dripping out his car was anti-freeze by tasting it (Mike never did have much luck with cars). There was the time we (OK me) got tipsy on Strongbow at my 30th birthday party (hard apple cider is awesome BTW).

Then there was that time Mike tried to get his friend to ask out this curly headed girl he crushed on. His friend was still too shy, so Mike went right to the girl and told him about his friend's feelings. Even when Mike told me, I was still a bit nervous, but I approached his friend and we've been together over 20 years now. My mother in law also told me never to tell that story to my father in law, as he still hasn't quite gotten over the fact that the kid who got his son to eat half a carton of chocolates on Yom Kippur was the same one who got his son to date and marry a shiksa.

Someone at work asked my husband to describe Mike in one word. "Brave," is what he said. Although, goofball is what first came to my mind, after talking about it with my husband, brave was indeed a good word. Mike was always up to try something new, no matter how weird or how likely it was he might stink at it. It cracks me up that the guy who could be counted upon to spill whatever he was having on that little rug in my first apartment at one point did ballroom dancing and was a skilled juggler. He had a lot of hobbies; Mike could never stand to be bored too long. He was a voracious reader with a keen mind. My gods, how that man could drive people crazy in an argument - he loved a lively debate. Those made him laugh. I'll never forget his laugh or how I felt the day I found out Lou Gherig's Disease (ALS) would eventually take that laugh and his life away. Brave. Yes, those last horrible years, he was very brave.

I've cried a lot since the funeral. I've been angry too. (Why didn't I make more time to visit the man my husband and I loved like a brother more often at his nursing home? Why didn't I make more time when he was still well? Oh our families vacationed together every summer and the guys got together regularly for old school table top gaming, but there should have been more time.) I've listened to a lot of sad songs too, not bothering to hold back the additional tears. But then I remember Mike, who wanted those present at his funeral to hear these words from him when he was near the end of his illness "Don't worry. I laughed a lot." He would roll his eyes at sad songs and sobriety. I think of all the moments that occurred during the funeral - among his favorites would have been the giggle loop my husband and another close friend of ours got into during the moment of silence. That friend lamented "What does it say about me that one of the most hilarious moments of my life happened at my best friend's funeral? And knowing Michael would have approved?"

I think it says that his and all of our lives were much better, and much more fun, for having known Mike.

So now that I'm at the song portion of my post, I know that sad songs are just not going to cut it. These next two came up on the radio for me this last week and they made me think of who Mike was while he was here on earth. The first one is a homage to another funny man, Andy Kaufman - REM's Man on the Moon. Bits of the lyrics make me think of card and board games we played when were young and had all the time in the world. They also make me think of Mike's wit and skeptical side.

The second is Steve Miller Band's The Joker, because well, that's what he was in our group.

And, as my husband pointed out, Mike would have gotten a kick out of this one...

Safe travels Mike. See you on the flip side.

Dipping in a toe

This post is part of the Insecure Writers' Support Group

So it's been a bit since I've blogged. I've been mourning the impending loss of a friend (he's still hanging on despite heavy doses of morphine). My whole family was shell shocked for the first few days after we found out. After that wore off, I've been in a cleaning frenzy the likes of which have never been seen since I was pregnant with my last one. I would love to say the house looks great now, but it's in that in-between stage of organization, where it almost looks worse than it started in some places. But so many old toys, clothes, and household items have been given away that I'm feeling good about things (well, the state of things in my house anyway).

I would love to say that I wrote in between cleaning, but frankly I was mostly up to sucking my thumb and watching old episodes of favorite TV shows. I've only just now been slowly coming out of it - recognizing that there are things I love to do besides cleaning (hell - I'm not all that crazy about it to begin with!). And I realized my friend Magaly Guerrero over at Pagan Culture is holding her annual Halloween blog party All Hallow's Grim. I had wanted to do it last year, but didn't have a story idea. This year, I toyed with the idea of posting one of my favorite stories I've written called, Poker Night, which is pretty much a poker game between several fae sorts of creatures. But then I talked to Magaly and thought that what I needed was to take the back story of one of those characters and write about that in a way that fits the "So Good, So Dark" theme. My mind came up with several ideas. I still have yet to nail something down, and I can't promise it will be my best writing ever, but I think I can do this. Well, I'm committing to do this so I'd better have something!

I know it will start off with "Tell me a story", and then the story teller, a kitsune, will take it from there.

The video I'm going with for this post has been making me laugh these last couple of weeks. When I felt down, I'd look this stupid thing up on you tube and dance while I dusted. Considering that my story will center around a kitsune, I thought I'd go with it.

We interrupt this regularly scheduled blog

I know I was supposed to share a bit of writing today, but recently I got some devastating news. A very close friend of my family is very near the end of his fight with Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), more commonly known as Lou Gherig's Disease.

Here is a good explanation of what the disease's course is. It's very factual and clinical. However as someone who has watched someone who is like a brother go through this illness, that description doesn't convey what happens; this video comes closest...

Metallica's One

I'm reevaluating some things in my life. At this point the most important thing is to be there for his family as well as mine. Our families are very close. My husband is hurting very deeply and although I haven't told the children yet (that will happen tonight) I know they will be very heartsick as well. I'm not planning to give up writing - I think I'll find that quite therapeutic - but I'm trying to release what I can so I can focus on what's important. 

My First Award!

Wow, I thought it would take awhile before my baby blog got one, but get one I did! Thanks Magaly Guerrero of Pagan Culture for the nomination!

The way it works is I'm supposed to say 7 things about myself and then nominate 7 other blogs.

1.) The hubby and I are both foodies, but he is by far the better cook (my mother was too paranoid to let me do much in the kitchen).

2.) I took swim lessons awhile ago to overcome my fear of the water. They didn't really stick so well, but I tried.

3.) As a reward for trying, I signed up for bellydance classes at the local rec center. I've been doing that ever since.

4.) I experimented with all sorts of crazy products before I learned to love my hair and it's natural curls. Yep, that includes both Jheri Curl and relaxer.

5.) I've been out of the country 3 times. I've been to Peru, when I was little to meet some of my extended family. I went to England for a high school trip. I went to Bermuda with my husband's family to celebrate my in-law's 50th anniversary.

6.) My tea cupboard is terrifyingly out of control. It looks like a micro version of Horders. But I drink at least 2 cups of tea a day.

7.) I love to read to my children even though they are perfectly capable of reading on their own. I love to give each character a distinct "voice" when I do. The Harry Potter series was a very big challenge!

OK, so this is the part where I nominate 7 other blogs. Here goes:

1.) Inciting A Riot
2.) A Fanciful Twist
3.) The Blyssful Witch
4.) Poor Girl Eats Well
5.) Hyakumonogatari Kaidankai
6.) The Whimsical Cottage
7.) Rue and Hyssop

Random Writing

The following is a bit of short fiction writing. Awhile ago my hubby challenged a few of his friends and I to create a story based on a two sentence opening he gave us. This was my response to that writing challenge.

Jared walked through the door and tossed his hat and coat on the chair all the time watching Sophie. “My dear Sophie”, he said smiling, “put the gun down.”

“You needn’t make fun,” she said scowling as she put the gun on the rough hewn table. “A body cain’t be too careful around here after dark. You said so yourself.”

“So I did, but what makes you think you can shoot that thing straight?”

“I already told ya Jared! Before I left momma’s I shot one of her bastard clients who was gettin’ too fresh. Shot him good and dead. Now are ya gonna eat the stew I made or are you gonna just stand there grinning like you’re simple in the head?” She put both hands on her hips, comically reminding Jared of a half grown scarecrow.

“Alright, alright. But if you really want to learn to use that thing at least let me teach you to aim it right. Maybe we’ll try tomorrow.”

Sophie grunted, turning towards the oven and running her hand through hair that was more dirty than blonde. She muttered something about not needing to learn anything, but Jared decided it was better to sit and eat than debate the point further. He watched the girl carefully ladle the stew into two bowls. She placed one in front of him with a big grin.

“Go on try it. Jessina used to make big huge batches of this for mamma and her girls when it got to be cold out. It was always my favorite.”

Jared sipped what he supposed was some sort of vegetable barley stew. He had worse, he decided taking another careful sip. Sophie’s head was bent right over her bowl shoveling spoonful after spoonful in her mouth. He couldn’t help his amusement. For a girl who supposedly grew up in one of St. Louis’ finer brothels, she had the manners of a stable hand. You would have thought she’d learn some sort of etiquette or other womanly charms, he mused. When she felt disposed to talk about it at all, Sophie would say that her mother was a renowned beauty, using the money she had gotten from wealthy clients to start her own place.

I guess she never got any of her mother’s looks either, he thought.  Sophie was a runty child, all knees and elbows with short hair that looked like she cut it with jagged glass. Her aversion to soap and water didn’t improve matters either. They made an odd paring, he with his Paris styled suits and her with grubbiness.

Jared found her about a month ago, scrapping with a group of boys in an alley. From what he could see, she put up a good fight, but at any moment she’d slip up and it’d be over. Besides, he recognized the malicious gleam in one of the older boy’s eyes and doubted she’d get out with only a beating. He stepped in, driving them off. Even in her half beaten state, Sophie said that she owed him fair and square for helping her out. “Not that I couldn’t handled myself anyway, but I pay my debts,” she said. She offered to work off her debt to him as a sort of valet, provided he “didn’t try no funny stuff.” Sometimes he wondered why he ever agreed to such an arrangement.

That’s not true, he thought. I know exactly why. Anna would be about the same age now if she lived. He looked down at his left hand. The twin of the solid gold band he wore was buried six feet under a plain in Illinois. He pushed the thought from his mind. No point dwelling on what can’t be changed.

The sound of Sophie’s chair scratching against the floor broke him out of his revere. She made a beeline for the stove to get a second helping of stew, chattering happily. “I’ll bet Jessina couldn’t done no better. And this isn’t a bad little stove. You sure are lucky you’re friends with the sheriff an’ he let us stay in this place.”

“Well, it isn’t exactly for free. Sheriff Harlow expects me to put some work into this house. He wants it to be in good shape for when his brother moves out here with his family next spring.”

Jared remembered his old friend’s words. “It’ll be good for you, some honest work as opposed to gambling. You used to be a fair hand at fixing things if I recall correctly. And you’d really be helping me out.”

Ruefully, Jared thought gambling was much luckier for him than a simple life as a farmer with a steady home. But Jake Harlow had been one of his best friends, and he thought maybe he could find a stable place for Sophie too. A nice family with a mother and a father that didn’t mind her roughness and appreciated her hard work. He broached the subject to Sophie, but she adamantly rejected it. “Thanks, but no thanks Jared. I’m gonna try an’ find my pa. Mamma said he was some sort of chief among the Lakota.” And then she’d babble off everything she knew about the Lakota Indians, never mind that her source of facts were cheap dime novels.

Jared noticed a bit of chill in the air. “Sophie, I think it’s going to be a cold one tonight. Do you think you could bring in some wood from the woodpile before you sit down again?”

“Course Jared. I’ll be right back.”

She hadn’t been gone less than a minute when the front door burst open. Jared recognized the intruders as Eddie Jenkins, and one of his boys. Both had their guns aimed right at him.

“Hello Eddie,” Jared said casually. “To what do I owe this social call?”

“You know exactly why I’m here. You cheated me at cards earlier this evening and I want my money back!”

“If you’ve got a problem with me, why don’t you bring it up to the sheriff?”

“Everyone knows you and he are friends!”

Before Jared could reply the back door opened. Another of Jenkin’s goons shoved a pale looking Sophie in front of him. “Look what I found out back boss.”

Eddie smirked. “Ain’t she a bit young for you Jared?”

“She ain’t too young for me Eddie,” the first thug said.

Jared snorted, “You can do what you’d like with the girl.” Ignoring Sophie’s stricken face he went on. “She doesn’t mean anything to me other than another mouth to feed. But I think you and your boys can find something that better resembles a woman over at Flo’s. Why don’t you just let her go while we discuss this like gentlemen?”

“And have her run and tell the sheriff? I don’t think so. I want my money Jared!”

“I’ll tell you where it is,” Sophie burst in. “If I don’t mean anything to him, he don’t mean anything to me either. Take me to the Lakota reservation and I’ll show you right now where to find the money.”

“How about you show me where the money’s hid and I don’t let my men take a poke at you, runt.”

Sniffling, Sophie meekly went to the back door with Jenkins right behind her. “You two watch him and make sure he doesn’t go anywhere.” The two men sat down across from Jared, guns pointed at him the whole while.

Jared scanned the room with his gambler’s eyes, trying to see if there was anything  within reach he could use as a weapon. There was a solid iron poker he might get to, but he couldn’t make a grab for it without Jenkins’ boys noticing.

Suddenly a scream came from out back, followed by the sound of one shot, then another. Both men lowered their weapons just a bit as their heads turned towards the back door. Jared grabbed the poker and struck one squarely on the temple. The man slumped right onto his friend who let off a shot into the table.  Snatching the gun from the unconscious man’s hand, Jared rolled out of the line of fire of the second thug. Cursing, the thug shoved the limp form off of him, standing up. Jared shot him squarely in the stomach.

“Jared!” Sophie screamed running through the back door, holding a gun in her right hand.

“Fool girl,” Jared swore as he embraced her. “What if one of those two was still alive? You could have gotten shot.” He looked down at the girl and realized there wasn’t a mark on her. “What happened to Eddie?”

“Dead, I think. I took him to the old tree stump, where the mamma raccoon’s been hiding out with her little ones. He stuck his hand in and she must have bitten and scratched him up good. He dropped the gun an’ I picked it up an’ I…” she started to tremble.

“It’s OK Sophie,” Jared said stroking her hair.

“I’m sorry I lied about killin’ someone before. I did shoot at the fella’ who was getting fresh, but I only got his foot. I was so scairt by what I done, I just dropped the gun and ran. I ran and I never went back. I’m sorry I told such a terrible lie.”

“I think we’ve both told our share of lies tonight.”

Sophie gave a weak smile. “I knew you was lying about that ‘other mouth to feed’ stuff.”

So if I creatively procrastinate, does it count as creativity?

This is post is part of the Insecure Writers' Support Group

So I've actually kept up a semblance of a blog for at least a couple of months now, even though I still don't think I've really found a good "voice" for it.

Is this a Pagan blog? There are so many great ones out there, who really needs another?

A random crap that happens in my life blog? I think I've ended up defaulting a lot of the time to this, but ultimately, that isn't what I was going for.

A writing blog? Well, I did start it as a place to experiment a bit with my writing, but I've been a bit shy about putting stuff out there. Part of me worries stuff I write will be just awful so I'll only end up embarrassing myself. The other part worries that if any of this is actually any good, some idiot will come along and steal it.

I shelved the question for a little bit by throwing myself into some long overdue basement renovation. I promised the kids ages ago this would get done and as August wound down, it seemed as good of a time as any. My mother made a huge fuss over it over course, as if I were single-handedly demolishing a square block in Center City Philly and then rebuilding skyscrapers from metal I had forged myself (well, the wall texture paint compound was kind of heavy for me to lift, I managed just fine). But there was something therapeutic about it; not just getting one long overdue project I had procrastinated on near completion but the creative process of painting the faux stone work (it's supposed to resemble a castle wall), of picking out the right decorations that have been gathering dust in our basement (sword replicas! coats of arms! fake torches! An Asian scroll!) and making something cozy from what had once been just another arachnid sanctuary (don't worry, said arachnids have been gently encouraged to skitter to the laundry room or discretely take shelter behind some of the second hand furniture that's been moved down there). I took a lot of joy in that creative process.

I know that when I finally get really going with one of the bigger writing projects I have in mind, I'll feel that same joy in creation. There is still the worry of "what if it sucks?" creeping around the back of my mind with writing that certainly wasn't involved in the basement project. Hell, if I just threw a TV and some folding chairs down there, my son would still use it to escape his sister for a bit - there was no way my "audience" would have hated the result. I suppose maybe the answer is to stop thinking of "audiences" and start thinking of what makes me happy.

The next two Fridays I'll be posting bits of short fiction I've written. These aren't anything fancy, but more like writing exercises I'm OK with having the general internet see. I'd love feedback on them if you get a moment.

Going to the Dogs

The following is an article I submitted for publication. The theme was a big change that occurred in the writer's life. I never heard back from the people I submitted it to and it's been several months, so I decided to pop it here. Enjoy.

This may sound a bit kooky, but one of the big changes that happened in my life was overcoming my fear of dogs. I remember when it started. We had a neighbor who kept, what was to my 5 year old eyes, a massive dog of indeterminate breed. My mom pitied it and so from time to time she’d feed it scraps. One day I went with her, and the dog, overjoyed at the possibility of a snack broke through whatever was keeping it staked and pulled a Dino Flintstone on me.

“I’m going to die of rabies,” I told my pediatrician solemnly.

I had recently seen Old Yeller and what stuck was not the bittersweet story of a boy and his dog, but the idea that any time, when you least expect it, dogs can turn on you.

“Uh-huh,” he said.

He was used to my precocious babbling and to my mother’s nervous streak. This was the woman who brought me in every time I sniffled. Of course she’d want a scrape checked out (never mind that the scrape was caused by my tripping on the sidewalk – the dog itself didn’t harm me beyond subjecting me to its breath). The doctor assured us nothing was broken, I didn’t have rabies and that was that.

Except it wasn’t. From then on, the sight of any dog got me screaming. The sound of jingling keys sounded so much like dog tags to me that I’d actually flinch if I heard them. I didn’t learn to ride a bike because I was petrified I wouldn’t be able to pedal fast enough to escape any dogs that might be nearby.

“I have a phobia,” I later told my pediatrician.


I don’t know if he ever talked to my parents about dealing with it, but nothing really was done. I coped by becoming an indoors child, only going out if one of my parents was near me. By college I was OK if the dog was tiny and on a leash. But I’d still make an excuse to be elsewhere, fast.

College was where I met my husband, a terrific guy and an unapologetic dog lover. We discussed everything before getting married, our thoughts on religion, kids, finances – but we never discussed dogs. I should have realized this was going to be an issue. He’d get the same misty look over a puppy that some people get over babies. No dog would go un-scratched in his presence. So when he started asking about dogs, I let him know I’d rather have a root canal during labor. Not one to give up easily he’d bring it up regularly, wise enough to drop it if I was getting too twitchy, but always looking for a way to bring it up if he could.

“So…corgis are cute,” he said casually after watching an anime series featuring one.

“Uh-huh,” I said.

Well, they were kind of cute, with their little legs and fox-like appearance. I told him I might consider a corgi. But just because I thought they were cute as a cartoon didn’t mean I’d be OK with them in actuality. I reminded him I’d still be nervous. It didn’t matter. He took the small bone I threw him and began Campaign Corgi in earnest.

One day we happened to be driving by a dog rescue. He pleaded with me to go in to look. I told him that unless there was an actual corgi in there, I was going to turn around and go back to the car. So of course, there in a cage with a giant St Bernard, was a wee corgi puppy. Triumphantly, my husband walked over to the man coordinating things and asked to see the corgi. I’m still not exactly sure how it happened, but somehow they got me to sit down and put that tiny corgi in my lap. I remember still being nervous. The dog was trembling too, right up until the moment she was on my lap. And then she looked and me, I looked at her and we both stopped shaking.

In the almost 13 I’ve had Faye, she’s taught me a lot of things. One, I’m actually something of a nature lover when not terrified. I can’t imagine not being outside at least a little every day. Two, I’m a really dog person! Three, it’s sad when fear keeps you from being everything you could become. Four, love has a way of breaking fear.