Saint Neville’s Day

When I found out that I was pregnant, I counted out the days until our baby would be with us. 

To my delight, my due date shared a birthday with my literary hero, Neville Longbottom.

For the past fourteen years, Neville has shown me what strength and friendship and love and family and bravery are. One of the greatest heroes to ever step from the page into my heart.

Today is Neville’s birthday. Today was my little bear’s due date.

I won’t be available for conversation today. 

But I won’t mind a bit if you raise your forkful of cake in Neville and Bear’s honor.

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Book Struck

I am feeling a bit discombobulated. You see, I just finished quite a long book. And, in fact, a rather smutty book. I’ll give you a proper review when I am not trying to get to bed (for actual honest to bob Sleep, yo). But I’ll just say, I am embarrassed to admit how much I enjoyed the book, smut aside. Or included. I don’t care. It was generally a good book. However, I am left a little overwhelmed by the headiness the story took on, especially towards the end. The book was Outlander, by Diana Gabaldon. Now that it’s done, I can finally check another enormous novel off my To Read list – a huge feat, as I’ve said it before, because I am such a slow reader. A book needs to hook me quite quickly if it expects me to get more than a chapter or two into it.

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I bought the little book in Greenwich in 1999 and only remembered it when I was nearly finished reading the larger one.

Shell shocked from both the end of such a large endeavor and the manner in which things were tidied up in the story, I am in need of a bit of a reorientation. I am finding it, of course, in the leaves of my favourite tomb, where I can neutralize my brain, with the rereading of the best ever book: Un Lun Dun by China Mieville. The most perfect adventures of two twelve year olds in between parallel, yet distinctly different versions of London somehow feels much more real, realistic, and comforting, than the misadventures of Clair and Jamie Fraser. 

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‘I don’t believe the presence of moisture in the air is sufficient reason to overturn society’s usual sensible taboo against wielding spiked clubs at eye level.’ Chapter 3 ~ The Visiting Smoke

A Letter

Dear Baby,

 

I’ve been thinking about the future and in a non-morbid more-of-a-practical way I’ve been thinking about things like my immanent demise. Not like, (good gods I hope not), tomorrow or anything, but as I’ve learned ever so deeply this year, things don’t always happen how or when we think they will.

 

You haven’t even been conceived yet, but I’m thinking a lot about you. You see, your father and I want to meet you desperately. It took a long time after our great disappointment this past year to get excited about trying to meet you. It is scary and hard to trust that we might or might not get the chance.

 

You see, your older brother was supposed to be born next week.

 

I say brother because I am certain that is what he would have been. Of course, we will never know for certain. And I say supposed to because if everything had gone as planned, he would have been.

 

But as I’ve said, things don’t always go according to plan, or expectation, or hope.

 

But we’re finally managing to stay positive that you might someday arrive, and hopefully, that day will be soon.

 

As I said, I’ve been thinking about the other side of things a bit this week. Like, your daddy and I should each write a Last Will and Testament. I’ve never thought about needing one. But now that I have a husband, it seems so much more important. And if you come to stay with us it will be more important still. And then I started thinking just now, what if something happened to me after you arrived and you never really got to know me personally. You would have stories from your dad, and your grandparents, and your aunts and uncles. You would have stories from our friends. And hopefully you would feel like you had known me even just a little.

 

So I decided to write you this letter, baby girl. This letter is so that you know a few more things about me that you’d probably hear from your dad and some other important people, but I want you to hear it from me, too.

 

Because I assumed you would be reading this after I was gone, I had at first written it in past tenses, though perhaps it would be more comforting, though potentially more confusing, in the present tense. It might be a little muddled, but I hope it is ok.

 

Dear Baby,

Mommy was a dancer. She loved modern dance and ballet. Sometimes she even did belly dancing and ballroom dancing (which she learned with Daddy before they got married). She loved her pointe shoes, but they hurt her feet a lot. Hopefully some of them will survive so that you can see them. But don’t put them on your feet, because you might get injured if you do so before your teacher says you are ready. If you ask Nana, that is why Mommy’s ankles always hurt her so much. When she went to college, Mommy danced an awful lot and got very good at it. She even taught other kids to dance after she graduated. She doesn’t think she did a very good job at this, but she loved helping those kids enjoy dance as much as she did. There are a few photographs of Mommy dancing, and if you can find a VHS player you can even watch a video of her. Movement was very important as a mode of expression, as an art form, and as her voice, when words would not suffice. Mum hopes you will find that joy as well, whether in dance, or another artform.

 

Mommy loved to make costumes. She loved to sew and to knit. She loved playing make-believe and she loved fairy stories. But really she liked to be practical too. Sometimes these things worked very well together.

 

Mommy hoped that you would love Harry Potter like she did and that you will always be brave even when you are really very scared. Mommy hopes you will read To Kill a Mockingbird so you can understand about courage from the words of Harper Lee and Atticus Finch.

 

Mom liked to cook and to bake. Well, she Loved it, really. But it took her a long time to find the confidence to do it. She was often afraid she was messing everything up but was particularly giddy when something turned out just right, because that made it seem like it was really beyond perfect.

 

And Mommy loved you more than all of it.

 

So, now, little baby that hasn’t even been conceived, I hope you know a couple important things about your mother now. I hope you will never have to read these things to know them. I hope you will know them from me personally. Because I want you to help me to sew pretty clothes for you. And I want you to help me measure the flour for biscuits. And I want you to dance with me and your daddy, and laugh, and read fairy tales, and be brave warriors. I want us to do all these things together. But in case we can’t, now you have this little letter, from me to you.

 

Love, Mum.

Throwback Heartbreak

17 July 2009

I got the message after leaving the bank.
‘Call me back, even if you think I’m in class.’
‘Is everything OK?’
‘. . . I’ve got some bad news.’
I knew it was her. I just knew.
‘Courtney’ or maybe he said ‘Arielle,’ ‘died this morning.’
Silence. I couldn’t speak. I couldn’t. We knew it was coming. Didn’t mean it wasn’t shocking, nor did it mean it was an easy thing either to hear, or to know that it is true. The fair and beautiful Duchess Arielle the Golden had passed away.
He might have said ‘passed away.’
At that point the tunnel of oceanic sound fills ones ears and all other thoughts, sounds, feelings drop away and are banished beyond comprehension until we start breathing again.
But then, if you hold your breath, that is a little longer until you have to face the reality of life without her in it.
Going back to work was like walking in a fog. Waking up periodically, realizing what I had left out, what I had forgotten to do.
Trying to breathe.
Trying not to make any sound.
Trying not to cry while I was working on each person. On each stranger.
Go back to work.
Don’t give in to the pain. Don’t give up. Others need you. Don’t let despair take over. Don’t be Selfish.
Arielle wouldn’t have been selfish if someone needed her and she was capable of helping them. She’d find a way.
You need to go back to work. You could save a life today. You could prevent another death. You could help someone else to live a fully and happy healthy life.
Do it for Arielle. Do it for all of them. They need you.
Don’t give up.

 

 

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The Ebony & Ivory Ladies’ Breakfast. Morning of the Woods Battle, Pennsic XXXIV, Camp Ebonwoulfe. My favourite photograph of her.

Five

In 1999, I graduated high school.

 

Ten years later, having moved out of state, I had to choose carefully if I was going to attend my Central New York college reunion or my Western New York high school reunion.

 

Well, I chose high school.

 

And somehow that has made all the difference.

 

My friend Anastasia held a bonfire for our 10th year reunion after our lazy-ass classmates didn’t bother signing up for any of the other activities and they all got cancelled.

 

So, a weird thing happened that night.

 

I met her brother.

 

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Me & Annie, the night I met her brother

 

OK that’s not really weird. The bonfire was At Their House.

 

But, the weird thing is how much of an impact that meeting had on the rest of my life, even though I didn’t realize it at the time.

 

Tonight is our 15th year reunion, and once again, having been the only person to plan something, Anastasia is hosting the reunion with a bonfire at the family farm.

 

Only this time, I live just across town, not 700 miles away, and this time, I’ll be the one bringing her brother to the party.

 

Funny how little things work out sometimes.

 

Getting Dressed for the Big Day

Me & Annie the day she was my maid of honor when I got married to her brother

 

So, no matter what you think you can expect, I say, Yes, Yes you should go to that reunion you’ve been invited to. Go. You never know what you might get out of the deal.

 

A Day at Grunwalt Manor

I also sometimes write about life in the Current Middle Ages. The blog is called The C is for Creative, referring to the Society for Creative Anachronism, of which I’ve been a member on and off for over twenty years. Sometimes people get really stuck up about their authenticity while others don’t seem to try at all. This blog (TCifC) is an attempt to balance those forces and have some real fun. Enjoy!

A Day at Grunwalt Manor:

The C is For Creative

(an example of how to describe your day without sounding ultra modern)

Letters from the Lady of the Manor

At last! A lovely day at home, and a day to be thoroughly domestic!

This is made easier as I search the grounds for the servants and then recall we forgot to hire any! All the work for ME! Ah, the blessed life of the merchant class.

My housekeeper, Nessie was of so much use for a time, but I seem to have left her in a previous persona. *Lesigh*

So, with this day off, I get to spend the dawn as a wife ought to…Sprawled out across the whole of our bed as my husband has his bath before a long day copying manuscripts or whatever you call them. (I hadn’t realized I was married to a monk!)

At some point I’ll get myself up and attend to the dogs…

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