Here there be dragons...

"I'm telling you stories. Trust me." - Winterson

Friday Flash #71: The Magic of the Night

In the darkness of the night the trees rustled as the warm wind blew wildly.  

“Do you hear them?” I asked.

“Hear what?”

“The fey?”   

My boyfriend just rolled his eyes at me.  He had no time for magic and mystery, proud his feet were firmly planted in the cement of reality.   He couldn’t hear the whisper on the wind.   But I could – just beyond my comprehension.  I could sense it, but not quite make out the words.

Marc locked the recycle bin safely in the garage.  “You coming?”

“I think I’ll stay out a bit,” he rolled his eyes and went inside, tolerant of but not understanding my more whimsical side.

My gaze was drawn upward, captured by the brilliance of the harvest moon.  The clouds formed pictures as they passed in front of it.  I watched for a while, my imagination seeing images that weren’t really there.  A dragon. A cityscape.  A mother with her child.  

But then I realized it wasn’t my imagination, and I wasn’t seeing random images.  The coulds were forming letters as they drifted over the moon.   I squinted and furrowed my brow, struggling to see more clearly, but the letters dissipated leaving wisps of a cloud that faded from sight once they passed the beam of the moon’s light.

I closed my eyes and listened to the wind.  My hair whipped around my face, but I did nothing to contain it, enjoying the wildness of the night.  I felt my heartbeat slow; my breathing became deeper; I smiled, feeling utterly and completely relaxed.  

I opened my eyes and let them return to the moon, relaxed and soft I saw the letters form.  And in the darkness of the warm summer night, I read the message that would change my life.

And with a smile, I turned and entered the house.

Studies have shown that people who have more birthdays live longer.

Um wow.  So that was an amazing weekend J

Short version:  lawyers, house, wedding, house, birthday, house J

Long version:

Let’s see…

Thursday night we met with the lawyers to do all the paperwork re the new house, we also had our final walkthrough.   Friday we got possession of the house!  Woohoo!   The dogs love their new abode – or more accurately, their private park ;)   Ashley’s wedding was Friday afternoon, so Mum picked up the keys for us when they became available at the lawyers.  Wedding was super close to our place and was really nice – it overlooked the lake, but was high enough so the view wasn’t interrupted by beach goers *g*   Then Chris had to go to work so I took a load of boxes over to the house and started unpacking. 

So – Thursday – Lawyers and house walkthrough – Check

Friday – Ashley and Kyle’s wedding – Check.

Saturday.   Saturday started with house stuff, of course.   Moved some more boxes, packed some more stuff, and started prepping the bedrooms for painting (filling holes etc).  All good.  Then was my levelling up ceremony!  Woohoo!  Lol otherwise known as birthday party for *gasp* 40th.  Oh my god, how did that happen?  Ugh.  Let me  refer you to the fact that I was ID’d not too many weeks ago ;)   

Birthday parties aren’t really my thing, and I was trying to remember if I’ve ever actually had one before (other than immediate family of course – that’s an always J)   But when we were kids, it was usually a friend or two over to do something (esp with a summer birthday – kids scatter in the summer), and once I was old enough it’d become not my thing *g*   But this one, mainly cause I was struggling with it, I wanted to celebrate.  My awesome husband was left to the planning and pulled it off – I was slightly overwhelmed and very honoured by the number of people who came!  Lol it was awesome.  

We had our own little room in the restaurant (our house(s!) being in shambles at the moment) so we could mingle and walk around a bit which was nice.  Lots of people from various social circles had met at the wedding, so seemed like there was some catching up going on.   She who only ever meets with her friends one or two at a time, didn’t get nearly enough socializing time with anybody, but I at least got some time to chat with everybody.  Amazing night!   And then to top it off – my Mum made me a scrapbook ranging from when I was a tiny child to now.  So cool to look through and so many memories!   Admit it made me kinda sappy.  Also, reading all the cards when I got home – very cool.   Aileen gets bonus points for the Spanish ;)  So yeah – the night passed in a blink; I was so surprised by how late it was when we finally left lol.  But it was amazing and I’m still grinning.  So thanks all J

Then Sunday, my actually birthday, started with blueberry pancakes – yum!  For the win J   Lol Em had spent the night so she didn’t have to drive all the way home after the party, and the three of us went out for breakfast.   Then was back to load up vehicles (my parents generously traded with Chris and I, so far fewer trips are required) and off to the new house to unpack and paint.  Feature walls are pretty much done, now we just need to do the neutral ones and we’ll be good to go.   Actual movers will do furniture on Friday.   I’m so excited – kinda love both the house and the yard.   Will be even better in a few years when we can do some updates, but even right now, it’s great.   And watching the dogs love the yard was even better!

And today, LIFT 4, the latest exercise program started.   Lol would’ve been a whole lot more convenient if it had waited till next week, but I’m still going to try!  It’s only four days / week instead of the six or seven most of them are, so may be more manageable.

Home is where the heart is... Even if you don't know which box you packed it in ;)

So…   We get our new house on Friday!!!   It’s also Ashley’s wedding on Friday lol.  Have been doing all the pre-move craziness, calling all the utilities and service providers, dealing with banks and lawyers, fun stuff like that.   Whether or not I managed it all?   Well – time will tell…   Actual move isn't till next Friday :(   Which is logistically good, but I Want It NOW!!! *foot stomp*  lol   I am pretty excited about the new house though J   Less excited about the new mortgage L
Duolingo released a whole ton of new topics the other day.   So for those not familiar, each topic, has 5 levels.  And each level has 3-20 mini lessons.  So that’s a TON of new content.   And once you’ve done level 1 of each, the next area is open.   So I promptly tested out of the first two checkpoints, which got me to level one of about 13(?) topics and reopened the whole tree so I can do whichever lessons I want.   All good.  Lol and I was pretty pleased to pass J
So then I discovered, that you can also test out of each level on any individual topic.  So now I’m working my way through those.   So what’s the point?  Well I figure if I test out of everything I know, I’m left with the ones I really need to work on.   AND I’ll tell ya, the low levels are pretty painful.  There’s only so many times you can translate “the cat drinks milk” before you want to throw the phone out the window.   The higher topics are complex enough that I’m still learning and won’t likely manage to test out beyond level 1 or 2.
But it is nice after much effort to see that I can pass a fair number of them with no errors and no effort.  Also nice to now be able to provide answers in the duolingo forum that helped me through the basics when I was starting J   Of course, I went and found an intermediate/advanced one and promptly got entirely lost again.  And heaven forbid anybody speak at native-speaker pace.  Even if I know every word I won’t understand any of them *sigh*  Lol but hey, baby steps right?  

#fridayflash 70: Vaalea's Story

After publishing Jezina's Story (as I still think of it and wish I'd never changed the name) I've been asked a few times for what happens next, and occasionally, for what happens before.    Well before was an easy chapter to write -- it's here if you missed it :).   However, after....   Well after was a challenge.   I've written a bunch of random chapters.  Jezina and friends heading out to the town where the dragon was supposed to leave Vaalea, only to discover (spoiler alert!) neither of them ever made it (you can't possibly be surprised by that).   But, tbh, it didn't really interest me.  We'd seen the characters and the places in her first journey.  Going back to almost the start -- well, if it didn't interest me, odds are, it wasn't going to interest you :)

But then I got to thinking, Jezina's travels were driven by prophecy, but a prophecy that was really quite simplistic.  But maybe it was simplistic because it was just the introduction to the grander one.  These things do tend to run in families :).  And it's clear any prophecy with Vaalea could not have occurred had Jezina failed in hers.   And so I introduce a start...  A page really...  Of Vaalea's story :).

Thanks again to all those who read and support my writing.  Comments keep me going!  

Vaalea's Story:

Stories are often told of princesses being rescued from dragons; as far as I know, I’m the only princess who had ever been rescued *by* a dragon. I was so young – I didn’t really understand all that had happened, or have any understanding of all that would happen. My sister, who I’d only just met, called the dragon, Drazul, and I climbed on. I was fearless and he was amazing. He spoke to me and made me laugh. And away we went.

It took forever to get there. Days? Weeks? I don’t know. It seemed like forever, but I was a child -- a year is a lifetime then.   He told me all about the special school I was going to; a school for people like me. We landed on top of a mountain. Slowly the mist cleared to reveal a castle, whose sides shimmered as though a mirage. Drazul directed me to head inside, and I was so excited – I’m sure I bounced.

There were other kids, and for the first time I could remember, I was allowed to play with them. My roommate, Adalyn, was the same age as me, but she seemed so much older. She was calm, always organized, “well put together” my mum would’ve said, and never got into trouble with the rest of us. But somehow, we still became friends.

We played, we learned, and we grew. Every once in a while, the dragons would bring us a new student. They would wander in; some were excited, but most were terrified. And thus we learned about the outside world, where magic was at best feared and at worst hunted. And so we stayed where we were safe, and we learned, and we practiced. And over time, we became strong.

But eventually, I grew up. And as I did, I wondered. I remembered so little of my life before I’d come. Why had my mother or my sister never come to visit? Drazul flew me here, surely he could’ve flown them. And I started to think that maybe it was up to me to go find them.

My first thought was to call Drazul and ask him to take me. He’d flown me here so many years ago, and stopped by at least a couple times a year since. We’d talk and play and sometimes he’d take me flying. But he never answered my questions of home, always just said I was better here. And eventually I stopped asking. Unfortunately though, I’d never learnt to call him; Drazul came when he wanted to and left on a whim – he never stuck around for long.

I slung my backpack over one shoulder, everything I valued inside. There were no rules against leaving – we could go at any time; the only rule was that once you left, you could never return. It was an easy life at the school. One where I knew everybody and was known. I could be myself and practice my magic, and perhaps one day even teach. It was a good life. But it wasn’t the life I was destined for, and somewhere, deep inside, I knew it.

I had said my goodbyes, but purposely not told anybody exactly when I would leave. It would be hard enough without a crowd. As I slid through the door, I felt a hand on my shoulder. Looking back over my shoulder, I saw Adalyn carrying her matching bag. “You didn’t think you’d be going without me, did you?” she asked.


If you've been reading my stories for a while and the school seems vaguely familiar -- a, credit to you for an awesome memory!  And b - that's because it first appeared in The Road Less Travelled.  I didn't know then that that's where Vaalea was hanging out, but it made perfect sense when I went looking for her ;)

You never learn anything by doing it right...

So I took an unplanned break from my Spanish lessons, not intentionally, just wasn't prioritizing it enough to commit to a time 24h in advance (as required by the system).   But I did keep up with the self study via duolingo, busuu, workbook, etc.   Had my first lesson today in 2.5 mths and was super pleased to discover there's been improvement :).  Woohoo!   Cause I'll tell ya, it definitely feels like I'm on a very flat or even downward sloping plateau *sigh*.  But yeah - while conversation remained slow and painful, I was able to hold up my end more accurately and switch between tenses more successfully.   So pretty pleased at that.   Although please note the qualifiers -- "more" does not equal "well" ;)
I set my phone to Spanish for self-motivation.
Turns out I know how to work my phone without reading instructions ;)
Pretty excited about the move coming up in 3 weeks now :).  We have 2.5 week overlap so will move things in pieces -- 4 weeks till the bulk of our furniture moves.  But current owner showed us all around and let us take pics and ask questions, so getting pretty excited about the whole thing.

Have also started a new exercise program -- Lift 4.  It's only in test mode at the moment, 20 min workouts instead of the 40 min ones that will be in the real program.  Real program starts July 16...  Since I'm feeling the 20 min ones, I'm quite looking forward to the results of the full adventure (note - not actually looking forward to the adventure itself, I just want the results ;).

And in unrelated news, I'm rather pleased with how my moment of craftiness worked out :)

More Spanish games

So while I feel very much like my Spanish has plateaued at a horribly low level, I was fairly pleased to discover I'm able to understand more spoken than I used to be able to. Listening to DuoLingo stories and podcasts and actually grasping a good portion of it. A few months ago it was a painful act to try to get through any of those.

I've also started using Busuu, which has an interesting component in that in the last exercise in each level you either write or speak something and submit it for somebody else to correct. This has the potential to be very strong. Lol BUT -- I've had a couple "corrected" via personal preference (eg - they changed my tu into usted - essentially informal into formal). Which I just rolled my eyes at. But what made me really annoyed was when I flipped through the ones studying English, how many answers were just plain wrong. It hurt. And it worries me that when I get farther in and really don't know what I'm doing, the feedback I receive might be just as bad :(.

That being said, my new way of procrastinating studying Spanish is to coach people studying English ;). I try and include an explanation so they know why, not just fix it -- unless it's super beginner, then I just fix. But I'm getting entertaining results from the more advanced ones I answer.  And am disproportionately pleased by being tagged "best answer" ;).  You can edit their work (shows up in green) and/or add notes.   They see both what they wrote and what you changed.  Pretty easy.

This is keeping me more entertained than it should
Haven't had any real lessons in a while -- mostly just been busy and/or nice weather calls ;).  But should really start those back up and get some speaking in.

In other news -- was coaching at Foxcroft yesterday in their annual show.  Highly entertaining.  As much socializing as anything, and didn't hurt that Kennedy had an amazing day.   Lots of fun to see everyone.

My favourite childhood memory is not paying bills...

So this morning I had a very sad reality check of the impact of office work on fitness *sigh* Those of you who’ve been around this blog for a while or who actually know me in person may remember that once upon a time, not so long ago, I ran a riding school. During which time, I was what I would deem functionally fit. I wasn’t going to the Olympics for anything, but I could be on my feet all day, muck the barn, do farm work, teach, put in the standard 15-18 hour work day… All good. I didn’t weight lift, but throwing bales of hay and hauling jumps was no problem and a daily occurrence. I didn’t do cardio, but I could run 5k easily with minimal effort. A decent base standard of fitness… Fast forward 4ish years into an office job…

Now, I make a concerted effort to “work out” because I don’t have that in my every day any more. So there are weights and cardio machines in my life and it sucks. And I also try to either walk to the train or go for a walk at lunch each day. But at least I still felt, if nowhere near farm fitness, I was still okay. Until this week. You see, we moved to a new office, and this office offers adjustable desks. A, this is awesome because they actually adjust low enough for me to be ergonomically correct – win! But B, they also adjust to standing. Sweet. So the last couple days I’ve been standing for a couple hours a day – usually in 20-30 min intervals. All good. Didn’t really think anything of it, until I woke up this morning. Ugh – my abs were dying! And even my legs were sore. It was like I’d done a really brutal workout, except I haven’t.

So yeah – that’s my “adulating sucks” realization of the day. Blah.

In other news – we sold our house!!! Woohoo!!! 4 or 5 days on the market J Lol was awesome. Fingers crossed I’ll have good news on the buying a house side of things in the next few days J And I would like to say, I only did a very cursory look for jobs in other countries and other fun places to look before committing to potential new location. This is admittedly due as much to the husband factor as anything, but we’re going to pretend it’s more adulting ;) Cross your fingers for us!

1 step closer toward adulting?

AG shown for scale -- Tucker wasn't home ;)
Short post today just because this made me laugh.  Not a life "goal" per say, but more of a life experience.  For the first time ever I managed to significantly shrink an article of clothing.  Now, this shouldn't be a thing, but given how much I despise laundry and the complete lack of effort I put into assuring things go well, really -- this should be a weekly occurrence.   So I was highly amused to find a child-sized sweater that fit me last week as I was putting away clothes.

Home inspection today!   Cross your fingers for us :)

Curious to see what the next chapter will bring

So after a whirlwind effort to get it ready, our house listed and sold in less than a week J   Conditional on home inspection which happens on Thurs.  Cross your fingers for us!   No reason it shouldn’t pass, but always that fluke thing…   I’ll be super happy when it’s official J   And it’s kinda nice being in a house for a little while that is spotless and pretty ;)   HUGE thanks to my parents for dog sitting so we can keep it that way until it's official.   The next one might be a bit of a dancing unicorn to find, but we’re really hoping once we do, it will be a long-term stay.  Or, you know, sell everything, get a job that allows working remote, and move to a remote island somewhere warm...  Hmmm...  But, well, responsible husband ;)   Lol    At least once we move the commute will be less bad.
I’ve started doing 80 Day Obsession workout program.  It’s the same coach as 21 Day Fix Extreme, who is definitely not a favourite of mine, but I'm getting better at tuning her out.  I’d say these workouts aren’t quite as intense as Extreme, but are getting good results.  The new-to-me exercise equipment that has me amused are “sliders”.  No, not the mini burgers – they’d have the opposite effect of what I’m going for.   These are basically Frisbees – one side is fabric, the other plastic.    Depending what surface you’re on, you put the slippery side down and perform a series of exercises involving sliding various parts of your body.   Essentially the equivalent of sliding around slick surface wearing socks ;)    Deadly for the abs though.  Ouch.
The exercises are repetitive – as per any weight based training – but at least there’re a lot of them, which enables variety.   Most of the workouts are also closer to an hour than 30 mins, which is at times a scheduling challenge.   But we’ll see J   There are definitely times I miss working at the barn!

And speaking of -- in a huge flash back, I taught at Myrddin the other day.  Lol yeah -- real fast way to make the years disappear.   Even some of the same riders were still there -- fun to see them again.  Was also great to see Lissy again -- she was in two of the lessons I taught :)   Fun times.

It's a dog's life :)

So our dogs have their own bowls, and are pretty good about sticking to their own spot.  They get the same food, so not critical if not, but Sasha gets more of it.

This morning Tucker wanted more outside time than normal so I let Sash in -- who went straight to her breakfast -- and then I went about getting ready for work. When I returned a min or two later, Sash was still at her bowl as I let Tucker in. All good right?  Except somehow all of Tucker’s food had disappeared ;).  Lol too smart.  Not like she finished hers and then went looking.  No, hers would still be there later.   I guess she recognizes a good opportunity when it arises.  Since I didn’t actually catch her at it I just laughed and gave T some more breakfast ;)

Went to a symposium yesterday that was reasonably interesting. The keynote speaker, David Marquet, was a former commander of a nuclear submarine (captain? Are those words interchangeable in the navy - prob not ;).  Random eh? But essentially he got switched last second to a ship that he didn’t know and discovered fairly quickly that navy command and control style leadership might end with getting them all killed, so he had to figure something else out.  Really good speaker.  Website is fairly meh - if I’d seen it first, I’m not sure whether I’d have gone.  But in person worth listening to.