Adventures In Knitting

I have recently taken up the art of knitting, thanks to a bargain-bin knitting starter kit at Barnes and Noble with pumpkin colored yarn that is actually really ugly on me and my discovery of Welcome To Night Vale. I knit and listen to Welcome To Night Vale because I can’t just sit there and knit, it is incredibly boring, and I can’t just sit and listen to Welcome To Night Vale without doing something, so I multitask and everything is wonderful.


You can see where I knit basic garter stitch (See the even, horizontal rows? That’s what happens when you knit all of your stitches) and where I switched to ribbing (The vertical rows nearest the needle, knit two, purl two.)

I knit myself a lopsided orange beanie that I made by knitting a long square of cloth and then using the ends to tie it together, and right now I’m doing a knitting-stitches-practice scarf thing. Then I’m going to start in on my One Pound of off-white yarn in a lower weight than the worsted-weight orange I’ve been using. It’s harder to knit with, but I’ll manage, especially now that I’ve got the purl stitch down.

Scarves look approximately 500% better with ribbing, and the way to accomplish ribbing is the classic “Knit two, purl two, knit two, purl two,” etc. There’s a knitting pattern that came with the starter kit for a ribbed scarf which I’m going to try out once I’ve finished my orange yarn. It t

I keep procrastinating though, because Welcome To Night Vale just isn’t holding my attention like it used to. I have an audiobook called Keturah and Lord Death, but it’s the kind of book that I need to read in one sitting and digest because it’s got beautiful writing and a melancholy atmosphere and a fairy tale structure and I’m having a hard time with the audiobook structure. Ah, well. I’ll figure it out.

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I Am Lazy So Read This:

Yep. Title says it all. I’m doing a fiction-writing binge and I have no brainpower or motivation to spare for blogging, so here, have the first, oh, page or so of a Beauty And The Beast/Hades And Persephone/East Of The Sun, West Of The Moon retelling kind of thing. There’s a castle, and a scary-looking faerie who’s the King of Winter, and a merchant whose daughter eventually ends up as the Belle character, etc. I’m just kind of winging it, no plot or anything, just a writing exercise. And it’s unedited, so have fun with that. 

There has never been a road in this forest before, but there is one now, dirt and cobbles and perfectly straight. There’s a tree encroaching on its line, but it is oddly transparent, shimmering and quivering and displaying the road through its trunk. The merchant swallows and leans down to run fingers through his horse’s mane. There is no snow on the road, although snow is everywhere else.

It is a magic road, that much is obvious, but it’s the only road, and the merchant is lost. His supplies are low, and his horse is colder and more tired even than he is. He will just have to stay watchful, and hope for the best.

“Come on, boy, let’s see what there is to see,” he murmurs, and clicks his tongue in the way that means forward. The horse steps onto the road gratefully, and then pauses for a long moment, one hoof in the air like a brass statue. The merchant narrows his eyes, and clicks again. Reluctantly, the horse moves forwards.

“It is possible you are wiser than I,” he says to it. “But we have no choice, my boy.”

It seems that they travel forever and no time at all, and when the merchant looks ahead, into the starting gale, he sees, dimly, the outlines of a castle. The road leads straight to the castle gate, and stops.

“Some faerie at work, I think, my boy,” he says, and dismounts, approaching the gate on trembling legs that make him rock unsteadily from side to side. He knocks, once, twice, and there is no resounding echo of fist on metal or wood, no dull thunk of stone. There is, instead, a delicate ringing, and the cold seeps through his glove.

“Ice?” he says, aloud, and the gate swings open. He reaches back for the horse’s reins, and clicks his tongue. Follow. The horse whinnies nervously, and hooks its head over the merchant’s shoulder. He stumbles under the weight of it, and laughs softly, stroking the horse’s face.

“We’ll be alright,” he says, gently. “I promise.”

They enter, and the wind cuts off. The merchant breathes out a sigh of relief. The high walls around the castle must be blocking the gale, although not entirely. He’ll be glad to get inside.

There is a stable tucked away beside the castle, and the merchant leads his horse into it. There are two other horses in the stable, in loose, roomy stalls, but he doesn’t like the look of them, and stables his horse as far away as possible. He pauses on the way out, trying to pin down what is so odd about them. They’re fine-boned, certainly, and impeccable, with shining white skins and narrow, elegant faces, but they look more like someone’s imagining of a horse than the real thing. The way people who’ve never had to muck out a stall or clean horse spit off their clothes imagines them. And they are soundless and still, only moving to track him with their gazes as he leaves. He shudders, and casts a glance over his shoulder at where his horse is standing, head hung low over the empty trough where his feed should be. There had been some, but it was unwise to eat in a faerie household, and it was better that the horse go hungry than be subjected to slavery or a curse.

The merchant leaves the stables reluctantly, and turns his face to the castle. The door swings open as he approaches, and he pauses before entering, uncertain. A gust of warm air draws him in, though, and he steps onto the carpet with a sigh. There is no one there to greet him when he enters, so he makes his own way, wandering across the hall with his cold hands in his pockets. There’s a creak and then a thud as the doors swing shut behind him, and he freezes, turning back to look over his shoulder with dread.

“Ominous,” he says.

He keeps walking up the hall instead of trying the door. This way, he can pretend it’s unlocked and he won’t have to panic. There’s another door at the end of the hall, one that silently opens as he approaches it. He pauses at the threshold, takes a deep breath. There’s some kind of meat cooking, something that makes his mouth water and his stomach rumble even as he tries to remind himself that he cannot eat. The smell draws him irresistibly through the door, and he almost doesn’t notice when it closes behind him.

There’s a long table in the center of the room, with two places set. One of them is at the head of the table, in front of a chair like a throne. The other is in front of the wooden chair closest to the door. The chair is drawn back invitingly. It does look delicious, and the merchant whimpers softly, his hunger, which had subsided into grudging acceptance, roaring to life. But he cannot. He can not, must not eat. Surely just a taste… No.

He turns away, resolutely not looking at the plate, though it pains him. It would not be so terrible to be enthralled by a faerie, if it meant eating like that. He’s heard that faerie thralls do not even recognize their own imprisonment, being able to pass their lives in joy and ease. He exhales, in a long shuddery breath. His stomach hurts. Goosebumps are prickling along his arms from cold, and he shivers, biting his lip and shoving his hands into his armpits.

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We’re starting school at the beginning of February, my brother, my sister, and me. That’s a week and a half from now, maybe a little more. Every morning I’ll need to be up at six-thirty, when I’m accustomed to waking up at ten, so I’m trying to adjust now. I’m trying to be in bed by ten-thirty at night as opposed to half-past midnight, and I have an alarm set to wake me up at the right time. I managed it for three days, and then I found a really good story on the internet and was up until one reading it, and slept in until ten.

I’m not going to be able to do that, when we start school. I won’t be able to spend all day on the Internet, and I won’t be able to go for walks while school is in session because, this time of year, it’s going to be dark by the time I get home at four. I will have to sit in a classroom and pay attention and memorize things I don’t care about and have four hours a day of free time instead of twelve. I’ll have to listen to teachers and try to get along with kids my age, and I am terrified and dreading and sad.

I’m going to school, though, definitely, because the other side of that is not having free time. I won’t have to spend my day messing around on the Internet because I’ll have other things to do. I’ll be able to make new friends, and learn new things, and be challenged and busy and given a routine. I can go for walks on the weekend, and as the days grow longer, in the evening. I’ll have something to work towards, getting the best grades I can and trying to turn in good work, and I’ll have something to put in my head. I do the best I can with learning and finding things to do, but I can’t teach myself something I don’t know about, and everything is a hundred times more interesting when you’re with a friend. I’ll be able to make friends.

Last time I was in school, I was irritated with everyone and everything, putting off my homework until the last minute and sneering at my classmates, who were obviously so beneath me and even talked in class and made dirty jokes, the heathens. I’ve loosened up a lot since then, thank goodness, and I’ve discovered that I have patience and a work ethic which I can apply towards things if I really want to. It’s going to be better this time around. There’s a robotics club and I’m going to be working in the backstage of their large theater program, painting sets and sewing costumes and whatever, and my mom’s friend, who’s a teacher, says all the kids are really cool, so.

We’ll see how it goes.

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Character Development Questionnaire.

I’ve come up with a bunch of questions to answer in order to make your characters SUPER awesome and well developed. The questions range from “What Hogwarts house would they be in?” to “Name three things they aren’t very good at,” to “What are three things that they do not condone under any circumstances?” to “What do they do to calm down when they’re stressed?” Lots of threes.

Tell you what, I’ll even give you the answers for one of my minor characters.

Character Questionnaire (1)

I spent forty-five minutes making this and agonizing over every part of it. It’s a bit asymmetrical, yes, but we are going to remain silent about that because if I have to stare at this thing for one second longer I am going to screech and break things.

Name? Lucy O’Dale, or “Luce.”

Age? 14 years old.

Species? Werewolf, or wolf shifter.

What do they look like? Luce is tiny, only about five feet high and built small with a blonde pixie cut, big brown eyes and a streak of purple running down the side of her head. Her nose turns up at the end, making her look a little impish, and she has a lot of freckles on her pale skin. Her wolf form can carry over the purple streak if she concentrates hard enough, which she finds enormously entertaining, and makes for a very odd sight.

What are three positive character traits they have? She is friendly, generous, and fiercely protective of anyone in her friend group.

What are three negative character traits they have? She is vindictive when hurt, prone to mischief when she’s bored, and manipulative.

Other character traits? She’s very forthright. When she wants something, she goes for it. If she has a crush, she asks the other girl out. If she’s hungry, she gets something to eat. If she needs money, she– well, she asks Fenrir for money because she’s also pretty lazy. She does not hesitate to drop friends who have proven to be bad for her, which is not necessarily a bad thing. She changes her mind easily, with brief, passionate interest in one thing or another that goes away quickly. She believes that she knows best, and frequently disobeys Fenrir in favor of her own ideas.

What Hogwarts house would they be in? Ooh. This is a hard one. Gryffindor or Hufflepuff, I think.

What do they do to calm down when they’re stressed? Luce locks herself in her room and blasts some music until she’s worked out her stress through the proxy of angry girl rockers.

Three skills? Luce knows bits and pieces of a lot of things, but never sticks with anything long enough to really learn it. She does get good grades in English class, though, and she can do her makeup like a pro. Also, she can frost cupcakes beautifully. (She is also fluent in sign language, thanks to her brother.)

Three things she is bad at? Same as the above: She knows bits and pieces of everything. She attempted to pick up the violin at one point, and discovered that she is incredibly bad at it. She dropped it immediately, irritated. She struggles with math, and consistently loses at Mario Kart, despite her werewolf reflexes.

What are three things they absolutely do not condone under any circumstances? Killing an unarmed person, rape, torture and child/spouse abuse. (That’s four, technically five, but those are her absolute limits.)

What kind of relationships do they have with their family members?  Luce is very close with her older brother Rory, who is deaf. Rory is even-keeled and patient, and tends to balance out her short attention span, usually by sitting on her until she calms down. They sign at each other, fluently, and are unforgiving to anyone who hurts their siblings. Luce is definitely the annoying little sister, though, and Rory has been known to sit with his eyes closed so he can’t see what Luce is saying. They have good relationships with their parents, and they were raised in a kind of cheerful anarchy by the were pack they belong to. There was a lot of dithering when Fenrir showed up to request them to join his puppy pack, but eventually, after confirming that the pack is only an hour’s drive away, he was allowed to take them.

Major emotional goal(s) in life? Luce wants to be safe and happy and loved, and if she feels unsafe or unloved or consistently unhappy, she leaves for a healthier, brighter environment. She experiments all the time to try and find things that make her even happier than before, and creates a positive environment around her.

There you have it. Luce Rochester, everybody! A semi-minor character in my current piece of writing, Aconite! Woo!

If you’re interested in using these questions to develop your character, just copy, paste, delete all of the bits not in italics and fill them in with your own answers.

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I’m Getting A… Job?

I’m not sure it counts as a job if it’s your parents paying you to do it, but hey, I have a job now. I cook for the family, ten bucks a meal, five days a week. I only cook dinner because our family is the type that scrounges for other meals, but that’s still fifty bucks a week. That’s a lot of money, just personally. I’m going to be be putting half of each paycheck (I have a paycheck!!) in a savings account so that if I ever feel the need to buy something big and expensive (Like a sewing machine or a car) I have the funds. Also, I’ll probably donate some. Not, like, a whole lot, but some.

My family is, recently, lactose and gluten intolerant. Well. Half of us are lactose intolerant and Mom is gluten intolerant. Mostly that’s because she didn’t discover her milk allergy for a long time so now her stomach and immune system are shredded and now she is allergic to everything. Yeast. Gluten. Dairy. Processed sugar. Jewelry. All the good things in life. (Sorry, Mom.) If you guys have any gluten/dairy free recipes, link me to them, all right? Thanks.

Oh! Also, I get paid bonuses for making snacks for the family. Such as the massive batch of muffins I currently have in the oven. Admittedly, I’m just baking of my own accord, so I don’t know if I’ll get paid. (*nudge nudge* *wink wink* Hey Mom.) And yes, I realize that muffins are neither dairy or gluten free, but come on, we aren’t that allergic to dairy, and Mom will just have to forgo the muffins.

Hmm. This is going to be a lot of money. I need, like, spreadsheets and stuff. A budget. Funds saved for whatever subscriptions and stuff I get. A careful allotment for donations. Perhaps, in the future, I can expand my business some? I could bake snacks and meals for people and deliver them.

Or I can just start working at Starbucks on the weekends when I’m sixteen. That is also a thing I can do. Who knows?

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Moving Around, Settling Down.

We moved in July, the humid, unforgiving heat of the California sun sticking our shirts to our backs as we carried boxes from the house to the truck. The mattresses went in first, on their sides, and the table went in after. Other pieces of furniture, boxes, biggest to smallest. Vacuum cleaners and pool noodles wedged into the cracks. When we got in the car, finally, Mom sighed and turned the air conditioner all the way up.

“It’s hot,” she said. “Let’s get smoothies.”

It was a routine, by then, every year a slightly different sun on our backs, some furniture replaced, things we’d loved abandoned to charities and yard sales without even a twinge of regret. We were past that.

We’ve lived in fifteen houses in fifteen years, maybe more. You lose count after a while, and there were so many six month apartments and fifteen month houses and the occasional two years spent in the same house. We’re not a military family, and it’s not a work thing. My family is just a restless one, a tumbleweed. We’re homeschooled, so we don’t have school to worry about. We drift.

It was around three in the afternoon by the time we got to our new house, and still hot. The house was bigger than our old one, with an orange tree in the backyard and a tree full of tiny sour apples behind the garage. The kitchen was nice, lots of counter space and cabinets. No air conditioning, though. I could feel heat rising off of my skin whenever I sat down, panting, in the shade. I didn’t do that much. I had boxes to carry. It took us hours to unload it all.

“Seriously, next time we’re hiring movers,” Dad said. Sprawled on the floor of the living room, we agreed, vehemently.

We’ve mostly lived in Southern California. Five out of fifteen houses in the same San Diego suburb, one or two by the beach, but mostly just scattered in the same five hundred mile radius. We spent two years in Colorado, and eight months in Northern California. We’ve always lived in the suburbs, though. Suburbs are easy to move into and out of, and cheap.

I never really had very many friends, or very good friends. We didn’t stay in one place long enough for me to really get to know anyone. There were boys, though. Anyone even relatively cute who paid attention to me gained the instant adoration of a young, pretty girl. None of them ever went anywhere. I just oohed and aahed and they showed off for me and eventually I figured out they weren’t perfect and I dropped them like garbage. I’ve never had a friend I would feel comfortable talking to about serious things.

I was okay with that. I don’t like the middle-y bit of making friends. The first part, where everything about them is new and shiny and interesting, that part’s great. The BFF part, where you know them well enough to say shocking things around them and comfort them when they’re sad, that part is probably great too. The middle bit, though, where the shine’s worn off but you still don’t know them well enough to completely see how awesome they are, that part is boring and awful. We usually moved a month or two after I got into that part, though, so I never had to put in the work.

Then we spent a month in Europe, a month in Colorado, in and out of hotels and rentals where we stayed for days or weeks, and the only things we owned fit in our suitcases, one each. That kind of cured us of the restlessness, I think.

We’re in an apartment, now, within driving distance of the friends that I’ve had for three years. Which is… weird. And kinda great. According to my parents, we’ll move one more time, to a big house in San Diego, and then never again. And I’m glad. We’ve had a lot of great experiences, but I think it’s time for us to settle down and learn how to deal with people. Let’s see how this goes.

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The Hobbit: Battle Of The Five Armies.

Last week, I saved up my money and got myself a ticket to The Hobbit: Battle Of The Five Armies. The Hobbit: BOTFA is the last of the three movies adapted from J.R.R Tolkien’s book The Hobbit. It’s a prequel to the Lord of the Rings. Everyone had been telling me how good it was, and how much I absolutely needed to see it, so I humored them.

I went to see the 2:10 showing on Friday afternoon, with a smuggled bag of Rollos candy in my pocket. I forgot to eat before I left, but I wasn’t all that hungry, so it was okay until I was sitting in the darkened movie theater with tiny invisible squirrels gnawing on my gut and my hands shaking from low blood sugar. I carefully rationed the Rollos, eating them one at a time until they raised my blood sugar enough that the hunger pangs subsided and I could move without shaking. Definitely not the healthiest life choice, but I didn’t have any money left over for overpriced concession stand corn dogs.

The movie was really great at catching my emotions and taking them for a wild roller coaster ride. I was sitting on the edge of my seat, and gasping every ten minutes. It’s a good thing there were only about ten other people in the theater, or I probably would have utterly embarrassed myself. I won’t give any spoilers, in case you haven’t read the book or seen the movie yet, but I will provide you with a carefully edited review.


I like Thorin Oakenshield much better in the movies than the book. (Sacrilege! But it’s true.) Book!Thorin’s main motivation is to reclaim the gold from the mountain. Movie!Thorin wants his home back, and a new life for his people. This makes it all the more tragic when he [redacted].

I loved the roles of Galadriel and Tauriel in the movie, especially since the original hobbit book had absolutely no women in it. Maybe, maybe Lobelia Sackville-Baggins in the last ten pages, stealing Bilbo’s spoons. Kudos to the Hobbit team for creating a brand new and important female character in Tauriel, and giving Galadriel such a large and powerful role. They do have the whole female-elves-are-beautiful-and-peaceful-and-mystical creatures thing going on, except for that one part where Tauriel actually shouts at Thranduil. (Is that a spoiler?) That was a great part.

Bard is awesome and amazing and his kids are awesome and amazing too. He reminds me of Aragorn, since he cares about his people and has a strong sense of morals. He does not want war, or to kill, but he will if he has to, and I really admire that. The kids are terrified but being so brave.

Bilbo is, as always, amazing, Martin Freeman’s acting bringing the character to vivid life. He is desperate and sad and terrified without being obvious about it, and he is willing to sacrifice everything for his friends.

I cried steadily through the last ten minutes of the movie. Every single character was well-developed, except for that one slimy guy, but hey, nobody wants to sympathize with him. The cinematography was beautiful, and I left the movie feeling like an ancient and sorrowful Elven queen, so there’s that.

You should definitely take some time out of your lives to go see The Hobbit: Battle Of The Five Armies.

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