Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The New American Dream

Recently I learned that someone I know is going to be looking at houses in the next few weeks. I won't go into all the details of this person, but I will say that, in my opinion, it is SUCH a bad idea! I know there's NO way they can have their finances in order to do such a thing, and so my mind wonders why they're even doing this!

But, buying a house IS "The American Dream" isn't it?

Over the last few years, I've watched/listened to enough Dave Ramsay and Suze Orman to know the best path to being financially fit.

Suze has even touted a revolution to bring about the NEW American Dream. Which is actually quite simple. It's basically, to stand in your financial truth—THAT should be the new American dream. It means to live in a home which you can afford (be it apartment, or rental home, or purchasing a home). To live a LIFE that you can afford, and not to be caught up with having everything. She says to get as much pleasure from saving, as from spending. Dave Ramsay is more about saving, saving, saving now, but I think it's about the same thing.

They both suggest having large emergency funds. They both suggest putting large sums of money down on a house you can actually afford (Dave suggests cash, but if you can't, then only going for a 15-year mortgage, and if you can't pay for that, then you need to get a less expensive house). They also say to avoid credit card debt. Is this so hard to understand? Yet people all over our country (and out) have problems with this.

I will admit, that when I heard the news about this person I knew, part of me was jealous at first. I would love to own a home, and we were so close at one point. But, then I look around me, and I smile. I like where we live. We have some nice things. It's comfortable. It's home. But more importantly, we're working toward a financial security, so that we don't have to worry, as many people do, when something goes awry (car repairs, or unexpected medical expenses). We don't live paycheck to paycheck, and we are blessed to say that.

It's their life to live as they want, it just breaks my heart to see people I know and care about making ginormous, potentially bad decisions that could impact them for years to come, when just some simple words of advice, taken and heeded, could make them happier and more secure.

It took our parents YEARS to build up the lives and families that we were born into. We cannot expect us to have it all right away. And yet, many young people do. However, I look at my parents now. Aged. Infirm. And with very little savings. That is not where I want to be at that age. Lesson learned. I hope.

I'm working toward my new American dream. How about you?

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Korean BBQ

Ever had Korean BBQ? How about Korean BBQ from a food truck? Oh, I know. That image conjures up rundown food trucks with spotty paint jobs and possibly questionable food-preparation practices.

But, apparently, the food truck has seen a resurgence in the last few years, and they've gone all fancy and high tech!

A few months ago, my company launched their Christmas Book, and I was able to attend the launch party, where one of the things available was Korean BBQ from ssahm BBQ.

See what I mean about a high-tech food truck? (Taken from their site.)
I admit, I've never had Korean BBQ before, especially from a food truck, but I had heard good things, and so, I had a taco and kimchee fries that day. OMG! The kimchee fries! Sooooo good!

This is a pic from their site of the tacos.
Sadly, I couldn't find a pic on their site of the fries, but, just imagine all the stuff on the tortillas, slathered over perfectly cooked fries.

It took me awhile to remember their name, and I found them on FB last night. SOoo wanting to get some more! They occasionally do a dinner stop somewhat near my work, so, maybe one evening .....


Monday, November 28, 2011

Do YOU Pinterest?

I think of Pinterest as a graphical representation of my virtual bookmarks.

According to Pinterest:

Pinterest is a virtual pinboard. Pinterest allows you to organize and share all the beautiful things you find on the web. You can browse pinboards created by other people to discover new things and get inspiration from people who share your interests.

People use pinboards to plan their weddings, decorate their homes, and share their favorite recipes.

I like that instead of bookmarking a site, and only having a sometimes badly named link as my only reference, now I can see the lovely little image of whatever it is that inspired me -- craft, recipe, decor, etc.

Some claim it's a time waster. I don't know. No more a time waster than anything else online! *LOL* Also, I think it can be helpful when thinking about, say, what your decorator style is. Maybe you don't know, but it you start pinning everything you like on one board, then you'll eventually get to see a pattern.

So, if you want to,

Follow Me on Pinterest

And, if you need an invite, let me know! ^_^

Sunday, November 27, 2011

My Cats Have Heating Pads

Yep, that's right. My cats each have their own heating pad.

And, yes, that mean's they're spoiled. ^_^

But, truthfully, during the winter we keep our home a little on the cool side (artificial heat is icky) and so, if we're cold, we can just put on more clothes. Sadly, the cats can only do so much. And, after many times taking over one of our heating pads (whether for our feet, or our backs, or sore muscles), we decided to get them their own. But, we had to get a heating pad specifically made for pets.

Sound silly? It's not, actually. Heating pads made for humans run too hot for animals, and can actually cause them to become overheated and dehydrated. So, there are heating pads out there for animals that run a lower voltage, safe, continuous heat that keeps them just warm enough.

And, as soon as we break those out, the cats don't leave those heated little ovals of warmth.

And so, that's where the cats are right now. On each wingback chair, we have their blankets and a heating pad. And each cat is curled up on one right now. They're so cute!

And hey, if our pets aren't meant to be spoiled, then who/what CAN we spoil? ^_^

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Muppets Movie

Brian and I went to see the new Muppets movie. It was cute. I felt the first part dragged a little, but when they got into the "show" part, it was a lot of fun. Funny, too, in parts. But some parts were just really, really cheesy, and I really felt they could have gone a little smarter with it. It kind of reminds me of Enchanted, in that Disney is totally poking fun at themselves, but also brings in little homages to other Disney films. And, I have to say, the songs were really good in that one! (I sing along to them on occasion in the car.) But, the Muppets songs were ... not as memorable. Mostly.

The original show was on just shortly after I was born, but I do remember watching many in reruns. It was cute and funny, then. There were some characters in this movie that I don't even remember though!

All in all, it was nice to get out and have some fun. Because Brian had off on Friday, and I got off early on Friday, all chores and whatnot were done by Friday, so we were able to enjoy Saturday completely for ourselves.

Thankfully, it seems I am on the mend, which is nice -- means this never turned into a full-blown whatever. And, the cough I had developing has mostly subsided. (I think it's because I'm not draining as much. I know, TMI. Sorry. ^_^)

Thanks for the well wishes!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Fighting Off the Germs

So, a few weeks back I posted that I had been feeling unwell. Well, I think that compromised my immune system somewhat -- I was doing so well! But, then Brian went and caught a cold, and then, last Sunday, one of the kids I teach coughed on my hand not 2 feet from my face. Ugh! I quickly bathed my hands in antibacterial cleanser, but I think the damage was done. Thankfully, it has yet to develop into a full-blown whatever, but my throat was a little sore a few days ago, and my sinuses do hurt, and I've just felt blah.

But, I think my body is still trying to fight. I've been doing all that I should -- Neti pot, Vit. D, teas, etc. I just need to get better. I dislike feeling sick! :(

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Giving Thanks

Happy Thanksgiving!

Even though the year isn't over yet, I have to say that Brian and I have had a blessed year, and we have a lot to be thankful for.

Not only did Brian get promoted to a position he's been wanting for awhile, which he's great at, and which he knows he wants to do for the rest of his career (well, at least for now), but then I got a fabulous job at a wonderful company where I am truly appreciated for my talents and abilities!

We moved out of our old apartment where we had many issues, to an awesome new place where we've been able to make it a lovely new home. Our jobs have afforded us the ability to get a few new things (like a couch) to truly feel like we are living a nice life.

We have our health, which we're striving to improve on. We also have our wonderful cats that bring us so much joy. And even though Yanni got really sick early on in the year, he was able to recover and be back to his old self (which is a silly kitty who makes us laugh). Also, we have our wonderful family. And even though my dad's had a few 'bouts of severe illness, he's still hanging on.

We still have about a month left in the year, and one never knows what life can bring, but we are so thankful for the life that we have, for the blessings the Lord has bestowed upon us, even though we sometimes aren't as good at expressing that gratitude.

Sometimes I get very overwhelmed thinking of all the nice things we have in our life when there are so many people out there that are suffering in one way or another (loss of jobs; sickness; harsh life conditions; etc.). We are truly, truly blessed.

May all of you have a blessed and happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Trendy Leopard

One of the perks of working for a very nice, large retail company? I get some nice discounts.

Like today, we had a storewide 40% off sale, and then, I get my 30% discount on top of that.

I got some gifts, but I got myself something as well, because I've had my eye on these for awhile:

Leopard-print anything is all the rage this fall, and I love thong slippers, so these are the perfect combo! Even at home, my feet can be trendy! ^_^

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


So, apparently, not being a consistent blogger has affected my NaBloPoMoing! Oops!

Sorry! I missed another day of blogging. In my defense, haha, excuse, whatever, last night Brian and I were talking "grownup" stuff—benefits. Since I'm officially an employee, I can now get benefits. But I have to decide ASAP, or I can't enroll until next summer (we're retail, so our books fiscal year ends during the summer). Brian, though, has end-of-the-year enrollment.

So, we went through all that stuff, and boy is it a life sucker! Ugh! Sometimes, being a grownup really sucks! Blech!

That's my story, and I'm stickin' to it!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Birthday

Okay, so I was totally going to cheat and backdate my entry, seeing as I officially missed blogging on yesterday, Nov. 19. But, I totally have a good excuse: it was my birthday!!

Yesterday I turned 36! I am the same age my mother was when she had me. Almost to the day—her birthday is exactly one week before mine. It seems odd to me. She had 4 children at this point. I have none. But, then, her life is very different from mine, so.... And, I know many women having children later in life, so I don't think about it too much. (Okay, maybe more than lately, as I told my husband that if we decide to have children, I will not go past 40.)

Anyway, on Friday morning, my coworkers surprised me with a little breakfast brunch. (And, I have to say, even though they like to surprise others as well, and I had at first thought they would do it for me, I had only told my supervisor the date shortly after I started 6 months ago—I figured they had forgotten. But no, they're sneaky! *LOL* My super also got me some lovely tulips.

Then, Friday night we had people over—especially some that I haven't seen in YEARS! It was so good to catch up with OLD, old friends, some older friends, and some friends we have just known a few months, so that was nice. It mad me realize that I want to make more of an effort to catch up with old friends and maintain some of those friendships. I mean, some of these people it was as if we had just seen each other last week, well, except for the fact that some are now married and have kids, but .... ^_^ I think it gets a little harder to make friends as you get older, because you're having to fit into the full life of someone else. Whereas, friendships of old were usually made when single, or when one had less responsibilities and therefore had more time to cultivate those friendships. So, that's one of my goals for the coming year.

OH! Which reminds me, this is a a digression, so bear with me. Remember last year, when I mentioned that I was going to start saving for my Masquerade Ball? Well, I am happy to report that I am on my way! For now I only have a few hundred dollars saved, but ... this next year I hope to put in a little more each month than I have been. In 4 years I should be able to have a fab party!!!

Now, back to my birthday. Poor Brian is sick with either a cold, or really bad allergies. He has been trying so hard to make my day a special one. So, we slept in. (Okay, really, he slept in.) Then we went to brunch at Denny's (yes, IHOP is better, but I like the sausage at Denny's better), then to get groceries (sadly, yes, this still needs to be done), then home to relax, watch some TV and just hang out. Then, later we went to dinner at MasterGrill. It's one of those Brazilian Churrascarias (where they bring meat out on the skewers which they cooked on). So delish! The sirloin last night was excellent. And I always wait for the lamb. It's the first place I ever tried lamb with mint jelly (such a strange-sounding combination, but so tasty!). And, they also have this pineapple coated in brown sugar, which is out of this world! YUM! The nice thing about this place, is that it isn't as pricey as some other similar places around here, but it's still good.

And, for last, the gifts. From my friends, the most memorable was a buckram fascinator form so I can make my own fascinator (so excited), and from Brian, a pair of white gold earrings with a gemstone in them, and a special table lamp made to help with lighting when taking still-life pictures (and also some of my crafty items, like cards and things). I know, sounds weird, but I've wanted something like that for awhile so I could have better indoor lighting!

So, that was that. Kind of a slow, lazy birthDAY. And It was nice.

Later today, it's my family's thanksgiving, so we can all go to the in-laws for the actual day.

Friday, November 18, 2011

It's My Party

In honor of my birthday tomorrow (no! I promise! I'm not fishing for wishes! ^_-), I am having a little birthday get together at my place tonight. Some good pizza, yummy cupcakes, and some good friends (some whom I haven't seen in YEARS), should make for a fun and interesting evening (like figuring out how all those people will fit in the apartment??)!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Corporate Citizenship & Volunteerism

Did you know that my company has a separate division that JUST handles charity work and setting up volunteer opportunities for its employees? Yep, a company that not only claims to do community work, but actually does.

Today alone I got two emails with quite a few opportunities around the community to volunteer.

But this had specific relevance to me today, because I actually got to participate in one of those opportunities.

Today I, along with several other people, helped the Meals on Wheels organization by decorating blank gift bags that will contain small items (usually toiletries and the like) that will be delivered to recipients of the program during Christmas. Sometimes, they said, these are the only Christmas "gifts" these people receive. So, Meals on Wheels was especially glad we were decorating them, since many of these folks really like and appreciate things like this. It will make their day. Part of me makes me sad that some of these people live their lives like that. Another part of me is glad that I could help. And really, if I didn't have an actual job to perform, I would totally love to run around and volunteer at all the great things they do.

I know many people that would like to volunteer around the community, but it's hard to find things to do, or the time to do it. So, my company puts a lot of groups together to go help out during business hours (and we are not docked pay for it), but they also do a lot of company-sponsored events that benefit those in the community.

It makes me feel good to be part of such a great company that I am learning to love even more now that I am a full-fledged employee!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


Wordle was kind of all the rage a few years back. It's a service that let you do word clouds. You can change the fonts, colors, orientation of anything you want. I did one some time ago with the complete text of my favorite novel Pride and Prejudice. It's pretty cool.

I wanted a cool quote or something to add as a little accent to a display of two pictures of my cats, and then I remembered Wordle. So, I pulled up how you say the word "cat" in several other languages, and put my decor colors (well, as close as I could get to them) as my custom palette, copied it, printed it on some cool paper, and framed it. So easy!

I'll take a pic of that and the other one maybe one day soon, but, this is what it looks like:

Wordle: Language of Cats

Cool, eh? Like me, you could do the text of a novel, or maybe your blog?

Maybe your kids' names? Important dates? Places? The world (or WORDLE) is your oyster!

Now go have fun with Wordle!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

My Chatting Days

Christine's reminder that she and I have known each other for 14 years made me: one, take pause, and two, start to reminisce.

Today, with a coworker, somehow we got on the topic of chatting back in our college days (although she is quite younger than me), and using instant messaging systems as well, like AIM or ICQ (well, at least she was young enough to have used that). I told her I first started IMing on Apache -- anyone remember THAT?! *LOL* Wow.

It wasn't so much the chatting, which was a lot of fun, but the type of chatting. I frequented sites where there was a lot of roleplaying going on. Usually in the fantasy vein. It was free-form, text-based, and it was so much fun. I would stay up for hours and hours playing. My writing skills improved so much during that time! First off, I had the chance to develop my own character (or characters), really delving into deep stories, partly due in thanks to some fabulous RPers I could play off of. Also, since it was constantly updating/refreshing (unlike a forum), I had to be on my toes. You never know what the other players were going to do! Sometimes I tried to push and prod to a desired outcome, but sometimes it just wouldn't happen. Oh! And a lot of this happened during dialup days, so there would be many times when our connection would drop us! Talk about being left hanging! *LOL*

But, as with any community, there was drama behind the scenes (yes, some involved romance), and sometimes it was just personalities that butted heads. Although, some of those people that I had the most friction with when I first started RPing, are some that I was the closest to for awhile.

And some I am still friends with, in some shape or form, like Christine, Charles, or Richard. ^_^

And others, others just sort of dropped off the face of the earth and I still do miss them -- is that weird? The one I think of the most often is this one guy I met. I think he was a senior in high school, and I had already graduated from college, or was about to, when we started RPing. I think he went by the name Samhain (or, at least, one of his more well-known characters). We had a great little friendship. He was like a little brother, although sometimes I suspected he might have had a slight crush on me (but that's just my opinion). I want to say his real name was something like Jason? Even though we had a nice friendship, he didn't share much of his personal life, which was probably smart. I also remember he had a twin brother, and they both were gonna play soccer in college? I remember him sort of dropping off the face of the earth, and then life went on, I stopped chatting, but once in awhile I would stop in and see if anyone I knew had been by (because you could leave private messages for the other person). And I saw a message he had left me ... but it was months and months old. I responded, but ... never heard back from him. So, Samhain, if you ever come across this, Reeny wants to know how you're doing? ^_^

Oh, man, I just remembered another person: Korbeau. Oh, he was a dreamy writer. AND British. I think he called me once, leaving a message. Ah, the accent..... *dreamy sigh*

Dang, now I'm dredging up all these memories! Wow, I wish we could get a reunion together with all the old chatting people -- online, of course, and reminisce. Only they would truly understand, I think. I know, I can't really go back to those days, and I don't have time to, but, it's nice to remember them fondly.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Orientation & Lessons Learned

Today I took the second half of the day "off" work to attend Orientation, since I'm technically a "new" employee. So, technically I was still working, I suppose.

It was mostly getting to know other people, and the company and how they work, and how they like diversity in the workplace, and a few other odds and ends.

At the end of orientation, we were asked to write down three things we learned today. It could be about the company, ourselves, someone else, etc.

So, these are at least three things I learned today:

1) Neiman Marcus almost didn't exist! If the partners (way back in the early, early 1900s) hadn't of passed on an investment in a little-known beverage now known as Coca-Cola, I wouldn't be working here today.

2) I need to be more vocal in standing up for what's right and correcting others on their behavior (derogatory comments, gossip, etc.) -- I avoid conflict, but I need to be better.

3) Age is no barrier to loves and passions which can follow us all our life. (I learned this because this fashionable older lady, who happens to be a grandmother of three, surprised us by saying that she and her husband go out riding on Harleys. You just never know about someone. Which, I guess, is also a lesson in and of itself. ^_^)

Sunday, November 13, 2011

A Mostly Typical Sunday

Sundays around here are usually pretty typical.

As most of you know, I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (aka Mormon), and we observe Sundays as the Sabbath day, and try to make it a day for rest and worship. We also try not to do things that are normal for the rest of the week. So, in other words, we don't shop on Sundays, or do things like go to the movies, or say, an amusement park. We try not to do chores. And, in my family personally, we listen to only classical or church music.We focus on attending church service, and also on other "quiet" and meaningful activities, like reading scriptures, or other books, visiting family and the sick, journaling, doing family history, and yes, even naps. It IS the day of rest, isn't it?

So, with that said, here's how the day went for us today. I said it was mostly typical, because it varied a little in its normality.

8:30 am -- Woke up and showered
9:00 am -- Ate breakfast while checking email/FB/news/practice music (you'll see why)
10:00 am -- Got ready for church (did hair, got dressed, put on makeup)
10:30 am -- Left for church
10:45 am -- Arrived at church, settled into pew, then checked on mic (yes, it's coming)
11:00 am -- Church begins
11 am - 2 pm -- Block of meetings at church (will explain later)
2:30 pm -- Arrive home, change clothes, eat lunch while checking email/FB/etc.

Then in the afternoon we usually watch some TV together. We cook dinner for the coming week, and just have some quality time, including calling family.

So, that's usually our Sundays. But, I know what you're thinking: 3 hours for church?! *LOL* Yep.

Our first hour (usually a teensy longer) is what we call Sacrament Meeting, because during that time we take the sacrament (aka communion). We also sing hymn and have speakers (instead of just one preacher), etc. The the second hour is Sunday School, and the third hour is when the youth, men, and women split up into separate classes. During both second and third hours, the children gather together in what we call Primary. Part of their time is spent in age-divided classes, and part of the time they are together learning about the scriptures and also singing and learning songs. [I am currently a teacher in the Primary -- my class is the 3-year-olds that turned/are turning 4 this year.] So, that's about it in a nutshell. (Please feel free to ask questions, if you want.)

However, today was a little atypical because instead of having speakers, the Primary (children) put on a program during most of the time. It usually involves them speaking parts (which they sometimes come up with) and singing songs revolving around a specific theme. (Every year they have a new theme to focus on during that year.) This year it was about the scriptures. So, remember me mentioning practicing music and checking on a mic? Well, that's because, during one of the songs, I was asked to sing the descant that is available for it. (Descant: a superimposed counterpoint to a simple melody sung typically by some or all of the sopranos.) So, yes, I can sing, but I get quite nervous singing in front of people by myself. However, as long as I know the song/part well, I'm usually okay at controlling the nerves. Luckily, this is a part I sing often when they sing this song normally, because it's just such a pretty descant.

And THAT was my slightly atypical, typical Sunday.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

An Award!

My friend Christine gave me an award! Isn't she sweet? We've known each other for years and years online -- have not met in real life, yet. But, I've maintained a friendship with her longer than I have with many people, so, there ya go! ^_^ Thanks, Kalligenia! ^_^

The award comes with three short rules:
1. Thank the giver and link back to the blogger who gave it to you.
2. Reveal your top bloggers and let them know by leaving a comment on their blog.
3. Copy and paste the award on your blog. Check, see above.

I'm passing the award on to three bloggie friends:
1. Charles - Also another friend I've known online for quite some time; an awesome writer, and just SO smart!
2. Reva - She and I are technically only online friends, even though I do remember her from real life back in the day. I so wish we had met and become friends then, but, well, what do you do? She's a faithful blogger!
3. Sarah - A recent friend (well, compared to the other two, but she and I just clicked when we met), and she's just amazing. Smart, sweet, kind, gorgeous and talented! And she inspires me with making her passion her living. (Remind me why you're my friend again? *LOL*)

Friday, November 11, 2011

3 Outlandish Wishes

Today's prompt is in honor of 11/11/11. Make three wishes.

I decided to do outlandish ones for mine, because, well, I can! ^_-

I wish for ...

1) 20 million dollars, tax-free. (Kind of an arbitrary number, and oh, sure, I know what you're thinking, why not go for more? No need for me to be greedy. ^_- Spread the wealth around, I say.)

2) An all-expenses-paid, luxury trip around the world, to take place during a whole year--maybe longer. (Notice I said "luxury"--yeah, I like nice things, and I am NOT a backpackin' kinda girl.)

3) To be completely healthy (free of ailments; disease; etc.) for the rest of my life. (How else will I be able to spend that money, or go on that trip? But really, not having to suffer from even inconvenient things like back pain, or a sinus infection, would be so nice!)

How about you? What are your wishes?

(And, cool nifty fact I learned today: if you take the last two digits of the year you were born in, and add those to the age you are/will be this year, it will equal 111. For example: If you were born in 1980, you will be 31 this year, so 80+31=111. Cool, huh?!)

Take it all in, people.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

I'm Gonna Be Published!

But, maybe not quite as you think. ^_^

No, not my sad little novel which is still collecting the proverbial dust while it waits for a heavy edit. No, my fanfic hasn't been picked up to join the ranks of "canon" in your local bookstore.

I'm actually getting some of my digital scrapbook layouts published. Yep. All those crafty magazines, with oodles and oodles of inspiration usually come because of people like me.

So, how did this all come about? As part of my requirement for being on the Design Team at PeppermintCreative, I'm supposed to submit layouts for publication. I've been doing this for a little while now, and had not heard anything back. Partly is because I'm shy about submitting stuff, so I don't usually send much.

But, it looks like things finally paid off!

I am getting not one, not two, but three layouts published in ScrapStreet magazine. I think they're mostly online, but that's okay. Gotta start somewhere, right? So, they only told me it would be in the coming months, so I'll let you know exactly when.

And since I'll have to remove my layouts from galleries online, I thought I'd share them here.


I think the favorite of those is the last one. The first two were made using templates (which, yes, is allowed), but that last one was ALL me. Literally! *LOL*

So, yay me!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

I Came Home to a Different Place Than I Left

Okay, isn't that a cool title? Sounds like the great beginning to an interesting story. It's mine! No stealing! *LOL*

Sadly, I do not have an interesting tale to tell you that corresponds with the title, just a quick, strange one.

Yesterday morning, I left my home at Apartment Complex A, and returned home to Apartment Complex B.

Yep, apparently, during the day, my apartment complex made a cosmetic changeover to a new name. And, apparently, new owners. I also had a lovely note on the door from the "new owners" telling us about this change.

I know things like this don't happen overnight, but we had no inkling whatsoever! Weird thing is, this complex isn't even 6 months old yet. Although, I can't say I'm surprised. Still, as lovely as they are, we're probably only at about 70% occupancy (my estimate, only). That doesn't bode well.

I just hope that when it comes time to renew our lease, that they will be VERY accommodating. If not, as much as I love this place, we may just have to move on. That's life.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Traumatic Experience

(Still feeling off tonight, but doing better than last night. I think. Thanks for the well wishes.)

Today's prompt was about traumatic experiences. I admit, I've never been through anything really crazy, what I think might be deemed a TRUE traumatic experience, but, this is as close as I can get:

It was early summer 2001, and I was on my way to work -- it was a nice day, I had packed a yummy lunch, and I had the radio going. I'm driving down the highway, not so cool in my 4-door Cavalier, but, it was mine, and it had yet to fail me in any big way (and it had been paid off for a few years, too), and I see some traffic stopped up ahead, I think because of construction.

So, I started to slow down around a curve, and I glance in my rearview mirror to see this van barreling down behind me, and I panic for a moment, until I see him swerve into the next lane at his speed. I sighed in relief, relaxed, and then glanced in my mirror again. For the brief second it took me to understand what was about to happen, this went through my mind: Oh, so there was a truck going equally as fast behind that van, but he DIDN't have time to get out of the way, so--


I was tossed about, as much as I could be, while being restrained in a car that just got rear-ended by a Ford F350 Truck and pushed into the Ford F150 in front of me.

Things fell: my rearview mirror; my fuzzy dice (which actually had the string brake); my stereo popped out of the console and onto the floor.

My body was tingling all over, and it almost felt like I couldn't feel my body, but I could, if that makes sense.

People got out from the truck in front of me and asked me if I was okay. And then I started bawling.

The rest I don't remember well, except when the cop shows up, and most of my crying is done, although, I'm still kinda sniffling. He asks me if I'm okay, and I tell him that I think I am. He looks at me and points at my shirt. "Looks like you've got some blood there." I look down, then back and him, and go (a little whiny), "No, that's my lipstick." And we both chuckle a little. (Really, you should hear me tell this, because it's actually somewhat amusing.) So, yeah, apparently, me chest/shirt had come up enough, and/or my face had come down enough, or both, so hat my lips smeared my shirt. Lovely.

So the cop tries to get me out of the car, but the driver's side door won't open. So, they had to open my back door on the driver's side, so they could get my door open and out.

Once out, I feel okay, and I look at my car. It's like an accordion. It's crunched up on both sides. *sigh*

Long story, short, my car was totaled. I only made out with a sprained toe (I was wearing sandals). Oh, and countless of large, nasty bruises from the seat belt. But, nothing else. Not even whip lash. Apparently, it's because I was relaxed at the time of impact. I didn't have a moment to tense up when I noticed the second car. Crazy, eh?

So, the moral of this story is: when you're about to get into an accident, relax! It'll save you loads of pain later. Yeah, easier said than done, eh?

And THAT is my traumatic experience.

Monday, November 7, 2011


I am not feeling well, so this is all you get for today.  Come back tomorrow, and I might have more for you.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

What Earthquake?

So, apparently the large earthquake (well, in relative terms) that hit Oklahoma yesterday was felt in parts of North Texas (which is where I live). I didn't even know about it until I got onto FB around 11:30 p.m. CT and many of my local friends were talking about it.

Weird, I thought. Maybe it's because we were watching a TV show somewhat loudly, but even my cats didn't react (and I know how some pets can get). Or, maybe, it really wasn't that strong. But, I didn't notice it. Nor did Brian.

Which led me to tell him about a story of when I experienced an earthquake--a real one.

For those that don't know, I was born in Costa Rica. I lived there until I was about 8 1/2. Costa Rica is lush, tropical, and beautiful. It also has several volcanoes. Some active. So, earthquakes are pretty standard there. Sort of like the California of Central America, but, with volcanoes. (Which, btw, there are several state parks surrounding several of the volcanoes, and they are very neat to visit, but I digress....)

I was about 8, or so (I'm pretty sure this was shortly before we came back to live in the States), and it was Easter weekend. My parents were out of the country, so we were being cared for by one of the maids (oh, I know, this sounds pretentious, but, it's Central America, everyone has maids), and the maid, my younger brother and I were upstairs watching an evening movie on TV. The movie was about the crucifixion of Christ. (It was Easter weekend, people! And in Latin America, it has this weird life of its own. One day I will tell you about the weird processions down the street with a fake Christ in a glass casket. Oh, yeah.)

Anywho, I kid you not, it's the actual crucifixion scene, and the house starts shaking--badly. The lights go out, and since it's night, it's pretty much pitch black in the house. A window slams shut. (Oddly enough, it didn't break the glass.) I look out the window shortly before all the lights went out, and noticed a crack forming in the cinder block wall surrounding our house (instead of a fence; more sturdy, and most of the houses are made of cinder block as well). Our maid ushers us to the stairs to make our way down, and I get some dust in my eye. My older siblings are downstairs, and we all make it out the front door and to the street, where all our neighbors are gathering, and, I kid you not, the moon was blood red! Talk about spooky, scary stuff to an eight year old! Yeesh! (Later I learned that ash from a volcano can make it appear as if the moon is red, but tell that to a scared eight-year-old little girl that just got tossed about as she was watching the crucifixion of Christ.)

It didn't last long, and everyone was okay. We all dragged our mattresses downstairs into the living room and slept on the floor together, just in case. There were a few aftershocks, but nothing like the first one (I don't remember what it was on the Richter Scale).

And that's my odd, 8-year-old-tinged memory of one of the worst quakes I have endured. Which, seeing some that people have gone through recently, was really just a walk in the park.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

A 5-Star Book

Brian always laughs at my reviews of all things meant to entertain -- TV shows, movies, books -- because I tend to give average ratings. Out of 5 stars, I tend to give 3. Three stars meant I enjoyed it, and that it did its job. 4 means I really enjoyed it, but it still left me wanting. 5 is hard to come by. 5 must blow my socks off. Must really touch me in some way.

And, something did, recently. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. Even halfway through this book it had enchanted me. And today I finished it, and it did not disappoint. Oh sure, I wish some things had turned out differently, but I see how they ended up like they did. And that perhaps they needed to.

So, here is my Goodreads review about this book:

I hardly ever give 5 star reviews, but if I could, I would give it even more stars. Yes, this book was THAT good!

I love, love, love this book. Honestly, if I could say that I was in love with a book, then I would say that about this book.

To me, this is a book that I could see myself writing (if I had this story to tell). The language was beautiful, but not overly done. The characters were interesting, but not caricatures (which could have been easy to do, seeing as this was about a circus).

The mood was Victorian and Gothic, mysterious, and magical. I felt drawn into a world that I could only compare to the movies The Illusionist/The Prestige, and The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus. And yet not quite, yet so much more.

When reading this book, I did not feel like I was reading a story; I felt like I was being taken on a journey, as if I was part of the experience. This was partly helped by the author's use of small vignettes regarding aspects of the circus to help draw the reader in.

The only thing that somewhat took me aback was the use of 3rd person present tense, which isn't something usually done, and that there are overlapping stories that jump a little back and forth in the timeline of this book. However, you get mostly used to the tense, and you see why the author chose to move along the timeline as she did. After all, many of her characters say, "it's all about timing."

I originally got this book from the library, but this IS a book I will own soon. It has been deemed worthy enough to join the ranks of my other beloved hardbacks.

I cannot recommend this book enough. You may not love it as much as I do, but I think you'll be hard pressed to say you didn't enjoy it.

It has officially been added to my all-time favorite books!

After I posted this, I saw some reviews by other people that gave it 1 or 2 stars. Really?? But, I guess that's what makes life interesting -- people have so many different points of view. So, this book wasn't for them, and that's okay. It was completely meant for ME. And I am totally okay with that. ^_^

Friday, November 4, 2011

The Return of First Friday Fanfic with Dream Giver (Parts 1–6)

I realize it's been over 2 years since I posted this fanfic. (Did you catch my hints?) And I realize that the only way for me to call myself a writer of any shape or form, is to, well, write. I have two unfinished stories (well, two that I care about right now), and one novel in need of a serious edit. So, if I can finish this story, move on to the next one, then I can maybe flex these unused muscles and one day soon be able to edit/re-write my novel and be happy with it. I was inspired to get back to this by my sunshiny friend Sarah, who has gotten back to something creative she had left behind (and which I had no idea about)—she motivated me to get back to something creative which I love.

So, here is the all the story which I have posted on here so far (figured it would be easier for you than going and hunting for each part). AND, Part 6 (which is brand new to you) is posted at the end. As always, constructive criticism and feedback is appreciated. I have some notes already, but anything YOU can add will help this become a polished piece of work, even if the only light of day it will see is here and ^_^ Enjoy!


(Author's Note: This fanfic takes place sometime during Season 7 of the show–just in case anyone didn't want any spoilers. Not that they're huge. Well, maybe.... You've been warned.)

Dream Giver
(a Stargate SG-1 FanFic)

Part 1
The preliminary survey had barely touched on the woodland they now encountered. Having earlier watched it through a tiny view screen with muted colors showing through a grainy picture, the party of four now stood in awe as a noonday sun streamed down through the leaves of large, lush trees and warmed them.

“I could get used to this,” the leader quipped as he swiped his cap off and scratched his gray-haired head for a moment before adjusting his cap back on his head.

“It is beautiful, Sir,” the blonde-haired woman smiled with a warmth given to someone that was a good friend, and not just a superior.

“Indeed,” the large, black man nodded, the golden symbol on his forehead gleaming softly in the rays of the sun.

The brown-haired, bespectacled man nodded as he made his way down the steps of the landing. “It appears as if this is a place of worship, or some sort of shrine.” He pointed to several containers filled with exotic flowers placed carefully around the area. His forehead crinkled as he pushed his glasses up his nose. “But I don’t see any writings, so I—”

“Hey!” the leader called out playfully. “We’ll have time for that later, first we need to—”

“Sir?” the woman called out calmly, but with a hint of chiding as her gaze landed on two figures peeking out from behind a tree.

The rest of the group followed the woman’s gaze.

“Oh, hey,” the leader blinked. “Hey there!” he called out cheerfully. “Come on out.”

“We will not harm you,” the large man said stoically.

The woman grimaced as she looked at the large man and merely shook her head with a soft laugh.

The figures came out from the shadows and walked toward the group slowly. They were young women, both with pale hair, light eyes and slender figures. Though their features were distinct, one might have thought them to be sisters. Their simple dresses of a silken material, floated behind them as they came close. Warm smiles touched their faces as they were now near enough for greeting.

The taller one spoke. “We thought it possible, but no one has ever come through the Chapa’ai before.”

The brown-haired man jumped a little and made his way to right in front of the women. “Chapa’ai. You know this word?”

The young women gasped softly as their eyes went hugely round. Huge smiles then began to spread across their faces. They crossed their hands lightly over their lips and gave a bow of their heads.

The shorter one spoke, with an uneven, young voice as she looked back up at the brown-haired man. “We never thought we would ever get to see you! There are many that believe you do not exist.” She almost seemed to giggle, and the taller one put a hand on her shoulder.

“We, however, are not of that belief,” the taller and seemingly older one said calmly, with a hint of delight, as she pointed to the flowers. “We are of a group that believed one day we would see you.”

The brown-haired man blinked as his eyes narrowed. “You’ve been expecting me?”

The older woman merely smiled and then turned to the younger one. “You must tell the others! I will lead them shortly.”

The younger woman nodded, gave another strange bow and took off running.

The rest of the party looked on in disbelief.

“Wait a second!” the leader called out. “You want us to go with you?”

The young woman turned to him and smiled softly. “Is that not the reason you came?”

The leader’s mouth opened as if he was about to speak, then he shrugged and nodded. “Yeah, sure, okay, but first I’d like to know what’s going on?”

“I do not understand.”

The leader narrowed the gap between himself and the brown-haired man. “Why do you think you’ve been expecting him?”

The young woman smiled beatifically. “Because he is the Dream Giver.”

Part 2
The SG-1 team all looked at one another, perhaps trying to see if anyone else in the group understood what this young woman had just said.

“Dream Giver?” Major Samantha Carter asked, brows furrowed.

The young woman smiled widely as she nodded and continued looking at Daniel Jackson.

Teal’c quirked an eyebrow, his lips twitching just a moment. “What is this ‘Dream Giver’?”

The young woman didn’t blink an eye as she answered. “The one who gives dreams, of course.”

“Oh, of course!” Colonel Jack O’Neill let out quickly and then pursed his lips together.

Blue eyes narrowing in thought, Daniel finally let out slowly, “One who gives dreams to whom?”

She blinked. “You do not know?” She didn’t give Daniel a chance to answer as she smiled softly. “Of course, you do not know her name. She said names were never given, that’s why she called you the Dream Giver. It was the only way she knew you.”

“She?” Daniel’s glasses slid a little off of his nose as he looked at the woman.

The woman smiled widely, almost beaming, and stood straighter. “Yes, my sister, Elpis.”

Sam blinked. “You mean the girl that just ran off?”

The woman laughed delightedly. “Oh, no. That was my youngest sister, Hebe. I am Daphnis. My oldest sister, Elpis is the one of dreams.”

“Uhm,” Jack called out, “Daphnis, could you please excuse us for a moment?” He gestured to his teammates to follow him off a ways.

She merely nodded and backed off herself.

Once gathered, Jack began to whisper. “Okay, who here thinks these people are nuts?” He raised his hand and looked around.

Sam chuckled softly. “Well, Sir, to be honest, this isn’t the first time the local female population has become enamored of Daniel.”

Jack gave a wry grin.

Daniel’s mouth dropped open, a hurt expression crossing his face. “Sam? Humor? Really?”

She shrugged and tried to contain a large grin.

He scowled. “So suddenly this is all my fault?”

“Major Carter’s comment is valid, Daniel Jackson,” Teal’c said calmly, though a touch of a raised eyebrow also confirmed his mirth.

Daniel threw up his hands and sighed.

Jack patted Daniel on the back. “It’s okay, Daniel. Really.” He then looked around to the rest of them. “Seriously, though, what do we think?”

“They appear to be harmless,” Teal’c spoke first.

“But why do they think that Daniel’s this Dream Giver, and not any one of us?” Sam’s brows furrowed.

Jack nodded. “Good question, Carter.” He looked toward Daphnis and waved her over. She nodded and walked toward them. “Daphnis, why is it that you think Daniel here is the Dream Giver? Couldn’t it just as easily be one of us? We all did come through the Chapa’ai.”

She blinked at looked at Daniel. “Daniel? That is your name?”

Daniel nodded.

She smiled softly and then turned to Jack. “We know Daniel is the Dream Giver, because we know his face.”

“What!” both Daniel and Jack questioned in disbelief.

Daphnis’ face fell a little. “Perhaps it is better that I take you to my father and the others. He is the leader of our clan.”

“Yes!” Jack nodded. “Take us to your leader.” He grinned widely.

“Sir,” Sam chided lightly.

“Oh, come on Carter, you know it’s fun to say!”

She merely shook her head with a boys-will-be-boys smile on her lips.

Daphnis blinked, nodded, and began to lead them through a path in the forest toward her home.

Part 3
After a few miles, the group emerged from the forest onto a wide plain with deep green grasses and majestic mountains in the far distance soaring into powder-puff clouds and azure skies. Several bloom-bearing trees lined paths into the prosperous village with wood and stone homes, with the peaks of more decorative stone and marble buildings showing the heart of the town.

A soft breeze caressed around them, rustling leaves and carrying the sweet scent of spring.

“Wow!” breathed out Jack.

Sam smiled as she inhaled deeply. “I think I could get used to this too, Sir.”

Daphnis smiled widely as she looked at them. “It is beautiful, is it not?”

Daniel raked a hand through his hair. “I wouldn’t mind retiring here,” he chuckled softly.

Daphnis’ eyes grew round in surprise. “You would wish to stay with us, Dream Giver?” she exclaimed with hope.

His smile fell a little, softening as he looked at her after calling him by the title apparently bestowed upon him. “Well,” he began, but was cut off as a small group of people emerged from a nearby building, making their way quickly toward SG-1.

A tall, older man with a large girth and sparse, darker blond hairs on his head led the group comprised of quite a few young girls who looked like Daphnis and her sister Hebe, as well as a few young men with similar light blond hair and eyes of varying degrees of blue.

Daphnis stepped out to greet him with the now-familiar bow of the hands over the lips. “Abaris, we have visitors.” She smiled gently at him, and turned to Jack. “Colonel O’Neill, this is the Abaris of our clan. He is our leader,” and with a hint of pride added, “and my father.”

Jack held out his hand and, after bowing to him, the Abaris took Jack’s hand hesitantly, unsure of what to do until Jack started pumping it.

The Abaris laughed, his darker blue eyes crinkling at the corners. “Well met, travelers!” His eyes scanned the SG team, and stopped on Daniel. He gave a quick glance to Jack, recognizing him as leader. “And these must be your companions?”

After the quick introductions, the Abaris stepped toward Daniel, his eyes intent. He whispered softly to himself: “It seems true.” He then blinked and smiled gently, addressing Daniel. “My daughter Daphnis has told you whom we believe you to be?”

Daniel’s brow furrowed and nodded. “She mentioned it briefly, but, I must tell you, I don’t really understand what’s going on. Could you maybe explain more about this Dream Giver?”

The Abaris pursed his lips briefly, then sighed. “Perhaps it is better if I take you to Elpis. She will be able to tell us if you are truly him. I sent Hebe on ahead to let her know.” Spreading his arm out, he began walking away from the village. “Please come.”

As they walked, the Abaris talked about their village and home, about Elpis being with other young women, picking fruit in a nearby field. The SG-1 team asked varying questions about the climate, their enemies, if any, in addition to information regarding medicines and herbs.

Daniel, normally very talkative with inhabitants of any new world they encountered, curious to find out their history, lagged in silence behind the group. Samantha caught Jack’s eye and motioned him to Daniel, who fell behind, in step with the archeologist.

“So, Daniel, what’s an ‘Abaris’?”

Daniel blinked several times, then looked at Jack. “Uhm, Abaris was a priest of Apollo.”

Jack’s eyes narrowed and he murmured, “Apollo.”

Daniel sighed. “Apollo, the Greek god of the Sun? Also medicine, archery, and music. And also the god of—” he broke off as he noticed Jack yawning. “Anyway, Apollo gave Abaris a golden arrow which was supposed to cure diseases and even spoke oracles.”

Jack scratched under his cap. “The arrow spoke?”

Daniel rolled his eyes at Jack. “Yes, Jack, the arrow spoke,” he quipped sarcastically, but quickly resumed the lecture. “And, it also rendered him invisible and allowed him to ride through the sky.”

Jack chuckled. “Must have been a big arrow.”

“Indeed,” quipped Teal’c, who had joined them while Sam continued talking with the Abaris.

Jack grinned at Teal’c, then motioned in the direction of the Abaris. “So…?”

Daniel shrugged. “From what I gather, the clans or villages of this world have leaders who call themselves ‘Abaris’, though they aren’t necessarily priests, from what I can tell, as I didn’t see any symbols of any particular pantheon. And, since Daphnis didn’t give us his actual name, it would seem that if his name is known, he is usually addressed only by his title.”


“Although,” continued Daniel, now seeming more like his usual self, “all of the names we have encountered so far have been from Ancient Greece. Names of gods or goddesses, or those associated with them. But they don’t really look like ancient Greeks, do they?” He pushed his glasses back up the bridge of his nose. “Actually, if I had to put a race to them, I would say perhaps Nordic.” He shook his head, his eyebrows furrowing. “Very strange.”

“I’ll say,” said Jack, as they caught up to the Abaris, who was being approached by a group of women, some holding baskets of fruit, all with the same fair skin, hair and eyes—except for one.

Hebe had her arms linked with a woman of olive skin, whose long brown hair curled softly, hints of red glinting in the sun. Tilted eyes of emerald-green laced with lashes so dark it almost seemed as if they were rimmed in kohl contrasted with the smattering of light freckles across her nose. The women quickly made their way toward the newcomers, bowing to the Abaris, though the one with tan skin gave him a warm embrace.

The Abaris held the woman and they looked into each other’s eyes.

“Is it true?” her melodic voice asked him.

He merely turned, and the group behind him parted, leaving a path to Daniel. “My daughter, Elpis.”

Her eyes went round and her lips parted as she stood the distance, looking at Daniel. She swallowed softly and licked her lips, approaching him cautiously. Her eyes began to glisten as her lips gathered into a wide smile, a dimple dancing into one cheek as she stopped before him. Her eyes darted over him, trying to absorb every detail.

Daniel shifted on his feet, watching this woman, until his eyes caught hers and held them. He spoke gently. “I’m Daniel.”

Elpis stared intently into Daniel’s blue eyes, and then her smile faded, the unshed tears of happiness now falling down her cheeks in sadness. “You—you do not know me.”

He winced slightly at her tears and shook his head slowly. “I’m sorry,” he breathed softly.

Her face fell and she nodded lightly, before turning and walking back to her father. “By your leave, Abaris.” She gave a quick bow and left hurriedly toward the village, with the calls out to her by her father quickening her pace even more.

The Abaris sighed deeply and turned to Daniel and the other members of his team. “Please forgive my daughter’s behavior. Seeing that you were not the Dream Giver has upset her. I assure you, she is usually the most cordial of many of my people.” He frowned slightly as he watched her form disappear over the rise.

“But Fath—uhm, Abaris,” Daphnis spoke up, “Elpis didn’t say that he was not the Dream Giver. All we know is that Daniel did not recognize her.”

Hebe lit up. “It is true, Abaris. He does look like the drawings!”

A few more murmurs of assent rippled through the small crowd.

The Abaris nodded. “Very true, my people. Very true.” He turned to SG-1. “Regardless of whether you are the Dream Giver or not, we never let visitors go without a meal. Please join us, friends. And perhaps we will settle this soon.”

Part 4
Shortly before updating Stargate Command on the situation, the team discovered that their radios weren’t working. After some quick diagnostics by Sam, they concluded that something near the village was causing electromagnetic interference. Once in proximity to the Stargate their radios seemed to work fine. Clear that there was no danger, they settled in for a meal in one of the common buildings, along with a few of the town elders, the Abaris, and a few of his eldest children—with a noticeably absent Elpis.

“So is it just me,” Jack murmured to the others at the dinner table as the meal was ending, “or is ‘one of these things not like the other’?” His eyes rolled a little, his last words trailing in a sing-song voice.

The Abaris looked in SG-1’s direction and called out to them, down the long table. “What was that you said, Colonel?”

Jack looked around at his team, but Daniel jumped in before the question could be answered.

“Abaris, one of your daughters mentioned drawings. Could I see them, possibly?” He looked around at the team. “It might help us understand a little bit more about what you believe me to be.”

“Of course, Daniel. They are housed in our simple museum but one building over.”

The Abaris led SG-1 next door, and they made their way through large rooms housing paintings and drawings, with a few stone sculptures and artifacts dug up through the years. Normally Daniel would have been interested in these, but he held close to the Abaris, intent upon seeing these drawings that supposedly depicted him.

“After the first drawings, we had many people attempt to copy the likeness, and so we put the small collection of the best likenesses in this small room.” He stepped into a side room, leading them to a main wall that stood in the middle of the room. Hung cautiously without frames and drawn on rough-hewn, canvas-like pages, were striking likenesses of Daniel.

Daniel stared at the images. Logically, he knew this couldn’t be possible. There was no way that some woman he didn’t even know, light years away from home, could possibly know him, much less what he looked like. But in front of these images his heart told him differently. Soon after they were mentioned as existing, he knew it had to be true. Her warm emerald eyes had held recognition, and he knew that it was his lack that caused her to turn away. She knew him. But how?

“It is indeed puzzling, Daniel Jackson,” Teal’c answered.

Daniel did a double-take and looked at Teal’c, finally realizing that he had spoken his question out loud.

Jack tapped on the wall, near the pictures. “Well, the clothes are different,” he said, trying to be helpful in pointing out discrepancies.

In the portraits it was hard to distinguish, but in the few full-bodied images, the Daniel in the pictures was shown wearing clothing similar to the locals of this town.

“And the glasses are missing,” Sam pointed out.

Daniel crinkled his nose and merely nodded.

“Who drew these,” she asked, turning to the Abaris.

“These were the first, and were drawn by Elpis herself.” He smiled. “She is quite talented.”

Almost as if he hadn’t heard the previous few comments, Daniel turned to them, eyes wide and throwing his hands out to the drawings. “Besides the fact that someone had a dream that had someone that looks like me in them, and they put that likeness to paper, why the shrine at the Stargate? Why the copies of the initial likeness? Why a whole wing dedicated to this Dream Giver! What makes him more than a dream?”

Sam, Jack and Teal’c looked at each other, then to the Abaris. With drooping brows, the Abaris looked softly at Daniel.

“While we call you, uh, him,” he said, pointing to the drawings, “the Dream Giver, it is only because he always appeared in dreams. Elpis claims that he spoke with her, almost as if he were with her. He helped her guide our village. He helped explain cures to simple ailments, helped us with ways of going about our daily lives in this village, and taught us how to guard against any who would come to us through the Chapa’ai. It was as if he were our protector.”

Daniel’s shoulders slumped, and he closed his eyes briefly, running both hands through his hair. “I need some air,” he murmured, making his way through the simple maze of halls and rooms.

Stepping outside, he let his eyelids slide to close and took a deep breath of the cool evening air, exposing his face to the sky. Slowly opening his eyes, his peripheral vision caught the last vestiges of light on one side, giving way to the inky night sky, which gently took twinkling stars into its embrace. He blinked. He was used to unfamiliar stars after traveling to so many planets, but he was surprised as he looked at these. These seemed vaguely familiar. He shook his head, took another deep breath, and started walking slowly around the village. Very few people were out—most could be heard in their homes, enjoying their evening meal.

Almost to the edge of the town, he was about to turn around and go back, when he heard singing. It was hard to make out at first, amidst the gentle coo of birds settling down for the night, and the evening sounds of crickets and cicadas floating through the night air. He walked toward one of the larger homes on the outskirts of the village, the song becoming louder, and clearer. He knew that song! Well, perhaps not the words—those eluded him—but the melody was quite familiar. The house sat right before a downhill slope, and at the back a large garden was surrounded by a stone half wall, with an impressive wrought-iron gate. In the middle of the garden, built up on more stone, was a gazebo that looked out to the plain and the mountains beyond. And in the gazebo, upon a marble bench and surrounded by ensconced candles, sat Elpis singing the hauntingly intimate tune.

He watched her from beyond the gate, transfixed upon her gentle song, filled with a heartbreaking hope, sung in a clear soprano. His breath caught as her face turned slightly toward him and he saw tears on her cheeks glistening in the candlelight’s glow. His jaw clenched slightly as he watched her sorrow from the shadows. In the darkness he whispered, “Who are you?”

Her fingers wiped at her tears as her song trailed off.

Daniel paused for a moment and turned silently to go.

“I am Elpis,” her voice chided softly, gently carried to him.

He turned back to the gate, sure that she didn’t mean to speak to him.

“But the question is,” she continued, as she rose and approached the gate, flickers of candlelight catching the green in her eyes like fireflies, “who are you?”

Part 5
“I . . . don’t think I am what you believe me to be, Elpis.” Daniel paused. “If I may call you, Elpis?” He paused again. “But then, I don’t know what else I would call you.”

She smiled softly at him through the gate. “You never used my name before, though I always suspected you knew it. It sounds nice when you speak it.” Her smile widened. “Hope.” She looked away briefly, as if recalling a memory, her eyes drifting closed dreamily. “The few times you addressed me, you referred to me as ‘Hope.’ But the weight given was not just the meaning. It felt like it could carry the universe.” Her eyes opened, and the darkened orbs stared at Daniel.

He looked at her, tilting his head slightly. “Haven’t you ever heard of the origin?”

She shook her head slightly, a few stray strands of hair catching a dance on the night wind. “All anyone knows around here is the meaning. There have been rumors of there being a story of origin, but it has been lost these many years.” She opened the gate to him. “Would you tell it to me?”

“Uhm,” he looked back, as if wondering if he should return to his team, but knew they wouldn’t leave without him, and turned back to Elpis, curious to know more of this woman who had dreamt and given his likeness. “Sure.”

She led him to the gazebo, under more light, and they sat on the bench on which she had been earlier.

The story of Pandora’s Box was short and simple to tell, but, he couldn’t help himself in expanding on the usual tale, finding an apt audience in Elpis. He found himself going off on several tangents as Elpis asked about other gods and goddesses mentioned in the tale. She laughed melodically as she caught names that were those belonging to friends or family, interested to know if they knew who they had been named after.

She had drawn up her legs onto the bench, crossing them under each other, with her arms resting on them, as she leaned into him, caught up in the last part of his telling.

“The lid was shut before that which was at the bottom could get out. And while the evils of mankind ran rampant throughout the world, one thing remained,” Daniel’s voice dropped softly, entreating Elpis to the end of his tale.

Her eyes round and lips parted slightly, she breathed out, “Hope.”

He smiled gently and nodded, blue eyes twinkling softly in the candle’s light and from the enjoyment he had in sharing his knowledge of history and mythology with a willing listener. “Also known as ‘Elpis.”

Her mouth widened into a winsome smile and she laughed in joy. “Such a wonderful story, Dream Giver!”

Daniel’s smile faded slightly. “Elpis, you can just call me Daniel.”

She glanced down, smiling at his correction and gently catching her lower lip under a few teeth for a moment. Her eyes slid up to meet his. “And what does your name mean, Daniel?”

“God is my judge.”

She more fully looked at him, her back straightening and her head tilting slightly, brows lightly furrowed. “Which god?”

He shook his head slightly. “It comes from a religious book we have on my planet called the Bible. In that book, there is only one God. Daniel is in one of the stories.”

“And these stories are different than the ones you told me about, with Pandora?”

“Yes, quite! Actually, our planet is rich with stories, histories and mythologies.”

Her eyes lit up. “Oh, Daniel, I would love to hear them all!”

He laughed out loud. “It might take a lifetime.” He then looked around. “Besides, it’s getting late, and I’m sure my friends are probably wanting to go back home.”

Almost as if summoned, one of Elpis’ youngest sisters, whom Daniel had not met before, came running from the home into the garden. “Elpis! The visitors are wishing to leave, but they cannot find—” she stopped, eyes widening, in front of Elpis and Daniel. “The Dream Giver!”

Elpis unfolded herself from the bench and stood, her face calmly collected. “Cyrene, your manners?” she chided with a stern warmth, different from the child-like wonder she had exposed to Daniel earlier.

The girl’s eyes went wider, as she placed her hands over her lips and gave a deep, though unsteady, bow to Daniel.

“Daniel, this is my sister, Cyrene. And,” Elpis glanced at Daniel briefly, pursing her lips, and then looking back to her sister, “Cyrene, he wishes to be called Daniel.”

Daniel smiled warmly and held his hand out to the girl, which she took briefly, the barely-lit area showing her lightly-blushed cheeks. She then squeaked out, “Your friends are looking for you, Daniel.”

“Thank you,” he nodded as he stood. “I figured they would probably be looking for me, seeing as I didn’t let them know where I was going.”

“Cyrene, please let the visitors know that Daniel has been found and will be along shortly.”

The young girl gave a hasty bow and ran out of the garden, disappearing around a corner of the house.

“You seem almost like a mother to her, rather than a sister,” Daniel said cautiously.

Elpis sighed, her face softening. “The burden of being the eldest sister. Especially since our mother died shortly after Cyrene was born.”

“I’m sorry. I had thought perhaps that was the case, but didn’t want to ask.”

She turned to him, lips curved down, and spoke softly. “You thought because you already knew. In my dreams I told you much about this, only letting you share in the knowledge of the obligation I feel in caring for my brothers and sisters.”

“Elpis, I—”

“I know, Daniel. You do not think you are my Dream Giver.” She then smiled gently. “But over some time ago, you became part of my life. And until you stopped visiting, I believed it would always be that way. You, watching over me and the people of this planet. Do you at least acknowledge that I believe you are?”

His eyes narrowed at something she had said.

“Yo, Danny boy!” Jack’s calling out from the gate broke into Daniel’s thoughts. “Time to go home.”

Jack was waving him over, with a patient Sam and stoic Teal’c next to him, along with the Abaris. “Let’s go! I don’t wanna miss The Simpsons.”

“I believe, O’Neill, that it is a re-run tonight.”

Jack shrugged as Daniel and Elpis approached. “Eh. They’re still funny, though.”

Elpis whispered to Daniel. “Who are the Simpsons?”

Daniel laughed lightly and rolled his eyes. “It’s a story of sorts, with moving pictures.”

Her eyes widened in wonder. “Moving pictures?”

But before he could explain more, the Abaris had opened the gate to ease them out, and Jack quipped. “So, kids, what were you doing over there?” He arched an eyebrow, gesturing toward the gazebo.

“Jack, we were discussing some ancient Greek myths. Elpis wanted to know the origin of her name, and so I told her.”

“Ah,” Jack intoned sarcastically, turning to Sam, “a great way to a girl’s heart, discussing dusty, old stories.” Sam chuckled softly.

Daniel sighed in exasperation.

“Will you be returning soon?” Elpis asked softly, addressing the whole group, but her eyes focused on Daniel.

The Abaris turned to O’Neill, in questioning, as well.

“Yeah, I suppose. We still need to get this whole ‘Dream Giver’ thing cleared up.”

Saying casual goodbyes, the group turned to leave, when Elpis caught Daniel by calling out to him.

“Daniel, do you believe I believe?”

He nodded. “I do,” he said softly. And he truly did.

A beatific smile crossed her face, and she then placed her hands familiarly, not over her lips, but over her heart, and bowed.

They left her like that, walking some way toward the Stargate, accompanied by the Abaris, before Teal’c asked, “Abaris, your daughter’s farewell was different than what I have noticed your people to use. Does its use have a meaning?”

The Abaris nodded, but took a few moments to respond. “The normal greeting and farewell is the hands lightly over the lips, with a bow of the head, or even a deeper bow. It means that what your lips speak is truth. Or, that it is to be perceived as truth. You see, we value honesty most highly here.” He then paused, glancing toward Daniel. “But with the hands over the heart…it is only used between intimates and rarely seen in public. It means that the heart speaks truth.”

The last few words the Abaris had spoken stayed with Daniel for a long time, even when the Abaris left them to continue on alone to the Stargate and they had made their way through, back home. Even until he was finally able to drift off to sleep that night, wondering if and how he was connected to the one whose heart spoke truth.

NEW! Part 6
The debrief in the morning had gone normally, with General Hammond’s probing questions over the people, the planet, and the supposition of Daniel being connected with them somehow. All in the team had agreed that the drawings had been as close to Daniel as to ascertain that it was almost positively him. It was even ventured as possible that maybe more duplicate androids of themselves were running around, but Jack’s idea was quickly dismissed, as Elpis was certain that Daniel and herself had only met in dreams—beside the fact that, as far as they knew, all doubles of themselves were no longer alive.

Over an early lunch, Daniel sat in a corner, his fork twirling absentmindedly in his mashed potatoes, as he thought over the previous day’s events, as well as the early-morning meeting.

“May I sit with you, Daniel Jackson?” Teal’c loomed over the seated Daniel, who gave him a brief nod.

They sat in silence for awhile, Teal’c eating and Daniel frowning at his food.

Finished with his meal, Teal’c leaned in across the table, and spoke in a low voice. “Not long ago, when your visions helped my son and Bra’tac, I told you how your appearance in my dream helped me live when Bra’tac and I had to sustain ourselves on one symbiote because of the injuries we sustained during the ambush of Kresh'tar .”

Daniel dropped his fork, his blue eyes looking at Teal’c in earnest.

“As an ascended being, Daniel Jackson, you were able to appear to me in my dreams, and even influence me. Could it not be possible that you appeared in this woman’s dreams, as well?”

Daniel sighed and ran his hands through his hair. “Maybe, Teal’c, but the only memories of being ascended that I’ve been able to remember are those of Rya’c and Bra’tac. And we aren’t even sure of the time frame in which Elpis had her dreams with me in them.”

“Actually, Daniel,” Sam said, having approached quietly, with Jack in tow, “I think we may have a better grasp of it.” They slid in next to Daniel and Teal’c and Sam continued. “While you were talking to Elpis, we asked the Abaris when Elpis began having her dreams. The time he mentioned was fairly abstract to us, but he was able to provide a crude representation of a calendar, with the cycle of their moon. After converting their time to coincide by ours, using a variant, I was able to determine that—”

“You were all higher-plane and the like at the time,” Jack interrupted.

“Sir!” Sam’s eyebrows shot up.

He grinned and shrugged. “Sorry, Carter, but you were taking a darn long time.”

“So I was ascended at the time,” Daniel breathed out slowly.

Sam’s lips thinned a little in compassion and nodded to Daniel. “The good news is, it probably was you who visited Elpis in her dreams. The question is: why?”

Jack quirked an eyebrow. “Does it really matter? I mean, while Daniel was ascended he did a lot of watching, and I know he helped out some, at least with moral support, eh Danny boy?” He winked at Daniel. “So, what’s one more person? What’s special about her, besides being a little sweet on Daniel?”

“Sir,” Sam pursed her lips, chiding Jack.

Daniel frowned slightly at them. “Guys, I just think there’s more to this. More to her.”

Teal’c inclined his head slightly. “Elpis is like an orchid among wildflowers. Clearly she is not natural-born to these people.”

Jack slapped the table with the palm of his hand. “Thank you!”

“Colonel?” Sam turned to Jack.

“I’ve been trying to bring up the fact that Elpis looks nothing like the rest of her people. But nobody was picking up on it.”

Sam frowned. “Uhm, Sir, it’s pretty obvious.”

Jack pouted, and Sam laughed softly at him.

Chewing on his lip lightly, Daniel looked at them. “Then I think we need to find out who Elpis is, and why, as an ascended being, I would have visited her.”

“I think the easiest way to start is with a medical exam,” Sam’s eyebrows shot up in questioning to the group. “We might be able to determine her ancestry by her DNA.”

Jack nodded. “I’ll talk to Hammond about bringing Elpis here.”

“No!” Daniel shouted, then blinked slowly, as if a little confused at his vehemence.

“Daniel, are you okay?” Sam leaned into him, her eyebrows knit in concern.

He shrugged, raking fingers through his hair. “Yeah, I’m fine. I just got this feeling that it’s not a good idea to bring Elpis here.”

“Why not?” Jack raised an eyebrow.

Daniel shrugged again, glancing down for a moment. “Honestly, I don’t know.”

“Daniel Jackson, Dr. Fraiser and the medical staff are more than capable to perform the tests necessary to ascertain Elpis’ origins. They have helped many people, including all of us here, on more than one occasion.” Teal’c said, trying to comfort Daniel.

Sam smiled reassuringly. “Teal’c’s right, Daniel. We can only gain so much from taking a sample of blood or DNA from off-world. It’ll be more effective to have her here.”

Daniel’s blue eyes looked to every one of his teammates, pausing a moment at their insistent gazes and then finally sighing. “Okay, you’re right. And it makes sense. We’ll bring her here.”

Teal’c nodded, Jack grinned and muttered an “excellent”, and Sam smiled softly as she put a hand on Daniel’s.

“She’ll be fine, Daniel. We won’t let anything happen to her.”

His lips tightened into a smile as he nodded, hoping that the feeling of anxiety he had deep down wouldn’t betray him to his friends.

[Part 7 coming the First Friday in December!]

Thursday, November 3, 2011

A Little Night Music

Today's NaBloPoMo prompt asks if you listen to music while you write, and I say, yes! But I take it even further than that. I listen to specific music while I create (whether on the computer, including digital scrapbooking, writing, or other craftiness),and while I work. I don't like anything too poppy (while I love the '80s and dance music, I feel that this can get me too hyped up) -- best to leave that for chores around the house, working out, or zooming down the highway. ^_^  I also don't want anything too, too mellow, as I don't want to fall asleep (again, I love classical music, but usually reserve it for Sundays).

But, to feel inspired, sometimes letting my mood elevate, sometimes letting it come down some, I listen to what people would classify as "New Age" music. However, I like to also throw in "Electronic(a)" because I think that more closely resembles my favorite genre of music to work by. Think of artists like Enya, Engima or Loreena McKennit (a little closer to the New Age), then throw in Secret Garden and Amethystium, then toss in Deep Forest, Delerium (yep, that's how it's spelled), and Sleepthief, to garner more of the electronic sound.

To me, this music inspires me, whether with the magical quality of the sounds, or with the story being told, it just makes me want to create! ^_^ (And it doesn't hurt that most of the time I feel transported to another world, but yet still can retain myself grounded in this one.)

And so, I leave you with a song I first heard on my Pandora New Age station, and it immediately brought a scene to my mind that I HAD to write a story around. (Hmm, is that a hint? ^_-)

This is Sleepthief's "Just Say It"

Love, love, love it!

And, if you're interested in any other of Sleepthief's music, check out their YouTube channel -- he does some AWESOME music videos (a little strange, but they totally fit the songs).

And, if you want me to share my New Age station with you, let me know! ^_^

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

But I HATE Chocolate Ice Cream!

So, why oh why, did I get this??

So there we were, at Baskin&Robbins, and I was talking with Brian as we're tasting sample after sample, and I see the name Toffee Pecan Crunch. I was too busy looking at anything past the sign (it was toward the front of the case), so I asked for a sample. Again, Brian's distracting me, and the lady pushes the little sample spoon toward me, I take it and am about to put it in my mouth when I see that this is ... chocolate ice cream. For a moment, I shudder. Because I HATE chocolate ice cream. Anything else chocolate I'm pretty game for, but not ice cream. To me, it tastes weird -- NOT like chocolate. So I avoid it like the plague.

But, in the moment, I figure, what the heck, it's just a tiny teaspoon, and the lady went to all the trouble to scoop it for me. No harm done, and I can move on to another flavor.

Except, in my mouth, there is this burst of ... pure, delicious decadence. OH.MY.GOSH! The "name" failed to add that there was caramel as well in this concoction. It was amazingly delicious!! My husband stared at me aghast, wondering WHO I was and WHAT I had done with Gabby. *LOL*

I, too, wondered the same thing!

And then, I proceeded to order two scoops in a waffle cone (as seen above). And it was so, so, so good!!!

So, now, I have to amend my statement: I highly dislike chocolate ice cream. ^_^ Will I be more willing in the future to try it again? Hmm... doubtful. Unless it's mixed with many of the things I loved in this. Toffee? Check. Nuts? Check. Caramel? Check.

Now YOU must go try it, because I know it's just a specialty flavor (not even on their web site)!

(And yes, since I took this picture, I have gone back and gotten more! Yummmm! ^_^)

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

As I Was Saying...

Back in March, I mentioned how we had many changes coming our way.

Not only was I starting a new job, which I briefly commented on later, but I also had talked about how we were looking for/found a new place to live.

So, fast forward over 6 months, and with the brief interlude of Dralion as your only glimpse into my life, over the next 30 days I shall strive to catch you up, amuse and entertain you*, and ramble away.

My job has been going extremely well. So well, in fact, that for the few of you that don't know (which, btw, I'm impressed I got 5 comments on my last post, as here I was thinking that only 2 of you were still reading), I was actually offered a full-time position, AND my first official day was this past Monday (yep, Halloween).

So, I am now officially a Copy Editor for Neiman Marcus, working for their Last Call division. They're a great company to work for. My bosses and coworkers are really nice. Other people are friendly. And, I really just fit in from day one. This is probably the best place I've worked. Seriously. And, they paid me exactly what I asked for, which makes me wonder if I should have asked for more, or they totally think I'm worth it. *LOL* (And, no, sorry, I can't share the discount. Apparently it's a big no-no.)

I had also mentioned that Brian is now a Senior trainer at his job, and he's doing really well with that as well!

And, of course, we moved into our really nice apartment, that I'm still trying to finish getting decorated! (I'll post more about that at a later date.)

Lately, it's really been mostly work, chores, errands, work. But, that's okay. We're getting (somewhat) close to having our emergency fund in place, and then it's time to pay off some student loan stuff (Brian, not me), and then build a down payment for a house.

We are very blessed to have good, stable jobs that we enjoy and where our superiors know our value. I'd almost forgotten what that felt like.

So, does that mean I'll give up the freelance thing. No, but I just need to figure how to make it work with the job I have now.

And, again, there are some changes on the horizon -- some planned (of course, you HAVE to expect the unexpected), which I will be talking about on here. Some involve moving priorities around, others involve letting things go, and some involve getting back to things I've LET go and really miss.

And so, in that vein, I shall leave you with a teaser of something I want to get back to: it shall happen this Friday. Mwahaha! ^_-

Oh, and I have 30 days of blogging to do here, and goodness knows I might run out of topics before then, so if you have a question for me, or are dying to know something, or want my thoughts on something, then let me know, and I may use it as the jumping off point for a blog post. Because goodness knows I am NEVER lacking in my opinion of things. ^_^

And THAT's my first NaBloPoMo 2011 post -- how'd you like that?!

*I am in no way responsible for your level of amusement or entertainment. ^_^

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