Wednesday, February 25, 2015

17 years later, some thoughts on The Soulforge

The Saturday before last was Valentine's Day, and it triggered memories of another Valentine's Day Saturday back in 1998, and a shopping mall, and a bookstore, and a book.

That book is The Soulforge by Margaret Weis.

I've been pondering My relationship with the book for a solid week now.  Even as I'm typing this, it's a struggle to find the right words.  I'm just going to wing it, and hopefully some of the magic will spill out onto the Internet and say what I can't quite manage to say.

First and foremost, a disclaimer:  I am an unabashed Dragonlance fangrrl who has been fascinated with Raistlin Majere for a very, very long time.  This is largely because it's like looking in a mirror.  I won't get into the many parallels of our lives -- Early childhood experiences, age and date parallels -- but it's shaken Me up a couple of times.  More than once, reading about Raistlin has been like reading a slightly twisted autobiography.

Having read the standard Dragonlance canon (Chronicles and Legends), plus the Lost Chronicles, Dragons of Summer Flame, War of Souls, and various Weis/Hickman short stories featuring the Majere twins, I think what makes The Soulforge special is its quotations:
I will do this.  Nothing in my life matters except this.  No moment of my life exists except this moment.  I am born in this moment, and if I fail, I will die in this moment.
When I read the above words, something in My own life changed forever.  If nothing else, I found a straight and unambiguous path leading to mindfulness, and a desire to live with intent, intensity and commitment.  I'm not quite there, but I continue to work on it.
If we stop living because we fear death, then we have already died.
This was a wake-up call:  Better to take even one trembling step forward than to let the fear entomb one's dreams.
If I am to be judged by those who come after me, let me be judged by the truth.
Trying to get someone to not judge you is like trying to hold back the wind with a sieve.  All you can do, really, is stand by what you are and what you do, rather than hiding behind a mask.  To paraphrase the "If we stop living..." quote above, if you can't show your true self to the world, your life is stillborn and your body has been hijacked by an imposter.

There are many great lines in the book, but these are My favourites.  They send a shiver down My spine:  There's a cold pragmatism in them, the taking of an irreversible step into unknown territory, but at the same time there's the joy of coming one step closer to yourself.

It's been 17 years, and I'm still working through the story.  It's time to sit down in a quiet corner and read it again.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Merry Fishmas!

It's well after midnight, very early in the morning of December 20, 2014.  My annual Yule party is this evening, and although things are mostly ready I still have a bit of tidying to do around the house.

Okay, maybe a bit more than "a bit."  (Springy G nudges a bucket full of drywall tools under the sideboard and tries to think of a more suitable place for 2 gallons of paint, a hammer drill, and a bag of floor-levelling compound.)

So what did I do instead?  I brought out a siphon, a bottle of water conditioner, and a 5-gallon bucket and did a full-service aquarium water change.  Not only did I scrub the gravel and clean the glass; I also disassembled the filter unit and cleaned fish by-products out of the pump.

Do you suppose that if I drop a hint or two, Algernon the Algae Eater and Paula the Pleco will get Me a gift certificate for maid service?

Didn't think so.  (sighs heavily and writes "Clean the razzafracking house" in Her December 20 agenda, between "Wake up" and "Bake cookies")

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Don't touch that dial!

Among sundry other divine responsibilities, at one point in My career I thought it would be a good idea to become the Goddess of Random Equipment Malfunctions.  The rationale was simple:  "It's a dirty job, and Someone's got to do it."

Or not do it, if you will.  Random Equipment Malfunctions are infuriating precisely because of their randomness.  They come on unexpectedly, switch on and off intermittently and frequently cure themselves without rhyme or reason, leaving the source of the problem an eternal mystery.  In other words, they appear to violate cause and effect by virtue of being all effect and no cause.

And now I know why no one else wanted the job.  For the last couple of days I've been beset by a whole flock of REMs:
  • Lost com link for the entire house for a day and a half due to a malfunction in a data line.  A mysteriously sudden windstorm is the prime suspect.
  • An elevator at work has been attempting to hold unwary passengers hostage.
  • Also at work, one of the toilets is occasionally refusing to refill due to a moribund float mechanism that gets jammed at the bottom of the tank.
  • My garage remote control had apparently stepped out for coffee when I returned from band practice this evening, and I had to let Myself and the car in with a good old-fashioned key.
  • And the strangest one of all:  Last night, when I was attempting to bake a cake, the oven decided that I didn't really mean 325°F and reset itself to 223°F at some point during the baking time.  Darchala, the somewhat bemused witness, was kind enough to reset the oven to the proper temperature and we did end up with non-liquid cake shortly thereafter.
The one thing all of these anomalies have in common?  I touched these things.  I know it tends to get a bit dry in Winnipeg in cold weather, but even if I were generating one heck of an electromagnetic field and zapping remote controls, oven touch pads, computers, telephones, TVs and elevators, it doesn't really explain a damaged cable outside the house, or a toilet.

Must be magic.

(Springy G starts dialing the crisis line for the Tower of High Sorcery in Wayreth, only to hang up suddenly.  She sighs and pushes the phone to far side of the desk)  Best not do that.  Last thing I need is an entire Conclave of magi complaining that their digital clocks are all blinking  12:00 .

Sunday, October 12, 2014

The most dangerous garage in the city


(Springy G ponders the sound that just came out of a convoluted brass Fiendish Thingie) Relax ... Relax ... Fill the lungs from bottom to top ...


Ah, that's better.  (starts to play a one-octave F major scale, but gets distracted on the way down and wanders into a cool little riff from "Sing Sing Sing")

Hei!  I'm out in My garage this fine Sunday evening, sitting on a rolling stool that used to be a desk chair, doing My music homework.  I am finally learning how to operate the alto sax I bought back in the spring of 2013.

But why am I here in the garage instead of in My cozy little office?  Two reasons.  First of all, it's kind of crowded in the office at the moment because stuff that should be in the bedroom is in the study, and stuff that should be in the study is in the office.



... Saxophones are loud, with a capital L O U D.  I'd rather be wailing away out here than timidly playing notes that don't even sound like sax notes.

So if you happen to be strolling down a back alley and hear strange noises, approach with caution -- Or with a jazz rhythm section.  Don't worry; I'll park the car in front to make room for the drums.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Well, at least I'm not listless.

I'm pleased to say that since My last report, things have improved considerably at My desk.

Now it's My extradeskular activities that are out of contr...

... Oh, look!  A pussycat!

(Springy G pauses to airlift Frey Kittehson off the printer and onto the floor)

Where was I?  Oh, yes:  My task list.  This is what's up:
  • I have plans to acquire some bulbs for fall planting, some nice gravel for the front path, a better coffee machine, a pattern for sewing some pyjamas, and a salad spinner.
  • As usual, there are fix-it tasks aplenty:  Concrete work, insulation, drywalling, painting, finish carpentry, pants alterations, lawn mower sharpening, network cabling, grubbing around under the front and back porches for various non-nefarious reasons, and ... painting the trunk of an elephant figurine, which I repaired with epoxy putty.
And then there's the usual stuff, like making appointments for this and that.

And then there's the not-quite-as-usual stuff:
But oh! that last item on the list:
For one thing, I don't speak Arabic, let alone read it, let alone write it with anything near the skill that such a translation would require.  Haven't even finished learning the alphabet, in fact.

For another thing, there aren't enough hours in the day (and if there were, I'd already be taking the alto sax lessons I want to sign up for).

For another, other thing ...  

... Aah!  *scribble scribble scribble*  If there's an infinite number of universes, there's probably a version of Me who's already done the translation.  (rummages through cupboard)  Now, where's My box of acrylic paints?  Got an elephant to spruce up.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

I need a Batcave. And tap shoes.

As is My wont (or do-not-wont, as the case may be), I'm currently sitting at a desk that is much, much too busy even for a goddess like Me.  In addition to the basics (clock, desk caddy, computer, printer, monitor, keyboard, telephone, stapler, Cable Management Rabbit, tabby cat), this is what I literally have in front of Me:
  • Clarinet
  • Turntable
  • Sheet music for a synthesizer bass part for a piece I'm learning in the fall
  • Box of crochet hooks
  • USB key
  • Metronome
  • Bag of leftover computer screws from a system build that someone else did
  • Borrowed USB key on a bright yellow lanyard, which is the only reason I can still find it
  • Drawing tablet stylus
  • Another lanyard I don't particularly want
  • A digital coaxial cable
  • Tiny D&D-sized lead figures, primed and partially painted, of Caramon and Raistlin Majere from Dragonlance
  • Headphones
  • Yellow paint
  • One #31 Marrette wire nut
  • A clarinet swab that needs washing
  • A mirror
  • Two USB cables slated for the giveaway box
  • A double-sided whetstone
  • A couple of notepads, including one from Starcraft II
  • Printout:  "Ketogenic Mediterranean Diet," which I may or may not try
  • And the pièce de resistance, My current craft project:  3 skeins of shocking pink yarn, with which I'm crocheting leg warmers for My dear friend Glori the Kitchen Dragon.
Don't even get Me started on what's in the desk caddy.  Suffice to say that it isn't 100% office supplies; in fact, I'm not even sure what's in there any more. (purses lips and frowns at a couple of the odder items, a spool of white thread and a collection of carving tools)

Clearing the desk is one of those Sisyphean things that never makes it to the to-do list -- Even when I can find the to-do list -- because I've finally accepted that My desk does have a natural ebb and flow.  The problem is that I keep losing things at high tide.  Fortunately, last night I came across an inspiring article:

How to Build a Batcave for Habit Change, by Steve Kamb of Nerd Fitness.

I'm not quite sure which habit I need to change, but if I reverse-engineer the processes that cause random items to accumulate in and around My desk, and then reverse that habit, at very least I should be able to find the telephone on the first ring.

In other news, as the summer community band season starts to wind down and we start gearing up for the regular season (with twice as many bands, hence twice as many rehearsals), I've decided to diversify by taking a beginners' tap dancing class.

Be afraid.  Be very afraid.  Or at least very slightly nervous.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Think Like a God Day 2014: Trickster's Free Kick

It's July 13, and once again it's time to put Yourself into a divine frame of mind.

This year, I'm pondering the role of the Trickster in world mythology.  (pops open a beer and passes it back to dear, sweet Uncle Loki as He chats with someone on the Internet)  Specifically, what I have in mind is how Tricksters move the plot along by challenging the status quo and kicking the other gods out of Their comfort zones, forcing them to Do Something.

So here's My question to You for 2014:  What do the other gods need to do, and how do you propose to make Them do it?

(giggling from a certain Mr. Laufeyson as He types something into His laptop computer.  He pauses and asks Springy G a question.)

Uncle, if I take the picture, it wouldn't be a "selfie."  Just aim that little camera thing at your face and press --


*sniff sniff* What's that awful  -- Sleipnir!  Look out for the --

*clatter clatter clatter*

No, Uncle; I'll put the stuff back on the shelf.  You can take the horse home to Asgard.  (Springy G sighs heavily and goes looking for some spray cleaner and a roll of paper towels)  Well, I know what *I* have to do today.