Tiger, Tiger – Part four

portrait-of-tiger-relaxing-on-sand

Photo via Visual hunt

Lilavati tore the silk abomination from the hands of the slave. It was a hideous gown of yellow and purple. It was obviously too big for Lilavati, with black and green embroidery all across the hood and half cloak.

“You may take this to my father, and tell him if he considers this attractive then he has no idea what beauty truly is,” she said, casting it at the slave woman’s feet. “I refuse to wear that. Either he provides me with an appropriately beautiful gown or he may explain to Manas why his wife will be riding out of town with nothing covering her but her hair.”

“Yes Illustrious One,” the slave woman said, grabbing the pile of silk and scuttling out the door.

“Illustrious One, your bath is ready,” one of the other slaves said, as if the whole scene hadn’t happened.

Lilavati shed her nightgown and walked to the side of the tub. It was too tall to kneel next to, so she simply leaned over it, letting the ends of her hair fall into the water. The steam rose to caress her hot skin and the light scent of the night blooming jasmine did much to ease her tension.

One of the slaves took a pitcher and poured water over her hair. A soap made with the same oil was carefully rubbed in. Once every strand was covered in the scented suds, water was again poured over her head. She closed her eyes to protect them. Hands worked through her hair again, making sure there was no soap left.

Once they were done, Lilavati climbed into the tub, with a little assistance from a small set of stairs produced for her benefit. She leaned back and soaked for several minutes before beginning her usual ritual for cleansing her body.

She was only halfway through when her father stormed through the door, the hideous outfit in his hands. “What do you mean sending this abomination to me, claiming your mother sent it? She says she sent the red and black dress we agreed upon last night.”

“Ask Inderpal what the slave came with,” Lilavati said without stopping. “He’ll confirm that I came in with nothing and the slave entered with that. Then track the slave’s movements. You’ll see I had nothing to do with it.” Her father spluttered and then stormed out again.

He returned just as she was climbing out of the tub, a beautiful red and black gown in his hands. “My apologies, Lilavati. Your mother did indeed send that abomination to you. When I returned to her after doing as you suggested, she at first denied any such deception. Then finally, after some persuasion, she admitted she wished to humiliate you since you were such an embarrassment to her.”

“I could have told you that,” Lilavati said. “She’s been saying this for how long?”

Her father shrugged. “What you women do is no business of mine. Now, dress yourself swiftly so you have time to eat. Your clothing is almost ready to be repacked.” He swirled out.

Lilavati shook her head but allowed the slaves to help her dress in the gown her father brought her. It was a silk gown of scarlet with black embroidery at the hem and cuffs. The hood to cover her hair while traveling was black with scarlet embroidery that was identical to the black on the dress.

She moved swiftly out of the room, feeling a sense of relief having left somewhere she never truly belonged. She went to the dining area. To her surprise Kavi was up. “What are you doing here?” she asked as she settled at the table.

“Saying goodbye to my favorite sister,” Kavi said with a yawn. “Father said I could, and sent a slave in to wake me. I don’t care what mother says. You aren’t an embarrassment to this family and I love you and I’ll miss you.”

Lilavati smiled. “I’ll miss you too, Kavi. But you must be strong now. You are father’s heir. You cannot be seen as weak, even if it means showing no emotion when I leave.”

“I know. That’s what father said. He said I may have my say, and if I truly felt it necessary I could cry while we ate, but once we left this room I wasn’t to show any of my feelings,” Kavi said. “I’m only ten, Lilavati. I don’t know how to hide what I’m thinking.”

“I know, Kavi,” Lilavati said. “Would you like what used to help me when I’d get upset at people who were rude to me in the market?” Kavi nodded. “I’d imagine myself on an island where there was no other person but me. It was empty, save for one tree that I could shelter under. I couldn’t stay there long. Mother wouldn’t allow it. But it helped me keep a blank face while I listened to the cruelty. If you let yourself disappear into such a barren spot when you feel your emotions started to get out of control, it should help.”

“I’ll try it,” Kavi said.

“Let’s eat fast so father doesn’t get angry,” Lilavati said. Kavi nodded and the two of them quickly devoured the light meal that had been set out.

Lilavati and her brother joined their father in the main courtyard. Lilavati’s full saddlebags were sitting on the ground beside a beautiful pale silver mare. Her moon colored mane and tail were braided and bound with red and black ribbons. “You should be pleased with this mare,” her father said. “She is the finest from my herds.”

Lilavati privately doubted that, but smiled anyway. “Thank you Father. I am honored to accept such a fine mount as my bride-gift.” Her father grunted. Kavi winked at her, though his face remained blank. He guessed what she was thinking, and probably shared her feelings.

At seven tolls Manas and his men appeared. He looked approvingly at the mare and Lilavati. “I have come to claim my bride.”

to be continued….

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Tiger, Tiger – Part Three

portrait-of-tiger-relaxing-on-sand

Photo via Visual hunt

One of her father’s slaves had already laid out a nightgown and turned down her coverlet. Lilavati slipped out of her clothes. She went to the large basin of water in the corner. She used the soft rag there to wash the dust of the day from her body, whispering prayers to the gods as she did so. When her nightly ablutions were done, she pulled on her nightgown and went to bed.

The scent of an unfamiliar spice woke her. She sat up, her hand going for the knife under her pillow. A slave was filling a bathtub in the center of her room, pouring in a phial of oil along with the water. Lilavati didn’t recognize any of the spices in it.

“You, what is in the oil mix you put in my bath water?” she asked.

The slave turned around, face blank. His mouth was sewn shut. Lilavati frowned. Her father never did that with any of their slaves. She drew her knife and lunged for the door. The slave dropped the jug of water he was carrying and drew a curved dagger coated in something greenish.

Lilavati fought for her life as she struggled to keep her assassin’s blade away from her. Her cries roused the household and the door to her room was shoved open by her father and two of his guards. Lilavati narrowly missed having her guts torn out by her opponent’s blade.

A crossbow bolt slammed into the mute slave’s stomach. He staggered but didn’t stop advancing towards Lilavati. Lilavati dove to the side, giving her father’s guards a clear shot. Two more crossbow bolts slammed into his chest. He dropped to his knees. A fourth crossbow bolt pierced his throat. The assassin dropped to the ground, dying as silently as he’d fought.

“Lilavati, are you hurt?” her father asked.

“No Father,” Lilavati said. “I am unharmed.” She put her hand to her forehead. “Though I feel a little lightheaded.”

“Remove her from the room,” her father said sharply. “Immediately.”

One of his guards took her arm and led her out into the corridor. All of the windows were open and the early morning air filled her lungs. Her head cleared within a few minutes.

Her father soon joined her. “Father, what kind of poison was in the water?” Lilavati asked.

“I’m not sure, but it was a potent one,” he said. “It nearly took both of us down before we could get rid of it.” He gestured to the other guard who’d stayed with him. “How are you feeling now?”

“I’m fine,” Lilavati said. “The fresh air revived me.”

Her father nodded. “I thought it would. I’ll have the eastern chamber made up for you. It is still too soon for you to be awake.”

“Father, the eastern chamber is for only the most honored guests,” Lilavati said. “I can’t stay there.”

“You’d have me leave you to sleep in a room that could most likely kill you?” Her father shook his head. “You’ll go where I tell you. Now, I’ll send Inderpal with you. He will keep anyone but one of our slaves from disturbing you. I’ll also have one of the women clean your clothes. There are ways to make sure there are no poisons in them, and I want to be certain that no harm comes to you. I do not wish to lose Manas’ favor.”

“You don’t want to have to pay back what he gave you as a bride price,” Lilavati said.

“Do you blame me?” her father asked.

Lilavati shook her head. “I don’t think any woman has had such a high price paid for her in living memory, other than the daughter of the Raasha.”

“Yes, your mother and I will be able to hold our heads high in town thanks to your bride price,” her father said. “Instead of being looked down on because of your face.”

Lilavati shook her head. “You’d better send a slave to set up my temporary chambers, Father. I’m quite tired and I don’t know how much longer I have before I must get up to make myself ready to travel.”

In the distance the temple bells tolled five times. Her father looked at her. “It seems you won’t be going back to sleep after all.”

She sighed. “Then you’d best make certain my clothing is clean and dried by seven tolls. I can’t leave without it, and I’d rather not have wet cloth in the saddlebags. It’s a good way to ruin the silk.”

“Don’t worry about that,” her father said. “I’ll have a bath drawn. Your mother chose your traveling outfit last night and set it to the side in our room, so it should still be safe to wear.”

“I don’t want to put on anything she picked. It’s probably even uglier than my face,” Lilavati said. “You know how she’s always treated me with spite and hatred.”

“I wouldn’t let her do such a thing. That would disgrace me in front of your new husband,” her father said.

“Then you’d better have made sure it won’t fall apart as I ride,” Lilavati said. “That would be just as humiliating for the both of us.”

“I took care of it, Lilavati,” her father said. “Now, stop creating issues and go to the eastern chamber. Inderpal, go with her. I’ll have some slaves set up your bath and you will choose the scents you wish in the water. I wish you wisdom in your selection.” He strode off, his second guard on his heels.

Inderpal fell into step with Lilavati as she made her way to the one area of the house where she’d never been permitted. Only her parents, their guests, and the slaves sent to serve them were allowed here.

As she entered the main bed chamber, two slaves were already there filling a copper tub far larger than the one in her room with steaming water. They turned to look at her. They looked a little frightened when they saw Inderpal. Lilavati sent him outside to guard the door from the corridor. She still carried her knife, and was still prepared to defend herself if she needed to.

One of the slaves looked at her. “Forgive this one for speaking out of turn, Illustrious Mistress, but what scent would you care for?”

“The blue jasmine,” Lilavati said. Unlike her mother and sister, she detested the strong smelling oils. When she was allowed to pick her own, she selected the lightest scents she could. The slave bowed and poured a small amount of the oil into the water.

A moment later another slave entered, after having been cleared by Inderpal. “Please excuse this one for speaking out of turn Illustrious One,” the woman said, falling to her knees. “But the Illustrious One’s Illustrious Mother has sent this to her.”

“Father has no eye for fashion, and mother is a spiteful piece of…” Lilavati trailed off. She couldn’t come up with a word vile enough to express her anger.

to be continued…

Tiger, Tiger – Part Two

portrait-of-tiger-relaxing-on-sand

Photo via Visual hunt

Lilavati opened her bedroom door and found her mother sitting on her bed. “What did he offer? Some trifle?” her mother asked angrily. Lilavati told her. Her mother snorted. “He won’t deliver that.”

“Then father will not let him take me,” Lilavati said. “But I think Manas is an honorable man, Mother. He’ll keep his word.”

“Manas? That’s his name?” Her mother seemed surprised. “He wouldn’t give his name to anyone, other than your father.”

“I asked him for a name of the man I was marrying. He gave it to me,” Lilavati said. “Father sent me in to prepare myself since I’ll be leaving at seven tolls in the morning. Please excuse me.” She started pulling things out of the chests and the many drawers and cabinets. She packed those things she wished to keep at the bottom of the saddle bags she’d been given.

Then she went to her clothing. She looked at it all. She chose the least ragged outfits, though not were in very good repair. “You’ll look like a pauper in those dresses,” her mother said.

“Well if you and father took care of me the way you do Kavi and Uma, I would have a far finer wardrobe,” Lilavati shot back. She finished packing and carried her bags to her father for inspection. He looked inside and handed Lilavati a large pouch of coins.

“No daughter of mine will look as if she stepped out of a poor man’s hovel,” her father said. “Go purchase a wardrobe fit for the treasure you are.”

“Yes Father,” Lilavati said. She once again left the house and went to the dressmaker her mother used. He was shocked to see her, but quickly helped her find several beautiful outfits. She hesitated, but decided to get the crimson and silver outfit that wasn’t quite a wedding dress that would if Manas didn’t provide her with anything.

She took all of her purchases home and presented them to her father. “These are far more suitable,” he said. He helped her pack them into her saddlebags. “It is time for our evening meal. You will join us.”

“Yes Father,” Lilavati said.

The meal was strained. It was obvious her mother didn’t approve of the match. Kavi and Uma looked confused. Finally, after the last of the dishes had been cleared away and the adults were drinking their after meal glasses of scolak while the younger two had mugs of fresh milk, her father cleared his throat. “Lilavati is leaving us. She will be joining the man she is going to marry and traveling to his lands tomorrow before we normally rise. We won’t be attending her wedding, at the request of her husband-to-be. Now, come with me.”

Everyone rose and followed him out to the back courtyard. Lilavati smiled. There were all of the slaves, the horses were being led to the stables, and the bags of gold coins were being hustled into her father’s treasure room by several of his personal slaves. They were carefully watched by his slave master and his master of coin.

“The full bride price was paid,” her mother said, shock in her voice and on her face.

“It was,” her father said. “You thought differently?”

“Who would pay such a high price for someone so ugly?” her mother asked.

“His idea of beauty is different from ours,” her father said. “So this is his response to liking what he saw in Lilavati.” He turned to her. “Are you prepared?”

“As much as I can be, Father.”

“Then go to bed. I’ll send someone to wake you early enough to dress before he comes for you,” her father said.

“Gods bless your dreams,” Kavi said, hugging her. “And your journey.”

“Gods bless your dreams, Kavi,” Lilavati said, returning the embrace. She planted a kiss on the top of his head before making her way to her bedroom.

to be continued…

Tiger, Tiger

portrait-of-tiger-relaxing-on-sand

Photo via Visual hunt

Lilavati walked among her people, ignoring the stares. She was used to them. She knew why they were there. She’d heard the comments before. How could someone with such an ugly face move so gracefully? That was the predominant one. No man will wed her, which is a pity because the gods gave her such a perfect body.

 

She reached her family’s house and entered with a sigh. “Lilavati, was your errand successful?” her brother Kavi asked with a smile.

“It was.” Lilavati loved her younger brother. He was the only one in the house who cared for her unconditionally.

“Father wanted me to tell you to go to his library as soon as you got home,” Kavi said. “He’s there with a strange man. He moves like you do, but his face is very different.”

“Different how?” Lilavati asked.

“You’re going to have to see it for yourself,” Kavi said. Lilavati went to the basin of water near the door and washed her face, hands, and arms. She dried off on the towel and headed into the library.

The scent of the books and scrolls washed over her and she was drawn back to her days as a child, when she’d been freely permitted to enter the library to study. It wrenched at her heart but she was able to keep herself from showing the emotion. Her father lounged on the cushions near the window. Beside him was a man with hair a strange shade of red, far brighter than any Lilavati had ever seen. His eyes were a peculiar amber and seemed to stare right through her into her soul. She shivered.

“You were right,” the stranger said. His voice was low, almost a purr. “She is quite graceful. A pity about her face, but I am less concerned about that than I am about her mind. How intelligent is she?”

“Lilavati, sit,” her father said, gesturing to a set of cushions near them.

“Yes Father.” Lilavati settled into place. She turned to the stranger. “You wish to test my mind? Ask on any subject. I will answer if I can.”

The stranger smiled, a slow, easy smile. “Let’s see what you know.” This started an intense, rapid fire interrogation that Lilavati enjoyed immensely. She was honest when she didn’t know an answer, but she knew enough to keep up with most of his questions. Finally the man turned to her father. “I am well pleased. You say no man has offered for her? I will.”

“What are you offering?” her father asked.

“I will offer five thousand gold sheaves, fifty horses, and one hundred slaves,” the man said.

Lilavati barely concealed her shock. That was more than any man had offered for a wife in living memory. “Are you certain you wish to give so much? She is hardly a beautiful woman,” her father said.

“As I said, it’s not her beauty but her mind, and that I find perfect,” the man said.

“Then the deal is sealed,” her father said. He pulled out some salt mixed with tiny crystals. Both of them took a pinch and tucked it under their tongues.

“I will have my servant bring the bride price to you tonight,” the stranger said. “I will come to claim my bride tomorrow.”

Lilavati gasped. “It is customary to wait three days, to give me time to make my preparations.”

“True, but I am a busy man and will need to be back at my home to deal with business,” the man said. “So we will be leaving after the temple bell tolls seven times.”

“As you wish,” Lilavati said. The stranger stood and started walking out the door. “Wait. May I at least know the name of the man I’m going to wed?”

He paused. “Manas.” He walked out.

“Lilavati, this will be very odd to you, but he has refused to allow us to attend the wedding. He says he is a private man and once you enter his house, he won’t let you have any guests for a few months,” her father said.

Lilavati played with the tiny figure of a tiger she wore on her wrist. It was her birth totem and she wore it with pride. “Then I’ll accustom myself to his rules. It’s not like I haven’t done this many times in the past.” She glared at her father. “Such as being denied the library though I would have been far better suited to it than constantly wandering the market.”

“You know no woman over seventeen may educate herself,” her father said. “Go prepare yourself. You don’t have much time.”

“Yes Father.” Lilavati rose and made her way to her room.

to be continued……

Relaxation

 

Boiler bay 2

Photo taken by me at Boiler Bay in May 2017

I’m making this brief since I can barely think right now. I’m calling my doctor’s office and seeing if I can move my appointment from the 30th up to (hopefully) today. If not today to ASAP. The pain in my legs has increased to the point where it woke me up at 2:30 AM. I’ll update this post later with what I learn from the doctor.

Wish me luck!

Update – Well, I was told to go to the urgent care clinic because the computer systems were down. That was a waste of time. They told me I needed to see my primary care doctor. So I staggered to the reception desk (Tims had to support me because of how much pain I’m in) and got the first available appointment – which is tomorrow morning at 8:45 AM with a check in at 8:30 AM. At least it’s better than 8/30/17 at 9 AM, which is when I was originally scheduled. I’ll do another post as soon as I know what my doctor suggests. Continue watching this space for further updates.

Update 2 – The doctor increased my Gabapentin. I’ve been taking it for a couple days now. The pain is lessening but I’m not happy with the side effects. I’m lightheaded and disoriented all day. I take them every 8 hours and I take them three times a day 4:30 AM, 12:30 PM, and 8:30 PM. Since I was already taking my usual meds at 4:30 and 8:30, that wasn’t too hard. But the 12:30 one was. I ended up having to set an alarm on my phone to keep myself from forgetting. I’m hoping to be well enough by Monday 8/28/17 (this is actually Sunday…I haven’t updated because I wasn’t feeling too good on Friday and Saturday) to take over my usual cooking duties. Which would be great, since we need more bread.

An old woman’s revenge

mushrooms-mushroom

Photo via Visual hunt

Etta peered at the rotten log, her old eyes blinking blearily at the fungi poking up out of the decomposing wood. “Saya, come look at this for me. Do you see any of the Angel’s Parasols?” she called, her voice shaky and weak.

Saya, Etta’s nineteen year old granddaughter, sauntered over. “I have no idea, Grandmother,” she said in a sickeningly sweet voice. “What do they look like again?”

Etta turned around and slapped Saya hard across the face. “You are the most disrespectful child I have ever met.” Saya opened her mouth, cheeks flushed and eyes filling with tears at the blow. “Yes, you are a child. You act like one. You disrespect your elders, you talk back to your parents, you treat your brother so poorly he’s afraid of you. I have had enough of you. Send Helan out to me. Now.” She paused. “If you waste my time and don’t send him out right away, you’ll be in for a worse beating when I get in, and to the Nine Hells with what your mother says.”

Saya ran back to the house, sobbing her fake cries and calling for her mother. A few minutes later both her grandson Helan and her son Nekon came out of the house. “Mother, you know I’ve asked you not to be so hard on Saya,” Nekon began.

“If you were harder on her she’d be a woman, not an overgrown spoiled brat,” Etta spat. “Now, I need Helan’s help to find some things and the light is fading. Go comfort your useless daughter and let me get things done. Helan and I seem to be the only ones who care to see the household keeps running.” Nekon glared at her before stalking off.

“Hello Grandmother,” Helan said, his voice full of respect. How Saya had ended up so utterly worthless and her twin brother the absolute opposite of his sister she didn’t know. But she was grateful.

“Hello Helan. I need some Angel’s Parasols and I can’t see well enough to find them. Do you know what they look like?” Etta asked.

“I do,” Helan said. “But Grandmother, are you sure you want those? I mean, I know what they can do.”

“I’m familiar with their properties myself, Helan. That’s why I want them,” Etta said calmly.

A look of understanding crossed the young man’s face. “I see several right here, Grandmother. Should I harvest them for you?”

“No Helan,” Etta said. “It has to be done a specific way and I’m the one here who knows how to do it.”

She could see his hesitation. “Will you teach me?” he asked.

Etta raised an eyebrow. “Are you sure you want to know?”

“I am,” Helan said firmly.

“Then come here and watch,” Etta said. Even mostly blind she still knew how to carefully maneuver the bases of the mushrooms so she didn’t damage the caps. She knew Helan saw how it was done. He was a quick learner and would know how to do it the next time they were needed.

They carried the tiny mushrooms into the house. Etta took them over to the pot of stew. She tossed them in whole, careful to secure two servings for herself and Helan before they went in. A few minutes later, she called the family to eat.

She pretended to dish out the two servings and handed Helan his. “Why does he get to eat before me?” Saya asked petulantly. The mark of Etta’s blow was still on her cheek.

“Because unlike you he was actually useful,” Etta said. “Had you actually helped me, you’d be the one getting yours first.”

“Mother, perhaps you should have let Saya have Helan’s bowl and given him the second one,” Nekon said.

“Nekon, for once and for all, why is Saya so precious to you?” Etta asked as her son took his first bite of the stew.

“She is my angel,” Nekon said. “I can get a high bride price for her when I marry her off. She’s beautiful, accomplished, and well worth the time and effort we’re putting into her. Helan isn’t worth as much to us. He’s a hard worker and he’ll make some girl a fine wife. But he makes me no profit.”

The mushrooms were certainly doing their job, Etta thought. She looked to her daughter-in-law. “And you? Why do you spoil Saya so?”

“I never wanted a son,” she said. “Helan is worthless in my eyes. He could die tomorrow and I wouldn’t grieve. I’d show the village I did, of course, but it would be a false grief that I’d shed when I returned home. If Saya were to die? I’d follow her to the grave, for she is my princess.”

“Saya, why do you hate Helan?” Etta asked.

“He holds me back, weighs me down like a millstone,” Saya said as she shoveled the food into her mouth. “He draws the attention away from me when we go into the village together. Everyone flocks to him, smiles at him, talks to him. No one wants to talk to me.”

Etta nodded. She turned to Helan. “Is it what you thought?”

Helan looked devastated. “I didn’t realize they all hated me so much,” he said, his voice cracking.

“Are you sorry now that I put the mushrooms in the stew?” Etta asked.

“No,” Helan said. “I’m not.”

Nekon’s hand started to shake. “What did you put in here, Mother?”

“Angel’s Parasols,” Etta said calmly. “The same thing I used to kill your father when he became inconvenient. The three of you have become a drain on me and society. So now I’m removing that issue.”

“I won’t eat anymore,” Saya cried. She tried to cast her spoon to the side but found herself unable to.

“That’s the beauty of Angel’s Parasols, Saya,” Etta said with a smirk. “You’ll eat until you die. Oh, and those little mushrooms? Have one hundred times the potency of foxbane. You’ll be dead in just a few more seconds.”

Etta and Helan watched as, just like she said, their entire family collapsed over their stew bowls within a matter of moments. Etta collected the bowls, dumped the remnants in the stew pot, and tried to lift it.

“Let me, Grandmother,” Helan said. “Where should I take it?”

“Out behind the house for now,” Etta said. “It’s too dark to take it to the dumping ground. In the morning we’ll take it there, and then head to a new village. I don’t care to be hung as a murderess.”

“How many times have you done this, Grandmother?” Helan asked.

“This is my third time. My first husband was abusive. I killed him by accident because at the time I didn’t know what these mushrooms could do. Your grandfather died because he wanted to send Nekon to the army and my son was my world. I see I should have let him go,” Etta said.

“I love you, Grandmother,” Helan said, hugging the old woman.

“I love you too, Helan.” Etta hugged him back. Helan took the pot outside while Etta busied herself packing for the long journey ahead. She was definitely getting too old for this. She hoped this would be the last time she had to spread the parasol over her family. It was getting too difficult to come by those tiny little pieces of the gods’ revenge.

Adapting to life

Random Ramblings #2 – The Health Episode

Hi everyone. You may have noticed I missed yesterday’s post. That was mostly because of the eclipse here in the US. I was excited for that and really wasn’t paying attention to anything else. I was also dealing with another issue, one mentioned in the YouTube video I linked above. It’s my second vlog episode, and one where I actually break down. I don’t do that often in anything public, least of all something that’s on the internet. But I felt it was important to get out my message, and that’s part of it.

What’s so important that I had to say it when I was so emotional? I went to the ER for a screaming headache and the fact that my legs felt like someone poured gasoline (petrol for those of you not in the US) on them and lit them on fire. They were so much on fire I wanted to scream. They still are. The Nurse Practitioner treated the migraine but really didn’t say much about my legs other than that the pain was most likely a “form of neuropathy.” When I talked to my primary care doctor, she agreed with the assessment. When I talked to my vascular surgeon he agreed with the assessment, even though neuropathy typically sticks to the feet and hands and is more common to someone with diabetes.

No, I don’t have diabetes. I don’t even have pre-diabetes. My A1C number (that’s what they look at to assess your likelihood for diabetes) is at the low end of what’s considered normal. It’s not too low though, so there’s nothing to be worried about. But now I have a problem – what exactly is wrong with my legs, and is it permanent? I hope it’s not, but if it is, I’ll have mobility issues for the rest of my life. This is something that I don’t look forward to, since I have more than enough health issues that are going to last me for the rest of my life. I don’t need one more.

I’ve set another appointment with my primary care doctor to see what she says, what tests I need to take to find out what this is, and how I can treat it – if there is a treatment. I’ve had to make some adjustments to my life, though at first I thought I’d lost the ability to do one of the things that makes me really happy.

I thought I’d lost the ability to cook and bake. Both of those require me to stand on my feet, and my legs just couldn’t take it. It was suggested I could sit in the kitchen and direct people, but that wasn’t what I wanted. I wanted to have my hands in everything. I wanted to chop, stir, knead bread, mix pancakes. I wanted to do everything when it came to the cooking.

So, thanks to my wonderful friend Deborah urging me not to give up on something I love so much, I came up with the idea to turn the table that serves as the “island” in our kitchen into my work space. With some help, I cleared it off and got rid of most of the stuff under it. I tucked a stool underneath for me to sit on and voila, instant work area. It got its first test yesterday morning, and it worked fairly well. I still had to do a lot of standing and walking, but that was mostly because my original breakfast plan got scrapped due to not finding a couple ingredients. But if I plan carefully, I shouldn’t have to worry about standing at all, except to pull things out of the oven and to drain things in the sink, like pasta. This makes me very happy.

What I’ve learned through all of this is humans are very adaptable creatures. We constantly adapt our surroundings to suit us. And if that doesn’t work, we adapt to that as well. We know we can do things that will make our lives easier, or at the very least more livable. We are remarkably resilient and can do a lot of stuff.

So when life throws a curve ball in your direction, don’t let it stop you. Roll with it and adapt to the situation. Figure out how to deal with it and move forward. Go ahead and have a good cry if you need to. An emotional breakdown is okay. I’ve had a few since this all started. But the next step is to keep moving beyond them. Keep moving forward. That’s the only way to survive.

A father’s secret

lipstick-woman-person

Photo via Visual hunt

Sabine watched stone faced as they lowered her father’s casket into the grave. All around her women wailed and men cried silently. She had no tears left. She’d cried them all during his long illness. Beside her, her sister Analiese sobbed into her husband’s shoulder.

When the funeral was over, the two sisters returned to the house Sabine had shared with her father over the past year. She was the one who’d taken care of him, tending him through the final phase of his illness. As soon as they walked through the door, Analiese shed all pretense of grief.

“So where’s his will?” she demanded, turning to Sabine.

“It’s with Uncle Phillip, who’s also the executor of the estate,” Sabine said. “We have to leave.”

“Leave? Why?” Analiese asked, glaring at her older sister.

“It was a stipulation the police were made aware of by Uncle Phillip,” Sabine said. “You aren’t allowed to take anything. All I can take are a week’s worth of clothing, my wallet, and some feminine products should my period start during the week we’re banned from the house.”

There was a loud knock on the door. Sabine turned around and opened it. Two police officers stood there. “Hello Sabine,” one of them said in a gentle voice.

“Hello Chris,” she said. “We just got here. Let me get my things and I’ll leave.”

“Okay.” He glared at Analiese until she and her husband left, muttering profanities all the way.

Sabine shoved what she needed into a duffel bag and headed out, stopping long enough to let Chris’ partner Bailey check to make sure she wasn’t taking anything she wasn’t allowed to. She was given the all clear and left.

She went to a motel and checked in, letting them know she’d be there for a week. Just as she got to the room she got a text from her Uncle Phillip. Your sister is already harassing me.

You expected anything different? Sabine sent back.

No. I just wasn’t planning on having to deal with her so soon, he replied.

That’s Analiese for you, Sabine sent back.

You take care of yourself, Sabine. It’ll all be over soon and you can get on with your life, Phillip sent.

I’ll be grateful for that, Sabine said. Thanks Uncle Phillip.

You’re welcome, sweetie. The texts stopped coming.

Exactly one week later, Sabine received a text. It wasn’t from her uncle, but from her aunt. He’s at the house. You should go there now. He told me to text you since he forgot before he started driving. There was a brief pause and then a second text came in. He also conveniently “forgot” to tell Analiese. I’m supposed to wait for an hour and then text her.

Sabine smiled, the first in a long time. Thanks Aunt Olivia. She once again shoved everything in the duffel and headed out. She paused long enough to pay for her room before returning to her father’s house.

Phillip was waiting for her. “I know this wait has been hard on you, Sabine,” he said, giving his niece a hug.

“Not as hard as watching what I did for the past year, Uncle Phillip,” Sabine aid.

Phillip nodded. “That’s very true. Tony was my brother, and I loved him dearly, but I think he relied on you too heavily.”

“I only did what any responsible, loving daughter would,” Sabine said. Her voice cracked. “And I loved him so much.”

“I know, Sabine. I know,” Phillip said, holding her close.

Analiese arrived an hour and a half later. “How did you get here before me?” she demanded, looking at Sabine who was sitting on the hood of her car.

“I didn’t go that far away,” Sabine said.

Analiese glared at their uncle. “So who gets what?”

“Well, as expected, the house and everything in it, Tony’s money, his cars, and pretty much the rest of his estate goes to Sabine, since she’s the only one who gave a rat’s ass about him over the past ten years,” Phillip said, smirking as his younger niece let out a shriek. “He did leave you something though, Analiese.”

“What?” she demanded.

“This picture,” Phillip said, pulling out a photo. “If you can name who she is.”

Analiese snatched the photo and threw it to the ground. “You can all go to hell,” she snarled. She and her husband stormed off.

“May I see the photo, Uncle Phillip?” Sabine asked.

“Of course, since it’s yours now,” Phillip said with a laugh. He picked it up and handed it to her.

She inspected the picture. It was of a woman in partial profile. Her hair was long and full of loose curls, much like Sabine’s own hair. She had gorgeous blue eyes, but the most striking thing was the full lips, highlighted by bright red lipstick. She wasn’t sure if the woman was naked or wearing something that just left her shoulders bare, but you couldn’t see anything below them, so she didn’t worry about it.

She frowned. The face was familiar. She saw it when she looked in the mirror every morning, with small variations that came from her father. She looked up at her uncle. “I’d say this was our mother, but mom was a red head who always kept her hair short and permed. She also wasn’t this beautiful.”

Phillip smiled gently. “She’s not Analiese’s mother, Sabine. She’s your mother. Carolyn was Tony’s second wife. That is Bethany Cooper-Harper, one of the kindest, most elegant women I’ve ever known.”

Sabine pressed the picture to her chest. “Will you tell me about her, Uncle Phillip?”

“All you need to know is written in both her journals and your father’s, and they’re up in the attic,” Phillip said. “I know you’ll enjoy reading those.”

Sabine looked down at the picture again. “This is worth more to me than the entire estate.” Phillip put a hand on his niece’s shoulder and kept it there as she stared into the face of a woman she’d never known.

Love someone

I have to leave when this would usually post, and I’m tired, so I’m just going to leave this song here and say this – give someone a friendly smile, a hug, a friendly ear. Let someone know you care, that you love them, that you’re there for them. You never know how much that could mean to someone. It could save their lives – literally.

Take care and I’ll see you all tomorrow!

Mini redecoration project #1

Finished project

Picture taken by me 8/15/2017 with my Nexus 5

So, I decided I was tired of not having a lot of color in my life. The majority of my clothes are dark. As you can see, the walls in the room are painted a pale blue, but it starts wearing on you after two years. Tims’ desk, which you can see the corner of on the left side is a kind of cream/light beige thing & is really boring to look at. You can see the couch in here. Do I have to say anything more about it? And before you ask, no we can’t move either thing out & replace them. One, no money. Two, they don’t belong to us. My desk is mine, bought with my own money.

So, while I was in Corvallis yesterday for medical reasons, I decided I was going to do something fun. I picked up two rolls of Duck tape – one violet & one a dark rose (according to their packages, at least.) I covered the top of my desk and the keyboard tray. This is the result.

I also covered my pen holder and Reidar’s treat container, which you can just barely see behind my water bottle. The pen holder is what’s holding my fidget cube. The pen holder is pink while Reidar’s treat holder is purple. Hey, they had to match my desk.

The little yellow stuffy who looks like I’m trying to mutilate him is Desk Duck Bunny and he’s holding all my ponytail ties that I keep taking out of my hair and never returning to the bathroom and the Scrunchie I use to keep the knot I put in my hair up so it’s off the back of my neck. This way I don’t have to go looking for them in the morning. (I don’t bother with the mirror in the morning if all I’m doing is a ponytail, a basic braid, or my little twist/knot combo.)

My next goal is to do something with the mouse pad. I could replace it, but I don’t really want to. I’d rather DIY it with something cheap. I thought about putting Duck tape on it, but figured my mouse wouldn’t really work on it well and when I ran it around on my desk for a few minutes, discovered I was right. I’m considering pink or purple puffy fabric paint around the edges, both to make it match my desk and to keep me from running off it when I’m playing Sims 4. 😉 Either that or a metallic one, possibly gold or silver. I’m leaning towards silver since I’m not a huge fan of yellow gold. I own one piece of jewelry that’s Black Hills gold and that’s pretty much it.

We’re doing some big demolition and remodeling in another room. They’re going to put shelves in there with some of the scrap wood. At least that’s what it sounds like. I’m hoping we can get some shelves built in here that are next to my whiteboard. That way I can buy a can of spray paint, paint it some pretty color, and put them up on the wall. They’ll serve a dual purpose – help me clear off my very limited desk space (what you couldn’t see is the small TV tray holding my second monitor and the rest of the stuff I keep close at hand that’s constantly getting knocked off) and continue my goal of mini redecoration projects.

Beyond those three things, I haven’t decided what else I want to do. If you have any suggestions for inexpensive (read that: something that’ll cost me less than $40 total to implement) ways to liven up my space or my room, let me know in the comments section. It can’t be anything major since this isn’t our house and as of yet we don’t have permission to do much at all in our room. But anything to help liven things up a bit for me would help greatly. Oh, and nothing a terrier could chew up, because he will.