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  1. The NL Blog

    Latest Entry

    By Timberwolf,

    So, we recently had some problems with a few of our themes after we updated.  For The Lodge, Fancy Pants and Gamer Nerd to be specific.  The problem was, if I had one of them set as a default theme, and a member wasn't signed in, they got nothing but a blank page.  We didn't catch this right away, because we are always signed in.  We don't know how long it went on because nobody let us know that it had happed unfortunately.  Now we understand that people are busy with their real lives, so that's not a problem.  I would like to thank @Cyrainfor bringing it to our attention.  With working with the theme developer, we finally got The Lodge and Fancy Pants all sorted.  We're still waiting on Gamer Nerd though.

    Please, if you notice anything isn't working the way it should, bring it to our attention right away so we can fix it as soon as possible.  

  2. Timberwolf
    Latest Entry

    Some of you may know that I have been dabbling in photography for a few years now. 


    1126117830_kodakinstamatic.jpg.f92c25cc389ee91035ab576380ce9b9c.jpg980091858_kodakfilm.jpg.9d9836677bbf441e8ecb674e23ed4a05.jpgBefore I get too far, let me start off at the beginning.  I remember as a kid, back in the late 70s, way before there was digital photography, when you actually had to get your film developed to see what your pictures looked like, I got this little camera for my birthday.  It was a little instamatic, similar to the picture you see here on the left.  The film was in these cartridges like you see on the right. You had to open the back of the camera, insert the cartridge, close the back, and spin the dial until it stopped, then you could take your pictures.  You couldn't open the back of the camera until you used up all the film because it would ruin the pictures you already took.  I think I might have taken about five (5) rolls of pictures, which I don't think I ever got developed. I remember taking this camera on a school field trip to Fort Snelling, and I took maybe two (2) rolls of pictures while I was there.


    poloroid.thumb.jpg.f3567f8939c88d9e3b260a65be74c385.jpgIn the early to mid 80s, my parents got a polaroid, similar to the one on the right, but ours was all black, and I played with that a little bit, not really very much.  One of the things I loved about this camera is that the pictures didn't need to be developed and you could see the picture within minutes of taking the picture.  I thought this was the coolest things I'd ever seen.


    72499683_disposablecamera.jpg.367b2f43321cfe31b06cb6ce010479ae.jpgIt wasn't until about the mid 1990s that I used another camera, and that would have been some of the disposable cameras, like the one seen on the left.  One of the great things about this style of camera was that I didn't have to spend a lot of money on a camera.  I could just stop by one of the local convenience stores and pick one up as I needed, and when I was finished, I could just take it to the local developing center and have it developed in something like an hour.


    In the late 1990s and early 2000s, I got a digital camera as a free gift when I ordered some coffee from a coffee company.  I ordered the coffee because I wanted the coffee beans and the grinder.  I didn't know I would get a digital camera with my coffee, so when I opened the coffee box, I was pretty happy and excited to see the digital camera.  There was no display, no zoom or anything special, just a basic point and shoot digital camera and you needed to plug it into your computer to get the images off of the camera.

    2002405736_CanonPowerShotA620.png.c1f2acd42ecf18be95de8fe0c0775e57.pngI didn't really know a lot about taking pictures at this point, I just pointed the camera in the area and pressed the button.  I didn't think too much about it, like I said, I would just point and shoot.  It wasn't until I moved to Thailand and was with @hirondelle.  When hirondelle and I were getting ready to go to Cambodia to see Angkor Wat, where hirondelle took most of the pictures, but I played around a little bit with the camera.  

    It was during this time, that I kind of started getting pretty serious about taking pictures.  I didn't know a lot about taking pictures back then, so I would just point the camera and press the button.  In 2008 hirondelle and I did our first bike trip, I've written a whole blog post about this before, so I won't do that now, but on that trip I started playing around with our camera more, and I started pictures in what I call wonky angles, but photographers call Dutch angles, which is a picture that isn't exactly square, or at an angle.  Some people like this, some people don't.  hirondelle suggested not taking so many pictures like this, but she also told me about framing my pictures and about what I should look for when taking a picture.  From that day, I started looking at things differently.

    2019936133_NikonCoolPixL820.thumb.jpg.ca53f6bfdf4fae632730246acae81a77.jpgIn 2013, @icewlf came to visit us for the first time.  While he was here, we went and looked at a camera shop, and icewlf got me interested in taking pictures again.  So I took some of the things hirondelle taught me and icewlf added to that, so I started looking more and more at framing my pictures better and getting better angles and trying different things to highlight different things in the picture.  

    Krabi.jpg.ee6a573ef77f500c265c1938a3ae90f9.jpgMy favorite picture that I took when hirondelle and I went to Krabi in October 2014, during my schools break, we went to Railay Bay West in Krabi, Thailand.  This was our second time going to Krabi.  One day, we were sitting down watching the sun set and I was shooting some pictures, trying to get some good sunset pictures, and I saw this couple standing on the beach being all lovely, and I wanted to try and capture them with the sunset and the sea, and the picture to the right is what I came up with.  

    One of the things that I loved about this camera is that I could take panoramic pictures.  I could set the mode on the camera to panorama and then point at one side I wanted a panorama of, hit the button and move the camera while I took the picture.  You just had to make sure not to go too fast or too slow and to keep it in a straight light. Below are some of my attempts at doing this.















    687147800_PentaxK-m.png.baaba649fd63c96b065d2880dd198d19.pngAfter this, I started playing around with hirondelle's Pentax Km DSLR camera.  I'd never played around with an SLR or a DSLR before, so this was like a huge learning curve.  It was a lot of fun learning, and I took some really good pictures.  This was the first time I was taking picture in RAW format.  Prior to using the Pentax, I could edit images and pictures in FireWorks, but now I needed to learn how to use Photoshop, this was another huge jump for me.  If I can find the pictures I took with this camera, I'll make sure to share them here.

    iPhone6.jpeg.aaff9d785ac4e813f4cc4c7c7135391c.jpegAround this time, I started trying to take better pictures with the camera on my phone.  I started applying the principles that hirondelle taught me to my phone, and mixing in a few things that I had picked up from watching photographers like Fro Knows Photo, Some of these pictures turned out really good.

    NikonD5500.jpg.3da2e3680775bcb081e6c78b4954bda9.jpgMy next camera, the one I use now is a Nikon D5500.  I got this in 2016.  This is my first DSLR camera.  When I started taking pictures with this camera, I set the file type to jpeg, and then I started following a photographer that strongly suggested that people should show in raw format, so I started doing this.  When I started shooting in raw, I needed to learn Lightroom.  One of the problems with shooting in raw format is that the images take so long to edit.  I could easily take 100 or more pictures in just a few hours.  For example, when we went to Lincoln this past year and I got to meet hirondelle's friend, I took over 300 pictures during the day. This doesn't sound like a lot of pictures until you go to edit those pictures.  I can get lost in editing photos so easily, peaking and tweaking all the little things, and I can edit one picture four (4) different times in four (4) different ways.  I can see if I'm doing pictures professionally and getting paid to do these pictures, but these are just for fun, and I just don't have the time to edit these pictures that much, so starting this year, I've changed my Nikon to take JPEG Fine pictures.  I'm excited about this as I won't have to do as much editing of the pictures. Below is a gallery of some of the pictures I've taken with this camera.

    1298792257_iphone8.jpeg.572525f1543c3f7b9c41a38c648da231.jpegI've also been trying to better pictures with my current phone, which is an iPhone 8+.  I've been really happy with a lot of the pictures I've been taking with my phone.  I've been more particular with what I'm shooting and trying to make sure I have it framed better.

    Well, I think I've bored you enough with my photography talk.  I plan on taking more pictures this year, so let's see what happens.

    Always Remember:  Always take the tie to do the things you love.

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    Completing my bachelor's degree has always been one of my long term goals. My health, living situation, and drive have been major road blocks along the way, but now finally i can take my hands off the wheel and coast to graduation. My degree is in Information Technology with a Specialization in Software Analysis and Design. Most of the people I go to school with are already employed in the field one way or another and just need a piece of paper to advance their career. Me, I only come from retail experience and what professional experience I do have, no one cares for it being that I have no certifications. When people hear I'm in IT they immediately assume I can do X, Y, and Z to their computer and fix it or create stunning websites on the fly or for free. Nope, I'm a dumbass on hardware. Utter dumbass, self admitted. Do I know terminology, yes.  But my hands get sweaty pretty quick and wet hardware is not so sexy. My area of expertise is more regarding software, but not programming. Let me explain specifically what I mean by the class I'm currently in. Buy the end of it I'll get to my point so you have some context. 

    In our capstone class we were assigned the mother of all group projects. Each class is 5 weeks long and this was no different except we had to contribute each week individually and to the group. The scenario was as follows:



    A former dot com company, Verbania, Inc., shut down in 2001 because of the Internet bubble burst. It is attempting to reinvent and launch itself once again. It is looking for a complete information technology (IT) solution that includes hardware, software, networking, and security, among other requirements. Verbania’s core product will be a social networking Web site and mobile application that rivals the big names that currently represent social media. It is attempting to find the best features and consolidate them into its product. The company is looking to establish its headquarters in the Silicon Valley region in California. The executives at Verbania are looking for your company to propose a solution that will endure future Internet trends.

    The basic user requirements for the social networking solution must include but are not limited to the following:

    • Creating an account and a profile 
    • Creating discussion forums and posting 
    • Search capability for people 
    • Gaming component 
    • Calendar component for reminders 
    • Instant messaging and Voice Over Internet protocol (VOIP)-type calling between friends 
    • Secure account and email feature 
    • Availability seven days a week 

    The basic company requirements for the social networking solution must include but are not limited to the following:

    • Collect, store, back up, and mine user data to better understand users. 
    • Integrate collected data with customer relationship management (CRM) to improve business and customer support processes. 
    • Analyze user patterns, behavior, and generated traffic to present to advertisers. 

    Requested functionality for the social networking application includes the following:

    • Account setup and log-in functionality 
    • Creating a profile 
    • Adding or removing friends 
    • Posting to a discussion area

    Pretty daunting right?

    Other specializations in our IT cohort are Network Administration, Digital Investigations, and Information Assurance and Security.

    I was coming in from the software end. My three group mates were networking/hardware guys. So we were evenly stacked and they were very heavy on the hardware end as far as specs and network topology goes. Each of us contributed equally to the project and we each pulled our own weight. One person was assigned to each area: networking, security, and hardware, software. Some groups had less tow work with so it was nice having all areas covered and all group members actively participating. 

    Week 4 was my area in software and it was my time to shine. Being the lone software expert in the group, I felt the weight on my shoulders. My group had done a stellar job on their ends and my end only had one week and then we got out grade. My end involved the functionality of the proposal. Here's the important part. i may specialize in software development, but coding is NOT my forte. NO CODING WAS REQUIRED FOR THIS. This made me happy because I knew that meant diagrams.

    Attached below are the diagrams I created for the project. Which I'm damn fucking proud of:





    We ended up with an A.

    Now here's my point. I hated doing all that. I hated working with folks that dreaded any form of communication and refused to let down their ego. With the exception of this last group, that was the norm. The diagrams may be fancy, but they were too easy.

    Data science has always fascinated me since I took an independent study course at my community college. Yes I could go out and pursue software development but I hate coding and I hate all that I learned in my program. Data science is a more solid career and having a graduate degree in my passion has always been my goal.

    I have a domain set up for when I'm ready to post my portfolio. It's going to be stuff not normally seen due the casual eye. What spawned this passion was the recent outcry over children being separated from their families here at the U.S. border. There was a call to match a parent with child. What steamed me was our country's Homeland Security [expletive] could not answer for where a certain kind of child was. With all do respect to our government, Obama has released data that has been in statistics textbooks for ages. Ya'll seen Avengers: Infinity War? I have not, but I'm pretty damn sure there's a growing need for more people studying data science than being entertained by Marvel and the media.


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    Recently on Twitter someone wrote about the storm before the calm. No I haven't gotten that the wrong way round. I know most people know it the other way around, however for me and maybe fire a lot of other selfharmers it makes a lot of sense. 

    The storm that rages with in me before I reach that moment is a powerful one. It is a mix of depression with a huge amount of anxiety, the kind of anxiety that makes your tummy tie in knots, that causing your chest to feel like it is crushing the air out of you, that makes your limbs feel like jelly but also like they could be pulled from you at any moment. It is the type of anxiety that makes your skin crawl, that causing your heart to beat hard and faster and yet it feels like it stops all at the same time.

    Basically think about the most chotic storm you can think of and put that inside you, all that energy all the destructiveness just building up and up with you until you can not take it anymore!

    This is me right now, at the very moment of me writing this. This is my life, the storm that rages until I can not take it anymore and then that blade, oh that beautiful sharp shiny blade has found it's way into my hand and then into my skin and finally it tracks a line down my arm, the shine followed by red, red so bright and beautiful that I have to do it again and again and again until finally the red runs free and the storm had eased. 

    It is bliss, it is a smile on my lips, it is calm and my god it feels so good for it to be over, for the ranging to ease and in that moment I am free.

    There is a catch however. That storm that has turned into a tiny rain cloud is still there and that cloud can grow on e again as every negative thought passes through my mind, and pretty soon it is ranging once again and the cycle repeats itself over and over again.

    And behind this Storm, sits my demon, a smile on its face as it watches it rage and then laughs as the red rivers flow as the storm eases.


  3. I don't know if I can take anymore, working in the field I'm in while I'm at the lowest point emotionally I've been at in a long time if not ever.  I'm 2 hours into an 8 hour shift and I just watched someone die.  And it's not the first, or the last.  I feel sometimes like I'm surrounded by death and sickness, maybe not feel like, I am surrounded by it.

    Right now I really just want to go home, curl up in a ball and cry.  I want someone to just hold me and tell me life is worth living.  That we're not just all on a slow trip to wind up here...  dumped off by your family to die alone surrounded by strangers.  I have seen some families who are here for their loved ones but I've seen too many who are alone at the end, or holding a hand they don't know.  And no matter how much I care or try to provide some measure of comfort I always feel bad and I know it's not the same.

    I don't want to wind up like that.  I don't want to wind up alone, I feel like I'm alone now, even with the kids I still wind up feeling so detached lately.  So when I do let myself feel, or when it gets so much that I have no choice but to feel it's like drowning.

    Edit - 6 hours and 8,000 steps later I'm home and I have absolutely nothing left.  I don't have the emotional energy left to do more than tell my daughter I love her before I crawl into bed.  My feet hurt, my back hurts, my heart hurts, I'm just so very very done with everything.

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        The thunder of the winter’s cold fury whispers through my mind as I a sleep.  It tells me fascinating stories of when I was younger and why it all had to happen.  During the day I am called Prudence Anne Jenkins. This name was placed over my head by my doting mother when I was but 3 minutes old.  I am now living with a sister and 4 brothers that hate me, a dying mother that cannot stand the sight of me and the death of a greatly loved father hanging over my head.  They all blame me for his death. They all say ‘well if you hadn’t had to have someone pick you up from some stupid martial arts class then he would still be alive!’ They say that it is entirely my fault and that I should have at least had the courtesy to be in the car when the train hit him.  They will then turn away and shun me.


        After the accident I relived the accident in my dreams.  I hear the awful sound of the trains wailing horn reverberating through my skull.  Then the following pain as it plowed into my father’s car. I can hear his last words echo through me like a death keel.  They tell me that he is near his end. I will carry their weight with me wherever I go. “Pru, hold true to who you are! Even when those you care about the most have turned on you.  Even when your faith is at its lowest and your trust has run out. Remember I love you and no matter what, stay true to who you are!” I would rather not remember all the details, but that is no longer and option.  When the accident occurred, I came fully into my powers.


        He was not only my father but also my mentor.  He died while coming to pick me up from yet another training session at the dojo.  My family may have forgotten but I have not, he tried to teach all of them as well.  Tried to bring them into their birthright as he was bringing me. We are what you would call shadow-walkers.  People that claim the title of shadow-walkers are part of a select few who have evolved past the norm to protect those that have not yet achieved this.  We do what we must to keep keep the rest of the populouse safe.


        Thus is the story of my life.  I live by day with a family that cannot stand the sight of me and then at night I live in a world that welcomes me into its loving bosom.  A place that welcomes me, makes me feel the joys of life. I am the only thing that keeps most of this city alive. They are all scared of who and what I am but none of them would be able to sleep at night if they only knew what it is that they face while they sleep soundly in their beds.  All sorts of demons, both of the humane persuasion and of the metaphysical breed. They come out only once the sun has set and the city has gone to sleep. I travel from place to place during the night never tiring of the routine that I have set in place for myself.


    My mother, they say, is dying of a broken heart.  She misses my father and wishes he were still alive.  She doesn’t blame me quite as much for his death, but I was his favorite and favored him most in looks.  That is why she can’t bring herself to look at me. I am my father’s child, in every way. He taught me everything that he knew.  That is why he started to take me with him on his routes. These routes would be like the ones I hold now. Fighting for a people that would never know that I even exist.  It seems unfair at first but after a while you get used to it and even learn to love the very thing that you curse.


        Full moons are when the old legends say the lunatics and monsters come out to play.  As if that is a magical force that is the only time they are able to come out. If you want the truth just look out your windows on other nights, then you will see the truth.  I am tired of living in the dark.


        My sister has told me that my place is in school and at home.  I should not be out there doing a mans work. She doesn't understand what it is that I do at night.  Of course she can’t, because she doesn’t even know what it is I do. None of my siblings knew about our father either despite his best efforts.  It’s a pity, there really could have been potential with at least a couple of my brothers. They would have enjoyed the life, I think. When my father was alive they called him the safety net of the city.  That was of course during the day when he worked as a justice of the peace. They never knew about his night time activities.


        At night I am called Shadowmancer.  Almost everyone fears me and yet, no one has seen me,and most think of me as some sort of aberration, a trick of the light or a child’s story created to make them behave.  I appear out of nowhere then disappear into the shadows just as I came. This is the way of my life. Hide where the world can’t find me then keep them alive in exchange for their ignorance.  After all as father used to say, “My darling child, if the world knew of our true existence then we have failed in our task. We do not protect them to gain wealth or fame. We do not protect them so we can gain notoriety.  This is why we use an alias.”


        It has been close to five years since his death.  I am still working his area as well as the one that has somehow come to me.  It is always this way with our people. One of us will die and the successor for that person will take over their area and once they become of age then they will receive their own territory.  I have learned much from others like myself. It is hard to imagine what it was like before I came into my own and had to go it alone.


        A while back I met a young man named Mystr, he took me to a place I had not been since I was small.  There I met a man by the name of Raule. He helped to mold and shape me into what my father had envisioned.  I am now in the top echelon of the shadow-walkers. That is what Raul has said anyway.


        I am terrified of what my family will do if they ever find out what I do.  They are not a supportive or understanding group. My older siblings will frequently search my room and all of my belongings.  They use the guise of keeping me safe and don’t get taken in by all the vices that are present in our lives. This is something that I will not believe until my father rises from the grave and walks among us.  My activities are restricted to school and home. I am not allowed to have friends or outside relationships.


        Raul has said that I am safe at school.  He obviously hasn’t been in any of the local schools lately.  I am now a junior in high school. Due to my family and circumstances I am a social outcast.  On the plus side, the isolation does allow me to keep my secrets. In the school that my sister has placed me in, the popular kids try and prove their right to be on the top by fighting any outcast that they can find.  I have gotten very good at avoiding them. I find the practice ridiculous. The one that wins recertifies their standing in their groups. If the challenger losses however they then become the outcast and the outcast became the most popular kid in school.  As I have said, pointless.


        You can never be to careful about who you let close to you.  The young man I mentioned earlier has since been killed. I feel sorry for his loose and will miss his comradery.  He was also a in high school with his whole life ahead of him. I find it strange that when he passed his mind reached out for mine instead of his mentor or his family.  I was stunned by the intensity of his contact. He told me he had been framed and then murdered to hide the crime. He asked me to find his killer. He knew that they were part of his humane acquaintances.  He couldn’t tell me which of them were responsible, but it was surely one of them. He also bequeathed his territory to me. I am now responsible for the whole south side of the city. So far no one has challenged me for it.


        With the acquisition of these territories I have started to gain familiars.  The old tales tell that witches and all manner of dark magics claimed familiers.  They were supposed to help channel their magic and hold extra magic and charms. Most of these are total crap.  There is always an exception to the rules. The familiars that we acquire are like guides for us. We can have any number of them and will frequently get receive the at least one from those that have passed and have been close to them.  I have three that have claimed me. A guardian wolf from my late father, a falcon that has claimed my soul as its charge and a python from Mystr. The wolf is not the same one that claimed my father’s soul as its charge but that wolf’s daughter.  The situation seems fitting. Mystr’s guide was a python, the one that has come to me was his mate. She has come to me to help insure that justice is meted out for her mate and his master. Once that task is complete I do not know if she will stay or leave to claim another.  For now I am comforted by her presence. The falcon appeared one day and claimed my soul and I intern am now its master.


    The time has come for me to tell you why I keep this diary I suppose.  Since my father’s death I have found many bound journals that he had kept.  They were hidden away and his other home. I suppose you could call it his lair.  They were filled with a code that could only be broken by someone who knew how to truly see.  One not blinded by the world surrounding them. This in turn has prompted me to do the same. This diary will only go to one that has been given the key.  My successor once that time comes. It will tell of my life, hopes, dreams and greatest fears. If by chance it helps to bring peace to those who read it then it shall be worth the words written.


        My time here is drawing short as I hear my siblings calling for me.  Im sure they need me to do some menial task that they do no wish to. As they are not privy to my life in full I have this my diary to keep all the details in.  They are not able to find what they do not know exists. This is hidden as a school assignment. Deep in the recesses of my computer’s hard drive. As none of them have much skill with technology then for the moment it is safe.  For now I bid you adieu. Until next we meet.

  4. As you may know or not, i'm on a long term sick leave from work, for 9 months already. It's no fun, let me tell you that, i wish i was able to work and do all the things that i want to do, and there are lots of things, big and small. From traveling or even migrating to the other side of the world to get the chance to write fanfic/story's again.
    But there's one thing about it that i don't mind at all, that is as little as possible having to interact with people. I have good contact with my best friend and mom who i see at least once a week or more, and the last few weeks i go for "treatment" so i see mostly 2 or 3 people there once a week. But that's about it besides once in a few months someone else and the people in the grocery store, and i definitely like it.
    Even the thought of having to work somewhere again scares me, i don't want to be stuck with (that kind of) people every day again. Maybe it's just because of my colleague's of the past 12 years that i feel like that, i mean they where nice and all but we had absolutely nothing in common, i was even the only one who did that work, i was like a construction worker between a bunch of secretary's and ceo's....

    But lately it's getting even worse, more and more i feel like i life in my own little world the size of my house, when i have to go shopping or whatever i step into another world. I can get around in that other world it's not that that's scary or difficult, but i rather just not. Time really flies so fast in the world outside of my house i can't keep up. When i have to arrange things with people in that other world it's problematic, it easily can take me 5 days to answer an e-mail without me even noticing it's already been almost a week, and company's start whining "you only have 1 week to submit the form, otherwise we won't do it anymore" things like that, i'm always running behind the facts.

    I once tried playing a version of the Sim's (you remember that life simulation game?) on an older computer or something, i'm not really sure what the problem was there. Anyway, the time didn't go as it should be, by the time i had the game persona out of bed, showered and dressed i didn't even get the chance to have breakfast or leave the house because it was already night time again. It feels like that...by the time i have had my coffee and walked the dog and am ready to start the day/doing things, most of the morning is already over, and not because i get out of bed late, i guess i just move slower, everything takes me more time. Even the dog starts whining that it takes too long for me to get ready to get out of the door.

    So i'm really worried about how i'm going to life in that world outside of my house if i ever get well enough to work again.
    But in the meantime i don't have any problem with being a hermit it the city (outside the city would be even better) and living in my own little world filled with unattainable daydreams.

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    I can’t bring myself to send it to the one I want, so I’ll just leave it here.


    I broke in two to ease the longing

    To stop the gnawing

    Of hope into my soul.

    In two a thousand brittle shards

    My shattered heart bled

    And none can bear it.

    Three empty wholes rest here

    Where eyes and heart once dwell

    And now drip tears of hollow hope

    Into the void of silent doubt.


    What kind of worth can you have

    When the white line shackles tie you to the bed?

    What dreams resurrect, when buried in the crimson comfort,

    A cold steel kiss to send you to sleep and wake the sighing darkness.

    Goodnight mama...

    a breath against the heart, there and gone 

    Each step heavier toward the rising dawn

    And again to bed, where white line shackles

    whisper sweet promises to call you home.

  5. I had an interesting experience with a med student this week while I was in for one of my frequent clinic visits. He was researching impacts of poor health on individuals and their coping mechanisms, and he asked me a question I had not even really thought about: "how do you handle having medical conditions that are not common for persons your age?" I realized in that moment how often I had heard (from the upward of one hundred doctors and other health care workers I've interacted with over the past few years) that it's very strange to see my kind of spinal disease and arthritis in someone "so young" (I'm 34).

    I had to think on the spot as it's not something I really had considered. Of all the things my depression causes me to wallow in, my physical health is rarely something I brood over. My answer appeared to surprise and delight this young man that was interviewing me, and that answer was "these things happen." Maybe it's because I had an injury at work I can point to. Maybe it's because sometimes there is no good answer for these things. I mean, really, it's not entirely unlike asking why kids get cancer. I have never had a point at which I've reflected on why I have such poor health. It's just there, and I can't control that right now. What I can control is how I respond to it. I get the requisite medical attention, and I've been working at losing weight.

    I haven't really faced the possibility that I may never work full time again. That I may not be fully independent again. Perhaps if that time comes, I will face it, and I might lose some of my optimism. But, for now, it's "these things happen." And I'll continue to fight it.


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    I've mentioned elsewhere within The Northlands that I created a character called Joshua Deeds.  He came from a short story I once told Autumn, made up on the spot after she requested I tell her a "Jamie story".  There is a thread in The Writer's Den dedicated to quotes I have come up with, credited to Joshua, that will hopefully one day be the backbone to a second tale about him.  Anyway, I am attempting to retell the original Joshua Deeds story, The Coin.  I never gave him a name in the first telling of this, so I'm trying to keep it out of this version as well in an attempt to keep it as close to the original as possible. Here are the first few paragraphs that I have written this very morning.  I hope you enjoy and please let me know if you'd like to see the rest.  I have to go and make lunch now.



    There was once a young man, average, nothing special, but he was happy. He had a good job, he had good friends. He had a good life. He spent his time, when not working, doing the things he liked to do. Going out with his friends, staying in with his friends, staying in alone (he liked his own company, as well as that of others), walking to stay fit, lounging around watching movies on a Sunday, and many other things.


    But, there wasn't anyone in his life he could share these things with, at least nobody special. Yes, he had his friends who he could confide in, but he found he could never fully open up to them, never reveal his deepest thoughts, desires, worries and concerns. Strangely, this was something he didn't realise about himself until it was pointed out to him in rather bizarre fashion.


    The workday mornings followed pretty much the same routine. He got up, washed, dressed and had his breakfast before leaving his small flat to take the bus to work. On his way to the bus stop he would get a newspaper and a chocolate bar from the same shop, he'd catch the same bus and get off at the same stop a short distance from his office and call in to the coffee shop next door for the same cup of Americano which was , sometimes, already brewed and waiting for him before he even opened the door.


    On this particular morning, as he walked up to the door of the news shop where he bought his paper and chocolate, he noticed something glinting on the pavement in the weak autumn sun. He stooped to pick it up and found it was a gold coin with strange markings minted in to it. It was unlike any coin he'd ever seen before and it seemed to shine even when his body cast a shadow upon it. On one side the image appeared to be that of two hearts intertwined in such a fashion that they could never be separated, at least that's what it looked like to him. On the other was the profile of a rather intimidating looking man, bald, heavy jowled, with small piercing eyes.


    The young man continued to examine the coin as he walked into the shop to purchase his items. The young woman behind the counter, who worked the morning shift in the shop and knew the young man by sight if not by name, greeted him as she always did and, when she noticed the coin, remarked upon it's beauty.


    “Yes,” said the young man, “it is quite eye catching, isn't it. I just found it outside.”

    “Where's it from?”

    “I have no clue. I've never seen one before. I'll probably do a bit of research tonight when I get home. Anyway, have a good day. I'll see you tomorrow,” and with that he paid for his things and left the shop to catch the bus to work.


    The bus pulled up to the stop just as he approached and he stepped into the belly of the packed beast, paid his fare and found a seat next to a pretty brunette who was fresh face among the familiar crowd of commuters. As he was about to put the gold coin in his coat pocket she said, “That's beautiful. I've never seen one like that before.” The young man looked at her and smiled before replying, “ Yes, it's unusual. I found it just now, on the pavement outside the newsagents.” The coin appeared to be a little ice-breaker and he and the pretty brunette chatted for the entire journey, until the young man had to disembark. “See you tomorrow?” he asked. “I'll be here,” she said.


    The young man watched as the bus pulled away into the morning traffic and turned towards the building where he would spend the next eight hours of the day. He was just about to walk through the door when he remembered his morning brew. “ I can't function in there without my bean,” he muttered to himself and turned around and headed towards Red's Diner. He pushed his way in and there was Red, the owner of the small coffee house and eatery, standing behind the counter, arms folded across her chest, looking very annoyed.


    “ You forgot me?” she asked. “And here I thought I was the most important part of your day.”

    “Sorry, Red. I'm a little distracted this morning.” He fished the gold coin from his coat pocket to show her. “ I found this this morning outside the shop where I get my paper. Someone on the bus noticed it and we got talking. I think she likes me,” he smiled broadly as he put the coin back in his pocket, not noticing the slightly pained expression that crossed Red's face. His coffee was already made and waiting for him and he picked it up to take a sip. “Perfect, as always. Much like yourself, Red,” he said.

    “That'll be £2.50,” she replied. He chuckled, handed over the right change and turned to leave. “See you at lunch,” he called over his shoulder, and left for the office.

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    Every once in a while I travel around google images and look for ideas that I cloud possible replicate with my own hands.  Mostly under the search term of Homesteading, Traditional architecture of the past or Survival tricks of the trades. Other times I am inspired by the books I read or posts that I see to seek images such as nomadic hand carvings thanks to the Bride Story manga.  Artworks and practical pieces that will encourage sturdy long lasting builds upon any piece of land that I hope to own.

    Then there is the latte stone structure of a palm tree house that was meant for the chieftain.  Which takes me down my ancestorial paths to the times where my people existed before the sailor's invade and changed our lives.  I wouldn't be where I am if it didn't happen, but I still want to know how my people lived and survived on the islands of the Marianas.  My bloodline suggests power, authority and yes political corruption within those consumed by the latter but I know that my maternal lineage is one that may have lead me on paths towards spiritual healer and leader.  Things that I hide from in today's life because I don't want to lose my family both on here or my bloodline.  Yet, every moment that I live I know and use some of the teachings from my parents and their parents before them and so on.  So, I walk these paths as I do others while searching online for what I may use over time or come to accept.  I will share them with you sab i find them. 😸

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