Smallish Bloggery, Day 11: Three favorite scents


I get home after an evening spent at a coffee house wrestling with my angel, and when I go into my laptop bag to get something, a wave of espresso-aroma hits me.  Sometimes I stick my head in the bag and just breathe it in.


Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab’s Blood Amber is like being kissed in the dark by a vampire who also brought you warm cookies.


Lavender – real lavender scent – is hard to find in mainstream bath and beauty products.  Fakey lab-made lavenders in air fresheners are just so awful and smell like the person who made them had never actually been within ten yards of a lavender plant.  But the real thing, like the jar of buds in my armoire or, once in a while, a good lotion or body wash, is a mood lifted like no other, and leaves my brain feeling clearer.  I don’t really like it in food, because to me it makes everything taste like soap the way rose petals in food make everything taste like Grandma, but I love to smell lavender just about anywhere else.

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Smallish Bloggery, Day 10: My life 10 years ago today…

They found me drunk, draped over the worn leather couch in our favorite study, and were duly concerned.

“My Lady,” Nico said cautiously, “Are you well?”

“I’m ten years old,” I replied.  “Hey, can ten-year-olds drink in Ireland?”

Deven, standing in the doorway with his arms crossed, sighed.  “You younglings and your deathdays, I swear.  Give it a century, you won’t even remember your birthday anymore.”

Nico looked from one of us to the other.  “Deathday?  As in…”

The Hallowed One nodded.  “They go in and out of fashion; in the 90s I used to go to at least one Deathday party a week. It was exhausting.”

“1990s?” I asked blurrily.

“1590s.  But there were a lot of celebratory raves in the 1990s as well.  Of course they don’t call them deathdays anymore – too sincere, not ironic enough. Now it’s…what’s the acronym? DAFALI?”

Nico looked so quizzical I snorted, and then coughed, because whiskey is never, ever a good thing to snort.  I wrestled myself semi-upright on the sofa and clunked the bottle on the end table.  “Do I even want to know–”

“Dead as Fuck and Loving It,” Deven replied, rolling his violet eyes.  “Like I said…younglings.”

For all his snark, however, he came and sat down beside me, steering my shoulders so I leaned on him.  Nico sat down at my feet.  I started to protest – I still haven’t gotten used to him doing that, though he claims it’s just an Elven habit.  He does it with David all the time, but of course David doesn’t mind people bowing or kneeling to him; in that respect he’s an old-fashioned Prime.  And there is, I admit, something deeply sexy about Nico sitting at David’s feet unlacing his boots, or at my feet either rubbing my soles or, on occasion, painting my toenails.

“Okay,” Deven said.  “Did you want a party?  Or are you just having big feelings and don’t know what to do with them?”

Irritated at his insight as usual, I pretended to bite his arm, which was really just biting his arm, only not hard.  “I was just thinking, and it got weird.”

“Go on.”

“I’m glad you didn’t meet me before,” I said.  “Either of you. I can’t imagine what you would have thought.  I was this…ugh.  A mess.  Even while I was still human but living at the Haven, I was just full of self-loathing and anger and sadness and wanted to stop existing.”

Dev smiled.  “Where have I seen that before.”

“Yes, but at least you were a self-loathing badass.  I was just…a human.”

“I find that very difficult to believe,” Nico told me, raising an eyebrow.  “A life like the one you have now is not bestowed upon the unworthy.  You would never have survived to reach your…DAFALI?…if you did not already possess the strength of a Queen.”

I gestured impatiently and tried to reach for the whiskey, but Deven wisely moved it–or Misted it, rather, back into the liquor cabinet, a trick I couldn’t hope to reverse in my current state of room-spinny angst.  “I was no Queen.  I barely even had the strength to keep breathing.”

Deven put an arm around me, shifting us back into the couch cushions, drawing my head to his lap so I lay on my side.  Nico’s fingers wound through mine, and Deven stroked my hair.  Without even trying, they put out such soothing energy, I felt the alcohol start slipping, the ground steadying.  

“You are ridiculous sometimes,” Dev said kindly, smiling at me.  “Think back to that poor girl you used to be and remember how hard she fought.  She did keep breathing.  She kept walking, even when the weight of the world was pulling her into hell.  She stood.  She had every chance to give up on herself, but she chose, over and over, to fight.  She chose love and belonging and power when she could have let the river drown her.  And she got here, to us, and changed all of our lives.”  He held my chin firmly for a minute so I had to look at him.  “So have some compassion for that girl, Miranda.  She is still part of you.  We don’t shed old selves like snakeskin, we grow rings around them like a tree.  And you–we–owe that girl everything.”

There was a soft knock, and David appeared in the study doorway just in time to catch me in tears.  “For fuck’s sake, Dev, what did you do to our Queen?”

“Told her the truth,” he replied.  “The truth always hurts the worst when it’s beautiful, doesn’t it?”

Now it was David’s turn to shake his head.  “God, you sound more like an Elf every year.”

He came over and knelt in front of the sofa next to Nico, who smiled.  “What is that in your hand, my Lord?”

David grinned up at me and produced a small box.  “Happy…what’s it called now…”

“DAFALI,” we all three said together.

“Whatever.  I know you said you didn’t care but ten years is a milestone in my opinion, so.”

I took the box and opened it; inside, resting on velvet, was a silver ring in a raven design similar to our tattoos, but with a treble clef worked into the shape and a single ruby eye that caught the light like a star.

It was a larger piece than I would have picked on my own, but David slid it on my middle finger next to my wedding ring, where it looked like I’d been wearing it for years.  “There,” he said.  “What do you think?”

I smiled at him.  “It’s perfect.”

My conflicted knot of feelings had loosened and now came completely undone, leaving behind only a wave of appreciation and love for my Prime, and for my Elves, who surrounded me with their strength when mine was doubtful, but never let me doubt it for long.  I thought again of ten-years-past Miranda, but Deven was right; I could feel some love for her just now too.  I imagined going back in time and finding that Miranda, and telling her to keep fighting…that there would be times she would break into a thousand pieces, and putting herself back together would be so hard she would nearly give up…that nights would come full of agony like no other, and she would be sure she had hit bottom with no air and no footholds…but so would nights full of love and passion, of power, of beauty…a life so weird and amazing there was no way ten years ago she could even have invented it in her wildest moments.  I imagined hugging her, telling her to hang on…that one night she’d be sitting in this room, with these remarkable beings who loved her so completely, and that for all the blood and death and danger, she would belong

I imagined her looking at me like we’d both gone insane.  And I laughed.

To David’s lifted eyebrow, I nodded and said, “Dead as Fuck and Loving It.”  He chuckled and kissed me, then hoisted me up off the couch and gestured for the boys to follow.  Still laughing, I relaxed in his arms, and let them carry me off for an informal, but greatly appreciated, celebration.

Not all beautiful true things hurt.

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Smallish Bloggery, Day 9: Never have I ever…

…written a sonnet

…been to Europe

…been skydiving

…shaved my head

…seen Silence of the Lambs

…made seitan from scratch

…had a flicker of interest in watching Bridesmaids or any of its comedic ilk

…had a mani/pedi

…attempted pole dancing (except Maypole)

…been arrested

…had anything pierced below my neck

…attended a movie in costume

…had such a hard time finishing a simple list!  I’m having issues galore with my website for some reason, and the wifi at home is spotty at best, so you may have noticed these posts are a bit erratically-timed.  I’ll do my very best to get them out on the right day at least!

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Smallish Bloggery, Day 8: “What’s on your mind?”

Pepper.  Specifically black pepper.  Every time I get one of those packets with plastic cutlery there’s a little salt packet and a little pepper packet, and you know what?  Nobody ever uses the pepper packet.  Those just get thrown away.

It’s so bizarre to me that a few hundred years ago the spice trade shaped the map of the world as we know it – countries fought wars over control of spices, including black pepper.  Pepper was more valuable than gold – literally – and native cultures were decimated, bloody battles fought on the sea, and entire economies hinged on the acquisition of spices.  

And it’s not like you can just walk up to a pepper plant and yank off some black pepper – oh no, it has to be dried, cured, baked in the sun or by machine.  It looks like this before it’s been harvested.  

Isn’t it kind of crazy how humans end up eating things?  At some point someone said, “This berry is kinda gross,” and threw it on the ground, only to somehow end up trying it again once it had been drying in the sun for a while, at which time she or he went “HOLY HOT DAMN” and started doing it on purpose.  Like artichokes – who the hell decided “Hey, that big scary ass thistle looks like it might have a tiny tiny edible part on the inside” or “Hey dude, see that wet grain that’s been rotting for a while?  YOU SHOULD TOTALLY DRINK THE WATER.”

Which makes me think of how vanilla is a synonym for “boring” – I mean what the hell?!?  Vanilla comes from exactly ONE kind of orchid, and it has to be harvested by hand.  The pods undergo a curing process that takes months and involves baking them in the sun, then covering them up with a blanket to sweat, then baking them in the sun, over and over for days.  There’s no way to shorten the process without altering the flavor.  The vanilla orchid has I think one bee that pollinates it naturally, otherwise humans have to pollinate the flowers by hand.  Imitation vanilla flavor you buy at the store is often made with wood pulp (or it used to be, they have synthetics now that are more popular in the food industry), which contains vanillin, the scent compound that makes books smell like books.

And that’s BORING? 

Anyway just read up on the spice trade sometime.  There was a British documentary series I found a long time ago where each episode covered a single spice – its history, what makes it awesome, how it’s cultivated, and issues surrounding the cultures and populations who have to do the actual labor to get it to our tables.  Pepper isn’t just some little ground seed (it’s a fruit, first of all, or if you want to get technical, a drupe), it’s been a catalyst for wars and exploration.  Portugal and Spain tried to divvy up the rights to the global pepper trade, but neither managed to hang on thanks to Venetian traders, the Dutch, the English, and of course the Arab merchants who had been in charge of the trade for centuries.  For a long time only the rich could afford pepper, and in some places grains of paradise were a cheaper substitute (grains of paradise is also a great flavoring I quite like, it’s like pepper but not quite, and you can grind it the same way).  China went through massive quantities of the stuff, possibly more than all of Europe, though of course Marco Polo’s account is questionable at best.

So yeah, every time I get one of those little pepper packets I think about all of that, which is why if you open my office drawer you’ll find a million pepper packets.  Such a tiny throwaway thing to us, but historically and culturally still worth its weight in gold.

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Smallish Bloggery, Day 7: How I Like My Pasta

I do not like spaghetti.  Lady and the Tramp can have it!  Too much work and mess just to get it in your mouth. 

What I do love are smaller shapes, especially farfalle and penne, as well as itty bitty orzo (looks like big flat rice).  

When it comes to sauces, pesto is definitely my favorite.  To me marinara and other tomato-based things belong on bread. I love a good pesto, though, which is a bit hard to find premade out in the world when you eat veganly, but there are about a million recipes that either replace the Parmesan or leave it out entirely.

If I’m cooking at home (HAHAHA) and want pasta, nine times out of ten, I don’t even bother with sauce per se; I throw in a spoonful of Earth Balance (that’s vegan butter for the uninitiated), a ton of garlic salt (I am a salt fiend; most people would probably use garlic powder), and if I have it, some faux Parmesan.  Again there are a million recipes for vegan Parmesan out there, but I actually really like the one by Go Veggie as well as Parma; they’re meant to approximate the dried stuff in packets more than the freshly grated fancy schmancy real thing.  Parma even has added B12 and a bit of Omega-3s.  

A bowlful of garlic butter (or olive oil) pasta is one of the world’s best comfort foods just as-is, but if I’m feeling frisky I’ll sauté some mushrooms (Oh, man, sautéed mushrooms are one of the Earth’s finest noms!) to throw in.  

A favorite combo of mine is to dice zucchini, bell pepper, and yellow squash and cook it up with garlic and olive oil in a pan, then add in cooked orzo, faux Parm, and lots of freshly-ground black pepper.  This reheats really well, which is good, because I am utter rubbish at judging how much pasta to cook, so I almost always end up with a ton.

Great, now I’m hungry. Thanks, blogging!

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