Thursday, December 28, 2017

Welcome to Things Ragnar Ate

I'm starting a new label today for the 3.5 month old Shepherd/Bloodhound puppy currently wreaking havoc in my household.


This will go along with the upcoming tales of Angus the Cat's interactions with me (the Evil Overlord keeping him cat-ptive), labeled EvilOverlordIsn'tDeadYet.

So, in the last few weeks, Ragnar ate:

  • Seven socks, previously worn
  • More underwear than I care to think about, all of which is now in the laundry
  • Angus's tail hair (the odds were not in Ragnar's favor that day)
  • One PS4 controller
  • One PS4 controller charging cable
  • Two iphone/ipad charging cables
  • Two platform/spike heeled shoes. FROM DIFFERENT PAIRS. 
    • Last night he found the mate to one of them, so technically he's now eaten the heels of two leather spike heeled boots and the buckle strap of one leather platform Mary Jane. 
  • ALL the rabbit poop he can find
    • outside, in case people are actually wondering why the fuck I have rabbit poop in my house. I don't. I'm not a perfect housekeeper, but that's just silly. 
  • The Joy of Cooking (book jacket only - the book itself has fang marks without any permanent damage).
  • bull penises, which are cleverly called "bull pizzle*" as the ingredient on a "bully stick" from PetSmart. 
    • PIZZLE? REALLY? If you're going to offer cow tracheae, pig ears, and bull penii** as dog treats, have the balls to say what they really are. (Balls, as in testicles from any animal, not found in the treat isle at PetSmart). 
  • Packing tape.
  • Scotch tape dispenser. 
  • Toilet paper holder
  • Toilet paper
  • Cat toys
  • Dried minnows 
    • cat treats...just as gross as dog treats
  • The end of the wooden dowel used to keep the sliding patio door locked. 
  • One older puppy's throat fur
    • throat and both puppies unharmed during the play resulting in blond fur in Ragnar's mouth
  • Mashed potatoes
    • Ben, I'm looking at YOU
  • Cheese-its
    • all my fault...I was out of appropriate training treats
  • Three magazines
  • Wrapping and packaging paper from multiple presents
  • One poor Nutcracker Christmas ornament, who now stares offendedly from the tree with a dogspit hairdo and new dents in his fancy wooden outfit. 

*Spellchecker refuses to accept "pizzle" as a word. Me too, spellcheck, me too. 
**I don't care what the dictionary says: the plural of "penis" sounds infinitely better as "penii" than "penises". Penii is far more commanding and and serious. Penises sounds like some sort of fucked up floppy toy...which brings us back to bull penis dog chews. 

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

God Jul. It's ok to take a break.

It's two days until the winter solstice (well, in the Northern hemisphere, anyway), and five days to Christmas Eve. Various cable channels are all about Christmas movies. Main streets in my city are lit with non-denominational decorations - white and multi-colored lights on various trees, big bright snowflakes hanging from streetlamps, evergreens in the public areas hold stars and winking bits of color.

Parking lots in shopping areas stay crowded until late. The frenzy of holiday grocery and gift shopping creates an anxious energy and a noticeable lack of "seasonal good will". Company, school, and extended family holiday doings take extra time out of schedules, increasing the frenetic pace right along with the feelings evoked (whether they be fun, obligation-stress, amusement, energizing excitement, love, or pure painful enduring).

Some folk utterly adore this time of year for exactly that frenetic pace, for seeing friends and family they haven't seen in a year, for the grand panoply of holiday shopping. Some folk feel the weight of all the social shenanigans, schedulus-interruptus, and the deepening darkness like a bone-crushing slab of obligation. And then, there are all the people along the spectrum between the two. 

Socially, "light" during the Solstice manifests with all the gift shopping, fancy dinners, exchanges of treats, decorating trees, lighting candles, and all the work/family parties that give a framework of community. Companionship. A way to battle the weight of the dark. It's the dark season, after all, and no matter which religion (if any) you claim as yours the theme of this week of the year is consistently a need for light.

It's ok to take a break from all the craziness if you need it. Use that lovely concept of hygge: relax just a little and think or read a book or watch a movie or just REST. Sleep extra to fend off the viruses all those adorable germ-carrying children carry around with them. Drink a little tea on the non-party days to counter all those awesome drinks. Spend some time sweating physically (outside, at the gym, with your romantic partner...whatever works) to burn off the excellent treats. Finding a little balance, saying no when you need to, is all ok. Really. Relaxing a little gives you an opportunity to catch your breath and stay healthy in all the ways.

The weeks around the longest night give us a pause in regularly scheduled days between the end of one year and the beginning of the next. Whether you enjoy or loathe this season for the solitude, for family gatherings, for parties and glitz, for gift giving and receiving, for the spectacle: it's a good time to consider what really matters to you and to your life. And what's been bothering you: those things you've pushed off for the superfun season's sake.

Shadows are so scary, aren't they? Creatures live there, in the dim corners of the room untouched by the Christmas Tree lights. Loneliness lurks there, among the deep quiet after the sun goes down. Seasonal depression reaches out from under the bed or the unlit closet. So much of the activity this time of year is attempting to drive the shadows away, but we learn over and over in our lives that facing those fears is the way to kill them. Eleanor Roosevelt said we should do one thing every day that scares us...and change of any kind is uncomfortable. I use this time of year for evaluating my shadows: which ones could be let go? Which ones should be embraced as a healthy part of me, or needs some help to heal and remove? What clutter can I clear? 

Thinking about what to push out and what to pull into your universe when the light returns after the 21st gives you time to toss out the garbage in your head and move forward, because starting on December 22nd the light will come back. The annual pause in time will give way to all the potential of the next year.

Isn't that what the whole New Year Resolution thing is all about?

Sunday, December 03, 2017

Michael's Wings, by Tiffany Reisz (Book Review, Spoiler-Free, Appropriately NSFW)

One of the tags I use a lot in this blog is "these aren't the penises you're looking for," but I happily can't use that label for this review.

These are DECIDEDLY the penises you're looking for.

Oh, were you looking for a safe-for-work book review? Let's start here: Michael's Wings successfully proves that a series of stories centered around a male/male BSDM couple is absolutely lust-inspiring regardless of which direction you're sliding toward today on the sexuality scale.

Fans of the Original Sinners series already know the peripheral tale of young submissive Michael and his older, richer, sexy-as-sin beloved dominant, Gryphon. Sure, Michael's Wings could've just been a series of filthy sex scenes using various BDSM scenarios (well ok, honestly it IS that, and sexy as hell): easy peasy, everybody's tired and sated, job done. A complacent writer might've gone that route, using established characters to fill in a bit of the universe with more sex to sell: this is not that book.

Never one to shy from controversial expressions of love and lust, Tiffany Reisz gave us the high level events of how these two lovely men came together (ahem) as additional color threads in Nora's, Soren's, and Kingsley's story lines over the course of the eight Sinners novels. In Michael's Wings, she gives us a novella and a series of short stories that bring Michael and Gryphon fully to life, with just enough Nora, Soren, and Kingsley thrown in to give appropriately irreverent commentary on the duo's struggles.

Michael grows up over the course of the collection, and transitions over time from the emotionally broken teenager to an independent adult with ambitions and desires outside of the apartment he shares with Gryphon. Since his place in their relationship began with a suicide attempt, an abusive father, and a pretty all-encompassing rescue by his rich, beautiful lover, Michael had to figure out whether he was really in love, or just the damoiseau-in-distress. Was he capable of being a real partner in the relationship? Could he stand on his own as an adult? Could he be a husband?

Gryphon, on the other hand, has to discover whether he loves enough to do what's best for Michael, regardless of his own pain. Patience is not a virtue of his, and boy does he get to painfully learn how to let go of control and be patient. Since he's older, more established, and is already secure in who he is, Gryphon's job is to let Michael catch up in maturity, regardless of his own wants and needs. Nora, Soren, and Kingsley all make appearances in order to beat sense into him. Literally.

Michael's Wings is full of all the romantic, inventive sexual encounters a reader could hope for, including the blush-inducing, uncomfortably hot BDSM scenes. About halfway through the first tale I realized I could never sit down in their apartment in real life (because all of her characters end up being people you'd really like to know in person, don't they?) knowing how much naked cock has been on that couch. The candle wax, the toys. Wowza.

The thing is, the explicit quality of Reisz's writing isn't limited to eroticism: it's the anguished and raw emotional issues spiced with delicious sex that make her work so exhilarating (and wonderfully exhausting) to read. Gryphon and Michael have an incredibly complicated relationship. Love drives them both, and learning to love so intensely that they can heal while avoiding being completely consumed by each other is a delicate balance they struggle with for the entire book.

Michael's Wings is an excellent addition to the Original Sinners universe, giving us the long-awaited middle to Gryphon and Michael's love story. Be prepared to stay up until you've finished it, because you won't be able to put it down.

Saturday, December 02, 2017

The 17 Year Old Unsolved Mystery of Russell Crowe.

The turn of the millennium had a couple big milestones for me. I graduated college in 1999, and my first real adventures happened in 2000. I moved away from home over New Year's weekend. (Yeah, I  know a lot of peeps move when they GO to college, but I LIKED my hometown and never wanted to move away. Alas, bills require jobs, and jobs for an English and History major were scarce there, so off to the city I went.) I spent that first year living at my grandparent's house - which is relevant to this post.

For a "yay you made it through college and are officially adulting" I was lucky enough to receive help to buy a car or go on a trip. 

Fuck cars. I went to Ireland. I was all of twenty-one. 

No FB, no texting, no affordable international cell phone plans. I chuckle at the helicopter parents now who have to hear from their traveling college students regularly: I left Minnesota on a Thursday night, flew from here to Chicago and from Chicago to London. This was my first trip out of the country, and I went alone. I didn't meet my tour group (Contiki Tours, who are still in business and run fabulous tours for 18-35 year-olds) until I got settled in my hotel in London on Friday night. 

I didn't have an opportunity to email or call my parental units 'til Wednesday that week. On that tour, I may or may not have had a fling with the Scottish driver (who was twenty years older than me but OH MY GOD that accent) and made a couple of Australian friends. After all, I was one of three Americans on the tour: everyone else was Aussie or NZ. 

I'm still friends with one of the guys I met from Melbourne, Australia. He visited twice in those first few years, and we had pretty regular contact for a while. To this day, we trade pics of our families and news once or twice a year. 

All of this is relevant, because I STILL suspect he's the culprit. 

2000 was also the year Gladiator came out. I saw it right after I came back from Ireland in May, and fell utterly in love with Russell Crowe. I have no regrets regarding my unrequited devotion. 

So, recall that I was living with my grandparents, and fast forward a couple of months, when a random envelope showed up in the mailbox. 

Note Return Address Area has NONE. 
 So, clearly this wasn't SENT to me. It was left in the mailbox by some weirdo. I don't recognize the handwriting.

Return address. In case I didn't tape it back together well enough, that say NSW (New South Wales) Australia.
NSW Australia is where RC is from.
This is a lot of effort to screw with my brainpan. 


Except YUM.

So, 17 years later I'm cleaning out papers and find this envelope, still never claimed by Cameron or my parents or anyone else. 

But SOMEBODY dropped Russell Crowe in my mailbox, and it wasn't a benevolent mail fairy carrying around an unpostaged Maximus. 

If anyone wants to claim this one, feel free...I still want to know. 

Cameron, I still think it was you colluding with some family member. And I'll miss you terribly when I'm on an other tour in Ireland next May. 

If anyone wants to send Maximus to my house now...hey, I still hold that particular crush right along with Gerard Butler and The Rock.