Poem: The Soldier

- Gerard Manley Hopkins

YES. Why do we áll, seeing of a soldier, bless him? bless
Our redcoats, our tars? Both these being, the greater part,
But frail clay, nay but foul clay. Here it is: the heart,
Since, proud, it calls the calling manly, gives a guess
That, hopes that, makesbelieve, the men must be no less;
It fancies, feigns, deems, dears the artist after his art;
And fain will find as sterling all as all is smart,
And scarlet wear the spirit of wár thére express.

Mark Christ our King. He knows war, served this soldiering through;
He of all can handle a rope best. There he bides in bliss
Now, and séeing somewhére some mán do all that man can do,
For love he leans forth, needs his neck must fall on, kiss,
And cry ‘O Christ-done deed! So God-made-flesh does too:
Were I come o’er again’ cries Christ ‘it should be this’.

Second Sunday after Epiphany

The tree of life my soul hath seen, laden with fruit and always green:
The trees of nature fruitless be, compared with Christ the apple tree.

His beauty doth all things excel: by faith I know but ne'er can tell
The glory which I now can see in Jesus Christ the apple tree.

For happiness I long have sought, and pleasure dearly I have bought;
I missed of all but now I see 'tis found in Christ the apple tree.

I'm weary with my former toil: here I will sit and rest awhile.
Under the shadow I will be of Jesus Christ the apple tree.

His fruit doth make my soul to thrive: it keeps my dying faith alive,
Which makes my soul in haste to be with Jesus Christ the apple tree.
horse of power

fic fragment: Cody experiences his first midwinter service

Don't know if this will actually fit anywhere into Out of the Sweep of the Sea, so I might as well stash it here for the moment. One of the things I forgot to mention when I posted the first chapter of the fic is that this is really a crossover fic, it's just that the series it's crossed with doesn't exactly exist because I've never gotten around to writing it. Maybe someday--sooner rather than later, if this fic goes well. But the impetus behind the crossover aspect of the story was me reading the Star Wars Essential Guide to Warfare and realizing that the way I use magic in City Under Sea actually matches almost exactly with the way the Force is used in the EU, especially in the early history of the GFFA before the more familiar set of technology was developed. None of which shows up in this scene, but music is very important in the City Under Sea society because the way to do "magic" is by attuning youself properly to the resonance of the world around you. Rather akin to the way Jedi spend lots of time meditating....

Nothing could’ve prepared him for this—not the repetitive memory songs drilled into him as a cadet, Major Stacker’s collection of smazzo hits, even the joyous cadences that had accompanied their journey into the city—this is light made audible, this is a wall of sound that strikes him until he resonates with it, until the very air in his lungs shudders as though if he simply opened his mouth it would sing on his behalf. It’s too much—it’s like he’s being unmade, or remade, or removed from himself—and somehow not enough, like drowning on dry ground, like if he could somehow inhale the sound he would be able to breathe again for the first time in his brief life.

He doesn’t realize he’d closed his eyes until he opens them again and finds they’re full of tears. A rough swipe of his hand clears most of it, but when he glances over Wooley is openly weeping; on his other side Kenobi’s face is dry, but he looks cracked-open and yearning, lost. Isolated, somehow, so Cody reaches out just enough to bump his elbow, to remind him that he’s not actually alone. Kenobi’s expression shutters at the touch, but when he turns to Cody it shifts to gratitude and he returns the gesture in a momentary burst of warmth against Cody’s unprotected forearm.

Wooley’s still crying when the music finally ebbs and subsides to something more sustainable, so Cody loops an arm around his neck and pulls him close, like the brothers they are. Here, for a little while, their ranks mean nothing. Wooley comes easily, presses his wet face against Cody’s shoulder as if he’s still a cadet in need of comfort, and they sit like that until the choir starts singing a fairly basic call-and-response that even outlanders like them can join in on after the first few verses—*Long life, good health, and light upon your way*.

Favorite 14th episodes of SPN

Remember: just one!

1.14 Nightmare
2.14 Born Under a Bad Sign
3.14 Long-Distance Call
4.14 Sex and Violence
5.14 My Bloody Valentine
6.14 Mannequin 3: The Reckoning
7.14 Plucky Pennywhistle's Magical Menagerie
8.14 Trial and Error
9.14 Captives
10.14 The Executioner's Song
11.14 The Vessel
12.14 The Raid
13.14 Good Intentions
14.14 Ouroboros

Hands-down, without any question, my favorite 14th episode of SPN is "Plucky Pennywhistle's Magical Menagerie". There's just so much deliciousness going on: the ridiculous deaths, Frank making Dean say stupid phrases to "prove" he's actually Dean, Sam spending most of the episode fighting the urge to scream and run away, Dean trying to help out a young kid and probably emotionally damaging him for the rest of his life ... Good times! :P

That being said, "The Vessel" is a close second, though the tone is completely different--they handle the WW2 stuff with visible respect and care, and it gives what might have otherwise just been a mcguffin hunt some real emotional weight. Not to mention the technical achievement of that submarine interior! (Also, it features some drop-dead gorgeous cinematography.)


a self-portrait of sorts

bed (2).jpg
The thing about working from home is that it's making me realize just how burned out and low-level depressed I've been for a while now. Spent most of yesterday working from bed and feeling like the worst kind of undisciplined blob, even as I slowly filled in boxes on my timesheet. As of 4:30 PM it looked like the day was going to be a near-complete loss.

But it wasn't. Something--I don't know what--sparked enough willpower for me to crawl out of bed and scrub down first the bathroom and then myself before dinner, and that gave me just enough momentum to continue on and tick off all the non-work checkboxes I'd assigned myself for the day. Queuing up this post will finish things up, and I'll be able to go to bed at the desired ~10 PM without anything hanging over my head going into tomorrow.

I suspect the most important lesson I've learned at this point in my life is that it's never too late to start over. Beats staying huddled under the covers all day, at any rate.

it's too dark, turn the sun back on pls

Seriously, if it's going to be this cloudy, at least give us some snow in recompense. Anyhow, you know the drill: episode information is available by clicking on each picture; if you feel like sharing, I'd love to know how many you were able to guess correctly on your own. Or let me know which is your favorite shot, or even favorite episode--I'll be restarting the "favorite X episode" polls later this week, if you've been enjoying those.

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Some writerly navel-gazing

Last month I finished and posted Freestyle and then a bunch of scrapped openings/closings for the fic and then had one of my annual winter blues posts where I said something along the lines of "I was going to write about why it was so hard to write Freestyle, but why bother, no one would read it". Well, violeteyedcat said she'd read it, and I got myself a sun lamp to drive off the winter blues, and so here we are: let's talk about why some stories go through umpteen different iterations before I'm able to find one that works.

Briefly. Because I'm still in winter blues recovery mode, though the lamp is doing wonders.

Now, some stories write themselves. Some stories simply appear on their own in the middle of me trying to do something else entirely. Those are wonderful. They are also rare and I have yet to find any connection between them.

Other stories are amenable to being written: it may be slowish going, but that's my fault, not the story's. When I'm able to get myself to sit down and write, these stories generally unfold themselves in an orderly fashion. We both know where we're going and roughly how to get there, and aside from a few tweaks here and there, not much revision is needed. It's a little easier to see what goes into making this sort of story happen: a) I have a handle on the POV's character voice. b) I've thought through the story and settling thoroughly enough that I'm not having to come up with answers to questions every other sentence. c) The scope of the story and the thematic core are pretty well established, so that I have a pretty good sense of what's needed where in order to make things work.

A good example of this kind of story is last summer's Respite. Yes, it took me a couple of years to write the thing from start to finish, but that's because I got completely sidetracked in the middle by the big MoL AU. It wasn't the story's fault, I just ... stopped writing it. Once I signed up for the gencestbang and had a commitment and timeline, I was able to bang the thing out in relatively short order. Finished a little closer to the deadline than I would've like, but it wasn't a scramble.

Freestyle, on the other hand, was a complete mess, because I didn't know what story I was trying to tell. It drifted through multiple POVs before I finally settled on John's; it went through different narrative styles, different tones, different themes, and was generally akin to picking up Jello with a dessert fork. And that's largely due to how it started: not with a complete story that I wanted to tell, but with the question/prompt: how did Sam and Dean learn swim in the MoL universe? They're both competent enough to rescue Lucas in the Evil that Walks Invisible version of "Dead in the Water", so they must have learned somehow, but they grew up in the middle of nothing but cornfields and the occasional shallow cow pond.

And in the end, that really is what the story wound up being about: John deciding he'd better teach his kids just in case, and how they react differently to that instruction--and then the reminder that John has no interest in it being more than emergency training, same as teaching them CPR or how to exorcise a demon. But it took me a heck of a long time to settle in on that, because I kept thinking it needed to be about something bigger, like John's ongoing frustration with the MoL and how they curtailed his search for Mary's killer even while giving him the resources needed to hunt the thing down. Or maybe the crushing of Dean's spirit into the good little yes man that we meet at the beginning of ETWI. Or John placing unreasonable expectations on his sons--etc.

In the end, what allowed me to finally write the dang thing was reaching the understanding that it didn't need to be anything more than a little vignette of MoL John teaching his sons to swim. Don't ask me why it took so long and so many extra words to get to that obvious conclusion--I just over-complicate things sometimes, I guess.

TL;DR - Light therapy lamps are amazing, you should totally buy one if you can't get yourself to do stuff during winter.

Poem: To R.B.

- Gerard Manley Hopkins

THE FINE delight that fathers thought; the strong
Spur, live and lancing like the blowpipe flame,
Breathes once and, quenchèd faster than it came,
Leaves yet the mind a mother of immortal song.
Nine months she then, nay years, nine years she long
Within her wears, bears, cares and moulds the same:
The widow of an insight lost she lives, with aim
Now known and hand at work now never wrong.
Sweet fire the sire of muse, my soul needs this;
I want the one rapture of an inspiration.
O then if in my lagging lines you miss
The roll, the rise, the carol, the creation,
My winter world, that scarcely breathes that bliss
Now, yields you, with some sighs, our explanation.

First Sunday after Epiphany

Omnes de Saba venient aurum et thus deferentes et laudem annuntiantes Domini.
Surge et illuminare Jerusalem Quia Gloria Domini super te orta est, gloria Domini

All they from Saba shall come, bringing gold and frankincense: and shewing forth praise to the Lord.
Arise, be enlightened, O Jerusalem: for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee.