Friday, January 29, 2010

A pie for Rupold

(Late, as always, but here's the sequel to my previous Sunday Scribbling, The New Leaf).

The shimmering dust slipped out between her claws like a tiny, sunlit waterfall.
- Yes, Adalee said.
When Cander’s eyes widened, she added: - Yes, it’s true. It’s a diamond crust.
Cander recovered quickly.
- Goodness, she said, leaning closer while she twirled her whiskers between rapid, bony fingers. – I’ve never heard of a pie coated with diamonds before. Won’t it hurt your belly?
- They’re not real diamonds, silly, they’re ground up diamond apple seeds.
- Still pretty, though.
Adalee carefully covered the last of the pastry with the sparkling powder and wiped her paws on her apron.
- Anyway, it’s not for sale.
- Oh, Cander said, then fell silent. Adalee picked up a thin brush, dipped it silvermelt and commenced painting the stem of the crowning cherries. A muted wave of laughter seeped in through the door to the common room. There was quite a crowd every evening these days. Maybe people needed to talk to make sense of things. They even had a name for the horrid little alarms leaves now. Snitcher vine. Cute.
- That’s a shame. I bet it’s worth a fortune. I think it’s the most beautiful thing you’ve ever made, Cander said at last. Adalee fixed the cherries to the top of the pie with a spot of burnished caramel and stepped back. It was, at that. A perfect, pale crust with just the right golden blush at the edges. Sweet and tart fruit within. And around the plump, blood red cherries, a cover of diamond grains sparkling demurely like fresh, cold snow. Pretty? Pretty was not the right word. The pie looked like a star plucked out of the night sky.
- I bet Odar will want you to make more, then. Yesterday, he had to kick out a nasty piracat who threw a fit when there wasn’t any diamond apple pie. Said he’d come all the way from Broken and wouldn’t leave without. Odar wouldn’t have it and fetched his great mallet. But I bet he’ll want you to make more.
- There won’t be any more diamond apple pies. Not after this one.
- But Adalee…
- I only had the one apple.
And how she wished never had turned back to pick it up. It was only one apple, forgotten in the middle of the path in the middle of the skirmish, not worth risking her life for. But it seemed such a waste. She didn’t know that there was an opening in the fence right there, nor that the moonlight was bright enough to see across the yard. Adalee eased the pie onto a delicate silver plate. Odar’s finest. He would be furious when he heard she’d taken it, but that didn’t matter much.
- I’m going out, she said and untied her apron. She felt Cander’s eyes on her back as she stepped through the kitchen door and out into the crisp autumn dark.
The streets were empty as she snuck toward the huge, overgrown fence that separated the Freeground from the Farm. Only one apple, only one pie, and only one looter headed for the Jewel Gardens, for the house on the hill and the barn behind it, and the lonely, scruffy shape nailed to its wall.
- Yes, she whispered softly, as if speaking to the softly gleaming masterpiece. – That’s the word they’re all dying to hear, isn’t it. Is it true, is it true, did you really see it, is your heart broken now? Well. Never mind them. But you did ask me if I would save you some pie if you saved me first, Rupold.
She covered the pie with a piece of dark cloth and bent down to slip through a hole in the fence.
- And I think we both know the answer to that.

What it takes to make a girl happy

A window seat at Påfyll.

Mittens, because the temperature just dropped to -10 again. Not that I like being very cold, but the snow is fresh and clean after this morning's flake parade, and on my way there it creaked under my boots. I love that sound.

Caramel latte from Påfyll, not in a take away cup, and chocolate fudge cake, all for a mere 18 kroner since I had a full bonus card.

No one to talk to, except a fantasy novel (Fall of Thanes by Brian Ruckley, which so far is okay, except for the occational wordage).

The chickadee bookmark Lin gave me.

An hour all to myself.

The cutest boys in the universe waiting at home.

And just then, it went from simple things, to a tall order.

On my way home, I stopped by a bookstore and got two new board books for Magnus. We've added a short story time to our evening routine. He has no idea what I'm saying, of course, but he seems to enjoy the cadence of my reading voice.

Then I went to Food Story for some free tasting in their little deli (white raspberry chocolate, spicy nuts, some excellent cheddar, Italian sausage, and chocolate covered coffee beans today), and to pick up some Kusmi chai tea - possibly the nicest tea in the world. And I'm having a cup right now.

So: happy.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Five month padawan

Magnus is five months old today, and the midi-chlorian count is off the charts. This past few weeks he has added the following to his repertoire:

1. Bedtime! He now goes to bed at 19.45, and with a comforting parent hand on his chest and a lullaby or two, he is out by eight o'clock most nights. He wakes up only once during the night to nurse and then sleeps until eight in the morning. I suddenly feel human again.

2. Gulping down a whole portion of corn porridge in the evening. He loves it and tries to swallow the entire spoon when we're too slow with the serving.

3. Sorting his statements into vowels and consonants. It's either aoaoaoae or bptrrpt.

4. Sitting and standing. I try to limit it, but he wants to come up, up, up!

5. Screaming with laughter, or glee, or just to drive Pims crazy. She thinks he's in pain and comes running full of anguish and worry. - The baby, she says, and looks into the bassinet with gigantic eyes. - I think he's in trouble! - Nah. He's just practising his dinosaur act.

6. Ski jumping in Holmenkollen, but no telemark landing as of yet.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The jury is back

After all your kind input on the matter of Sølverdal v. Sølveros, I've decided that the name should be:


Short and simple, and in the spirit of Coco Chanel (who otherwise has nothing to do with my world, I promise). I decided Sølver had momentum enough on its own. It doesn't translate elegantly into English, perhaps, but I'll cross that bridge when I get to it.

And then everything flows effortlessly. The valley becomes Sølverdal, the town becomes Sølveros, and the river becomes Sølverelv. The latter is slightly unconventional, since a valley is usually named after the river that runs through it (as in Surna - Surnadal), but that's fine with me.

So Sølver it is, the realm of moonlit frost.

On an entirely different note: the photo is, as usual, by Lin, who is just getting better and better and better at this. Thank you for letting me use your art on my blog, sis.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Confessions of a nerdy mom

Here are some of the things I find myself saying to Magnus every day. Nerdy points if you catch the reference.

1. Magnus. I am your mother.

2. And I thought this smelled bad on the outside. (Usually when changing diapers).

3. What say you, young Atreju?

4. It is by will alone I set my b%%% in motion. (Usually when Magnus wakes up twenty minutes after I've gone to bed)

5. You're a daikini baby!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

The new leaf


The diamond apple dangled at the very tip of the branch, spikes glinting dangerously along its hard edges. Rupold plucked it unceremoniously and bit into it without so much as looking.
- Told you they’d be ripe, he grinned.
Adalee sqinted up at him from the bottom of the ladder and hissed.
- Rupold of Rodentree, it’s a marvel you’ve still got teeth and gums, she whispered.
- Well, said Rupold, licking his cleft lips to savour the clear sweetness of the fruit, - I could take it home and peel it first. And I could mash it and bake it into a pie, to make absolutely sure there were no splinters left…ouch!
He spat out a broken spike, along with tiny droplets of blood that looked inky in the moonlight, and smiled sheepishly.
- But where’s the fun in that?
- Fun? There’s really nothing funny about diamond apples, nor about sneaking into the house gardens. If the Farmer catches us here, we’re done for. He’ll have our hides for sure. I don’t know how I keep letting you talk me into this.
- Oh, come on. People travel from all over Apfeld to taste your diamond apple pie, and you love it. If it weren’t for these little expeditions, you wouldn’t be famous, and Odar would probably never have hired you, neither. You’d just be a village cook, serving up stew to smugglers and piracats. So just hand me that basket and wait prettily, lady fair.
- Just keep your voice down, said Adalee, but she did as she was told and kept quiet as Rupold picked the sharp fruit into the padded wicker basket. He was right, after all. Diamond apple pie was her specialty, her most secret and wonderful recipe, and her life would not be the same without it. If this was the only way to acquire the main ingredient, so be it. Besides, all food in all of Apfeld came with a certain risk. It must be stolen out of the Farmer’s fields and gardens and orchards, where the Farmer could show up with His deadly wooden club anytime. She just wished she could stay away from His most prized crop, was all.
She cast a glance behind her, at the great main house looming on the hill. It was dark except for the fluorescent light above the main entrance, but that meant nothing. He might be there even so, watching His gardens from behind the curtains, ready to chase after them in a heart beat.
- Hurry, she whispered, clutching the ladder as hard as she could.
- Yeah, yeah, I’ll just get a couple more, and then…Hey, what’s this?
There was a small flash among the branches, and Rupold fell suddenly silent. Adalee craned her neck to see what he was up to, but he wasn’t moving.
- What’s going on, she breathed, heart racing, but Rupold didn’t answer. She cast about, whiskers shaking, pricking her ears. And then she heard them. Footsteps, fast ones, on the hill.
Rupold came flying out of the tree, hitting the ground hard. The wicker basket rolled off to one side and spilled a few of the glimmering apples, and without thinking she bent down to retrieve the precious loot. But Rupold yanked hard at her scruff, pulling her to her feet.
- Flee, he all but wailed in her ear, and then he darted off wildly between the trees. Adalee followed as soon as she could get her feet to obey. They felt like cold water coursed through them, weak and unstable, but she managed to stay on Rupold’s tail while they crashed and stumbled through the dark gardens as if their fur were on fire.
Something followed with thunderous steps that kept coming closer, no matter how many short cuts Rupold knew between the rows of fruit trees. The Farmer was fast, she knew, but He wasn’t supposed to able to outrun two petlings, not when they weren’t hampered by loot. But somehow He was gaining on them anyway. Any second now, He would catch them, would strike them from behind, and then that would be it. He would skin them and hang their hide on the barn to make an example, just like He did with that poor caravan knave last year. She ran for her life, breath aching in her throat and tears blurring her vision.
- Here, Rupold suddenly hissed, and dove underneath the skirt of one of the many hedges that ran through the grounds. She threw herself to the ground and tumbled after him into a shallow pit beneath the branches, just in time. Something raced past them in the lane, just inches from her snout. Her eyes bulged as she watched its claws flash by right in front of her, and she had to bite her paw to keep still.
- What was that, she whimpered when the footsteps had faded into the distance. - Rupold, those claws were metal!
- I don’t know, Rupold said, - But it came when I touched this.
He opened his clutched hand. A small silver leaf with serrated edges lay in his palm, visible in the darkness of the brambles because of minute blinking lights that ran across its surface, chasing each other in jerky, random patterns.
Adalee swallowed.
- Is it real? It doesn’t look…right, she said and leaned forward to sniff it. One of her whiskers touched its surface, and it gave a red flash. Somewhere in the distance there was a horrible sound, like a howl turned into a siren.
- Adalee, Rupold croaked, and it made Adalee's fur stand on end to hear his voice so laced with fear. - I think the Farmer has a new dog.

(This is my third Sunday Scribblings entry. Apologies for the length of the text.)

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Fox in the snow

It is so very bitterly cold outside! Absolutely all of Norway is covered in snow, and last night the temperature dropped to minus 20 degrees celsius in Oslo. Magnus and I are besieged in the apartment, keeping the cold at bay with the woodstove and the fireplace and electrical ovens and candles, and two very drowsy cats.

Yesterday we watched a movie together, Le renard and l'enfant, about a girl and the fox she befriends. It was beautiful and blissfully un-disneyfied, and I quite liked it. But Pims! She loved it! She sat in front of the tv, staring intently with her ears perked up for hours.

Now, if I believed in reincarnation, I'd say she had been a fox in a previous life, a very cold fox struggling to survive in the snow and chill, as I'm sure all foxes in the northern hemisphere are doing this very moment, and I hope they make it. But not all do. Perhaps she didn't. Perhaps she had been so brave that she was reborn as an indoor cat with heaps of snacks and food at the ready and nothing to do all winter but toast her paws in front of the woodstove.

And yet, when the forest and the birdsong and the mountains suddenly interrupted her nap, she could not help but long for them, and the sting of frost in her chest as she leapt between branches and chased across fields, and the freedom she once had. Yes, that's what I'd say. If I believed in reincarnation.

Friday, January 1, 2010

The Emperor of Mondays

A little phrase that Laini coined on her blog, ever so casually, as if unaware that she was writing music. But it's true. Mondays are wonderful if you live to write and write to live, fresh and clean and full of chapters in the making. And New Years is even fresher, cleaner and fuller, The Emperor of Mondays, as it were. What do you say we spend it speaking first words and finishing first endings? Have a happy one!