Tag Archives: building home

the big news

I’m a homeowner!

That’s my excuse for my silence here. Had to get a major goal out of the way. I move into my first home on Monday, where I plan to have a flourishing vegetable garden and a fantastic roommate and an office with a door so I can shut the cats out of it when I want to actually get writing done. (If I’m really smart I’ll also invest in one of those programs that temporary blocks the internet for you.)

Expect more regular posts from me over the spring/summer, especially once the promo for Gabriel’s City gets going.

I hope 2014 is treating you well in all your adventures!


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the new year post

I’ve been on the “meh, New Year’s an overrated holiday” bandwagon for years; I think I was already asleep when 2012 became 2013. But this year I went to a party hosted by some people I count myself very fortunate to have in my life, and joined their traditional celebration. At ten minutes to midnight we put aside all the nerdy card games and genre fiction discussion and everyone got a nice glass of bubbly to toast with (champagne or cider, depending), and then we each took turns saying a few words. People talked about what they’d accomplished in 2013, or what hardships they’d weathered; they talked about what they hoped to see or were working to accomplish in 2014. When each person finished we toasted them. By the time we’d finished the circle, we were in the new year. Just about as simple as ceremonies go, but it did a lot to make the transition feel both celebratory and a serious observance: here you are, in front of the tribe, owning this step in your life and having people honor it.

So that leads into what I want from the new year, I think, in a thematic instead of physical sense: more intention, more ritual, more deliberate action. We are a mythmaking species, which I’ve talked about as a reason that writing stories is important, but it doesn’t have to be only there. We are creatures who make meaning out of the sprawling chaos of the world around us; however we do that, it feeds the soul.

Here’s to the new year. May it be meaningful.

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the closest fantasy

Bear with me, this one is probably going to meander a bit. It does all go together, though, like a tangle of disparate roots sprouting into one intimidating hedge.

The fallow period of the year between Samhain and Yule is always nesting season for me. I fantasize about having a farm; I read a lot of homesteading blogs; I buy more things from the farmer’s market; I write stories where people spend a lot of time hungry, hunting food and preparing and eating it. Sometimes I even knit.

This year the story is a post-apocalyptic piece—a story about a farming community rather than a band of roving warriors, and about the young man who literally falls into the community and his struggles to get his feet under himself. Continue reading

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all roads lead to home

One of the writing projects I’m working on right now is a… well, “post-apocalyptic” is probably the best genre name. It’s set in a low-tech future whose survivors have lost access to oil or petroleum-derived products. So in the name of research, I’m now reading books from peak oil folks who are discussing how they picture such societies working, and where they’re documenting current attempts to live in ways that require less oil (this means a lot of localization, generally—reducing the need for people to transport themselves long distances, and reducing the need for them to import food and goods from all corners of the globe). It’s interesting, and scary, and sometimes a little thrilling, in a wistful sort of way.

Then for pleasure reading I’ve just finished Lifelode, by Jo Walton, which is something I wish more fantasy was; it’s thoughtful and imaginative and doesn’t rely on a formulaic quest saga structure. It’s a story about the nature of time and magic and love and gods and family. And it’s a story about keeping house as a sacred duty, and the fulfillment of doing the work your heart craves, whether or not that work is glamorous. (Mom, I think you’d really like it; I’ll bring my copy when I come out for Thanksgiving.) The scary note drops out there, and I’m just left thinking about shared kitchens and warm light and conversations with good friends, while the cold rain is locked safely outside.

It doesn’t help that it’s (late) autumn, which is always the time of year when my nesting instinct kicks in hard. I dream about having a home where I can grow vegetables, raise chickens, maybe even keep a couple of goats or sheep if I get really lucky with the land. Then I go on landwatch.com and sigh over properties for sale. Right here in King County, where Seattle is located, land is extremely expensive. But one county further north there are parcels with a house and an acre or two that cost less than a falling-down wreck on a postage stamp of concrete in the city. They’re so tempting.

Of course, if I got a house that far out, I would need to buy a car to be able to commute to my heart-of-the-city job, and the commute would eat huge amounts of my time in addition to all of the ongoing costs of car ownership. And if I didn’t have the job, I wouldn’t be able to pay a mortgage.

I suppose if it were easy, I would be doing it already.

I try not to romanticize the country life. I think I often fail. I know it’s hard labor to work the land, but a part of me is just so comforted by the direct cause-and-effect relationship between effort and reward. The ultra-short feedback loop between the work I do and the way it sustains me. I remember the vegetable garden we had when I was tiny, which had a bigger footprint than the house we lived in. I remember pressing bright autumn leaves between sheets of wax paper to hang them in windows. I remember Mom making calendar pages in a big artist’s notebook, using a ruler to make boxes for days along the bottom half and painting flowers from her garden on the top half in watercolors. I remember the one Yule I spent at Cauldron Farm in Massachusetts, the little farmhouse heated by the kitchen stove as the man of the house baked bread in its oven, the fridge with its jugs of milk from the farm’s own goats. I know it’s hard work. But isn’t anything worth doing?

I’m in a better position now than I was a year ago. I need to remind myself of that, when that kind of home seems far away. It feels like no progress, but there’s some money in the bank, and there’s a novel in the pipeline, and if I’m careful and diligent then one of these years I’ll pack up my cats and my kitchen and some friends. And I’ll take the road that’s waiting for me.

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