Timber, honey boards
Beneath my body, stretched
Out in dappled sun.
Seeping blood, star leaves.
Young contrast against the sky,
Translucent in light.
Hello everyone 🙂 It’s a bit late, I know, but I thought it would be good to write something for book week this year. This year the book week theme was “Dreaming with eyes open” which got me thinking about how daydreams can present a varying array of thoughts and ideas- good, bad, confusing, and everything in between. Instead of allowing myself to use as many words as I pleased, I set a limit of only 400 words; an extremely inconvenient amount when trying to put together a compelling story. That’s why this piece of writing may seem a bit on the rushed side. Enjoy!
Falling- A 400 word story
My eyes sting.
They sting like burning coals on bare arms and sanitiser on fresh cuts.
My frozen-with-long-exposure-to-freezing-wind hands sting too, but not as much as my eyes.
“Oh dear me.”
A voice from next to me drawles,
“It looks as though we’ve had a spot of bad weather, doesn’t it Miranda?”
I’m standing, rigid, atop TinderVall tower, one of Queen Thyra of Eversovern’s many purposeless but stunningly designed structures.
Why am I standing atop a building so high and isolated?
A short while ago, Queen Thyra decided that guards would need to be set to patrol the skies from enemies after she had lost her husband in an unpredicted air attack from neighbouring kingdoms.
What happened was still fresh in the kingdom’s hearts.
Thats where people like me come in, those who are gifted because of their long-ago relatives.
Relatives who were fairies.
Faeries who passed down wings that look like miniature ones that belong on the backs of angels and gave us the title “Hawksegals.”
But Hawksegals must be trained by mentors- mine being a Hanamunan called Mr Nightingale.
Hanamunans are animals with human traits; they walk upright, talk and lead quite civilised lives.
Mr Nightingale in particular is a fox whose tweed suits are immaculately tailored to fit his nimble body and holds a brass cane with great sophistication.
Mr Nightingale dips his brow, poised as ever.
“Miss Miranda, when I say jump, jump. Alright? Let’s get this over with quickly.”
I forget to blink in consfusion, adding to the pain in my eyes.
“Sorry? You know I haven’t been able to fly before.”
He taps his cane against the roof tiling and looks down his pointed nose.
“I do. That is why you must hope with every fibre of your being that the snow below us will break your fall.”
When Mr Nightingale says you must do something, an unexplainable force makes you abide by his words.
He says, so wicked yet innocent.
“Remember that flying is a journey,”
His amber eyes dig into me.
“And that falling is inevitable at times. Well then, cheerio, off you go.”
Mr Nightingale grips his cane.
“Hold on a second, sir! You can’t actually be seri-“
A sharp prod in my back and my feet stumble.
A mangled scream chokes on fear and I plummet
Falling through the air.
Pickling daikon may take a couple of days but I promise it’s worth the wait. You’ll be amazed at how much umami and saltiness this Japanese vegetable can absorb. Plus, it makes a wonderful side to a steaming bowl of white rice!
Whenever I make pickles, I know they’ll go quickly because my husband Ben is a pickle addict. Asking him to wait at least two days before he can dump a pile of pickled daikon onto his bowl of rice is like asking ice cream lovers to wait until summer to enjoy this sweet treat.
Because it’s so hard to keep a jar of pickles intact in my kitchen, I can tell you this pickled daikon radish can technically be enjoyed after just 3 hours of sitting in the refrigerator. However, the flavor won’t be nearly as good so if you can wait for a little longer, do so.
When it’s ready, pour yourself a glass of cold sake and take a bite. Holy molly, garlicky but oh so yummy!! Spicy garlic meets savory in these umami-filled daikon radish bites, with a touch of sweetness that hits at the very end. The taste lingers in your mouth and though it is quite strong, it is also very satisfying.
What Is Daikon?
Daikon is a Japanese radish that is long, white, and has a crunchy texture. It’s unique from many other root vegetables because of its specific flavour profile being super sweet and peppery. You can find them at your local Asian grocery store. Japanese daikon radish can often be found in salads, soups, and other Japanese dishes.
Ingredients For Pickled Daikon
Daikon: Make sure you peel the outside part of the daikon well otherwise you may end up with very crunchy and bitter exterior. One easy way to find out how far to peel the daikon skin is to cut one end and look at the inside. You should see an outer ring that’s a bit whiter than the inside, which can sometimes be quite thick – that’s the part you want to peel.
Soy sauce: Regular Japanese soy sauce such as Kikkoman or Yamasa. Japanese soy sauces are more complex in flavor which is why I’m being specific.
Light soy sauce: I’m using a little light soy sauce because of its saltier taste. But it’s not absolutely necessary to use it. If you only have regular soy sauce available, please go ahead and use that.
Rice wine vinegar: Plain rice vinegar or apple cider vinegar can also be used.
Mirin: A little mirin to add some sweetness.
Garlic: One crushed raw garlic clove adds a little sweetness and spiciness.
Water: Some cold water to dilute the flavors and bring a nice balance.
Additional Ingredients To Explore With
There are more than several ways to make pickling liquid depending on what you want your desired outcome to be. For these specific pickles you can:
Add red chili to add heat.
Add gochugaru (Korean chili pepper flakes) to add smokiness and heat. If you love a good Korean side dish, banchan style, I suggest adding 1 tablespoon of gochugaru.
Swap the rice vinegar for white vinegar for a more tart flavor.
Add white sugar to sweeten the pickles.
Kosher salt or table salt for a saltier taste.
You can also use other vegetables such as carrots, celery, zucchini, bell peppers, or regular radish, for this recipe. The pickle brine works well for just about everything!
How To Pickle Daikon
Start by prepping your ingredients.
Gather all of your kitchen tools and ingredients.
Mix all the ingredients for the pickling liquid in a bowl and stir well.
Put the daikon slices in a large storage bag and add the pickling liquid.
Gently move the liquid around so it coats all daikon pieces and let the air out of the storage bag before sealing it shut.
Refrigerate for at least 2 days and up to 1 week for a stronger taste.
These pickled daikon radishes pair well with a variety of side dishes and are also really delicious with Japanese fried rice (yakimeshi), as a condiment for banh mi sandwiches, or as a topping for bibimbap.
“Lucy! Lucy, where are you?”
I saunter through the hallway of my house, glancing into each room as I pass by.
My converse squeak against the honeyed timber boards, their all star symbols peaking out from the inner sides of my shoes.
Photos stuck to the walls smile down at me.
The light spring breeze winds around my arms like the long gloves that ladies wear in old movies.
The sun glows shyly outside, lighting up the windows.
“Where are you, Lucy Duck?”
I call, poised for a grunt or a rumbling squawk.
Most people in my class at school have dogs or cats or little yellow canaries that can speak.
But not me.
I have Lucy.
Lucy is a duck.
A duck whom I can’t find at the moment.
I think back to the events of the day.
Ian, my little brother, had gotten annoyed at Lucy’s duck-ish sounds that she makes when she’s happy.
She loves spring weather- it makes her excitable.
Ian had gotten fired up and started rambling threats of eating Lucy one day.
Fancy eating someone as cute as Lucy!
I turn right sharply and go into my room.
I smack down onto my bed.
A thick layer of blankets and pillows envelope me.
Ian us being far more quiet than normal, and Lucy is nowhere to be found.
Mum and dad are out for lunch with their friends.
It’s oddly quiet.
Well, apart from the some slight sounds of drawers opening and shutting and spoons clanking from the kitchen.
The noises are coming from the kitchen.
I think back to what Ian had said earlier.
“I’ll eat that blasted duck one day! Just you see!”
A thought starts to form in my head.
It fits together, makes perfect sense.
Which is a bad thing.
I shout and jump up.
I skid out of my room, banging my side on the doorframe.
My heart thuds violently, threatening to to escape from my chest.
My shoes scream against the floorboards as I whirl around a corner and stand upright but panting in the door of the kitchen.
My eyes are thunderous, peering around the room excpectantly.
Ian is standing in front of the oven with heat mittens on, looking stunned.
A guilty tinge marks his face, hiding from underneath an “all good” expression.
He says, happily enough.
I look around frantically before my gaze settles on Ian.
He leans slightly against the closed oven door.
“What are you doing?”
His smile falters slightly.
“Nothing really, just cooking lunch.”
Give, and it shall be given to you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom…
It is a law of vast extent and wonderful exactness. The world is far more orderly than we believe; a deeper and a truer justice runs through it than we imagine. We all go about calling ourselves victims, discoursing on the cruel world, and wondering that it should treat us so, when really we are only meeting the rebound of our own lives. What we have been to things about us has made it necessary that they should be this to us. As we have given ourselves to them, so they have given themselves to us.
1. Even with man’s relations to the material earth the law is true.
What different things she is to all of us, this earth we live in I Why is it that one man laughs at another’s view about the earth, and thinks him mad because of some strange value that he places on it? Three men stand in the same field and look around them: and then they all cry out together. One of them exclaims, How rich! another cries, How strange! another cries, How beautiful! and then the three divide the field between them, and they build their houses there; and in a year you come back and see what answer the same earth has made to each of her three questioners. They have all talked with the ground on which they lived, and heard its answers. They have all held out their several hands, and the same ground has put its own gift into each of them. What have they got to show you? One cries, “Come here and see my barn”; another cries, “Come here and see my museum”; the other says, “Let me read you my poem.” That is a picture of the way in which a generation or the race takes the great earth and makes it different things to all its children. With what measure we mete to it, it measures to us again.
2. The same law holds good with regard to our relations to the world of men. What does it mean, that one man cannot go among any kind of men, however base and low, without getting happiness and good; while another man cannot go into the midst of the noblest and sweetest company without bringing out misery and despair and sin? Here are Jesus and Judas: both go and give themselves to the Pharisees; both stand in the Pharisees’ presence and hear what they have to say. To Jesus these Pharisees give back in return every day a deeper consciousness of His own wondrous nature, a devouter consecration to His Father, and a more earnest pity for them. To Judas they give only blacker dreams of treason, a falser disregard of friendship and loyalty and honour. Take two boys in a class at college; two clerks in a shop in town. It is not good when either of them is made cynical, and sneers at the possibility of virtue because of the vice which he has felt in its contamination at his side. The true soul, with a character of its own, will learn the possibility of being good from his own consciousness, all the more strongly because of the vice that touches him. No soul, bad in itself, can really learn the possibility of goodness by mere sight and touch even of a world of saints, and no soul really good can lose the noble consciousness that man was made for goodness, even though all the world but him is steeped in wickedness, nay, in subtle ways he will feed that consciousness there.
3. The same law applies to the truths which men believe, or the causes for which they labour. Generous or stingy, large-idead or small-idead, appreciative or unappreciative of other occupations than your own; these things you will be, not invariably according to the kind of trade you are engaged in, but distinctively according to the kind of manhood which you put into your trade. And so with creeds. A creed must fill a man’s character before it really takes possession of his mind, as the ocean has to fill a vessel with its water before it can swallow it up into its depth. You cannot finally judge men by their creeds. A man may hold the most spiritual doctrine, and be carnal and mercenary; a man may hold the broadest truth, and be a bigot; and, on the other hand, all our religious history bears witness that a man may hold hard crude, narrow doctrine, and yet gather out of his belief in it rich, warm, sweet holiness which men and God must love.
4. I turn to one more illustration of the working of our law — the highest, the completest of them all. It is the gift of oneself to Jesus. There are different measures in which men give themselves to Christ, and Christ despises none of them; but in different measures He again is compelled to give Himself back to them. See how they come! One man approaches the Divine Redeemer asking no Divine redemption, but touched and fascinated by the beauty of that perfect life. He would feed his wonder, he would cultivate his taste, upon it. To him Jesus gives what he asks, and with delighted wonder and with cultivated taste the satisfied asker goes away. It is as if a man painted a mountain for its picturesqueness, and carried off his picture in delight, never dreaming that he left behind him in the mountain’s bosom treasures of gold which only waited for his hand to gather them. Another man comes to Jesus with a self that is all alive with curiosity. He takes Christ’s revelations — for Christ does not refuse him either — and goes away content to know much of God and man, and what there is beyond this world. Another man comes to Jesus with a self all trembling with fear, all eager for safety, and Jesus satisfies him; He lets him know that even the humblest, and most ignorant, and least aspiring soul, which repents of and forsakes its sin, and seeks forgiveness, shall not be lost. Each gets from Jesus that which the nature which he brings can take. With what measure each gives himself to the Saviour, the Saviour gives Himself in His salvation back to each. Only when at last there comes a man with his self all open, with door behind door, back into the most secret chambers, all unclosed, ready to give himself entirely, wanting everything, ready to take everything that Jesus has to give, wanting and ready to take the whole of Jesus into the whole of himself, only then are the last gates withdrawn; and as when the ocean gathers itself up and enters with its tide the open mouth of the river, like a conqueror riding into a surrendered town, so does the Lord in all His richness, with His perfect standards, His mighty motives, His infinite hopes, give Himself to the soul which has been utterly given to Him. It is not enough that Christ should stand ready to give us His blessings. He must give us the nature to which those blessings can be given. What we want of Him is not merely His gifts; it is ourselves; He must give us them first. To them only can He give Himself, which is His perfect gift. Not merely with outstretched hands but with open hearts we must stand before Him. We must pray not merely that the kingdom of heaven may come, but that we may be born again, so that we may see it.
Handmade by Sofia
Footfalls muffled by numbing snow,
Boots peeking out amidst sinking plains.
Gloves held tight,
Between frozen palms,
Keeping heat from escaping her arms.
Coat tangled up
In little marching legs.
Scarf wrapped tightly,
Hat upon her head.
Against the bitter frost.
“Where am I winter?
I think I’m lost.”
Handmade by Sofia