Pythian Games

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Archive for the ‘Manhole Covers’ Category

The Portal In My Front Yard- Pt. II

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The Portal In My Front Yard- Pt. II

 

As we sat over dinner, the conversation fell to everyday things; when to hunt, was the stream drying up, would the harvest hold them through the winter.  It was after this that the Shaman rose and motioned me to follow him along a rough, dim passageway deeper into the mountain.

 

We passed lovely cave paintings, deer rendered with consummate grace, the wolfdogs were chasing a herd of shaggy buffalo closer to hunters, whose every line was taut with waiting.

 

A group of women bent to the harvest with love and gratitude to the Great Mother.  A startlingly real lion snarled from a shadow, so alive I had to pause and admire it further.

 

“Oh this is beautifully rendered!!”  I couldn’t help but follow the lines with a wondering fingertip.

 

There were small bowls, painstakingly chipped and rubbed smooth from stone, each with a different earth-toned paint in them.  I dipped a fingertip in one and drew the eyes of an owl, and then I added the beak, the sleek form of a perched owl, and a sturdy branch for him to perch on.

 

“Yes, your ancestress painted some of these, and her mothers before her.  I see you know of your Spirit Guides.”

 

“Yes, Owl came to me when I was born.”

 

“Come with me, I have much to show you before morning.  Your familiars have caught up with us, and now they will not get lost.”

 

I followed him to a small room carved into the stone, just large enough for the two of us to sit cross-legged on the floor with a tiny fire between us.  Pye and Skye each claimed a portion of my lap and settled for a snooze.

 

He began to hum, forcing the air to resonate on his sinuses, I joined in; when my cats felt my humming they began to purr to the rhythm of the Shaman.

 

I could feel myself slipping into a light trance and I let it happen; the Shaman spoke without words: “For you to continue, you must know how your kind came to be.”

 

I began to see images, slowly focussing and growing closer.  I was on a lovely, large tropical island, and there were two distinct forms of humanoids, there were the cavemen-type, standing straight and proud.

 

 I was closer to the second kind, tall, smooth skinned, and clothed in flowers, grey-blue tattoos and a woven skirt in the shades of a tropical sunset.  I wore necklaces, bracelets and anklets made of shells and coral, with pearls scattered amongst them.  As I moved through the throngs of people the shells clinked together making a quiet tune to my movements.  

 

We were on the shore, where enormous canoes of tree trunks, woven lashings and tar rode the waves with comfortable grace.  They were decorated with garlands of flowers, woven so closely together that the petals of one blossom crowded the next.  Their sails were painted with sigils of protection and signs of peace large enough to be seen from a great distance.

 

I was handed into the largest canoe, with a mixed crew of the cavemen types sitting on either side of me.  A great portion of the canoe was taken up by foodstuffs, both for the coming journey and as gifts for the people where we going to. There were living animals tethered in another canoe, and a third was heavy with the handiwork of the people.

 

Carvings, painted wooden plaques, shell and stone jewellery were neatly stacked along with woven platters, bowls and colourful screens.  Piles of brightly dyed, soft, woven cloth painted rainbows in the belly of another canoe.  There were some bowls, cups and mortars with pestles smoothed from stone in yet another canoe. 

 

The journey was begun; the crew and I sang songs to the stars as we rowed across an ocean of impossibly blue depths, and lazy swells were pushing us toward our goal.  More often than not, the wind was in our favour and we could hoist sail and tend the canoes themselves.

 

Gradually the weather became rougher, and the water coldly green; we passed a headland and breathed a sigh of relief for we knew the most dangerous part of our journey had been passed.  The skies cleared and the water changed again, now a lovely deep green, warm and beckoning.

 

Soon a smudge appeared on the horizon, after three days of rowing we could see the island, surrounded by an almost impenetrable brackish marsh.  We were met by one of the tall, smooth-skinned humanoids, a handsome, passionate man commanding a seemingly gigantic craft of his own.  The sturdy wooden sides were carved and painted with complex symbols and the Matrons of the ship were carved, painted and set onto the prow of every ship.

 

He and I spoke at some length, about the time being short and this would be the last chance for ‘them’ to stay.  Those that had come to love the cavemen and their world as I had, didn’t want to leave this world and travel to one we did not know, not even though we had been assured that we would be welcomed.

 

He agreed, and said that he would gather those that did not want to leave, and they would follow us to the island I called ‘home’.  Within two days there was a fleet of some dozen boats, all dwarfing my beloved flotilla of canoes.  At last the man that I had spoken with reappeared, with the final two craft.

 

We spoke again in length, and at last agreed that if the commanders and crew of the other vessels took some of the natives of ‘my’ island to wife or husband, their acceptance would come more easily to his people, by my people.

 

I agreed, and the men of his people asked how they would need to take my people to wife; I explained that they would need to pay a bride-price to her family and then ‘steal’ her in a ritual that culminated with their wedding feast.

 

The women asked how they could tell a man of my people that they desired to be taken as his bride.  I explained about how a bride’s value was determined by what she could bring into the marriage.  A woman showed a man the many things she could bring to the marriage, all of them made by her hand.  She showed these to the man she desired, and then, if he desired her, he would speak to her family about the bride-price.

 

Most women’s’ bride-prices were in goods, servants, and property; a very, very few were valuable enough to merit not only the usual price, but an additional price to be paid to the bride herself in precious stones, metals, and such.

 

I watched happily through the return journey as my men took the other women to wife, and the women of my people promised to show their goods to one man or another of the shining ones.  Soon, the crews were no longer separate peoples, but one crew spanning many vessels.

 

Through all of this I desired the commander of the fleet I led to my home, the first man that had met us at his island.  I did not offer to show him my goods, for I was sure he desired another woman, one both lovelier and younger than I.

 

Each day I expected to be asked to arbitrate their marriage, which I would do gladly for the love of them and of our people.  We were counting the days until we would see my home shining in the sweet seas; the shining ones had nearly ceased to think of themselves as different, and were gradually becoming native in their lifestyle and values.

 

The first time a shining one was swimming and was greeted joyously by a dolphin was perhaps my happiest day.  It was the first time I had seen wonder on an shining one’s face, and the joy on all of their faces as an enormous pod, almost 200 strong, of dolphins led our fleet across the blue waters, were like a heady drug for me and I stood in my canoe, singing to the dolphins in the natives’ language.  The dolphins’ easy acceptance of the shining ones augured well for the success of this journey.

 

My home was a cloud on the horizon when we saw the flames of the shining ones’ people that were returning home, their airships rose impossibly high and then joined the stars in the heavens.  Everyone sang a song of farewell as the airships disappeared.

 

After this we were impatient to reach our home and feel solid ground beneath our feet again.    The crew was impatient, and redoubled their efforts to gain the shore soon.  As I sat in my canoe, and read the skies for direction the commander of the fleet sidled his personal vessel close to mine and bade me join him in his quarters.

 

After I had boarded his vessel, and greeted many of the crew, we wthdrew to his quarters; he bade me sit upon his hammock and he sat beside me.  He started speaking slowly, with a few false starts;  “I hope this will not offend you…” He ran shaking fingers through his hair.

 

“I have been watching you through this voyage, and now I must ask this of you.  Would you tell me your bride-price, that I may win you as my own.”

 

He opened a small, ornate chest and held a handful of shimmering golden chains, bracelets and suchlike out to me.  “This I will pay to you, and everything I have I will offer to your family when we have arrived home.”

 

My heart sang so that I could not speak for a moment, and I had to swallow many times before I could force any words out.  “I am shocked, I had long ago expected you to ask for someone else.”

 

“Am I not offering enough?”  He sounded genuinely hurt.

 

“It is not that.  I have no bride-price, for I have no family to ask it of.  I have been an orphan since I was born, and was raised by everyone.”  I covered my face to hide my shame.

 

“I knew your sire, he was the first of us to take a native to wife.  He was driven out of the shining ones’ for this, and sought shelter among the natives.”  He lifted my face and smiled.  “Among shining ones, your bride-price would be one of the highest, for your father was founder of both the shining ones’ island and your island.  I only dared ask your bride price because my father also founded the shining ones’ island.”

 

“I will be honoured to show you my goods when we reach Lemuria.”  I kissed both of his cheeks and smiled back at him.  We returned to the deck and as soon as the crew saw the chain around my neck they began shouting and cheering.

 

The next evening we arrived at Lemuria, and everyone poured onto the beach to welcome us.  Fathers greeted new sons-in-law and mothers clasped new daughters-in-law to their chest, all of this done with noisy laughter, a great deal of embracing, and more than a few tears of happiness.

 

I stood on the beach of home and watched my ‘family’ grow larger by the second and I felt I should glow with happiness.  When everyone was beckoned towards a feast that was cooking in giant pits of glowing coals and in kettles on the edges of the fire I joined them, laughing, dancing and singing along the path to the village.

 

The feast lasted until almost dawn, with stories of the Journey being shared and performed around the fire-pit.  As many of the people retired to their homes I approached the Matron of our people.

 

I asked her permission to show my beloved my many goods.  I also showed her the golden chain I wore around my neck and told her of the chest full of such things he had offered to me.

 

“Tell your young man that your bride price will be this:  I ask him to send his ships around the world to seed oour people everywhere, but.”  She held up a hand to silence me.

 

“He must remain here, with you, to become the leaders of our people.  Together, man and woman as it is meant to be.  With you as the next Matron I can go easily to the stars, knowing that my family will be cared for with love and honour.  Now. Show your mate your goods, as I saw you come from his quarters on his ship, I could tell that he has already taken you to wife.”

 

In the years that followed my mate and I watched the population of our island grow great enough for seeding many times.  Each time we sent another boat filled with those to seed our world with the children of the shining ones we did so with joyous songs and days long celebrations.

 

Although I never brought a child to our union my mate and I were happy in the knowledge that we were doing the best for our combined peoples, and our adopted world.  We would never know if our ‘seeding’ flourished or no, we could only pray that it was so.

 

After many years my mate returned to the stars and as I sang his body to the deeps my spirit knew that he and I would meet again one day, and that we would know the joy of our bond once again.

 

I came back to the little stone room, and felt the tears soaking my face, yet I did not feel sad, but blessed to know my beginnings on our world.

 

“I need not ask if you saw what you needed to, I can see that you did.”  The Shaman reached out, caught one teardrop on a fingertip and kissed it reverently.

To be continued:

 

 

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The Portal In My Front Yard

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I went for a walk in my front yard, having my digital camera in one hand and digital video camera in the other.  There is a path of stepping-stones from the front porch to the ‘Alleged Cow Skull’-which is a whole ‘nother story for some other time.

 

This time I went out and noticed one in a straggling row of identical stones looked different, I couldn’t describe it, but it looked a little odd.   Of course, being a nosey parker, I had to go investigate.  As I got closer there seemed to be a shadow where there shouldn’t be one.  By the time I was standing on the stone next to the weirdo, I was very intrigued.

 

As I looked at it, it started growing, yes!  Growing!!  Soon it was large enough for even someone as round as I am to fit into comfortably, with a ‘what the hey’ shrug I carefully lifted the stone.

 

It weighed far less than I expected, no more than a fibreglass auto hood, something anyone could raise easily.  There was a tunnel under it, disappearing into darkness.  There was a spiral staircase leading down in to the shadows.

 

I popped back in the house and grabbed a flashlight, water and a couple bags of snacks; adventuring is hungry and thirsty work you see.  Pye and Skye were determined to go with me, despite being complete indoor cats.  The closest they get to the wilds is smelling the bottoms of our shoes.

 

So, there we went, slowly, with lots of stops for sniffings; once the light had begun to fade away I turned on my flashlight.  Then I could see the bottom of the stairway, a ring of seemingly identical doorways, carved out roughly.

 

I peeked in the first door, and backed away when I smelt a dreadful stench.  The second door was drip-drip-dropping, and there was a forest of stalactites and stalagmites stretching past my view.

 

The next doorway opened into a cave, with bed-like shelves carved in the walls, curtains made of animal hides, tanned to velvet perfection.  A fire burned by the far wall, which had doorways, and one of those showed an outdoor scene of surreal loveliness.

 

A desert scenario it most certainly wasn’t!  There were dense evergreens climbing a steep hillside, high-country grasses, and as a stunning backdrop, the green expanse of an enormous glacier.  I saw a movement, and two people entered the cave from a side doorway, ringed in handprints of rich red ochre.

 

“Ah, you are finally here!”  The male formed motioned to me to come over.  When I moved forward the cats stick close to my side, and their eyes checked everything out with great interest.

 

“I see that your familiars heard the call as well as you.  This is even better than I hoped!”  I knew that the man was not speaking any recognisable language, yet I clearly understood him.

 

“I am your very distant past, and you were called here deliberately.  There is something you need to find; it somewhere between my time, and your era.  I do not know what it is, I just know that you must find it.”

 

“Dear, can you not let the Lady sit to hear the whole tale?  She will be on her feet enough in her Search.”  The woman spoke, she was blessed with a beautiful alto voice, full of gentleness and humour.

 

“Ach!  I am so sorry my dear.  I was just so excited at the prospect of meeting a descendant I forgot my manners!”  The man motioned to an artful pile of furs, perfect for settling in for a long chat.

 

“Okay, you said I need to find an unknown something, in some other time than mine or yours.  Do any of us know why this is necessary?”  I pushed my glasses up my nose, and patted the furs as an invitation for Pye and Skye.

 

After a thorough and thoughtful smelling of the furs, Skye settled in, so picturesque against the black wolf skin.  Pye wasn’t quite ready to settle, so he contented himself by doing battle with the leg of a bearskin.

 

At that moment some other people entered the cave from outside, carrying a freshly killed something-or-other.  Trotting at their heels was a very wolfish pack of dogs, all yodelling excitedly.

 

Pye and Skye stood together hugely a-fluff and ready to fight these… these… canines!  Me, being a Universal Mom, stood in front of my cats, to defend them.

 

The Alpha female stepped forward, and sniffed me, and the air, and them she returned to the pack, her dugs swollen with milk.  She wuffed once, and a tumbling pack of fur separated into a pile of fat puppies, headed to Mom for some dinner.

 

I couldn’t help but chuckle and say to myself, “Plus ça change, plus ç’est la même chose.”

 

“Yes. Quite.”  How in the name of all the Gods that ever were and ever will be did this… this… caveman understand modern French?!  Yes he was every inch a caveman, and nothing like they show on TV or in movies.

 

All of them were blessedly well groomed, and not one of them had an odour.  One of the women was busily rubbing what seemed to be chalk dust into a stain on a fur garment.  When she finished shaking the dickens out of it, she picked up a dried teasel seedpod and began to brush the fur with it.

 

When all of the stain was gone, and the fur shone, she nodded her head decisively and sat that fur to one side.  She picked up another and I could see her sighing from all the way over where I was sitting.

 

“That must be her husband’s fur!  I recognise that, ‘How does he manage to do this?’ sigh.”

 

The woman laughed and spoke to the woman frowning down at the fur.  “This is your husbands’ sleeping fur, isn’t it Daryea?”

 

The woman laughed, and then spoke.  “Yes, how could you tell?”

 

It seems that some things shall always be the same!”

 

“Excuse me Callyea?”

 

“Our guest has been telling us of the future.”

 

“She has?  How does she know?”  Daryea edged closer, her deep-set brown eyes alight with curiosity.

 

She is the one we sought.”

 

“Ohhh…  May I have the honour of serving her?”

“I would expect none other to be capable of serving her properly.”

To be continued…

Written by gwenguin1

July 18, 2008 at 9:32 am

Into the Well

with 6 comments

 

I finished glancing through a Toscano catalog, enjoying the beautiful sculpture suitable for putting in the garden.  Most everything was too expensive for me to ever buy, but just looking always inspired me with garden ideas more suitable for my budget.  So I then decide to wander through the garden, as the various possibilities were still fresh.

 

I wander through the flower and vegetable gardens, around the huge wild rose bush in bloom, past the honeysuckle overgrowing the old fence, and roam through the back gate onto the rest of the property, all wild and abandoned.  Clumps of daisies and cluster of late-blooming daffodils poke through wild grasses and tumbled stone, evidence of caring habitation in the old homestead that had been here years ago.  Part of the local stone chimney was evident, now a haven for snakes and other critters.   Giving the chimney a wide berth, I move behind it toward a particularly beautiful setting of blackberry flowers cascading on prolific branches.  They seem to form a circle with an opening in the center, but as I walk around the perimeter, I’m not able to penetrate within.  Something smaller was needed to avoid all the thorns… Yes, a bee.

 

I throw my garden/woods-wandering satchel over the blackberries wall and shape-shift into a bee able to fly between branches to avoid the thorns.  But the overpowering fragrance calls to me to stop and collect some pollen.  And then I fly to the next flower, and the next.  Wait a minute… I’m a bee in order to egress to the center, not to stop at every flower for pollen.  It can be hard to become something and not get caught into all the aspects of that something, all the instincts and attachments.  Focus… focus…   

 

I shoot straight to the center and see a round wooden plank cover lying there, encrusted with moss in places.  A metal handle pokes out of the center, so I shift back into my overweight self and pick up the satchel.  As I glance around I think back to the catalogue I had just seen and remember one of the items for sale entitled “The Dweller Below.”  This sculpture by artist Liam Manchester portrayed a legendary boogeyman rising from beneath the streets of London through a manhole cover.

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The sculpture gave me second thoughts about pulling the cover off, but really, what do boogeymen roaming the city-streets of London have to do with a well in Ozarks country.  Grunting, I pull off the cover and peer within, expecting to see water below.   Instead, there are stairs leading down into blackness.  What is this?  Not a water-well which are common around the farms here, but a passageway.  Where does it lead?  Could this have been an escape route in case of attack from rustlers or Indians way back?  How long ago was that homestead here?  Maybe it’s  more of an escape for during the Civil War when the North and South fought heavily in this area.  Part of the underground railway?  Where does this lead?

 

I pull out the flashlight from my satchel, glad the batteries were new, plus I had extra in the bag.  I tie a Kleenex on the tip of a nearby branch as evidence I was here, just in case… 

 

Written by thalia

May 25, 2008 at 3:01 pm

response to manhole cover challenge

with 7 comments

 

Once upon a time there was a talking lemur lady named Laurel who liked to look at manhole covers about the countryside of Lemuria.  She spoke of a “secret, subterranean world”, one filled with awe and wonder and intriguing stories and maybe buried treasure, and anyway, there was always a nice assortment of very good Lemurian lady traveling companions who were generally up for a journey, especially if there were to be tasty munchable treats along the way….

 

“C’mon, Ravens, let’s pop down here and have an underground adventure.  Here, you might need these,” Laurel says, handing out some “rubber dungarees”.  “The water down here is not always clean or nice.”  … You never know what lies ahead on a Lemurian adventure, but it is wise to be prepared for anything along the River Creative…

 

No ivory tower isolated artiste studios for these painters and writers and photographers and blow torch babes – nope, these gals are creativity’s answer to extreme sportsmen:  they are extreme artists.  “Amateur explorers of the secret underground” indeed – they are adept at diving down into the deep subterranean subconscious and bringing up a prized insight.  Jung had nothing on them!

 

If there is a secret underground Lemurian railroad, you can be assured that Laurel and the  Ravenettes will investigate it, test it, document it, and use it in a story 5 times to make it their own…

 

Sometimes they just need a little escape from the fast-moving, high-pressured, too-stressful workaday world, even an evacuation from Mother Nature, who is justifiably acting out anger towards careless inhabitants… They need a respite, where it is serene, quiet, peaceful, lovely, and just a little bit other-worldly – they need to answer when Lemuria calls.

 

And then, when they re-emerge to pick up their regular lives again, they are refreshed, rejuvenated, and renewed.  They use their art like magic to cast spells and turn everyday items – like manhole covers – into mandalas and other artful objects.

 

© 2008 Kerry Vincent

 

 

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/4648569.stm – I used this article to get started on this madchallenge exercise.  Words in quotation marks are taken directly from the article.  I discovered this story by googling “manhole covers” and “serenity”. kerry

Written by kvwordsmith

May 23, 2008 at 6:22 pm

Enter the Way to the Realm of Endless Possibilities…..

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“Enter the Way to the Realm of Endless Possibilities”

Digital Construction

I made this image from these photos.  These are covers in the street outside my home.

Photos and digital construction: L. Gloyd (c) 2008

 

Written by Pelican1

May 23, 2008 at 3:09 am

Posted in Manhole Covers