Pythian Games

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which character would you be in a painting

with 3 comments

Inspired by the delightfully irreverent description of a painting in Sheila Hancock’s book “Just me” I “googled” the painting. It is called “St Mark preaching in Alexandria” and was painted by Gentile and Giovanni Bellini. Hancock describes the painting thus:

“… is an extraordinary hotchpotch. It seems to be set in St Mark’s Square, with a version of the Basilica sitting amongst various mosques and obelisks and towers, as well as the odd camel and giraffe. St Mark is standing on a rostrum that looks like a portable canal bridge. And he is, for some reason, wearing a pink frock and a blue stole borrowed from the Virgin Mary. There are some ladies with flowerpots on their heads, completely covered with white sheets, and some men in huge turbans made from the same material. Standing in rows are the mystified members of the scuola that commissioned the picture, one of whom is turning his head to whisper to the man next to him, ‘who are all these weirdos?’”

Some years ago, on a long car journey, I came up with a writing prompt for myself:

If you were a character in a painting, which painting would it be, who would you be and why? You could extend this perhaps by writing something of a back story for your chosen character.

I made a note of my prompt and put it away for future use. It is only now that I have decided to do something with it.

Alexandria, March 15, 1507

For the last few days Alexandria has been a hive of activity. Easter has come and gone, hardly noticed by anyone except the small Christian community living here, to which I belong. However, today is the big day everyone else has been waiting for: St Mark is due to preach in the main square. Notices informing us of this unexpected event were posted throughout the city a few days ago and the possible subject of his sermon has been the main topic of conversation. I don’t know anyone who has heard him speak personally but by all accounts he is a charismatic speaker.

He was due to speak mid morning so I made my way to the square with plenty of time to spare to ensure that I got a good vantage point from which I would be able to see and hear him. I took the precaution of taking something to sit on as I feared I might be there for quite a long time. These traveling preachers are not known for their brevity! Sure enough the square was packed and, in the end, it was standing room only. Everyone had put on their best clothes. I didn’t have any choice in the matter for the members of our community all wear the same flowing white robes. The tall hats we wear under our veils keep the worst of the heat off our heads and the veils of course protect our faces from the gazes of the curious. It has to be said that we can’t actually see very much through the veils, really just enough to see where we are going. Most of us chose to sit as it would be uncomfortable standing later on when the day warmed up. The city dignitaries were all out in force wearing their huge turbans. I often wonder why the turbans need to be so big. I imagine the skull caps worn by the clerics would be much more comfortable. And their ceremonial robes, consisting of several layers of fabric, with the outermost layer being heavily brocaded, must make them unbearably hot. Fortunately the sun didn’t come out until much later in the day, for which I was profoundly grateful.

Everyone was chattering away until St Mark appeared on the rostrum. He was introduced to the crowd which gradually hushed itself into a rapt audience and he began to speak. I have to admit I couldn’t follow most of what he said as he had a strong accent and very soon my attention began to wander. Out of the corner of my eye I caught sight of a strange animal. Camels are a common sight in Alexandria but I could see a man leading an animal on a piece of rope. It was very tall and had a very long neck. I later discovered that it is called a giraffe and had been captured in a far away part of our land. Other people must have traveled quite long distances to come here too as they had brought their horses into the square. Positioned at many windows and on every balcony were more people watching the spectacle.

Eventually St Mark finished his sermon and the crowd dispersed. I got up with difficulty after sitting on the ground for so long. I picked up my cushion and made my way back to the coolness of our sisterhood’s dwelling, down one of the side streets leading off the square. Tomorrow we will return to our ordered routines but today was something special and I’m sure I’ll never forget the sight of that giraffe.

Who am I? the woman seated at the far right of the group with my hands clasped round my knees.

I had been wanting to write from this prompt for some time but have not been able to find on the internet the painting I had in mind. In my mind’s eye I can see the painting in the Hospitaal museum in Bruges which we visited some years ago. It was on one single panel and depicted the story of Patient Griselda. Patient Griselda has become synonymous with the long-suffering heroine of medieval story, whose husband subjects her to numerous trials in order to test her obedience/devotion I was struck by the fact that this painting told a complete story starting at the left side of the painting and working across to the right. I could remember that the two main characters were called Nicholas and Griselda. After “googling” for hours I found the story of patient Griselda but not the painting I had in mind. A painting, or rather three separate paintings, dated circa 1494, depicting the story, is to be found in Britain’s National Gallery.

http://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/paintings/master-of-the-story-of-griselda-the-story-of-patient-griselda-part-i

you can zoom in on the paintings to see them in greater detail. For the purpose of this writing prompt I would have chosen to be one of the family retainers in the third panel. Perhaps I will get round to writing this up one day …..

Written by traveller2006

February 27, 2010 at 2:51 pm

Alyce’s Journey Out of the Grove

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DSCF4460started at:

http://www.dailywriting.net/SpottedDogSundae.htm

ended up at:

http://www.dailywriting.net/MadPartyRoom.htm

I am not following any old squirrel.  I don’t care what it does.  I am tired of chasing after animals that talk and walk and carry watches and all sorts of other nonsense.  Oh, I am not saying, oh Alyce dear, keep your feet on the ground, dear.  NO!  Oh no!  I mean to run and fly and dream and swim and do all sorts of things.  I am merely stating the bold, probably brainless fact that say unabashedly—I am not following someone else around on his dreams and journeys any longer.  I am not ignoring my own dreams any longer.  I am not subjugating my self or my desires any more.  I have had more than enough of that.  I am thirty-seven years old.  Yes, thirty-seven.  It is about bloody time I picked my own self up and asked her, what is it that you desire, Alyce dear?  So that is what I am going to do.  Pooh on that silly old squirrel!  we can spike that thing on a stick and set it over the fire to roast and cook!

First things first, I may have been the one to plant this grove, but I did not plant it to contain me.  I built it to give honor to the Goddess.  I designed it to give succor to my bleeding heart in time of need.  To honor the child that moved on without me.  To give myself a place to go, a sanctuary, where I could do nothing at all but sob or dance or scream or sing or any combination thereof, unaffecting and undisturbed by any other outside influence.  This grove indeed is a thing of wild beauty, grown strong, though a might twisted, watered as it has been by the tears of my fears and pains and angers and torments and pleasures and joys. Yet, it has grown, under the light of the moon, and the light of the sun.  This is a place of peace.  I have succeeded there.  Yes.

Though, now, we come to this second thing.  It is a circle, this grove.  There is no beginning and no end.  I created it this way.  Quite specifically.  It is made so that I may fly in or out as I chose.  Yet, here I stand, without my wings.  Somewhere along the line of living other people’s dreams, my wings were clipped and they’ve never grown back in and I just hadn’t taken the time to actually notice until now that maybe that isn’t such a good thing.  The trunks of my blessed trees have grown thick, crowding close to one another.  I am no longer the thin wiry beanpole I was as a child either.  I have curves and lumps and hairs growing where they ought not to be.  I have not kept up with my calling, with my Yoga, so my flexibility may be better than most, but it is nowhere near where it should be.  I think I can wend my way in between this branch and that, climb over here, slink under that.  I think I can make my way into the wood behind and beyond the grove.  Surely, it awaits my travails.

So, yes, it would have been easier to follow that simpering squirrel.  It is always so much easier to follow someone else as he goes about obtaining his desires, rather than fighting and standing strong to attain your own.  I am nothing if not determined.  The fire and flame of a hundred hundred red-heads flows through these veins, even if I show up as a blonde without the latest dye with which I’ve tried to pollute the coloration of my lovely locks.  I do not take no for an answer and I can be both bitter and brutal once I set my mind to things.  I am hard to dissuade.

Sigh.  Why are these things always so hard?  Why can’t I be the princess locked in the tower?  I could grow my hair long enough to use it as a rope to climb down all by myself.  No.  I plant a freaking jungle that I have to crawl through on my belly, with sweat clotting in my eyes and stinging its way down my sides.  Yes, that’s me.  Never the one to take the easy road.  Give me the long dark and scary ride, every time.

Ok.  Now, I am out of my grove.  And, uhm, it’s dark out here.  So, three, where did all that sunlight go?  Hey, where’s my Mother Moon?  Round and glowing in her silver fullness?  I will gladly take the shadows, if only I may catch a glimpse of the returning light to guide me and let me know I am on the right track.  I can’t even see the stars for all the veg clouding and covering things.  It is rather disenchanting.  I can smell the ripe scent of loam and things that grow.  It is not always a pretty smell.  No little twinkle for Alyce here, hey?  Not even the smallest of glows?

Oh, look.  Lightning bugs.  All over the place.  Lying across leaves, piled two and three high in places.  I guess for them I shall look away, out of decency’s sake there.  Nevertheless, they are lights, tiny little butt-shaking lights, but there you go.  Ask and ye shall receive, right?  I shall not look a gift horse in the mouth.  I feel safer now, with this tiny bit of something, strange as that may sound.

Now, to clomp and tromp my way through these woods, right?  Do I make a great deal of noise?  Hoping to frighten predators and prey alike?  Or do I go quiet and meek through the underbrush, praying nothing catches even a mere hint of me?  No.  I am not longer the meek and small.  Humble, I may be.  But tiny and voiceless?  Screw that.  That party left the building eons ago.  Boom, boom, boom, here I come.  Fe fi fo fum, I’m coming to drink you dry, Englishman.  You had better have something more than ale, although water alone would be so fine right now.

As I stalk these woods, meaner than any mountain lion, screeching out my own warrior song as I go, hoping to turn away bears and beasts galore with my raucous song, where should my mind be?  Do I contemplate each vital leaf upon each hungry branch?  Do I reach out, plum my own depths, forcing my way into my darker crevices to pry out the loose bits that have long caused me dread?  Do I dig even deeper to excavate those long forgotten and now forlorn things I once called dreams?  Do I let go of the past, allow it to remain buried, and in many instances allow the wind to carry the ashy remnants far from me in every direction?  Or do I stop and cry to the wind to teach me?  To bring me new things, things I have not thought of, things I had not dreamed possible?  Am I stopping my own progress by wanting the things I want to want…or am I driving myself onward to attain these blessed goals?  Do I avoid the forest for the trees…or are the trees avoiding me in their own lost pursuits?  What does it take to be able to really see around here?  Where do I go to obtain some semblance of clarity?

I decide, as I push and shove and snarl my way through vine and leaf, that I shall think of not even one thing, and see what my monkey mind throws at me.  If the monkey mind throws enough…stuff…my way, surely some of it will stick, right?  If I can get past the smell, to see the diamond buried in the stink, so to speak, then, certainly, I shall have a winner on my hands, won’t I?

Here we are, now.  Where are we?  Four?  Five?  I’ve lost count, what with all this singing and the monkey slinging.  What is it here, the cream rising to the top….

I never really want the Barbie lifestyle.  The husband, the kids, the dog, the white picket fence.  I wanted all those things, yes, except maybe for that white picket fence thing, but not in the way everyone else does.  I never expected to genuinely settle down, to have that sort of peace that having a real family brings.  I also thought the children at my hearth would be brought to me, not had by me.  The man I never expected to stay that long.  Long enough maybe to create a child before moving on.  I have always anticipated and planned to be a single mom.  I don’t think til now I actually realized that.  I meant to have my farm, to have to fight to keep things together, to grow things to survive more than to be ecologically sound, to take in all manner of strays and heal them up and get them ready to live again.

That’s not all together what I want any more.  I still want the children.  I want children of my own.  If others come to me through whatever means, then so be it and blessings come.  If we have the farm, terrific.  If we plant the garden in our backyard in the middle of the city, so long as we can have some chickens and a goat or two, I would be happy and proud.  Well, fine, even without the chickens or goats, I’d be happy and proud.  I want that husband now, the good one, the one that stays and works through things, the one who does not lie or cheat or steal or any of those other things I am so used to when it comes to men.  I want that disconnect from humanity, while still maintaining the vital vibrant edge of things, so that I may share my journey with others, to drag them along and show them the way to set down their chains and let go of all the things they allow to hold them down.  I want to show them how they can stop following every rabbit, squirrel and corn nut that comes their way with a brilliant idea that is nothing like what they honestly want out of things.

Hey, look, isn’t that the sun?  Is it dawn already?  Here I stand now, at the edge of a great cliff, looking down into the depths of a roiling river.  I can’t swim, but, you know what?  I don’t care right now.  I shall launch my frail frame into the air and dive into that swirling massive pool.  I shall learn to shift myself into the ever-regenerating salmon, the one who does not wither and die upon spawning, but the one who continues to swim back year after year after year.  I shall dive down deep, cleanse myself from the sweat and grit and grime of my overland journey, before bursting back to the surface with a renewed sense of…everything.

I look forward now, planning out, with very little detail and only bunches and bunches of hope and desire, the path I shall take from here on out…..look out, Universe, here I come.  I’m playing by my rules now.

written, drawn and painted by Tabitha Kietero

Written by Tabitha Low

August 31, 2009 at 8:47 pm

The Map of my heart – version 2

with 4 comments

I knew I would have to re-visit this exercise

http://www.dailywriting.net/MichaelianWeb.htm

A Journey across the Map of my Heart – or – My Life as Metaphor.

At dawn I broke camp on the shores of the Sea of Dreams.  The night birds whose beguiling siren songs had echoed through my sleeping had gone to roost and the day promised to be warm and sunny.  Kicking dirt over the ashes of my fire I shouldered my pack and left.  I had been told the city of Hope lay to the north so I set off in that direction.

‘Its four day hard trek,’ said an old timer I met in the bar at Sea Haven.  ‘That’s if you don’t get delayed on the way,’ he’d added with a sly grin.

Sea Haven was my home town.  I loved her crooked streets and the old weathered houses that tumbled down the hillside to the bay but I was young and had stars in eyes.  I wanted more than the murmur of the sea on the shore and sweet, known faces that whispered comforting lullabies.

The road to Hope was crowded with distracting diversions and I dallied a while savouring the exotic fare and tasting dangerous treats. Eventually the attractions paled and I continued on to the city of Hope.  At first I was daunted by the size of the place.  For many months I lived in the shanty town outside the city walls desperately seeking a way into the upper echelons.  Then, after years of striving, I carved out a niche for myself on the thirteenth floor of a gleaming tower block.

The citizens of Hope, it transpired, were hungry for dreams.  I gathered together all those I had garnered at the sea shores of my youth, added an alluring sheen with a lick of polish and sold them off.  I met a man who wrote love songs that sold as quickly as he wrote them and I fell under his spell.  We married, amalgamated our careers and worked together in our thirteenth floor offices selling our dreams and love.  It wasn’t long before we made enough money to buy ourselves a house in the suburb of Aspiration.  After a few years we had a brood of children and had purchased everything that opened and shut.

What we didn’t do was re-locate our business. One day those thirteenth floor bad luck stories caught up with us.  There was a price to pay for selling off our dreams and love it seemed.  The storehouses were running dry.  Sometimes we woke to stare into each other’s eyes not knowing who the stranger beside us was.  To salvage what few dreams we had left we sold up and left Hope for good.

‘We want to be part of the greening not the despoiling,’ we told each other.  We found a fine farm in the wooded hills that lay to the east of the city.  The Meandering Mountains they were called on the map but it wasn’t long before we learned the local name, The Heartbreak Hills.  The name had been coined in the early days of white settlement.  Clearing the steep slopes had been back breaking toil and bushfires, flooding rains and infestations of caterpillars added to the misery.  People walked off farms in their droves.  All that was past history by the time we arrived.  The name lingered on only in folklore as a quaint memory of times past.  Bush fires still raged in the upper reaches but down in the foothills the land had been cleared so much there was nothing left to burn.  Our own farm was flood prone but we put in a place a permaculture system to harvest the water.  The caterpillars we dealt with by using organic sprays.

At first all went well.  The children flourished in the clean air.  The gardens grew and my songwriter husband found new songs in the rush of wind in the tree tops.  As for myself, I was content in the idyllic world of organic gardens, healthy children and a loving husband. I felt I could meander in those hills forever.  Our winters were warm and cosy in the glow of love and our summers slow and joyous as we holidayed at Lake Tranquillity.  Always though the Heartbreak Hills were at our back waiting.  Death lurked in the twisted, narrow hill roads and claimed my husband one fine morning.

I struggled on alone for a while but The Heartbreak Hills had more to throw at me. The gardens wilted in years of drought and the money started to run out. The children threatened to grow as twisted as the roads as isolation and hardship gnawed at their minds.  I sold the farm and moved us all down to large regional centre named Reliable.  The solid buildings of the town protected us and I got a mundane job working for someone else.  I had no dreams left to sell.  The children straightened out in the paved, grid like streets and I no longer lay awake at night worrying.  Instead my feet walked the same streets every day, I shopped for the same things in the same stores every week and did the same job week in, week out.  When a man  with a storm on his back came riding into town on a Harley I was intrigued.  He wooed me with his sweet talking words that echoed  the dreams that had once sung in my head.  The storm brewing behind him was dark and fierce but I turned my back on it and listened as he crooned, ‘Come with me away from all of this drudgery to a place where romance and adventure will lighten your step.’

Pretty soon the children and I were all swept up in the storm and carried off by the man to a little cottage nestled at the foot of Mt. Disappointment.  ‘What’s in a name?’ I said to the children.  ‘It’s just a title some explorer gave it when he didn’t find the gold he was looking for.  It’s nothing to do with us.’  Another child was born as the man tuned the Harley’s engine until it hummed and the storm gathered force behind him.  ‘I’ll be off now,’ he said as the autumn mists closed in and reduced the world to a grinding round of wet baby clothes and sullen teenagers.  ‘I’ll earn us some money back in Hope and come  for you all in spring.’

Winter came and the winds blew cold off the snows atop Mt. Disappointment.  The baby was colicky and the teenagers sulked.  Spring came but the man did not return.  My mother called.  ‘Come home to Sea Haven,’ she said.  ‘The children need family’.  We went, glad to put distance between us and the disapproving stares of the burghers of Reliable and biting cold of the mountains.

Back in Sea Haven the teenage children grew up fine and strong in the embrace of family.  They scattered to the corners of the globe chasing dreams.  I wiled away the years working non demanding jobs, beach combing and catching dreams as the tides swung in and out.  My parents aged and withered away.  My youngest child grew withdrawn and silent in our now empty house.  He needed more than salt air and the lonely cry of the gulls over the headland.  I was restless with mid life energy and I wanted out myself.  We packed the car and headed off across the country to the far away town of Ambience, the place everyone wanted to live in.  The stuff of dreams itself.

‘Maybe,’ I reasoned, ‘I can resurrect some of my old entrepreneurial skills and sell my dreams again.’  When we got to Ambience it turned out the stories about the place were old news.  The place had gone up market and become an international tourist Mecca.  There was no way I could afford to buy a place there and the rents were astronomical.  The dreams I had for sale all reeked of yesterday.  They didn’t have the glitz the international tourists demanded.  We lived in dingy flat above the shop I managed selling very little.  The alley behind the shop was littered with used needles, ferals roamed the streets at night and I felt like howling at the moon.  The climate didn’t agree with my southern reared son and the rent was overdue.  We packed the car again and fled.

Life got serious after that.  We settled in the industrial city of Ambition.  I worked hard trying to tailor my dreams into something marketable in the gloom and doom of the post millennia world. Once again, nothing much sold. My son grew and avoided reality by taking endless tertiary courses that all seemed to feed into one another but never into the work force. The years rolled by. The map of my heart broadened to include secret destinations in my mind called names like the River of Solace, the Island of Resolution, the refined and cultured town of Ponder and the awful Lake Desultory where I sometimes drifted for long hours as I waited for the sound of my son’s car in the driveway at night. Worst of all is the Swamp of Despair where I have occasionally lingered for days.

Now I look out through the driving rain that so often sweeps through this city to the steel grey hills beyond and wonder ‘What next?  Where to now?’  The Sea of Dreams lies in my past and I am not called to return there but I can still hear the murmur of the waves and catch a suggestion of dreams yet to be explored.  I lived in the city of Hope long enough to know that one day a chink of light will shine through all this rain and I’ll find a way out.  I’ll strike out to new horizons and the map of my heart will expand yet again.

map 2

Written by Suzanne

August 12, 2009 at 8:06 am

Posted in Pythian Challenges

Outsiders Family

with 3 comments

prompt found at http://www.lostsoulcompanion.com/

via  http://www.dailywriting.net/dailygrind.htm

100_2198

I’ve said it too many times before.  I am an Outsider.  I’ve always been an Outsider,  I’ve always been searching.  I’ve always been too afraid to be the person I really want to be.

What happens when one Outsider takes up with another Outsider?  Do you think we can recognize our own kind?  Whether the other one will openly admit to the Outsider status or not?

I knew the moment I saw him that we were kindred spirits.  Of course, I was fed a lot of felonious information about him before we met as well.  That turned out to be fine in the end.  We got over that.

We were friends.  Real friends.  I trusted him implicitly from the start.  For me, that may be the strangest thing of all.  Me.  Trusting a man.  And not even a thought about using my feminine wiles to entrap or twist things where he was concerned.  I admit, I set him up on a pedestal.  I expected him to keep me safe, without being as base as every other man I had ever known.

I knew all along, talking to him, what he was.  An Outsider, like me.  In conversation one night, he even admitted as much to me.  I don’t know if anyone else had ever heard such a thing from him.  He is such a good man.

Slipping from friend into the role of lover was, not always an easy process for me.  Any kind of relationship is tough on me, with all my baggage.  After trying for so much of my life to fit into molds that weren’t made for me just to please other people…and failing miserably.  Here was a man who knew me, knew all my foibles and misdeeds.  A man who stood by me regardless.  Held my hand and rubbed my back and wiped my tears.

Then we were alone together, much closer than friends can ever be, truly within one another’s space.  Working our way even deeper into one another’s hearts.  Having always been an Outsider, I was afraid.  Afraid the relationship part would destroy the friendship. I am afraid of any relationship.  And here was a man from whom I could not escape, even should I want to.  He knows me so well.  Plus, he is the only man I care about enough to stop fighting things, stop baiting, stop running when he asks.  He says please and I am defenseless.

Despite all the inherent fears that play havoc with me during this time, as we strive to build the foundation of our future together, I have to stop and look around.  Here I am, allowed to be my Outsider self, in all my glory.  Here I am able to do my work, to write all day if I so wish, to tear the kitchen table to pieces and stack it high with magazines and newspaper clippings, to cordon off the den as I pilfer through fabrics and patterns in search of just the right things for that perfect moment.  Here I am able to say let’s go for a drive so we can find some cool trees for me to take pictures of so I can bring them home to sketch and to paint.  I have a man who routinely bits up sticks and twigs and brings them home for me, anxious to see what doll will come forth from my fevered mind, once the energy to work it hits me.

What sort of family life can we have?  I am an Outsider.  I have given birth to Outsiders as well.  Are they born or are they raised that way?  I think we are born and raised.  Some born to it; some raised to it; some both born and raised,  I am a born and raised Outsider.  I am always on the outside looking in.

All I can say is I now have a network of Outsider friends.  We are not in daily contact.  That is simply not how we work.  But we do have contact.  We do know another of our own kind when we see them.  I cannot perfect things for my children, but I can help them acknowledge and find their own ways, their own space.  And I can include them in mine.

written by:

Tabitha

Written by Tabitha Low

July 22, 2009 at 6:21 am

52nd Avenue West

with 12 comments

by Anita Marie Moscoso

inspired by

Portals and Pavements

One night

in my neighbor’s front yard

I saw a man digging  a hole just up off of the sidewalk

by the orange glow of a streetlight

which kept flashing off and on with a buzz and a hum and a click.

I asked the man if he was burying something.

Buzz. Hum. Click.

Maybe it was one of Mrs Figueroa’s many black cats which were always running around in the street in the middle of the night.

Was it one of her cats I asked.

Buzz. Hum. Click.

They were all fine he told me.

Maybe he was helping to move around one of Mrs Figueroa’s many rose bushes that dotted her fence line. Maybe Mrs. Figueroa wanted one of her white rose bushes right under her living room window where she could see it when she opened her curtains in the morning.

Is that what he was doing, moving flowers around? I asked.

Buzz. Hum. Click.

No.

So- come one- what gives I ask, what are you burying here in the dark under a streetlight that won’t stay on.

I’m not burying anything he told me.

Buzz. Hum. Click

I’m digging something up.

Click.

Written by Anita Marie

July 14, 2009 at 12:23 am

Standing At The Dig Tree

with 6 comments

Prompted by standing in front of the dig tree,

found here:  http://www.outbackonline.net/digtree/dig_main.htm

 

DSC08018

 

 

I don’t want to dig anymore.

I don’t want to think anymore.

My head is killing me.  Every little thing I turn to catch a glimpse of today is bringing tears to my eyes.

I don’t want to play this game anymore.

I just want to turn around, go back to bed, pull the covers up over my head and pretend I never have to move again.

I can’t do that either.  I know that.

The kids need to eat…the dog has to pee. 

So many people are depending upon me, my calming voice, my compassionate sense of integrity…at least that’s what they tell me.

 

How did I get to be this person? 

It is what I always wanted to be, always wanted to do, just not the way I thought it would be.  This isn’t exactly the how of what I wanted things to be.  I never wanted to be at the telephone’s beck and call day and night.  I do so much better with people when we are talking in person. 

Then there are my children.  All I ever wanted was a family, a safe place for the kids, for me.  A space we could trust. 

Everything is all in the details.  I have what I want, basically, mostly, simply not in the fashion that I have been wanting it.

it is in my power to change the way things are, to turn them in the direction I am wanting them to go. 

But my question returns again and again to how…

 

Let me blame it on the coming full moon….let me blame it on the weather…let me blame it on the economy..something..whatever excuse it takes to make me feel less weak and less out of control…less tossed about in stormy seas….

 

But, I can’t do that.  I hate blaming any and everything else.  I don’t like that.  I would rather accept the blame, man up and take the responsibility, even when I know it’s not me, not mine to shoulder and bear.  I know it’s easier for most people to blame others rather than accept things as their own issues.  Life with those exes taught me a lot about that.  More than I care to mention. 

 

So, where do I go from here?  What do I do?

Where do I start?

 

I was asked this question today, via bloglandia: “If no one had ever told you who you were, who would you be?”

 

Oh, the places within me that resonate for that question, crying to be heard, to be understood, to be set free…

I have no choice now, now that my whining here is done.

I have to pick up my shovel and go digging…

I will let you know what I find.  It may be easier for me to tell you than it is for me to tell myself…

Thanks for listening…

 

written by Tabitha K

http://onthewrongsideofthemirror.wordpress.com/

http://knittingjourneymanredux.blogspot.com/

Written by Tabitha Low

June 5, 2009 at 6:38 pm

Mirror, Mirror

with one comment

Prompt found at:

http://dailywriting.net/mirrorceremony.htm

 

Sweet ever-lasting life, here I am again, wandering through these corridors, trying to find the way, any way, the right way.  I know how I got here, trapped in the castle of my own mind.  I am not so certain how to get back out again.  I wander these halls, back and forth, up and down.  I don’t know what I am looking for.  There are so many locked doors.  Words like ‘oubliette’ scripted across brass plaques hanging across the thresholds.  This is my mind; this is my place.  I have been here countless times before, but I’ve never felt so lost, this discombobulated. 

There are whispers here.  The very walls speak, in hushed tones.  I am not afraid.  These voices are familiar to me.  I hear them every day.  Those shy voices, not always sweet or mild, but always consistent.  One may call them intuition, gut instinct, the higher self.  I know them simply as The Voices.  There is no meanness in them.  There is no taunting.  They keep the bitter voices from my past away.  These voices now, they lift me up; they support me.  Yet, as I wander like some lost princess in a faery dream, they offer me no assistance.  I hear the sound of them all, but am able to discern no words.  I cannot fathom why they should turn from me in this manner.

I keep on walking.  There is a thick layer of dust everywhere.  It clings like murky disillusionment, caught in the spider’s web, turned into stunning silks of greys and browns, coverlets to protect this world from turning old and disintegrating.  I used to love to amble through these wide halls.  There used to be torches every few feet, set deeply and soundly into sconces.  There used to be well-polished chandeliers in every room.  Musicians playing in the ballroom.  People dancing.  Others with which to while away the hours, talking and laughing, exploring the depths of the place, inside and out.  The castle is surrounded by a huge garden, full of flowers, tall trees, chattering birds.  Or at least it used to be.  Every time I find a door leading out I find myself at the entrance to a  mammoth labyrinth, overgrown, dark, and strangling.  Whenever I look out any window, I see the same thing, all over again.  This hungry ravaging labyrinth, lying in wait to swallow me up inside.

How did all of this happen?  Where did all the glow go?  Why did everything start to die off?  What happened in here?  Better yet, why seek out the past?  There is no reason to cast blame, to find out who could be responsible.  What is done is done.  Better to let it go and leave it lie.  Better to touch it, hold it, kiss it good-bye and lay it all to rest. How do I bring back the light to my inner realm?  The life?  To whom can I go to hire cleaners to scrub and dust and buff?  Where can I go to gather up my violin players and pianists?  Where is he with flute and fife and drum?  Let them come to me and play.  Let me play.  Let me roam with freedom and glee throughout these hallowed halls of memory.  Let me taste love, success.  Let me know me once again.

It is no easy process this.  It took time to sink into ruin.  It will take time to raise it up again.  Where can I find paint and brush?  Maybe even just a crayon or two.  How can I part these heavy leaden curtains, bring back the light, the glow of the Moon?  I am more than willing to get down on my hands and knees, use my shirt to scrub away the grime.  I shall use my tears to wash away these cinders.  Let my castle be my own once again.

Please.  Oh please.  Just give me a clue.  Give hint to which direction I should turn.  I am not afraid of hard work.  I am afraid of the gloom.

I hear one whisper, now louder than all the rest.  I am drawn to the mirror, gallant and gilt, standing at the end of the hall.  I see a face there, a fabulous conglomeration of reds and bronzes.  My own wind dragon, beckoning from the other side of the mirror.  Which side is mine?  Where do I truly belong?  How do I fix things?  If things can change on one side, surely they can change on the other.

I reach out, my fingertips stroking the chilled silver surface, as my dragon friend writhes like a dog, trying to get his head scratched through the filmy glass between us.  The scent of burning amber floods my mind.  Something reaches out, grabs me.  I am off.  I fly.  I can see nothing at all around me in the split second it takes for me to be snatched from one realm to not quite the next.

When I am able to see, I find myself In-Between.  There is nothing here, just me, just my dragon floating gently in the non-air around me.  There is no reason to ask silly questions, so I skip the normal ‘where are we?’ and head straight for, ‘what should I do now?’  Dragon chuckles, chuffing warm air into my hair to calm me.  I get no other response.  It seems everything then is to be left up to me.  I shake my head.

Who am I?  The Queen of Dreams?  Do I know what to do?  Or even where to start if I did have a clue?  I am seeking guidance and receiving none.  I look around once more.  Dragon does not pause.  I see support before me.  I am not alone.  That is where I shall start.  What to do now?  I dragon ride is surely called for.  I reach out and grab one hefty paw.  He helps draw me up so I can swing onto his back.  Time to take a ride and see what we can see along this side.  Time to find that space and then decide.

 

 

Dragon in the Mirror

Dragon in the Mirror

 

 

written and drawn by Tabitha K

http://onthewrongsideofthemirror.wordpress.com/

http://knittingjourneymanredux.blogspot.com/

Written by Tabitha Low

June 5, 2009 at 4:12 am

Catcher Of Dreams

with 5 comments

prompt taken from : http://www.squidoo.com/little-atheletics

Heartwood Tree, in a pool of tears and blood

I am in that place in my life where all my dreams have come and gone.  When I was a younger lass, I had so many dreams.  I wanted it all.  I would write my novels by day, while the children played happily at my feet.  My husband, loving and supportive, would come home from his work and give me a kiss on the cheek.  We would all sit down at the table to eat dinner together.  Nights were for family time.  Bathing the children, reading them stories to put them to sleep. Time to cuddle and snuggle with the husband in front of the tv, while I knit sweet things for the home and family.  Sleeping arm in arm beside the love of my life.

My dreams seem so small now.  I never wanted to be famous.  I just wanted to be loved.  I almost thought I had these things that I thought I wanted so badly not too long ago.  It was harder to let go of the dreams than it was to release the reality.

Here I am, in a new space, facing a new day, needing new dreams.  Now I am a single woman, with two children, sleeping with a dog beside me in the bed instead of a husband.  I have had my head down for too long, fighting just to stay afloat, much less trying to live, or have dreams, or even goals beyond the mortgage is paid and there is food on the table and the kids have clothes.

It is time for me to go out and seek new dreams.  Not just seek them out, but to catch them, hunt them down, capture them, drive them home into my heart, feed them, nurture them and make them grow.

It has been too long since I was able to stop and think about what I want, about where I want to go.  I have been living moment by moment, praying the future would be good once I got there, but that isn’t the way to go.  This isn’t what the Buddha meant by living in the moment.  You must live in the moment, but know the future is coming and be ready to absorb and experience it as well.  Living in the moment is not about letting go of your past, as it is what made you who you are.  It is not about letting go of the future, for that is what you shall be, who you shall become.  You must live in the present moment, ever mindful of the past and future and how they all coincide within the present moment.  I had lost sight of that.

When I was younger, before I turned ten and began to actually write, I had two dreams in my life.  What I wanted to be when I grew up.  I wanted to be a cowgirl and a veterinarian.  Well, after some interning at a local animal hospital, very temporary, I decided, no, cutting animals open and poking around in their insides was not something I could handle.  Let me take care of them before and after, but no knives and no needles for me.  I never really gave up the cowgirl idea, but we’ll come around to that in a bit, I suppose.

At about ten years of age, I started writing.  Poetry.  I was in a very religious phase then.  This is also when I set about researching every religion I could get my hands on.  When I turned against Catholicism for good.  I slowly came to realize that I wanted to write, as a career choice.  It was about this time the thought of becoming a teacher entered into my growing little brain.  Why not combine the two?  I always wanted to teach younger children, pre-school into kindergarten, sometimes even the first grade.  I loved children at that age.  I still do.

I never pursued it.  As I went through public school as a student, I watched how some teachers were treated, how some where reviled and how others were glorified.  If a teacher is not teaching and more than 80% of all her classes are failing, she should not be allowed to crow about tenure so she can keep her job—she should be fired outright.  Whereas a teacher with a genuine medical disability who misses school periodically but is successful in teaching and inspiring her students should not be dismissed due to her medical absences.  Add into the entire process of me not being taught anything new since about fifth or sixth grade….I had moved around so much that I had already been taught in earlier grades what the higher grades struggled with, leaving me cold and bored with the education process.  Which then caused me turn to my writing that much more.  There lay one dream down, heartlessly murdered by a bureaucratic system that simply did not care. I allowed that one to drown in its own blood, as I stepped over its corpse, hoping a new star would shine in my life.

Writing became my everything.  My passion.  My escape.  My release.  It is all I did, all I could do, other than read, and pray.

A new dream did surface, however strange it seemed.  I wanted to be a Priest.  Not just any old priest either.  I did not want a congregation, was not called to preach nor to enlighten.  I wanted to be a Jesuit monk.  I wanted access to the documents the Vatican hides from the light of public consumption.  I wanted to work to translate the ancient archaic documents.  I wanted to uncover the hidden secrets of the world’s religions’ ideals and ideas.  I wanted to see the Truth in black and white, not someone else’s translation or interpretation.  I wanted to Touch God through His Word drawn out on paper by His Chosen Men – and Women.

Alas, I have no penis.  So, no priesthood for me.  Another excellent aptitude for study tossed away because of the rules of the system.  I do not trust nuns, so becoming a nun was not a valid option for me.  I barely ever entertained that thought, it makes my stomach twist so.  It is a genetic flaw in me from my mother having been beaten so badly when she was younger and in convent school, or so I tell myself anyway. Not that she wasn’t beaten; she still bears the physical scars visible to this day where everyone can see them.   My mother nearly became a nun.  She was a very devout Catholic.  Then she met my dad and had me.  I never even knew I was technically a Catholic til I was a teen-ager.  No one ever told me.   I knew my mother had been Catholic, but that had never had anything to do with me.  I wasn’t raised with any specific religion.  All my religious training came from what I learned from others and what I taught myself from books, once I decided it would be a good thing to do, at about the age of ten or thereabouts.

Always a writer, that was a dream.  Not a dream, but a Dream, capital D.  I graduated high school and I ran away.  School left such a horrid taste in my mouth, I decided to forego college.  The original thought was for a year or two.  I always planned to go back to school, some sort of college, even if I got a liberal arts degree with a heavy literature and creative writing emphasis.  That, too, was not to be.

I met a man.  Someone to save me from me.  Someone to give me all my dreams with the touch of his hand, the sweetness of his kiss.  We married.  It was servitude.  It was all about his needs.  I lost myself.  My dreams centered around making him happy, keeping him satisfied and coming home.  Too late, I realized it wasn’t me who kept him from being happy.  Too late, I realized I was more than good enough for him, but he wasn’t at all good enough for me.

I did take writing classes here and there during the marriage.  I did other things as well, struggling while he told me on one hand to pursue whatever made me happy while on the other ridiculing me and cutting me down at every opportunity.  I gave up, in the end, because trying to make him happy was too large a job for me to have any other focus or ideal.

Push came to shove, I found myself, without surprise, legally separated, still involved with the husband on way too many levels, hopping into a rebound relationship which gave me nothing but trouble and a beautiful little girl.  The divorce was final and the husband and I were reconciling, moving back in together.  Nothing changed with him, but everything was changing with me.  This is not the life I wanted for my child.  I did not want her to grow to believe this was how things had to be, how lovers treated one another.

I went to massage school.  I found my own place.  I worked hard at first, until it dawned on me; this was not where I wanted to be.  Although it took only a couple weeks for me to realize that actual hands-on massage healing was not for me, I learned a great deal.  It did not endear the human population to me anymore than I was already endeared, which was not very much at all.  I did meet some incredible people though, some of whom I still speak to today, often.  Not to mention, one of the guest teachers ended up fathering my second child, my son.

I have regrets.  I have a ton of them.  The difference is, now, from where I am sitting, I wouldn’t change a single thing in my past.  If I did, I would not be where I am right this minute, and that would be a terrible shame to miss out on the things that are going on in my world right now.

I gave in to pressure and tried my best to create an actual family.  Too bad the father didn’t understand the concept of a true family; the poor man still doesn’t either.  There were no dreams there.  That man successfully killed everything I had had left to hold dear.  I didn’t struggle so much to realign myself with my dreams or my ideals, as I fought simply to hold on to today, just right here.  I couldn’t find a dream.  The best I could do was set up some goals.  He still did his best to create turmoil and cause me to fail.

I am stronger than that.  I am stronger than him.  I am better than him.   I am determined to win.  I had a one-year goal plan.  I made it all in two.  It may have taken me longer to get there, but I did get there, with bells on.

Here I am, again on a cusp.  I fought for my family.  Now it’s time to fight for myself.  That’s what I am doing.

I sift through the detritus that is my past, digging through the silt and the ash.  There is so much scar tissue.  Not all of it is healed.  Not everything is scabbed over yet.  There are many deep grievous wounds that still suppurate and bubble over.  Some from too long ago.  There is nothing really anymore that I can do, other than to treat them, and therefore myself, that much more gently.  I can apply the salves and the packs and the bandages, but sometimes healing takes a very long time and there is nothing else to be done other than waiting out the process.

Yet, I can hear them, buried, profoundly rooted, screaming and sobbing, begging me to find them, to unearth them, to let them breathe, let them live again, even for just one moment.  All my tools seem to have been lost along those myriad roads all these years.  I must get down on my hands and knees and claw my way through, probing into harsh unyielding tissue, grown rock-solid and diamond-hard, nearly impenetrable.  I have no fingernails to begin with, and now I am down to bloody stubs, shredding through using the flesh and bone of my fingers in my efforts to set my own precious self free.  However will I get a garden to grow in such inhospitable soil?  However will I manage to trench in far enough to allow my dreams to suck air, much less drag them kicking and screaming to the surface and to the light of day?

All of that makes no never-mind to me.  I have a job to do and I am a very focused creature once I set my mind in motion.  I am a daemon possessed as I listen to the pitiful cries and mews of those Dreams, those tiny hungry babies locked in the retreat of my mind.  I fight, fight for their life, fight for mine.

Maybe if you saw me you would be surprised.  I would not be, not at all.  I know my hair is wild and savage and flying all over the place as I shake and toss it angrily out of the way time and again.  I know my body is being racked with tremors that I cannot shake, puns be damned, sweat streaming off me in rivulets, staining my body and the ground surrounding me.  The ground itself swells and heaves, like a volcano attempting to shove its way up through the barrier of rock and stone and soil, as if it would jettison up the dreams if only it could simply to remove the arduous pain of my scratching and biting as I burrow in more and more.  Tears pour by the bucketsful from my eyes.  I am nearly blind from sweat and tears and the blood from my hands as I periodically reach to knuckle the tears away.  I feel as if I have stumbled into some hot briny caldron, so rises the wetness up too close to me.  I feel I am in the Giant’s big black kettle, being turned into wild woman soup.  Nothing stops me.  I may have to pause to make macaroni and cheese for my children, but I never give up on my dreams.  Not any more.  I will always return to dig up more until we are all set Free.

Eventually, after months of excavation, procrastination, remonstration, finally I have pulled a few dreams free from their mire.  They sure are not pretty.  They need a good scrub, some polishing, and lots of genuine love and encouragement.

Here, this little lump of green, all wadded up into itself, gone far more than fetal in position, this was my Dream of being a Writer, capital W.  This is my dream to be the Great Novelist, the Great Short Story Creatrix, the Ever-Musing Poet.  She needs a lot of special care, this little one.  So near to my heart is She.  My oldest, my most-beloved Dream, still struggling to be the Seed, to find the soil to set down in, to gather her forces and grow roots and sprout forth into an ever-amazing, ever-blooming wonderful Tree.

This, this smashed bit of ochre, this too was a Dream.  Something I had done long ago, but overlooked, forgotten, hadn’t really thought much about nor allowed much to rest upon its abilities.  It whispers in its sweet little voice to draw, to pick up the crayon, the pencil, to put it to paper and draw draw draw.  Let go of the fear and step ahead.  Paint and glue and collage and work into things far more gracious.  This little thing longs to be a huge towering Redwood Tree in my Forest.  Start small.  Start with the pencil.  Grand things shall from this tend.

Here is a small black piece, hard and soft, like a lump of West Virginia coal dug out of the humble walls of a basement to be thrown into the furnace to heat the entire house overhead.  This, this is my dream of, Healing.  I didn’t want to be a psychic.  I’m just good at it.  I wanted to Heal people, to help people Heal themselves, to Guide them in their journeys.  I don’t want to do massage work.  I want to do Energetic work, Soul Work, Shamanic work , Shifting Consciousness work.  I want to Counsel people, help them find what they are looking for, help them see what it is they truly seek and help them as they find their way.  This is me.  This is what makes me happy, what fulfills me.  Being the shoulder to cry on, patting the tears dry and giving them something of value to hold on to as they carry on, so they can support themselves along the way.  It is not me.  It is merely what they need for and of themselves expressed through me.

I had to force and plunder to reach this other one, so tiny had it become, charred and blackened, but some of the indigo almost visible through the cracking.  This one, this broken shattered whimpering thing was once my Dream of being a Teacher.  Someone who Guides and Inspires.  That is me too, part of my Healing work, part of my Destiny.  I have turned so far against the mainstream of things that work as a school teacher, in either a private or public arena, would simply not be adequate for me.  Not in this country.  This little gem, I keep turning around, redirecting, sanding, weaving, changing.  I have no desire to work in a school environment.  That part of the dream atrophied and died long ago.  I can work around the scar tissue.  I Dream of becoming a Waldorf-certified Teacher.  I do not plan to work in a school.  I definitely plan to home-school my children throughout their lives, just as I continue my own education every single day of my life.  I do plan to have children in my life, all my life, and wish to do what I can to offer them the nurturing and educational space they need to be truly great intellectuals and people.  Let this one sprout, bloom, and rival the sky with its heavenly scents and ideas.

Down at the end, I found an old shoebox, sun-stained, muddied, looking as if a herd of elephants had stampeded over it, more than once.  When I managed to loose it from the death-grip my mind-soil held upon it, it took far too much work to prise the lid off that box, so tightly squelched and abused was the whole thing.  That alone would not be enough to cause me to give up.  I nearly missed it, so nearly microscopic had it become.  This timid teensy little thing, shaking and choking on fear, cowering down in the darkest shadows in the furthest corner of the box from where I sat, peering in at it with trepidation in my eyes and soul.  I didn’t know what to do, what to make of it.  I reached in to save it, retrieve it, only to have the vile little beastie nip at me with viper sharp teeth.  It drew blood!  The fiend!

I called this one, long ago, the “Barbie Dream”.  You know Barbie. The doll.  ‘The bitch has everything.’ my mother used to tell me.  I did not play with Barbie growing up.  She was unseemly.  I had Charlie’s Angels dolls, and a doll called Darci, who was a model.  I loved them.  They were tough, independent and better than men.  Barbie was a sell-out.  The Barbie Dream is the house, the kids, the husband, the cars in the garage, the white picket fence, the well-behaved dog.  You know, the “perfect every-day family”.  Ozzie and Harriet.  Wally and the Beav’s parents.  Samantha and Darren in their utterly topsy-turvy yet oh-so-perfect world.  Where everything looked good.  Where families were devoted to one another.  The ‘perfect’ world.  The ‘perfect’ life.

This one scares me, more than all the rest put toghether.  The rest I know I can do, I can accomplish, I can achieve.  They all depend upon me, just me.  Even if I am never published, if no one ever buys one piece of art, even if I never have another child or come in contact with another child, even if all my clients desert me, they all depend upon me ultimately, all those Dreams.  This one, this Dream right here, depends on someone else as well.  A man, at that.

I trust the man, this man.  Finally, I have a good good man in my world and in my heart.  I do not trust ….that Dream.  Depending upon a man, even this man.  I do not trust that it won’t seem perfect at first before disintegrating into chaos and bedlam, leaving me lost and cold, hurt and angry, devesatated and all alone, struggling again.  I am afraid of this dream.  Afraid to take it up, cuddle it to my breast, succor it and cede it.  But I Want it.  Want it.  I want to be happy.  I want that family.  So, I would prefer a barb-wire fence to white picket, but a fence is a fence.  So, I want a much bigger house, because I want more children of my own, and guests and visitors and new-comers and friends to come and stay with us.  I want the marriage, the snuggling into someone in front of the fireplace while we each do our things, together.  I can knit.  He can read.  Someone who supports me, the way I support him.  I am not asking for perfection.  I am not expecting a rose-garden, except maybe I do.  I expect there to be thorns, trials and tribulations along the way, but over-all I anticipate the beauty of our love and friendship and connection to win out.  This is my Dream.  Not of a perfect life.  But, of a Good Life, a solid honest open communicative Life.  With a close-knit solid family to be the backbone and support system for all of us, children and grand-children too.  Where we are safe in our home without worrying about the ills of the world blowing our way.  Where we stand together and brave all perils, trusting in one another’s arms and embraces.

That is my Dream.  It may take this one a lot longer to grow.  This one will need a lot more tending and care, a lot more fertilizing and weeding and sorting through.  Yet, it is my Dream and it will come True.  I know.  I believe.

Here are all my dreams caught in the web of my own design.  Here is my little garden that I grow inside my heart.  Here is me finally accepting that the past is done and new things can come in now.

That is the best thing of all.

written by Tabitha K

http://onthewrongsideofthemirror.wordpress.com/

Written by Tabitha Low

May 30, 2009 at 10:10 pm

Heart-Strings Bag

with one comment

 

 

 

          He pulled his cards out of the bag, an old dark green velvet thing, and stuffed the cards into his back pocket.  I was certain those dragon cards were most displeased by that process.  He held the back out to me, along with a lock of his hair twisted up in a bit of copper wire.  I slid my hand into his, gripping the bag and his hand underneath.  I clung to him for just one moment.  He gently disengaged himself, kissed my cheek.  Then he turned, and walked away.  I knew it would be too long before I saw him again.  At least I did know what I had to do while he was gone on his Journey.  I had to take one of my own.

         

          I stumbled home, unwilling to admit that tears trickled from my eyes, burning down my cheeks.  I clutched that emerald bag to my chest in both hands.  I didn’t notice how wet it grew as I did.  I staggered through my front door and threw myself onto the bench.  I don’t remember another thing, til the rooster started crowing the next morn.

 

          I awoke full of purpose.  I knew what I needed to do.  I lit the sage bundles and let them waft and clear the air.  I washed myself, scrubbed my face clean.  Changed out of my dirty dusty duds from the day before and found something clean and peaceful to wear.  I did a little sweeping and dusting to cleanse the room a bit more.  Then it was time to set to work.

 

          I turned to my shop, the wall of nooks and crannies and cabinets it had taken me so long to build by hand to my ever-changing specifications.  I started to hum under my breath, waiting for inspiration to hit me.

         

          All I did was allow the Spirit to move over me and through me.  My hands reached.  My body twirled.  I nearly danced myself silly, as the humming took on a voiceless cadence, and my skirts whipped and flew with my movements.

 

          After I was done, I saw the light had changed.  Morning had passed.  We were into the late afternoon.  Before me on the table was a vast array of items.  Some of them indeed brought more and fervent tears to my eyes.

 

          First, of course, was his lock of hair bound in the copper wire.  Beside it was a puff of cotton left from my last expedition out into the fields for picking.  A bit of wolf’s fur, bound in azure ribbon.  A lock of sheep’s wool, wrapped in upon itself.  A raven’s tail feather.  All my totem strengths and energies held in hand there.  I gently tucked them into the bag.

         

          There was a bit of parchment, all bundled up, tied with a bit of red silk thread.  I knew it on sight.  It bore the names of all my loved ones, here and that had passed on.   A vial of tears, said to be from the waters of the River Styx.  It had been passed down through my mother’s line for generations.

 

          There was a twist of salt, a twist of sand, a twist of rice.  Nearby sat the riverstone he had given me when he went away for training years ago.  The iron nail from shoeing a horse, slightly bent where it had been removed long ago.  A handful of rose petals.  I knew where each petal had come from, which bouquet, which occasion.  My breath hitched in my chest for just a second or two.  Then the golden ring that had bound me for so long, now twisted and crushed into an entirely different form. 

 

          A small pile of what to some would appear as pebbles.  One quartz crystal to help augment all the rest.  A rose quartz for clarity of heart.  Amethyst for quality of brain.  Garnet for balance of emotions.  Ruby for intensifying emotions.  Carnelian for boldness.

 

          And each in their own little bundle were the herbs.  Mugwort for vision.  Lavender for peace.  White sage for clarity.  Sweet basil to feed the dragons.  And peppermint for that minty cup of tea to help cleanse me.

 

          The final objects were an acorn from a ceremony long long ago and a big fat marble the most pure aquamarine with golden flecks threading throughout.

 

          I tucked all of these into the thick fabric of the pouch, cinched it tight to close it, and hung it at my waist by my belt. 

 

          I stood up tall, squared my shoulders and walked out the door.  It was time for my own walk-about and I had plenty of places to go.

 

written by Tabitha 

aka Raven TK

http://knittingjourneymanredux.blogspot.com/

http://onthewrongsideofthemirror.wordpress.com/

Written by Tabitha Low

May 7, 2009 at 12:49 am

A Marvelous Thing!

with 2 comments

 

I took a trip to The Golden Grove, sat myself under a tree and thought about…

Slinkies.

slinky
“A Marvelous Thing!”

by

a.m. moscoso

One of my favorite toys in the entire world

was

and remains

the Slinky.

To this day I’m your fan of the basic

Silver Slinky.

NOT

 the  Slinky Jr., the Plastic Slinky or the Slinky Dog or even the  Slinky Pets- and surpise I didn’t even like the Crazy Eyes (glasses with Slinky-extended fake eyeballs) I never owned one of those Neon Slinkies though I found a few of them under my Christmas Tree from time to time.

See, for years I thought that one little toy meant I was your normal Suburban kid and not the little weirdo who got rocks thrown at her by her Blue Bird Troop because she didn’t bring Maple Squares on treat day.

And then, one day I decided to write about

The Slinky

and learned it’s inventor- Richard James- left his wife and ran off to Bolivia to join a religious cult.

 

You know, it’s true.

You can run as far as you want and when you’re done running

you’ll always end up

 right back in the place you were trying to get away from in the first place.

 

Written by Anita Marie

February 3, 2009 at 2:57 am

IOU

with 3 comments

by anita marie moscoso

inspired by the Soul Food Cafe Writing Prompt

Catharsis

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Buckbee Parsall took the late train home because he was never really in a hurry to get back Danuta- which is the town he called home nowadays.

He’d fiddle around at his desk, he’d empty the trash for the janitor and sometimes he’d even help the boss reconcile invoices that weren’t even from his department.

Buckbee would do anything to keep himself from having to catch that train.

” What’s the matter Buckbee? ” his Boss would ask ” Things a little rough at the old homestead?”

” It’s Hell boss ” Buckbee would say and his Boss would pat him on the shoulder and he would smile a real smile of understanding and instead of saying a bunch of meaningless drivel he’d just say to lock up when he left.

Every single day of his life ended just like that.

Last Friday Buckbee manged to make the last train (much to his disappointment).

Then like always he took his seat and started to prepare himself for home.

They didn’t use wood and nails and cement and paint when they built Buckbee Parsall’s home – Buckbee’s little house of doom built on Down Turn Drive was constructed from whining and crying and self-pity and hatred and just about every Vice known to man.

If there was something you could do wrong in this life Buckbee’s did it first and best.

At least he was good at something- being rotten and filled with self-loathing to the core didn’t happen over night. Buckbee knew that sort of task requires skill and commitment from an individual.

So after Buckbee took inventory of his life he jumped in and started  swimming in a Sea of Despair right there on dry land. That’s  when Carew Orchard and Rucker Mead took the seats right in front of him.

The woman was Carew and right away she starts talking about how easy it was to convince her Mother- who seemed to have problems remembering who she was from hour to hour- to sign a bunch of blank checks.

” She owes me ” Carew snapped to her companion ” I’m just sorry she won’t remember it was me that robbed her blind at the end of her stupid life.

My Mother had the same hairstyle for over 30 years and she collected ashtrays. That’s it…that was my mother. She didn’t care how much that weird stuff affected me “

Rucker told Carew ” That’s like my wife- that woman never appreciated me. I slaved at that Firm for over 40 years to get the house and the cars and the vacations…and it wasn’t like I didn’t share that with her. So she finds out I have a little life for myself on the side and she falls to pieces and throws herself off a bridge.

 Do you know what happens after she pulls that stunt? I get hate mail from people because when they tried to talk her off the rail they shut the highway down and people were stuck in their cars for hours. She couldn’t just stay home and do herself in like a normal person. But that was my darling wife- selfish to the core. “

Buckbee just about got sick at the sound of those two Olympic Class Whiners when he heard Carew ask Rucker, ” So how far is it to Danuta? “

And then Buckbee did get sick and they stopped the train.

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Buckbee could tell Carew and Rucker didn’t want to really be the ones to help him from one car to the next, but the Conductor was a friend of Buckbee’s and it was such a small favor to do for a guy whose life was a living Hell.

The Conductor collared Carew and Rucker and asked them to help Buckbee to his seat. They looked up into that pale slack face and couldn’t really say no.

So they each took an arm and started to walk Buckbee to the next car.

When they were between cars Buckbee grabbed his mouth and through his slightly parted fingers he hissed, ” I’m going to be sick again…”

As Carew and Rucker jumped back Buckbee slid the side door open and he shoved them both out onto the tracks.

The tracks that ran over bottomless pits  instead of  Earth and tracks that went through lakes of fire instead of tunnels.

Then Buckbee went to his seat and from his briefcase he pulled out a blank invoice that read

Heaven and Hades Inc.

And on one of the lines Buckbee Parsall wrote:

IOU 2. 

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Written by Anita Marie

November 8, 2008 at 4:55 pm

Posted in Pythian Challenges

WELCOME TO BOCKSBOHNE

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By Anita Marie Moscoso

Based on The Soul Food Cafe Prompt:

Rear Vision Mirror Memories

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Have you ever been on a road trip, and ended up driving down those dirt roads that lead into the dead empty towns with boarded up fast food places with names like “ Chicken Basket “ or “ Hank’s Hamburger Haven “ and have you noticed  there’s always a gas station with those funny tin signs advertising a brand of cigarettes or beer that no one’s seen on a shelf in over 50 years?

No doubt on these trips you’ve seen the houses too, the odd gray houses sitting up off the road.

You’ve probably even seen curtains hanging in the windows and you weren’t  sure but you think you may have seen someone looking back out at you as you drove by.  Maybe you’ve even seen one of those old time drug stores with the Soda Fountain in the back but you know, you wouldn’t stop there on a bet to check it out because you’ll tell yourself you don’t have the time…you’ve got somewhere to get to.

There, you’ll reassure yourself that sounds good. But that little voice, it’s  the real reason you don’t stop because it’s screaming at you, “ don’t you dare stop! Hey are you listening to me? I don’t care if you run out of gas! You will not stop in this town because if you do you’re going to have to get out and push. Don’t you even think about stopping here, is that clear?”

Then when you hit the other end of “ Main Street” (which will only take about three minutes) and you’re back on that long empty dirt road that some joker of a map maker called “ interstate 101 or Highway 19” you’ll have forgotten you were afraid. 

After a few more minutes that empty little town that scared you half to death will be long behind you and it’ll be like you were never there at all. 

That’s what the town of Bocksbohne is like; once you leave it you’ll never be sure you were really there.

One summer Audley Frame was driving to Seattle and somewhere along Amorita Pass high in the Olympic Mountains she passed through a town called Turnsole (clearly marked on her map) and after a few miles she was on a dirt highway that lead straight into Bocksbohne.

That’s what the white sign with the peeling black letters read. Welcome to Bocksbohne 

It wasn’t suppose to be there according to the map, it had no reason to be there out in the middle of nowhere but it was there all the same and before she knew it Audley Frame was speeding passed a drive in theatre with a rusted swing set and a fallen over carousel under a weather-beaten movie screen. Across the street from the drive in was Chieko’s Drugstore and further up from that was little brick building with a sign in its window.

She slammed on her brakes and was snapped back in her seat by her seatbelt and she hardly noticed the pain because all she saw was the sign. It was a simple sign, the background was flat black and the letters were neon orange and the sign simply said: 

Help Wanted. 

The window was caked with dust and grime and right there in the center of the window screaming in brand new orange neon letters was the word: 

HELP. 

Not HELP WANTED

Now it just said  HELP.

Audley’ s foot came off the brake and she let her car roll forward and she turned to watch the window as her car tried to pull itself away from building.

Now the sign read   “ HELP WANTED INQUIRE WITHIN “.

The letters were blood red and the ink was so fresh it had smudged a little on the filthy glass window.

“ Red Ink” she heard herself say, “ it’s red ink.”

Then her foot found the gas pedal and Audley’ s car roared passed buildings and houses with broken windows and doors that were falling off of their hinges. She ignored the rusty children’s toys abandoned on the sidewalks and she hit a few curbs and before she knew it she was out the other end of Bocksbohne and when she looked into her rearview mirror she saw her dark brown hair had turned white. 

She put her hand to the mirror and turned it down, she had no intentions of using it until Bocksbohne was behind her. 

Far behind her.

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Written by Anita Marie

November 8, 2008 at 4:44 pm

Posted in Pythian Challenges

Whose Hands?

with 6 comments

 

 

I remember her hands, slim and graceful,

gently rounded fingernails

sometimes painted with a soft rose nailpolish,

sometimes cut up from yardwork or from building something.

 

Hands that could wield a hammer or a needle,

 pounding work or delicate work,

                sometimes doing construction as when building her house

                sometimes doing embroidery or cruel needlework.

 

 

Hands that made crocheted gifts for Christmas one year and

hand drawn with the recipient’s interest painted on tee shirts the next. 

                sometimes making and carving candles

                sometimes making beaded flower arrangements for all.

 

Hands that hammered two by four’s

hands that carried large cement blocks

                sometimes up scaffolding while building a chimney

                sometimes making a retaining wall.

 

Hands that made things from scratch

hands reddened from boiling water or strained black raspberries,

                sometimes making tofu or bread

                sometimes canning veggies and making jellies.

 

Hands that hammered wallboard

hands that spackled and sanded each wallboard joint

                sometimes painting ceilings and walls

                sometimes slapping on tar to waterproof basement walls.

 

Hands that danced through the air

as explanations needed visual expression,

                sometimes in graceful dancing

                sometimes in pointed conversations.

 

Hands that changed diapers

hands that delighted to convey love to others through touch, 

                sometimes to hold and caress

                sometimes to massage and heal.

  

But what has happened to those hands?

Whose hands do I now see?

                sometimes bloated from water retention

                sometimes aching from too much work

                sometimes not seeming like the same hands of yore

                sometimes I wonder: whose hands are they?

 

They are my hands now: aging, not as graceful

hands that convey the passage of time,

                sometimes still able to massage and heal

                sometimes to make bread or draw

                sometimes to build something or paint

sometimes pull weeds and plant.

 

More likely than not they are dry, needing lotion

or aching from too much writing or weeding

                always wanting to impart love and touch

                always wanting to distill a little more beauty

                                into gardens, or recipes, or creative gifts

                                into life, work, people, love.

 

They are my hands now—no one else’s

 I am proud of the legacy they reveal

                only to those who have the wisdom to see

                life enhances, not detracts, from the beauty of hands.

   

 

Written by thalia

September 9, 2008 at 10:50 am

The Portal In My Front Yard- Pt. II

with 3 comments

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:

 

 

I Am Here

with 5 comments

 

Inspired by The Soul Food Cafe Prompt

The Armoury

Once I had to clear out of a place fast- there had been an earthquake and not knowing when we would be let back into the building I grabbed from off the top of my desk-

my I.D. but not my purse

my notebook and some pens

a bottle of water and a picture of my dogs that I keep next to my phone-

the last thing I grabbed was a little ceramic cat that had broken off of a fixture when it hit the floor.

I could not stand the thought of that little figure getting thrown out.

I remember standing outside with my friends waiting for a ride with those things jammed into my pockets and clutched against my chest and the Morbid Me who knows no bounds ( thank God because it does most of my writing for me ) said,

” Wow…if you dropped dead right now these are the things they’d show to your family when they would bring them into one of those little offices at the Coroner’s office to I.D. you…you know that right?”

And I thought…hell, with this stuff they could have I.D me without the license.

So I wonder, was it the stuff that mattered?

Or were those objects- bits of paper and glass and the water- were those breadcrumbs – markers that would lead me back to the life I had before the Earth tried to swallow me?

Or were they little markers to tell people, ” this is Anita and she was here “

I think so.

No I take that back.

I know so.

Written by Anita Marie

July 17, 2008 at 1:29 am