This time of year I clean the glass on my china cabinet and all the porcelain dishes within. I can see the outdoors reflecting like a mirror. The dishes shine in autumn sunlight. Just think about all the shiny reflected light we encounter every day. Imagine a net that represents all life in the universe, the web of life.
The Rig-Veda, an ancient religious text, contains about 250 hymns to Lord Indra, India’s mythological king of the gods. At least one of the hymns tells of Lord Indra’s Net, the web of life. Every juncture of it has a jewel that reflects all other jewels. The Net represents the interconnection of all life in the universe. The ancient hymn describes Indra’s Net as an endless web of threads throughout the universe. Horizontal threads are space while vertical threads are time. At every crossing of the threads, there is an individual and each one a crystal bead. Every crystal bead reflects the light from every other crystal in the net and also from every other reflection throughout the entire universe. This cosmic web might look like this according to Terence McKenna in Approaching Timewave Zero: Part 1:
“One way of thinking about it is to compare it to one of those mirrored disco balls, which sends out thousands of reflections off of everybody and everything in the room. The mirrored disco ball is the transcendental object at the end of time, and those reflected twinkling, refractive lights are religions, scientific theories, gurus, works of art, poetry, great orgasms, great souffles, great paintings, etc. Anything that has, in Nietzsche’s phrase, the “spark of divinity within it,” is in fact, referent to the original force of the spark of all divinity unfolding itself withing the confines of three-dimensional space.”
Now, think about this for a while. When you shine your light more brightly, you bring everyone else’s up with you.
They always said DeLila daydreamed too much; she needed to pay attention to her work.
They always said DeLila was rather spacey . . . drifty . . . flighty . . .
Some said DeLila’s imagination was too fantastic; she wasn’t grounded in reality.
One said DeLila would never amount to much.
Another said she was likely to one day just flit away and never come back.
You know what, that’s just what she did.
Weekly Photo Challenge: State of Mind and reposted today for Magic. I wish more people would, if just for a portion of their day, use a state of mind more like DeLila, who I invented here. We could just pop ourselves into a bubble and let the breeze carry us somewhere else. I have no doubt many bloggers practice this way nonetheless. I used this photo recently in another post but it felt appropriate for this week’s challenge. I love the weekly challenges, I ponder them all week and look at my world through a different lens because of the themes.
By the way, after I composed this flash fiction I made a quick internet search for the name Delila which I chose for no good reason. I found this story and songs of Delila, a Kurdish song writer, drummer, protester, warrior woman who was killed by a Turkish soldier. She was not at all like the character I invented here. Her music is delightful and mesmerizing, though I don’t understand the lanuage of her lyrics.
Last morning shift checking out keys to the gates. It’s slow business in the office so I can pack and clean and photograph skulls or their attachments. I didn’t get all the skulls like the beaver on the window sill or the mountain goat on a corner shelf. Staff bring them in when they find them. They fit in with a place that’s all about wildlife. If you like to write or draw monsters, these aught to suggest some creatures to design.
I cleaned this California Big Horn Sheep skull with a soft paint brush. The pile of tiny sawdust on the dresser told me it had insects gnawing within. It was covered with a dusty towel that I put in the laundry and covered it again with a clean sheet. A cotton ball with a dab of cedar oil set nearby will protect it from bugs. I can imagine this form as the foundation for “the monster behind the closed door upstairs”. Don’t open the door. I know it’s a trope, but still . . .
It’s really heavy! The last 3 Big Horn Sheep in the Andrus Wildlife Management Area died of pneumonia. This one was found in the fence above Brownlee Dam with it’s neck broken. The biologist thinks it might have been fleeing for its life from something and ran off the cliff above the rock fence. Running from a predator might be a rather common cause of death in nature. Remember those 2 suicidal quails yesterday?
This small horn was on a side table next to several deformed antlers in the living room. It’s not very big, maybe as long as a new pencil.
Goodbyes with staff and I’m headed up the highway to visit my 94 year old aunt in Cambridge. Whoa! I left my coffee press in the dish rack! Back at the ranch the staff were talking about me and thrilled to see me in the drive way. They wanted to learn how to make the sourdough rye bread I baked for them. I showed them where to find it on my blog and offered to give them the starter I had with me (more at home) but they want to do it all from scratch including creating their own starters. One of them had hollowed out the end of the loaf I gave him and stuffed it with baked quail, cheese, and vegetables. The other had sliced his and stacked slices with mozzarella bites and vegetables open faced like tapas. He ate his slices with baked quail and wine. We talked about writing and art and ghost stories, lots of ghost stories from Hells Canyon. They urged me to use suicidal birds in a story and to create a character based on the technician. He would carry a hatchet everywhere he goes and we could call him the Kindler (he chops kindling and other things). The biologist told us about his epic character. He has written more than 25 adventures for it. He also used to create radio shows with a friend. It was an enthusiastic conversation and I’ve no doubt I’ll be back to visit these new friends.
I’ve been advised to start stories not at the beginning but somewhere else, perhaps the middle or the end. I’ll share a few journal notes this week from my experiences as volunteer gatekeeper for a wildlife management area in Hells Canyon. Today is not the first.
I’ve been squatting long enough my toe joints hurt but I don’t want to move. Turkeys following in line, spread to a V, marching knees high, advance quickly toward me as I crouch beneath an old black walnut tree. I want to become so much part of the environment they don’t fear me, they forget me and they move closer unaware. I can’t take it any longer. Before bracing my weight with my finger tips I check the ground in case there is bear scat. Don’t touch ground here without looking. It’s everywhere. All around the house, in the gravel, up the banks beneath the thicket of wild ancient fruit trees. Shit. That’s what it is. Why do we call it scat? Bears shit in orchards. They shit anywhere they please and don’t much think about it. I think. Bearshit. It’s everywhere I look. Or step. Or kneel.
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Day 1 – First day living at the ranch to check out keys to the gates. I arrived at 3:30, no staff at the house yet so I took out my camera. The sun was about to go behind the mountain. I love the sounds here, the creek and turkeys and then deep silence in the evening.
Day 2 – evening – Turkeys are somewhat scary the way they walk and peck at each other, wings spread wide and beating the air. When they roost in tall trees over the creek I feel like they might dive at me. But they don’t. But they might. I feel it. Sometimes I am typing this story, these notes, and I see a shadow cruise swiftly past the window out in the yard, the air space over the yard. It’s a turkey, but might it be something else? It’s dusk, what’s the science word for this time of day becoming night? It feels like when I am walking up my road at home and swallows are darting after insects and then for a brief time when it’s almost too dark to detect images as they truly are I sense bats the same size darting among the swallows, all of them feasting on flying insects. It’s a feeding frenzy. And soon the swallows are gone and it’s only the bats and mammoth moths devouring bugs all night. I need monsters flitting about doing the same thing. I need imaginary predators imitating my pets imitating predators, waiting so patiently, so alertly, so ready to snap up their prey.
That sound? Has something with wings landed on my roof peak? Is it waiting for me to forget it’s presence, unwary, and go to the wood pile or to my truck for a bucket of paints? Will I forget it’s there, let it be part of the environment until cautionless I walk out into the dark of night, witless and mindless as a turkey, and it swoops down and snaps off my head leaving my neck spurting blood and my legs still walking as though they haven’t yet received the message they have no head managing their performance? It could happen.
BTW I made it to the truck and back fetching a small jar of sourdough starter I had left behind the seat. Still I left the flashlight there. The moon is getting fairly full. No matter. I’m writing horror snippets and at this point something very big with wings is surely perched on the roof patiently waiting like any wise predator for its unwary prey to emerge mindlessly from the door. And I’ve learned that turkeys talking in the night sound something like wolves.
I’ve been enchanted with the grotesque since I learned about gargoyles in my 7th grade French class. And I’ve always liked the humorous. Walking in Madrid in September I paused and clicked a few shots of this window decor while my friends advanced ahead of me, not noticing the window or that I was no longer keeping up. The skulls and rocks have been transformed to serve practical functions; they are no longer in their original forms. Go back and look closely and you will see what’s going on inside the room as well as reflections of street action. Let your mind feel the shifts in perception captured by the lens.
I met Richard Thomas when he was instructor at the Horror Writers Workshop Transylvania, Edition 2015, in Bran. One day on our way to write in a haunted castle we had lunch in an ancient cemetery. Richard made the original photo of this group of grave markers and I messed with it a bit to create this transmogrified image.
Ax grinding was a necessity 70 years ago. A well sharpened tool made work more satisfying. Skill in ax honing was an art. The man or woman at the grinder peddled foot pumps to turn the grindstone. Notice the grinder’s posture as he leans against the tree and holds the blade at a certain angle. He looks fully focused on the task, perhaps in mindful meditation as he listens to the steel and grindstone in harmony with the motion he creates using his body.
When I feel nostalgia* for times gone by, like this sort of work that was part of rural life before I was born, I wonder if people really felt satisfaction from such tasks. Certainly life moved at a slower pace for most before all our modern conveniences, but was it any more pleasant or annoying than our lives today?
*Nostalgia: a wistful or excessively sentimental yearning for return to or of some past period or irrecoverable condition. (Mirriam-Webster Dictionary)
By the way, that’s my Great Grandfather Barlow grinding the ax in this image from family archives. He was known for this skill and for growing bountiful vegetable gardens. And this image is my response to this week’s photo challenge: nostalgia.
For a beautiful photograph of a blade sharpener in a different culture click here. The photo tells a story.
Cherry season! Pull out the dehydrator and vodka and settle down for a few hours in the pits. I bought 50 pounds at a fruit stand, as pure as I could find. These were only sprayed with a pheromone that confuses male fruit flies to keep them from spoiling the crop. The insect lure helps growers monitor and manage for the most helpful insects. I still consider these organic and pure.
I seldom put recipes on my blog but these are so tasty and so good for you, I just want to share the juice. I love dried cherries so I’ve been waiting to get some into my dehydrators. I filled the large one and with our rains this week it took about 24 hours to dry them, longer than I expected. Today I filled the big and the small dehydrators. A big bowl of fruit is left for eating fresh. The rest went into jars with sugar and vodka for the liqueur I use in winter to make “cherry bombs”. Here’s how I did it.
Cover up, it can get messy and stain your clothes. I wore Grandma’s apron. I think she must have made this one just for messing with cherries! I pulled out my super razor sharp paring knife. In little time I could pit cherries like I meant business. A sharp sharp knife is a must, far safer than a dull knife because it slices and you don’t have to push through the fruit.
The short story is that I sliced a bowl of cherries, cutting all the way around from stem to stem. When I had a good sized bowl, I opened them, dropped out the pits and set them skin side down on the dehydrator trays. A glass of wine (or more) helped keep me from getting bored, as well as listening to an audio book while I sliced.
You can see the stem at top of the left half, above. Grip each half and twist them in opposite directions to pop them open. The right side is turned so it’s stem part is facing away now. I twisted about a quarter turn. It was fairly fun!
The pit sticks to one side. Scoop it out with your thumb or a finger. I found it faster and easier to slice a bunch, then remove all their pits for a while because my hands got slick removing pits which made it harder to handle the knife after each one. Try it this way and see how it works for you. I started my slice on one side of the stem, pulled the blade across the stem and around the cherry back to where I started. In the initial slice my blade rested on the pit and all I had to do was hold the knife in place and turn the cherry. Much safer than turning the knife around the globe, I was able to keep my fingers away from the blade edge. To be clear, hold the knife in place and turn the cherry with your thumb and fingers of the other hand, keeping your ring and pinky fingers out of the way.
I got into the zen of slicing a bowl of cherries, then removing pits and placing them on the tray. The longer I did this, the better I could focus on the audio book. It settled my mind, the repetition. Pit meditation. In the groove.
See the sliced berries? Do up a bowl of them and then remove all their pits. I felt powerful with this method. Maybe fortified with wine?
Ah, dehydrators are loaded and plugged in, now for simple fun. I first learned this recipe from a woman who brought cherry bombs to a Winter apres ski party. She served them in stemmed glasses with a float of whipped cream on top. I swear it tasted just like cherry pie! Maybe she used pie cherries and I might try that, too. She told me to drain all the vodka out of a bottle, saving it. Then fill the bottle with cherries or any fruit you want, pour in a cup of sugar, pour the vodka back in and then give it a gentle shake every day for a week or more to dissolve and distribute the sugar, then just shake it a little every once in a while for a total of 6 weeks. Finally, very important, hide it with your Christmas ornaments or ski boots so you don’t drink it before winter.
I’ve made it her way, loved it. Today I’m making cherry bomb liqueur in wide mouth quart jars. Into each jar I put
2 1/2 cups pitted sliced cherries ( I’ve made them before without pitting them, no worries.)
1 cup white sugar, pour it over the cherries. I don’t use brown sugar or coconut sugar because their color doesn’t make the liquor look as appetizing as white sugar. If you use coconut sugar use about 3/4 or 2/3 cups because it’s so much sweeter.
1 cup vodka. I have a half bottle left over, so I used a half bottle for all 3 jars. See the level in the vodka bottle?
Put on the lid and ring. Don’t water bath these, they don’t need to be sealed! You don’t have to use canning jars, I’ve used a gallon jar with lid before. I wouldn’t use plastic or metal, just glass. Gently shake each jar a little. Sugar will settle to the bottom but in several days it should be dissolved and invisible. Keep them in a cool dark place while they are working, and then store them in a cool dark place.
Thanks for turning me upside down these couple of weeks. All in all, it’s good to go topsy-turvy now and then and look at the nature of life from the flip side. It gives me an angle to see that I am only a small part of nature. I’m not alone in going upside down to find my provisions. Misery and providence, isn’t that the point Mr. Hugo wanted to make?
So my kid’s in jail and I won’t go her bail and she gets herself out soon enough – yet again. And it’s the blame game – yet again.
So 4 friends die or have memorials in as many days and I can’t get to all of them. I feel like a refugee trying to keep my balance as they all fall down.
So my van gets clobbered by a hit and run driver after one of the memorials.
So my old rescue dog gets attacked by a pack of 3 pit bulls and when I give her permission she clobbers them well enough to give a slight window of time so their owner can pull the lead dog away with many bites to his arms. And the gang follows the leader. We make our get away escaping the unrealized massacre.
So he apologizes lavishly yet denies that more than one dog was attacking and we will let the judge hear us and decide. And that’s a big disruption in my schedule. And it’s what a multitude of residents and dog owners ask me to go through. And I will.
And I discover I belong with a local, national, and international community that supports me in more abundance than I would have felt had I not tumbled over in this short avalanche of unfortunate events.
Now, tell me, Spinning Planet, that you will relax for a while and steady the current just for me so I can regain my harmony and shift my attention to the butterflies who have arrived in my gardens and the mule deer in my back yard who gave birth to twins just here and now. I still have strength to peer through disorder and flow with nature. And I remember that I am only a small thing, all in all.
I’m back from 20 minutes timed writing. Things have been happening here, strange sounds from a grave sized hole we dug for a tree last fall, now filled with muddy water, lights in the sky, owls hooting, boulders I swear were not on the ridge last fall before the snow, a flash of my stepdad’s plaid shirt, his arm on the arm of my wicker love seat on the front deck, its back to the window. He died in 2008. I look away from the pane, realize what I have glimpsed and look back. Nothing there. But it felt so real. I’m sure it was there. The old dog’s frequent nose bleeds. All that blood, it is from the dog, right? That sort of thing. No doubt all can be explained but it’s fun to let my imagination lead the way and get something on the page. Since I spent a lot of money and time in a horror writers workshop in Transylvania last summer, I might as well practice the writing craft, fiction that is. It is fiction, right?
Last summer 2 grandsons and a neighbor helped us plant a maple tree for shade. I want to see how the tree and the boys grow, how we all change over years, so I took some baseline photos with help. The youngsters did most of the work, of course. Working with them is always fun. We thought we looked a little like the American Gothic painting even in the dorky glasses we tried on.
Here’s the original art that inspired us.
This is my second post for this week’s photo challenge: “Life imitates art.”. The idea is to find inspiration in a piece of art, and go further: imitate it. You can see more amusing American Gothic remakes here.
“I want to make time stretchier. I would like much more rubbery days, and I just wish that you could lean on a week, and sort of push the walls out a bit, and suddenly about nineteen extra days would rush in to fill the vacuum.
There is not enough time, and I wind up just wanting to do things that I don’t have time for. There are so many things that I’d love to do, and I have to put off, or that it’s a matter of me choosing, when really I’d love to do both. And if only time were infinitley stretchy, I could.” Neil Gaiman
Don’t expect Me to mark My place as your Days dawn and pass. I’m not responsible for keeping track of Hours and Minutes. I’m never on Time, except for Some Times. If Time means something to you, count on Me to arrive in My own good Time. I linger in Moments, suspending Myself to make perfect whatever it is I’m doing at the Time instead of rushing on to some Appointment that you’ve set for some certain Hour. I’m Time and I don’t make appointments. You note Instants of my coming and going in Hours on your coo coo clocks. Coo coo. Coo coo.
I’m never late. You are. Then you hurry to make up for losing Me. How can I be lost? Time doesn’t get lost. I’m here all along no matter what; it’s you who is Late or Early, not Time. I just be Myself right here, right Now, and you scuttle all around Me, trying to keep Me. Wherever you feel you need to be going, you’re certainly not going to get there on Me.
I’m not in control of anything. I don’t heal everyThing. What a trite meaningless phrase. “Time heals everything.” Oh, really? Who do you think I am? I can’t heal you, only you can heal yourself if you let Me help you.
I hold no one on a leash. I’m far too busy to stop everything for the Moment. Children and Old people trained Me to hold on, wait just a Minute, or several Moments for them to get ready for some event, to get in the mood, to get dressed, to cry or laugh, to hop or step to the open car door. The young and the old, they take so much of Me! I say give them more of Me! Spend more of Me with them. Act more like them and you’ll see that I’m hardly noticed at all. And to them I mean everything.
Lots of people are driven by Me. I steer the locomotive. If you’re not on My train and you get left Behind what loss? I only left you in the Moment. The Moment is a train depot. Stay right here and forget about Me. Look around you. Notice a bird nest or a puddle frozen over with a thin crust of ice. Go ahead, stay with Me and study it. Touch it with your toe. Fracture that ice and see how it looks Then. I’m right here with you right Now. Get to know the place where you stand right here, right Now. I’ll stay with you.
I like to take little trips to Ancient civilizations. I like to see My ancestors who lived before Now and those who haven’t lived Yet. I like to see paintings that haven’t been painted and hear songs that haven’t been sung. Yet.
Stop blaming Me for changing things. I’m a scientist observing what Is, what Was, and hypothesizing what Might be. Not how things could be if I changed something in the Past or Present. I don’t change things, I just stay Present and Things move around Me.
I am a continuum. I am Infinite. I have no Beginning. I have no End. I sing and chime in many voices and never all on the same Beat. I’ve kept music and lives orderly. But wait. If I’m not here, what loss? Who cares? Let Disorder take My place!
About this post
This photo is for the Weekly Photo Challenge: Time. I wanted to capture the image of a clock taking its own picture, its self-portrait. Happy accident, the lense flare and dust particles showing the magicalness of daylight. Afterall, daylight is a way we mark time.
This writing is from a writers workshop I participated in. The assignment was to write a self-portrait of something immaterial. What could be less material than Time? I scraped this writing out of my archives. I don’t feel it’s complete Yet. Give it Time.
“There’s the idea of fiction as a safe laboratory for exploring ourselves in our world, for experimenting with a persona or character in social organization, for trying on costumes and running a social model until it breaks down. There is all that. One positive aspect is that maybe this awareness and recording will lead us to live more interesting lives. . . . We’ll develop the ability to imagine our lives in finer and finer detail. . . If nothing else, maybe learning to write will force us to take a closer look at everything, to really see it.
What if some writer comes up with a new way to tell a story, a new way to live?”
From Chuck Palahniuk in Stranger Than Fiction
Well, Chuck, I say more than one writer has done just that, found a new way to tell a story. I recently discovered Kevin Mowrer, a Steampunk world creator who tells stories on a variety of formats for print and elctronic media in which the reader or audience gets to interact with the story. He calls his new way to tell a story meta-story and defines itquite differently I did when discussing Neil Gaiman’s technique of talking about the story within in the story. Mowrer says
“Meta-story is the craft of developing a story and/or narrative so that it treats many of the different media formats as one seamless storytelling canvas.
. . . Interestingly, we live in a rapidly changing age where the audience often seeks to expand their contact with a story that is meaningful to them by looking for it in multiple forms. They read the book and want to spend time every week with the characters they’ve fallen in love with on TV. With those stories that have deep and unique worlds, they want to explore them for themselves beyond the linear experience of a book, a movie or a TV show through deep online worlds and other forms of gaming and site-based experiences.”
Kevin’s intent is to create or expand stories “organically and authentically” to fulfill this new “contiguous story landscape”.
“The media narrative forms, in all their varied richness, are quite alive and evolving at the edges and audiences are redefining what it means to adopt and experience meaningful and deep stories.
Stories are different than direct conversation or debate in that the storyteller is making a contract with the audience to willingly suspend active exchange and profoundly immerse themselves within our narratives and worlds in the hope and belief that we, as creators, will move them with an unexpected and nuanced truth and narrative insight.”
As a reader and writer, I want to explore what Chuck and Kevin express here about the craft of creating fiction. I love reading Steampunk stories. Do I want to write one? Maybe. Do I want to craft a story for a game or web site or movie? Maybe. Chuck Palahnuik challeges each of us to write fiction.
“Instead of wasting more time or money on another crappy book or movie, how about you take a stab at the job? I mean, why not?”
I’ve been nominated by incahootswithmuddyboots for the 3 Day Quote Challenge. Check out her blog. Impressive photographs! My first 2 day’s quotes are also about writing or story telling, by Neil Gaiman and Susan Strauss and Chuck Palahnuik. See them here and here, along with who I nominated yesterday.
The rules to this challenge are:
Post on 3 consecutive days
Post one to three quotes per day (They can be much shorter than mine!)
Challenge three different bloggers each day
Today I nominate these bloggers for the 3 Day Quote challenge. Check out their blogs!
“Stories are webs, interconnected strand to strand, and you follow each story to the center, because the center is the end. Each person (character) is a strand of story.” Neil Gaiman in Anansi Boys
Deep inside Neil’s novel, I realize he’s writing about story making, he employs meta story technique. Meta story is one story embedded within another or a story about stories themselves, among other definitions. Anansi Boys is a story about stories. Remember its’ been said that all stories are Anansi’s, even though Tiger claims they were his first. It’s one thing I love about Neil’s writing, he’s telling a story and talking about telling the story, too. I’ve practiced metapoetry in this post and now I’m liking the idea of writing with meta story and using it in a braided essay.
“There is an old saying that a giant web, like a spider’s web, connects everything in life. We humans tend to forget about it and act out of ignorance of it. Yet, when a true storyteller begins, it is as if the web has been tugged on and we feel its presence again.” Susan Strauss in The Passionate Fact: Storytelling in Natural History and Cultural Interpretation.
I’ve been challenged by incahootswithmuddyboots to the 3 Day Quote Challenge. Check out her blog. Impressive photographs! Her image of a spider on its web is much more impactful than mine! It’s in her slide show low on the post.
The rules to this challenge are:
Post on 3 consecutive days
Post one to three quotes per day
Challenge three different bloggers each day
Today I nominate these bloggers for the 3 Day Quote challenge. Check out their blogs!
The shock of the strike the assault or unexpected injury
Impact with vehement feeling or expression
Shoved in my mouth
When an electric current passes through all or part of the body
a talon in the chest wall stammering heartbeat
to create strong internal stress
A claw in the heart limp corpse in the hand
And what is myself without wings
A means or instrument of flight, travel, or progress
Will you collide violently with me
Will you inflict a harmful and obsessive influence on the mind
Shove my blood into your mouth
A bundle unwrapped and uninvited
The shock jar impact
Strong blow to the sense of decency
And I want to root for the Beast
For it must live by plunder
Taken by robbery, theft, or fraud
It knows no other way seized and devoured
About this poem
This morning I heard a bird hit the window. I looked for it and saw this hawk tangled with its prey in the deer netting strung around my garden. My camera was upstairs in the loft. I got two quick shots, then ran downstairs to get closer. When it heard me on the deck it had recovered, was resting, and then alarmed by me it flew away into the pines with its prey. I can’t tell if it took a quail or jay until I snow shoe to the scene and look for feathers. A jay and a pair of nuthatches in the pine were telling me all about the excitement.
I opened my e-mail and read the Poem a Day sent from Poets.org. Today’s poem is a new format for me, it introduced me to invoking and intervening using dictionary definitions in the text. Definitions are set off in italics. The inspriration came to me from here.
The predator and the daily poem, they just seemed to belong together and so inspired me to create this composition.
This cirlular emblem represents the Order of Dracul. I found it mounted on the wall in the house where Vlad Tepes, or Dracula, was born in Sighisoara, a town in Trnasylvania, Romania. Vlad’s father was the first in the Dracul order. In Romania adding “a” at the end of the name indicates the son of the original member. Only the first son adds the “a” and thereafter all the decendents use the name that way. So Vlad was the second in the Dracul line.
History about Dracula is interesting. I learned about him in The Horror Writers Workshop, Transylvania last summer. If you like horror literature, or want to explore the genre and visit inspiring places for writers, I highly recommend you take the week long workshop. For me, it’s unforgettable.
In addition to his title of “Impaler,” Vlad was also known as “Dracula,” which means “son of the Dragon.” Originally, this title came about because his father (also named Vlad) belonged to the Order of the Dragon, an order formed by the Holy Roman Emperor Sigismund for the purpose of defeating the Turks. The elder Vlad used the dragon symbol on his coins and went by the name “Dracul” (“dragon” or “devil”). Hence the diminutive “-a” on his son’s name, Dracula. As the younger Vlad’s talent for torture became known, however, the name Dracula came to be interpreted more and more as the sinister “son of the devil.” Read more about Dracula’s history here.
I’ve long wondered why so many family emblems are shaped in circles. Obviously they fit well on coins. But consider the circle, a line that continues when its end meets its beginning. Life is a cycle, a circle. It’s not perfect and they say no circle is perfect either. Today I will draft an image contained within a circle. It might represent a family or an order, or it might just be a fun exploration with cirles. Perhaps I’ll go out in my field in snow shoes and stomp circles in the snow.
If you follow my blog, you’ve noticed I have not made many posts this fall. That’s because directing a children’s theater play took more of my time than I had anticipated. It’s all done now and I hope to get back to photography and writing daily and posting at least weekly on this blog.
But I have been blogging on a private blog I created for the cast and crew. I’ve made it a public blog now that performances are over and you can see it on the new page I started. Just look up in the menu bar for Children’s Theater or click that text in this sentence. I realized that children’s theater posts on this blog get a bit of interest so I gave the topic it’s own page.
If you have any interest in children’s theater or any performing art I’d like to hear from you. I designed the robe for Mother Earth in Phaeton and the Sun Chariot from a design sent in by a blogger who read my post seeking ideas.
Next, I’ll be getting ready to go to classrooms in local schools to teach performing arts workshops. And in my studio, I’ll be designing masks and puppets, and writing scripts.
I saved a short stack of cards and letters with photos from the last box of Mom’s hoard. I’d like to share a few excerpts from them. And at the end of this post I have a challenge for you!
My parents kept in touch with friends they had met while constructing power plants across the US. This “fun little group” of Boilermakers had bought adjacent properties along the Green River near Pindale, Wyoming, and they still all owned their spots when Mom died in 2006. From Sylvia and Don in Valpo, Indiana, December 18, 1986:
“When we’re 70 maybe some of us will meet up on top of the hills in Wyoming, with our campers and watch the moose and elk, grouse, sage hen. Hike down the hill on the tundra with flowers and catch some nice fresh fish from the running streams. We’ll all laugh and giggle about our outdoor privy. And no one will be around but our fun little group. One thing for sure I’m not dressing in a wet sleeping bag from the darn rain. Wasn’t that a kick! We’ll bring blackberry wine for Judy and oh the fun memories we can talk about at the camp fire.”
When my daughter was six years old I had become a single mom, finished college, and worked 2 jobs while trying to find a teaching position. From me, their daughter October 4, 1980:
“Thank you for the birthday gifts. The poem was nice, makes me want to spend more time with KC. Last nite I cleaned house and when I finished the dishes I sat down to paint with KC – but I fell asleep on the floor! (frowning face drawn here) Sometimes it’s not what you do together but the presence of spirits that counts.”
My son turned 18 in November of his Senior year and became quite independent so we let him live on the REBEL, our 36′ Monk built wooden boat, to finish high school. He came home for laundry and showers and we gave him grocery money. From me May, 1991:
“Grad gift for Ricky – we are buying him new tires, muffler, tune up parts, etc. for his car to give him a “running” start. He’s uncertain about summer plans. He is looking for work but has no $. He talks about college here next fall. He’s doing outstanding running the 3200 in track. Grades are good. Living on the REBEL is good for him.”
After my son graduated high school I took a year-long leave of absence from my teaching post and really explored the Washington coast line and maritime life. From me, October, 1992:
“I really enjoyed working on the square rigger Lady Washington in September. I was on her in the inner sound near Olympia and sailed her out the Strait to Neah Bay where I presented a workshop for teachers. The ship has asked me to work on her next season for special programs. She was (is a replica) a fur trading cargo vessel and built broad with square sails. She is really not much of a thrill to sail. I much prefer sailing Marconi rigs (triangle shaped sails).
The marine lab is offering me 20 hours a week next summer to expand my work with the public from 6 hours a week. – A raise, too, but certainly not nearly what I can make in public schools. I seem to be headed for more consulting and writing jobs and work at the lab so it looks like I’ll be able to meet my goal of working part time with flexible schedule and not have to go back full-time fo the school district, although they are obligated to me if I choose to go back. I truly do not miss the job of disciplining public youngsters!
The Native American museum at Neah Bay is preparing to move their artifacts to a new building and they have asked me help put the inventory into the computer. I’ll get to work with the Makah tribal elders and learn the language as they are categorizing artifacts by the native language and in accordance with non-material cultural heritage i.e. familial rights to symbolic designs and sex roles like women not allowed to handle whaling equipment. Such a lot to learn but what an experience! The anthropologist is ready to ask the tribal council to approve a curriculum writing project for me – a first for the museum and for the Washington outer coast which is just now being designated as a National Marine Sanctuary.”
These old letters are artifacts. They’re time capsules. They are reminders of how people connected with each other before we had all our electronic devices to send instant messages. Today’s messages are artifacts, too, but there’s something about going to the mailbox and finding a letter or card sealed in an envelope, addressed to you in a cursive handwriting you recognize as if the sender were talking to you in person, the penmanship and style, the unique voice of that writer. And the choice of stamps, that said something about the relationship between writer and reader. Sitting down with paper and pen to respond to the letter was an event, and then finding and addressing the envelope and a stamp, walking it to your mailbox. Letter writing was a ritual and we need rituals in our lives.
I know I’m not the only one who has found a stash of old letters hoarded away by our aging relatives. I admit I’ve saved many letters, too, though not as many as Mom. My mother kept boxes and boxes of cards and letters. They gave her comfort. Old letters, they get my muse jumping. It’s like a collage of memories collected around someone’s life.
“I think my mother saved every birthday or anniversary card they ever received from all five children and other relatives, including cards send to me when I was a kid from my grandparents. In fact, we found some that still had $2 bills in them, which they used to give me.”
Any of these excerpts motivate me to write. I’m going to pick one and use it to stimulate a blog post for the challenge I’ve made with bloggers Doug Warren and Pleasant Street starting the end of September.
When they commented on my last post about old letters we decided to challenge ourselves to once a month write a post inspired by some of our collection of old letters or cards or photos. Make the post the last week of each month. Start this month. Tag each other in these posts. Anyone can join us. I’ll set up the challenge the beginning of the last week, just write your post and tag my challenge post to set up a ping back. I hope you join our challenge!
Feature image by bhttp://alexandrajeancoffey.files.wordpress.com/2010/06/letters.jpg
Tidying up the music room I’m determined to deal with each unpacked box as I come to it. Don’t just move it somewhere else, but find a place for the contents, even if that place is another box that goes to the thrift store or the burn barrel. This is not the last of several boxes of cards and letters my mom kept from 1977 through 1999. I brought them home when she died in 2006 and I’ve gone through them a little at a time. They’re time capsules.
I spent a few hours sorting this box, making piles to burn, keep, or send to my stepsister or kids or cousins. And as I reflect on these old hand written messages, I’m tempted to pull yet a few back from burning.
We seldom write or keep correspondence today, sent through the mail. Social media has taken the place of hand written letters. Letters, to me, are treasures of my family’s development, markers of growing together through life stages and historical events, signs of what was happening in my country and how people felt about it.
Reflecting on why Mom kept these, why they mattered to her, why they still matter to me, takes time. I don’t take it lightly. Here’s a short list of some things I like from this box of treasures.
that Mom’s best friend’s cards and mine have the same style. No wonder and I’m named for her, too.
photos that I can hold and touch, not on my computer screen
my parents, our family, and their friends have a hilarious sense of humor
letters from my kids when they were very young to their grandparents
memorial cards from Grandma’s funeral, and those of other relatives who grew old
wedding and graduation announcements and thank you notes
cursive hand writing, like hearing the sender’s voice speaking to me, I recognize the characters
newspaper clippings with pictures and stories of my son and my parents
my favorite uncle’s signature initials in beautiful cursive or like our family’s ranch brand
my history, even the uncertain times and secrets, and all the love shared through letters
news and notes and jokes from all my aunts and uncles and many many of my parents’ friends
when people sent letters to say they have nothing new to tell, but wanted to remind us they love us
Today, no surprise, a friend brought me another letter with photos from 1976. I had to take time to think and feel about crafting this writing because after I sorted the letter and photos, making one of the stacks for a cousin, he called. He told me that another cousin’s wife died that day. She died while I was reading through the box of cards and letters, and her memorial will be on Mom’s birthday Saturday. Things like this happen to me often enough that I don’t even question the connections any more. I’m just happy that I am aware and that I recognize what a treasure my gift of connections is. All we have to do is pay attention. This experience was designed to happen the way it did.
In Writing 101 from Blogging U we were assigned to write and post a list, and in another assignment to select one word from a list of six and use it as a prompt. This posts meets both those assignments.
Life, landscape, and lore in Idaho Rockies and on Washington's North Olympic Peninsula