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Greetings Gentle Readers,

We are almost half way through March and the precipitation has finally stopped for four days.  I am not saying rain or drizzle or even water but precipitation because something vaguely wet and grey has been falling out of the sky for three months. Even all the little moles and voles are coming up close to the surface; my imagination creating one of the denizens of Redwall wearing a snorkel and water wings. Weather is for some reason vitally important to me, blogging and recording the events of the world in my back yard. I can only be thankful that Readers either understand or revel in the singular fascination of wind and rain with me.  Today the wind has picked up and once again is riffling down the chimney and pushing forward heavy grey storm clouds.  The wind is even stronger once the sun has gone down and distant thunder almost sounds like the mix of deep wind chimes and distant train engines.

I must simply share our string of the best bad luck for the new year.  Our VW Beetle died a most noble death at the repair shop, for 16 years old and an odometer flip we are saddened but not surprised.  At the exact same time our other VW diesel goes into the shop and thus my husband starts rounds with Enterprise Rental.  I am at this point on day five of a migraine that combined itself with some kind of Virus that everyone from Michigan to Florida has been talking about.  Enterprise was champion, replacing the rental F-150 gas guzzler with a sedan while my gallant Beloved drove back and forth getting cars and groceries and Dayquil. Then… while he drives the sedan back to Enterprise Rental right in front of the rental bay doors is a white VW Jeta sport wagon TDI!!!  He asks “Wow! What’s with the VW diesel?!”  He is informed they just got in a whole batch for sale.  By Monday we were sitting in Enterprise Rental signing paperwork for a 2013 station wagon with an ultra cool panoramic roof.  While we are not rolling in the money, it is quite the relief to have our credit able to swing us a used car literally in a day or two.  The real miracle was having a diesel literally sitting in front of the rental agency ready to be bought.

All my life I have been nearly afraid of my own shadow and timid of any vibrant actions on my part.  Around this past October or November I was convinced that I had to become a different person:  Not to be held back by the distorted memories of childhood and the nightmare that was college.  I had more than one person believe in me and somehow all the Specialty, the nearly tangible magic of the world, came to gather and I decided to start.  Just start.  While I have many days where that fear and doubt want to drag me down again I am still walking forward into a different part of my life.  I may not be sprinting but I am as sure as heck not crawling. I have complained and bitterly gnashed my teeth about the lack of rock clubs in SW Illinois, and collecting in Illinois period, so one day I sat down with my trusty computer (trusty because my Mac engineer husband has administrative access to fix things) and started a new MeetUp Group: Little ol’ me did this!  Being a Goth nerd of some proportions I named it GLOAM: Geology Lovers Of American Midwest.  The group capped out quickly at 50 people and it looks like there may only be seven to ten active members which is just fine as far as I am concerned, MeetUps being notoriously bad at having people actually participate.

Today has had warm sun and warmer winds than the frigid Canadian blasts of late and even if cats and dogs are blowing sideways and the ground still squishes like a muddy sink sponge it feels like some form of Spring may be around the corner.  My idea for Easter is adorable and should prove popular with people who think beyond chocolate and boiled eggs in the basket: Polished stones or fossils! https://www.etsy.com/shop/EarthsBones

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Etsy idea #1

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Etsy idea #2

Part of this brave new me is continuing on my writing this blog, to share with the world this amazing and silver tinged Reality we live through; to continue my sales because they are picking up and I have found that the wider world does have the Others-Like-Me; and to continue with the creative writing because I’ve been telling stories since before I was young.  So with the story from my last blog, let me continue with Mariesha and the great city of Cinerarium: The story is actually called Red Angels Rise and is a joint writing story with my husband, Ian.  This next installment is shorter but continues revealing another pieces of the mystery: Red Angel’s Rise part 2.

Elsbeth nodded, walking back to where the lower half of her dress still stood. “Yes it is.  Actually it’s almost dawn.” TO BE CONTINUED

                                       ****

Philip Webley sneered, shaking his head. “Nine fourteen! This is unacceptable” Thrusting his watch into his vest pocket, Philip turned and started pacing the length of platform. “You’d think a country run by folk that never really die could manage to keep the trains running on time. This is what, the fourth time in the last ten day?!”

The few others on the platform did their best to ignore the gnome’s constant stream of complaints. The spring morning was a refreshing break from the bitter cold of winter, the sun shining down between the towers of Cinerarium for the first time in almost two months. None were much in the mood for complaining, no matter how late the train might be.

Another minute ticked by, then another, until finally a lonely column of steam and smoke appeared on the southern horizon.  The Gaston Station was perched on the western edge of the capitol city, the arrival point of countless hundreds of thousands of souls from the rest of the world. To the east, Cinerarium spread out like a forest of stone towers, the maze of streets their roots below.  Out here, the plantations and orchards spread as far as the eye could see; the approaching train was a black serpent, sliding between green fields.

“About damned time.” Philip grumbled, saddling up to the boarding gate.

Sitting on his stool, the attendant cast a weary eye at the diminutive businessman.  Every day the gnome delivered the same litany of complaints, and more than once he’d entertained the thought of tossing the businessman onto the tracks. “Morning, sir.”

“Yes it is morning.” Came the gruff reply.  “I would assume you’ve passed my written complaints to the station manager?”

“Of course, sir.”

Philip gave a hur-umph. “Yes, of course you have.”  Shaking his head, Philip pointedly turned to watch the approaching train.

A line started forming behind Philip, a motley collection of farmers, families, and artisans.  Some were leaving the city to return home, others were leaving something behind; all shared Philip’s anticipation. A few minutes later the massive machine made its last turn, steam clouds bellowing outward as it slowed.

Philip impatiently watched the engine roll past, followed by a half-dozen coal cars, then the passenger cars. At first, Philip’s brain couldn’t wrap around what he was seeing, at all the faces in the windows… all the fleshless faces in the windows.

Men.

Women.

Children.

The children were the worst; their over sized eyes bulging from the gaping wounds that had been sockets left a particular impression.

Philip heard screams behind him, felt the attendant brush past him, but somehow he was rooted where he was, entranced by the horror before him. The train slowed, finally stopping, and then they were moving, those faces. They were moving toward the stairs at each end of the car.

“I… I think I should be going… going about now…” Philip stammered as he turned to run. That was the moment he realized he was suddenly very alone on the platform.

Bursting through the wooden exit doors, Philip crossed the waiting room at a dead run and ducked under the turnstile. The station was already abandoned; Philip could just see the platform attendant disappearing out the furthest door. For the first time in his life he cursed not being taller: All the other horribly warped, twisted, towering races had seemed freakish until that very moment when Philip would have given anything to have a longer stride.

For a few seconds he dared to hope; he was a a mere twelve feet from the outer doors and running as fast as his legs would carry him. Then the first boney fingers sank into the soft flesh of calf. A scream escaped Philip’s lips as he lunged forward, willing to sacrifice a pound of flesh to make it out the stained glass doors and into the sun. But as powerful as the will was, the flesh was unable. Philip felt himself lifted off his feet then pulled backward. Fleshless faces amongst a wall of grasping hands.

CONT……

I send to all of my Readers both gentle or courageous or industrious or fierce, my appreciation and love; hoping my musings, insights, and stories can give you a chance to slip for a moment away from any trials and tribulations.

May the sweet voices of Spring sing gently to you,

Be Well

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Imbolc, Orion and A New Story

Dearest Gentle Readers,

The new year came and went with a small ‘pop’ and a rush of well wishes and Midnight Stars.  Here in SW Illinois the weather has finally gotten down to being cold:  In Chicago there is snow and freezing Lake winds and in NC there is unexpected cold and the ice that always comes but here the icy wind just flows over the ground unstopped from the Great Plains, even over powering the air currents of the mighty Mississippi.  At the beginning of February will come Imbolc or Candlemass, the start of the end of Winter and the almost beginning of Spring.  This to me is the start of a New Year, the final arrival of the Vernal Equinox and the last of frozen life under the soil to be replaced by the running shoots and vines of life above.

It is now a few days past Imbolc and the weather has gone from 60 degrees and barefoot to a chance of snow and or rain all week.  I will admit that the barometric pressure change is hammering my body right now. Most of my close friends who have invisible illnesses are limping around too; from my beloved H in Virginia to dearest GE in Pennsylvania.  The constant pain and patently ineffective pain killers wear you down on the inside emotions.  Then if there is anything that can completely knock the pain out, chances are your brain is floating up there with kites, bluebirds, and rainbows.  My hat’s off to the unknown cold call sales lady who when I said, sounding zombie like, “…I have a migraine” immediately lowered her voice and said “I get those too.  We can call you back.”  And then she hung up.  Unknown Lady, I luv you.  My only advice to those who are just starting the Road of Life with an invisible illness is to find a support network that is best for you whether it is a prayer group with your church, morning meditations at sun rise, or the folks from your book club; find a doctor who ‘gets it’ and understands you are not pill shopping and that pain really does impact lifestyle; and if you are in state where CBD is legal, swallow your pride and get your user card.

Lately I think I have been pampered rotten.  My husband just says “…Well, thank you.”  This morning he got me my pain syrup and around noon he brought me a granola bar and my water bottle.  He made our supper and even put a little salt on my asparagus. (My ability to stand up straight and to walk a straight line was in question.). And he even gives me sweet kisses on the lips.  This past Saturday he took me to the St Andrews Book Fair and carried the books for me out to the car.  He listens when I tell him about my rocks and lets the latest pile of ‘wonder gravel’ sit on the kitchen counter.  When I just have to go search the thrift store, he walks beside me and holds the basket while I hunt.  He doesn’t complain that I do not have delicate girly feet and he is understanding when I have migraine hair.  In my mind I am a high maintenance wife but people tell me it means things like weekly mani-pedis and expensive jewelry so I will have to try and call myself a strange maintenance wife.  Most of all, thank you to a spouse that loves me.

Tonight is a wondrously bleak night, chilly and dank with an eerie fog settling in;  to be replaced by a rising sun hidden by layers of grey clouds like wet bed sheets strung over the sky.  In a few nights the forecast is for clear nights and freezing temperatures but I will be out for enough time to see my beloved Orion.  Since I was old enough for my parents to point out the stars at night in a cold, barren, Southern Indiana winter, that constellation has been my guardian.  While others could Find the North Star, The Bears. or the Seven Sisters, Subaru in Japan, the only constellation I could find was Orion.  While I was soulfully and sadly alone in body and spirit during college, Orion was always there watching over me in the night sky: he was my comfort and my protector.  Sometimes the sky was clear enough for me to see Bootes his faithful hound and I felt extra lucky if only for a few breathless moments.  If any Gentle Reader can understand the struggling grasp of the unknown in the night’s darkness and reaching out in all the confusion and angst for a Known Guide then you understand.

OK, Folks, I actually got good reactions from my rather personal poetry and for that I am very thankful.  I am a writer and so is my beloved spouse and occasionally we collaborate together on stories, each one responding to the other and adding to the story. One of our favorite themes is the world of Dungeons of Dragons, an admittance which says loud and clear that we are old school geeks.  Many, many years ago my husband created his own continent in this setting and decided to give it a Wild West vibe. Now, as most table top roll players can attest to, we have run multiple games in this world and never finished a single game. As loving and patient as I hope I am, recreating the same character over six times and never getting her anywhere finally burnt my toast. One day he says to me “Why don’t we write a story with Mariesha in it, so you can finally create her the way you have wanted.”  Then came me jumping up and down and hugging him and telling him of my undying love.  “But, My Darling Husband, how do we start her off?”  Several days later he announces “I came across this great name for the Capitol of Tabria…Cinerarium!  It’s Victorian for mausoleum!!”  That evening he also came home and presented me with my introduction to our story:  Not quite steam punk, the continent of Kildare is a place all its own.  And on this continent is the country of Tabria with the gloriously profound capital of Cinerarium.

I would like to introduce you to our world and my character who is rather dear to my heart. (With a bit of editing here or there I feel somewhat confident in the results.)  *****CHAPTER ONE-ISH

The cut was shallow, Wharley was only marking where he’d make the real incisions; the boy would live through it no matter how he was screaming now.  Twenty years in the future he’d be flashing the scars to get into some barmaids skirts, well, if this played out right. If not Wharley’d have another skin puppet and nobody would hear that voice again.

Mariesha slowly lowered herself onto the rafter, the centuries old wood creaking ever so slightly but still holding her weight.  Below her, one of the trio of flesh golems standing around Wharley’s stone slab looked about the warehouse, its dim intelligence barely aware of something being amiss.

Wharley made another thin cut, running along the boy’s sternum and down the length of his stomach.  This was all the practice Warley was going to get; it was move now or mop the little burk up. Perching directly over-head, Mariesha willed Murder into her hands.  In seconds the barbed metal lengths of the animate chain wound around her, one length into each hand and the third length of chain coiling at her hip. Its movements were almost sensual in a strange, living weapon-of-gruesome-death kind of way.

An older flesh puppet appeared from the shadows at Wharley’s side, its face a frozen mask of rigor. Mariesha’s eyes narrowed; she knew the victim: That was Ashley Taber, the daughter of a street-side vendor and a seamstress. Wharley had snatched her from her bed two fortnights prior, and had even left her still steaming entrails on the family stoop for the sunrise.  He had enjoyed watching their reactions from his carriage as he waited down the street, and that had almost gained him the rope: Just two more ticks and Mariesh’d have had Wharley then and there.

Shifting slightly on the wooden beam, Mariesha glanced back toward the doors at the far end of the warehouse turned charnel house.  Where was Elsbeth? She’d hesitated leaving her recorder on her own, but in the past months they had worked together Elsbeth had held her own well enough in scrapes. Then again Wharley and his meat-puppets weren’t alleyway thugs nicking the random purse.

As if on queue the doors burst open and in walked a vision of scarlet velvet.  As much as Mariesha looked the tomboy Elsbeth looked the lady, voluminous skirts swishing about her as she walked, complete with a bustle and the matching little cap perched atop her head.  When Mariesha had first met the woman she had almost fallen out laughing at the thought of the dainty Elsbeth scumming about in the dregs of Cinerarium with her. In the name of the seven gods she even had her matching ladies fur muff at her belt.

“In the name of the crown you are all under arrest!” Elsbeth declared as she strode undaunted past the packs of ghouls and meat-men that were prowling the shadows along the edges of the broken warehouse. “You will stand down or all necessary force will be used.”

“Of all the Recorders in the kingdom I get the dramatic one.” Came to Mariesha’s mind ruefully as she leaped silently to one of the massive supports behind the table and in another blink dropped down onto the floor, waiting in the shadows.

“This is your one and only chance to surrender.” Elsbeth finished as her gloved hands slipped into the ever-present fur muff at her waist.

In the shadows Mariesha smiled, her fangs glinting ever so slightly in the dimly flickering ghost-lights around the table.

“Kill it.” Wharley croaked, pointing at the Recorder.

All across the wretched place, filthy faces cracked in smiles, though none as dark as the one Mariesha watched come across her recorder’s lips. “By your leave, Inspector?”

Mariesha almost laughed as she called out. “By all means, Els.”

One day, Mariesha thought as she started for the table, she was going to have to get Elsbeth to really show her the details of those dresses.  Oh, the hells would freeze solid before Mariesha herself would willingly wear one into the streets, but damned if they weren’t fun to watch.

In mid-stride all the petticoats and ruffles fell away from Elsbeth, revealing nothing but long black boots and the chain mail hidden away beneath. When her hands emerged from the muff they were shrouded in all manner of blade and hook and barb. Elsbeth called them her ‘work gloves’, and ladylike gloves she had all manner of, but the work these were intended for was specific.

The first ghoul that reached Elsbeth turned into a fountain of blood and shredded flesh, tumbling off into the darkness.  Mariesha didn’t watch any more than that: There was death to be done by her hand.

Two steps away from the support post and Murder was already spinning at full speed, a blur of barbs extending from each of Mareisha’s hands as the chain moved too fast to see. The first flesh golem had half turned when Mariesha struck, the third animate chain wrapping around her already mailed fist. Steel and barbs slammed into the back of the creature’s knee, ripping muscle and shattering bone, sending the golem backwards as the opposite length of chain whipped down and around to wrap around its neck. Spinning forward Mariesha leaped onto the table itself, Murder pulling tight.  Her motion combined with the golems backward fall popped its distorted head from its bulging shoulders.

“Eustace Wharley you are under arrest for the murder of Henry Fosters…” started the Inspector.

Wharley scrambled backwards, Murder just missing him, as the other two golems surged forward and the mountainous wall of half rotted muscle pressed in from each side of the table as the child strapped down at Mariesha’s feet wailed.

“… Alistair Young…”

Both lengths of chain came back to speed, Mariesha sidestepping clumsy grasps of the golems to lash out in all directions: Blood and bits of pallid gore flying in every direction.

“…Mary Beth Potter…”

Murder, as he always did, tore at the eyes of the creatures around the inspector.  Blinded, the golems were undaunted but even more inaccurate and twice they came within a bird’s breath of smashing the bound child.  Cursing Mariesha lashed downwards, severing the leather straps that held the near catatonic boy in place. When he didn’t move, Mariehsha ducked another clumsy blow and bodily shoved him from the monsters’ midst.

“Els, protect the boy!” Mariesha shouted before vaulting off of the table in pursuit of Wharley, her attackers in tow. “Now where was I? Yeah…the murder of Beatrice Brown…”

Somewhere in the darkness behind her, Mariesha heard, “Yes Mam!”

Flesh puppets now rose from the pitch black at the back of the warehouse; the reanimated corpses of tormented innocents.  Mariesha didn’t know how Wharely was giving them the power that he was, but the little monstrosities were stronger and faster than any undead their size had a right to be.

“…Donald Tomer…”

Mariesha laid into the last golem in earnest, Murder tearing at the patches where the creature had been sewn together. What meat that wasn’t bodily torn from the creature fell from its frame as the metal staples and stiff sinew strips gave way.

Another wall of emotionless faces rose before Mariesha as she pressed after Wharley. The meat puppets attacked without hesitation and with more coordination than the towering flesh golems, darting wide around Murder’s arcing reach, seeking to press in on their master’s foe from all sides.

“…Rachel Osterman…”

In the shadows past the flesh-puppets Mariesha could just see Wharley pausing long enough to look back at her as he stood next to a fetid mound of discarded body parts twice his own height.  For a brief moment he smiled, the long dead flesh of his own face wrinkling at the twisted motion.

“There will be…” Wharley’s voice started to rasp.

Murder lashed out at its full length, the chain’s reach tripling in mid spin. The puppets, caught off guard, dove for the shadows though all felt the magic weapons barbs; eyes, muscle, or throats, whatever Murder touched was torn asunder.

“And Nathaniel Wharley!” Mariesha shouted, sprinting forward, extending Murder again to its fullest length.

Wharley’s smug expression shattered in an instant, his hunched figure diving into the rotted meat of his discard pile.

Mariesha cursed imaginatively under her breath, as she turned back toward the surrounding puppets. There was no point now in searching for Wharley; he was gone. The man was using blood magics that were well beyond what he should have had access to, and a rancid mound such as the towering discard pile was his gateway to anywhere else where fetid pools of blood awaited him. Denied the guidance of their master, the meat-puppets about the warehouse fell to Mareisha and Elsbeth in short order.  

Covered in substances she’d rather not ponder, Mariesha made her way back to the table where the boy had been bound. “Els? You lost?”

“No, mam.” Came the reply, Elsbeth appearing a moment later. She was as covered in gore as Mariesha, bits of it still dangling from the gruesome hooked gloves on her hands. “We only have a few left to actually arrest.” She said sheepishly as she walked to Mariesha’s side.

“Where’s the boy?”  Asked the Inspector, hoping the child was not pinned under a fallen mound of body parts.

“He’s hiding under the table.”

“Huh, so he is.” Leaning over and down, Mariesha tried to smile reassuringly and caught sight of a pair of eyes staring back out at her. “You hurt?” No answer came from the pale terror stricken child. “Well, nothin’ that a bath and some balms won’t fix,” said the Inspector trying her hardest to sound nice.

Mariesha willed her chain to wrap around her waist and shoulder, the three separate ends sliding up from the edges of the table, and stuck her hand under the table after shaking extra gore off of it, “Come on kid, time to go… before the flies start.”

“I don’t suppose you caught him?”

Mariesha growled and shook her head, looking back up at Elsbeth. “Nah, but we have enough dead bits ’round here that the necromancers should be able to tell us more about what he’s doing.”

“…and we cost him dearly this ‘morn.”

Walking toward the far door with the child in tow, Mariesha nodded. “And we saved the kid. I’ll go see if I can signal down a connie.  Now that Wharley’s gone his coin shouldn’t forbid them coming in now.” Just short of the door itself, Mariesha paused. “Is it mornin’ already?

Elsbeth nodded, walking back to where the lower half of her dress still stood. “Yes it is.  Actually it’s almost dawn.”  TO BE CONTINUED

 

And now back to the real world, Gentle Reader. I want to also share my ideas for Easter with you and give a few pictures of my corner of the world.  I have so many places and buildings with an essence to share, a feeling I hope you can understand.

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Glorious Winter in West Virginia

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Magic of the Night

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Back yard under the Blood Moon

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The Blood Moon

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Etsy idea #2

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Etsy idea #1

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Sunny Office

I truly hope this story of Mareisha is a step in the correct direction for the evolution of this blog and is equally enjoyable for the readers and of course that my sentiment and written experiences are as welcome as a fires warmth on a freezing Winters Night and as refreshing as cold head waters on a hot Summer Day.

Until the next time, may God’s Nature bring you crystalline beauty and the Sophia bless you with clear sight, Be Well.

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Yule Soul Cakes and Poetry

Greetings, Gentle Readers,

The inch or two of snow has melted again and temperatures have just popped into the 40s.  The two weekend WinterMart I vended at went smashingly the first weekend and I was rather pleased. The second weekend was 22 degrees before windchill, our tables were blowing over, and with only three hours for sales and an hour already spent fighting the wind and losing feeling in our feet, I said to my Hubby “Im calling it.”  Thus are the small trials of vending in the outside during winter and not having solid walls.

I do, at times get the courage to write poetry and to actually share it.  I’ve even had those not related or married to me say that it is good. ( Not my normal fluffy rocks, fluffy kittens and fluffy moonlight: Just call me complex.)

Abandon all hope ye who enter here:

Then, Oh God, why do we perceiver?

To feel a fog, the burn, a strain,

The Stress of the Body,

The Pain of the Heart,

And not give in, to quit or stop,

But continue on despite the fear.

 

Need turns into Desire

Desire into Thought,

Thought into Planning

Planning into Action and 

Action into Oblivion

 

How long in aimless desperation

Within a vacuum of deeds and moress:

Alone and still needing and

Desperately seeking

One shining moment

Proving that Hope was worth the Pain.

 

Explain to me nothing.

It is the path that we walk,

That we journey,

That we create

Which forms our Desires and Fate.

Last night was Winter Solstice and I decided to try and make the Medieval recipe for Soul Cakes.  For those who are familiar with my trials at baking from anything other than Betty Crocker this sounds like the pablemic “nice idea.”  The recipe for Soul Cakes is rather obscure and the oldest authentic recipes is as follows:  “Take flower & sugar & nutmeg & cloves & mace & sweet butter & sack & a little ale barm, beat your spice & put in your butter & your sack, cold, then work it well all together & make it in little cakes & so bake them, if you will you may put in some saffron into them or fruit.”  The purpose of these cakes on Solstice was different from All Souls and I decided to make something special for the Longest Night.  The above recipe is from the 1600s and the most mysterious thing was ‘What in the world is sack?’  Well… research on Google says two things 1) Sack is like a sherry or spiced sherry from the 1700s or 2) sack is in reference to the Medieval drink coddle. I chose the older version. Coddle varied from farm to farm and castle to castle but appears to be a warmed Nog type drink made with alcohol.  Since most farmstead wine would be super sweet, made from whatever berry bush was available, and fermented in the root cellar I chose Cassis to help create my coddle.  I guessed at everything and was aiming for biscuit consistency but ended up pouring it into muffin tins.  After the first ten minutes I was able to cut the cross into the tops and slide them back into the oven.  THEY WERE EXCELLENT!!:  a true Christmas miracle.  My husband is convincing me that anything older that 1600s is golden when I cook it and seeing as how every recipe inspired by Ancient Rome or obscure folk lore turns out lovely I am inclined to believe him.  One Day I will have to tell you about the famous Black Forest Cherry Cake and Sugar Plum Fairy Pie.

Once again I have gone over board on gifting for family and am prepared to wrap gifts until I fall over napping on the rolls of wrapping paper.  I just couldn’t resist an early gift for myself and above and beyond the books from the Goodwill down the street I won an auction on slabbed agates and petrified wood, even a slab of tiger’s eye in the mix.  I am very gratified and grateful that folks actually ask me for pictures of the stones and slabs I find or buy, so here it is.5k5rheE0QF+kdtnXCLwemA

The neighbors could hear me ‘Squeeee’ with rock hound joy all the way down the street when the box arrived. Please ignore the fur laden rug, Sorcha can not resist sharing her own version of glitter.

So many of my crafting friends show pictures of their original art, wire wrapping, wood working, polished geodes, and beading; talking of family, music playing, food cooking, traveling places, and the next adventure.  The very insecure part of me, that still sees the frightened wall-flower nerd from my youth, fears that I will never compare and pale into nothing beside them.  Yet I look around and see that my Library is finally organized with cleaned shelves, our guest room is guest-able should there be guests, Irish music is pouring off of Pandora, and I’m loudly crooning old dirges over the sound of the cabochon machine as I shape and polish stones. “Darlin, Night-Child,'” I tell myself “You are a strange breed, in the rarest and best of ways.”

During the cold months when people are more closeted in home and of course the Holidays foist amiability on us; depression and loneliness is a pain right to the gut for some people.  I give you all my sympathy. I am socially isolated here in my new town no matter how friendly are strangers.  Despite my emerging identity and adoring dog, the  aloneness was wearing on my shoulders today and with few answers to my dilemma.  Lonely Readers out there, while you may be solitary and crying the same tears I have shed; you are not the only one out there:  I send sincere warmth to perhaps break through your own cold comfort.

The weather here in SW Illinois has been unseasonably warm despite intermittent snow showers.  The Longest Night of The year also had a full moon this December and there were silver and red tinged clouds in a near bowl shape around the luminous moon, separated from the rippling clouds by a nimbus of  pure colors.   I laid out pieces of the cake at the corners of our property with a prayer and enjoyed the hopeful creation of a new tradition.  We won’t get real Winter snow until the first or second week in January so I can flit about in the house in my beloved’s over sized T-shirts and go barefoot during the day.  I am still reworking my web sites to improve things as I learn more about this whole online sales adventure. Let us remember the less fortunate, the cold, and those without hope:  If we can do nothing else then let us send our thoughts and essence into the bareness of Reality to fill the void and create A Great Beauty.

With every lovely Crystal of Frost, may God hold you,

Be Well

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Greetings Gentle Readers,

I feel compelled to share the magnificence of the moon last night. The moon was a perfect half; the night air so sharp and crisp the outline of it was almost tangible. I want to say the moon was glowing, that it was shiny, or that it was luminous but no:  The moon was the perfect combination of abalone, precious Mother of Pearl, and crystal; a direct and intense light nearly brittle in its beauty. And this was not just any crystal, like the kind from a ball room chandelier or from the fringe of a flapper’s dress; this was a crystal of a hardness and entrancement that you had just dug for hours in the red and ocher soil then realized what a perfectly rare creation of the Earth you were holding in your palm.

And what draws one to the Night with such an intensity that prudence and forethought are mere wisps to the mind? Why does the night inspire such energy and dramatic desires?  I suppose the greatest question is why insomnia is such a stultifying experience when it would be more of a relief to be able to flitter about in the dark hours than staring at the carpet in a stupor. Then when the sun just starts to climb, regardless of having gamboled through the night, slept like the innocent, or sat counting bricks in the wall, all the body wants to do is tether the starting sunbeam around oneself and sleep curled in warmth and soothing light.  We can all simply claim, of course,  imagination and subconscious cultural cues but for a simple moment give credit to the sweet siren song of the Night and let us long to sleep in the sun.

And so we come to the days before Thanksgiving and the rush for the Holidays starts.  The past four days have been a soggy and pallid time.  The sky has been grey, the sun has been grey, and the majority of the icy snow has melted into a wet mess of cold puddles and dead leaves.  It is just cold enough to need shoes for long walks but not to need scarves and wool socks, yet regardless of the rather dreary landscape there is a lovely hustle and bustle starting.  I went to The Goshen Market Butchers shop today and I am pleased to say that while I had no idea where I was I didn’t get lost going to the market.  For those that know my ability to get lost in my own house, take this as a sign of a Seasonal Miracle.  The butchers had a stream of people coming in and out picking up pre-orders yet still finding time to open doors for each other and to talk amiably.  Sure, the merits of old time cola and gooseberries for cooking are not earth shatteringly important but the congenial human contact is welcome on grey days and during the Thanksgiving season.  There are those folks , deservedly or not, that have no close family, are ostracized from cousins, or simply alone in their own skin: I truly send you my love and sympathy:  If you are able then perhaps you can gather the Earth and Sky about you and create a pocket of comfort and love;  may there be some human warmth from a local dinner or the open doors of a church if the esoteric is not your frame of mind;  those brilliantly rare people who take solitude as comfort may the rhythm of your own heart beat be a sweet sound.  For my dearest Mother, who will not even know this blog exists, I send out to you “Happy Thanksgiving”; we are staying home so enjoy your dinner at the cafe ’cause you don’t have to cook.

Glad tidings for those that do struggle or have struggled with small business: I had two sales from my Etsy site within nine days of each other!! I am not exactly the best self promoter in the world so to have this happen is exciting.   I sell a creative variety of items, trying to appeal to the odd artist and the vintage jewelry enthusiast while keeping prices reasonable enough.  The chase for a bargain and the thrill of the discovery drives me, truly, and then I have all this jewelry and odd finds slowly taking over my cabochon machine.  I hear stories about treasures found at yard sales and even know a dear friend we can call LH that found a ring with a metal detector when all the rest of us found were pop top tabs.  A bead stringing professional I know, JB, a friend I miss working stones and gem shows with, found a malachite necklace for one dollar at the Goodwill.  And once I found a vintage dress from 1940’s Japan for four dollars at a yard sale.  With a wry chuckle I am still waiting to find a lost Monet or forgotten Faberge.

Tonight is comfortably above thirty degrees and our sweet rescue dog Sorcha is sleeping on her pad.  She snores.  Tonight she snores with little huffy wheezes and at other times we can hear her rumbling while we are in the kitchen. My husband just sighs, and I must admit I am glad I am not the only one that snores in this house.  In our past apartment in Chicago we had, to politely put it, upstair neighbors that were immature:  There were times that my semi-truck-lumberjack snoring was my best revenge on them, unfortunately the Hubby had to listen to me also.  You know it is true love when ya’ offer to sleep on the couch and your Darling says “but I can’t sleep if you’re uncomfortable.”  It is also a true sign when your lover still kisses you first thing in the morning and you could swear a chipmunk died in your mouth.

Below is our attention mongering, fur shedding, bacon stealing, absolute lovey of a dog.  And yes I said shedding.

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(I must explain that we are in the middle of reorganizing our books and I normally do not allow my modest collection of Greek and Roman classics to be so disorganized.  Organizing books is a serious activity in this household and thanks to Ikea we finally have more shelving than books.)

Tonight is Thanksgiving Night and here it has finally dried out somewhat into a lovely, clear, forty-five degree night.  The Moon is full and as lovely and crystalline as it was when it was in half. We had our lamb and sweet potatoes and the dog is the happiest of us because she will get lamb drippings on her kibble and asparagus tonight.  I am thankful that tonight I was able to go barefoot again across the outside ground and have the Earth under my feet, if only for a half hour or so.  For all those far away and having any hollow thoughts:  We are under the same Moon.

Thank You, Gentle Readers,

Be Well

 

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Gentle Readers, Greetings,

I might as well start this blog out on Halloween night.  The day has been a sublime treat of overcast sky, easy temperatures, and a soft breeze after last night’s midnight-rain.  The Night is quiet and, how shall I say, gentle.  Now the Darkness will be longer than the Light until the blessings of the Winter Solstice come and the Light begins it’s return.  While the leaves are falling into a soft carpet of gold and red the weather is still warm enough to have my bare feet on the ground.  I must give a sigh and a wry chuckle:  We are in the MidWestern Bible Belt but Halloween decorations are all over and the Husband and I were looking forward to gaggles of costumed trick or treaters tonight, but, last night I was laying still in the bedroom with a migraine and my husband had the porch light off: Our city trick-or-treats the night before Samhain and so we still have two huge bags filled with prime candy.

Back down in the South East several MAGMA die hards went to collect fossils at the Pipsico Camp along the James river and their trip was a blazing success. They found tremendous plates of shells and whale bones melded together by time. Video stories a Dearly Adored shared of the deep embankments not only narrated the excitement and awe of fossils but also showed the richness of the trapped strata on the cliff sides. The driftwood was even worthy of picking up for art and home bound decoration. I had to smile seeing the pictures of piles of fossils and ancient whale bones and then the piece of driftwood on the side: These big men who have lifted seemingly tons of stone in their lifetimes, and helped cary many a bucket of mine, were beguiled by fallen branches.  Even the hardiest Lady RockHound fell to the magic of the river worn wood. While I do feel a small pang of loss for not being there I am very happy for my Beloveds.

With the change of seasons our thoughts often focus on family and the need for cozy comforts. So in a maudlin frame of mind I am wondering why Love is a most painful beauty we can have in our lives. You love someone and the site of them across a room makes your heart beat faster, being near them is a poultice for sorrow, and hugging them closely is a cure for pain and grief.  And the thought of never having any of their thoughts of you or their energy around you is terrifying, like fearing a surreal rigor mortis of the soul. Why do we even want Love? Why do we care so strongly when it will only bring pain? Love is terribly similar to Hope: We hope for Love and love to Hope, both leading us onward in a nearly blind trust that what we experience or what we have is meant to be. And yet Love is the most precious gift one can give or receive. Even Agape Love will help one along in times of sorrow and crises. I have never been a loner, have always wanted to be loved, and having found passionate Love I heartedly wish it for others. I can only be in awe of those people that are fiercely single, enveloping themselves in friendships and the pursuit of finding Life.

This is the fourth or fifth day of overcast rain. It’s a chill rain that is dropping the Autumn leaves like a carpet of yellow and bright orange. During the Summer the sun came through the windows here like spears of light and now even the noon day sun light is a soft grey. My work room used to be blazingly bright once the sun passed the mid point but now that there is Winter rain even this room needs a light bulb. I am fighting off the maudlin blues (reference the above paragraph) by cabbing and have finished 15 more cabochons. The ones I have recently completed have not had their bottoms smoothed off yet but they will.  With all the work and polishing my dop pot has been kept pretty and clean only because I forgot to turn it off over night:  Why yes, Gentle Readers, dopping wax can burn to the bottom of the melting pot. With my migraine defunct memory, I am lucky that it can be scraped out fairly easily. But the cabochons are very exciting and have turned out to have amazing patterns once more revealed by polishing. I even have druzy vugs/pockets and varied shapes.  I tend to make a high domed cabochon with a thicker girdle/edge. I simply must share some of the more exciting ones with you while I fix and re-polish about 4 because I am picky.

The first picture is of several of the cuties together. The second picture shows those patches of metallic shine I find frequently as only speckles in other cabs. Then are two cabs; one with a more boitroidal vug and a B&W with a wicked pattern. The last picture has an oval cabochon with stormy rings of grey and a great ‘button’ cabochon with iron stains like flames that jut up from the edge.

And I also sew!!  Why, yes, my skills are numerous and astounding! (Some tongue in cheek right there, even if my Darling Husband can only agree.) I make thick and very nice jewelry bags from scrap cloth that I get from Freecycle and upholstery stores.  (This silky red back drop above comes from Darn Good Yarn.) Fabric and upholstery book samples are a crafters sweet dream:  The samples are often sorted by color or hue and the squares are all the same size from each book. It is the finding these sample books and upholstery scraps that are a tooth and nail hunt now a days for times have changed and they are no longer given away to the asker. For rainy moments and waiting lines at the DMV, sewing these squares into pouches is a life saver and keeps me off of the phone and computer, well, mostly off of the phone to be honest. It is rather a crafters’ conundrum, though, that I can sew and macrame but wire wrapping just gets my knickers in a twist. Truthfully, I need to try wire wrapping for my cabochons again but I feel rather strongly that any decent pictures will be a while in coming.

And thus I come to the strangeness of success. I have been blessed to become surrounded by talented and artistic friends of many kinds, and their success is from the striving and efforts of entrepreneurs and small business. They have and are pushing hard to be recognized and respected in their chosen fields, and they are accomplishing said task:  Oh how I admire them and am in awe of their abilities. I am told I am talented, artistic, smart, and that my ideas and success will explode (rather like confetti and rainbows together?) yet I am held in stasis like Super Glue to your finger tips. I am in this weary holding pattern due to fear, or course, and identity:  My self identity has been a negative black hole for so long I have trouble identifying as anything else.  There is a real fear of losing ‘who I am’ even though I would be terribly grateful for my self image to improve.  This is the very personal burden I bear:  To live in the now without fearing the unknown future and to see myself as glowingly as my friends do. I share this in the hope that this ‘telling’ will help hold me on my path toward blossoming and to salut with admiration those who are making success part of their reality, part of their life. (And I thank you, oh My Best Beloved, for seeing so much inside of me and wanting it to be outside.)

Some of our mountains have already seen snow while the beaches are still growing citrus; rockhounds in Michigan and Wisconsin are wearing coats and rubber boots while Florida collectors are still river swimming for fossils and coral; artists and crafters all over are turning on lights and warming up basement studios as the glorious Grey grows stronger than the mellow Sun:  Power on and strive my Dearest Ones.

Be Loved and Be Well

 

 

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Dearest Gentle Readers,

As one can feel on their faces and hands the Seasons are changing and the Winter chill is just starting.  Often there is a night or perhaps two where the air and world is so quiet and still that the Shadows and the Night itself starts to hum in your blood.  This Autumn, for two weeks now, the hum has almost been a faintly hollow song:  No words just the almost sibilant whispers like a lover stroking your back in the dark.  I am hoping that this is being felt by others and not just in my small piece of the world.  This is a blessing and experience we all must remember in order to survive the coming seasonal crush.  And to have this night after night is awesome if nervously anticipatory as well.

As promised I went to the Hamilton Geode Festival near the end of September and it was a riot of a time.  We couldn’t get a hotel any where near Hamilton or Keokuk so we stayed in Ft Madison.  The Knight’s Inn in Ft Madison was absolutely lovely and I recommend them to anyone staying near.  This town has graveyards through out, rather like the scattered bones of a disinterred body, and would be a lovely rural trip for cemetarians. There was a profound sadness throughout Ft Madison as though bits and pieces of all the people were slowly being forgotten and the remainders left behind were just pale imitations of their former selfs.  This pall over the town was slowly encroaching into Keokuk and Hamilton as seen by for sale signs on store fronts and homes: giving a farmer twenty bucks for a bucket of geodes was much easier this time.  We pulled up to the Chaney Creek boat access that Friday morning and were worried because there was a noted lack of people and children and dogs: Apparently all it took was one year for us to forget that Friday morning is always more relaxed and empty. The gem club that has faithfully run the Geode Fest since it’s start finally gave up control and this year the Chamber of Commerce was taking the reigns.  The sign up sheets and announcement signs were greatly improved and the food coach that was rather shady was blessedly absent.  The club was smart to give the reigns over because the second dig for Friday and all that Saturday were a mad house of cars and people blocking other cars:  Congratulations Chamber of Commerce the head ache is now yours, I’ll just stand over here and collect geodes.  Our first run was through Barrows Pit and this year was dramatically different.  Last year was on the right side and this year was on the left and goodness gracious what a difference a side can make.  The left  side had geodes coated in black hematite on the inside this year and the most awesome geologic presence in that a very long time ago that side of the field had been crushed and the crystals on football sized and larger geodes had been pushed in then slowly annealed and grown back together by a very thin bridge of quartz.  These may not be the perfect globes most people want but I snagged several just to admire!  Renards was of course a treasure trove on Friday afternoon and the string of cars driving out was like this little chain of colored automobiles with blinking lights pulling its self along side roads and fields.  Age and a failed alarm clock took us out of Saturday mornings’ digging but we easily snagged a place in the way-back of the boat access to park for the afternoon dig. We tried the Cooper farm for the first time and we had great success once I finally just waded in and got knee deep in the water.  Next year if we spend another half hour there I hope to haul in some more of the agate too. We talked to a fellow from last year who had his Husky again and what a difference!  Last year we were all sweating and chugging gatorade and his Husky never left the river, this year we all had jackets on while clutching coffees and the Husky only went in up to his belly.  Another Lady RockHound went in up to her arm pits and had bowling ball sized geodes out of the river. (Understand, that while I vend and craft some stones, this trip is for fun, personal collecting and we really spent no more than one hour at any of the places.  Our efforts were also leisurely.  So any one that tries and tell you that the Keokuk Geode Fest is “all played out” either has no idea what a geode is or is delusional.). Well done Folks of Keokuk, see you next year.

So many of my friends that I love and admire, as well as myself, are vending at Autumn and Winter Festivals that I send you all sincere prayers and hopes for financial as well as reputation success.  Please, Gentle Readers, buy local and buy small business as best you can for the Holidays:  Your purchase is keeping somebodies lights on and dreams alive. Web site:  http://www.bones-of-the-earth.com and Etsy: https://www.etsy.com/shop/EarthsBones?ref=search_shop_redirect

Today it is half way through October and the weather over all has been gentle and warm for the Mid-west.  My Death Migraine has released enough of it’s hold to allow me to type.  The weather tonight is forecast at 29 degrees and right now the warm sunshine is setting itself into the horizon while a constant bluster of cold wind blows.  We soaked up as much of the late sun as we could today and for this Winter Flower it has been enough. The Orionid meteor shower is at its height tonight and tomorrow and the temperature dip will hopefully keep the night sky clear.  I must say that the moon has been brilliant lately, bringing to life the night shrouded Buckeye trees and yellowing leaves along the darkened sidewalk.

Until the next post may God hold you in his hands and the earth sing in your blood,

Be Well.

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Big Momma and The Piasa

A very Merry Autumn, Gentle Readers, if you are not enjoying the cool breezes and gentle sunlight then may you all in the South East be drying out.

Life right now has been personally stressful and I am blaming the fine whisps of grey hair on it: I’ll call them highlights and ignore my age.  Strange how you can look back one day and it seems like you were just starting to wend your way through the world and had the wind at your back like wings; and another time you look back and can only see the long spiral of time-events that twists to a strange rhythm and has pulled you too far along. I am trying to be mindful that our past has carried us forward to this point but our actions that we create in the Now will prove our future and help define our current worth. I am very drawn to the idea that we are a sum of our ancestors yet able to alter and change our fate, even expected to.  My Beloved has the ability to walk away from a strong and vivid thread of his path and branch away, rather like a streak of lightening across his tapestry of life. While I adore him for this ability I have in the past climbed over every string of warp and weft:  Finally with time and a growing awareness I am making my own bright light.  It is perhaps woven from fine silver and filaments of gold but it is my own lightening bolt.

Our house hold is not afraid of spiders.  Only Black Widows and Brown Recluses may get smacked because they are poisonous in the extreme.  For most of the late Summer and this Autumn we have had a huge, pale Orb Weaver hanging out in the eaves of the outside near the front door but blocking the two steps off of the small porch. Big Mama is our porch mate at night and so we just step off the porch on the side while Sorcha does her cute little leaping run.  And just like Motel 6 “We’ll leave the light on for you.”  While it must look either neighborly or energy wasteful, the front porch light stays on all night to attract as many moths for Big Mama as it can.  For a week or so there were two spiders and we called the new one Wicked Sister; take that gypsy meal moths!  As I had a pantry ruined in NC by those little buggers I do get some satisfaction knowing we are helping to set the buffet for Big Mama.  There is something so ephemeral and provocative about those slender filaments woven night after night, passively gleaming from the eaves.

Illinois is a plethora of karst and fluorite, which is great for fossils but highly so-so for anything else.  We did hear about the small town of Piasa (Pie-sa) and thought we had directions to a stream that was said to have fossils and geodes even worthy of Boy Scout trips.  Whelp, we found Piasa and we found a drool worthy karst formation and then we found the chain link fence.  There were some trails through the small park and public land and I do applaud the bicyclist that wizzed past us ’cause around the corner was one heck of an incline.  We wandered some little side paths to a stream that had some rocks in it and after a round or two of Iron Out my eye for patterned shapes had paid off and I had found a cute calcite sample.  The weather was sublime and the exploration was relaxing and a plus for yours truly was not collapsing back at the car and in finding two geodes that had fallen out of part of a karst formation.  Truthfully the story of the Piasa monster is more exciting than the trip but the caverns were truly yummy to look at; even had fresh flowing water we could hear and see reflected onto the ceiling.

 

And along a small side hill I found a great vein of Calcite which gave me hope for the stream further along.  Of interest to geologists and rockhound minutia was the geodes we found.  They were solid balls of sediment stone/mud that were thinly separated by fine layers of quartz druzy.  I’m keeping them for the unique place I found them and the intriguing layering.  And yes it is me in the stream finding the cool calcite piece.

 

Next adventure is Hamilton IL Keokuk Geode Festival and that should be a whirl wind of people, rocks, mud, vendors, dogs, crystals and Keokuk Iowa hospitality.

May some of the inexplicable Heart of the Earth that I experience come to you through this slender post.  May the slight brushing of the Veil bless you.  May the Harvest Moon wrap you and yours gently.

Be Well.

 

 

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I send the warmest greetings, Gentle Readers,

I am writing to you from the time of the Full Sturgeon Moon and can attest to the clear, bright nights with warm breezes that have come to me from the far away plains of the MidWest’s farms and prairies.  Here in Western Illinois the leafs are already starting to drop yellow on the ground, fluttering through the broken sun light like whispered promises of a warm and constant Autumn.  The Church down the block, the one with the giant pecan tree shading its parking lot, had a Love Festival over the weekend.  I could hear the music and the milling crowds through the neighborhood and even over the sounds of roofers laying down tar paper: Bathing us all in a surreal mix of high heat and  happy people.

Over a week ago I started the search for places to find stones that doesn’t involve parking lot filler.  Near us is the majestic joining of the Missouri and the Mississippi Rivers called Chain of Rocks and this has been recommended for my first beach foray.  We poured over local guides and Google maps and chose a quaint little island accessed by a one lane bridge. We found some pull over sites and carefully picked our way through the mud patches to the River’s shore.  There were many early fisherman sitting idly in their folding chairs watching the brown waters go by and listening listlessly to the cicadas sing. Now, Gentle Readers, I hate to decry any one place on first impressions but… Eeewww!  I felt as though I was an old timey Thames River mud-lark searching for lost wallets and dead bodies. The amount of garbage left by past visitors was shameful and the smell of dead fish was impregnated into the mud.  I did find unique pieces of River glass and can supply artists easily with these worn and time muddled pieces.  My treasure was finding a largish, palm sized stromatolite!  If I had never been in the Great Lakes area for five years I would have never recognized the specific stone, and the Great Lakes was definitely where it washed down from. Every piece found was soaked in Oxyclean twice then soaked with a cap full of bleach for good measure.  (A MAGMA member suggested putting the stromatolite in vinegar to bring out the details better. I tentatively dipped an end in and was so surprised at the results I soaked the whole piece!! The lacy look in the first photo is almost all over the stone now!)

 

As the nights slide by the moon becomes a waning gibbous shape and the shadows grow just a touch deeper and longer through the darkness.  We walk our dog, Sorcha, late at night around eleven or midnight and we have come to the conclusion that while her eye site is just fine by the veterinarian’s opinion, she is an extremely, very, near sited pup.  Any object that appears to stand out in a dark yard must be chased, like water meters, food wrappers, hissing cats, large leaves, and gazing balls.  Our biggest concern at the moment is our discovery of several black, bushy tailed, white striped ‘kitty cats’.  If I turn to Face Book and ask where to get large quantities of tomato juice at midnight you will know what happened. So far Sorcha has not met the new fuzzy play mates in the neighborhood and our good luck and the good luck of our ‘Psycho Potato’ is intact.

Sometimes the world is an overwhelming collage of sounds and thoughts and desires.  Try as one might ya’ can’t block out your own personal stress and fears.  Not until you identify the internal source of these fears and anger can a person get back onto their specific path.  So I, specifically, after having identified the fears, turn to the ground under my feet and the ebb and flow of the unseen and mysterious:  Yep, gettin’ metaphysical here so hang on.  And as Earth-centered as I am I open my Third Eye to the Other Space around me: Then slowly it seeps in; the world unseen or ignored, the shadows and ‘creatures’ of the Other Space which happens to also be right here in the Tangible; on walking paths, grocery stores, around homes, in parks, and slipping and roiling among crowds.  So one tries to incorporate both types of Eyesight and keep life running on an even keel but they intertwine and blend so that seeing and sensing the world becomes a confusing Reality of interactions.  I am trying to keep ‘those blinders off’ which in and of itself is a frightening experience.  To quote a beloved therapist “just lean into the discomfort.  You do not have to take any baby steps just lean into it as much as you can.”  I truly doubt he ever meant for this wisdom to be applied to the Other Space-Reality but it works. For all the artists, introverts, mediums, intuitives, and wanderers:  You are not alone.

Near the end of September comes the Autumnal Equinox and the light becomes less than the darkness and the Winter Season begins in earnest.  May God Keep and Bless you and until the next post: Be well.

 

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Blue Ridge Baby

Gentle Readers, I great you at 4 ‘o’ something in the morning with a brave heart and excited tidings.  I normally wouldn’t be awake at this time but our pup had a bone treat and that means a wee bit of the ‘squirts’.  She was trained fantastically to alert us to potty moments and it was my turn this morning and now I am awake.  The morning birds have started their song heralding a new day:  the grass is dew-soaked and the lights from the nearby community college made a giant nimbus of yellow light in the morning mist.

My excitement comes from having gone on my vacation to The Blue Ridge Mountains just outside of the jeweled city. Asheville.  The club I belong to is MAGMA and still to this day they are an exceptional family of rock hounds and mineral collectors.  As usual my tent was pitched next to RB and his wife C and my dearest friend and adopted aunt, Pat.  One member is truly an unsung and gentle hero who brought his giant  rock saw for our club’s Kentucky Geodes.  That saw ran all week thanks to the watchful volunteering of some members!  All we had to do was line up our stones in order and they would be sliced open or slabbed to request.  It was like a jewel box being opened every half hour or 45 minutes as another breath taking wonder was pulled out.  We even had the marvelous Kay cooking her heart out in the camp kitchen for our dinner.  At five dollars a plate to recoup her grocery costs, the plates were mounded with delicious hot food.  Yours truly baked three cakes to accompany the start of the week and once people learned my golden rule, ‘the uglier it is the better it tastes’, the cake flew off the serving plate.  We had new vendors who were enthusiastic collectors, jewelry makers, and crystal experts.  Uncle Bob’s Rock Cave was there and I was thrilled to finally meet someone that I only knew as an internet pen pall on Face Book.  A fabulous metaphysical merchant had his wares and I watched during the heat of an Appalachian afternoon as he prepared mailing envelopes by the dozen for his Etsy shop.  Die hard diggers turned up with beryl from the Crabtree Mine, thulite and garnet from the Sink Hole Mine, garnets and tremolite/actinolite from the LittlePine Garnet Mine, and of course mineral deposits from the ever surprising road cut for a new highway.  Just being able to visit and talk with fellow enthusiasts who did NOT ignore me for being a woman was thrilling.  A sad truth inline is we all age out and the Saturday Feast was followed by a heart felt toast to fallen member, John D.  I teared up then and am tearing up now.  He was a founding member, a rogue, a veteran rock hound, and above all else well loved by everyone.  For myself who still has the health of a migraine sufferer it was Wonderfull to stay at camp and see the treasures as people came in with their buckets.  Kay even spent a few outings at the abundant thrift stores of Asheville and is a shopping diva; her finds being as wonderful as the rocks found.  One member who I will label S, had been digging in Peru  for 6 months and had thin slices of Peruvian agate that knocked my socks off.  And my wallet even opened for a few slabs, and we all know how terribly thrifty I can be.  Our die hard and veteran leader Rick brought out some stunning pieces the first night and after ten minutes it looked like piranha with dollar bills around him.  I picked up two matching cuts of petrified palm from Camden NC and will somehow find shelf space to proudly display their beauty.  Luther is a quiet and unassuming man but his vending items covered several tables and were as stunning and fun as usual.  Bradley Prospecting showed up and had geodes cut, plates of fossils to sell, and crystals from across the South East and areas between:  only a true lover of this earth could have had such an inventory.

And, well, it also rained every evening four five days straight.  It was that glorious mountain rain shower that creeped in with dark grey clouds then left in the early night to a starry sky and near full moon.  When the moon was full and round dearest TL made a fire and proved once again that he is a modern alchemist and created magic moments for some of us until two in the morning.  Truth be told we are not all young anymore so there were long faces the next morning but the crackling fire and wonderful company was well worth it.  I got to pet and adore some of the best behaved dogs even when some turned into overly playful puppies.  One of our vendors brought a friend who is a massage therapist and she charged a dollar a minute:  I paid for two during the week and am indebted to her for deciding to set up her table in a side room.  Part of Friday and all of Saturday was dry and the Southern heat beat down on us, which was a sweaty day for the diggers but did dry out some of the mud.  Lucky me my tent stayed dry through out although I am now packing an air mattress.  I gladly say goodby to sleeping on a thin foam mat and my sleeping bag: migraines require pampering; and I was well taken care of by members:  A piece of decadent and adorable birthday cake was even held aside for me.  God bless you all for the love.

My Dearly Beloved was my unsung hero because he drove me up and then returned to come get me.  While I would liked to have stayed far longer the Boy Scouts need their camp back.  So a most loving thank you to my husband who made this trip possible.

I wil also sing the praises of Motel 6, inexpensive but clean and at the perfect juncture in the road home:  You have my business now.  And an eternal Thank You to Bob for telling me about the Newport exit!  Darlin’ you really saved us money and time.

Blatant Promoting of Great People

Levi: MoldaviteLife.com. Metaphysical and healing stones, artist/wire wrap, stones, tektites

Beth Huntzinger: ashevillehealer.com. Massages therapy and Reiki

Carol and Mark: Driftwood Silver and Stones,  Marleux1957@gmail.com  Silver Smiths and Gems

Bob: Robert Jordan Photography, Bobsfolkart@gmail.com  Photography and crystals/stones

Bob (the other Bob): Uncle Bob’s Cave, Barnyard Flea Market in Greer, SC (worth the visit!);  Crystals, wire wrap, geodes, stones, slabs, geodes, Amethyst

Tony: Bradley Prospecting, https://www.etsy.com/shop/BradleyProspecting  Also on FB.  Crystals, stones, minerals, geodes, collections

Rick: rick@wncrocks.com, ncpirate.com; bone hunters.net   Author, salvage/restoration, diving, fossils, stone, crystal, private collections

There are many more fine and fantastic people who vend at MAGMA events and shows.  This is one of the finest group of ‘extended family’ anyone could ask for.  I certainly hope that my Gentle Readers have gotten the same ‘warm fuzzies’ from this post as I got seeing my friends and soaking up the stones for a week.

May the Late Summer Sun warm you, the cool breezes bless you, and the path before you always have green grass and clear water,

Be Well.

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Dearest, Gentle Reader,  My oh my how time flies when you put things off and then move:  My excuses and I’m sticking to them.

I suspect that we all have had those times when we realize things weren’t quite so bad where we were:  Yep, mea culpa.  Illinois Beach State Park was as naturally marvelous as I wanted it to be.  Edwardsvill, IL really is a surprise jewel but that glorious rock strewn beach is now a five or more hour drive away.  The professional movers, while forgetting to pack the knife drawer, did pack every single rock so I at least have mounds and pounds of Lake rocks to work with… lots and lots of them; I had to port one Rubbermaid tub down to out new basement and did feel a pang of sorrow for our movers.

Western Illinois across from St Louis is a gem stone perched on a bump in the Mississippi River.  The weather here is like a gentle version of my beloved NC but with rolling thunderstorms that power themselves over the River and then empty across the farm land and the old alluvial till.  Edwardsville is criss-crossed by two lane bike trails and 1930’s bungalows:  The bike trails sometimes appear out of no where like a treasure map of asphalt lines and grassy verges.  At night we can hear the coyotes yipping through the adjoining neighborhoods and once or twice the screaming like howl of foxes.  Mourning doves and Robbins nest in our neighbors eves, a mocking bird is nested in the big white Mansion, and a kestrel hunts at night, blending it’s high pitched ‘key’ with the frogs croaking.

Almost two years ago our beloved elderly pup, Moshi, passed.  Simply put she had arthritis in all four paws and back hips, could barely walk, and had internal cysts.  She was in constant pain and was 16 years old.  Her collar is kept with our Scortch’s ashes.  Ever the softy, I pleaded with the husband and after about 15 months we adopted another rescue dog.  I originally named her Sorcha after Tyr Na Sorcha (the Irish’ Land of Light) and she is now nick-named Psycho Potato.  One of her original trainers was thrilled “that she finally found the right people to take a chance on her.”  If anyone from Alive Rescue is a Gentle Reader then know that Sorcha now lives to eat, shed, be pet non stop, and sprint after bunnies; actually any thing that may look like a Chicago bunny: soccer balls, yard gnomes, puffed up cats, clumps of grass, and or cement planters.

Once again I am trying for an herb garden especially after struggling to keep even ficus alive in the window in Chicago.  The soil here is that dark grey and black soil of my Indiana childhood but has quartz chips and chert that come from endless years of the Mississippi flowing through before it skipped it’s channel to where it runs now.  With this garden I have also discovered bunnies, gophers, and deer like my attempt at gardening.  The wormwood hasn’t been touched so I have high hopes for anything medicinal or weird smelling or portulaca.

The moon has been at a bursting three quarters right now and between rolling thunderstorms it lights up the night with a sharp silvered glow and the one star visible above.  Somehow moonlight makes the gutter drains magic portals, the water fountain by the darkened ball field becomes an oasis, and the asphalt road is an obsidian path home.  I would love not to be the only one that night has a profound effect on as though your own personal world has emerged.  Now, to be honest, I have almost no night vision to speak of but all the same the night loves to enchant me while sunbeams mean sleepy time.

Now I will leave you, apologizing for the simple glazing of my circumstances.  My emotions are running a little high tonight and at this point are no place for Gentle Readers to be.

Be Well.

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