Thursday, June 22, 2006

shreds and tatters


We are lost, gonners for sure. The donkey-beast has chewed its way into my sac...the map is all but consumed, the glasses are bent and lacking a lens, nothing else remains 'cept for a tiny, round crystal caught in a corner seam. So useless an object, surely it cannot be my unique 'gift'! I roll it absently in my palm...
Time is trackless on the billowing waves. I doze and wake with a start still clutching the bauble in my fist. Suddenly, my hand is afire and as I open my palm this strange image appears. I am confused...delirious perhaps, or driven mad by circumstance.

Misery and Affliction


Woe is me. Oh Dear!
This adventure has turned into an ordeal. The 'hand project' took so long we missed the boat.
Finally, after much trial and error, I fashioned a large Jon Boat with outriggers- a caricature that any self-respecting Hawaiian would laugh out of the water.
Then another half-day lost to coaxing, cajoling, persuading my recalcitrant mule-of-a-donkey to climb aboard.
Finally, just this side of my breaking-point it calmly climbed aboard lured by my last sugar-glazed donut perched on the bow. ::sighs::
Now rowing madly to catch the ship. I pray someone will look down in the wake, spot us and throw a line.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Prompt:Make an imprint of your hand. On each finger write something that you have learned about creativity

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

joining the cave of handprints









Adding my handprint to the cave...these are the five things I've learned about creativity on this journey so far...

It is like fire

It is like water

It is a rooting and an uprooting

It is like breath

It keeps me alive

Thank you.

Facing the Gorgon's Mirror

So I finally step up to the Gorgon’s mirror, after having arrived late to the House of the Serpents, dragging my feet round the grounds, gazing at the space. The bees have been wondering what I’m up to. Yes, it’s summer, and yes, it feels wonderful to revel in the sunshine we’ve been waiting for for so long, but really honey…(pardon the pun), you’ve gotta get a move on.

It is rare that I need to be pushed to do anything, so I listen to them.
I try to do it casually, like it’s just another day, getting ready to go out, getting dressed. I glance down at myself and remember that I am still in my naked finery.

I close my eyes for a moment and nervously smile to myself. Honestly, what could I possibly see in this mirror that I hadn’t already seen before?

I open my eyes.

I don’t recognise her.
For a start, she’s tiny. She can’t be older than three or four. And she appears to be sitting in some woman’s lap, some woman I’ve never seen before.

I look around, who can I protest to? This is the wrong image. But I look back, and she looks at me. The little girl. Her feet are bare and she looks panicked, her arms and legs are tensed like wood and she’s shaking her head, her weight poking into the woman’s lap.

I am reminded of a story I’ve been told at family gatherings. About how, when I was taken back to Thailand for the first time after my birth, it was so hot and alien to me that I started whimpering and refused to let one single toe of my foot touch the ground for a week. I had to be carried everywhere, mainly by my father, but also by one of my aunts. There she is, holding me, kissing my head to comfort me, but I don’t soften, and I can’t see what she’s trying to do for me.

Is this how I appear to others, a terrified child, unable to take comfort from those who hold her?

I close my eyes and fall in a heap in front of the mirror. The Gorgon’s Mirror shows the truth. This is a part of me that I’d long buried, this is a part of me I’ve never embraced, never understood. And yet, I’ve continued to ask myself why I push people away, those closest to me the most? The Gorgon is wise, this is not the answer of course, but a splinter, to get at the truth. Once again, I am humbled on this journey. Humbled and surprised.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Brolga in a Bottle


I was fishing off the back of the pirate ship when I snagged a bottle. Inside was a piece of tattered parchment which held this curious tale...

Monday, June 05, 2006

My Trek through the Bogs

I’ve taken on a brave face and decided to trek along the marshes here at the bog. I rummage in my bag and pull out my glasses to render a clearer look at what’s ahead. I slip them on and all of a sudden things get much clearer, perhaps too clear.

It’s mighty eerie here and I’m not too anxious to continue on my own, but it’s almost as though I can’t help myself and besides el Enchanteur and the rest of the group are waiting for me. Something is pulling me deeper and deeper along. Who knows what I will encounter as I’ve been told that people have been found meeting untimely deaths and buried here as punishment or even human sacrifice. The thought of this sends chills up my spine and for nervousness sake I clutch my bag close to my chest, hike my glasses up farther on my nose and let out a deep sigh.

And even though it is mid-day, I wind around dimly-lit passageways that are amassed with a heavy mist hanging in the air as the acrid stench of dead and rotting swampland fills my nose. It’s the absence of its high acid content and oxygen free environment that gives this part of the world its power. The bog people are restless, I can feel it.

As I meander deeper and deeper my bag is now tightly grasped in my fist much like securing a weapon for battle. It offers minimal solace but I keep saying to myself that there’s nothing to worry about. I still won’t take anything for granted, though, remembering what el Enchanteur told us, it’s best to keep a swift foot and not linger too long.

As I continue on I could see how easy it would be to get lost; it’s almost as though I am going round in circles. But just as I was beginning to lose faith, I spot the rest of the group at the clearing. And as I make my way to join them it’s easy to see how the presence of spirits and gods makes it easy to understand how they can take control over life and death, and how this swampland could hold a strange power over the lives of ancient people. Do you think by our presence we’ve made the bog people angry? I have a feeling we are about to find out.

gret ©

No Fear

Do not fear too much, my friends,
the huffing and puffing of vanity's wind
that would billow the sails of your vessel.

In place of the ancient Scull of Golgatha,
I have affixed a Crossed Trizub,
bound by knots more than four,
that cannot be undone except by acts
of courage, valor, cherity and mirth.

No untruth can long stand in its presence,
and it will serve as an eye and ear
that I may sense an echo of your voyage
and imprisonment ...

aye, though I walk the vales and pinnacles
of unpassable deceptions,
I will be with you --

and the reach of my staff
is greater than might be imagined.

faucon

Sunday, June 04, 2006

A Story and a Snippet for the Message in a Bottle Prompt

I traveled at least once a year when I was young, mostly by ship. Although somewhat shy by nature, when I overhear an intriguing conversation I usually follow up. One evening on the S.S. Independence, an officer told someone he kept a scrapbook of letters he'd received when the bottles he'd thrown overboard washed up on shore. I snagged him later and asked if I might read it.

"My watch begins at 4:00am. I'll bring it to the lounge," he told me. I don't know who was more surprised when I showed up on time, the officer or me.

I read the book from cover to cover. His career at sea had been a long one so his knowledge and interest in tides and currents was extensive. He'd thrown over more than seven hundred bottles in the twenty years he'd been sailing before he'd stopped counting. He'd gotten over two hundred replies; some had taken five or six years before they'd washed ashore and been found.

Mostly he'd done the North Atlantic run, so a good portion of his "mail" came from Ireland and the British Isles, many from Holland and Scandinavia. Like a stamp collector he was delighted to show off his collection and a single letter from Russia, which he treasured.

He sailed the South Pacific for a while and had letters from Australia and New Zealand. I asked about his message and, truth be told, was a bit disappointed--it was a form giving longitude, latitude and the date and asking the finder for the same information. The paper was thin and weighed next to nothing.

If the form was boring, the answers weren't. The ones I could read, (not all were in English) were thrilled by the adventure! Yes, he'd actually become friends with some of the readers, been invited to visit a few. He always wrote back to thank them and the scrapbook was his prize possession. He invited me and my parents to sign our names on three slips and then toss the bottles overboard. Evidently they never made it to shore, but it was great fun.

II


I told this story to a crew member on The Santa Maria, a Grace Line passenger-freighter that sailed through the Panama Canal and down the west coast of South America and he told me one in return. A seaman he'd known was fond of throwing bottles overboard, too, but had never gotten a reply. One day, as a joke, someone put one of his bottles in a bucket of water and it immediately sank to the bottom. The crew had roared in merriment. Lesson learned? Coca Cola bottles don't float.

Bon Voyage

I bid Albert goodbye at the landing in the Pirate's Cove. As much as I wanted him to come with me, he assured me that a horse at sea was not a good situation for all parties concerned. Also, he seemed to suggest that there had been a parting of the ways between he and Matilda and it was best that he not be on board-- something about owing money-- I didn't pry further. Albert promised that he would find a way to the Abbey and would meet me there.

I kissed him on the forehead and scratched him behind the ears, then I boarded my small skiff and headed out towards the Calabar Felonway, anchored in the cove.

As I rowed onward, I noticed something glimmering in the morning sun light. It was cobalt blue, bobbing in the water, and as I got closer, I could see it was a wine bottle. I grabbed the gaff in the bottom of the skiff and reached for the bottle. When I finally got hold of it, I held it up to the light. Inside was a small scroll.

I pulled out the cork and removed the scroll. It was parchment, old and stained, and the writing was somewhat hard to read. In dark brown script, which looked like dried blood, were the scrawled words: "Beware of the Bog People......"

Before I could finish reading, a voice from the Calabar hailed me: "Avast ye scurvey wench, what's takin' ye so long." I shoved the scroll into my knap sack and quickly rowed on.



Image and text: Lori Gloyd (c) June 4, 2006

Sorta Bottle

This is sorta a 'message in a bottle story',
so I sent it over by Raven Messenger.

Page of Uli

There was nothing special about Uli, except his name, perhaps. He was Samuel by birthright, but his early life had not followed any path described in scripture. When his sister had come along and had been christened Samantha, wiser minds intervened and contrived the nickname. Thus, he was not really even himself, and somehow forfeit for all that. His name was frequently called more in teasing than for assistance or youthful insight into life's mysteries, gifts of a fair haired boy. He even came to refer to himself in the third person as, "Uli thinks it is time to eat," or "Uli is tired of this game!" The officialdom of that time refused to play the game, however, and teachers, priests, sergeants and social workers called him 'Samuel'. He rarely responded. When he was eighteen, he legally changed his name. Samuel was dead. He held a wake. The drinking part anyway.


The very next day, Uli started keeping a journal. It was certainly not a diary, controlled by the flow of passing summer days. It wasn't even kept daily, so the name is perhaps inappropriate. It was a bound collection of thoughts and dreams and reflections. Some was scarcely legible flowing dialogue with a hidden, internal self. There were neatly scripted haikus and penciled sonnets and random colorful phrases that Uli called 'refractions'. Sometimes these found later life in a larger piece. Mostly they molded like last fall's leaves covered by new 'reflections' of the sun. Like Uli's life, there was no order, pattern or direction. A cynic's view might be that he was laughing at the world. His departed mother would have thought he was mostly crying. Taciturn male role models would have lectured on his avoidance of the 'real world'. For the poet, he was praying!

Uli liked to sail and his small sloop was often out early to savor the peace of the sunrise dance on the small waves. He fished some, and drank some and wrote some. The order did not matter as he was always alone. He read a lot of course -- one cannot write with any touch of soul if he does not also travel into the mind of others. He dreamed a lot, lulled by the rocking of the small boat; sail dropped, sea anchor out, rain bucket ready for the sudden downpour -- Spirit's hand at the tiller.

His dreams were not of historic animal hunts, or a western chase across the plains. He rescued no maidens nor flew beneath the clouds nor battled Titans between the stars. Nothing so dashing for Uli. He dreamed of the symphony that plucked at his heart, of the notes he could not sing. Uli gathered the stroke of the dragon fly's wings and the cry of the polishing stone. He measured the beat of the thistle puff as it shattered the sprinkled lawn, and listened to the acorn's falling -- down -- down. Birds were resplendent in their hidden trill, even miles from the shore, for he remembered every vibrant song -- they coursed throughout his veins. In the written journal there was nothing of this, perhaps a man is best known by what he does not say! Uli was thought simple -- he was not a simple man!

When Uli awoke from his erstwhile trip to nowhere, there was no land in sight! His nostrils flared to gather any clue of direction or safe passage, but nothing came. No sounds of life or oil slick or drifting wing above. The sky was a uniform slate of anonymity upon which nothing was inscribed. Featureless -- lacking in texture -- lacking in overt passion. It might have been a reflection of his soul! No silent breeze clutched at his sail and the rudder described a meaningless 5 degree circle on the shallow waves. He could row, of course, but where? Better to wait. A touch of dismay crossed his brow and he sat down to write, not from inspiration -- just something to do. When he found land, it was not home, nor happy, nor any help at all. It was worthless!

The forbidding rocks were uniformly black, but certainly not uniform in size or shape. Each was a sinister barrier to life and approach. Even the sea birds were not drawn here -- at least there were no white striations to break the monotony. No trees, no piles of leaves or jumble of driftwood -- nothing. He allowed the tiny boat to drift around the small island -- no choice actually, for the currents teased with a multidirectional, swirling force. He attempted to row ashore -- why he did not know, but was always pushed away by a tide that always seemed to be rushing out -- out. The jagged rocks made any venture foolish in any event. Yet the island called to him -- not in yearning song, but in whispers. These somber tones came not from fear or dread or worse, but from a bell that was never rung. He rowed away.

"If this island does not allow approach," Uli thought, "then it must point in contrast to another saving path. Any port in a storm, they say. There is no storm and no port!" Row, row. He began to sing.

The gigantic tanker neither saw Uli not felt the crushing blow that crunched the craft into ragged shards. The looming swell or spinning brass blades may have been at fault, but Uli was beyond caring with the shocked interruption of his joyful cry. The ship passed on leaving only flotsam behind, scraps of wood, a couple of pots and a reddish knapsack in a box. These all washed ashore on the bleak island, they not impeded by the sloop's buoyancy or fragile size or pilot's will. The planks caught amongst the sharp boulders to bleach in the eventual sun. The box hinges rusted away to spill the contents into a slight defile, but the pages of the journal were still abused by wind and salt water spray. The writing faded with no less of a song that Uli had ever been able to voice.

A small plane crashed on the tip of the island, far from its charted course. Isn't that always the way? Only the young mother and three children stood upon the rocks to watch the wreckage slide beneath the angry surf. Such despair cannot be retold! But even then, the youngest daughter was disposed to explore a bit and found the wood, drawn by the rustling of the journal pages. They assembled the pile as best they could and tore out pages, many that blew away. They waited. When a flicker of light appeared on the horizon they kindled the fire and watched the hopeful finger of smoke snake and undulate into the gloomy sky. Ashes of pages drifted upward too. Then everything was gone -- every trace of Uli had completely vanished.

Years later a teenage girl sat beneath a tree and spread out a crumpled, withered page. Blue lines were faint. Fainter still were the words she had traced in pencil over the years, lifted from slight indentations in the linen scrap.

"I am the squire of the morning mist,
herald of each birthing day.
I am the champion of daily hour's command,
from chivalry's call for helping strong hand.

≈ ≠µ ℓ ю ……


I am the monk seeking peace in Mother Earth
where setting red sun will measure my worth.
But do not fear for God's claim on my soul,
for each day grants new life devoid of pain.

I will bring in the day to squire your birth,
gentle gird your loins in mail,
And cap your brow with helm of pure delight,
and grant curved shield of Aegis' might.
Claim your sword my friend and never cry yield
for I will be watching, will never fail.

Where what 'was' joins 'what will be',
there is proud eternal braid
that in our evening's death there will cycle new life,
to conquer unafraid."

Story In A Bottle - Literally An Old Tale


I wrote this, believe it or not, about two years ago, all of which time it has been tucked in a drawer. Thought I would pull it out for this prompt, as I am juggling too many things, (as usual:-P)and don't have time to form a new one. It seems to fit with bottles and sea journeys, so I am telling it here:

Working Title: “Max Wellgrave – Adventurer”
It was dull in 1853 Sussex, especially for Max Wellgrave. He lived in a thatch-roofed stone manor with his elderly mother and father, self-possessed as he saw them, living twenty years in the past. He was a late baby, welcome, but late. His only excitement was his uncle, a kind of mad wizard who lived in an old cottage at the bottom of the garden on their estate. The property had been in the family since three generations passing. Max was sick of the town, the predictable questions and queries, and the river. Everything centred on the river. The town, trade and the river. He knew its history backwards, and told Archie, his uncle, as much, idling as he did by his cottage that spring afternoon.
Spider webs decorated the frame of the small doorway like ethereal embroidery. He had to stoop to enter, being tall and rangy. His tidy blonde hair and small beard gave him the look of a Norseman rather than an Englishman, and comments like that, from people he knew, made him self-conscious, and made him want to get away. He didn’t know where. Just somewhere that wasn’t here. And people mistaking his name was another dreadful bore, “Oh Maxwell Grave” they would say, on meeting him for the first time. “No,” he would say, correcting them, “Max Wellgrave”. One old local man said “Might as well be in the grave with a name like that!” before he shuffled down the sleepy main street. He’d been 17 then and gone home to his mother and father so moody he hadn’t talked for a week, just glowered at them as a person did at that age. But now he was 21 – ready to take on the world.
“Uncle Arch,” he said, folding his arms as he watched the steam from the distiller curl into the crisp spring air. “I want to go adventuring to other parts of the world.”
Uncle Archie looked up at him through heavy lidded eyes and white, bushy eyebrows. The metal rims of his spectacles glowed in the muted sunlight that shimmered like gold dust through the small windows of the cottage. They were in the kitchen, or Uncle’s ‘laboratory’, as he called it. He fancied himself as a kind of alchemist, taking after the family talent for medicine and pharmaceutical pursuits, but with a twist. The methodical reliability on fact the others in the family had was balanced by a distinct "madness" in Uncle. But he was charismatic, which made him more of an eccentric than a menace. He passed Max a cup of steaming tea, hot off the hob, and took one for himself sipping it. After a long period of silence Max was well used to, Uncle spoke.
“Splendid. But where to go, where to go.”
“I thought to the Gold Rush. The American or Australian fields. I’ve been reading Pa’s papers.”
“Intriguing,” said Uncle, “What do you hope for?”
Max put down his cup to thrust his hands self-consciously in his trouser pockets, “Adventure. To get away, before I get caught up in Pa’s business forever.”
“People go to gold fields to make their fortunes. Your fortune is set out for you, already you are fortunate,” said Uncle, slightly wounded by his favourite nephew’s wish to throw away everything provided for him, by his father and all the fathers before him.
He was making plant oils for medicinal tinctures to be sold at the family dispensary in the town, and had done well, as the boy would do after him.
“It wouldn’t be forever,” said Max, feeling annoyed and hemmed in by the family line that preceded him.
“You can’t mix oil and water,” said Uncle, vaguely, “Can’t mix it.”
Max shrugged his shoulders. Another one of Uncle’s moods coming on, he thought.
“Whatever you say, I will go. I’m twenty-one.”
“You still can’t mix oil and water.”
“Whatever you say, Uncle,” he said, fumbling in his pockets until he found a penny. “Heads, America, tails Australia.”
Max tossed the coin as Uncle looked up at it spinning, his eyes following it down to the floorboards. It clattered and rang, then fell tails up.
It was done; Max was off to Australia. Melbourne to be exact, and then Ballarat. That was where he was going, he thought, standing on the deck, face to the wind. Everything would be different. No ridicule, no locals who had known his since he was a baby, no parents to remind him what he ought to be doing. His leather bag was stuffed with his clothing, food from his mother, books from his father and from Uncle, a bag of fine gold dust in his vest pocket. Why the man had given him gold, when gold was what he was looking for, defied explanation. He shook his head at his eccentric uncle and went below deck to his quarters, grimacing slightly at the cramped conditions, the plank-hard mattress, the forlorn lantern swinging with the motion of the vessel and the large, black spider crawling up the wall. Ship life was grand, Max thought. For five months he kept to himself, alternating between like and dislike, but too proud to admit it was not as easy as he had imagined.

It was a strange thing, youth. The daring of it and the untried ideas resisted the wisdom of older people. Older, later back in Sussex, Max Wellgrave was to recall that first taste of freedom again, when he was married, sons gathered around him, and retell it with more favourable elaboration than had been the case. The story grew more fabulous, urged on and expanded, like the eyes of his sons listening in fascination. In truth, he was an utter disappointment at adventuring.
When he got there, knee deep in yellowy mud from the persistent rain, hardened officials and merchants pressed the requisition tent, tools, and provisions on him, plying him for exorbitant sums of money in return. He knew what sheep felt like robbed of their fleece; poor. He had never tasted this particular flavour of lack, wrapping itself around him like an immobilising, dense fog. It was not like home where he could have what he wanted at a fair price. It was not what he expected.
A man in bedraggled clothing forced his stay in his tent, reminding him of Uncle. His strange mutterings were better than nothing on the empty, windy nights when the tent flapped and wheezed with cold. The man who sold him his licence at a premium, eyeing his clothes when he made his reckoning higher than usual, scoffed at his name.
“Never heard of a well grave, boy. England, aye, I’ll give you a week at that. No more than a week, sonny.”
“We’ll see about that,” said Max, traipsing away through the mud, only as defiant as the mud would allow.
No matter where he went in the world it appeared he could still find humiliation. What was the point in being here with nothing, when he could be humiliated at home with everything? he wondered, stiff in his stretcher from cold.
The old man who invited himself to stay with Max had been at the diggings for two years, jumping newcomer’s tents as they arrived. People jumped each other’s claims in the same way. This was the diggings; forced to live by your wits. Uncle’s bag of gold was still in his keep, a reminder of home. He kept it to himself with great secrecy.. He had been careless with precious things at home.
Max had failed at everything he put his hand to on the diggings, not that he admitted it when he got home, little more than a month spent. When he started developing the symptoms of what his family medical knowledge told him was the initial stages of pneumonia, it gave him pause for thought. He’d been so cocky he hadn’t included any medicine in his bag. Toward the end of a month, lying awake in his canvas stretcher, he looked at the old man, muttering in his sleep. He had been naïve to the extreme, excited by newsprint. How Uncle would laugh…if he left quickly he would be spared the shame of coming home in one the medical beds on board the ship home.
Next morning Max handed ownership of his licence, tools, tent and provisions to the old man. “Keep well, old man,” said Max, shaking his hand soundly, leaving the freezing fields. It was five months before he was home. The latter part of the voyage was spent in sunlight, a stark contrast to the winter he had left behind. On the deck basking in it daily, he purged the pneumonia virus that might have killed him, under the advice of the ship's medical man. He pondered the meaning of the gold dust from Uncle, safely in his vest pocket. He also thought of the wisdom he had gained, until he finally landed at Southampton. Met by his elderly mother and father, he settled back into their fold, the town, the trade and the river.
Uncle hadn’t come to greet him, and later he met him in the sunny cottage again, now in late summer, as had been their usual habit. Max didn’t mind it so much now, seeing everything as he did through fresh, wise eyes. He still stooped to go into the small doorway, smiling as he laid eyes on the familiar figure of Uncle bending over his work and the curl of steam from the distiller.
“My boy,” he said simply, clasping his wise hands over Max’s younger ones. “You have returned, as I expected. You will follow in the family footsteps, heal the sick with medicine.”
They spoke of many things, and Max was more candid with Uncle, who seemed to know everything before he spoke of his non-adventures anyway. He was always glad of news of the world, never surprised by its peculiarities. Max handed the bag of gold dust back to his uncle. Their eyes met. Uncle nodded, tossing it back on the wooden bench.
“Of all people you would know oil cannot be mixed with water,” said Max, with gratitude in his smile, “I ought to, after all your lectures. Two unlike substances cannot be blended. I am a Wellgrave to the core. I cannot be anything else.”
They looked at the small bag of gold dust on the wooden bench. Max knew he was deserving of the old, wise family name.
“You and all the Wellgrave men before you tried to escape their calling. You are a Wellgrave to the core.”
“Like a fool I went searching for gold,” Max said, “You wisely said I had it already.”
“And now you know the difference, you have gained wisdom.”
Uncle turned back to his work, distilling tinctures from plants for their dispensary in the town. Max drew nearer the work, fascinated now by what he had thought commonplace before. Suddenly the curl of steam rising from the distiller intensified as Uncle Archie, becoming excited, knew he had reached the point in the process where the oil separated from the water to become valuable. The old man smiled and quickly made ready to inspect the precious oil in a glass beaker. Max pulled a chair across the floor, eagerly, to watch the master at work.
# (May 2004)
copyright Monika Roleff 2006.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Gorgon's Wrath

The Gorgon is still in such a foul mood that she has frozen the first person to cross her path........burrrrrrrr!!!!!!
















Photomontage created in Photoshop and Terragen: Lori Gloyd (c) June 3, 2006



Bottled Tale

Once upon a time, many years ago there was a young school teacher fresh out of college. Her first job didn't pay very much, but she was filled with enthusiasm, and having the time of her life in her very own classroom. One day the school bus driver stopped by her room with a problem. He had to go to a funeral the next day and there was no one available to make the after school run in his place. The young teacher jumped at the opportunity, especially when he offered to pay her his share for the run. When lunch time came, they went to the parking lot for a little driving practice. "There is only one thing you must be very mindful of" he said, "and that is the brakes. They are extremely sensitive, you need only flex your big toe to bring the bus to a full stop."
She nodded diligently, and once moving found this advice to be true-the slightest depression of the pedal was sufficient.

All afternoon she looked forward to her new role as bus driver, even incorporating the adventure into her lesson plan. She spread out the route map on a table in the front of the room, and showed each of the children how to trace the path from school to their bus stop. Ten minutes after the closing bell, the bus was loaded and they were off. It was a sunny, spring day, and she broke into a familiar song as they drove along, 'till one by one the whole bus filled with happy young voices. This was a farming community, and the rich brown earth of the newly plowed fields stretched in an endless vista on either side of the road.

Had not fate interceded, this would have been an idyllic tale, sweet in its simplicity. Alas, the fully loaded manure spreader, which was following much to close, and the frolicking goats awash with their new-found freedom, having just jumped their enclosure, all conspired to tweak destiny. The goats burst out onto the road from the tall grass along the ditch, and no one would later blame her memory lapse as she trod down hard upon the brake pedal. The two little kids in the back seat ended clear up in the front of the bus, a little dazed but unhurt. This was a good thing in more ways than one considering the abrupt kiss between the manure truck and the back of the bus. That whole load of manure rose up like a levitated body and deposited itself perfectly on top of the bus...except of course that which anointed the occupants through the open windows.

So that is my tale, save for the consequences which shall be left to the reader's imagination.

Off to the Serpent Road

I'm shuffling off ...
working out a story in my head ...
fiction of course,
something about desert riches.

Story in a Bottle

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You have all heard of messages in a bottle. Well now it is your chance to write a story to go in a bottle that le Enchanteur can keep in her cabin on board the Calabar.

After yesterday's tantrum Enchanteur seems much more tranquil and her cabin appears idyllic but it would be well to be cautioned that she is a shape shifter and can change with the breezes that puff up the Calabar's sails.

Keep Enchanteur happy by doing a bit of the Arabian Nights style story telling and create some stories to go in bottles. Of course it would be fun to have decorated bottles to match the stories.

A Confession of Terror

The Priestess of the House of the Serpents says I must shed yet another skin.... so here goes.

A Confession of Terror

It has been nearly five years since September 11, 2001. Since that time I have exchanged the occasional "what-were-you-doing-when-it-happened" stories with others, but I have never once written about the experience. It is not that the events of that day have faded from my memory and that I have become complacent about the whole thing. To the contrary, I have never truly thrown off the terror and uncertainty of that day. In fact, I believe that I have internalized the fear into the fabric of my being. I say this because last week, while at the movies, I saw a trailer for a new film called World Trade Center which is premiering soon. During the trailer, I believe I had a minor post-traumatic stress reaction, becoming physically uncomfortable and emotional stressed as I watched the trailer's reenactment of the planes slamming into the WTC. It was so distressing for me to watch this because I witnessed the second plane crash into the WTC on Live television that morning five years ago.

The night before the attack, I had had a fitful night's sleep, having been awakened about 2 a.m. from a dream where I and some strangers were waiting for some planes to drop bombs on us! The dream frightened me so much I remember bolting straight up in bed, sweating and breathing hard. I think this dream was mere coincidence and certainly not a prophetic one, but it certainly rattled me so much that when my radio alarm came on a little before 6 a.m. (California time) and I heard that a plane had crashed in NYC, it propelled me out of bed and to my television.

I had been watching only a couple of minutes when I saw a streak across the screen and an explosion of smoke and fire. I remember screaming "Oh, Jesus, Oh, God!" at the t.v. and then muttering over and over to myself, "I just saw people die, I just saw a plane full of people die!" Unbelievably, it did not occur to me then that we were under attack. I thought it was some sort of bizare glitch in the air traffic control system. This thinking slowly changed as reports started coming in about the planes crashing into the Pentagon and into the fields of Pennsylvania.

I pulled myself together and headed towards work. As I drove along my usual route, a street along the backside of the airport, I listened to Peter Jennings at ABC describe the collaspe of one of the WTC towers. As calm as he tried to be, I could still hear the terror in his voice, and it was then that the full realization of what was happening to us set in.

Driving alongside the airport, I suddenly realized the possible danger to myself. If New York and D.C. were under attack, why not L.A.! I hit the gas and sped to work. I debated for a moment about whether or not to turn around and go home. I wanted to be in my own environment and near a news source, but I continued along to work. When I got there, we received word from the top that classes would be held as planned and all employees were to work their shift.

At first I thought they had made a mistake: we should be off the streets, leaving them clear for emergency personnel and vehicles, but I came to realize that our management was responding in the only possible way to those who were attacking us: "We will continue as normal; you will not effect us, you will not achieve your goal!" In fact, a student came to me a few days later and thanked me for being at work. I had taken a call from her that day and had calmed her down considerably, she told me. She said that I had provided a presence of normalcy on a day of madness. I thanked her for her comments but underneath I knew I did not deserve the compliment.

In fact, that day, and to this very day, I am still afraid. I have not been on a plane since then and have physical and emotional reactions when I see images of the events of 911.

I am ashamed to say and I confess it here before you all: "They may have achieved their goal, at least in MY LIFE."

God help me.


Lori Gloyd (c) June 3, 2006

Watch yer Back

While I am safely away, a friend will post this information about pirates that may help prepare you for your, er … confinement. Most of the modern images of pirates and buccaneers are Hollywood fictions, with little basis in fact or tradition. Privateers are a different matter all together, with many of the greatest atrocities committed under ‘license’ of one king or another. The foundations of pirate myth mostly stem from the actions of Corsairs in the Mediterranean after the Crusades --not the actions of the Muslim or North African tribes, but of the ‘esteemed’ Knightly Orders driven from the Holy Land by Saladin. Both the Templar Knights, and the Knights of Saint John took to the seas from island bases to attack and pillage Muslim trade – and all merchants who would not submit to their will. The ‘skull and cross bones’ is based on Templar Priest placing a scull on the mast – a relic to be placed in Jerusalem. The red flag (Jolly Roger) if the "Joile Rouge’" – eith a red flag with white cross that later became the flag of Switzerland, or the reverse that became symbol of the Red Cross. Sadly – in those grand pirate times, it was a symbol of death. The OofSJ acquired the secret to ‘Greek Fire’, and any merchant ship not instantly surrendering was burned to the water-line from a distance.

I wrote this ballad about these events that you might enjoy – even with me singing it.


Jolie Rouge'

With Acre now seized by Saladin's hand, no knights upon the Holy Land,
Bold Falcon leads a corsair band to thwart aside the Sultan's plan.
Giant ships guided by Templar might, festoon an awful flag of black,
Known by all as Gonfalon Beauceant, sure sign they cold fear do lack.
Look to a skull of ancient Gagatha, carried on mast for passion's sake.

Merchants and Arabs do quickly row from pirates these fine knights do make.
But terror and dauntless courage hold, these fine ships are put to shame,
By the fleet of Maltese Corsairs bold, whose dread flag Saint John proclaim.
On swift ships with sail cut trapezoid, do fierce banner bright red display.
No quarter give, nor prisoner bind, cries out the flag called the Jolie Rouge'

For they carry the secret of awesome powers, a fire that belches across the sea.
Spawn of death from a siphon of bronze, ransom or die their only plea.
At helm, a priest dressed all in black, not guided much by golden wealth.
At the ropes Syrian sailors dark, sail a thousand years of stealth.
At the oars are sea-wolf bandits from far northern icy sea.

Together they tack unto the winds and hopeless merchants cannot flee.
They do not need to grapple close, nor arm with axe or blade,
For even water will not quench this fire that spreads on deck and wave.
For corsairs the black gives strength of iron to meet a certain death,
With bones from the Temple of Solomon a source of Templar faith.

But for Turks 'tis the red they flee, or meet a Hell born fate.
They are the curse of the Inland Sea, only destruction in their wake.
The fluttering flag of the Jolie Rouge' does warn of a hungry flame.
But notice sure the cross of white, on both flags it is the same.
Cross of white and a sea of blood, your pirate legacy.

You better not go down to the Cove today.

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You better not go down to the cove today. You better go in disguise.

It is Saturday and le Enchanteur and the Gorgon are as fractious as can be. Enchanteur is in such a state that she has steam coming out of her ears and the Gorgon is not happy either.

They have reputations to maintain. Images to hold!

Hopefully, those planning to travel by ship will be able to slip down to the cove tomorrow, row out and claim a cabin while these two sleep off their Saturday fractiousness. Hopefully they will be more amiable by the time we all sit down for a Sunday dinner together.

And whose head is that dangling out there? Faucon? I hope you and Cher-lynn made a quick getaway up over the mountain pass.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Seeds?

I was reading on the couch in my sunroom--a small, dark room with three windows blocked by a giant holly tree. No sun filtered through the branches today, it was rainy and thoroughly gloomy outside. I'd returned from food shopping, grateful to have managed it between the heavy showers and thunderstorms that just kept coming and coming, but the idea of doing housework or even writing petered out in the dreariness of the day. I couldn't keep my eyes open and,laying my book aside, I drew my knees up and put my head on the pillow in total surrender to the rain and my mood.

It was a while before I heard the tapping, what with the rain and the intermittent dull rumbles of thunder, but finally the peculiar pattern of sound penetrated my drowsy brain and I turned to look out the window. A small bird, sat on my windowsill pecking on the glass.

"I'm drowning out here--do you mind?"

I'm accustomed to this in Soul Food. If I'd been on my computer in Riversleigh or the Abbey, or on the Serpentine road or any of the other blogs I'd have accepted a talking bird without question, but I wasn't on computer. In dumbfounded obedience I opened the window. The bird, no larger than a sparrow, hopped inside and, extending its wings, shook itself, sending droplets of water flying everywhere. Then it sneezed.

"Man, I hope I'm not catching a cold."

I ignored it and curled up again in my chair.

"Hey, what's with you? Aren't you glad to see me?"

"I'm obviously losing my marbles, so I'll just get comfortable and continue my dream."

"No, really, don't do that," it said. I felt it land on the cushion beside me. "Heather sent me. She said you had a bad week and could use a little cheering up. So what'll it be? You want me to transport you to someplace exotic, or you need a seed of inspiration, or what?"

"Aren't you a little small for a phoenix?" I asked, refusing to open my eyes. Honestly, this was the dumbest dream I'd ever had.

"I try to blend in, you know. Your neighborhood doesn't really seem like the kind of place that would take to me in my usual form. And your house is way too small. Hmmmm. You may be right. Maybe you just need to rest. Go back to sleep. I can't really stick around, but I'll leave you something. You rest, you'll be fine."

I woke up later with a crick in my neck from the way I'd been sleeping. The house was still gloomy, the rain still poured down. I did a load of laundry, so the day wouldn't be a complete waste and while I was putting it in the machine, got an idea about my friend, a way to honor his memory and generosity so I e-mailed another friend about it. Well, we'll see, maybe it will work out. It's a good idea.

I read something yesterday that mentioned a "blog me" button. Seemed like it would be a time saver, so I investigated. I had to download the Google toolbar to get it but I messed up and got all the doodads but the one thing I wanted--the button. I'm not too swift with this tech stuff--I was always told I didn't have any patience.

Funny, when children come into the library to do a report, I tell them to be like Sherlock Holmes--the world's greatest detective. Look for clues. Take your time. Think logically. Sure you can do it! Well now, the button wasn't where help said it would be, but I found it. Hmmm. Works like a charm! Not a bad day after all.

I wonder. Seeds of all useful things. A talking Phoenix the size of a sparrow. Nah, couldn't be.

No Boat

"The road to the Abbey is impassable,"
or so we are told by the fractious Enchantress,
but I will not speculate on motive
to get you all aboard like bilge rats –
words like ‘impress’ and ‘shanghai’
come to mind.
It matters not, as it is my calling
to walk this journey in baby steps,
and feel the caress of giggly ferns,
and listen to the wisdom of the stones,
and weep with the sunset –
and will not be denied.
What will I meet that others consider
"impassable?"
Torrential streams or wandering boulders?
Crevasse or pinnacle or uproot tree?
Bring them on – and on again,
for I am nothing
if not quested to walk where others dread.
My broken body tells of this –
each step racked with pain,
but along the way I will find a stranger
who would parish if I did not pass this way.
and pass I will,
for the Abbey is my special home,
and Cher-lynn awaits --
and there is the Lantern to care for
when you brigands arrive.

Hands - Sacred Symbol of Humanity

In various cultures the hands have been called the sacred symbol of humanity. When we begin to scrutinize the ‘hand’ and what bears in meaning to each of us, the world opens to a myriad of ritual, conviction and belief. To what a Buddhist or Indian, or to what the Eastern World calls its own and claims its ways, lends itself to being true to oneself.

As example, Christianity long known for the “praying hands” of the Lord emits its own connotation and reverence. Or take the study of palmistry that puts emphasis on the hand when trying to decipher the intricate highways and byways of the nervous system. Also, the mounds and fingers were named for the seven planets that were recognized by astronomers and astrologers at an earlier time in our history. And then there were ancient civilizations that left handprints on cave dwellings and cliffs that remain today symbolizing many things from death, rebirth, reclamation, even demise.

And so it goes; the study and representation of the hand takes on many a meaning each unique and meaningful throughout many cultures. And when you pair it with the meaning of humanity in the strict sense of the word, it says it all. Desirable characteristics, kindness, mercy, sympathy, mankind, people, and being humane all make it easier to understand how peoples from every walk of life can relate. The simple act of praying, meditating, or participating in any creative endeavor only brings humanity that much closer.

Gretchen L. ©





Gorgon Demise

Gorgon bristled mane of snakes, mirror
collective violence poised and ready to
strike.

With the devil a pact she made leave death’s
stare for her nemesis’ perilous fight.

Shield must be made, an iron fist, labor borne,
filled wrought with intense.

No other way, captured at the quay,
end of her evil reign commence.

Gretchen L. ©

Shedding the Skin of Regret

Everyone has an inner critic, that malady that hangs on our conscience and guides us hither and yon. And most often it takes us in the wrong direction. It becomes a part of our “self”, almost like a second skin, which is why there comes a time when we must let it go.

Before I embark on my journey I must decide to let something go. I must shed my skin of regret, the “should've and could've" of my life. To some degree the years have slightly blurred these times and I have tried being gentler with myself.


So I feel strongly that if I can shed the skin of my past regrets right here and right now, clear the path of obstacles of living in “what I didn’t do” and move on. I feel good about this. And strangely enough optimism blooms and soon I hope to stand tall, and allow the burden that’s been laden on my slender shoulders lift.

Gretchen L. ©


Flight - Leaving Doubt And Disbelief

On being invited for a flight with the Roc, well, neither I nor Belenus would
refuse. Donkeys can easily balance on the back of a bird like this so we
hopped on. Belenus made sure we wore our glasses and put aside the
anchor we had. "You are always doubting and disbelieving," hissed Belenus
as the bird told us of the wonders of the ages. "You can talk!" I said back, wind
whistling in my hair at such a high altitude. "And keep your voice down! We
don't want to look like fools."

The Roc was telling us we were headed to the Land of Colours, to take tea
with the sea maids and learn some wisdom. I liked the sound of this, and it
wasn't until I got back, that I wrote in my journal and knew it made sense.
It was only then that I could shed the skin of cynicism, the shades of
doubt and disbelief...
Here are some pictures taken, the only ones allowed
from the journey.
It was filled with unusual things, colours,
things we had never seen before,
and everything was tinged with gold.



copyright Monika Roleff 2006.

Captain Bonny Wilder

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Ebony Wilder has come on her Pirate Ship to collect some human cargo and take them to the Lemurian Abbey. She is being received by the Rainbow Serpent Priestess and negotiating as we speak. The offer of some 'cabin's of one's own' may well be enough to entice travellers take passage on her ship. Well, the truth is that they have little choice because the mountain routes are currently impassable.

But first the Rainbow Serpent Priestess insists, crew members must leave another skin behind at the House of Serpents for safe keeping. I wonder what folk will leave now.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Conversation with a Phoenix

The wedding party was in full swing. I sashayed into the grand ballroom in my purple gown and my wildly fluttering feather headdress. Music blared and the other travellers mingled, sharing stories of their adventures on the Serpentine Road. L'Enchanteur herself was in the corner, holding court with other important-looking dignitaries. I waved at her and then headed towards the bar.

On the way, I glanced out the portico window to the great lawn out front. All the animals that brought us here were enjoying their own party. Albert was in his glorious element, entertaining a gaggle of young she-donkeys with a totally falsified story, no doubt. On his withers, though, perched Matilda, the Pirate Queen's first mate. She was whispering something into Albert's ear and he began whinnying in delight. "Strumpet!" I muttered as I changed direction. I needed to break up this little party right away before Albert got too entangled for his own good.

Before I could reach the portico doors, I heard a loud squawk and saw a mountain of color suddenly loomed up before me. I stopped in my tracks. Standing before me was an enormous bird. It was about eight feet tall with the brightest feathers I had ever seen on a bird-- crimson, magenta, gold, and turquoise--each one shimmering as if dusted with crushed diamonds. I looked around me. Everyone was still loudly conversing, trying to hear each other over the music. No one seemed to notice the arrival of this monstrous creature.

"Whoa, dude. Cool hat," it said. I looked around and then pointed to myself and mouthed the word "Me?"

"Yeah, you, dude."

"Um, I'm not a dude...."

The bird squinted his eyes at me. "Oh, yeah, right....Dudette. We get messed up sometimes with you bipedal-types," he began to guffaw.

"'We?' Who, or what, exactly are you?" I asked.

The bird puffed his breast-feathers. "I am whatcha call a 'Phoenix'!"

"Oh, I've heard about Phoenixes. You're here to do a good deed."

"Yup, and it's yer lucky day. I'm your ticket to the perfect adventure."

"No, sorry, I don't want any more adventures at the moment. I'm just waiting until we pull out toward the Cave of the Ancestors. "

"Who says I'm here to take you away?"

"But you just said you're going to take me on an adventure."

"Yeah, but inside, sweet-thing, inside". The Phoenix lifted the curve of his wing and indicated his chest.

Suddenly, I got it. "But I'm already 'inside', first at Riversleigh and now here. The Real World is 'out there'."

"Yeah, but you need to go further in. You're only on the surface, even in the Virtual World. "

"So how do I do that?"

The Phoenix turned sideways and lifted his wing. "Grab one."

"Grab what?"

"A feather."

I looked at him suspiciously. I had "borrowed" some of Matilda's feathers and now she was getting even by flirting with my horse.

"Go ahead. It won't hurt."

I gently took hold of one of the smaller feather on his side and tugged slowly. The feather came out easily. Even this small feather was nearly a foot long.

"There. Now you just keep that in a safe place. The next time you have a writer's block, just whip out that feather and you'll start yer way on an inward flight you will never forget."

"Really!"

"You betcha." The Phoenix glanced out the windows towards Matilda still talking to Albert. "Wow, get a load of that chick! We done here?"

I nodded.

"I'm outta here." He bounced toward the door and Matilda.

I looked down at the iridescent feather glimmering in my hand. Etched on the quill of the feather: "When in doubt, fly."

Text: Lori Gloyd (c) June 1, 2006

Sad Phoenix


I need help, my friends –
must make some decisions that will change –
my life, the world – every citizen in it.

I am a serious. I hope everyone responds.

This will read like a fairy tail,
but truth is often that way.

I have been carrying a bit of knowledge with me
for close to 50 years – a secret. The way in which
I acquired this ‘gift/burden’ places ethical
constraints on my possibilities. Yet the conditions
of the world demand that I do something,
regardless of the personal price –
and I will
but ‘how to’ is not clear.

I cannot give exact details
without putting myself at risk –
just accept …

I know where there is an immense vein
of valuable metal to be mined. However,
the cost of extraction has always exceeded
any possible profit or risk investment.
that has changed …
and I am the only who guards this knowledge

I must find someone who can organize a company
to extract the ore – a huge investment with no
return for up to ten years – but no risk –
I have seen it, touched it, tasted it –
I can show it to others.

Who do I trust? The moment I reveal such knowledge
I am expendable – find me ‘gone missing’ in some ditch.

I would sell the information if I could,
but no one could pay a normal ‘fair’ price –
even a 25% ‘finder’s fee’ would make me
the richest man in the world,
many times over.

So, I could plan a trust or foundation,
with future earning from my ‘share’
financing a humanitarian organization
with the real ability to help millions of people.
We would need survival income along the way –
EM and I are not greedy but deserve something
for setting up the largest private institution in the world.

It would be exciting for those ten ‘waiting’ years
to explore all of the ways of helping people,
and eliminating many destructive ones –

giving people money does not help them long term,
giving scholarships to high school grads
who can’t so third grade math will not help,
the government is pathetically untrustworthy,
organized religions are little better –

because it suddenly becomes about power!!

I believe Em and I could handle the reins
while we are here – then what?

How do I set up something that does not
wind up being more destructive
than useful? Dare I?

Yet, how dare die with this knowledge
with the potential to make a real difference?
Even if I get nothing – tell me just who to pass
the baton to who can wield it.

Release me! But I shudder at the
terrible potential for misuse and abuse –
I don’t even want this current administration
to get a dime!
I don’t want to finance the next war
in an effort to support peace.

Sigh! Perhaps one of you has an answer.

I can just lie here, sleepless –
knowing that I MUST DO SOMETHING!!

A dream? No, very real.

I don’t like being poor,
I wouldn’t mind being wealthy,
but have no need to ‘buy things’.
What would you do?

What would you do with $5 Billion
a MONTH in salary?

Just joking … ;-)

It’s more than that

"Hope"

- - hidden in Pandora’s Box

Oh drat us women and our innate curiosity! According to myth, the source of all misfortune was Pandora’s curiosity and that infamous box. From the gods she was given an ornate wooden box affixed with ornate brass accoutrements, and was told “not to open it.” Little did she know they had filled it with all things egregious.

They sent Pandora off to Epimetheus who welcomed her warmly, though Prometheus had warned him never to accept anything from Zeus. Soon fates would have it and he would come to know how true his brother’s words had been. For she, like all women, possessed a penchant of curiosity and had to know what was inside the box.

One night of quiet, she lifted the lid and out flew pestilence, sorrow and mischief too innumerable to mention. Quickly she slammed the lid shut, but it was too late. One good thing, though, the box held hope, and it remains to this day mankind’s sole comfort for misfortune.


gretchen (c)




Eat Your Heart Out Atlas

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The Roc and I sat on a rock contemplating the myths that have been perpetuated by mankind and we agreed, she and I, that Atlas was a right wimp.

Eat your heart out Atlas.

Women carry the burden of the world every day without complaint.

Each day good women hold up the world and carry their burden with grace.