“Idiot,” her brain screamed when her feet stopped running at the edge of the wood. Her heart entered the darkness, even though it was folly going through the dense undergrowth, especially at her age.
Entering the field behind her, her followers screeched her name, “Ella, Ella.”
They would follow her path, etched by her own feet which had forged a damned line through the tall grasses straight to her current location.
What choice did she have?
She crashed through the brush. Branches ripped at her bare legs and arms. “More path paving,” she muttered.
So much anger, so much time spent at the end of a rope. She couldn’t blame them. She wasn’t any better off than the lot of them, struggling with the emptiness thrust upon them. She understood the burden she had become, but couldn’t agree to their solutions.
A patch of sunlight caught her eye. She pushed through the foliage and gasped as the first wash of light engulfed her. She knew this place. Knew it as the end of the line.
Ahead of her was a thirty-five foot plunge into a raging river.
Branches snapped as her followers entered the forest.
She walked toward the cliff.
At the edge, a single lily waved, lifted to and fro by a gentle breeze, a white flag of surrender.
She sighed and sat, legs dangling, and stared at the water below.
Once, then twice, the wind pushed the lily against her bare arm.
She looked at the sky: quiet, clear serenity above her. “Three hours until nightfall.”
The lily nudged her arm a third time.
It was possible. If she was as quiet as the sky, she could hide in the undergrowth until dark.
I am very grateful for my sisters of Women Writers of the Well. If you are an aspiring writer reading this, I recommend the idea of joining or creating a group of like-minded people who meet with the intent to support each other’s writing efforts. The magic of connection is everything. It’s a miracle. Without the support of these women, it would have taken much longer to find my way out of the dark, uninspired hole into which my creativity fell. They shone a light into that darkness and helped me crawl out step by step. I am still climbing, but I can see the way ahead.
In an effort to get me working on this blog again, I asked my writing sisters to share work with me any time they wanted it published. Anne B. Jeffries shared my last blog. This blog I share with Shari Anderson. She sees the Light everywhere and shines it brightly for her students, her musical sisters and brothers, her family, and her friends of which I am so blessed to be considered. Shari combines musicality within her prose and poetry. She isn’t afraid of experimentation. She publishes songs and chants, and is a beloved performer in this lovely area of California. She is one of those people that prefers to see the positive even when others can’t see it. Here is the sample of her writing she has sent to share with you:
Her voice –
warm and compassionate
Magically weaving wisdom and breath
Loving head to knowing heart
In, through and around
A creative dance from impulse Divine
traveling as words into our minds
Why does the word, dynamics, when paired with family, feel so very different than the same word applied to music?
“Family Dynamics” feels complicated, determined by emotional responses and past triggers, but talked about with rational, linear vocabulary completely insufficient to the task.
Dynamics in music evokes: expressiveness, freedom, flow, creativity, give and take, communication.
Maybe the key to better family dynamics is a musical approach, an excitement, a curiosity, an impulse to dive in so we can soar.
“So, we can soar.”
I agree with this wholeheartedly, having come up with a different viewpoint from the prompt “Family Dynamics” using words such as: responsibility, expectations of generations, fear tactics, grief dynamics, frustration with education, anger and growth – family – it is what it is: life shared.
The fact is, we all come out of families with a better understanding of who we are, and how to love.
That is cause for celebration. That’s enough to make us all take flight.
Shari is the one that pointed out that my attempts at creating acrostics with the word ‘practice,’ amounted to a journey through a lifetime study of music. My words take flight here because she found the value in them. I didn’t read these in this order because I didn’t write them in this order, but she saw it this way and now I do too:
Thank you Shari.
Thank you Readers. May you take flight until next time you land on my blog space.
In June of 2020 I ‘graduated’ from teaching. Teaching requires mindfulness and extreme focus, a one-hundred percent investment of love during time spent one-on-one with a child or with a group in the classroom. It requires setting aside self to see and hear others instead.
One of my sister writers, author of “Cross Roads,” Anne B. Jeffries, agreed to post on my blog this week. She had just finished a full day of commitment at school but she came to write with us. She is adept at pouring Heart. When she attends our Wise Women Writing group, she feeds our souls. In a mere ten minutes, she addresses each prompt with profound honesty. Her act is an inspiration for the rest of us. She demands authenticity for herself, while maintaining curiosity, joy, love, and compassion for the rest of us.
Dear Readers, I don’t know what some of you do, but I do know that if you are reading my blog you have a sincere desire to connect with heart. Anne’s heart makes a big connection.
Anne, thank you. I feel honored that you have given me your words to give to my readers. Fellow teacher, fighter for children, fighter for people, Anne, I love your heart. You pour out all it carries every day and I know your students feel your intent. Your writing takes away my breath and reminds me that teaching is something I still love to do.
It’s not just my memories sleeping,
It’s all of it.
A honey drip slowness.
I can catch up tomorrow.
Just want to sink down in sleep.
Like a frenetic fall.
What is the charge?
Is it my nervous system that signals the experience to fizzle,
Lose its edges?
Then, sink away in categories and compartments,
With no present security access?
Where is my agency?
Who is filing these memories and who granted permission for this protocol?
Or, maybe, it’s all chaos and no “thing” has access.
My consciousness just sifts above it all like a metal detector pulling up old coins.
What about the pieces made of wood and plastic?
What loosens those?
He said it’s like wearing a lie on his face.
I feel that way all the time.
In class- with him- with them.
Like I’m a puppet driven by a motor I did not program, or know how to run.
I peered out from below the lip where I stuffed myself down into a pouring cup,
Until all the drops of the eternal minutes,
Ran out against the automaticity
Of that forced time.
There is something about the inability to walk away.
A fabric woven together?
Fabric doesn’t work
because it’s made of thread that can be woven into something else.
My sentiment is too deep to separate out –
Like color in the sky?
Color is only light.
What holds us together?
Is it, in fact,
Check it out
If you would like to read more of Anne’s work, check it out here:
Author’s Notes: Writer’s block. Everyone has heard about it, jokes made, condolences offered. It’s a real thing, a time most Creatives face. The well of ideas runs dry, the lake of inspiration empties and a desert of despair stretches farther than one can see. I had it bad, wandering that desert for at least six months.
One of my writing sisters sympathized, stating her creativity had recently become dormant. We discussed the idea. She was taking a course by David Whyte who offered a solution.
She shared it with me. “Ask yourself, what do you want to say that you are not saying?”
It is a question any creative person can mold to unblock many avenues of stagnation. For an artist, “What do I need to see that I won’t look at?” For musicians, dancers, actors, “What do I need to feel that I haven’t allowed?”
When Lynnea Paxton-Honn shared this with me, my re-awakening began. “What do I want to say that I am not saying?”
In California, where we live, January roared into our state with a deluge capable of filling dry lakes and ponds, and creating new ones, seemingly overnight. It ferociously filled rivers, washing away many things. Tides surged, waves plundered. From Earth’s perspective the rain was needed even though it was so destructive. From a spiritual viewpoint, it was a physical expression of the need to wash away all that no longer serves, a process that caused great grief, but also opened new solutions and opened hearts. It awakened memories, and filled our creative lakes and wells with words for both of us…I am thrilled to present Lynnea’s poem Memories Sleeping.
(Author’s Note: This read is less than five minutes, just in case…).
On Mondaymorning, while olive oil heated in her favorite skillet, Mary broke a white, pasture-raised egg into a glass bowl, picked up her whisk, and froze. She was hungry. Did she want two eggs? Deciding she did, she whacked the second on the edge of the bowl.
Her hand slipped.
The top half of the shell fell into the bowl with the first egg. The other half, the half with most of the egg, dropped onto the counter. The yolk broke and bled into the sticky whites which slowly dripped onto the floor.
She grabbed the bowl with one hand and held it under the dripping egg while she scooped the slimy whites, yolk, and shell into the bowl with the other. Then she grabbed a cloth and wiped the counter.
“What a mess,” she thought.
She reached into the bowl to fish out the shells….
Mary stood in front of the stove with an empty skillet in her hand. She set it on a back burner and poured approximately one tablespoon of olive oil in the pan. Then she turned the gas under the burner on low, and went to the porch to retrieve the egg carton from her refrigerator.
While the olive oil in the skillet heated, she broke a pasture-raised white egg into the glass bowl, stared at it for a moment, then decided she wanted two eggs. She whacked the second on the edge of the bowl.
At that moment, her hand spasmed.
One-half of the shell fell into the bowl with the first egg. The other half dropped onto the counter. The yolk broke and bled into the sticky whites which slowly dripped onto the floor.
“Sheee-it,” she said.
She grabbed the bowl and with one hand, held it under the dripping egg….
Mary sipped at her coffee wondering what to cook for breakfast….
The coffee finished dripping. Mary reached for her favorite mug. It was in the sink with yesterday’s grounds. She squirted a drop of Dawn Antibacterial Apple Blossom scented soap into it. She did not wait for any hot water because the soap claimed to be antibacterial. She quickly scrubbed the mug, rinsed it, and dried the outside before she filled it with coffee.
She sipped her coffee as she walked to the refrigerator to grab a carton of eggs, which she set upon the counter before grabbing a small iron skillet. She set it on a back burner and poured approximately one tablespoon of olive oil in the pan. Then she turned the burner on low. While it heated, she cracked one egg into a small glass bowl. “Should I eat two eggs,” she said to absolutely no one….
Where had the days and nights gone? It was already Friday and Mary couldn’t remember a single event except the broken eggs on her counter. Oh. She was tired and hungry.
She oozed out of bed, wondering why in the world she should be so exhausted. She slumped to the kitchen and filled the water kettle. She pushed the switch to heat the water, grabbed the small French press on the counter and measured exactly three precisely filled scoops of Peet’s French Italian dark roast into the small thermal press.
While she waited for the water to heat, she wondered if it would be fun to mix it up this particular morning. Maybe pancakes would be more fun than a couple of fried eggs would. She walked to the back porch hoping she still had a bag of Bob’s Redmill Gluten-free pancake mix.
She hunted both the cold box and the freezer units. There was no pancake mix, so she grabbed the carton of eggs, walked back into the kitchen and set it onto the counter.
The water pot clicked off, so she filled her press and set the timer for four minutes to brew the dark roast.
Grabbing her favorite skillet for frying eggs….
While Mary lay in bed, she thought about the weekend ahead of her and hoped….
I love listening to and singing along with all kinds of music from many different countries. Since retiring, I also watch a lot of television/movie programming from many different countries because I love story.
On September 6, 2022, authors that know or work with DC LIttle Publications are having a launch party on Facebook from 10:30am to 8:00 pm. You have a chance to meet many authors, win prizes, and play fun games. Use this link to find join in the fun.
Synopsis of Shaman’s Mirror: ( See the end of this blog for information on preordering this novel. Thank you Readers. Your support means the world to me!)
“He isn’t really here…it is just a dream.” Sara Tyler, a divorced empty nester from Olympia, Washington, feels grateful that the man with the flashing, gold-flecked eyes is only a recurring character in her dreamscapes. Much younger than she, her own ageism raises its ugly head in the form of an old shaman who throws her and her dream lover into the belly of a mountain. The repetitive, haunting dream threatens to upend her mundane reality, and sense of personal worth.
In Tucson, Arizona, Dr. Jason E. Scott is troubled. Funding for a major project will end if he cannot give his trustees results. While drunk and hiding in the desert, Jason confronts a shaman resembling the one who haunts Sara Tyler’s dreams. The shaman magics him into the living room of a woman he does not know, but somehow recognizes.
During a trip to visit her best friend in Tucson, Sara cannot escape the shamanistic specter who ominously reminds her, “Now is the time.” A vision reminds her: the man with the gold-flecked eyes cannot be real; dreams are merely neurons firing during the night or heat-induced mirages.
Sara’s friend begs her to leave her old life and move into the cottage next door. The Anthropology department at the University posts an assistant job, wanting an expert in Paleolithic art, the job Sara has always wanted.
On her way to the interview, Sara hits Dr. Jason E. Scott’s car in the parking lot. The man with the gold-flecked eyes is real. Bull-headed and obnoxious, Jason attempts to discourage her acceptance. She takes the job. He creates impossible situations hoping to convince her that she cannot handle it. His fear for her teaches him that the Mirror has called her as well.
Backpacking, they look for the probable site. She and Jason fall into the belly of a mountain known as Old Granite Woman. In its heart, they are convinced that the only way out is to find the Mirror. While searching, they develop a camaraderie that begins to feel romantic. Their presence in the cavern awakens the magic that resides there. The shaman appears and thrusts them deeper into the belly of Mother Earth to face their pasts. Jason relives the loss of his best friend, whom he considered his true brother. Sara falls into the Mirror and disappears, deserting Jason to suffer his private hell.
Sara awakens as Saw-ra, a Homo erectus woman with a simpler outlook on life. She meets her mate, Jin, whom she instantly recognizes as Jason. She experiences simple day-to-day living until she meets a sea creature. There are no words for such an animal. Saw-ra, compelled to tell her story, draws it upon the cave wall. Her clan sees this as strong, dark magic. Terrified of the creature seemingly alive on the back wall of their home, the clan abandons the woman who put it there, Jin, and their desecrated cave.
While living without the protection of their clan family, Saw-ra and Jin witness fire for the first time and learn to use it. Their child is born with evolved traits inherited from Saw-ra. A cruel and vengeful alpha male returns with the clan. Reactive and violent he kills Jin because of the magic of the drawings and the fire in the hearth. The clan stones Saw-ra, but they take her daughter when they leave the cave with its terrible magic. After death, Saw-ra awakens in the presence of the old shaman, who explains her journey.
Jason, trapped in the chamber during Sara’s long journey, cannot return to freedom without her nor does he want to. While waiting for her return, he searches for a way out. He discovers a chamber filled with wondrous paintings adjacent to the Mirror. His heart tells him he has found Sara.
The old Shaman returns Sara to Jason. They acknowledge and consummate their love. An Earthquake opens the cave, freeing them. With the evidence buried by the quake, they cannot share their historic find, but Sara now understands more about life, and discovers how worthy she is.
You can preorder and e-book on the following links. A paperback version is scheduled to go live by the end of the month.
When I woke in the morning, I could feel it. A miracle was coming. My heart wanted me to see the full eclipse of the super moon in Scorpio. I looked out my window. Overcast. I would see it only if the clouds in the sky moved on. I wished with all my will for a strong breeze to push them along.
As the day slipped by, my anticipation grew. Something would change tonight. I felt sure of it. Whether I witnessed it or not would be another story, but if I couldn’t see it with my own eyes, I could still sit under the canopy of the sky and feel it…maybe.
Ghrian set late. His orange arms wrapped the sky for one last hug as he slipped beyond the Pacific horizon.
Ghealach lan was exasperatingly slow to rise. I did not know the exact location she would appear, and I didn’t want to miss anything so I did not wait on my property for a chance to see her through the branches that umbrella my yard. Instead, I walked up and down the hill trying to glimpse her from a view that was not obstructed by tall trees.
My cats wondered what I was up to and sat on the front stairs watching me crest the rise, disappear, and then reappear.
My neighbors must have wondered, “What’s up with her,” because ordinarily I keep to myself. This moon was drawing me out, asking me to venture forth, to witness…something. I had to go.
I made several trips waiting…waiting…waiting. Would she rise above the Sierra Nevada in time for me to see this event?
Finally, the imperative to walk away from my property to a place up the street paid off. Ghealach lan rose slowly, peering through the trees which sat on a higher point of the hill to the southeast.
It took forever to show her entire face. I sat and prepared to wait. People were out. I could hear their voices, but no one came down the road upon which I sat. The sky was clear. I was a grateful witness.
My faithful black cat, venturing out of his territory to check on me, wondered what I was doing sitting in the road. I pulled him into my lap and said, “I am safe. I can’t go home. I have to be here.”
Time stopped as Ghealach lan floated higher against the black sky. Purpose obscured her light. She looked like a dull, orange marble floating in a black sea. I felt her stealth, a wolf taking her place as guardian of the pack. Her energy increased, though her light did not. She prepared for something….
Slowly, she inched toward the zenith until she settled within the ‘v’ between two trees.
As I gazed, my heart reached toward her. Blood stilled in my veins. I held my breath. Even the twinkling stars fell quiet.
Shadows trembled around me, rising one by one.
“Come,” said Ghealach lan. “Your time here is done.”
Releasing their hold on Earth, shadows slowly rose at her bidding. They swirled through the air, catching zephyrs as they followed an inescapable impulse to join her.
My bones loosened. I felt my energy sink into the Earth. Shadows long wrapped around me let loose.
“Come,” said Ghealach.
My shadows drifted toward the heavy darkness that swirled toward the moon. She gathered them one by one, accepting each as a long lost child. When she grew heavy with their darkness, she silently slipped away, leaving the sky and my heart to grieve her disappearance.
Intellectually, I know what happened in that brief instance, but I prefer the magic. I could no longer see her or feel the comfort of knowing she was there, hovering watchfully above us. In my heart, I saw her release each shadow to the Universe, Itself a willing swallower of sorrows. As the shadows slipped from Ghealach’s grasp, her face, a mere promise of orange against the matted sky, became visible to a sharp eye watching for her.
I breathed a prayer, “Thank you, Seanmhair.”
She had willingly taken my shadows from me.
They had answered her command.
I heard her say, “From this moment, your life is forever changed.”
I folded my hands against my heart and took a deep breath. Then I bowed as I felt the gravity of that.
Slowly, her dull orange face glowed brighter.
I slipped back whence I came, to the shelter of my trees and my home.
I don’t believe in lawns. I don’t like wasting water. I certainly don’t like mowing a swath of grass that has no purpose except to use water to stay green. I do appreciate a plant that resembles a lawn in the springtime: three-cornered leeks (Allium triquetrum), commonly known as Snowbells.
They are not natives to California. Settlers brought these Mediterranean beauties with them when they settled here during the Gold Rush. Considered an invasive plant, and by some folks, noxious weeds, I love them. As a reluctant gardener, I am always happy when plants, especially edible plants, invite themselves into my yard. I especially love the plants that grow prolifically because they crowd out any Bermuda Grass, which I consider a noxious weed. My entire yard supports them.
I use them in place of onions and garlic. The entire plant is edible with a very mild taste. They grow in the spring and die in the summer. When they die off in the summer, they form mats on the ground, which rake up easily, but also provide a perfect mulch for holding moisture in the soil. I’ve always been impressed by how the stems and leaves line up directionally, like hair that has been combed down the sides of my yard spaces. I never questioned why.
This is my year for noticing things. It’s the first year since retirement that I have spent anytime practicing the art of Being instead constantly staying busy. There is good reason to be a reluctant gardener, to sit, observe, and learn how the environment is adapting to the changing global climate patterns. It became really clear during the quarantine that Earth recovers quickly when mankind is not out and about. It also has become clear that to continue growing as we have is not sustainable.
In my mind, I think we need to work with the change and with Earth if we want to continue to feed ourselves in agrarian societies. So, I sit and watch. My yard is not the same yard it was when I first acquired this property. The angle of the sun is different, tree cover is different, temperatures are different. Plants do not respond the way they used to. So how does it work? That’s what I hope to find out.
Along with reassurance that I still had massive amounts of three-cornered leeks, I also discovered another form of life that I had not observed before retirement. The first time I noticed it, I thought my plants were growing moldy. I wondered how to treat them for mold. Then I noticed the mold writhe across the blades and stems. OMG! I looked more closely. Black aphids. I had never heard of black aphids. (Hey! The juice from these plants is supposed to be a fabulous insecticide. Pssht. Not for these tiny creepers!)
280 million years ago aphids sucked plants dry. Since then, over 5,000 variations of this amazing insect have developed special appetites for the plants of the world, especially in temperate zones. The trouble with this appetite is that they are sipping sucrose, which they cannot digest. Why do they do it? It seems that sap is the ultimate addiction.
Their inability to process this food source makes them tasty for predators such as ladybugs, hover fly larvae, sparrows and the American goldfinch. Crab spiders are quite fond of them. Ants, acting very co-dependent to this addiction, go to great lengths to herd, protect, and propagate the little beasties because they cannot get enough of the sucrose secreted from their bodies in the form of droplets of waste, called honeydew. Ants eagerly milk this nectar from the aphids’ miniscule bodies. Even bees claim herds of aphids as their own to delight in this particular habit.
To get around this inability to digest their main food source they have developed interesting tricks and relationships. Aphids harbor bacterial endosymbionts who recycle glutamate, the metabolic waste produced while aphids try to digest plant sap. The bacterial endosymbionts turn the waste into essential amino acids. Some aphids synthesize red carotenoids using horizontal gene transfers. The way I understand this is they use the genetic material from plants, add the coding to their own, which then enables them to absorb sunlight as a food source. I guess if you have been around since the Early Permian Period, you acquire these talents.
Aphids are bad boys. Or are they?
My yard is a refuge of divine feminine it seems, for the aphid army you see on your plants is entirely female. (see: Reluctant Gardener post 2 for more information about female armies: https://avsingerauthor.com/2022/01/19/post-2-reluctant-gardener/ ) As the weather cools in autumn, males with wings and winged females mate. The males die off, their job done. Winged females lay the eggs. The eggs overwinter and hatch the first generation of a parthenogenetic army. The babies are born pregnant, and soon birth live and pregnant female offspring, who in turn birth live, pregnant offspring and so it goes. There can be as many as forty-one generations a season for each female who births another clutch of live, pregnant females every few days. These females are of course voracious in an attempt to create this army. My three-cornered leeks didn’t have a chance.
If you rid your garden of their food sources, some females grow wings and produce a generation of males in preparation to migrate. They fly as high as 600 meters to catch winds that can carry them where they need to go.
So for you, my dear friends, I have left swatches of aphids to their task. I’m not worried. My leeks appear to go through this process every year. I just haven’t been quiet or observant enough to see this before. They will be back next year for me to happily eat and share them with anyone who asks for them.