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#WeekendCoffeeShare Reaching Conclusions

March 25, 2017 8 Comments

horseshoes

horseshoes

horseshoes

horseshoes

If we were having coffee this weekend I would invite you to relax and take in the jasmine scent, still going strong in my front yard. I have ordered more tea (not that I was in need), so the selection has grown to epic proportion. The lazy Susan pantry literally groans under the weight of all the tea.  I am digging a new blend called Hugs and Kisses, with a rose/caramel aftertaste that drives me wild. I also ordered a black passion fruit flavored tea that tastes delicious iced. We drink iced tea all year, but in summer I brew in the sun daily and we consume mass quantities. If you like, I can brew you a hot cup of roiboos jasmine to go with the flowers in the yard. It is one of my favorites, and there is a little chill this morning that will make a hot beverage feel just right. Please, make yourself at home while I fetch your drink of choice, and tell me how your life is.  I want to hear what you have been doing, and how your writing is proceeding.

I have been trying to finish a non-fiction story that has unfolded over many years by creating a happy ending in real life.  This is the nature of non-fiction, being just the truth.  It limits one to facts.  As I struggle to make my real life ending happen I am writing some fiction and poetry as a relief. I am a neophyte at both genres, and, if I do say so myself, pretty shitty at both.  I like to practice to improve because I do find it liberating to just make up stories rather than try to influence hard reality in favor of a heroic outcome.  It is so much easier to imagine an alternative vision than it is to bring one into being on the earth.

I spend a lot of time investigating my genealogy, discovering facts about my family tree. I have attempted some short historical fiction based on some factual data I know about my ancestors.  I think this is a direction in which I could take my writing that would not only make use of the years of research I have done, but also allow me to create stories based on facts, but not limited strictly to them.  All that has happened already, so there will be no changing the historical facts.  Embellishing the truth, imagining the dialog and the settings, then bringing them to life seems like something I could really enjoy.  I have a very famous poet ancestor, in whose honor I write 30 poems in 30 days in April as part of #NaPoWriMo.  It is a challenge, but I think I owe it to her to give it a whirl for one month a year.   She provided her DNA and poetry about her life and children (of which I am one).  She was religious and wrote in olde English, so there is that.   There are a couple other poets in the tree who lived in Tudor England.  One was beheaded by Henry VIII.  I tried to write a comedic ditty about his death a couple of years ago..it was one of my worst poems ever…but I published it.  When I become an accomplished poet I will edit and spend much more time finishing each piece. Reaching a conclusion for a poem should be creative journey that has a universal ring. Someday I aspire to do that. My poetic muse has a short attention span that needs to be expanded.  The fiction one is in the same boat. They are lazy, so they like to jump to conclusions rather than work it.

This year I am gearing up by writing some warm up poems and collecting some interesting images to use for illustration and inspiration. All I do is publish a poem each day. I only hope to improve over time and stir my genetic muse to awaken and say something profound and poetic. I keep the bar very low for quality, but do find lots of great ideas by reading the work of the other participants.  I have finally finished my tax preparation and have returned to some written correspondence with a my new pen pals from February. I loaded up on stamps and plan to hand write and mail some of my shitty poems to my pen pals as a fusion of #NaPoWriMo and #InCoWriMo.  They will be on great post cards, so even if the poems suck the presentation will be artful.  This is the major lesson learned from the #InCoWriMo peeps, who tend to also be bullet journal, #BuJo, peeps…presentation counts, so don’t slack in that department.

Please join us on the weekend to sip and savor digital beverages with kindred spirits around the globe. Nerd in the Brain hosts this jolly group of writers.  Please visit the party here to read, comment or submit your own post.

#WeekendCoffeeShare

#WeekendCoffeeShare

 

 

#Writephoto The Hinges Of Hades

March 16, 2017 8 Comments

 

Hades

Hades

His death was sudden and unexpected, leaving matters in disarray at home, at his business, and with his students.  The mystery school had been meeting in underground caves teaching secrets and rites of magical passage.  Delphina became Fidel’s assistant, a priestess who inherited prophesy and ritual magic from her people, who came from an island with a volcano.  When the volcano erupted few survivors managed to make it to safety.  Delphina and her grandmother were saved by a passing ship.  She was only 3 years old when she arrived in her new land, so she found it easy to adapt to the culture and language.  Her grandmother suffered from nostalgia and yearned for a home Delphina did not remember.

Fidel lived next door and was her friend all through childhood.  Her grandmother was cautiously approving of him, observing his exceptional nature.  After her grandmother died Delphina moved in with Fidel’s family, and eventually married him.  Their work together at the school replaced children and family in their lives.  They dedicated themselves to higher truth and strict observance of their beliefs.  She had grown up within the culture, and never questioned the motives or the fundamental beliefs of the elders.  They always told her she was lucky to be alive, and she agreed.  She did not question the essential mystery she had been taught.  She believed that wealth was the most important and significant reward granted to the faithful.  Her teachings reflected her willingness to do anything to acquire money.  Fidel, whose very name meant faithful, was a son of Lucifer, trained in the art of stealing souls.  He was raised in splendor and glorious excess to impress the rest of the populace.  It never occurred to him that the rest of the inhabitants were there because they had been cursed.  He never suspected their deep resentment of his position.  He never even suspected who he was himself. His whole life was the ultimate betrayal.

While he was carrying out a ritual hypnotism in the inner sanctum of the cave, a group of hooded assassins stabbed him a thousand times with pitchforks.  The shocking news reached Delphina as she descended into the chamber to deliver ritual wine.  The large heavy gate at the top of the stairway slammed behind her, leaving her trapped with her husband’s murderers.  This was the first inkling she had about her true location and her fate.  She read the sign now facing her on the gate.  “Hotter than the hinges of Hades”, was all it said.

#writephoto

#writephoto

This is a response to Sue Vincent’s photo prompt.  Please visit to contribute your own story, read, or comment.  There is a lively and interesting mix of writers who regularly contribute here.  Enjoy!

#WritePhoto Enchanted Spring

March 2, 2017 10 Comments

enchanted spring

enchanted spring

Before we leave on the long pilgrimage to our forefathers’ homeland we gather vessels to fill with the water from the magical spring. Although it is heavy to carry on the slippery mountain trails we consider the water to be lucky. It is pure and clear, arising form deep within the earth, filtered through the sandy aquifer, arriving crystal clear and delicious. In the old days there was a superstition about drinking the water to be invited to return. When visitors arrived in the town that were undesirable to the townspeople they were all given beer to drink. The locals believed that once a person drank water from their enchanted spring, they would never leave. They had discovered this the hard way, and wanted to keep their precious resource to themselves.  They became isolationists just when the rest of the world was hooking up with transportation, commerce, trade, and immigration.  The elders wanted to maintain the purity of the water as well as the people’s thoughts.

These purity campaigns rarely result in a better environment.  Somehow the strict rules, the isolation and control of learning, social recreation, and dress customs, had the effect for freezing time.  The population survived, but only through sacrifice and very hard labor.  They freely allowed anyone to leave, but continued to tell strangers there was no water in town, only beer.  After a while the visitors stopped and the population dwindled.  The few old true believers still living in the area were now too feeble to climb up to fetch the water from the spring for themselves, and nobody was left to do it for them.  The enchantment was now completely wasted on them because it was just out of their reach.  It was still flowing copiously as it had done for centuries, but only a handful of people even knew where the spring was.

When the last surviving elder was on his last legs a young girl wandered into town and asked for a drink of water.  The old man broke down in tears while asking her who she was.  She replied that she was a descendent of someone who had lived in the village in the previous century.  She had heard stories about the miracle cures and the enchantment of the spring water that was legendary.  She came because she was curious.  She had fought through some dense forrest to arrive, traveling alone.  She carried with her a copper cup with some inscribed symbols and a name.  This cup had once belonged to her ancestor who left the village to live in the modern world.  Now her curiosity about the cup brought her to this undiscovered part of her inheritance.  The old man saw the cup hanging from her belt and asked to see it.  He recognized the clan symbols inscribed on the side, but when he drew the copper close to his eyes he was able to see the name.  He overflowed with emotion as he read the name of his own maternal great-grandmother on the cup. This was the last miracle the spring delivered to him.  He perished in tears of grief and relief after he showed this youthful distant relative how to find the trail to the spring. When she returned with her vessels full of water, his body had turned to a pile of colored dust. She realized he had been sustaining his own life with leftover magic from the time when he could still climb to the spring to wait for her arrival.  He had fulfilled his duty, and spent all of his extra lives. Now the responsibility was hers to share the enchantment of the spring.  Her hike back out of the forrest was somber indeed.

This short fiction is written based on the fabulous photo prompt from Sue Vincent.  Please join us to read, comment, or submit your own take on this picture.

#writephoto

#writephoto

#WritePhoto Water Under The Bridge

February 23, 2017 7 Comments

beneath-the-bridge

beneath-the-bridge

Jumping along on stepping-stones, making an effort to stay dry, we cross the stream and climb the hill on the other side. Our party had broken up early because a sudden thunder-storm toppled the picnic table and sent the folding chairs flying everywhere.  Collecting our belongings and soggy food we ran for cover.  We found shelter beneath a railroad bridge that had been abandoned, and was crumbling into ruins.

This was once the busy main line that connected the industrial cities with the farms in the rules countryside.  Passengers and freight traveled regularly on this railroad for both commercial and recreational purposes.  Many wealthy city folks owned large estates in the country that employed hundreds of servants and maintenance staff.  They came out for the weekends to fox hunt and throw lavish house parties. As the aristocracy lost fame and fortune, only the royals could afford such extravagances.  The big houses were abandoned one by one.  There was no work for butlers or maids, and few servants had other skills to sustain them. Everyone moved away from the area in order to find work or live within their reduced means.

The muddy water rushed down from above, carrying debris and some loose toys and lawn furniture and skeleton remains  that had been swept away in the torrential downpour.  The waste that society creates floated by in the current.  Our history, our ancestors’ skills and dreams, were washed away before our eyes.  When the sun came out again our spirits were still dampened.  We slowly emerged from our muddy perch to search for our companions.  The happy picnic by the brook had become a somber reminder of sudden quirks of fate.

This story is an interpretation of this weeks photo prompt by Sue Vincent.  Please visit to contribute or meet other writers here.

#writephoto

#writephoto

#WritePhoto Destined To Meet

February 17, 2017 16 Comments

summerhouse

summerhouse

The long trek to the remote village has exhausted the group.  The backpacks grew heavy as they walked for miles in the woods.  They had all come to be part of a writers’ retreat designed to spark creativity.  The accommodations in the country were intended to take the group away from day to day concerns in order to concentrate on writing. Most of them came from big cities and were not accustomed to primitive conditions.  They were told they would need to pump water and carry wood, but this sounded more romantic at the time than it was when they started scouting for fire wood in the wet forrest.  The rain had drenched the woods, so all the wood was too wet to start a fire.  They had no wilderness skills, and were weary and wasted before they even started the weekend. The emotions were tightly wound before they even saw the bunk beds in the attic where they would sleep, dormitory style.

On Saturday morning they awoke to find no staff at the summerhouse.  There was a sign left on the screen door that said, “We have gone to town. Now you go to town.”  This naturally infuriated the writers who had come to be taught some kind of creative trick to unlock their talent. “Go to town?  What the hell does THAT mean?”  Left to their own devices, they scattered into space to figure out what to do.  Sitting under the shade of a large oak tree Emily spotted Eric.  He was wearing a velvet coat, leaning against the trunk of the tree, casually smoking a pipe.  She approached him with caution, but when she clearly saw his handsome face she was instantly smitten by this stranger in the woods.  She wondered why he was so calm, cool, and dressed like a person from a different century. He explained that these woods are haunted with the ghosts of writers who never pushed themselves beyond their limits.  They are the real ghost writers.  They can never be free because they dissed their muse while they were alive.

When Emily awoke back in New England in the 21st century she knew she had just met destiny in a dream.  Her muse, Eric, would be her greatest asset, and it did not matter that nobody else could see him.  He was hers alone.  He faithfully pushed her to work with words every day.  Their tryst was a gift from the creative creator of creation, and would last forever and ever.

To enjoy more interpretations of this photo by other writers, please visit Sue Vincent, who provides these in fleek prompts each week.  Read, comment, or try your hand at fiction here.

#writephoto

#writephoto

 

 

#WritePhoto, Dancehall Of Dread

January 19, 2017 14 Comments

#writephoto

#writephoto

In the darkest moment of winter, heaviness and despair falls on the land.  Frightened workers huddle indoors, sharing the heat of a single stove in the dance hall of the dead.  The musical sounds drift in from the streets, strings and horns and voices of the past kill time by serenading the future.  The dance floor is void of happy feelings but full of feverish dread of the coming days.  The waltz goes on forever, the tempo hypnotic, mind numbing.  The dancers know all the tribal dances that have been danced for centuries in this place.  Circles of spirited colors whirl above the floor.  The walls vibrate with deep bass rhythm and drumming creatures representing sacrifices made to tradition.  The swift current of time sweeps the crowd up in a cloud of memory and doubt.

The donkey shadow on the wall opposes the one of the elephant wearing a hat.  The shadow puppets play the same parts forever, constantly changing costumes to deceive.  The audience blends into the puppetry, never minding the strings attached. The glow from the streetlight illuminates the dancing puppets as they pass.  The translucent quality of their weary bodies is briefly revealed for a moment.  Darkness and bitter cold then quickly envelops each one in dread.  Nobody knows if this is real or imaginary. This may be happening in the present, or we may be stuck in each other’s dreams. Is there an escape?  Are we under a spell?  Will this dance continue? Do we have a choice?

Visit Sue Vincent’s blog on Thursdays to find a photo prompt for fiction.  Create your own story to go with this week’s image.

#writephoto

#writephoto

#writephoto, The Ghost Swan of Loch Luklamarin

January 12, 2017 11 Comments

 

Ghost Swan

Ghost Swan

There is a ghost swan that appears on the eve of Robert Burn’s Day on the Loch above the ancient castle.  The apparition sails across the water following the course of the boat that sailed from the shore in 1235 with a small band of rogue fighters.  The land was under attack from the neighboring clan, and the family honor was in dire straights.  Survival depended on their ability to take the foe in the middle of the night by stealth.  They had little ammunition left to defend their home, and food supplies were dwindling.  They were desperate and hungry for victory when they quietly shoved off from the muddy shore, rowing quietly through the night. They were in pitch black darkness, no light to guide their way.  Cloudy moonless skies hung heavily with damp and deadly signs.  They wished for a miracle.

As the clan gathered strength to cross the loch to meet their fate a white swan appeared before them.  They perceived the bird as friendly, a guide and advisor for the battle to come.  The glow from the swan created streams of light in the water in front of the rickety little boat. Reflecting in the light the vessel looked bigger than it was.  The enemy was afraid of being outnumbered by the crew being lead by a magical swan.  They were scared that the swan itself was a monster with powers to drown or burn them to death.  They packed up quickly and ran for their lives, never to return. Peace was guaranteed by the fear of they had of the ghost swan.

People say when there is an appearance of the swan these days is a reminder to stand up for what is yours.  It is a symbol of protection and self defense.   Magic helps them that help themselves.

#writephoto

#writephoto

Please visit Sue Vincent’s blog to see more submissions, and maybe write one of your own.  Thank you, Sue, for an excellent image with which to begin.

#WeekendCoffeeShare Transformation Time

January 7, 2017 3 Comments

 

#WeekendCoffeeShare

#WeekendCoffeeShare

If we were having coffee this weekend I would tell you my life is healthy and happy with few exceptions.  I had a quiet week experimenting with historical fiction and multi camera live streaming on Facebook.  I produced nothing of great artistic import, but have challenged myself to develop these skills in order to do so.  I wrote one very undeveloped story in which I mixed some outrageous truths about my paternal great-grandfather with some embellishment I created.  It was short and kind of silly, but I feel happy to have started down this path.  I published it.  I have studied my genealogy for a long time, and have many factual stories on which to base my future efforts. I believe in time I will write longer and more involved stories, but also have been reading and studying flash fiction.  This burning hot brief format insists on an outstanding title, a perfect last line, and usually the events presented out of chronological order.  I want to work up to that too.  I started a bullet journal and joined a Facebook group on the subject. This calendar system is a brilliant way for me to incorporate my new writing styles into my regular blogging.  I have much to learn from the Bu-Jo peeps, as they call themselves.  They are inspiring and highly educational, much like the food preppers.

If you are here in Tucson at my home today I will invite you to drink a hot cup of coffee or tea of your choice.  I had a big fire in the stove last night so the house is staying warm this morning.  We have not had our first real freeze, so the flowers are still in bloom.  Help yourself to fresh grapefruit juice from the giant crop I am harvesting in the garden this year.  I am serving a large fruit salad with berries and watermelon.  Enjoy our sunny day and some fresh fruit flavors while you tell me how your week has been.  I so appreciate sharing this time will all of you on the weekends.  In fact, many of my new efforts as a writer have been inspired by all of you.  I love to learn about your writing studios, the writing  challenges you accept, and the way you make it work with daily life.  I admire the fiction writers and poets who tell stories from imagination.  I also love to see the photography from your own environments. I get to travel without leaving my office.  I look forward to your visits. You have encouraged and inspired me to transform and expand my writing skills.  It reminds me of being in beginners’ ski school, where you see that everyone falls down, but with practice they get better.  You fiction writers are like the intermediate skiers who make me want to be that good someday. Starting is key.

If you want to share some digital coffee and some relaxation with a group of writers go to Diana’s weekend party link.  She holds this regular gathering of inspiring individuals from her home in New Orleans.  Please join us to  read, write, or comment on your week.  Thank you all for stopping by today.

poet

poet

Crab Grass

January 3, 2017 1 Comment

Ernie in Coffeeville

Ernie in Coffeeville

The perfectly manicured green grass shimmers in the bright morning sun as we take out the lawn bowling set that belonged to our great-grandfather. He was both a lawn perfectionist and a lawn bowler, a rare combination none of his children or grandchildren has encountered again in life.  He took great pains to keep the crabgrass out and the healthy green grass trimmed evenly. His yard was his pride and joy. His children were enslaved in landscaping work during the time they lived in their father’s home. Like Claude Monet it appeared that Jason cared more about his garden than he did about his children’s happiness.  Because of his particular love of lawn perfection and startling indifference to humans his children called him Crab Grass behind his back.

When my grandfather was young he left home with his brother because they were not fond of Crab Grass, and even less fond of his wife, their stepmother.  She claimed to be a witch , but she was known as a con artist.  She was a Cherokee woman who would arrive in a town saying she knew where Tecumseh had buried gold in the vicinity.  She would then scam the townspeople to bankroll an expedition to find the hidden treasure, then leave.  When she met our great-grandfather he was a snake oil salesman.  He peddled patent medicine and introduced his second wife to his family as a witch capable of harming them.  The boys’ birth mother had died young, leaving them with old Crab Grass and this con woman/witch,  living on the Cherokee Nation. Ernie and his brother Ralph ran away to become migrant workers, picking corn and doing other agricultural work all over the Midwest.  They worked in the season, then returned to their grandparents’ farm in Kansas during the winters.  They rarely visited their father, who lived in a nearby town in Oklahoma.

When great-grandfather Jason died his wife wanted to get rid of the lawn bowling set because she said it was haunted.  Nobody recalls which member of our family accepted the large burlap bag full of heavy balls that he had used almost every day of his life.  The family did not give it a second thought until the spooky feeling that accompanied the bag became obvious.  A family meeting had been called to decide what to do with this creepy inherited game set.  It was decided that the bag would travel from home to home, staying for a period of a year each time.  Since 1927 this lawn bowling set has brought tragedy, mystery, and wealth to our family.  It has acted as a Ouija board, seeming to be directed by spooks, to foretell the future. It seems to be inhabited by the spirit of our ancestor. His restless soul still wants to play his favorite game.  Since he is not longer incarnate we figure it can’t hurt to keep the game going for his amusement.  As we play on our own lawns now we wonder exactly what we inherited from all our relations.  It is far from clear.

 

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