Sunday Shrine– Easter 2014

You know I had to have something special set aside for this day. Well, yes. I bring you Ta’Pinu shrine on the tiny island of  Ix-Xewkija, Malta. Though the way of the Cross seems more like a Good Friday sort of theme, I thought the Resurrection would be sufficient. “Strangely”, you rarely see the Resurrection represented in shrine form without a hefty dose of the Cross along with it. Gee, wonder why…

The Way of the Cross of Ta Pinu Sanctuary station 14 Creative Commons License: Hans A. Rosbach Found on Wikimedia Commons

The few examples I can think of I have only seen in church buildings I have attended. And that’s only because you can only look at one area in a church at a time. They amply describe the cross throughout most of the building…then there is a place, where the Resurrection fully grabs your attention and nothing else falls inside your vision.

Interior of St Mary and the Angels Catholic Church in Chicago, Illinois, USA © 2009, Jeremy Atherton– under the Creative Commons License SOON I will take a picture of the stained glass I’m talking about.

There is a not well known vision of St. Francis where Christ appears on a Cross, yet in glory, flying with wings, and wrapped in the wings of angels.  There is a stained glass window in one of my favorite church– St. Mary of the Angels in Chicago.  My favorite confession priest (who is a true confessor) resides there, which is nice. They offer confession there during mass, and for one with little mobility in the workaday world, they are going above and beyond the call of duty keeping my soul dusted off. Thanks, guys!  I hope to get in there to take some photographs. It is such a lovely building, fit for kings– even more so the King of Kings, who dains to share it with us all.

Wayside shrine in Heiligengrab in the community of Bleiburg – Resurrection Thanks to Wikimedia user Neithan90, who graced this image with the public domain designation. This is the coveted Easter Bonus image.

As an added bonus, it’s an Opus Dei parish, which is more wonderful and less exciting than it sounds.  There are no albino assassin monks there, well…that I know of. ;-) But I’m rambling.  More pictures of the *actual* shrine are below. It looks pretty fantastic. It’s added to the list of places I have to go.

Belle basilique de Gozo à Malte visitée par le pape Jean-Paul II en 1990. Licenced under the creative Commons LIcence by: Lasponge Thank you for your user friendly license, and beautiful pictures!

Creative Commons License: ByHans A. Rosbach From Wikimedia Commons

Republic of Malta, Gozo, Ta’ Ghammar, Via Crucis, Station 12 Michael Haitel (Myhaitel)

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Feria VI in Parasceve

Pascha staurosimon

Kreuzigung_Christi

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Margot Writes–Behind the Moon Door

 

Note: With the usual way of fiction it doesn’t always come out in order.  Sigh. But context does emerge despite all that. There is nothing actively missing that is pertinent to know in order to make sense of what’s happening. There’s probably some continuity issues by now. If you are following feel free to call me on it, to remind me for later. 

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I dragged myself up the stairs into the apartment. I couldn’t face the menagerie right now. My chest felt tight and close and sore.

I curled up on the soft, springy, will devouring couch, and wrapped a newly laundered afgan around my shoulders. It smelled like lavender and fresh mowed hay. I couldn’t help but smile a little, but my heart was still heavy. I reached for the phone, and dialed Kendra’s number. It wasn’t so much defeat as surrender.
This at least was a touch tone phone, with big chunky buttons from a bygone era. But the andset was lightweight and streamlined. I curled up in a ball and waited as the phone rang. I heard a click, then another set of rings, and… Kendra’s voice, perky as always.

“RiverDance Metaphysical Center, this is Kend– Kelly-Cat? Is that you?”

I groaned, wounds already sore. I hated the name, but I let her use it.
“Yes. Just… call me Karrie right now. Please? It’s bad. I need you.”

There was a muffled silence, then Kendra’s hushed voice. “Um, just a minute, I’m still at work,” she whispered. “I’ll go get Jen from the back room. This sounds serious.”

I waited for what seemed like an interminable period. Then some loud static, then a thud, and hushed silence. The tinkly music the place was famous for wasn’t even sparkling in the background.

“I’m in my car, on teh cell. The signal should be good enough.” She rasped. I heard her take a long swallow of something.

“Okay, that’s better. Now. Dish. What the hell is going on out there? You sound awful.”

“Well… a lot has happened, but the bad thing… is bad. The… grave yard has been desecrated. Totally. They stole the Virgin, and destroyed the grotto. Every stone was wrenched from the earth and pitched and smeared with paint and… I don’t know what. RED paint. They even tore into the earth, and tried to take the cross. The sod is ruined, too. This was targeted, not just some stupid kids.”

There was a pause.

“Did you see anybody, or anything? Have you talked to the neighbors? Call the police while you are at it.” She said practically. Totally not what I was expecting. I took in several deep breaths.

“I called you first. I didn’t know what to do, until now.”

“Okay. Do those things, shoot, write them down, now. We can chat for a bit while you calm down, and I’ll swing by this evening. Is the apartment okay, did anybody get at the house?”

“I haven’t walked around much since the discovery, but… I’m sure the apartment is okay, and other things looked alright when I got here. I haven’t heard anything at all. But, the Yard is fairly out there, on the other side of the big hill from the house. I wonder if anyone saw anything near the road.”
“You’ll want to check The Pit when you get a chance. Wait till daylight. Maybe take something with you.” She said.

I shivered. I thought The Pit was creepier than an open grave. That was the broken mass of burned bits around the deep hole that was the basement. They’d put a cyclone fence around it, and a second sturdier fence with barbed wire above it to keep out trouble makers. but that’d been pulled down or cut into before. But they’d found their way in before.

I sighed. “Why… why do people like that place?” I asked.

Her velvety voice gained warmth. “See, that’s why you and I are friends. You still ask questions like that. I don’t know, but I think some people like that sort of thing. They feel sympathy with it, and are drawn to what they carry in their hearts.”

I sighed. I did not want to hear any woo woo crap right now. But… I had to tell her about the other stuff that was going on, and if that wasn’t woo-woo, I didn’t know what is, was or ever will be.

So we talked some more about childhood stuff, the boring stuff I could remember. Skinned knees, climbing trees, that sort of thing. Spending summers together with Auntie Phil, and horseback rides with uncle Frank at Sarah’s ranch. That white horse with the limp and the speckles that always had it out for me. And the branch he inevitably used to scrape me off his back.

My ass was still sore from being pitched off like that. And I never ever saw it coming. He always lured me into a false sense of security, then looped around to his favorite spot. I didn’t notice the familiarity of it all until it was too late and he was cantering toward my removal at a fair clip.

She laughed. Kendra loved those stories. Neither one of us had a great childhood, so the stories of happiness— even ordinary childhood embarrassment– we shared bonded us closer than sisters. My heart ached to see her again. But why couldn’t I stand her foibles? Then I knew I did not want to remember.

She promised again that she would be out there as soon as possible— and that she might be able to get off work early, but couldn’t make promises. They had a full day today with patients. But maybe Raven would come in and take some of her hours. He was always looking for over time.
“Call Sarah first, then Shelia. Sarah wont’ take it personal, and Shelia is…delicate. Her bones are buried in that plot.”

I nodded, writing down every step. I was already feeling woolyheaded, and my eyes were burning from dryness and too many tears.

She offered her love and blessing, and we hung up. I wish I hadn’t. I felt unbearably lonely. But I also had to call mom. I even wrote it down. I decided to call Sarah next, then Mom, then Shelia. I needed to be toughened by resistance before I could support someone else’s pain.

I dialed. Sarah answered. She had a short clipped style that was very professional. “Barbary Kennel and Board, this is Sarah speaking.” She said professionally.

“Um…”

“Karrie?” Sarah queried, voice taught with concern.
“Has something happened? Do I need to call the ambulance, or a fireman?” she asked. Voice shrill. She was hot blooded, but also had two volumes. Loud, and louder.

“Maybe the cops, but the perp is gone now, I think.” I said. She read mysteries like popcorn. She would know what I mean.

“Was the house robbed? What… what can I do?” she asked. Her voice had miraculously backed off a fraction.

“No, not that. But the cemetery was desecrated. Not just played with. They set out to ruin it. Red paint all over Phil’s white stones. The cross is… smeared and damaged. Mary’s gone, and… the grotto is smashed.”

I couldn’t help it. I cried a bit, thinking how Phil would feel.

“Did they dig…anything up?” she asked distantly.

“Um… I don’t thinks so but they thought about it, the sod was scraped from the soil, and a skunk dug into it I guess. Which has ne’er happened before. They smeared… stuff all over it.”

“Manure?” Sarah asked practically.

“Um, I wish. It stank bad. Maybe dog or pig…” I trailed off, my throat twisted shut.

“Or human. That’s what did it, anyhow.” Sarah said grimly. She’s the salt of the earth and doesn’t mince words. That’s when I remembered that she and her husband were originally from a rough part of Ireland— not Dublin, but may as well have been. They moved to the States so they could get married— as politics were that complex. They didn’t want folks dying at the wedding, and as it was, folks still might have on the other side of the pond over it. She’d immediately immersed herself in Americanisms, angry that she had to leave to love properly.

I blinked back to what she was saying. “What?” I asked.

“I said, if I find the b’rogh who did this, you can be sure he’ll know he did wrong.” She said icily. Sarah had a shot gun. She knew how to use it, and she wasn’t shy. A fool can’t be helped if he breaks into her cheery little Victorian farmhouse.

This image is a work of a U.S. Army soldier or employee, taken or made as part of that person’s official duties. As a work of the U.S. federal government, the image is in the public domain.

Her hair was a dark auburn, nothing like Phil’s cherry red. But she was the one with the temper. Phil was always so easy going, you never saw it coming when she went nuclear. I was pretty sure Sarah wasn’t related to Mom, but… she was like a younger sister to Aunt Phil. Well, younger sister meets enforcer. Her fierceness made me uncomfortable.

“Um.. I think I should call mom. Or the cops,” I managed. I wasn’t ready, but…

“Call both. Don’t be shy about that one. Your mother could stand to become a part of the family from time to time. We’ll also need to check the Pit, too. If you need help with that you let me know,” She said, surprisingly tender.

“I will— I mean, I will need help. I plan on setting out first thing tomorrow morning. Is that okay with you? Dark seems like a bad idea, and we’re almost out of daylight,” I said.

“I can send the boys out in the jeep tonight to see if there’s mischief on. Will you have company tonight?” she nigh demanded.

“Yeah, I already called Ken. She’ll be out here as soon as she can get off work,” I replied.

I could hear her nod her head sharply with the muffle of her crisp ironed shirt. She paused briefly.

“It’s a shame you don’t have a brother, but she’ll do,” She said softly. “Do you want me to send Pat around?”

I closed my eyes. Things were… so weird. I did have my little army, but… I felt… both crowded and utterly alone. I didn’t know how much Pat was familiar with the profound weirdness all around him. That could be awkward. But.. He was easy on the eyes, and… maybe he’d help so Kendra didn’t have to do everything. I wished I could ask Ken how she felt about it.

She did ask you to call Sarah next. Maybe that’s what she’s thinking about. IF there’s real trouble, cell phones won’t get to the cops, and hey, just how long do you think they’d take to show up?

“Uh, sure.” I was actually surprised by my answer.

Apparently Sarah was a little, but wouldn’t have offered if she hadn’t meant it. For all I knew, if I said no, she’d send someone anyway.

“Oh, all right. I’ll call him in once he’s back in from the farm. There’s still chores to do. We had some rider’s through. Home schoolers from Hillsdale on a working vacation. The girls even helped out a little around the horses, and for once ‘helpers’ didn’t do anything stupid! But Fiona had a little accident, so he’s in tending with the vet. We think the foal’s okay, though.”

I sighed with relief. I hadn’t even known that Fiona was with foal. I could remember her roan coat when she was a foal. Sarah had fallen in love at first sight. Her mother had been an ordinary looking brown mare, too. Though Tip had a good personality, and one of her best teaching horses.

Sarah promised Pat would be out tonight, and Sean would be by in the morning, and she’d meet up with us at the house to go see the Pit. Trouble always seemed to gravitate around the Pit, no matter what it was. So it seemed sensible, if superstitious.

I, the copyright holder of this work, release this work into the public domain. This applies worldwide. Thank you, Vetin Anton~!

I met Pat at the door. He was tall and light haired like his father, but had an almost swarthy complexion like his mother. His cheeky blue eyes, were colored like dad’s but were set like his mothers. He was a quiet in a somewhat surly way, and I could imagine him growing up as a bruiser on the streets of Belfast. If… he wasn’t wearing sucha pleasant expression, and clothes that spoke of clean middle class upbringing.

Horse chores are always a bit grimy, so he probably still squeaked from his shower.
This time he was sporting a couple day shadow, that glinted on his chin. “Growing it out?” I asked mischievously.

He chuckled at me. “That’s what mom shouted at me as I was leavin,’” he said, “Said it wouldn’t impress ya.”

He gave me a charming smile. Meant to be devastating, I’m sure. I was still too raw to be entirely susceptible.

I shrugged. “I’m tough to impress.” I said.

“Challenge accepted,” He said with a smirk as he walked in through the door. Yep, he had an AR strapped to his back. That is what the bandoleer that cut across his (well sculpted) chest was for. Yes, he was wearing a fashionable heather tee, not too tight, not too lose. Tan slacks, clean work boots, and his hunting cap. He was in fighting trim as ever. Ahh, the joys of rural living…

He laughed as the horde of dogs came charging in to greet him. Theyd’ been barking earlier, but I had hardly noticed. Hrm. Maybe he was having an effect. He gave the first greeting to Bilbo because he knows the house. Then to Cherry the basset hound, then the Belle, Irish Setter, all the way down the line. He shuffled past the canine horde to greet Hello Kitty, then found Zanzabar curled up on the back of a couch. He petted her luxurious chocolate and camel fluff, and she purred and stretched and exposed her belly to a better angle. He laughed and petted just enough, before she tightened the coil to play with his hand.

Zan was mostly Maine coon and was missing her rear left leg.

“So you keepin up with the brood? I don’t know if I could keep them all straight.” He said.

“I don’t. I just water and feed them. And play and… clean the kennels, the pads, and change the litter boxes. Though I think Zan uses the toilet. I hear it flush when I’m not in there. So I hope it’s her.” I did not want to think about what arrangements the other tenants made.

“Is it enough to do, or do you need more?” he quipped.

“Well, I did used to volunteer for the animal shelter, so it’s kind of like that. Except that there’s an endless budget for food and litter, and… well, Phil has better facilities, but no vets office. But the vet.. Is going to be fun. I hope it won’t be necessary… It’s three months. A lot can happen.”

“I’m sorry to hear about Phil’s.. Yard.” He said softly.

“Yeah. It sucks. The scum. I have no idea who would want to do that. I don’t live around here, and I dint’ know what her relations are with people, other than you and a few others I remember from childhood. This has got to go deep.” I said.

He nodded. “You remember… much?” he asked.

I sighed. Of course he knew that I had a memory problem about childhood stuff. Seemed like good memory was a disease that everyone fostered around here.

I shrugged. “This, and that. Some stuff, mostly mundane. I remember the paper, where the kids were caught stealing the dinosaur. I remember the horseback rides. I remember, Ken and I goofing off with you boys near the pond that year when it was so…hot.”

“Do you remember the year you stayed the winter?” he asked hopefully. /in a weird voice.

I blinked. “No.” I said. I remembered cold and snow and…that I didn’t want to remember.

There was a pause. “Okay.” He said. Things were quiet after that.

“But… I do remember that things get, weird here. That we have…visitors from elsewhere, but… not what happened. And I know they aren’t tourists. They aren’t…all…human.”

He regarded me. “But do you think those Fair Ones and Wee Folk are just… childhood things to be left and abandoned/forgotten?”

“I want to. I wanted to… but… they are in front of me now. And if I don’t’ remember… it all will be lost for ever.”

His look was exasperated pity.

“It’s a tenuous place, with a tenuous hold in this place. But both…both worlds would suffer if the gate were broken.” He said softly.

“What?” I asked, ever on the ball.

He rolled his eyes. “Oh, come on Grace. Yes, I’m using your real name. He was a bastard, but he was plugged in. He gave you your true name, nice dad or not.”

It felt like a slap.

“We know what happens out here. We are neighbors. That thing that tried to kill you, oh, you think Sarah would’t want to know about that? Fortunately your little friends are much better neighbors.”

He said. His voice rasped my tender skin.

“I… I…just started remembering a few days ago. Give me a break! I have no idea how much stuff you guys know. Do you think I wanted to be crazy? Do you think I want to be disowned? I KNOW what happens with crazy in this family, and I want no part of it! Dad’s treatment sure helped him!” I shouted. I’d…never done that before.
I was afraid he was going to hit me, but his body was relaxed, and his eyes docile, though lit with intensity.

HIs eyes widened. “I thought you didn’t remember.” He said softly.

“I… I still don’t know what happened. Those words, just came out.” I said, confused.

He smiled weakly. “That’s the memory starting to come back. It happens.”

“How…how do you know?” I asked, startled. His next smile had a bit of warmth. “Because I have brothers. And sisters. Some have left like you did. One came back. It didn’t … end well, but… it happened for a while.” He said simply.

“Did you call your mom?” he asked.

“Yeah.” I said.

“How’d it go?”

“As you’d expect.” I returned flatly.

“I’m sorry.”

“Yeah, me too. At least I can feel virtuous.” I said.

“What about Shelia?” he asked.

I smacked my forehead with a meaty palm. “Crap.”

He was grinning a little bit. “Give her a few minutes. She’ll be back at the house by 4:00 anyhow. She always has tea at 4:30. Or maybe we can swing by and have tea with her. If so, we should go soon. We can call on the way. She lives just off Telegraph.”

“Yeah, I guess.” I said.

“Well, if you don’t want to go, you can call. But you should at least call.”

I sighed. “I know and I want to do the good thing. Can I.. Chill for a few minutes before we go? Maybe get something better on than this?”

He grinned. “Suit yourself. I’m wearing a clean teeshirt, that’s pretty fancy for me.”

“You make it snazzy somehow. Anyway…I’ll be right back, okay, feel free to… well, you already are covered with furry animals. Should take me 5 minutes.”

He nodded and waved, and resumed giving Bilbo and his due in attention. Dolores the foxhound was curled on his feet, looking ridiculous. Zan had grown bored with his lap and was standing on his shoulder. Hello Kitty and Puddin’ and Kiayoga were vying for his lap. I think Bilbo was angling for treats.

I went to my bedroom, closed the door and set my clock for a five minute bell. I laid down on the bed and closed my eyes. I had this disturbing sense that Auntie Phil was trying to get a hold of me. Yet the phone did not ring, and the mail was devoid. The bills were on autopilot, and the post office was forwarding or keeping the rest.

The buzzer went off, I got up and tossed on a corduroy dress. It was here from last time, and oddly still fit. I thought I’d gained a few pounds since then, but apparently not as much Is I’d thought. It was cranberry colored with a white collar. It looked innocent, didn’t quite go with my sharply bobbed hair, but I went with it. I still had oxblood sandals and my little ruby bracelet that grandma got me. I ran a brush through my hair, spritzed some stuff on it, freshened my lip stuff, and touched up my eyes. I walked out, and Pat eyed me appreciatively.

“I remember that dress.” He said, his expression odd.

“I remembered it was here. But not much else. It’s been washed recently, too.” I said, as blankly as I felt.

His eyebrows raised. “You didn’t do it?” he chuckled. “Maybe the brownies still like you after all.”

I shrugged, and made sure the fish were fed before I left out the door. In two days it would be time to feed the snakes.

The boys whined and followed me to the door. I looked at Pat.

“How long are we likely to be gone? Shall we leave them in the pen?”

He nodded. “Might be a good idea. Let Trapper John out with the rest, and then let him inside. He’s paper trained, as I remember. He can be a bit of a surprise if anyone gets past the alarms out here.

Trapper John was Phil’s token Great Dane. He was big, even for the breed, and on the shaggy side, even if his hide was pretty short. He was a dark tobacco brown with a white patch on his chest. He was bred to intimidate, and was sort of half trained as a guard dog. He was sweet and loving around family, but didn’t like strangers. I’d had to be careful around him when I first got here, had to leave him in his cage for a bit longer than I should have, and get to know him gradually so he’d like me. It finally worked, and he forgave me for the delays. Especially since I was prompt with the pads. He had a hang dog expression as I approached him. I think it’s genetic.

Public Domain. Acquired from Wikimedia Commons.

I scruffed up his head, and he squeaked though his nose, as dogs do. “Boy, you wanna keep the house safe?” his ears pricked up. He could tolerate a crowd, but he was happier by himself.

I walked him around the back yard with Pat dutifully following apace. I showed TJ all the interesting things in the yard, chattering to him all the while. IT was soothing, and got me strong enough to go see Shelia. Once he was set, I put two pads in his kennel, left the door open, and showed it to him. “This is where you go if you need to.” I whispered to him. He nodded gravely. Then I showed him the door. “Don’t let anyone through here.” I said. “Unless it’s the little guys. You know them. But if you don’t know the folk, don’t let them in.”

The dog regarded me stolidly as if daring me to suggest otherwise could happen.

“I think that’s a 10×4, Cat.” Pat said.

We finally left in Pat’s truck. It was nearly 4:00pm already.

Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 – Credit Required in the form: “Photography by User: MrX” Is in no way associated with text. From Wikimedia Commons

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New Post!

Ceiling fresko by Johann Michael Rottmayr in the nave of Melk Abbey church: Via triumphalis of St. Benedict (1722) Creative Commons License– created by user Uoaei1 of Wikimedia Commons

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My take on Mozilla

Feuerkorb-FF

Firefox Logo: Creative Commons License; Wikimedia Commons. Image: Feuerkorb.jpg — Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

Since the controversy is well established, I thought I’d lend a few thoughts.

First of all, I’ve  been expecting something like this. Not to Mozilla specifically, but out there, somewhere. You see, Chik-Fil-A and Duck Dynasty happened.  Reprisals must be made.  Purges must be done to assure  loyalty and purity of thought. And frankly, they’ve dropped the ball on this one.

 

 

Think of it from their side.  It’s about command and control.    If they command, and don’t control– they look weak. So somebody had to fall, and the former CEO of Mozilla happened to get the short stick. For the record, asking someone to retire is about the same thing as firing them,  just in case the Register was confused. Pressuring someone based on events that happened 5 years ago is not just “seen” as a threat to freedom– it actually is.

The fact that his crime was so slight– they pilloried him for a pittance!  –is simply a signal that no one is safe. That is, if you are vulnerable.  So I suspect that the tolerant, compassionate liberals have more to fear from this than conservatives do.

Also, Mozilla is kind of a weak target.  I had already designated Mozilla as that annoying program you don’t use– or even bother to remove — a six months ago. This, thanks to hearing that the NSA and it’s unnamed fellows use(d) weaknesses in Mozilla code to break TOR and take down Silk Road. So, if you are wondering about the graphic– it was already on fire when I tossed it in the circular file.

Now, I don’t use TOR.  The very little sympathy I have for Silk Road is from the privacy angle– I don’t approve of criminality.  But I don’t like living in a world where absolutely everything is monitored by people we are supposed to believe have our best interests at heart. Especially people with the power to oppress and kill without reprisal.

Trust but verify– and the verification rate has been dismal so far.  I don’t need to repeat the litany of failures that our own government has perpetrated against it’s own people. If the Founders were still around, a lot of people– some highly placed, would be shot for treason.  But the Constitution was sold for a mess of pottage at least 40 years ago.

The upshot is that I stopped using Mozilla about six months ago.  This might finally persuade me to remove the program from my hard drive, but that doesn’t mean much in the grand scheme. No, what I’d do, if I were an investor– is to drop the stock like a hot rock. I’d sell it to the LOWEST bidder and be done with it.

Why, you ask? Because I’m a bigot?  Well… I will let you decide. Here are my reasons.

Partially because the security issues were not faced and dealt with– and dealt with aggressively. Partially because they want to wave torches and distract the masses with political theater.  Where was the outrage about things that actually matter for a browser?  Where was the embarrassment? I would expect a strong public statement– yet none was made, that I can find with several searches.

Ironically, it’s not even about “gay” “marriage”. It’s more about political witch hunts, and a failure to address REAL issues.  If you are going to be bastages, at least admit it.  Incompetent bastages should not be supported.  So, hey, they did us a favor, and I’ll act accordingly.  You will note that Chick Fill A did not fire their LGBT workers… if they left, they left by their own free will.  I’m pretty sure the same goes for the Duck Dynasty crew.

It’s a private company. I have no stock in it, so my opinion doesn’t really matter. When some people are more equal than others, because some opinions are more equal than others… we’ll say that ship sailed long ago. It’s just time for the leading lights to decide what side you are on.

Mozilla

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Margot Writes– Behind the Moon Door, Snippet IV

By Nmaguire at en.wikipedia [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons

He continued staring at it for a while. NOw it went from that awful burning sensation to something akin to a painful itch. I wanted to curse COM and elder for his dire prediction, but I was concerned what effects that might have in the presence of a wizard. It might offend him, or start off the apocalypse, and who knew which was worse.

I cleared my throat. He jumped like I’d fired a shot. He blinked at me.
“Yes?” he asked.

“Um, when can you get me outa here? Is there a way you can examine this thing…without me being stuck here?”

“Unweaving workings is difficult, and this is… complex, to say the least. IT’s woven in with the universal fabric. I have to pluck strings carefully, lest this place become…unsuitable for human dwelling. The gatekeeper would be upset, and… it would have ripples and effects into your world itself. This working is…subtle and world shifting. I think it was meant for the Queen. Believe me, dear Lady, I don’t want to be here any longer than I need to be. The Earthworld is uncomfortable for such like me. This place…is far better, being distant from the shores… well, from the mundane world you live in. But it’s still… itchy for lack of a better term.” the wizard said awkwardly.

He brightened for a bit. “But you can read thoughts, can’t you? I’ve been watching you do it all evening. I think… why don’t I call a rabbit in here, and you can take that around your property while I work. Won’t’ that be fun?” he asked brightly.

I balked. “Can we at least make it a cat? Something that will… have some defenses?”

“A wild rabbit is by no means defenseless creature in the wild, my Lady. And he has wild instincts which you can simply rely on for defense. There are… cats that have the wild sense, too, I suppose if you prefer, but every decision like this can…change you.”

“Um… how?” I asked.

“Well, you sort of become a part of each other for a while. That always changes both parties a bit. It can be…managed if you are compatible, but not too similar. If you fuse, that would just make another mess to clean up, and not a very interesting one, at that. Otherwise, I’d just give your attention to the crow sitting on the roof whose been looking out for you for as long as you’ve been here. But… too close for comfort, unless…you manage the works yourself, and you aren’t there yet. Giving you a leg up at this stage could be dangerous. Especially when something has been feeding off of your essence. There can be…backlash. Natural defenses. But a harmless ride in a rabbit would be soothing for both of you, and settle your spirit.”

I couldn’t imagine it.

Fligget started giggling. The wizard regarded him with a quirked eyebrow. “What is it?” he asked.
Fligget subsided. “Well,’ he said, you could alway put her in one of the goats, she’s stubborn enough.” He snickered.

He considered it. “That would work… would it work for you?”

“Well, I like having a higher point of reference, though a flying creature would be pretty great, actually.” I said.

The wizard frowned. “Well, you’d have to let the bird teach you to fly. That can be… like ski lessons. For Phil.” He said softly.

I groaned. Phil could not keep her balance on skis if her life depended on it. She was on her ponderous backside before you could snort at her posture. She said she needed an extra coat for her posterior, and even Frank said she needed to do more sledding. Or take up luge. Yet  she’d still go out every season, and drive another instructor to drink.

My eyes widened. “You know my Aunt!” I said.

“We all do.” The gnomes chorused.

“Of course. She’s the only reason why any of us can be here. Well, that and the land, of course. But the two together…has made this refuge possible.”

Then he looked at me. “You aren’t her daughter, but her sister’s daughter. Interesting.” He said.

“Yeah?” I said.

He blinked and seemed to ignore my query.

“I think I know a good creature, that would suit you, but not too similar. IT will be strong enough to carry you around, even possibly help…the situation. But you will have the height protection and flexibility you crave. But, you will feel a presence in there with you, and you will have to be a gracious guest, rather than a renter, you know?”

“I can behave. Usually.” I said.

He regarded me with narrow eyes for a second longer than strictly speaking necessary. “That will…have to do,” he said.

“Um, okay.” I said. “But you will have to tell me what this place is,” I said.

“OF course,” He said absently. Then he started. “You…have this…and you don’t know?”

“I, ah, er… left. Took a vacay. I bugged out. I couldn’t deal with it. I got older, you know? I hardly even remember what I did back in those days. It was like so much play. I mostly forgot.”

He sighed. “And you lost your faith.” He said.

“Hey, don’t put it like that, okay? I’m fine the way I am! God can deal with his own messes.”

He smiled gently. “What you believe is what you believe. What you experienced here… is a part of you. If you deny that, then it is easy for you to get lost— and used. It is only the protections of a power you have forgotten that has kept you safe thus far.”

“You mean I’d be screwed if I weren’t such a do-gooder? That my lack in the boyfriend department— is a help?!”

He nodded gently. “And for all your trying, you have yet to…ahh, indulge in the spirit of the age to your personal satisfaction.”

“You don’t know how humiliating that is! I mean, have you had sex? Do you know? Wait! Don’t answer that!” I closed my eyes and prayed I didn’t have those mental flashes that could be lurking…

But no. I saw him, younger, relaxed, and pleased, walking into a pleasant, dazzling ray of sunshine… except it was a bigger deal than that… it was…

Ow. Headache. Again.

Too big to grasp. Synax error, register overflow, etc.

I squinted and wished I could massage my skull.

The wizard smiled and massaged my scalp for me. His nimble sensitive fingers were remarkably good at finding the stressed out places and released muscles in my neck and head that I didn’t know I had. I groaned, and hoped it wasn’t too suggestive.

“So, uuuugh do you have a name?” I asked.

“Yes. I do.”

“That helps.”

“Call me Trajan. It’s a good reference.”

“Okay, Trajan. That’ll work.”

“I need your true name. Not out loud. Um… tell her when you are inside.”

“Her…who?” I asked, but never really finished my thought.

 

He took a step or two back, then flourished with one hand, then made a complex set of gestures. He spoke Words. I heard them with my body, but I could not tell you what they were, but I could feel a call through the fabric of being.

I saw that he was holding a narrow wand made of toad lilies that were white, barely touched with peach at each nubbin giving the whole flower an old ivory look. There was more brightness, and … I kid you not, a pale ivory creature walked out of the light and directly over to me. It shied away from the wand, stepped in small mincing steps off to the side of it, and approached me from the side. It’s soft velvety nose brushed my fingers, and…I felt it.

See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

IT was so like a horse, but narrower. IT had split silver hooves, and a snaky lion’s tail, even brushed with gold on the tip. It’s eyes were liquid blue deep depths like the shadow of a prow on the Pacific ocean.

All it needed was a spiraling horn… wich..it didn’t have.

But the light around it’s head was…odd. It winked at me, and put it’s face up to mine. How is it that animals from this other realm smell so…good? Horse breath should not smell like slightly meaty, roasted mushrooms and cinnamon. No horse slime, either. I shook my head. The fact it moved as close as it did, alarmed me. But my body was as rigid as ever.

I looked into it’s eyes, and before I knew it, I had a totally different perspective on the room. It was disorienting at first, to see opposite sides of the room at the same time. But before long, I could figure out where I was oriented, and feel the body, what it was like to have fur, how weight felt on my back, and how exposed it was to have your back facing the sky behind your head. Being naked was also a thrill, but a bit embarrassing. Fortunately, the creature was feminine— or next best thing, or that would have been too weird. I mean, if I looked that good without clothes on, my situation would be… different.

How do you know?

I jumped, which caused her to twitch. Having thoughts that are not your own, when you’ve lived in an isolated brain all your life is…like having an alien object under your skin that doesn’t hurt. It’s irritating, feels weird, but also you have this nagging desire to figure it out, which in this case feels intrusive.

It laughed like babbling water.

I retorted. “What? To not be laid by now, I must be doing something wrong. Everything possible has happened, I won’t bore you with the details. Oops, sorry about that. Danny was rather embarrassing. Sigh. He even wanted to get into my pants.”

For only one night, though. That wouldn’t…satisfy you. You bond for life, like we do. Some humans do and others don’t. We are lucky. All of us bond in fundamentally the same way, if we all are individuals.

“You mean I’m subconsciously doing this on purpose? I wish the rest of me got the memo!”

You are being protected, as the wizard said. It’s not all you, but also the path laid down for you.

“Oh crap. You mean I’m chosen? You mean I don’t get a choice in the matter?” I whined.

You are chosen to do. Or do not. YOUR choice. But you are given many chances to say yes, but once you know fully what you choose, your event horizon will narrow to the choices you have made.

“That sucks. Who can I speak to, to change that?!” I wheedled.

More laughter. I’m afraid that is the way of things…in every world I’ve been. In some places that is easier to ignore than others, at least for a while. Your people have become quite good at it.

 

“Well, we should probably give the wizard some space to work. Shall we go on a pleasant tour of the property?” I asked, resigned. I wanted to leave that conversation behind.

By Netherlandish artist, c 1500 [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

And, we did. Did I mention unicorns can fly? The view from the top of the garage was priceless. I even got more than a glimpse of the mysterious woods from the twisty paths in the old park. You will never guess what the theme park was. Yup. A cheesy tourist version of Irish mythology. Oddly, there was a dinosaur back there, too– a rather anemic looking T Rex on the outdated upright model.  He was askew and the concrete around his base was relatively new.  “Grr. Argh.” He seemed to say.

I wonder if he’d found his way back to here after those teenage masterminds stole him away to put on the roof of the school. Trouble is, they got pulled over by cops before they got to Adrian High School. Suddenly I could see the photo of the sagging station wagon weighed down with steel and concrete statue. It would have been impossible had it not been hollow. The kids looked suitably comical, straight out of an 80′s teen movie, with guilt plastered all over their faces. Even a dark haired Bueller silently appreciating the absurdity of the situation and enjoying his 5 minutes of fame.

Then I realized. I was starting to remember my childhood. Though in a body not my own, the revelation made me feel cold, and a bit exposed. Unicorns have warm coats, so I knew it wasn’t her.
The morning was still misty, and the outbuildings didn’t have the chess playing bear or some unexpected caged zombies. I was a little disappointed.

Just a little.

But we had a drow, a wizard and a unicorn. That would have to do, for now.

I visited the sopwith camel that Phil used to fly. It looked a little dusty, and there were oil stains I did not remember. I sighed. I could remember flying over all the Irish Hills up there, seeing the Old Stone Church, All of Clarklake,  Brooklyn,  the Two Towers (it was the Gray tower and the Irish Tower back then) and the anonymous twisty roads that reminded me of a primal knot-work pattern.  Even the Hidden Hills botanical garden was a thing back then. I had to go see Dorothy, one of thier curators. She and I had been friends since… well, maybe not. There was something weird there, and I still couldnt’ remember what.

Then I had a flash of flying with the crows. Flying. Not in an airplane. I shuddered, and fought off a headache. The unicorn supported me, but did not come to my rescue. I was glad of it, I wanted to fight my own battles.

Maybe I’d remember what happened to dad.

I shunted the thought away. I was suddenly sure I never wanted to find out. I felt waves of concern from the unicorn, but she did not interfere. I at that moment wished she would, and even that did not urge her to. I sighed.

“So you want to help me.” I sighed at her.

Yes.

A thought waved at me. Really hard to explain. It’s like having thoughts you know aren’t yours. Except of course you aren’t insane.

“Why? What do you get out of it? Why do you care about some random human, some of whom probably want you dead, to take your horn and do whatever with it? Harvest it and sprinkle it on their food to make them horny? Because we just think that way?” I asked back, thinking out loud.

There are probably unicorns who want you dead, too. The thought tasted coquettish and a little playful.

“That just reinforces my point! Why?” I thought back.

There was the feeling of a stirring current beneath a calm surface. Then thoughts formed. They were not words, or a stream of focused communication, but fuzzy images that slowly gained clarity and form. A young small thing, looking sort of like a slinky white goat given twice as much legs as necessary,… as if on stilts… is running, jumping through the woods, more like a deer than a horse. Unlike the one who was helping me, Crystal with the scent of lilies? How do you turn that into a human name, has a visible horn, crystalline but there none the less. She is fleeing, and dark unknown creatures are hunting her. Perhaps shifted drows in the Otherform.

Silvery red blood is flowing from her side. She runs unevenly, and as she’s cornered in a swampy area, there’s a gate that forms just past the water’s edge. The creature gathers speed, and leaps through the gate, and finds herself in a completely different place, an ordinary field. She hides and shies away from a car going past, and takes off into the woods. The observer thinks she’s a rare white deer. The Irish Hills are magical!

She takes off and follows the paths, and creates space somehow. She finds the house, and my aunt greets her and, Phil sets her on the couch, and stitches up the wounds, and rinses them with alcohol. They become friends, somehow. Soon others come, fleeing the Blight. But she shies away from that black stuff that seems to suck out the life from everything it touches. The Queen had a solution. Then she vanished…

I blinked. This was a setup. Now I knew for certain that Phil left, just so I could be told all this and dragged back in again.

Now I could choose whether or not magic existed, at all.

“Great. Why me?” I demanded.

Then I was delivered a massive whallop across the back of the head. Or that’s what it felt like. No one probie-slaps a unicorn like that.

“Hey, why’d you do that?” I whined.

It was necessary. You’ll thank me later.

Soon we were delivered back to the wizard. My body, looking pale and waxen, lay on the bed in the apartment. It was a queen sized, and the body weighed down the mattress as if it were far heavier than it should have been.
The wizard had encased the wand in a fat wad of double terminated crystal which had awkward asymmetrical facets. You could see weird flaws that reflected the shape of the wand embedded inside. The berries were still stained with my blood, and glowed eerily through the flawed crystal. He was wrapping it in black suede, then a layer of silk, then placed that in a lead lined box. Fortunately for him, that had a convenient carry handle. It was an awkward shape. I noted he was even wearing black leather gloves. He snapped the locks shut, then sealed the edges with red wax stamp and a ribbon seal.

I raised my eyebrows. “Isn’t that a bit much?” I asked him.

He was smiling tightly, eyebrows high on his forehead, nose a bit scrunched. “Well, I’d say most precautions in this situation are appropriate…” he said.

I felt assured. Not.

“But there is one more thing I’d like to borrow you for before you rejoin your body. I should have… a bit of healing done, and… well, you’ll need to shake the dust off. Its’… complicated.” He waved his hands vaguely as he led us out of the back bedroom, down the hallway and back into the living area. He walked over to the couch, and bent before it.

“Release this.” He said, pointing to the sword embedded in the floor.

Artist Britton LaRoche. Sketch of King Arthur’s Sword in the Stone. Released to the public domain.

“You are kidding, right? I did that? I don’t even know how. How could I undo it?”

“Just lift it out, my Lady.” He said.

“I’m not King Arthur, I’ll have you know.” I said.

The wizard sighed and shook his head. “No, and that’s not Excalibur either.” He said.

I looked at it, and felt a roiling dread.

“If I do… It changes things, right?” I asked, lighter than I felt.

“Everything we do changes things, my Lady.” He said, sounding a bit tired.

“Yeah, but it’s not about decisions, right? For my future?” I asked, whining again.

The wizard sighed. “It helps us, but does not determine your final fate, if that’s what you mean. One act hardly suffices, I’m afraid.”

I sighed with relief, and walked over to the sword. I wrapped my palm around the pommel and pulled. It did not budge. I almost sighed with relief. But.. The sword felt warm. It wanted things. It wanted to dance, to flee it’s dark cavern and play in the light. So I imagined it flashing through in freedom, and the joy it had singing through the air, tasting the blood and bone of the enemy…

Before I knew it, I had the sword in front of me. There was a sizable hole in the floor, with a glint of light from the floor below. Fortunately, that was the metal shop, and not the garage. But it would still have to be fixed before anyone else could live in here. It was perfectly balanced and fit in my hand like a glove. I knew intellectually that this thing was heavy and should be hurting my weak hands, but… well, maybe those years of furious typing and the piano playing, and… yes, sword practice were still there, waiting to be remembered. I wasn’t that old. Only 24 or so. Which felt soooo old… but not compared to the unicorn who lurked in the back of my brain. Thinking how old she was made my head hurt. And my childhood was like a distant foreign land, that I was rapidly approaching on a clipper ship going too fast…
But there was more. Much more that needed to be seen. But I was tired. So… tired. And I hadn’t even gotten to my body yet.

So yeah, blah blah, the unicorn and the wizard did doctor like things to my body, only with wizard speak. Watching them I learned things about magic, or maybe I just remembered.

And wizard magic and what everyone else used is different. Wizards are like programmers. Regular magic users are like, well, ordinary users, or sometimes super users. Things like the wand were sentient, but…forbidden somehow. It broke multiple rules of natural magic, and only wizards could do so willingly and with foreknowledge. Even the drow needed help to do it.

So the question was, who was conspiring with the drow.

By the time the wizard left, I was starting to feel a little sorry for my would-be assassin.  I know, right? But helping her seemed like a profoundly bad idea. He carted her away like a particularly horrific silver balloon. He waved to all of us and vanished in his brilliant beacon of light. I was so tired they had to prop me up with pillows on the couch to watch him go. Then they improvised some kind of travois and hauled me back with goat power. While the miniature goats were naturally trained, they had some kind of mojo to convince the elder more stubborn goats to play along. And along they played. The contrivance would not fit through the door, however. This was an occasion of much debate, and the dreaded gnome huddle was reenacted.

Then the unicorn whistled— no I don’t’ know how. And she—shifted. Somehow. Became a humanoid body of light that fireman carried me back in the house. She then set me in my bed, behind the moon door. I heard all the noises consistent with animal feeding. Cats slunk in later, and a few, including Hello Kitty curled up on and around me, as if trying to warm me up. Bilbo squatted on my feet and shuffled and dozed, drooling on the bedspread.

I decided I could wash it later. Later I got fed, (nachos with ground beef and beans, baked in the oven. Somehow there were avocados that became guacamole, though not enough tomatoes to add. They were pallid, store bought things… I was surprised Phil allowed them in her home.) Then, a bewildering trip to the restroom that somehow involved moving my body but not my mass, so that I didn’t even have to disturb the critters, though they were somewhat disturbed by an unoccupied outer shell that maintained gravity. Yet the errand was accomplished. Trust me, magic is weird.

By the time I saw her again, she was peering at me through the window, back in quadraped form. I could see her horn, a dull ivory thing that looked weathered and streaked with dark lines. She’d totally drained herself taking care of me. I felt responsible. She was now so…vulnerable. Hopefully this place was safe enough to keep her hidden until she recharged.

Then I realized I didn’t even know how unicorns do that. IF they could do that. She trotted off into the woods, and I knew she was was headed for the park. Beyond that, I had no clue. There were a lot of lovely parks around here, and more than a few enchanted lakes.

I laid back and realized, that as much as I’d learned, as much as I had accomplished, I still didn’t know jack about the vanished Queen.

Crap. I still had fish tanks to clean.

 

Text:(c) 2014 Margot St. Aubin.

Posted in Art, Eye Candy, Humor, Nerdy, Personal, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sunday Shrine: Ina Poonbato

By Ramon FVelasquez (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

This is in the Philippines. Special thanks to Ramon Velasquez for your wonderful photographs under the Creative Commons License!

By Ramon FVelasquez (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

By Ramon FVelasquez (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

 

By Ramon FVelasquez (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

This particular vision of the Blessed Mother happened before missionaries came, or the local inhabitants even heard of Christ. They recognized her from the descriptions of the missionary, during a talk.  The iconography of that vision was well known locally.

By Ramon FVelasquez (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

By Ramon FVelasquez (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

By Ramon FVelasquez (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

What a beautiful shrine!  SO much wonder!

Posted in Art, Catholic Christianity, Eye Candy | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Missing Sunday Shrine for 3/30: For the Lost

Continuing our India kick, here we go to St. Anthony Tower shrine in Palavakkam.

By Michael Fernando (Michael.fernando at en.wikipedia) [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons

By Michael Fernando (Michael.fernando at en.wikipedia) [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons

Because, yes, this post is lost. And so I have been for the past while, so I thought I’d give one of my favorite saints a hat tip.

Here is more information:  http://www.seashorestanthony.org/  Also here: http://wikimapia.org/633923/Sea-Shore-St-Anthony-s-Shrine-Palavakkam

The first link has some pictures that are truly incredible. The Palm Sunday procession down the streets of town speak loudly to me– you can find that in the photogallery. To reset the gallery, you have to click on “Photo Gallery” every time. Not sure why that threw me.

My only disappointment is that there weren’t more pictures of the tower, or even an idea of where the tower is relative to the shrine, or if the two are associated at all. Also, I couldn’t tell it was a seaside shrine from the pictures, though assured so by written description.

But it is still a nice new website, a relatively recent shrine, and a hearting expression of devotion in a different part of the world. St Anthony, please pray for us!

By Dinhhoangdat (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

By Dinhhoangdat (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

It also occurs to me that perhaps my peace comes from having attended confession last week, then again this week.  Wrath has been an issue, but confessing it and understanding it really does help.

Posted in Art, Catholic Christianity, Christianity | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Life and Joy

“Baby kissing mirror image.” Uploaded to Flickr on July 29, 2005 by roseoftimothywoods

So I was at a baby shower today, with friends. It may shock you to discover it was a peaceful, fun and lighthearted hang out session with people I love, surrounded by yummy sweet (yet oddly healthy) delicious food, and great story. Babies, young mother stories, presents, strawberry wine, mimosas, and chasing the guys away with threats of tasting baby food.

Wine_Glass_SplashThere were hand made blankets, adorable plush animals, and cute but gender neutral clothes (mostly).  The games were silly but low key, and fortunately not disgusting or overly embarrassing– or worse yet, Calvin Ball for the status conscious.

But it is really amazing, in some ways, that I had such a good time. In part, it was because in that circle, Life is literally Good.

There were no snarky comments about saying goodbye to freedom, or even grousing about the tough parts of child rearing.  Because we know these things. They don’t have to be rehashed when you are celebrating the coming of new life into the world. There is hope, there is gladness, and it is unvarnished joy.

And joy is different than happiness. It is a firm foundation, and acknowledgement of goodness at it’s core, and is mostly comprised of gratitude. Gratitude for friends. Gratitude for the gift of life, gratitude for the bond of family.  Because the friends you invite to these sorts of events, to even meet your embarrassing family members, are pretty much family you have chosen. It’s the acid test to reveal our origins to the people we want to impress, that we can go beyond impressing and to the truth of what we are.

What we forget is that when we are at our best, we are telling truth about ourselves, even as we confess our sins is also truth about who we are.  Because life is beautiful, even when it sucks. Suffering and death are not the whole story. And that is the devastating truth that the philosophically WISIWIG totally miss.

Otherwise, cynicism would be pro-survival. It’s not. It leads to death as surely as holding your breath too long. You can do it until you turn blue and things get dim, but eventually your lungs will force air back into you with a kick of your diaphragm.  And there’s a reason for that. And it’s not some mind control conspiracy going on in your genes.

So, you might be asking yourself– “If you think all this candy coated nonsense, why on earth would a baby shower even potentially be depressing?”

Well not to put too fine a point on it… I turned 39 this year. My husband and I do not have children. We are generally quite pleased with each other, and there’s nothing wrong with our marriage.  Do the math.  I haven’t actually hit menopause yet, but the odds not great.

YOU would think that the more modern, hyper-critical “reality based” snarkfest with a side order of irony would be more the spinster+1′s style. You’d think I’d get estrogen poisoning, or maybe flee with the vapors.  Nope.  This morning I had a mental image of me hiding in the bathroom crying.  But it didn’t happen.  Why?

Because I did not have to be ashamed of my pain. Because I did not have to hide it, I did not even feel it. Their joy eclipsed whatever sob story I may have entertained and wiped it all away. It’s a gift, I can’t take credit for that. But it was possible, and I’m sure that had things been different, more modern, I would have been miserable.  Because even in my place of pain, I welcome a bit of hope. Not even necessarily hope for myself, but hope in the eyes of young fertile friends who understand love and  joy in the first place.

It reminds me that not everything in the world is up to me. That God will cheerfully take up all burdens, and offer me rest in his Love.  If I could bottle it and sell it, I’d be a billionaire.  But I’m okay with that being impossible. The world would be a fairly horrible place if you could turn real joy and love into a commodity. It’s not a zero sum game; it is created out of nothing.

The most cheerful people I’ve ever met have suffered the kind of hardship I cannot imagine.  One was an Indian fellow, who was a math prodigy.  He went to all the best schools, he won competitions, and contributed to some of the worlds toughest problems.

Then, at 18, he crashed.  Most math minds do, sooner or later– but the average is at about 30. One of the distinguishing features of Einstein is that he functioned in that headspace until he died.  Most mere mortals are not graced with that longevity.

Spiegel_mit_zwei_Putten_19Jh_(01)If you lose this thing you have focused your whole life and livelihood around– especially in a place like India, things go from great to crap in an eye blink. He was thrown out and disowned by his parents. Most teens here would think that’s a good thing, but they’ve never seen the streets of Calcutta. Or understand how caste and relationships work in India. Basically if your parents give up on you, so do your friends.

Fortunately, his grandparents made him an offer. “Go to America. Seek your fortune.” This after he’d lived with the Little Sisters of the Poor for a while.  His crash had been epic.

So, he wound up being a high school physics teacher. A brilliant one– in what amounts to an inner city school. Yes, he taught AP Physics, but, still. It’s the sort of job with a high burnout rate. Yet, he seemed to be the happiest man in the world, or he did to me as a teen. It was that simple joy at existing in the world, a delight with the little things in life, that spoke to me of the depth of what he knew the world could be.

The more you see the more you know that what is seen can’t be the whole story. Because context is everything. How can you know you are really seeing what’s in front of you if you don’t have that context?  What’s the bigger story behind the mess, financial struggle and challenge that child rearing brings? What’s the bigger picture behind a man who found a greater challenge with teaching teenagers a new way to see the physical world around them, and infuse it with the math he could still do and take joy in?

Those things are all immaterial. We tell each other stories about how they exist, and those stories are far more valuable than just making us feel better.  Purpose isn’t just a panacea, it too points to that superstructure that shifts reality into a comprehensible whole. But then, mathmatics and all ideas are metaphysical, too. If they don’t exist, where does that leave us?

Because living out a joyful life is more than just amassing a lot of happy times. It’s even more than fulfilling a plan, or having all the dominoes line up just right.  It’s great when it happens, but it doesn’t. There’s something more, and it’s there, and it doesn’t generally depend on outside circumstances, or even finding that place where you are home.  To make things confusing, when it does happen, it can seem like all of these things did happen.  The only way I know of how to explain how all of this happens is to describe it’s opposite.

The best way to be miserable is to enforce a reality that isn’t there. The excellent map of this is one who moulds reality by manipulation, to make it what she’s already imagined. Always applying pressure to those she knows, she gets everyone to bend to her vision.

Yet finding faults, there has to be a reason why it did not turn out as planned, and so victims must be established and villains proclaimed and vanquished. Running running running, just to stand still. It is depressing, exhausting, and ultimately futile. The classic image of the Bridezilla, or any individual regardless of sex, who must deny what is to make what should be.

I have often been guilty of this. The maps are useful because they show not only how this malfunction operates in terms of output, but also how one can fall in.

However, the way out is not to give up goodness, truth, or on ideas themselves.

I did not stay home today. I decided to give up on my own predictions, and just to see what would happen. I adjusted (with help) what I could offer by what I was capable of, and let the rest ride.  Whatever I felt this morning, I decided to not carry it with me into my friend’s home.  So I took in a fruit bowl, rather than a lot of baking I really didn’t have time — or the energy– to do.  I let the day decide what it would bring.

Because you can only change yourself, and have no control over outcome of most things. And forcing change internally necessarily means denying reality, which leads to buying into those dangerous thought eddies that lead to more pain.

The best you can do is to trim the sails and aim for the best possible outcome, enjoying every small moment as a gift.

By Weird Beard (Happy) [CC-BY-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

 

 

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Margot Writes: “Behind the Moon Door” Snippet III

First snippet.   Second Snippet 

Okay, I’ll get the hang of this eventually.  Here’s number three.  Same deal as before– original work directly from my fingers. Not edited. Much.  But will be done, and in the end we will have a final work.  And it will be sold. Copyright Me, but art not necessarily distributed with it in it’s final form.
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Emerging from the haze of pain. I heard a gasp, and a keening.  The wild eyed creature was astonished by something, gap mouthed, and pale, the tips of her pointy ears deepening to beet red. Then I heard a high ululating cry. The door behind me (I could see though my eyes were closed) shuddered in it’s moorings and exploded softly, as if it were just made of balloon material. Creatures flooded through, looking small and smart on little goaty steeds.

I found myself weeping for no apparent reason. The pain was fading to the point I looked down. The blood was thick on my shirt front, and the creature was screaming, waving her arms in front of her in a weak wristed defensive gesture.  The wand seemed frozen in the air, pinned to my chest.  There was so much clashing light right in front of my eyes, I couldnt’ tell what was happening. But I was vaguely aware of the beautifully coreographed rescue going on behind me.

Some kind of projectile that exploded into nets rained down on the bright clashing vortex of light in front of me. The nets were also made of black chain, but somehow also serpents. They wrapped themselves around the creatures shape, though she did not look like the humanoid I’d seen before.

I closed my eyes to her confusion, and suddenly I didn’t have to worry about it. But I was still frozen, and could only blink and shiver. The branch was still stuck in the air in front of me, and attached to my arm.

For whatever reason, it was stuck to my solar plexus, sticking out as if it were lodged in quite a ways. But there was too much of it exposed.

The blood had cascaded down from my neck, and had been drawn in around the front of the wand, and now the berries were a livid red of freshly oxygenated blood. A few of the back berries looked like arterial blood. The very thought revolted me and made me nauseous. But dry heaves was all I could do, perhaps because of the enchantment. This caused further pain in my chest for…obvious reasons. I tried to relax.

The two mounted riders rode around her in opposite directions, weaving the bonds ever closer to her feet, or what counted as such. Then, the COM walked up to the result, glared at it through his goggles, and spat on her feet. Then the whole works was cut loose from gravity and lifted into the air.

A gruff voice called out, “seek out the others!” And even more gnomes wound up thundering out onto the deck, probably all out into the property.

COM man walked up to me slowly, then pulled out his mini cigar out from behind his ear, glared at it, and set it alight. He puffed as he examined the creature floating above us. He tilted her this way and that, and she whispered things at him in his own language that he found very amusing indeed. He dismissed her with an unimpressed shrug and walked up to the branch that was still floating in front of me. His expression was entirely otherwise, astonished. He then planted his fists on his hips and spat an oath.

“Phips! We need a wizard. This is serious.”

The Elder Colonel ambled forward, completely ignoring the squabbling, floating creature. He walked up to me, and adjusted his glasses.

He sighed. “They combined…what? Winter and spring? Impossible?!”

COM nodded dolefully. “Thats what I would have said, not 10 minutes ago. So, what are we going to do with it? And why isn’t our new pet human dead? Or at least as far away from the waking lands to count?”

The Colonel shook his head. “Is it… a Gray Walker, you think?”

COM snorted. “As a drow assassin? The Seasons hope not! They hate each other, last I heard.”

“Only for the last several thousand years, give or take.” He said meditatively.

“That’s great, but can you at least make it so I can scratch my nose? My shirt is ruined! Are you just going to leave me this way?! I need some medical attention, STAT!”

COM looked absorbed in an interesting theory. “You are no longer experiencing extreme pain?” he marveled absently.

“It was…beyond bad, for a while. But now, it’s like a bad sunburn, but not even as bad as Poison Ivy.”

The Colonel snorted. “Give it a few, lass.” He said cheerfully.

I paled. “I don’t want to…be this way that long. What do I do if I…have to use the bathroom?”

They both laughed. I wanted to teach them a lesson. I would have punched him given a chance.

“Lass, magic is magic. You just won’t…need to.” he chuckled.

“So, why do I feel the itching on my nose and face?” I asked.

COM sighed with great patience. “That is actually a blessing from the One who protects you. Imagine being ever numb in that state.”

“An unitchable itch is not a blessing. So are you doing anything to release me, or not? So if you need magic done, I know this witch…”

The Colonel shook his head. “No. We need a wizard. Any old creature can do magic. What we need is someone who understands how it works. As talented as the human you know, this is of a different order. It requires a lifetime of training— and a particular nature. It is not of Earth, that is as much as I can say at the moment.”

 

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“Do you think he’ll come?” A third, younger gnome said. Ahh, he was the one who attacked me earlier. The one with the rod. Pencie, was it? He had his trusty weapon strapped to his side, and looked up at me in trepidation. He was now wearing a leather helmet with goggles. They had purple shades he flipped down. His eyes widened as he looked at the object

“Crikes! She’s weirder than I thought.” The little man gasped. I squinted at him as he oggled me…or stuff around me. He sucked at eye-contact. Oh, right. Fligget. I knew him.

COM regarded him suspiciously. “What do you mean?”

“The girl, not the drow. All drows are weird, it’s their nature. This human is… resisting the magic of her own fabric. There’s a blessing, but… that’s not what saved her.” Fligget said.

“Are you a wizard?” I asked.

He flushed.

“No. I’m a once and future mages assistant. I… had this left over from those days.” Fligget hung his head and looked so ashamed I was afraid to ask.

“But do you think a wizard would come for this? They did not come for the Queen’s disappearance.”

COM shrugged. “I tink so. A Queen can dissapear and it can be an ordinary event. This has cosmic consequences, don’t you agree? This is like having endless pizza, jolt, and Star Trek reruns to one of her kind’s wizards. Oh, and a tricksome problem to stroke the mind and ego.” He said, calmly puffing.

“Great. I’m a weird puzzle. That’ll take forever.” I said.

“What are Star Trek reruns?” the other asked him.

“Specific form of Earth entertainment. Pretty pictures, sound and story. All in a little box. All set in mythical place called “space, the final frontier”.”

The other swallowed. “Is it like the Outer Darkness?” he asked.

Pencie laughed. “In a way, except infinite, with a hundred hundred worlds. Like the Tree. Only all the worlds are surrounded by Outer Darkness. So told from a great sailing vessel that travels among them.” He said.

He shivered. “So all is needed is to call them.” Fligget said.

COM nodded. “But we are never sure the message gets through. They can ignore…anything. So a little message, well, doesnt’ always reach ears to hear it.”

I did not need to hear that.

The Colonel returned. “Okay, Fligget, go examine the rest of the scene. Morla was complaining of strange emanations near the bed, as well as near the door. The center of the living room needs another sweep. See if we can secure the sword, but this room is your first priority. Pencie…stop chatting with… her. See to the prisoner.  Coordinate the search.” He said, rather unnecessarily. Pencie picked up his COM gear and saluted somewhat ironically. The elder looked away, as if all was in order. Pencie waved at me and started chatting on the mic, issuing supersonic chittering orders.

The elder looked down, and picked up a modern silver looking object. He examined it closely. “Find also what means ‘Sprint’, and what sort of wizardry this is.”

COM laughed. “That, Sir, is a battery. I have found other bits that fit around this one. It’s a communications device, that’s definitely disabled.”

He nodded, put the goggled helmet back on, and started staring around the room. He jumped up on the bed in his light footed way, and walked around. ‘She gated here!” he said. The Elder nodded.

Then he jumped off the foot of the bed and gasped.

“And here… a powerful sorcery— a glamour— was unmade. I see the seeming of a sword, unraveled by… unknown magic I can’t get a trace on.”

The creature started gabbering. I couldn’t understand her at all. Then the crow started cawing, and she was quiet again. The crow stopped not long after. I shivered. All the gnomes stopped. At first I was afraid she’d spelled them all from her tumble of nets and fetters above me.

Then Fligget blinked several times and adjusted his glasses. He muttered another thing in his fast high pitched gnome language.

The Elder sighed. “Fligget, we have guests. Agitated guests whom I actually care about. The drow… well, give it to the wizard as bounty. Wizards like… drow, don’t they?”

Fligget paled.”In a sense, yes. They are… playthings, to a wizard…”

The drow shook and gabbed again, but the language was blurred even from what I’d heard before. I could hear— the alien rhythm of her heart, and feel her fear, like a bug caught in a web, a web built by creatures much weaker than she. Yet she was caught, and she did not know how. It hit me with such pristine clarity, I was jolted when I came out of it, feeling dizzy. Had I not been restrained, I would have fainted. Instead, things were dark, but I was aware of my own breathing, then, I came back to the world, and all the gnomes were looking at me while in huddle formation. That meant heavy thinking was going on.

“I hope he gets here before things get too–” said.

Pencie (COM) slapped a hand over his lips. He squeaked an indignity, then the light got… bright again. I winced. Light was streaming in from the windows that faced the haymow, those that should have been blocked by heavy shades. I realized that the curtains had been pulled off, and the rods were bent and disused in a corner. I was real sharp for noticing things today.

The light then faded, and a small middle aged man stood there, wearing a robe that reminded me of a church man from sixty years ago, or maybe older. It had a high collar that they hadn’t dreamt of, though, and it was a swirling shade of blue that was eye watering to behold. It had words strung through it’s silken fabric, a spidery tracery that reminded me of elvish.

I snorted.

HE did not have drapey sleeves, but practical ones. He scratched his bald spot, then concentrated for a second and pulled a hat out of the air, and doffed it on his head. It wasn’t as…pointy as I wanted it to be, but it did have a broad brim. He adjusted it and marched in. I noted he was wearing sandals that reminded me of roman centurion footwear, of many laced leather with a curved portion to protect the toes. He stamped over and examined the area slowly. Then he pulled out a monocle, put it on his face, and squinted at me for quite a while. He said “hmmmm.”

After staring at him for a while, I realized his mode of thinking was even more alien than the drow. He was thinking in terms of seasons, music of the spheres, and signs of the zodiac, …no, but things like that that had no realistic significance to me at all. What was the sign of the burning dragon? Why did the frost flowers of the High Elves matter? Were unicorn blood and the Crystal Cross Castle really…a thing? The depths of icy snow where any sort of life is extinguished at absolute zero? I had to do something other just to stop a massive headache from forming. He was thinking about…flowcharts. Yep, I told you it was getting bad.

He even stopped and stroked his trimmed pointy beard. Yet oddly he did not look sinister at all, if perhaps a little removed from reality.

He looked amused. “You must be very confused.” He said.

“Well…I’m used to that.” I said defensively.

He laughed a belly laugh. “Yes. That makes…perfect sense.”

Even the gnomes looked puzzled over that one.

He leaned back, and looked at all of us, as if that should explain everything. His brow worried a bit when he saw blank stares of incomprehension.

Then he turned his attention to the wand. His smile got big. The others still looked puzzled, but Pencie was a picture of dread. “I’ve seen that expression bef…” COM again applied his palm to Pencie’s flapping mouth.

COM looked bored, and still puffing away at his cigar. I wondered if he had a stash of them on his person, or if he just had one magical cigar that lasted as long as he needed it. HE then stared at it in annoyance, tossed away the tag end, and plucked out another from his vest, bit off the end, then lit it with a glare.

“Ah! Okay. I see what she’s doing. The wizard, not the drow. The drow is but a tool. She has no idea how lucky both of you are. This… is a tool that can be used…for several things. But it was set… to digest both the target and the killer. To consume them in it’s…final purpose, which is to create…something. Something big, if it were hungry enough to devour a drow battery plus, anyhow. But… it doesnt’ think much of your taste, my lady. You are… a bit odd.”

“Will people stop SAYING I’m odd, and explain what you mean?!” I said plaintively.

“The blood, er.. Your blood, has immunity. You are fused with a being far, far greater than yourself, and… are watched over by several entities I can’t read.” he said.

I laughed bitterly. “Fools, drunks and the United States of America,” I said.

The Wizard wrinkled his eyebrows at me. “What incantation is that?”

“Those that God loves best.” I said.

 

Text: (c) 2014 Margot St Aubin

Trademarks held by respective owners.

 

By Beardsley, Aubrey (1872-1898) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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