The Story Weaver Chronicles: Penelope and the Hob King – Chapter 2

Harrier Bogbean

What fun the schoolyard fight had been! He hopped around the room reenacting the right hook the girl popped on her teacher. He giggled, remembering the man’s surprised, scrunched face, and found a reflective pot in which to mimic the teacher’s look of anger, then burst into fake, theatrical tears of pain.

He laughed at his own silliness, and spun around to see if the girl heard him. She sat on the couch with a book. Flitting over to her, he fluttered his arms in front of her face. She did not look up. Satisfied, he examined the room and snapped pictures: a chair, a pile of books, a desk covered in an old map of the Isle of Scealta.

Strange, he thought, why would she have a map of the Isle? It was invisible to humans.

He rubbed his elbows where the landlady had crushed him in the narrow stair well. She had tried to follow Penny up the stairs, bellowing after her that she was not allowed in her rooms that early in the day. He had turned to mimic the red-faced woman.

She advanced more quickly than he thought possible for such a large woman and flattened him against the wall before lodging herself in a particularly tight joint of the stair well.

He inspected his bruises, poking at them for a few moments. He marveled at the swollen pain, and held his arms up in the noon-day light.

They shimmered purple and yellow underneath his skin. The more he pressed the colorful spots the more they hurt. This was something new! He had never bruised before at home. Maybe the Realm of Men had no magic in it. No matter, he had enough of his own. He waved his hand over the bruises. They lightened slowly before disappearing completely.

He swung his legs from the top of a shelf and watched Penny read. She peered up at the shelf every few minutes, as if she felt his presence, but he knew she could not see him.

Boredom prickled at his neck. Oh, it was so hard to resist his nature! His fingers twitched, yearning to tangle her hair, or ignite a fabulous fire on top of her bed.

He sighed; he had developed a liking for the sad little girl, especially after she punched her teacher in the schoolyard. He fidgeted with his camera for a few more moments before an impish grin spread across his face. He did not harbor the same feelings of goodwill for the square-shaped landlady. That old bird had it coming.

Penelope

Twilight spread its rosy glow across the living room when her father finally entered their flat. His shoulders sagged, and he stood in the doorway, disheveled and forlorn.

“You attacked Mr. Brubacher?” he asked her. She looked down at her bare feet, and nodded. He sighed and ran a hand through his hair. Despite his stressed appearance, Penny knew her father looked younger than her classmates’ dads. He still had thick brown hair and eyes that crinkled when he smiled, but tonight he did not smile.

“I’ve been sacked.” He dropped his hat on his desk and picked up his map. She ran to him and grabbed his hands.

“Oh, Da. It’s all my fault. I told Mr. Brubacher about the stories!” She looked up in quiet hope, wishing her father would look angry or worried, but he turned away from her and stood intently over his desk looking at his map.

Not hearing me. Again. Every night he pulled down his map and studied it with fervor before tucking it under his arm and bringing it with him to the river with a compass and a small rowboat. He would row out to the sea rowing up and down the shore and making notes on a pad of paper.

Penny knew not to ask him about his map. If she did, he would shuffle it away with his notes and pretend not to hear her. Once, she did pull an answer out of him. With his head bent low over his map, she asked him what he was looking at.

He mumbled, “Just trying to get back. Looking for an entrance.” But today he stared at it, entranced, not registering that she still stood before him.

“I’m going down to the bay,” he murmured. “Be back before midnight.” He gathered his map, papers, and a tweed jacket.

“I’m sorry Da.” Tears sprang to her eyes. “It’s all my fault.”

“No Pen.” His sad eyes met hers. “It’s my fault for not getting us back sooner.” Stunned, Penny fell silent as he left the room. Back Where? She wondered.

Fox

He raced through the fog-shrouded streets inhaling the strange scents of the city. He didn’t remember Edinburgh as a quiet city. When he had visited that night twelve long years ago, the streets were busy. People entering and leaving pubs, singing songs that only they enjoyed; night workers smoking on their breaks, telling stories of their day; people yelling, fighting in the streets.

Now, shadow-filled doorways peered at him, the unseeing watchers in the walls. He could sense the men, women, and children behind the bricks, but no one roamed the streets. He was alone. He pressed ahead searching for the familiar red-bricked tenement. He opened his mouth to taste the scents that wafted through poorly insulated windows and under warped doors.

Roasted lamb, seasoned potatoes, boiled soups, all filled his pallet. He licked his lips, careful not to bite his tongue as he ran, but the saliva still dripped down the side of his face. He chuckled to himself; moments like these made it difficult to act with decorum when one was a fox. The servants would be serving dinner at the fortress, he thought with sadness. Game bird too; he could cry at the thought of missing such a fine dinner. He tried to think of something else, something besides food.

He remembered the night he first ran through these streets. The night he brought the man and his infant daughter to safety. He was supposed to kidnap the baby that night, to bring her to his king, and to kill her father. He could never stomach violence though, so he chose to sneak the father and the baby girl to safety in the Realm of Men.

He pushed himself to run faster. He recognized the street now, and the building in front of him remained unchanged. He howled in delight; he hoped the girl still lived there, and he wanted to get her alone.

Penelope

Something woke her from restless sleep. She lay curled on the tattered sofa, her book on the floor. Silver moonlight filtered through the grime on the window and filled the old room with shadows. She peered through the doorway to her father’s bedroom. His bed sat empty. Something had woken her, but she couldn’t quite remember what it was.

She clasped her blanket around her as she tiptoed towards the window. Outside, the moon reflected off the thick mist covering the street, and the mysterious sound that woke her earlier erupted again. A howl echoed off the stone buildings and sent a chill up her back; she peeked through the pane of glass, trying to see what creature caused the eerie wail.

The fog below parted and a large, silver beast strode through the darkness and stepped into the dim light of a nearby streetlamp. She withdrew into the room, hoping to hide, but stopped short when she realized the creature was a silver fox the size of a pony. He looked up towards her window, his dark eyes meeting her own. A look of knowing flashed across his face, as if he wanted to say something, and an amused smile played about his lips. He sunk back on his hind legs and cocked his head to one side.

“Hello Penelope.” He spoke with a warm, deep tone. He did not move his lips, or open his mouth at all, but Penny heard his voice in her thoughts. She knew she should be startled, scared even, but he seemed familiar, comforting almost. Drawn in by his piercing eyes, she pressed her palm against the glass, lowering the blanket to the floor.

“Who are you?” she asked the stranger.

010_Looking Out Window

He bowed. “I am a traveler, an adventurer, a messenger, and a trickster, but tonight I am here to bring you home.” Penny gulped in surprise. Home? Home? What could he mean? Maybe he isn’t real. She closed her eyes. He will disappear when I open them again. This is a dream. She opened one scrunched eye, and then the other. He still sat before her on the street.

“My dear,” he said with a laugh. “I’ve come a long way to retrieve you. You are the only being in our joint worlds who has the power to fix them both.”

She gaped at the fox, stunned by his words. “Joint worlds? But… but I have no power.” Her stomach twisted inside her. Whatever power that there was in the world, it had steered clear of her. She had the opposite of power: Plain. Ordinary. Quiet. Echoed through her mind. The fox looked at her, and his bright, deep eyes reflected her pain.

“You are the daughter of the Story Weaver, you do have a bit of power my dear, unless you’ve inherited nothing of your mother’s bloodline.”

Her heart beat a little faster. She knew she had a mother; everyone had a mother. When she was very young her father told her stories of her mother, but stopped when she started to ask questions. She remembered fragments of her father’s stories, and bits of her own memory surfaced in her dreams.

She dreamed of a beautiful woman under a golden tree. She saw herself as a baby in the woman’s arms. She saw the woman’s face, round and dark with long, black hair, and soft eyes full of love for her. She kept this memory close to her heart and never told her father. She wasn’t even sure it was a real memory until now, until the very words, ‘your mother’ filled her mind. She thought that maybe her absent mother had something to do with her father’s map, but of course, since both topics silenced him, she learned not to bring them up.

She pressed harder on the glass and the window dissolved before her. Cold air gusted onto her face, through her hair, and through her clothes. She floated to the street below, and shivered as her toes touched the cold, wet street. The fox stood magnificent beside her. His silver coat gleamed in the moonlight. He blinked coyly back at her.

“Did my mother send you? Why are you here?” She searched his eyes for clues.

“Your mother needs you to come to her. She lives across the sea on an isle invisible to mankind” he replied. She bit her lip. Was this a story? Her head ached. For a moment she didn’t believe, but how could she not believe him? A fox the size of a pony telling her the truth that she most longed for: that her mother was alive and just across the sea! It seemed impossible! But aren’t all good stories impossible?

She bit her bottom lip. The fox did not seem sinister, but she knew that her father would not want her to leave their rooms in the middle of the night. She peered down the street. He should be back by now. She turned to the beautiful creature before her. His eyes held a question. “Would she go with him?” The temptation of meeting her mother grew too great to question.

011_Penny Levitating

She ignored the impossibility of the situation and her father’s distress at finding her not in their rooms and nodded. He abandons me every night, maybe now it’s my turn to make him wonder…And, she had punched her teacher that morning, maybe now was a good time to leave Edinburgh.

“I’ll go with you.” She stretched her hand out as if waiting for a handshake, she blushed at her presumption, but the fox smirked and raised his paw, placing it in her outstretched hand.

“You will be glad you did. Climb on Penelope, we have a long journey, and I have a warm bed waiting for me that I want to get back to.” She grabbed a handful of his fur and pulled herself onto his back, nuzzling her face in the thick fur around his neck. He smelled of earth and air, and of the sea. He leapt into the night, his tail sticking straight out, and his fur bristling in the cold. She sunk down into his coat and stayed hidden and warm there.

The Story Weaver Chronicles : Penelope and the Hob King – Chapter 1

 

1926

Edinburgh, Scotland

Harrier Bogbean

 

Half-flying and half-running, a slender woodland sprite propelled himself off the decaying brick buildings and ducked into narrow doorways. Thick fog billowed over crumbling, cobbled streets beneath him. The Realm of Men made him skittish. Anything could happen to a solitary sprite in a world that knew no stories. His eyes darted about in caution and he flew to a nearby rooftop.

A camera hung from his neck and bumped on his chest with each change of direction. It weighed him down; sprites were not made for hauling things like a common draft horse, or dwarf, but he pressed forward and alighted on an old chimney. He sat there watching the fog shift and fold back on itself. Tendrils of mist wrapped around buildings and tucked into shadows before a cold, early-spring sun bored through the clouds and dissipated the last of the fingers of old man fog.

Human life whisked about below him, hurrying to jobs, schools, and errands. Pulling coat collars close to their necks, no one spoke to each other. Most scuttled up the road to factories and the streets soon cleared. He watched them leave with mild interest, wishing he were here to make some mischief. Oh, he could have such fun with the dodgy folks of earth, but he was not here for them.

He soon noticed a little girl sitting alone outside a red brick tenement. A prick of knowing stung at his heart. She was the one. The one he had come to document. He could sense it. She crumbled a dry biscuit on the street before her. Pigeons scurried over, and sparrows swept down eager to join the feeding.

His heart beat faster and he struggled to unscrew the lens cap off the camera. The ambassador from the City of Atmøs had gifted the camera to his father the evening before, and oh how he eyed it with envy! After a night of eating and drinking mulled rum, the ambassador and his father had fallen into a deep sleep. He smiled, remembering how easy it had been to replace the camera in his sleeping father’s arms with a square shaped rock. He then zipped away with the real one in hopes of recognition and fortune as the first sprite journalist.

001_Feeding Birde-1

If only he could get the blasted lens cap off! Was it the lever on the left, or the button on top? He grumbled at himself for not listening to the ambassador’s instructions on how to use the blasted mechanism. He pressed a toggle switch on the side of the camera down and the lens cap sprang off. He lifted the viewfinder to his face and snapped a few frames.

A tickle of joy crept up his spine. He giggled and adjusted a few buttons before bringing it to his eye again, but the girl was gone. He ground his teeth and stamped his foot in exasperation. He looked down the hill. No one. He looked up the hill. Her solitary figure labored up the cobbled streets. He leapt off the chimney and landed on the side of the street opposite her. He lifted the camera to his eye, and Snap! Click! Whir! He smiled as he took another picture of the girl destined to bring the mythological folk and the Realm of Men together again.

Penelope

Plain. Ordinary. Quiet. Plain. Ordinary. Quiet. The words pounded through her head with each stride as she rushed up the hill to school. Hot embarrassment flushed her cheeks as she wiped away the angry tears that gathered in the corners of her eyes. She knew she wasn’t much: long, brown hair pulled back in a low pony-tail, an out of style cotton skirt and blouse, a sweater no thicker than tissue, and sturdy walking shoes that her feet slipped around in no matter how hard she pulled on the laces.

Plain. Ordinary. Quiet. The accusatory words spoken that morning by her landlady echoed back at her. She thought she heard the click of a camera behind her. She stopped and gasped for breath. She saw no one, and reached for the small book in her shirt pocket. Good. It’s still there. She climbed the hill in dread, not wanting to arrive at school before she had to.

She realized that Mrs. Kendrick had not meant any harm with her hurtful words. How could her landlady have known that she sat right outside the kitchen window? While she warmed her shoulders against the sun-kissed wall, and fed her biscuit to the birds, she overheard Mrs. Kendrick’s visiting sister ask about the tenants. Mrs. Kendrick chirped away, telling her that Penny’s father was crazy for wandering the river every evening in his boat, and about Plain. Ordinary. Quiet. Penelope.

Her father noticed too late the holes in her stockings, or her knobby wrists protruding from her sweaters, and then would bring home clothing from the dumpsters lining the streets of the city. Mrs. Kendrick gave her the shoes her own plump feet had worn down. The thin leather soles barely shielded her feet from every hard stone and pebble on the slick streets. Mrs. Kendrick’s swollen feet stretched the leather to the maximum, and the splat of Penny’s footsteps, rang as an ever- present reminder of her poverty.

The small book in her shirt pocket thumped against her chest. She checked again to make sure her thin sweater covered its outline. Good. No one would see it as long as she kept her sweater buttoned. She walked in the shadows of the ash-covered buildings and furrowed her brow, intent on ignoring the stern, printed signs lining the street.

She hated the signs. Their constant presence burned their messages into her memory. If she wanted to, she could recite each one as she passed. “Ordinance 461: For our own protection every man, woman, and child must remain indoors from 8:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m.,” she said to herself as she passed a blue, rectangular sign. “Remember:” a white octagonal sign screamed at her, its red words thick and straight across it, “Every man has his uses.” She scrunched her nose, that one was so strange. She tried to walk past the third one quickly without reading, but it had engrained itself on her soul and she could not help but whisper, “Don’t Worry: The Protectorate Can Think For You!” She shivered and quickened her pace up the hill to The Protectorate State School for Girls.

003_Red Book copy

Fellow students walked around her chattering and laughing. Marjorie Carr and her group of friends stood on the stairwell at the entrance of the school scrutinizing the other girls as they entered the building. Penny climbed the far end of the stairs hoping to avoid their harsh, critical gazes.

She spied her friend Eva ahead of her, and walked a little more quickly to catch her. “Eva,” she whispered. “I brought it.” Eva grinned, but looked straight ahead.

“Show me during lunch,” she whispered back, and Penny smiled. She relished her lunch breaks with her friend.

They passed Penny’s father polishing a display cabinet in the hallway. He worked as the school’s caretaker, and often she would bump into him as he mopped floors, pruned the bushes, or polished the cabinets like he did today. He smiled and waved the dirty polishing rag. A pang of embarrassment warmed her cheeks, and she ducked inside her classroom. She slid into her usual desk in the back of the room and stared ahead as Mr. Brubacher dragged a piece of chalk across the blackboard.

His thick voice rolled out of his crooked neck like the porridge she had eaten that morning: dry and thick. Today, he drilled them over and over again preparing them for the final examinations at the end of the year. They would be tested on their knowledge of the laws, ability to stand in a queue, and how well they could follow rules. After their examinations they would receive their occupations, and Penny would never have to see Mr. Brubacher again.

She liked the idea of never returning to school again, but she wished that school could be more enjoyable. Her father told her that before she was born, children learned from books. She sighed, wishing she could read books in school, but no, no that was for home.

004_Hesitant to Enter CLassroom

In the secrecy of home, her father told her tales of a time when people read books and told stories. Twelve years ago, when she was just a baby, their neighbors and quite possibly the whole world collectively forgot the stories and used their books to build fires, stuff the cracks in their walls, or in some of the poorer neighborhoods, to clean themselves after using the bathroom. Her father spent evenings begging neighbors to give him their old hardbacks before they ripped them up and threw them in their hearths. He stacked hundreds of books in his small coat closet, including the pocket book of fairytales she smuggled out that morning.

She entertained herself by recounting the tales she had read the night before. She remembered the tale of Aschenputtel, and imagined bearing the taunts of evil stepsisters and the oppression of a wicked stepmother. She smiled to herself as she imagined the grand ball, and what it would feel like to escape a dreary life. A sharp thwack across the back of her head brought her attention back to the stuffy classroom.

“Not paying attention again Miss Collins?” Mr. Brubacher said, and lowered his sweaty face next to hers. He flicked the wooden ruler he used to strike her. “You will never find an occupation under the Protectorate. You’re a pathetic example of citizenship. I think a little after school training with the custodian change that. You could never hope for anything more.” He said.

His eyes narrowed, and he turned to the front of the classroom. A few of the girls tittered in their chairs. She could tell it was a nervous laugh, but it panged her all the more. She seemed to be the brunt of all his ridicule, and the girls’ laughter ensured that he would keep it on her.

Her eyes prickled in the corners. She would not let them see her cry. Never a day went by that Mr. Brubacher didn’t torment her with physical punishments, or insults towards her father. She hated Mr. Brubacher.

 

 

She sat up straight and tried to show him that his words didn’t bother her, but her jaw tightened with anger. Several times she heard the click of a camera, but dared not to look around the room and garner his attention again.

After four long hours of review the bell finally rang signaling lunch break. She tightened her sweater, dashed out the door, and leapt down the steps two at a time.

“Hey, caretaker’s skint!” Marjorie yelled from across the dry grass. “Do you have any lies for us today?”

Penny flushed red and tightened her sweater around her neck.

“Shut up Marjorie,” Eva shouted, running up from behind Penny and grabbing her arm in solidarity.

Marjorie used to be their friend. Penny would regale her and Eva with her father’s tales until the day Mr. Brubacher learned of her stories and threatened to expose them all to the Protectorate. After that, Marjorie never spoke to Penelope unless it was to taunt her, and now kept a hawkish eye on all she did and said, threatening to tell Mr. Brubacher if she ever told stories again. Marjorie headed towards them; her group of friends close behind.

“No one’s talking to you Eva.” Marjorie snarled and stared down at Penny. Penny instinctively placed a hand over her hidden book.

“Go away,” Penny whispered. Marjorie frightened her. She never knew what misery the angry girl would try to inflict on her. A wicked grin curled Marjorie’s lips.

“What did you say, Liar?” She stepped closer to Penelope, her hands on her hips. Penny heard Mrs. Kendrick’s voice in her head again. Plain. Ordinary. Quiet. Mr. Brubacher’s voice joined hers. You’re a pathetic example.

Penny’s heart tightened in pain at the thought of her own insignificance. Fingers of shame scrambled up her neck and wrapped around her throat. She didn’t know what to say, and gaped wordless and alone.

A gentle breeze brushed her cheeks and danced with her hair. It brushed away the shame. She shivered and tightened her thin sweater closer around her, breathing in deeply.

005_Mr. Brubacher teaching

“I said go away Marjorie.” Her heart flipped as fear grew inside her chest, but she stood tall in front of Marjorie’s angry face. Marjorie’s eyes widened in surprise, but soon narrowed into a glare. She raised her hands and shoved Penny backwards. Penny’s worn shoes slipped on the pebbles beneath her feet and she fell to the ground.

The book flew out of her pocket and landed with a thud in front of her. The girls around them laughed as she tumbled to the ground, but grew silent the moment they realized what had fallen from her pocket. Her book lay on the ground. She reached to pick it up, but Marjorie kicked it away. A long shadow covered the book as Mr. Brubacher ambled over. His smile swept round the group and landed on Penny.

“What’s this, Miss Collins, I hear about telling lies?” He smirked. The pages of the book rustled at his feet. Penny pushed herself up and reached for it, but Mr. Brubacher grabbed it and flipped through the pages.

“Miss Collins, what’s this?” The anger flashing in his eyes told her that he knew exactly what it was. She looked down at her shoes.

Plain. Ordinary. Quiet. Tired of Marjorie’s accusations, and not caring anymore to fit in at her miserable school, Penny confessed.

“I only wanted to tell a story.” Her classmates looked confused, but Mr. Brubacher looked confused and angry. Penny scuffed her toes along the ground. She opened her mouth to protest this injustice, and the words came in a frenzy. “A story about a girl whose father died, and her step-mother made her work like a slave in her own home. There was a ball, and the girl wanted to go to it, but her step mother locked her away…”

“And do you know this woman personally?” Mr. Brubacher interrupted.

Penny looked behind Mr. Brubacher. A lone sparrow drifted in the breeze over the school. It’s wings outstretched as it floated in freedom. She squinted up at it. Oh to be a sparrow! To shed the confines of this place that would never understand her. To be free as herself. She felt Mr. Brubacher’s presence draw closer to her own.

“N-n-no, Sir. It’s a story.” His face leaned in closer, eclipsing the sparrow and her reveries of freedom. Whether on purpose or on accident she did not know, but he stepped right on the toe of her oversized shoe, trapping her.

“All stories are lies, Miss Collins.” He quipped. She struggled to get away from his hot breath and tobacco stained teeth, but her shoe wouldn’t budge under his weight. “There is no room for liars under the Protectorate. Your father will be interrogated at once,” he said as a thin smile stretched across his face. He ground his heel into the toe of her shoe.

The girls around her started to giggle. Only Eva stood with her mouth agape. Rage and embarrassment roared in Penny’s ears drowning out the giggling. Her fists clenched by her side, and before her brain had time to stop it, her right arm shot out and punched Mr. Brubacher in the jaw.

008_Punching Mr. Brubacher

He howled in surprise, dropping the book as he brought his hands to his mouth. He stumbled back, releasing Penny’s foot. The laughter stopped. She used his moment of distraction to lunge for her book and ran towards the gates.

“You are expelled, Miss Collins!” Mr. Brubacher thundered from behind her, but she already knew she would never go back. She thought she heard the click of a camera button, but soon forgot about it as she made her way through the narrow streets of Edinburgh with one eye out for the grey uniforms of the Protectorate officials.

She ran all the way home and bounded up the flight of stairs to the fourth floor, her floor.

Wrenching open the door and tossing her bag on her father’s desk, she flung herself onto their couch. She had never hit anyone before. Usually she stored the embarrassment and anger in her stomach before it could bubble forth in words and violence. Today she did not.

Today, she let her anger take over, and she almost liked that better. She kicked off the offensive loafers, and flung them into the corner of the room. Swearing to never put them on again, she walked over to her father’s coat closet.

The leather bindings of the books filled the closet with a pleasant smell of earth. She closed her eyes and imagined she was far from this city of spies, fear, and suspicion. She imagined herself walking along a forest path taking baked treats to her grandmother while wearing a red cape. The face of Mr. Brubacher leered at her through the trees, a near perfect imitation of the wolf, and her daydream was over.

What would Mr. Brubacher say to her father? What would her father say to her? He kept the books hidden, and now she had revealed his secret. Would the Protectorate send them both to prison? She paced the room in fear.

009_Running Away

When she was much younger and very afraid of the Protectorate, her father told her not to worry; prison was an empty threat, and they only fined those who broke the rules. She sighed, hoping he told the truth, and threw herself into her book of fairy tales. Rereading the stories she loved most, the sick feeling in her stomach dissipated as she waited for her father to come home.

Undomesticating Myself

To domesticate refers to a process of time.

A time of turning wild things: animals, plants, people into

Something else.

Something who’s worth is defined by the domesticator.

Something that cannot –

Tend to self.

Care for self.

Think for self.

We’ve domesticated animals and plants, but we too,

Are domesticated.

 

From birth we’ve navigated hundreds of systems.

Family systems.

Religious systems.

Education systems.

Healthcare systems.

Government systems.

Capitalist systems.

Societal systems.

Cultural systems.

 

Each one forming our behavior.

A slow drip – eroding our marrow.

Our essence wrung out like a dish cloth.

Our inner being wiped clean.

Our sense of self pummeled.

Our soul negated.

 

But I am.

I am reclaiming my essence.

One step at a time.

I am changing my mind about myself.

 

I am waving my essence like a flag.

I am restoring my inner being.

I am nurturing my sense of self.

I am plumping my soul with joy.

 

My friend,

Let us do this together.

Let us rewrite the future.

By being here now.

Untethering our souls

From the systems that feed on our depletion.

I can do it.

So can you.

 

 

Stock Image: https://www.deviantart.com/art/enlighted-meadow-3-280277379

The Gospel According to Love

We have made God in our own image

An Idol.

We have placed Him on a pedestal

Wrapped Him in an American flag

And told Him to kill all the Amalekites

We made a deity in the image of Zeus

Of Hermes, of Apollo

Forgetting that

Before the Greeks we love so much

The Great I Am inhabited a flame

In a bush.

Whispered on a breeze

Formed a pillar of cloud and led Her children to freedom

The words we use to describe the Great I Am

Create the God we worship

The God we worship determines what we find worthy

It is time to topple our idol of patriarchy

He died when Zeus died.

We have to believe the Divine’s representative on earth

When He said – God is Love

Love is God.

Farmer Jesus used dirt to heal

Water to free, breath to transmute

The Divine breathed into a lump of clay and sparked humanity

She is begging us to change our minds

To tend Her garden.

To love His children.

For Love so loved the world

Love sent Love into the world

And we killed Him.

Love does not stay dead

For as soon as hatred consumes Love, hatred consumes itself

There is no life where there is not Love

God knew what She was doing

When He sparked life in the primordial lump of dirt

Creating us in their image

All of humanity bestowed with the power that created the worlds

Love.

What would happen if instead of killing Him when He tells us we carry the mitochondria of God,

We believed Him?

Stock Image Courtesy of Deviant Art – By Anodyne-stock https://www.deviantart.com/art/Sunset2-143369926

 

The Story Weaver: Penelope’s Perils

book-one-cover
The Story Weaver: Penelope’s Perils Cover Image

It’s here! The first book is done and it is out there. The complete book is available in paperback on Amazon, and it is beautiful!

Some of you may remember that last summer I released  an excerpt of The Story Weaver: Penelope’s Perils. For those of you who bought and read the excerpt and encouraged me, thank you so much. I apologize for not releasing the rest of the book. Last year was one of the hardest years for me, and creating my book took a back seat. I’m not writing this as an excuse. I’m sharing with you because I have a feeling that we all have dreams that get put on hold for… I want to say real life, but I won’t because dreams and ambitions are real life too… so I will say more urgent life.

My “more urgent” last year was being there for my husband. In college he suffered from a traumatic brain injury, and last year he started zoning out, seeing things that weren’t there, and missing out on blocks of time. He was eventually diagnosed with epilepsy. Problem solved, or so we thought, but the medications for epilepsy turned out to have worse side-effects than just having epilepsy. Thank God that after many months of experimenting he is back to himself. We are lucky that we only had to go through that for a few months as opposed to years, like some people I’ve met.

So there you have it, sometimes life makes us excuse ourselves from our dreams for awhile. Health and family and jobs and finances are all very important, and if this is you right now I feel for you. I’m rooting for you! Do what you need to do, but don’t forget your dreams.

To Read The Book Description Click Here

016_walking-sans-poppies
 Penelope Exploring Pan’s Meadow
queen-aschenputtel-3
Queen Aschenputtel contemplating what to do with Penelope.

Archive From Old Blog: February 2015

What to do when your young adult series has the same title as comic porn: Be Sad, or Get ANGRY!

Bah! I uploaded my book onto Amazon tonight just to fine-tune everything before the launch on March 1st. My trophy husband went online to see if it was up yet, and found a whole series of manga porn entitled THE EXACT SAME THING!

Now, I’m mad:

1. I’m mad because it’s a horrible name for a porn series, and a perfect name for a young adult fantasy series. But some TERD had to make a porn with a perfectly innocent name.

2. I’m mad because I did not do enough homework. Sure, I googled the name when I first thought of it, but all I came across was the Perils of Penelope Pitstop, and the Perils of Pauline. Both shows btw! So I thought I was safe, but I didn’t check on the second page of Google. Always look on the second page of Google when researching names for books!

Now, I either have to change the title so my fantasy series isn’t mixed up with the 70s version of 50 Shades of Gray in comic book form, or else I will just come up with a subtitle.

Any suggestions? Change title, or add a subtitle?

On a lighter note, here is the final (I may have to change the title) cover:

New-Book-Cover

Thank you for all the helpful comments everyone!

Songs to Write To

As I progress in learning how to write, and doing so more frequently I know that I write much better when writing to music. The music I listen to greatly impacts how I create and what I create. I listen to a Pandora station titled, “Misty Mountain Radio.” The main song is the song the dwarves sing in Bilbo Baggin’s house in the first Hobbit. Here’s a link in case you aren’t familiar: Misty Mountains

That station is chock full of inspiring songs to listen to while writing an epic fantasy, or what I’m thinking is going to be an epic fantasy. Here’s some other music that pops up on that station:

Theme from “The Game of Thrones” Inspiration for writing about fantastical worlds

Here’s a video of the TGOT Season 1 Soundtrack Wow!

The composer Ramin Djawadi is so incredibly talented.

Folk music often pops up n my “Misty Mountains” Pandora station.

Here are some of my favorites:

The Parting Glass sung by The Wailin’ Jennys Inspiration for writing about strong emotions

“Louisa” by Judith Zweiman and Ben Silver Inspiration for writing about wild women

“Dulaman” Celtic Woman Inspiration for writing about fairies

“Warrior” The Wyrd Sisters Inspiration for writing about strong women

“Follow Me” One Golden Hill by The Finches Inspiration for writing about creepy children beckoning you into the woods.

And Finally:

“Wolf” By First Aid Kit For everything else.

First Aid Kit Wolf

Happy Listening! I’m curious, any more recommendations for music to listen to while the creative juices are flowing?

Archive From Old Blog: January 2015

Countdown to Book Launch

YAY! Just writing the title to this post got me so excited! I’m in the final stretch, but I’m having a hard time picking which book cover to use.

Genre: Fantasy/Alternative History

Audience:10-14 year olds

Here’s the Back Cover Copy:

1926- Edinburgh, Scotland: 13 year-old Penelope Collins and her father are the only ones who remember the folk and fairy tales of the world. Resigned to live in isolation, Penelope’s life changes for adventure when an enchanted fox invites her to visit the Isle of Scealta where stories are created and where she must go to bring the tales she loves so well back to the Realm of Men.

Cover #1:

Red Cover

Cover #2:

B:W Cover

Cover #3:

Combo Cover

If you could help me decide which one that would be fantastic! I’m leaning towards one in particular, and I’m curious to see if anyone else is drawn to it. The following books in the series will have the same type of cover as the one that gets the most votes! Please comment below with your favorite. 🙂

Archive From Old Blog: September 2014

European Vacation Day One: Paris

Ok, so as of now I will have been up 29 hours straight. I’m not good at this, I’m a groggy traveler at best, and at worst I’m a grump when I’m tired, but I’m not a grump today because I am in Paris! Gorgeous, old, stunning Paris. The flight was one of those flights that lasted on, and on, and on. Nine hours and ten minutes. I thought, perfect! I’ll read for two hours, eat snacks and the in flight dinner for two hours and sleep for the remaining five. I didn’t sleep a second! the girls sleeping schedules were off, and of course sitting in a plane is the worst way to try to sleep. So my plan turned into five hours of sitting uncomfortably cramped and holding one or the other of the girls, or both!

We arrived in Paris before lunch this morning, and as soon as we stepped off the plane the air smelled French. I swear that even the baggage handlers at the airport were wearing perfume. Everyone smelled so good! And they were all speaking French! Which made everything so nice.

On our way to the hotel we saw the Sacre de Cure, Eiffel Tower, and Arc de Triumph, just as we were driving! This city is amazing. So many beautiful, famous landmarks all within a short taxi ride from each other. Along the Siene there was an open air market called a Manger Locale, and the whole thing smelled like eucalyptus. I want my house to smell like eucalyptus now.

We walked through sweet little neighborhoods to get to the Eiffel Tower, Leila squealed and danced around when she saw it. We’ve been hyping it up for her, and tonight when she was watching the light show on the tower she said,” I love the Eiffel Tower.” We didn’t get to the top but we will try to do that on Monday!

I’m about to pass out with wine and exhaustion, so I’ll wrap up here. I love Paris.

I don’t know what got into these girls this morning but they both woke up around 2 am and didn’t go back to sleep until 5am. Ugh, was I tired! Janet and I went down to the hotel’s restaurant and ate breakfast at their buffet. Omg…. Does anyone know what Europeans put in their scrambled eggs? Every time I have scrambled eggs in Europe they are so creamy and almost cheesy, and so, so, so good. I think it must be cottage cheese or something along those lines. It was so good. They also had fruits and cheeses and all sorts of nuts. I loaded up on cheese. Wow! I love the cheese over here. Just at breakfast I ate eight different types of cheese: goat’s cheese, hard cheese, stinky cheese, bleu cheese, a cheese with black spots on the outside, and one with white, and one with hard curds. Oh man, the cheese is good.

Right after breakfast we took a car to meet up with a tour group near the Eiffel Tower. The city hosted a run against breast cancer this morning so all the streets were closed in the area that we needed to get to, the driver was funny, because he was trying to get us as close as he could, but it was frustrating him. He was mostly nice, but gave me a dirty look when I started eating yogurt in his car. It was a very clean car, so I understand his admiration for it, and not wanting some goober to swipe yogurt across the seat. Everyone else on our tour was late too because Of the race , so it turned out ok. Paris is so stinking gorgeous. From the bus we saw a couple doing wedding photos in front of the Arc de Triumph, and I went crazy. I imagined that I was a very famous portrait photographer in Paris. That would be the dream job. That’s my long term goal now, author and photographer with a home in Paris that I can live in a couple months out of the year. Eeeeeee!

The tour guide was kind of dull. For the most part he pointed out restaurants in very famous French movies that I’be never heard of. I guess I need to watch more French movies, so I can place the restaurants, but I really wanted to learn more anecdotal/ historical details of the city. Oh well. Maybe I’ll pick some up while I’m watching French movies and looking for the very famous restaurants we saw today. 😉

After the bus tour, we took a tour of the Seine river, passing all the beautiful buildings along the way. Our ticket included a crepe and glass of wine! The best way to eat a crepe is with wine. Yum, yum! When we were standing in line for tickets to the boat tour we met two women from Australia who had just finished their European tour, their last stop was Paris and then Dubai, and they were in their late 80s! They said it was their last trip since they were getting so old, but I have a feeling they won’t stay down under too long. They were so happy talking about their trip. Annabelle, Amy, Jessica, Annie, Danae, Mom any takers for traveling with me when I’m in my 80s?

After the boat tour we walked to Monmarte. (Thanks for the tip Amy!) I took my turn standing on the vent and taking a picture in front of the Moulin Rouge. Whoa, it turned out super sexy, mostly because I was holding my shirt down to keep from flying off. We walked up to the Sacre Coure where they were having mass, and skulked around the sides of the kneeling congregants. We couldn’t take pictures, but I snuck in a few. Cathedrals are both amazingly gorgeous and amazingly creepy at the same time, especially when there’s a mass, and someone is playing the pipe organ in a minor key, and you’re looking at a full length stain glass window of a dying Jesus being lifted off the cross. There were thousands of lit candles, and that made it beautiful.

As we were leaving the Sacre Coer, a man grabbed Chris’s arm and began to weave a bracelet on it! saying that it was tradition to get a bracelet woven on your arm in front of the Sacre Coer. Sensing BS I stepped back and giggled at shocked and bewildered Chris. That’s when a second man grabbed my wrist and started weaving on it. I had to pry him off, and tell him no like fifteen times before he left. Three other guys came up with big smiles asking me if I was American. I had to pretend like I wasn’t, so told them I was British, but I guess they thought British and American were both suckers for BS traditions and tried to weave bracelets on my hand. Of course when the man was done he asked Chris for 20million Euro, so Chris gave him 1 euro. Anything sounds better than 20million. I can see these guys at conferences absorbing the latest training in how to pull a euro out of American suckers. “Now the next thing you need to do boys is quote them an outrageous price, so that they’ll laugh and pay you something in the middle. If you quote them 1 euro you’ll be lucky to get ,10 cents, but if you say something funny like 20 million they’ll laugh feeling like they made a local friend and you’ll get 5euros.” I can just see the hucksters at the Conning Tourists of the World Conference smiling and nodding and taking down notes. Last year it was roses, this year it was bracelets, and next year it could be key chains, we tourists love key chains. But the best part of this whole scenario was that the little huckster who made Chris a bracelet pulled out fingernail clippers at the end of the transaction and offered to clip his fingernails for an extra euro. Omg…. I almost died laughing. Needless to say I had a lot of fun at the Sacre Coer.

So the reason this post is called Little Denvers in Paris was because Chris, Janet and the girls all wore Broncos jerseys today, so we took lots of pictures in front of Parisian things of them in their jerseys. I will post some later. Several French people stopped Janet and told her they liked her shirt because 7 was their lucky number too. (She was wearing an Elway jersey) I wonder what they thought of the group of people wearing oversized orange shirts with big numbers on them! Steve and I didn’t get the memo and didn’t wear jerseys. 😉

Thanks for reading my post I’ll let you know about tomorrow!

Xoxo,
Adriana

Day 3:

We woke up at 9:00! I never sleep until 9:00, not even after staying up until midnight on New Year’s Eve. I was so tired from the girls. They both woke up throughout the night. Annika 8-10 times! I kid you not. She must not be adjusted to the time difference. We walked over to the Eiffel Tower, and stood in line to get to the top. The line wasn’t that long. The view from the top is as amazing as you would expect it to be. Leila was overjoyed.

After the Eiffel Tower we took a bicycle taxi to the Louvre! The taxi driver was a young man from Afghanistan. He said he and his family moved away four years ago. He’s saving up to move to the United States where most of his family lives. Chris said he should move to San Francisco. I said he should stay in Paris. I think I would choose Paris over San Francisco. After he dropped us off at the louvre I had to run to the ATM to grab cash to pay him. When I got back. Chris and Janet were giggling, I guess another bike taxi driver was wearing really tight shorts and when he bent over to work on his bike they saw all his junk. Hehehe…. Don’t know why that stood out to me but it did.

We spent the rest of the afternoon looking for Steve in the poor man’s designer district. There’s a small area where up and coming designers have boutiques cheaper than the big designers. There were some super cute clothes there, but they were still more than I would ever pay for clothes! I can’t buy anything new now knowing how amazing thrift store finds are. I did go into a few French thrift stores and got some cuties there, just leggings and a shirt. The poor man’s designer district was also the Hasidic Jew’s district, and there were lots of cute little boys with curly forelocks riding bikes or running after their fathers, who wore the hats and the long coats.

And after all that searching we didn’t find Steve, only a box of eclairs. At dinner I ate escargot. It was very good. I think I will order it again if ever offered the opportunity. On our way back to our hotel we cut through the Grounds of the Louvre. Under one giant archway beautiful music filled the area and echoed off the walls . It felt mystical and mysterious. It was accompanied by harmonious whistling, and I thought, ” how strange, it’s nice of the Louvre to play this music, but i was expecting something more classical.” It wasn’t until we walked through the arch that I turned around and realized that the amazing music was coming from a man throat singing next to a column. All of that beautiful noise came from him! Part of me wanted to film it, but I decided no, some things belong sacred and are better left in a giant archway at the Louvre. Maybe he will be there next time I go through.

Day 4

I woke up earlier and walked back to the park surrounding the Louvre. I took pictures of the morning light. Why is the light so beautiful in Paris? Does anybody know? Is it in the ideal longitude and latitude for morning and evening sunlight? Or is it because everything is so, so beautiful there and the light wraps it up in a perfect little bundle and says, ” here you go, here is a beautiful thing to look at, and I wrapped myself around it just for you to adore.” Maybe. I only took a few pictures, but I walked around a lot before heading back to the hotel to get the family ready for Switzerland.

Switzerland:

We took an airplane to Zurich. It only took an hour and five minutes. And when we got off the plane the air in Zurich smelled amazing too! I swear these European airports spray something in their walkways to heighten the sense of a new place. Well done European airports. It helps cover the scent of my traveler’s B.O. As we waited for our luggage, Leila entertained our fellow passengers with German greetings. She’s very good at saying, “auf wedersain.” (She’s probably better at saying it than I am at spelling it.) There was a film crew there with twelve pelican cases full of camera gear. Chris sidled over and “talked shop.” He learned that they are filming a documentary about protons, or something and were going to Einstein’s house. They had accents from all over. The best one was an Australian guy who looked like Richard Attenborough. (The old man in Jurassic Park.)

After we grabbed our bags, we headed out and guess who we saw?!?!?! Jael! She said she wasn’t going to be able to meet us at the airport because she had class that day, but she’s a booger, and totally surprised us with a welcome sign and everything! It was a wonderful surprise, and we all picked up like it had only been a couple of days since we saw each other instead of two years. Leila and Annika were shy at first, but warmed up to her quickly. She rode up with us to Engleberg.

Now, the Alps…. Oh Switzerland, I am so sorry I thought you were kitchy and over rated! How could I have thought that, without even giving you a chance? It’s because I thought, ” mountains? We have mountains. What’s the big deal about the alps?” Oh boy, was I ever embarrassingly wrong. There are no mountains that compare to the Alps. I grew up under the shadow of Mt. Massive, and still there is nothing I could say about Mt. Massive if it stood next to a Swiss Alp. The mountains in Colorado are solid, trustworthy, and majestic, but the Alps make me feel differently. They are wild, spontaneous, asymmetrical. Those are the Swiss Alps. And the homes! I thought they were going to be all the same. Just a bunch of chalets, but how arrogant does that sound? There’s nothing tacky about a chalet lived in by three generations of a farming family who put love and care and money into creating a home that represents their little family. Each home is so very different from it’s neighbor, and a little creation of the people who live there. I could tell a lot about the families inhabiting each home we passed. And when we drove into Engleberg the combination of sweet homes, and wild mountains just stirred happy wonder in my soul, and I fell in love with Switzerland.

European Vacation Day 5: Glacier Caves and Rotating Gondolas

Engleberg-

Mornings in the alps are just as you would imagine. The sun crests over the mountains making deep shadows across the valley, church bells in the village ring every hour on the hour, performing an extra long musical number at 7:30, and cow bells start ringing as the cows are let out to pasture to graze. We couldn’t believe how gorgeous everything was around us. It was heaven on earth.

We walked down into the village. Engleberg is a ski resort town, but has summer activities too. We went in several really cute shops. They had some of the cutest clothes and household things, but everything is expensive. The sweaters I really liked started out at £200 and went up from there. So I got a hand towel instead.

We ate lunch at a pizza place and I got pumpkin soup! It’s crazy to think that when we get home it will be October and Chris can make us pumpkin soup out of his Jack-o-lantern innards. That’s something to look forward to!

After lunch we moseyed on over to the gondola that takes us to the top of Mt. Titlus. It was so exciting! We took three gondolas to get to the top and it took a total of 45 minutes. The last gondola had a revolving floor and could hold about 100 people. The revolving floor was pretty ingenius. That way, everyone had a chance to see every angle. It was freezing at the top. I remembered to bring mine and the girls coats, but I was wearing sandals and there was a lot of snow up there. We delicately walked across the snow and over to the highest suspension bridge in Europe. On the bridge we could walk out over a deep ravine, the walls of which were a glacier, I think. I always thought a glacier would be blue, perfect ice, but this glacier was brown and cracked and dry. I guess my idea of a glacier was kind of cartoony. On our way back to the gondola we walked through a glacial cave, and that ice was blue and smooth. It was an amazing experience. Oh, and from the gondola we saw a mother cow who had just given birth to a calf. It was brand new. We saw the after birth to prove it. Ewwwww…. 😉

On the way home we met up with a woman who drives a horse drawn carriage. We took a ride around Engleberg, and the girls were in their element. They even got to sit next to the driver and hold the reins. Oh what a day!

European Vacation Days 6 & 7: Angel Mountain & Bergwanderweg

Day 6: Luzern

According to the woman who drove our horse drawn carriage, Engelberg was founded in the 10th century when monks saw the glow of angels all across the mountain tops. They settled there and named it Engelberg (Angel Mountain).

Luzern is only 8 miles away from angel mountain, and it too is very beautiful. There is a lake there and buildings from the 16th century. When I asked Jael what else was of note in Luzern she said, “they have a very beautiful bridge there.” And yes they did have a very, beautiful bridge. The shops and galleries there were also quite unique. I got a lot of ideas for clothes I want to sew when I get home: a sweater with a zipper down the back, a long sweater jacket with ties made out of men’s neck ties, and a formal looking t-shirt with a necklace in the collar. If I was a fashion designer I would just walk around Luzern for a couple of hours to get ideas.

Day 7: Bergwanderweg

Oh, this day was one of my favorite days ever! It’s nice to spend a day with Chris. Just the two of us! We left the girls with their G-Moo and G-Poo and followed a trail behind our vacation rental house up the mountain behind us. I had scoured a hiking map the night before because I really wanted to go on a hike and I realized that the trail next to our house went up to an activity park on the side of the mountain. There’s a gondola that goes up to the park too, but I prefer to spend as much time outdoors as possible. Parts of the trail went through cow fields and farm yards. We saw a mama cat and two kittens playing on the hay in a barn. The chiming of cowbells filled the air. I love it! I want to find a cowbell and a cow and put them in my front yard so that I can hear cow bells all day. The trail we followed was marked with signs saying, “Bergwanderweg” literally meaning mountain trail on foot, and oh it was so beautiful. It reminded me of some of the gorgeous hiking trails around Palmer Lake, only not as rocky and with more meadows.

A cute little activity area greeted us at the top of the trail. A gondola led up to a restaurant, toboggan run, and a kids park with a climbing wall and a trampoline. Chris and I jumped right into line at the toboggan run. The first time I went down I braked between curves, but I didn’t go as fast as I thought I could so the second time I decided not to break at all. Not a good choice! By the second loop I started to lose control of the sled and it went higher on the track. I was going super fast! My arm got scraped as it was dragged along the slide and my legs were up in the air. I looked ridiculous, I jerked myself upward with all the strength I could muster in my puffy abs, and was able to right myself, but not soon enough to avoid getting rug burn and looking super unladylike. But it was so fun, and I giggled all the way down. So I’d say it was worth it.

We jumped on the trampoline for a little bit and then sat outside for lunch. Oh, I had some of the best salmon up there on that mountain. It was all the contradictions that make salmon good: flaky and juicy, crunchy and soft, solid but melt in your mouth smooth. I love salmon.

The hike down was easier than the steep hike up, and We met up with the girls and Janet and Steve in the village. I found a pair of £10 pants from United Colors of Beneton, so that made me happy, and Chris got a wallet. He was so cute and excited about it, but when he brought it back to the house and switched it over with his old wallet he realized that it was way too fat with all his cards and ID cards and important papers. When he put it in his back pocket it made his right butt cheek look way bigger than the left one. (I think it is a woman’s wallet, and better off just thrown in a purse) Oh well, we’ll make it work.

Tomorrow we leave for Munich on a train!

European Vacation Day 8: International Showdown on the München Express

Day 8: Zurich to Munich

You can tell it’s a travel day by how bad I smell. I’m serious, I don’t know if it’s subconscious stress hormones, (I don’t feel that stressed) or if it’s the fluctuating temperature of the plane, train or automobile that I’m in, but I feel like I ruin whatever clothes I’m wearing on a travel day. Man, I smell ripe. I washed the clothes I wore today in the hotel sink and I can still smell them from here. It’s a constant struggle to stay on top of my BO when I’m traveling. Gah!

Since it’s a travel day I don’t have a ton to write about, but I did see an interesting incidence on the train.

A few minutes after the train left the station in Zurich, an Indian man came through our car with a push cart full of snacks and drinks. He worked for the train, and most everyone purchased something from him since it was almost lunch time. Janet ordered a sandwich and he was telling her what was on it when a Chinese man a few rows ahead of us stood up and yelled,”You be quiet!” The man selling food said, ” excuse me?” And the Chinese man said it again even louder before sitting down again. Janet, Chris, and I sat there with our mouths open. It was so bizarre and so incredibly rude. I couldn’t believe he did that. The man with the cart finished his transaction with Janet, then walked over to the Chinese man and said, ” I don’t know where you’re from, but in Europa we do not act like that.” Then he turned around and finished selling his food. I smiled and said, “good for you!” I like to see people stand up for themselves, mainly because if that happened to me I would just turn really, really red and start shaking before either yelling back at the man in a shrieky, upset voice, or bursting into tears. But the man selling food handled it calmly and in a way that he could feel good about. The second weird half of this whole thing was that the Man who yelled blew boogers into his HANDS off and on for the next two hours until he got off the train. He in fact was the one who was being noisy with his incessant honking into his hands. BIZARRE. So, I was wondering was he rude because that’s just a personal issue, or is there a prejudice there between Chinese men and Indian men? Because Janet was talking to the man selling food too, and he didn’t yell at her. Can anyone shed some light on this?

The train pulled into Munich around 4:00, and I’d say about one in ten people had on lederhosen and dirndl dresses! It was so wonderful! I felt like I not only entered another country, but a different time! And I have got to say, even though I wasn’t actively looking, just casually observing that Germany has some of the best looking men in Europe. Chris of course was the finest man in the train station, but there were quite a few second bests. He even bought some lederhosen in the train station, so that catapulted him into the Grand Meister of Hotness when he put on that checkered shirt and little leather pants. Mmmmhmmmm…..

We kind of took it easy at the hotel, my frivolous eating has caught up to me and I had a horrible stomach ache from all the sugar and bread I’ve been eating. So I guess I have to slow down and just eat boring food for awhile. BOO! But tomorrow we are going to Garmisch, so that will help me not be sad about having to turn down all the yummy pretzels, and gingerbread, and pastries, and pies, and…. WAH!!!

We were going to go to Garmisch today, but decided instead to hang out in Munich where the parade for the Oktoberfest would be. Chris gets bored at parades after a few minutes, but not me! I love most parades, but this one was by far the BEST parade I’ve ever been to. The parade celebrates Bavarian culture, and is call the Bavarian Costume and Rifleman Parade. As you can imagine I went giddy over the costumes. It seemed to me, this may or may not be true, but it seemed like every village in Bavaria represented itself by wearing their own traditional versions of the Dirndle and Lederhousen. The Dirndles were all so beautiful, some were straight forward: skirt, apron, corset, and shirt. While others had shawls, and hats and arm bands, and flashy jewelry to set them apart. I took a lot of pictures. It seemed like people represented different occupations too, there were bakers, and farmers, and hunters, and jokers wearing motley. Everyone was dressed up, and not just the people in the parade,but the spectators too. I counted a clump of spectators across the street from me and out of the 100 people I counted, 37 were wearing traditional costumes.

Annika was a giddy mess. She loves, loves, loves horses and every so often 6-8 giant Clydesdales would lumber by pulling a traditional beer wagon. As they passed she would scream and point in glee, and after they passed she would cry because they were gone, and call after them until the next O-wah (horse) would pass by. I’m sure it was very emotionally exhausting for her.

One of the most interesting groups of people were the riflemen. They walked by dressed in hunting gear and pulling a wagon with a huge, dead stag on it. Two men also carried a pole with a big boar tied by it’s feet to it, and their float had stuffed boars on it as well. They also carried hunting falcons, and hunting dogs walked alongside them. I hope they at least eat the stag and the boar. :-\ Poor dead things…

I was having a great time until I saw some very old people go by in the parade, and it got me to thinking and calculating how old they could be and how long ago WWII was, and the possibility that they could be old, washed up Nazis. And it made me very sad because as good and as beautiful pride in ones heritage and country are, Germany took it to the sick extreme not that long ago, so it kind of put a sour taste in my mouth to see all that pride right in front of me. Munich was, after all, the epicenter of the Nazi party, and where everything got started. But then I got hungry for lunch and stopped thinking too deeply. I didn’t want to hate on those old people for no reason, maybe they weren’t Nazis back in the day.

We wandered over to the Hofbrauhaus for lunch. I got a cheese plate and a salad with 1/4th of a grilled chicken on it. The quarter of the chicken I got was the thigh and leg. Just as long as it wasn’t the head and scrawny shoulders! After lunch, Steve and Janet went back to the hotel to find a doctor for Steve. He had a sinus headache and thought it might be infected, so Chris and I took the girls to the English Garden and played in the children’s area for a bit. It was so cute seeing them play with little German kiddos. I guess it’s easy to communicate when one is making sand ice cream cones. They would take turns filling the cone with sand and passing it round to the others. It was adorable.

It started pouring down rain, so Chris and I darted under awnings to get back to the train station. We got soaked. It was a fun rain though. The sun would come out every few minutes and make everything sparkle. The rain looked like glitter falling from the sky.

We ate dinner back at the hotel, a vegetable pastry and lots of cheese! And afterward we went down to the swimming pool/ spa. There was a sign outside the spa stating, “please remove all clothing and jewelry.” Ummmmm….. No thank you. I went into the spa just to check it out and I felt like I was walking into a porno. A naked woman walked out of the sauna and held the door open for a naked man who had just left the shower, and he was walking a little stiffly, if you know what I mean. Giggitty. I then passed a steam room full of naked men. Ummmmm…. Yeah right. I am not taking off MY CLOTHES and sitting next to 6-7 old men with mild boners. That seems like a super awkward moment waiting to happen. Oh, and besides all the naked people in the spa, I saw a naked man sitting in the English Garden. I guess all parks in Germany have a clothing optional policy. I think that’s kind of cool. As gross as a I think it is to sit in a tiny, steam filled room with a dozen naked men, I think it’s really neat that anyone could take off his or her clothes outdoors and be that much closer to nature. That actually makes a lot of sense.

Tomorrow, Neuschwanstien!

You want to hear a tragic tale? Wikipedia search King Ludwig the II of Bavaria, lovingly referred to as the “Fairytale King.” He built beautiful castles in Bavaria, (including Neuschwanstein) was a Patron of the arts, and a creative recluse whose introverted tendencies were turned against him when his cabinet dethroned him by creating bogus accusations about His mental health, including having a “Dr.” of psychiatry diagnose him as mentally ill even though the doctor never examined him. The day after he was committed to a psychiatric ward, and before his people could do anything about their disposed king, he was found dead in a lake along with the psychiatrist who labelled him mentally ill. Their deaths remain a mystery.

On the way up to Neuscwhanstein we drove to Garmisch and through the beautiful hills and valleys of Bavaria. The clouds lay low in the hills, wisps of mist curled around trees and brought to mind the folk and fairy tales that were created there hundreds of years ago. I imagined an old, wizened grandmother telling tales to her grandchildren of fairies and giants and brave folk who dared interact with them. I tried to spot gnomes, or elves, or fairies in the trees, but we were going too fast. When I get back home I’m going to be so inspired to finish my second book.

Garmisch was a cute little town. We only spent an hour or so there, walking up and into it’s little old town district. There were a lot of second hand shops that I spied from the road, and I went into one, but second hand Dior and Yves Saint Lorent are still waaaaaaaay out of my price league, but I do love looking at their clothes. It’s funny, I’ve never “gotten” the idea of designer clothes before. Clothes to me are something that keeps me warm, cover up private parts, and have to be semi-cute to up my attractiveness quotient, but after this trip and looking at a ton of designer clothes I do get the appeal. The quality, material, the creative drapes and fold of the fabric, the attention to details. I can understand. I still could never drop that much money on clothes, but I can and I will try to make my own! ;-D

After Garmisch we drove to Neuschwanstein. About 5 kilometers away I could see it on the hillside. It looked very tiny, and not at all like the pictures, but the angle we came from didn’t show the backside. That’s the side that’s usually shown in photographs. Oh man! It was a zoo up there! There were so many people and it was so confusing on what we needed to do. By the time we got up there we missed our tour time, but we were able to go in with the next group. I love that castle. I like King Ludwig the II. We could totally hang. He would probably not have liked it since he was so reclusive, but I think that after a few hours he could warm up to me. I wouldn’t even ask him about his homo erotic tendencies. I would have only asked him about his favorite fairytales, which happen to be some of mine as well.

After Neuscwhanstein we drove back the scenic way to Munich, through little villages and fields, past farmers walking draft horses in the pasture, and little homes with flower boxes in every window. Bavaria is a beautiful area, and very different from northern Germany as several Bavarians have been sure to point out to me. I think they miss their Fairy Tale king and the sovereignty of Bavaria.

If anyone would have told me that Oktoberfest was a classier version of the Pueblo State fair I don’t know if I would have believed them.
Here are the similarities:
Carnival rides
People getting drunk in the afternoon and evening
Tons and tons of food booths
Tons and tons of people
Beer tents

Here’s what Oktoberfest has that the Pueblo State Fair doesn’t have:

80% of Oktoberfest goers are wearing some sort of traditional costume
Their rides and games have a definite Bavarian flair
Their Beer tents are giant, amazing, beautiful structures you could just sit in and enjoy the lighting
Gingerbread Hearts
People sitting next to the toilets that you have to tip
Oompah Bands

Here’s what the Pueblo State Fair has that Oktoberfest doesn’t have:

Really horny unattractive teenagers who make out in the food lines, in the carnival lines, in the middle of the walkway, everywhere….
Livestock
Indian Fry bread
Funnel Cake

Now, someone may read this list and think that I don’t like the Pueblo state fair. That’s not the case. I don’t go to the Pueblo State Fair anymore because of the horny, unattractive teenagers making out everywhere, but if they weren’t there I would love it as much as I liked going to Oktoberfest. It was so much fun! We all dressed up, and we sat next to a sweet Bavarian couple in the beer tent, and we did the whole Oktoberfest fest song, and the girls rode on rides, and we ate some delicious junk food, and Chris played carny games, and it was just fun and silly and a perfect festival. Oktoberfest is well worth the price of admission. (It’s free to enter, but once you’re inside everything is tripled as expensive as it would be outside the festival grounds.) But hey, it’s Oktoberfest!

European Vacation Day 12: Dachau

What is there to say about Dachau? If I think about it too long or too much then I feel like I’m going to throw up. Standing in the middle of the yard where thousands of inmates of Dachau stood, within a lifetime ago, every morning and every evening waiting for roll call I had to turn around. I couldn’t look anymore; I couldn’t stand there for more than a moment, or the wave of grief would overwhelm me. There was so much to be sad about.

Dachau Concentration Camp sits nestled up against the village of Dachau. It was one of the first concentration camps to be liberated, and when it was, American troops showed the 3,000 dead bodies that were left by the S.S. to the residents of Dachau. Members of Hitler’s party were used to bury the dead. They were loaded into wagons and carried to nearby graveyards to be buried in mass graves.

But I’m covering raw emotions with the facts. I have been for the past day. The facts of the war, the facts of the concentration camp, the facts of the mass killings. All I can think about are the impressions that Dachau left me with, because when I think about the faces in the photos on display, the sick, twisted methods of murder, the families desecrated and destroyed by the Nazi party then I think I could never return to Germany again. To me, there is something oppressive here still.

The poplars still stand in Dachau, lining the road through the barracks where the inmates slept. Amazingly tall, quiet watchers over a century of life and death in Dachau. They were full grown in the historical photos of the concentration camp. They are behemoths now, and their leaves fell constantly, like a thick rain. Maybe they still mourn the atrocities they were silent witness to. The trees offered the best memorials. Behind the cremation ovens a beautiful grove of trees grew thick and wild. A shaded walkway led me to the back where a plaque under a tree read: “execution site and blood ditch.” A scarlet vine grew from behind the ditch and up the tree. It’s leaves in clusters of teardrop shaped leaves. Nature had erected it’s own memorial.

European Vacation Day 13: Travels to Salzburg

Travel days tend to be the pits! The girls are extra, super, cranky and whiny on travel days, and they make it so difficult to make it from point A to point B peacefully. On top of that we have about six pairs of Lederhousen, twelve beer steins, fourteen Oktoberfest calendars, one flugelhorn, and four soccer jackets that we need to transport back to the states. So between the four of us we have about sixteen bags. (Ok, so I am being facetious about the souvenirs. We don’t have THAT much, but Chris really did get four jackets, and we really do have sixteen bags of various sizes and quality, so that makes it a bit stressful to make sure nothing’s left behind.) but it also makes it funny! I can tell that our packing skills appall even the more laid back Europeans. Oh, the sensible ones are easy to spot with their tsk, tsking and their comments to themselves, and their rolling of the eyes when we parade by, but even the cool teenagers with their cigarettes and their jeans rolled casually up to their ankles will do a double take and shake their head, making some comment as they ride by on their bicycle. So yeah, that was pretty much my morning. Fending off affronted stares, and calming woebegone girls who just needed to nap for a day and a half, but when we got to Salzburg it magically changed for the better.

We left our burdens in the hotel room and walked through the gourgessness that is Salzburg, Austria. The city soothed my traveler’s fatigue, and showed me it was all worth it. Even though when we first arrived in Salzburg it was raining and it seemed like everyone in the hotel was chiding us for some reason or another. The receptionist scolded us for letting Leila walk through the revolving doors. Stating how dangerous it was. Good grief. And the bell hop was appalled that Annika wasn’t wearing a hat as we left the hotel, I had to point out that she indeed had a hat, but she just kept pulling it off. He looked at me like I was an unfit mother and just walked away tsk, tsking. So after disappointing all of Europe with our packing skills and mothering style, I will say at least Europe didn’t disappoint me. Salzburg is amazing. Can’t wait to share more with you after a good night’s sleep!

Archive From Old, Boring Blog to New, Better Blog: February 2014

Bras Linked to Breast Cancer: Bugger, Now I Have to be ‘That Chick’

An article on KillerCulture.com entitled, Breast Cancer is Preventable, caught my eye. The author of the post, Sydney Ross Singer, compiled  dozens of research articles linking bras to breast cancer. He even states, “Essentially, a bra-free woman has about the same incidence of breast cancer as a man. The tighter and longer a bra is worn, the higher the incidence. 24/7 bra wearers have over 100 times the incidence as a bra-free woman.” 

Why? According to Dr. Michael Schachter, Over 85 percent of the lymph fluid flowing from the breast drains to the armpit lymph nodes. Most of the rest drains to the nodes along the breast bone. Bras and other external tight clothing can impede flow.” Read his article here. The blog post on KillerCulture.com had so many great links, too many for me to enumerate, but the research was definitely there.

So why is this information not revealed by the American Cancer Society? Why are doctors not enlightening every female patient they come across? Is the cancer industry so insidious that it would really conceal life-saving information from women? Perhaps it is. Or is it because no one really wants to see nipples just poking away out there? Maybe it’s a combination of both.

With results like that I really have no choice but to ditch the over the shoulder boulder holders. Yikes, scary thought. Do I want to be known as the braless wonder? You know, that chick? I really don’t. And as difficult as it is to even talk about boobies on a public forum, I’m kind of a prude, I think the discussion needs to be had. Women need to be aware, and while society approves of women wearing a contraption that constricts, shapes, and forms why shouldn’t men be subjected to the same fate? I would like to propose Round the Waisty Weenie Slingys, like the one shown below. I think this guy sympathizes with the plight of women, and in a bid for solidarity he has joined us in the bondage of soft tissue.

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Be Your Authentic Self Before the Alternative Kills You: Part 1

One of the joys of being trapped in the house during howling winds, freezing weather, and with two sick girls is unlimited access to youtube. I have all day to listen to lectures, interviews, and Ted Talks. Many loads of laundry, washed dishes, and lego towers later I feel like I completed my to do list, and also learned from some of the world’s best minds. My highlights this week have been Alan Moore on writing comics and practicing magic, Malcolm Gladwell’s discussion on why professional hockey players are overwhelmingly born in January and February (and other interesting tidbits) and Gabor Mate’s When the Body Says No- Caring for Ourselves When Caring for Others.

Gabor Mate opens his talk with this idea, that those who do suffer from illness and those who don’t is not accidental. Certain identifiable personality patterns suggest that those who suffer from chronic illness bring it upon themselves, but he hastens to add that it is not at all their fault. Early childhood stressors had created a pattern of traits from a young age. He identified those traits as:

1. Compulsive identification to duty

2. Suppression of healthy anger

3. Responsibility for how others feel/ Need to please everyone all the time

He goes on to describe a friend of his who was diagnosed with ALS (better known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease.) His friend noticed that she could no longer move her fingers, so instead of seeing a doctor right away, she began to start her days as  an elementary school teacher earlier and earlier, just so she could complete her tasks each day. She continued to work until she could no longer walk. Incidentally, Lou Gehrig had the same personality trait, holding the Yankee record for never missing a game. He played through illness and broken bones. He played as long as he was physically able, until he felt he was a hindrance to the team. Dr. Gabor Mate relates how everyone he studied with ALS had the same personality traits as his teacher friend and Lou Gehrig: compulsive identification to duty, suppression of healthy anger, responsibility for how others feel. These traits could have been formed at a very young age. Lou Gehrig’s father was an alcoholic and Lou was the only child out of four to survive to adulthood. Dr. Mate’s teacher friend was an adopted child who felt displaced when her adoptive parents had a biological child. Dr. Mate relates a story of himself as a 2 month old baby in Hungary the day after the Nazis marched triumphantly into the country. His mother called the pediatrician and asked if he would come and see baby Gabor because he had been crying all day. The pediatrician said of course he would come, but he told her that all the Jewish babies were crying that day. Why? Dr. Mate suggests that the babies sensed the stress hormones their parents were emitting, and the babies themselves began to feel stressed.

Dr. Gabor Mate concludes that the body and mind are inseparable.  The emotional centers in the brain are attached to the nervous system. There is constant neurological connection between emotions and the body. The function of emotion is similar to the function of the immune system: to let in what is healthy and to keep out what is unhealthy. For an infant, emotion forms attachments with adults who will protect and nurture the baby until it grown and able to protect itself. If the attachment between baby and protective adult is never formed or suppressed then the immune system is also suppressed letting in disease, or turning on itself later in life.

Dr. Mate closes stating that some problems we experience as adults come from behaviors stemming from our need to attach, need to be accepted, and approved of at the expense of suppressing our emotions, and by doing so we make ourselves sick. I have not read any of Dr. Mate’s books, but I am very interested in his writings and the first book I will read is the one he based this lecture on. 

He does not offer any advice on how to change the behavior patterns in our lives that lead to disease, but I feel that if one can identify those patterns and learn to break them, then that is a start in the right direction. Also, the more aware adults become of how vulnerable a child is in the first few years of life, the better we can purposefully raise them. Sooooooo….. I guess I will be making a lot more lego towers.