The Druid and the Flower – CH 5

cigar Russ

Chapter 5 – Time in the Kitchen

Remnants of the Scripts

To still not understand life’s meaning
The price paid might have been excessive

Maeve moved inside as Conor made his way downstairs and entered the kitchen, his vest tucked under his arm.

“Happy birthday, Passion Flower.” He gave her a knowing tap on her behind.

“Mornin’, sleepyhead.” She playfully hopped out of his reach and placed the kettle on the burner directly over the firebox. “You sleep well?”

“I did.” He put on his vest and gave it a brush. “But I figured you were lonely down here by yourself.”

She opened the small door at the front of the stove and gave the contents a few choice digs with the poker. The coals, hidden below a shroud of ash, flickered and tossed off sparks, indicating they had been asleep but not inert. She reached for a piece of split birch and placed it rind side down on the smoldering coals—the fire caught and the flames engulfed the junk of birch in moments. She added two more junks of wood, closed the door, and returned the poker to a middle burner away from the heat.

“Well…maybe not lonely but certainly hungry.” She gave the kettle a shake to check for ample water and placed it over the firebox. “Would you like some breakfast, Druid?”

“Maybe,” Conor answered quickly, anticipating what was coming next.

“Oh good, make some for me too.” A big grin spread across her face. “Today’s my birthday, you know.”

“All righty. But it’ll still cost ya.”

“I pay that cost, whether I get breakfast or not.” Maeve pushed the curtains all the way back from each side of the windows.

“That’s not the story you told last night.” Conor sat to put on his boots.

Maeve gave him a bump with her hip as she passed by. “Maybe I was tired.”

Conor recovered quickly from the misdirection, and put on his second boot. “Well, you sit and rest some more. I’ll get the eggs.” Conor headed out to the henhouse.

She prepared the tea. The teas were also locally cultivated in the cove’s greenhouses—more a hobby than a part of the economy; still, the depth of variety and flavor was known outside the community.
Conor was the primary chef in their partnership. He much enjoyed the ritual of preparation, presentation, and consumption; she much enjoyed his attention as he prepared the food. He introduced ritual to most of his endeavors, which gave Maeve good reason to refer to him as her old Druid, though he was only one year older than she.

He returned with eight eggs. “Fresh as a boy on his second date.” He placed the eggs on the counter. “Sorry I took so long. I figured since I was out there I might as well feed the little critters. Just so you know, you woke up so early, even the rooster complained to me about all the early stomping about.”

Maeve filled the two mugs and handed him his tea, returning to sit at the kitchen table to enjoy both the aroma of her tea and the ambience of the moment while he continued with the preparation of breakfast. “I seem to remember hearing lots of snoring when I departed.”

Conor offered up a grin and readied a saucepan in preparation for a couple of boiled eggs. “I had good reason to sleep soundly.” He placed the last of the cloudberry jam and two slices of bread in front of her. Entering the ritual, he ran his fingers through her hair and kissed the top of her head. Next he offered a small back rub as the eggs made their way to soft-boiled. Each had their own eggcup—hers a flower basket, his a hawk with not quite its entire head providing a place to hold the egg. He cut the top of each egg and set the plates down. He offered a kiss and sat to join her on the other side of the table.

They ate in silence, another aspect of the ceremony, allowing themselves to enjoy the meal and make their time together stretch with the silence—a quiet retreat from the activity of the day to come.

This morning, however, Maeve kept glancing at him as he ate, wanting to speak, but mindful of their resolve to honor these moments. She noted the grin on his face, aware he had not missed her impatience. She barely waited as he took the last scoop of egg. “Are you sure it has to be you? Should they identify you, they’ll kill you.”

Conor placed his empty egg spoon on his plate and pushed them back. “They won’t. That was long ago. We’ve been through this. No one else knows how to get there or negotiate with Gaters. I have the best chance.”

“Conor, you—”

“I wish there was another way, but there’s not.” He got up from the table and moved toward the stove. “I’m sorry. I’m being a little abrupt.” He returned and poured them each a second mug.

“It’s okay.” Maeve put her arms around him. “I love my home and I love you.”

“You love me making you breakfast.”

“That too. I don’t want anything to change.”

Conor did not sit down. “Our lives have forever been about change. What happened to you—your father being killed, your mother dying, you finding me somewhere in the middle of all my troubles.”

Maeve moved to the stove and tested the heat on the poker with a quick touch of her hand. She took the poker from the middle burner and placed it on an outside burner, giving her hand a little shake. “I know. But this is our own choice and not beyond our control.”

“There is always a choice,” Conor spoke slowly. “Sometimes the connection is not so obvious.”

Maeve bowed her head. “I know I’m responsible for my father’s death, I—”

“Not what I meant,” he interrupted. “You might well blame yourself for your father’s death. But you ignore he did what he thought he had to do. He decided, not you.” Conor reached out and touched her face. “He would never allow you to take the blame for what he was compelled to do. That would be a mockery of his free will.”

“My Druid speaks.”

“You know I’m right.”

She replied in a whisper, “I know I love you and you’re heading into extreme danger.”

“If I don’t get what we need, the future of North Face Cove is bleak, if not over.”

“I know, I know. But we still have fishing.”

Conor shook his head. “Fishing alone will not take care of us, trade would be nonexistent. A slower process to the same end.”

“You know too much, Druid. It would be better than dying.”

“The outcome might well result in many of us dying.” Conor paused before continuing, giving a moment for the old cuckoo clock to announce the hour. “Options were examined. You know, as well as I do, this is the only viable one.”

She put her hands on his chest. “Yes, I was merely exploring a selfish notion. You know I supported your decision at the meeting.” Her voice dropped to a whisper once again. “More so, I was the one who suggested it.”

He took her hands in his. “Thank you.”

She moved to the sink, took a small ribbon from the cabinet above, and tied back her hair. “Time to exercise the pack. I’ll bring the rest of the eggs down to the store on my way.”

Conor nodded his approval and moved the morning dishes to where he would wash them—a part of his morning chores.

The community store represented a bartering house and trade center rather than a traditional place to purchase anything. The greenhouses required the bulk of electrical energy, and ran on solar energy collected and stored in the cells. Other than the greenhouses, the store was the only place with sustained electricity—the difference being the store electricity resulted from the large wind energy collector on the hilltop overlooking the ocean. The cone shaped collector was almost impossible to be seen as it sculpted itself into the outer hillside, silent and nonintrusive to the view or the ecosystem.

Any goods needing freezing were kept at the store. The store contained one central cooler with limited yet sufficient capacity to serve the needs of everyone. Folks in the community would bring what excess they had; some would drop off items of food, clothing, tools, and other supplies. The same folks would then take what was needed, as needed.

“Don’t forget, I fed the hens. And I’ll take care of the other critters. You take care of your pack.” He placed his hands gently on her face and kissed her tenderly on the forehead. “Don’t forget, breakfast is going to cost you.”

“I feel a headache coming on.” She looked back to ensure he’d registered the tease, his smile prompting one from her as she headed outside.

She treasured their time together. They were friends, partners, and lovers. She often wondered if their lives together had been preordained. They understood each other so well; one of them would start a sentence and the other would finish. They might sit and talk for hours, or at other times they’d sit in silence and enjoy a supreme peace and comfort from being near each other.
She and Conor had grown up worlds apart. Their experiences had formed them into very different individuals, independent and capable; but one was a lioness—a protector of the pride— the other a lone gray wolf.

Their differences gave each the ability to compare and contrast their character and their humanity; still, accepting those differences gave strength to the partnership—a partnership centered on caring and understanding, on love and trust.

She had lost many close friends and family. Such loss was of course unbearable. The loss of Conor would be without measure.

The Druid and the Flower – Chapter 4

cigar Russ

Chapter 4 – Waking up

The Book of Ancestors

There was a time, not so long ago
A time when there was no Magic

Twenty-seven years had passed since the day the world had closed for business—the big Collapse. This day would be for celebration and sharing, a day when the entire community could recognize and give thanks to all they had accomplished. Maeve was thankful but carried the reminder of the great change that had come about on the day she was born. It seemed at odds with reality to use this day for celebration when it also marked such a horrific occasion. But rebirth came from death; to ignore one against the other told half a story. They would remember the destruction and they would allow and embrace the celebration of having survived and thrived.

Change was in the offing.

Such a long time ago.

Twenty-seven years old today—June 22, an important day, not only because it’s my birthday.

She went downstairs; the snoring from her husband told her she had not awakened him. She was mindful to not put on her boots until she stepped onto the veranda; she did not want her clunking about to disturb Conor.

There was much to be done this last day.

The usual responsibilities would consume her should she let them. Planning the day ahead came with this early morning routine. She allowed herself a moment’s pause for the light breeze to wash over her face. The sun’s rays danced in her hair and forced her eyes closed. She tilted her head up and let the morning wrap her in the splendor of a new day beginning. A warm sunshiny morning in this quick changing northern climate was not something to be ignored.

Her boots crunched the dirt path as she moved toward the dog compound. It was too early to feed them but she always liked to visit her animals first, to ensure all was well.
A quick survey assured her the dog compound was as she’d left it the previous evening. Each of her pack moved up for a personal inspection; the visit ended in a community hug of sorts; lots of tails wagging and licks.

On to the horses where she planted a few kisses on the nose and offered rubs behind the ears. The cows could care less once she joined them in a ‘moo.’ Next she turned her attention to the smaller animals: hens and ducks. No need to touch or explain her presence, they knew her welcome to the morning and continued with their business. Each of her visits was meant to ensure the order of the small farm was as it should be. As she moved about she planned her day; a few meetings had been scheduled in advance, while other activities would be aligned around those meetings. She wanted very much to have some part of the day with Conor.

This morning her planning session took a slight detour; her thoughts drifted to her mother.

Micca had died two years and a few months ago, after directing the community for decades. Maeve had spent much of her existence with Micca, and the two had been kindred spirits, in addition to being mother and daughter. They were mentors of each other; Maeve took in all the wisdom and know-how Micca possessed and Micca drew from Maeve’s special way of dealing with people and situations—a gift the greatest training in such a craft might fail to duplicate. The similar traits and skills she and her mother possessed came in a mix of nurture and nature neither would have cared to decipher.

In her final days, approaching a death perhaps too soon yet inevitable, Micca met with the committee and, with little discussion, Maeve was appointed the Senior Member of North Face Cove at the young age of twenty-four. She had been thankful to have Conor to rely on.

Our last day together. What if he gets killed?
It would mean the end of everything.
Enough!

A light gust stirred the grass and brushed her face; the air was filled with a warmth that had not been present since early last fall. The winter had been wonderful, with lots of snow and many sledding adventures with her team, but she now welcomed spring and the rebirth of all that so defined the season, even if something inside her stirred with no little concern for what the imminent summer might bring.

Today she wore her usual blue jeans, which accentuated her strong young physique, together with work boots and a pale blue shirt tucked into her jeans. Her work boots were comfortable, if a bit tattered and worn. They told much of the outdoor life she led.

She stopped beside the house and tossed her jacket on the steps leading up to the veranda, took a deep breath, gave her limbs a few stretches, and pushed her hair back over her shoulder.
The road she walked on had once been paved with asphalt but the years of wear, tear, and weather had beaten the hardtop down, or taken the dark covering away and buried what little remained beneath the shroud of nature’s reclamation. The need for asphalt no longer existed. Automobiles that needed such smooth surfaces represented a remnant of the past, as was the need for any constant movement of craft, for that matter.

Maeve turned left at an intersection on the main road and headed toward the shore. She walked down the hill to where the road curved to the right; here the cove leveled out to meet the sheltered waters. She was close enough now to hear the gentle sounds of the waves rolling methodically upon the beach.

Low tide; she preferred high. It felt cleaner and fresher, although high tide would not perhaps be so accentuated without the other, she reminded herself.

The salt water and sand mixed together with the scents of the low brush growing nearby to offer up a refreshing mix of soothing fragrances—spring offering its gift of pleasant change from the stiffness of the long winter frost. Seagulls circled off to her left, their wings spread wide, wing feathers tilting up and down in precise fashion to accommodate the slight changes in the breeze—wind riders she called them. A few dove down to the beach to peck at some small creature in their sights or some discarded item they took to be food.

Their haunting cries might be sounds of delight for what the receding tide had left behind. Maeve preferred to believe the notion they were more likely screaming at the other gulls to keep away from what they had spotted. She gazed to where they glided, cognizant they kept the secret of their communication to themselves. They wanted nothing to do with humans.

The road curved even closer to the water’s edge as she continued her walk. Here small crabs darted about, abandoning the small pools that were beginning to dry up as the low tide extended; they were perhaps attempting to find another place to immerse themselves. A variety of barnacles, starfish, and mussels stuck to one side of a clump of rocks. Pockets of kelp clung to the same rocks and swayed in the waves that rolled onto a mostly sandy beach.

Her cove lay well protected from the open ocean, having been blessed with a natural breakwater on both sides. She looked out to a clumping of white boulders stretching past the innermost breakwater, where together they created a channel of sorts. She recalled the two severe storms in the past winter where the water had crashed over those white boulders and did its best to bring damage to the cove. The community had been quick to pull all boats on shore, as the raging storms had pushed the pack ice into the cove. The damage to the shore had been minimal, mostly due to the breakwaters.

The storage cells had not been so lucky. The damage from the first storm was problematic; the fury of the second storm in both size and duration was another matter, and had caused damage to the storage cells well beyond any ability to repair them.

This will be a difficult summer without Conor.

Maeve refocused her thinking on more pleasant subjects—her flowers and her dancing. Though her days came filled with responsibility for a myriad of duties, she carved special times to enjoy two activities—her passion for each she could never fully understand—she loved planting a garden with as many kinds of flowers she could find, and she loved dancing for Conor with her veils.
Her reading about dance had introduced her to mythology, and to Ishtar, a goddess in Babylonian lore who performed the dance of the veils. She found other references to the dance, some biblical, some in song. Old books and magazines exploring the many forms of dance and how they represented different cultures had always been a fascination. Ishtar was her favorite, as the goddess depicted romance, adventure, struggle, and resolve: the things of life. And so she loved to dance the seven veils for Conor as an expression of her love for him.
Well, there would not be much dancing this summer. Maybe instead she could make certain a most beautiful garden of flowers would greet Conor on his return.

Her love of flowers had been a special part of her life with her mom. Micca had said folks who took care of flowers learn how to take care of people. Each flower had a special set of traits. It had its own color and shape. Each needed different amounts of sun and water. Some grew hearty and strong. Some lingered, fragile and weak. There were particular times to grow certain flowers, while others knew their time to die. Some lasted a long time; many were ephemeral. Some survived the seasons and grew strong again and again, while some did not.

“Good morning, Maeve.” John tipped his cap. “Lovely morning for a walk.”
She experienced a small jolt to her senses as she came back from her journey into memory. “Good morning, John! How are you this fine morning?”
“I’m well, thank you,” he said, as he moved on past Maeve and along the shore in the opposite direction.

Having returned to the present, she found herself in front of the many flakes, stages, wharves, and boats that dotted the shoreline of the cove.
They used the flakes to dry their fish, as the old fishermen had done for centuries. The flakes sat flat about ten feet above the beach, supported by posts every eight feet or so. The surface arranged itself as a series of poles with lots of space between each one to allow the air to circulate. When the time came to dry fish for longevity purposes, dried out boughs were spread along the flake. A series of “walking planks” came well-spaced apart and were used to travel along the flakes. The salted fish were spread on top of the boughs and cured by the sun and the salt.
Fishing did not make up the primary industry of North Face Cove, but it offered an essential supply of food and an important secondary source—especially now that the trouble with the power storage had been identified.

Back in the late part of the twentieth century, the local government had shut down the fisheries here in an effort to replenish the dwindling stocks: cod and salmon, especially. This cove, like many others, had a sole purpose in those times—to fish. When the fishing stopped, the way of life changed; most folks moved away. By the time the world had turned “upside down,” most coves had become a shadow of their former selves, with few if any families living there. Most houses stood empty. North Face Cove represented such a place until claimed by her mother so many years ago.

I miss you, Mom.

Maeve drifted again to her younger years—years that had emphasized learning. She was surrounded by families who worked hard to create a new way, but also loved to sing and dance when the occasion allowed. The community understood the value of its work, but always found a balance between relaxation, entertainment, sharing, and spiritual growth. Her mom had given all of her efforts to ensure this place would thrive.

I hope we have not failed you.

She turned around as she approached the community store, and headed back toward home again. She reached the top of the hill, noting that no smoke was rising from the kitchen chimney of her home. Perhaps the fire had gone out. The stone chimney attached itself to one end, and opened inside to the large kitchen. The fireplace there had not been lit, but the funnel from the large wood stove also entered the kitchen chimney. At the back was a second chimney that offered a fireplace to the back sitting room and allowed the heat to rise to the upstairs bedrooms—no need for that one to be lit in this weather.

She climbed the steps, picked up the jacket she’d tossed on the veranda, and opened the door to the kitchen.

For many mornings to come I will find the kitchen empty.

The Dawn of Magic

snow stormHey Folks. What follows is the opening scene of Book 2 – The Dawn of Magic. All comments will be appreciated. As winter begins to let go of its hold on us, I thought it appropriate to ask how my Book’s winter might compare to yours.

Chapter one – The Ride

The Medical Journals

Care of others
Does much to care for yourself

Ashima, or Shish, as she was affectionately referred to by her family and friends, could make the journey to Southern Point with hours to spare before the sun went down. The urgent request had come early this morning; an expectant mother was doing her utmost to bring a new baby into the world; and the mother was experiencing complications. The woman was now in her second day of continuing labor pain. The situation had escalated well beyond the prospects of a normal birth.

Shish had talked with her mom as to what herbs and elixirs to bring that might help with the situation; more as a comfort to her mom than having to do with any needed consultation. In fact, her supplies were packed and at the ready even before the communication with her mother commenced.

She had not seen her mom or dad in weeks. Maeve and Conor were busy with the makings of the Doctrine of Understanding. Still, every day Maeve would check in; and this morning Shish had contacted her mom in advance of that usual call, so as not to worry her mom later on should she not be able to make contact.

Though barely eighteen, Shish had taken many journeys with her dog team, and was comfortable and capable in this snowy wilderness environment. Gray Rocks Island was home to snow from early fall to late spring, if not early summer. There were some main roads that allowed the transports to move about. For the most part any travel in winter was best accomplished by dog teams and snow sleds. She preferred her dogs. The dogs enjoyed it even more than she, if their exuberance at the start of a run could give any indication.

The snow sled should be faster. She now wondered about that as she traveled along at the back of her dog sled. Had she made a mistake in taking the more primitive method of travel? The answer appeared obvious; yet it called to her that she and her team were least intrusive to the environment; what she gave up in time she would gain back from being in closer communion with the natural surroundings. More importantly, the work ahead of her might require a calm that was best served by this mode of travel. Her more logical reasoning also told her that a snow sled in this rugged terrain would have difficulty maneuvering the hills, marshes, dips, and massive boulders, often hidden by the snows. Speed here would kill you as fast as a molten fire at the edge of a volcano would burn you. No, her dog team was the right choice.

Those visions again. Darkness. Time gone still. She pushed the invading connections from her consciousness.

She needed to concentrate on the path ahead; up hills, around bends, roads forking left and right, all requiring her vigilance and a string of commands to her lead dog. The very essence of her soul resounded with the exhilaration of the ride, the need to reach her destination, the connection to her team, the movements of the sled, the palpable richness of being part of the journey and the environment.

Perhaps she was concentrating more on making quick progress than the joy of the outing, the circumstances being as they were. The quietness and the majesty of the pristine landscape were not going totally unnoticed, however. The deep forest of fir trees, covered in snow, stood out against the stands of naked birch. The craggy hills, chiseled and fractured by eons of nature’s tending, hid covered in a silky white smoothness—nature’s tablecloth to a formal feast of deep winter. The mountains off to her left reminded her of giant guards protecting anyone from entering; even the sun was forced to climb high before being allowed to view their west side. A gentle wind stayed at her back as they traveled.

Walker Bob – He’s on the move.

cigar Russ

……a little snippet from Chapter 2,  “Dawn of Magic” with Walker Bob, who first appeared in “The Druid and the Flower.”

The council had been in session since early morning. This was no longer a council room; it was a war room. War had been on the agenda for months. Walker Bob had amassed a great deal of weapons and power, and was now ready to use both.

“Boss, we know what we need to do; we just want you to understand what’s happening in the west. We’re worried we’ll have our back exposed as we move east and south.”

“Let me do the worrying. This meeting is over.The next time we meet, we move.”

Walker Bob took a cigar out of his pocket, and bit off the wrapper covering the head. He spit out the loose pieces; the larger piece of leaf bounced on the floor and slid against the far wall. The match flared as it slid against the side of his pants; his fingers rolled the cigar against the lit match, puffs of smoke bellowed from his mouth. He gave the cigar a twirl, took another puff and tilted his head to expel the smoke; a mushroom plume rose into the air and spread across the ceiling over their heads.

“I’m heading back.”

His personal guards snapped to attention and waited as he exited the room. He grabbed his coat from the hook and tossed it to a guard. Time for some fresh air. He could feel the heat of the cigar against the cool air. These damn things will kill me; unless death gets me first.

Snow

Winter

Snow

by

Russell Loyola Sullivan

It’s been some time when last I admired mounds of snow,
Limbs bending; hollows all around the trees where snow refuses to go.
I wonder about those holes.
As a child on crusty snow we would steer clear of such obstacles,
Sailing over the icy surface left by a cold rain upon the blessed blankets of snow.
Still, a bad turn, a slip of the runner on the slick surface now and again, gave us up;
And we would have to be pulled out from the jolt.

Long icicles droop down from the eves, evil things that point to heat loss.
They look like tons of weigh that might drag the whole house down.
I wonder why they changed.
Even with a mittened hand we would pull one from anywhere we could reach,
And savor the coolness and the refreshing wetness against our thirsty acceleration.
They were pure and as welcome as candy, one to be had whenever we wanted.
Water and ice came freely then.

Perhaps I compare too much; then again I might remember too little.
I feel the stillness and the great cover it gives to all that rests beneath it.
But there is an urgency pulsing inside of me that I must get back to life and living.
I should but understand there is nothing to get back to. I am the interruption.
When I am gone, and all who follow my way have gone,
The snow will still give up its beauty and its special gifts.
Perhaps then the snow will find who best to share its nature with.

One Last Time

sunrise

One Last Time

One last time to the Ocean side
One last time to see
One last time let the wind and tide
Bring memories to me

We walked the shores
I was yours
And you were meant for me
But the work of life
Is a two edged knife
That cuts with sad decree
One edge seeks to carve a path
To where the love might be
Gives the other edge a desperate need
To slice each lover free

Big sailing ships
Must sail
And sailors must roam free
When lovers part
Tides pull their thoughts
To much that cannot be
Seasons turn to memory
And lonely is the soul
Who waits each day by a dreary sea
A loving heart grows cold

Ocean storms
That howl the nights
Lay restless on her mind
Too many times
Down to the shore
Some piece of him to find
One cold grey dawn
Only wanting to be free
She let the waves that crashed the shore
Tell her love for me.

One last time to the Ocean side
One last time to see
One last time let the wind and tide
Bring memories to me

The Prison (Emotional warning)

pigPerhaps they don’t know I’m here. She looked down at her feet; the matted pieces of straw mixed in with the dirt on the floor. Bars on all sides, inches from her body. It was a cage of some sort, she could not remember being put here, or why she had been captured. All of her sisters were gone, and her mother; God knows what had happened to them.

She managed a glimpse of being placed here. She wasn’t placed, she was thrown in, slammed against the bars and then had passed out from the ordeal.

There was little light; maybe it was night.

The time rolled excruciatingly by. In a few weeks she lost track of time all together. The food she received was intermittent at best, and was always the same. No place to move, her food soon mixed with the feces and vomit, her young body reacting to the vile circumstances. She was never taken from her prison; a jolt of water spray would wash away the evidence of the inhumanity each time it piled up.

As the weeks and months registered the steady cruel monotonous repetition of filth and deprivation, her mind mercifully blacked out any trace of who she was. She would chew on the bars until blood rolled down her chin. Even the aches and pains of not being able to stretch or move turned into a dull acclamation and acceptance that life was far from being precious; that life was a mad dance with sublime loss of reason and spirit, a grueling multiple of uneventful continuing torture of a poor soul lost to existence; forgotten, alone, yet made to endure against all of hope.

By the time she was taken from her cage, it matters not. She no longer recognized the sun or the ground. Movement was a strange and difficult ordeal. The sores on her side where long since ignored, in their festering. She noted briefly in the next few days that the slop she was served daily was no longer given to her – not really missed, just a last notion of a life never lived.

She arrived at the pig slaughter house and gave one last cry as she left behind her misery.

Babe in the Woods

babe in the woodsFear is the great disabler.

The sixties, seventies were my “young man” years. I use that term loosely as “man” conjures up some affinity with maturity, wisdom and responsibility; none of the traits I was capable of exhibiting at the time. None the less I was out on my own at an early age, married way too soon, and very much ready to take on the world – well, the world I thought I knew.

I started with a “Big Eight” accounting firm in 1973 with a salary of $650 and not a care in the world. The big bad world consisted of work from nine in the morning until (most probably) nine at night, in winter months add the courses at McGill for the advanced diploma in accounting, and the prep to write the CA exams. Thursday meant drinks out, not too late; Friday, drinking began at noon, back to work until four, and then full tilt to a weekend of partying.

Lots went on the world: Vietnam, racism, civil unrest, drugs. But none of it came overstated. There were just the six and eleven o’clock news, which none my age watched, and not much else busted into our day to make us think we were not in a perfect world. Of course we had Charlie Manson, but he was an anomaly.

Then came the internet, twenty four hour news, twenty four hour weather (still can’t figure that one out), twenty four hour O.J, twenty four hour reporting on every calamity under the sun. And God forbid it should be a shooting, especially children; as the news will rain down on the world, the likes never seen before since Noah and his Ark.

When the media and blogs now run out of crisis to pander, well beyond the last remnants of road kill, they turn to telling us how much trouble we are in with our lives; how to spend our money, exercise, eat, live, have fun, cry, get depressed, order to take our pills in, when to sleep, get up, take vacation, how to dress, raise our children, the list of disorders we must have because of age. All of these things are merely filler until the next disaster can be flushed out and slammed into our consciousness with all the might, misdirection and fabrication as a Freddie Krueger movie on steroids.

Oh, the babe in the woods? That’s what we have become to let them do this to us.

ESCAPE

Book A Novel IdeaI want nothing more than to escape.

I don’t mean I’m going for good. I just want to escape for a short time. It’s a little like Friday night, or maybe Saturday morning. There has been five days of work and routine, playing by the rules; and now it’s okay to let things slide. A few hours out with friends on a Friday Night allows escape; a slow Saturday morning with family does that; a good movie does that; a fixed set of favorite tunes does that.

It’s also why I write. Okay, I know the little pieces that I post to my web site won’t take you far from reality. I do hope it suspends your serious matters in life for a few minutes. In those few minutes I pray to present a different thought, a different view of some matter that you might  allow to brush across your mind—maybe ponder and smile. If you do that then I have stirred your imagination, your view of the world. I know that will not change the world, but hey, it says we now have a common experience, even if your view might be different than mine.

I hope an entire novel allows an even greater possibility to escape and explore settings and people who might make different decisions than we ourselves might make; and give us a moment to set aside our life’s struggles, maybe even envision other possibilities. I say ‘hope’ as I cannot speak for everyone. I only know that when I write I want my reader to let go for a few precious hours and find a different place to be; find characters who they might love or hate; find a place to sit and rest a bit from the tribulations of life; get immersed in possibilities for change and understanding, struggle and growth. Yes, these are the things of our very lives; although I believe reading about it gives us assurance that we are not, after all, alone; that we are all connected and share many of the same experiences; hopefully on a lesser scale that what is required from the characters we read about.

Two Faces

opposites_attractThere is a raw unsettling awareness which rips the very fabric of defense away and leaves a body open to the dread of utter annihilation. It is so much more than a foreboding of calamity and disaster; for it gives not its moniker – it just is. It sweeps in quickly as if a polar wind had been plucked from the cold Arctic tundra and somehow sent swirling angrily into a sunny afternoon where at once the calmness of a summer’s day becomes a mad frigid dance with death.

What’s more it cannot be explained away. Indeed, it cannot be explained at all. Hope is immediately abandoned. Purpose has no purpose. All that sits with relevance and importance now pales against the absurdity of living, the useless maniacal struggle to move one leg in front of the other, one thought to follow the next, one day to follow another, a mundane repeatable procession of forgettable events and situations, soon lost to antiquity. Only despair remains. It is preordained as the sun might shine, the stars might twinkle in the evening sky, the air itself might allow breath.

There is a euphoric bewilderment to all of creation. Love itself seems plucked from the bosom of humanity and now wrapped around your soul. You are joined to the oneness of it all, the grand design, the sparkling threads of humanity, the eternal bliss of being. The connection is willful and real, such absolute knowledge of being together could not be conjured by mere desire

It cannot be fabricated by a wish. Nor need it be; for it comes when it is least looked for; it sits there and pounces on those open for its arrival. There is no end to how magnanimous its sharing, and no matter how much is taken there is always more. All it asks in return is the jubilation, the perfect feeling of serendipity, the mad embrace of a returned lover, the gushing fullness of a life with purpose and design. It is preordained as the sun might shine, the stars might twinkle in the evening sky, the air itself might allow breath.