September Cicadas with Housing Woes

Dear Gentle Readers,

September 1st is today and in my mind the start of Autumn no matter what the weather is doing. We are still on the tail end of the Summer doldrums, the Dog Days; those days and nights where the humidity and heat swamp you and wrap around your body and face so that you could swear you are breathing water. I have no idea what the brood number is but the cicadas are still humming and vibrating for all they are worth. And yet I will remind you that there is still that suburban magic, similar to the book that is a perfect ode to Summer, Dandelion Wine, which can even give a sublime twist to the word Ticonderoga. Several nights past when we were experiencing 85+ humidity it was time to walk the dog around midnight: this was one of those nights. All the lights from street lamps along the way and the door lights of every apartment seemed to be pocketed and pushed into tight cones, frightened of the darkness around it while the moon was a glowing orb in a night dark sky that was being mocked by the shadows. The cicadas will normally stay active throughout a Southern type of day but as soon as the gloaming starts they quiet down and then go silent at sun down. Right as August was closing out on the callendar the cicadas were screaming from the trees and bushes during sun down, it was an uncanny cacophony that seemed to speak of desperation, the noise so loud I had to cover my ears. And even one night they did not stay silent at dusk but bracketed the porch lights like miniature aliens during an apocalypse.

Our Sorcha was moping after the end of Mulberry Season and trying to find that miraculous sidewalk food again. As is the cycle of life while the cicadas sing, or scream like land locked Sirens, they also die. When I was a child we collected the husks and painted them with old nail polish (simple times!) and I have managed to find two husk casings and felt as though I had won some sort of prize. In my neighborhood they die on the sidewalks and curbside grass like hailstones from a freak summer storm: And so we have entered Cicada Season. Sorcha usually snags five or more on her final nightly walk and so has gleefully started nosing anything that looks like a dying bug. They are edible to dogs and apparently crunch and squish appetizingly so we have given up keeping her from eating them. Our dog has been caught half crunching a sidewalk cicada then waiting for it to twitch in death throws before finishing it off but as we agreed they are a high protein snack without artificial ingredients we can overlook her taunting her food.

This week has been a blessed relief from the heat and humidity. This pleasant weather may not last long but for today and tonight the windows are open. And while the windows bring in cool air now is the time to start putting on the big girl panties: My dragon hoard of fabrique must be pruned back. So far the count is 7 tubs and 6 bags of fabrique. My childhood was not filled with rocks, but was centered around my mothers’ sewing room: her “secret” room, her throne of royalty, her door to Narnia. Fabrique makes me happy, it is my safe place and with the volatile emotions that come with moving so much I have used curbside giveaways and Freecycle to surround myself with a safety blanket made of pounds of material. Gentle Readers, this is NOT easy to divest myself of suedes, vintage eyelet, and 1960’s prints. But in honesty I am not using even 1/16th of the amassed cloth. All my tubs are sealed, and the fabrique is mostly pieced-out together in ziplocks: No must and no mildew and no mothballs!! There are so many rocks and books and strange twigs, weird shells, and yards of material that just beg to be found!! I MUST check myself on a yearly basis to try and keep my collecting at bay.

A new young couple has moved up onto the second floor and just about everyone here in the building (all three of us) have been trying to hint “did you get an inspector?” Sure enough, this past Friday a knock came at our door around 6pm and the husband has come downstairs to tell us the electricity is off in the apartment. We are also worried about the two children in that apartment. The window damage was just painted over and the brown nicotine stains covering the kitchen were painted over as well. We just now got our plumbing fixed after we had a second episode of no functioning toilet or shower for three days. Luckily our nextdoor neighbor is a delightful and eccentric Lady who let us use her facilities while ours was leaking onto the floor. Her whole apartment is truly like walking into an art gallery with sofas and chairs. She is the best of many things and I am so pleased to have a kind and vibrant neighbor. Unfortunately we have not been able to help dearest J with her problem: Her assigned parking garage has the roof beam held up by wings and a prayer, collapsing just enough to crush the rolling garage door so it is stuck closed and collapsing just enough to make all of us scared to go inside. This has been going on for over a month now and the diatribe from the landlady seams to change every week but what we think is playing out is that between forgetting about J’s stuck car and avoiding responsibility for the garage, the landlady is just trying to dodge everyone until it is rent check time. Now we have lived in a turn of the century apartment that was in Wrigleyville and we had all kinds of weird stuff happen and no matter what I sometimes thought of the supper, he was always there the next day or calling us back immediately with when the problem would be fixed: I get old buildings. We have no superintendent and so the landlady spent three days claiming that 51 degrees was just fine for when our fridge broke. My husband has quietly started having to step up and become Mr Has The Answer; calling hotlines and all sorts of renter’s rights groups. Next on his list, so to speak, is Operation Clear Off The Dumpster, to somehow get the boxes and broken furniture around the dumpster taken away before the sanitation crew stops picking up. It is a sad truth that in a large city like this after the initial perusal of neighbors and junkers of the dumpsters and their piled around treasures, everything else becomes a reason to sneak across the alley and throw your junk on the opposite dumpster. And just like downed tree limbs the size of my leg, this dumpster stuff is the responsibility of the landlady.

Mabon has come and gone and for the last rays of that day the light was even with the coming darkness; the shadows now slowly creep and slide over the lawns and over passes of this city heralding the changing seasons. Windows are open to a steady Lake breeze and when walking the dog at night we can hear snippets of voices from lit apartments. The traditional Indian and muslim ladies in the neighborhood look like exotic birds made of colors and patterns as the Autumn wind ruffles around them. The last of the seasonal grilling still wafts over the neighborhood while the excited voices of playing children sprints over fences to join the coming night. The squirrels still have skinny tails and the yearling cats have yet to start nesting down; Winter will be mild this year at the left side tip of Lake Michigan but once November comes gliding in, the snow will start in earnest. The yew bushes have those bright red berries against glossy green foliage while the last of the summer flowers push through wrought iron fences in a furious sprint of pastel colors.

I know I am late… but here is more on Red Angels Rise. cont’…

 Mariesha slipped Barue a silver, adding to his belief that he was lucky, and got directions to Tartagrad Street.  The night’s storm had washed out the gutters and cleaned the puddles and the two walked briskly through the streets as the morning moved forward. Tartagrad Street was a wider thoroughfare running between several neighborhoods and even had some high walk over bridges. There were shops open and people bustling past and even cabs for hire.  At the corner was a pie vendor who admitted to selling late into the night at times. The heavy metal of his patchwork cart kept his pies and sandwiches hot through the day and warm into the night. Mariesha was obliged to buy one for she and Elsbeth even though she thought she would split in two after the full breakfast at Mrs. Cormerent’s. When the pie seller admitted that for the past week he had been going home just past sun down both the Inspector and her Recorder felt their hopes begin to slide. With dogged determination Mariesha took out the picture and began to go door-to-door and shop-to-shop down Tartagrad Street. While most shop clerks and bar owners were more than willing to look at the pictures none remembered them or were even open by that time of night. Even the shop owners who lived above the street were unaware of anything happening out of the ordinary what was now six nights ago

  Mariesha stood on the worn sidewalk and kicked a pebble into some barrels, “Els we are smeggin’ running out of options.”

  “I am afraid to concur, Inspector Greywaves, but I am beginning to feel that this is a jinxed mission.”

  “Let us go up to a high bridge and try looking down.  Perhaps a change of perspective would help.”

  “Very well.  It couldn’t hurt.”

  It only took half a block to find some stairs that led to an elevated train platform and an open promenade with three bridges to other balconies and promenades. Mariesha stood with the wind to her face and watched the birds swooping and bobbing across rooftops. Below her the alleys and roads made a gentle maze of pathways weaving in and out of the light. She gazed across wide Tartagrad Street and off into side streets beyond.  The city was awash in its patchwork of greys and browns. Just visible past the rooftops was a small wedge of green that started some of the mausoleums and gravesites of Cinerarium.

  Mariesha turned to Elsbeth who was pushing a stray lock of hair behind her ear.  “You know, Elsbeth, something just occurred to me.”


  “We need a necromancer not connected to the families.  What if someone is being paid off.  What if Ansel Casterwell is dead and the truth is being hidden for some reason.” cont’…

I need to start my Winter/December blog. Alot has happened yet nothing at the same time so we will see how it goes.

All Grace and Blessings,

Be Well

Moving Machinations, Surprise Pet Wood, and The Usual New

Hellooooo! Gentle Readers,

Life has been incredibly busy and strange as well as bogged down by migraines but we are now safely ensconced back in Chicago. July is almost here and I admit that I have spent too much time away from my blog. The weather in Chicago is decidedly chilly this year, being around the 60s for over a week now. Summer Solstice was pleasant and serene but of no extraordinary occurrence for me this year and while this does upset me I remind myself that we are still neck deep in moving boxes and migraines.

Our move out of Arkansas was an exercise in patience and diligent abode searching. Firstly was the search from three states away for an apartment; sure we started three months in advance but we couldn’t get anyone to take us seriously unless we needed an apartment immediately. (Remember that we had a full basement in southern Illinois and a two car garage in Arkansas so square footage was a must.) We thought at first that we had found a place in the Pilsen area and even drove the 9 hours up to Chicago to sign papers. Aaaaand… nope. Advertised at over 2,000 square foot it may have been 1,100: Our no longer young selfs drove all that way for a false description. The silver lining was that we got a hotel near the State Beach. While Arkansas was turning green the wet lands of outer Chicago were still brown and grey but oh how full of glory it was: The ground was bursting with potential growth, just waiting for the warmth to set it free while shore birds were searching the reeds and still waters with seagulls wheeling over the grey blue waves! Of course I also found some of the glorious beach stones. When we got to the beach I had no bucket with me so I swallowed the last of my Wendy’s coffee and promptly held the empty paper cup out, feeling rather triumphant with being resourceful. Through all the stress of trying to find any way of looking at apartments before our return to Arkansas that little cup gave me some peace from the Earth.

Back in Arkansas we continued our search for an apartment; one realtor swearing this adorably strange apartment had plenty of parking yet when we had friends drive by to investigate we were told there was none within a block radius. It was getting down to the wire when a nearly angelic Cenury 21 affiliate was finally willing to take our plight seriously and proved to be as honest as we could hope to find. We agreed on the new apartment after a walk through over the telephone. (While they had no apartments that worked out for us, I want to give a huge, positive shout-out to Urban Abodes of Chicago who went out of their way to try and help us plus staying in good communication.)

Our original movers had been contacted three weeks ahead of time: Wynter’s Moving out of Bentonville (yep, I do not like them) waited until two days before the move to try and hike up the cost of the move by over two thousand dollars and this was after the man had come by and gone room to room with me. And I assure you, Gentle Readers, the very last thing I do is hide the amount of stuff we have from movers. So, as far as I am inclined to think, we were being blackmailed. When my husband called the home office to cancel apparently the secretary was rather unfazed. We managed to find another moving service on short notice and this was a whole other circus of monkeys. The second moving company definitely has some of the hardest working men I could imagine; these fellows drove from one move to the next, states away from each other. They finally arrived in Bentonville and my husband and I were only too glad to recommend some nice local motels for them so they could get some well deserved sleep.

I will forever sing the praises of our friend Rachel who we flew down to Bentonville on credit card flyer miles and who drove back with us to Chicago because of my migraines. She was a life saver and a fountain of energy and positivity. When the movers finally arrived in Chicago the crew leader said “We can get this unloaded in three hours” and 8 hours later I heard a mover grunt out “If I never see a box labelled rocks again…”. I have lifted every box they moved and that is why we hired professionals.

Here is the wild goose family that was in the pond in Bentonville before we left. The Spring rains had filled the pond back up and it was so pleasing to see life again in the muddy waters.

During the drive back to Chicago were were beating out a storm front coming in from the West. When we crossed the Mississippi the rain clouds behind us met with the weather from Kentucky so Rachel was driving the two of us through a sullen rain and drizzle. Our two car caravan, loaded with what would not fit in the moving truck, came to a complete stop on the far side of Joliet, IL. With the windows rolled down and a velvety mist in the air, the wild flower trees on the side of the road filled the car with a heady and magic scent.

This is the indomitable Rachel who gave up her free time to help us out of a tight spot (1:00 in the morning after a 10 hour drive.) And here are a few photos of the apartment before the drove of boxes arrived. Understand, any cabinets and and pantries in Chicago are a blessing. Plus the apartment has great bones in a very multi-neighborhood. We can hear children playing and smell grills firing at dinner time; little old ladies sit on their porches in the evening breeze.

Because so many of my Beloveds are rock enthusiasts and that really is a piece fo my heart I want to share what became a great find right before we moved: When we first moved to Rogers, I went out to Lake Ann and picked up this 1)rock nearby. The rock was a little sandy or chalky on the edges but I liked the 2) center streak and thought of cabbing it. A year later I am packing it and realize I never properly washed it off. That was when I noticed a specific texture with worm holes 3&4) very similar to the petrified wood from Durham, NC. If you check the last pictures you can see the edges and a “rind” where the bark met the inside of the wood. Turns out my “nice but crappy rock” is a chunk of NW Arkansas pet wood!!!

The rain has still been off and on for weeks now while the temperatures have stayed around the 60’s: Slight moisture being wicked by the ever present breeze bringing the scent of damp soil and leafy trees. The new neighborhood has mulberry trees just a block away and our pup is excited not just to chase Chicago squirrels but also to hoover the sidewalk of fruit again. People in our old apartment complex in Arkansas fed every critter imaginable with a near smorgasbord of food and I was excited to get to Chicago because in our past-neighborhoods folks did not leave food out because of rats. (The Rat is a City Father for Chicago but to leave food out only means the lesser minions will burrow under the hood of your car or under the foundation of homes.) Well, not in West Rogers Park aka Little India: Little old people and children lay bread and popcorn around trees like some Grannies do garden gnomes! Oh my stars and garters!! I promise the wild life was not starving to begin with. Even the cranky but almost nice neighbor next to us leaves out tins of food for the stray cats, to “attract cats to go after the rats” she says. News Flash!: If you feed the cats they have no reason to hunt rats and EVERY wild animal around starts denning in your bushes. Which leads me to the newest mantra with Sorcha that has almost replaced “Don’t eat that!” which is “NO bushes!”. About two weeks ago during a late night ramble with the pupper she playfully charged a cat in some bushes right next to our apartment. Within three or four seconds we were wrinkling our noses and saying “What is that SMELL?” Yep, that was most definitely not a cat. Luckily Mother Skunk hit mostly bushes and not our dog’s face but the rotten garlic smell was pungently all over her fur and wafting all over the front yard. We have lived for three years in rural suburbs and avoided skunks with practiced ease, if a wee bit of panic, then move to the Big City and the dog gets hit: Bath time for puppy at 1:30 in the morning.

Below are pictures 1 and 2 of the awesome architecture and spirit of Chicago. Picture 3 is the wrought iron outside our window when the sun actually came out. The pictures 4 and 5 are of wild mushrooms that just appeared over night in one of the rain storms, welcome among the weeds and curbside grasses. And the last picture is this delightfully ominous tree two blocks out from the apartment.

I am having a very hard time right now because once again I am missing THE Rockhound Round Up in Asheville, NC. I have no camping gear uncovered from the pile of cardboard moving boxes and the migraines are still pegging on me. It is hard to get enthusiasm for a 9 hour drive that could take two days if I get a migraines and then face the possibility of a four day migraine while camping in a tent: Not any vacation one would want, I assure you. What I want is a whole week of being with rockhounds and perfectly crazy people and hugging almost everyone (No hugging Rick B. ’cause he is not a hugger) not a week of splitting headaches and nausea, even with pain killer. Gentle Reader, I truly fear being forgotten or unwanted by people that I adore and hold in some great esteem. If any of my MAGMA Club reads this know I honestly adore you and wish to high heavens I was back in the Blue Ridge and rock hunting with my fave people. There is something about The Smoky Mountains that sits in my soul. While I am thrilled to be in Chicago it is a singular truth that a part of my being has always been rooted in those NC mountains. I have met a few rare people that are metaphysically “princes” and or “queens” of the Smokies and they have the deep energy of these mountains: They are soul-connected to stone that is older than even bones themselves!

We have slowly gained some more floor space in the apartment and I am back to entering items to sell on eBay. Do I sell rocks and gems? Yes, yes I do. Am I the epitome of eclectic? You bet I am! I sell more jewelry and books than geodes, probably because I love books as much as rocks, and books are not as heavy to ship. I have some new ideas to try out for my store and if we can unpack more of my office I want to try out my creations soon. It is not often I feel bold about my creativity so this is a welcome experience.

So much of my inventory and machines are still in boxes and milk crates waiting to emerge like lumpy butterflies from bubble wrap cocoons. Some of the waiting is because the basement storage locker we were promised took a month to become available and now we need to polly wrap the whole thing because of the mildew and must. Another inevitable slow down to unpacking is our having to grace the hallowed halls of Ikea for shelving. (Cue the angelic voices praising Sweden and all her pegs.) I also think one of the more unique challenges for me is trying to decide where things will go in a new apartment. I kind of get stuck thinking “this shelf holds these items and only these items.” I have to concentrate on imaging new configurations for fabrique, books, the cabochons, and the “metric ton” of jewelry plus not to forget where to also put the years and years of geodes and road side digging. I must remind myself that with every dining room box unpacked I am getting closer and closer to having all my lapidary equipment in the same room like I had in Edwardsville. (This is somehow a standard to meet in my mind.) I REALLY need to make cabochons and slab some stone; a need that borders on emotional like artists need to paint and potters need their clay. After all if I am next to my beach again then I had best get to creating.

***Teachers, yea YOU, if you are in Chicagoland I have lots of rock samples and fossil pieces to hand out for the classroom. I remember when I was an a active educator at the museum in NC and truly doubt that teachers and their class rooms are any better funded. Perhaps it is ego but I would love to think that even just one child could be inspired about earth sciences.

So here comes the next installment of Inspector Greywaves. The last action was my first fight scenes to ever write and I must admit thinking it over and over like modeling claymation dolls. The next installment is what some call a deus ex machina but I like to think there are true times where investigators just get lucky plus I feel that champions for the “little people” would truly want to be with them and that good things could happen to good people. But no worries, the wyrd and the wise of Cinerarium will not descend into a bed of roses and violets any time soon (Unless, as my husband suggested, it is in a funeral arrangement.”) contd

 “Inspector it is well and truly raining now,” said Elsbeth stating the obvious as the storm broke over them while they stood at the first scrawling for “Spirits and Wine”.

     A pale small face poked out of a door stoop and goggled at the two women, “Gods above! The two of ya are alive.” She was thin in a ragged dress that was suggestively pulled down and across her bosom clearly showing her profession as street girl or strumpet.

     “Inspector Greywaves is quite competent in a scrape,” replied Elsbeth proudly.

     “Are you really an Inspector with a cloak and everything?” asked the girl while looking at Mariesha from the inside of the doorframe.

     “Aye, I am and a wet inspector ta’boot.”

     “And bloody,” quipped the girl, pointing to the stain across Mariesha’s knees and shirt.

     Mareisha snorted and smiled in the rain, ”Give me your name girly.”

     “It’s uh… Millie.”

     “So, Millie, where is a place my Recorder and I can stay for the night? Clean with a bath.”

     Sensing money, Millie smiled slyly, “For a copper or two I’ll show you Mrs. Cormerents. She’ll even serve you breakfast for some extra.

     “Lead the way then Millicent at this point even my drawers are soaked.”

     Mrs. Cormerents proved to be a tidy nest of ramshackle added on rooms advertised by a simple sign in the window “Rooms to Let”.  Millie was known to the staunch but benevolent Mrs. Cormerent and Mariesha even surprised the two by putting an extra silver down to get Millie a dry room and a hot meal in the morning. The Inspector and Recorder’s room was two Spartan beds and a thin rug while one wall was created by giant pipes that evidently carried steam and hot water off into the city; with the rain falling the room was comfortable and cozy.  The hallways all eventually led to a large sitting room, a dining table and a huge open kitchen.  

     Mariesha and Elsbeth both soaked in large tubs behind a sturdy standing screen, banked coals in the hearth giving the room extra warmth.

     “My dear Elsbeth this is close to paradise. Who would have thought civilization could be found in a tin tub.”

     “With lavender salts,” sighed Elsbeth contentedly.

     “Have to thank Captain Arstairs for the extra jink but tomorrow night we have homes to be at…  and I still can’t think of what happened to Ansel.”

     “Or why anyone would want to hurt him, Inspector Greywaves.”

     “Please, I know you still have the same eyeball in, but call me Mariesha in off hours.”

     “Gladly Inspector.”

     Mariesha sighed.

*****  ****  *****

Morning started with a knock on the door from the landlady that breakfast started in half an hour.  A part of Mariesha missed Skylar and wanted to be there to see the rats he would catch down in the warehouse but the chance to start searching at first light had been too much to pass up plus she knew the warehouse foreman would leave water down for the wolverine overnight. Besides the night had been rainy and cold. Her clothes were dry now as she eased her feet into her boots and braided her hair again while true to her nature Elsbeth had a small comb for her own hair and was looking rested and refreshed.

Breakfast at Mrs. Cormerent’s was obviously a popular and large affair for her boarders and those that had the coin to eat at her table. The large oven put out a satisfying heat to the large table and even into the sitting room.  There were day laborers coming in and dropping coppers into a box as well a few young shopkeepers and street girls. She never seemed to falter as the table was laden with sausages, eggs scrambled and fried, toast, honey, ham slices, baked fruit with biscuit, hot coffee, hard cider and hot tea. Taking her place at the table Mariesha noticed Millie was already seated and putting seconds on her plate.  Many of the people were familiar with each other and the mood was genial.

     After only three bites of food Mareisha smiled widely, “Els as my Recorder please note to have a delivery of hams and fruit brought by once a week for a month to this address.  Dear Mrs. Cormerent has been quite the balm to my soul and my stomach.”

     “An excellent idea, Inspector Greywaves,” responded Elsbeth after dabbing at her mouth with a cloth napkin.

     Sometimes it is something as simple as a glint of sunlight or a single gesture and this time it was nothing more than a jacket. The man in question was thin and almost gaunt although muscular and eating away with an apatite.  His beard was trim but spotty and his hair was pulled back in corded braids and dred type locks. He had the hands of a laborer and the air of someone who was content with the luck of their life. His hat and shirt were of course cloth in the greys and browns of clothing that while perhaps once having been handsome were serviceable and always had been.  He apparently went by the name Barue and Barue’s jacket was another matter.  It was a rich pungent blue, so blue as to be almost black and while there was light workman’s grime, sunlight still set off the double weaving and fine threads.

  Mariesha finished swallowing her bite of egg and ham chop bone and looked toward Barue, “Those are some shiny brass buttons, Barue.  Can you tell me where you got the jacket?”

  “I’m a lucky man is all,” he replied, cutting into toast and eggs.  While several people nodded in agreement Mareisha was feeling that humility was overrated that morning.

  “She’s one of those Inspectors,” offered Millie enthusiastically.

  Mariesha saw the whole large table shift to stare at she and Elsbeth while Millie smiled adoringly at the pair.

  “Yep,” started the Inspector casually, deciding to play her status down.  She held out her hand to the barrel chested laborer beside her who was now staring confusedly.  “Pleased to meet ya’. Left my red cloak at home.”

  He automatically shook her hand and mumbled, “I jest thought ya’ was tiefling.” 

  There was a small laugh quickly smothered in a napkin from Elsbeth.

“I am.”

“Do ya’ want ma’ bones?  I worked with a fellow fer years. Cussin’ bastard would eat bricks on a bet”

“Thanks. Don’t mind if I do,” answered Mariesha accepting a small pile of ham bones while the table went back to eating.  “But I really do need to know where ya’ got that jacket, Barue,” finished Marisha as she turned her attention back to the thin man in the rich blue jacket.”

  “That’s what I mean by lucky.  I didn’t even know the man. You see my wife is pregnant for the first time and my sister in law has come to care for her,” started Barue to several sympathetic murmurs while Mareisha tried not to hop across the table and make him talk faster.  “So I finally got out with the fellows ‘bout five nights back.  I was heading home after darts and ales, staying more in the light because I was alone when five fellows approached me.”

  “Yes…” said Mareisha with an expectant stare, barely hoping as to what she was hearing.

  Barue swallowed some coffee and continued, “I thought they would try to make sport of me as they were all fancy but they were drunker than the bottom of a barrel.  I tried to go around them but one of them walks straight to me.  He was all blond and soft looking, you see, and says he wants to trade clothes.  He swears to me he is tired of his.”

  “So he traded,” helped out Millie who had heard the story before.

  “Didn’t know what else to do,” admitted Barue.  “We were about the same size and he had real nice shoes.  I’m saving those and the pants for when the baby is born but with this colder weather the jacket is warm.  Besides my lady wife kind of likes me in it,” he finished with a sheepish but happy smile.

  Mariesha fished out the picture and held it up to him, “Was it these five?”

  “Shure was,” answered Barue.

  Elsbeth broke into a beatific smile while Mareisha felt worry drop from her shoulders.

  “I need to know where this was.  Urgently,” said Mariesha trying not to rush Barue out the door.

  “This one is missing,” pointed out Elsbeth calmly but intently.

  “They were all pissing in an alley when I went on my way, ma’am.  But it was on Tartagrad Street near a tomb park.”

To be continued…

Weather almost everywhere is playing the game of “Drought or Flood”, “Roast or Swim”, so be careful as the days move toward High Harvest. Life is turning up to have purpose and events to speak of so I leave you all here on the verge of August so I can start another blog; write about another turn of the wheel. May the heat and raw power of Summer treat you kindly. My God bless us and protect us within the crèche of Mother Earth,

Be Well.

Arctic vortex, Hunting Haunted Housing, and Gem Shows

Hello Gentle Readers,

I send you greetings from the land of “not quite cold enough”. The Arctic Vortex tagged us today-Friday and amazingly no migraines to speak of. The sleet has blown off and on all day and into the night but no accumulation on the ground or roadways. The two ricks of wood made lovely miniature forges in our fireplace and we are almost out of wood. The 12 Days of Christmas were simple and loving between migraines and, once again, my husband spoiled me relentlessly. He gave me the exciting cookbook Carpathia: Food From The Heart of Romania and the book Harrow the Ninth, the second book in a wonderfully dystopic world created by Tamsyn Muir. My husband is not the social butterfly that I can be but every year that we could he has made the time and effort to visit Raleigh, NC during the Winter Holidays so that we can attend a party on the first weekend in January: Our dearest friends C and J have a party that is a true block buster of gastronomic proportions and then we visit with L and JM who are long time friends and of course the parents to my God Daughter. This year the SARS-COV-2 virus, or Covid 19, the name more recognized, has cancelled our travels and the party to end all parties. I truly miss seeing in person my dear friends and the long list of Beloveds that I only see once a year at the Chili Party. A friend that is a Should-Have-Been-A-Sister moved to the rural countryside and finally got the farm house and acreage for her horses that she has wanted for too many years; how I would love to see Moonswan over copious cups of coffee. I suppose part of growing up and being an adult is handling correspondence over too great a time and distance.

I am into February today and must say that the seasons and the time is all aflutter around my head. Almost all my time is taken-up with migraines while the few days without them I am either sleeping, trying to recover, or ever so slowly finishing off the list of “Must-Do’s”. We got the green light from hubbies employer to return to Chicago and so more of my attention is being pulled away as we try to figure out packing, and leases. and doctor’s visits etc. I still want a haunted apartment or a house with dimensional shifting in it; really, is that too much to ask, Gentle Reader? I have looked at so many apartments and houses on Zillow or Realtor that I can identify buildings from the picture even when flitting between HotPads and PadMapper, and let me assure you the yellow sandstone buildings start to blur together after a while. Around the middle of February another polar vortex drove all the way down to Texas and we got down into single digits in NW Arkansas. My friends in Chicago shared pictures of snow angels and winter woodland hikes while we waited to see if our leasing office would even salt the sidewalks or the front gates; And that answer is no, in case you wondered. I would take out Sorcha for her morning walk and strangely the whole complex was whisper quiet with snow covering the sidewalks and streets in a silent white blanket. There was somehow an easy and slow day after day of sipping coffee, cooking eggs with bacon, and letting the room heater keep us toasty warm. One day and night we were serenaded by giant sump pump trucks draining the apartments of Q building as the pipes had burst and sprayed several feet of water within. While we were mildly inconvenienced by iced over slush my love and sympathy truly goes out to several of my beloved friends who live in Dallas, Texas; luckily they are used to the seasonal ice storms that tend to wrack the Piedmont of NC. Aaaaand yesterday was in the 70s! We joke that weather anomalies follow me so look out Chicago I’m coming back!

There are certain instances in a 25 plus year marriage that are rather adorably unique: Your spouse admits that you are still the owner of a bodacious tushy; Laughing in bed so badly at 12 midnight because of fart jokes; realizing that you both have a rhythm down while cooking together and the meal is edible; your spouse indulges you while you geek out on history stories from Curiosity stream; while you originally cared nothing for music you can now enjoy his Pandora selections allowing a subtle mood to flow through the home while the wind blows down the chimney and the world seems both distant and harshly bleak; you still feel your heart skip a beat and your tummy flutter when you look over at your beloved asleep in the quilts; having a pure joy of sharing story ideas and falling even more in love with his mind; and the best of all is talking out worries and frustrations so that our love can be enriched because shellacking over problems does not grow a couple together.

I feel quite fortunate to have married a man who is sexy just by breathing. We try to indulge our realistic fantasies, never having been one of those only-in-the-dark-three-shags-and-over type of couples so when we decide to plow the fertile field it is going to happen in the living room or any location we deem handy at the time. Now, our first dog Moshi would kind of look at us as the smoochie noises started and just settle in a corner or go off to her cage to sleep: she could have cared less. The “Glowing One”, Sorcha, is, I swear to you, a full time, card carrying prude. As soon as the kissy noses start and the covers start getting pushed around she is out that door! Every time!! I kid you not, I have even seen her roll her eyes on her way out of the room. Once the afterglow is fading and the strange noises have stopped from our throats, here she comes back into the bedroom laying down on her puppy pillow and giving us this “How is a dog supposed to sleep around here” look. Walking Sorcha is a totally different experience as she is more than willing to go rompies down the sidewalk, across the street, and straight into someones bushes. If a place in the street had food or could have food she is all for prying the gunk from the grooves in the asphalt. In Chicago this was moderately annoying but down here in the Suburban South the people in our gated apartment complex scatter food out as though every raccoon and squirrel within five miles is starving: raisin bread, popcorn, cat food, beef ribs, pork chops, crackers, pizza slices and God only knows what else. I tell you truly, the wildlife is not withering from hunger. The squirrels are Ninja-Acrobats and probably bench press trash cans at night: These little guys have the whole Tree-Top-Highway figured out around here and have even chosen one apartment unit as their roof of choice. It is amazing to see them fling themselves from swinging branches onto a slanted eve and then clamber onto the roof peak. Once, just once mind you, little Rocky was on a branch with a bit too much spring in it and the squirrel drops out of the branches and plummets into some bushes. While the squirrel rebounded and ran up the siding like a champ, our dog Sorcha just witnessed squirrels falling out of the sky like furry bombs of joy. For all of January she could not wait to get around to that tree and have squirrels rain down again. It took a month for her to stop prancing in a circle waiting for the floor show of sky diving squirrels to start.

We are looking for apartments or condos to live in in Chicago and use the Big Four to find something (being Zillow, Realtor, PadMapper, and HotPads) with Walk Score as our triple check. I fully realize that the majority of apartments that we can afford are shot gun style places: One apartment starts to blend into another so differentiating with Walk Score is really important. For every move we have made I have been the main searcher so I am going to impart some wisdom from my many years. If you want to get that apartment rented please include more than four pictures, three of which are of the bathroom tiles; Do NOT use a fish eye lens to make the room look bigger, everyone knows this trick and everyone hates it; Please try and orient the pictures in order of walking through instead of randomly showing fuse boxes and kitchen sinks; Fuchsia and Lime Green paint won’t kill the deal but a completely buff Garden Level will; Chicago is really big so PLEASE tell me about parking whether in a lot, or on the street, or if there is a garage; Trees and grass matter as do roof top patios so show them to me no matter the postage stamp size; and Why, yes, every crooked pantry, built in butler chest, awkward closet, and inset book shelf are points on the good side so show me those over the third picture of the overused granite counter tops. Buildings really do have an aura and a feel to them so the soul of the building is important: Please pray or meditate for us finding a home with a true heart, I’ll even settle for some friendly haunting.

I am giving a BIG SHOU OUT to my MAGMA Club because you can’t keep the best rockhounds down for long. 2020’s big show was cancelled but 2021 is a GO!!!

The best of the best will be there and I give them my heart if I can’t make it. Seriously, if you are within a day or two drive this is worth it. My heart bleeds the Blue Ridge Mountains and these folks are the real deal. Inside and outside rain or shine they are some die hard rock hounds with great exhibits and be prepared to also enjoy listening to some tall tales and long stories. (Once I am in Chicago I will be able to make the drive down!!) (These pictures are from previous shows so I am assuming that masks will be used as a general safety precaution.)

So now we come to more of Red Angel’s Rise. While it is warm today and Spring is teasing at the edges of the weather, in Cinerarium Autumn is starting and our intrepid duo have yet to find their lost nobleman… cont.

**** ****Five more taverns around Spades were questioned as the sun set quietly against the gritty skyline of Cinerarium.  At the sixth, the bartender looked up from moving bottles and glared at the Inspector and her Recorder, “I been warned about you askin’ questions.  Which is good and fine ’cause I don’t know nothin’. So get.”

      Mariesha felt her blood throb through her temple and her sore feet, “No worries they wouldn’t have come into a scurvy, flea ridden…” An inconspicuous kick to the ankle came from Elsbeth.

     “Are you insulting ma’ bar?” Asked the man loudly while turning a dark shade of red.

     “Not any more,” answered Mariesha with clenched teeth.  The tiefling took a deep breath of the stale air and patiently took out the drawing, “I need to know if you have seen these five men.”

     “That’s what you’re askin’ about?” The owner asked as he stopped and finally took a look at the picture.  “Nope. Not here. And don’t ask me if I’m sure.  So please go away. ”

     “OK,” answered Mariesha evenly, “Thanks for helping a cutter out.”  She didn’t expect an answer and nor did she get one.

     Outside the air was growing still and heavy, punctuated by the smell of fresh horse droppings and a slow moving sewer gutter. Another storm would soon be rolling over the bricks and girders of the city, slewing raindrops across the higher bridges first then trickling and rolling onto the lower buildings and warehouses.  The unspoken questions lied between Marisha and Elsbeth so that all they had to do was glance at each other and nod in sage disappointment.

     The air was growing damper still and Mariesha was determined to cover one more patch of switch back alleys and dingy taverns before the rain came.  She was hoping that some aimless drunk would remember the five men but with every shake of the head no matter how congenial or hostile, it was becoming obvious the five friends had not followed a logical path.  The streets were getting more crowded as men and women were either getting off work or heading for their local ale shop or pie vendor.  The two doggedly followed a worn graffiti painted in white wash saying “Spirits and Wine” and accented with large arrows, something even inebriates could follow.  Mariesha silently marveled at how six greyish purple dots arranged in a pyramid could be understood as grapes. The arrows finally led them to a dead end, tight, cull-de-sack and pointed to a burned out husk of a basement. Inspector Greywaves looked over at her Recorder and noticed Elsbeth grit her teeth. The tiefling angrily kicked a piece of brick into the burned out shell and listened to a startled rat scuttle around. Then three men rounded the corner of the alley and as they were obviously local to the area and must know the wine shop was burnt out, she envied the men their ability to piss and not risk hitting their boots.  They were hulking and brutish which didn’t bother the Inspector until she heard one of them say, “Yea, that’s the two.”

     Both women stopped short and Mariesha automatically moved back to Elsbeth’s side.  The third man was just dropping a bottle with the remnants of a wax seal and Mariesha felt her stomach go cold; intuition told her that whatever had been in the now empty clay flask was very bad.

    Mariesha felt Murder come alive under her jacket, the wicked barbs smoothly skimming over her shirt until a last link fell into her palm.  Six crows alighted onto a roof’s edge as if to cheer their namesake on.

     The seeming leader pulled out a heavy leather sap while his second slipped on a pair of matching brass knuckles. The last one who had dropped the bottle was carrying a stripped down housing timber not so cleverly disguised as an oversized cudgel.

     “Nothing personal ladies… just business,” started Leader, eyeing up Elsbeth whose hands were still tucked inside her muff.  He moved to try and flank the Recorder who took a quick step forward and to the left of Mariesha.  Leader chuckled through his nose and seemed to be twitching from foot to foot, ”Oh, like yer gonna’ be able to protect the puny one.”  

     “Listen up berk,” started Mariesha when she saw them begin to visibly sweat as they spread out across the mouth of the ally, “We ain’t some addle-coved gullies.  I’m an Inspector.”

     Brass Knuckles sniggered and stepped forward,  “We can’t hear you hiding behind the girlie girl ‘Inspector’. Cartiger don’t like strangers asking questions. He wants to give ya’ a message and we wants blood.”

     Mariesha didn’t even sigh, “Defend yourself Elsbeth.”

     The Recorder gave no answer; there was only a slight ‘schink’ as her wickedly barbed hands came out of the lady’s muff while a simple practiced twist of Mariesha’s wrist sent Murder into a spinning blur by her side.

     It was obviously the thought of the leader that a woman would duck and cower or somehow willingly put her jaw out to get hit by the loaded sap he had.  The fact that Elsbeth had bladed gloves and was neither cowering nor starting to swoon didn’t seem to register in his mind.  He quickly swung wide trying to connect with her jaw and take down the Recorder in one grand punch.  Whomever or whatever had taught Elsbeth to fight had taught her well; she just managed to step inside his arching swing and grasp his right arm. Whatever the men had just drunk obviously blocked pain for instead of the usual shriek he only gasped as the blades sunk into the meat of the shoulder and joint:  His powerful blow ended in a weak thump across her shoulders.  Meanwhile, Mariesha had just sent her animated chain outward toward the man with the oversized cudgel.  He too was very fast and managed to lean a step backward as the barbed links came toward him. Two of Murder’s three ends grazed across his shirt and jacket still managing to score the flesh of his chest while the third weighted chain raked across his face, almost taking both eyes before all three ends wraped around the cudgel and with one strong yank from the tiefling ripping it out of his hands.

     The leader finally gave a distorted shriek as Elsbeth grabbed the back of his elbow with the blades of her left glove and propelled him forward.  He crumpled to the ground when she kicked him in the knee, bleeding freely down his arm and finding himself pinned to the ground by dreaded blades no matter how dainty the initial appearance.

     The cudgel fell to the ground as Mariesha choked up onto Murders’ links and turned to face the one with brass knuckles. He rushed at Mariesha bellowing as if half crazed and raised his brass covered fists as though he would punch and bull-rush the smaller tiefling all at once. She quickly wrapped her fist in the barbs of Murder getting a lucky jab in as she side-stepped his lumbering attack. The barbed weights, stylized as the beak of a crow, carved across his cheek and Mariesha brought the left link across his back. 

     The attacker now cudgel-less was still moaning and gasping, blood welling through his fingers as he clutched at his swelling eye and ripped face.

     The tiefling pounced on the one with the brass knuckles and just managed to pull the links of Murder up against his throat.  He started to try and struggle her off but the barbs started to come out and there was a choked cough as he realized his neck was in danger of getting torn out.

     “What did you do to Ansel Casterwell?” growled out the Inspector just loud enough for all the men to hear.

     “Who?” asked Brass Knuckles while trying not to move his neck.

     “Ansel Casterwell.”

     “Cartiger sent us,” choked out Leader, with pain in his voice.

     A sigh escaped from Elsbeth then a mangled gasp came from the leader.

     “Elsbeth are you still going to torture him?”

     “No worries, Inspector Greywaves.  I was just fearful for my life but it’s passing,” answered the Recorder succinctly. 

     “Now,” restarted Mariesha.  “I don’t care a flying fuck who sent you.  What we want is Ansel Casterwell.”

     “But we don’t know nobody…” whined Brass Knuckles before Mariesh choked up on the links and pushed her knee deeper into his back and the open wound.

     “We didn’t know you were …demonic,” mumbled Cudgel Less through his hands.

     “That doesn’t’ matter,” hissed Elsbeth, choosing not to tell them differently.

     “But you were asking questions…” started Leader barely above a croak.

     “About the missing Noble,” finished Mariesha.

     “Vice asks questions,” squeaked out Brass knuckles as he tried to move.

     “And Inspectors are all men,” added Leader quickly.

     “Well, my dear Els, sounds like these addlepates thought we were connies for vice.”  Mariesha felt a few more drops of rain hit and wanted nothing more than to be rid of these fools and to be soaking the day off in a hot bath.  “Now you three go back to your Cartiger and tell him that Inspectors have tits too.  Lucky for you three I don’t care to arrest you or snack on your soul.”

     “Oohhhh,” moaned Brass Knuckles as though his soul had suddenly become very important to him.

     “Now let us be gone before Whisperers show up,” said the Inspector bluntly.

     “Wh… Whisperers?” gasped Leader as though suddenly realizing what the three had just ingested.

     “Yes. What you drank reeks of magic and is throughout you now.  I guess your Cartiger didn’t tell you that part,” started off Elsbeth sounding very sepulcher while a distant peel of thunder punctuated her words.  Mariesha stood up carefully, keeping Murder out and ready then she led Elsbeth out of the burnt-out ally only stopping to pick up the empty flask and listen to the scrabbling and moaning of the three assailants.

     “Do you really think Whisperers will come after those three, Inspector Greywaves?”

     “Not this time, Els but eventually something will happen.  Best to sew a few seeds of discord with this Cartiger and buy us some time to find Ansel’s body before Cartiger sends better bully-boys to kill us.  Besides,” finished Mariesha “ even the bottle smells foul; peddling this shit has to be evil.” ….cont…

Spring is almost upon us and the sun grows bolder every day. Tonight the darkness has finally sifted from the sky and covered the ground, only a quiet breeze hinting at coming rain. As we are just starting to venture out of our homes with vaccinations and masks let us remember the wisdom of silence in a crowd of boasting and the gift of the hearth to strangers. May the Wheel Turn and the Triune One Bless us All,

Be Well

Edible From The Oven Plus August Doldrums

Dear Gentle Readers,

Summer is in reality sliding toward Autumn but right now, in the last days of July and the first of August, we are in the Dog Days; those long hot and humid days that make you sweat profusely while you stick to anything you touch. There is a strange nebulous unknown in the NW tip of Arkansas: Are we the Mid-West or part of the South. The humidity and non stop days of no rain are Southern but we are so close to Oklahoma and Missouri that we really should be Midwestern. Little Rock has no identity problem because they are Southern but three hours to the West and the people and the weather can’t make up their minds. The tropical storm/depression that came through Texas has dropped some of the temperature to the High 80s and this morning without warning the sky let out and rain blocked our vision across the street for about 15 minutes or more; that and at night there is this alluring and tempting breeze that has been blowing through the thick air of a humid Southern night; these are the only clues to the tempest that just moved up from the warm gulf coast.

To be fair to myself I can cook, over the years I have gotten better and picked up a few hints from the restaurants I have worked at but more than that I love to read cook books. I have a curated, inexpertly as it may be, collection and at times I set aside a few days to read the recipes and the history or travel log that goes with it. A dear rock hound friend of mine NS, who could cook mud and we would ask for seconds, was bragging to me about using a recipe from Ina Garten and it was all I could do not to squeal out “The Barefoot Contessa!!!” and yes, Gentle Readers, NS’s mac and cheese was delectable, gone in about 10 minutes on the pot luck table line. (Sigh, this is what I miss about the old days of rock hounding: having the group meals and sharing of food and some wonderful feelings of having an extended family.) I have read my books on Roman cooking, chocolate cakes, colonial American cooking, and recipes according to Seasons: And yet I really do not cook much. Migraines and apathy hold me back the most. My nearly perfect sister has each day/dinner blocked out and shopped for. Frugality enthusiasts can look at her budget and say “Dang! Live a little why don’t you!” Even when she splurges it is accounted for! I have tried that, I really have, but for some reason my husband and I fail at even the most basic of domestic tenets. Then when we were in NC we started ordering vegetable/fruit boxes from local farms.  We had hoped it would help us eat healthier and we started getting this build up of strange foods in our refrigerator so in a bid not to throw out a goodly portion of our food budget I looked up how exactly to cook eggplant. After the eggplant came neeps and then before we even knew it, we were actually cooking meals at home. One of the few drawbacks to Chicago was no from-the-farm delivery boxes unless you wanted gourmet overpriced produce and or driving for an hour to get it. We recently found this company called Misfits that delivers odd shaped or unsold produce by the box: And suddenly like magic we are cooking again. My mind starts to go through the cooking of grits and pulses when we stand in the Fresh Market, recipes drift around the old grey matter when I realize there is fresh fennel and ginger to use up. Between migraine fugues I am now trying to root a fennel bulb and have planted seeds on our new NE exposure porch. There is this small, happy sigh of accomplishment when I realize that every night has not been takeout. Bellow are three pictures worth bragging on.

One reason to move into the new apartment was the swimming pool, hot jacuzzi tub for the win with fibromyalgia plus a fountain to stick my head under in the pool. I had visions of being a tempestuous mermaid and having the fountain pour streams of sparkling water over my hair, then Covid reared its ugly head and the pool got closed. After months of waiting the pool has reopened and I am laughing in my socks! The rule is the pool is open for two hours in the morning and two in the afternoon with no more than 30 people: I have yet to see more than two people down there at one time. I know the property owners have to come up with a plan for all the properties and possibilities but, come on people!!!: close a therapeutic pool for three months so the crowd made of two people can finally swim! On the not so crazy side a friend of a friend of mine makes costumes and does burlesque. As she is a geek goddess, she has geek fabrique scraps and is making masks from them! We are no longer dirt poor so I was able to order masks from my friend and support a well deserving artist. This is another warm fuzzy feeling I enjoy; too much of my youngness was spent poor as dirt and I was unable to monetarily support causes and people I admired. Walmarts around the country are now demanding masks now and I don’t blame them: Covid is not going away anytime soon. When a mediocre proliferation company like Walmart wants masks you know it is bad. I also know people who have gotten this so it does exist and researchers are discovering more strange things that this virus does to the body besides kill you and so far it does not awaken the X-gene so I do not want to catch it.

The apartment complex has serious drainage problems and it is perfectly obvious that the people who designed the complex took very little of the areas drainage pattern into concern when it was built. The weather stability around here is also nil: Weather slowly peeling off of the Rockies, weather gusting down from the MidWest, and weather pushing inexorably up from Texarcana. This week we are being visited by Texarcana and the rain is finally falling with every hurricane and tropical storm that stirs. While this is the Ozark Mountains I would swear that Benton County is a wetlands! Perhaps this qualifies as temporal wetlands? There is a pond on the premises, really a glorified puddle, and whether on top of the pavement or sinking through the permeable soil, it fills up in all its muddy, oozy glory. There are box turtles that sploosh at midnight and some kind of fish that eats the mosquitoes and insects: With every ripple they make our dog tries to get her head more fully under the fence. One night I expect we will be climbing down a ravine to get to the pond to rescue our dog. And rescue the sweet and innocent Sorcha from what you ask? Well.. the toads quite frankly. In Edwardsville, IL the spring peepers were everywhere and sounded off constantly and our Sorcha tried to eat them every chance she got. (Do not let dogs eat raw frogs because diarrhea will ensue.) Here in  the complex the crickets and stray insects are the loudest but the toads are huge and we suspect they take lunch money on occasion. When it comes to the pond we fear the carp will strap on shark fins and team up with the toads to mug our dog if she gets stuck on “the wrong side” of the fence. Ooooooo!! And I must not forget to tell you about Arnie the newest resident here: Arnie the Armadillo!!!! Yep, NW Arkansas has armadillos and our Arnie has MiniArnie. These are the only two creatures that Sorcha has given the side eye but a petite version of an armored prehistoric monster is a pretty good animal to give plenty of space so this may speak well of our Sorcha. Below is the fancy fence around the pond, you can see the haze of humidity. And through the bars are two of about seven box turtles.

Aaaaand the computer ate another particularly brilliant paragraph so I will save the commentary on hoarding, dating, love, and memory loss for another time. On to another topic: I realize that Summer is the height of heat and abundance, of the growth that will sustain an agrarian culture through a harsh winter. I realize that Summer is running across neighborhoods, swimming in pools and ponds, flowers, bees and tall green trees. Summer is watching and planning for eventual harvest and for breaking open watermelon in the field. Summer is a form of peace and the fullness of life but Allas I am just not a Dandelion Wine kind of gall. I once told a somewhat mystic woman my opinion of Summer and she looked at me with a ‘you don’t know??’ kind of face and said “You’re Winter Court.” Not everybody has a ‘side’ or ‘court’ they associate with; a darling work friend once said he could never get enough of the ‘hot, sweaty, and humid Southern Sun’ but was not Fey in the least. He just liked, well, as far as I am concerned, all that yucky stuff. We just passed Lammas Day or Lughnasadh, the first of August, and thus the Harvest Season begins until Autumnal Equinox. I am excited to see the days letting in more of the shadows of gloaming and allowing the dawn to sleep a wee bit more before cresting over the horizon.

Feeling like a finely made doll: Hair from spiders webs and newly made silk, bones formed of creek mud high in the mountains and tears donated from a pure seep hidden by holly and hazel. Blood and heart from drops of lava deep in a cauldron heating geysers and waiting one day to break. Laid carefully in the surf of a forgotten beach to come to life in the salt water; sand and stones blessing a smile and each fragile toe as it forms. Moon light fills the eyes and kisses a soul formed of ferns and moss and pure spring water. A finally made doll drying out in a blistering sun wondering where the soft words and joy of life are; cracking and fading into a bleached dry simulacrum. Praying for rain or the pleasure of dew softened petals but the voice is a desiccated soundless plea.

So let us continue with Mariesha and her search for a missing person. Some folks may recognize certain words and phrases that she uses and that these words are “out of place”; yep, did this on purpose! cont..

     The first stop was smoky and dim but respectable enough to have a dented spittoon by the bar.  There were workers eating greasy sandwiches under a tattered awning outside and drinking down something cloudy out of mugs from a rack inside.  It was a local’s sort of bar so Mareisha paid for some grilled sausages wrapped in day old bread and slathered in a mystery relish.

     “Eh, help a poor burk out can ya’?”asked Mariesha as she took a big bite from her food.

     “What’s it ya’ want?” replied the owner as he scraped the fresh grease into a jar.

     Mariesha swallowed appreciably, for food that was inevitably end-bits they were fresh and spicy. “A couple of nights back about five high class cutters came stumbling out of Ms. Moanings.”

     He grunted slightly but nodded, “That dried up ol’ bitch but her girls are good enough whores.”  He looked Mariesha over again. “They ain’t done those girls bad did they?”

     “Nah, one of  ’em’s missing.”

     “Don’t know nothin’  ’bout that. They didn’t come here. They were goin’ toward Blacks.”

     “You’ve been right helpful, mate,” said the tiefling as she slid over extra coppers for the sandwich. “Keep your change.”

     “Good luck on ya’,” replied the man as he slid the coins into a small metal box.

     At this time of day Blacks was living up to its name; a dreary cinder smudge of a bar along an alley corner but the currently unlit lanterns around the door would have been bright as a beacon in the night.  The Inspector didn’t even try the front corner but went around to the alley door and managed to bang on it with loud jarring thumps, “Oy, delivery!”  Her voice even startled a wretchedly thin cat in some old boxes. “Delivery!!  Ain’t got all day!!”  She began to kick at a vaguely loose board at the bottom.

     The side door was opened by a small mountain of muscle gone mostly to fat.  “You ain’t Jemmy,” said the man glaring down at her.

     “Ya’ think?” stated Mariesha crossing her arms and sticking her foot in front of the wooden planks.

He blinked at the grey light of the alley finally noticing both the wiry tiefling and the stern Elsbeth.  “And where’s my order?”

     “Listen up,” started Mariesha pushing her foot and shoulder against the door as he reached for the inner handle.  “I’ve got questions and jink for answers.”  She rattled the scrap in her pocket like coins.

     “What’s she about?” asked the small mountain at the door, eyeing Elsbeth with confusion.

     “You don’t want to know,” answered Mariesha in a dour voice while looking him straight in the eyes.  Elsbeth stood posture perfect with her hands hidden in the leather muff and gazed past him with icy calm.

     “What questions then?” asked the man at the door, quickly looking back to the tiefling.

     “Five rich boys ’bout four nights back,” started the Inspector.

     “Don’t know nothing.” 

          Mariesha could easily tell he was lying but Elsbeth spoke solemnly for her, “He’s lying.”

     “Not looking good for you,” started Mariesha shaking her head slowly and pulling out a picture, “These five. And we already knew they were here.”

     The man at the door looked hesitatingly at Elsbeth across the alley from him then grabbed at the paper.  He glanced briefly then shoved the paper back to Mariesha’s hand.  “I, ummm, recognize them now,” he stated.

     “What did they do?  And where did they go?”

     “They drank ‘n’ pissed,” was the only slightly belligerent answer.

     “You are not being helpful,” growled Mariesha in a low tone, who in fact was feeling sorry for the alley cat at the moment.

      “After two rounds they said ma beer tasted like horse piss so I throwed ’em out,” replied the man mountain while managing to actually be angry at the affront to his stale beer.  “Jeb at tha door saw ’em go that away,” he finished jerking his thumb back toward the street.

     Mariesha gave him a stern stare and glanced at Elsbeth.  Elsbeth simply turned her head toward Mariesha and gave a serenely noble nod.  “Good enough,” said the tiefling.  The man gave one more skittish look at Elsbeth and slammed the door.

     As Marisha looked down the street at faceless and worn storefronts she knew the inevitable part of the bar crawl; she and her Recorder would have to start going door to door.

to be cont…

Dearest Gentle Readers, in these trying times of conflict and despair I dearly hope you have some strength of heart and guidance in your soul. Let the lightness of Shadows see you through the Night and the sibilant song of the Sun protect you through the Day. May God Bless You and yours,

Be Well

Galaxy Leggings and I Gots Rocks

Greetings Dearest of Gentle Readers,

Here in the Northern Hemisphere the Beltaine fires were bright and clear, if even a single candle on the hearth. Today is the very last day of May and Summer was arriving across this bountiful country in rain, tornadoes, wind and still some snow. The upper mountains and part of the piedmont of NC even got a spattering of snow. Here in NW Arkansas we had rain storms mixed with marble sized pellets of hail. In a moment of objective esoterica I realized that Hail is the rune symbol Hagalaz; Hagalaz is patterns and upwellings of energy  and the subsequent kernel of growth through turmoil and intense personal change. (Yes this is simplified immensely.) Somehow this seems to be a perfect portend for our nation and myself. For our country, that is a simple truth of pain and agony as C-19 ravages through the world and our country state by state plus protesting becoming a necessity and an iniquity at the same time. For myself, my husband and I are getting further along at communicating and talking out ideas, whether born of weary determination with the world or creative surprise. Also, for myself, I discovered a bottle of seriously potent B vitamins and decided to try them even though they didn’t work the first time. GLORY: Slowly but surely they are working and the migraines are abating ever so begrudgingly. I have been able to go even four days in a row without a migraine! Talk about a Hagalaz situation!! Last week I started crying because I was finally able to take a midnight walk with my husband again.

Tomorrow is June and we still have the back door open and a comfortable breeze blowing through. Crickets are sounding off and by morning there should be silver snail tracks across the back porch carpet like strips of fallen tinsel.  For my Birthday we went and collected the chert rocks in the creek by 28th and Walnut. While not the most stimulating pieces, the petrified pieces of shell along with the imprints of the creatures that lived so long ago all crushed and mashed together are like a small still life of long long ago. I highly recommend soaking such porous karst pieces in a solution of white vinegar and two pinches of OxyClean. Let soak for a day or two and swirl or stir the bucket often. Just remember to soak the vinegar back out with clear water for double the amount of days, stirring and swirling like before. I was feeling very confident and effusive because the water had gone down enough for me to walk on the gravel bars.

In the pictures below it is almost like a bone pile for rocks! Very exciting. My strong and stalwart husband had the big bucket that I poured my “chick” bucket into. In the last photo you can see how high the water level had been, it is difficult to remember that this town gets flash flooding and has culverts for a reason but luckily the natural stone deposits into this stream. And, yes, I was in such a positive mood I wore that outfit into public.


It has taken me two hours to figure how to get these pictures onto the blog and I am into the very early morning of 2:30AM. Out of the corner of my eye I can see flashing through the bed room window, not like car lights or lightening and I wonder if it could be eyes from some critter that is heralding the next catastrophe for the US or simply some wing dinging of a firefly being ultra bright. A part of me is voting for supernatural critters but since the window is at floor level lightening bugs are a safer bet.

We found a place to live!!! again. LOL  We accidentally ran across an apartment/condominium complex that just ‘felt right’, plus it has a two car garage, South West facing windows, hard wood floors, and a wood burning fireplace. We never thought we would even like anything labeled ‘luxury living’ but it is personable and cozy and has a ginormous dog run. My fervored hope is that the allergies and mustiness stay where we are now and stay out of the new place. I am tired of packing and unpacking cardboard boxes but perhaps for a few more years we can sit nice and happy in our second story castle. Well not exactly a castle but we will have a tiny balcony and I have great hopes of actually turning the garage into a workshop instead of a storage closet for boxes of geodes and spiders.

Spiders and dust with

Dried petals and husks

Of previous hopes and desires.

Shallow pools of water

Not yet stagnant from the rain,

Reflect the sky and listless blue.

But I can not rest

For hope springs eternal

As do fools.

Nancy Holland

And onward to something less grim: Let’s talk worms. During the winter, especially in Chicago, they would freeze dry on the sidewalks and here they die by the droves on the hot pavement. Any way you look at it, dry chuckle, my dog thinks the sidewalks bloom protein snacks. We feed her, we really do; nutritious kibble, Greenies, Charlie Bear treats, and lean table scraps with the occasional lump of cheese but nooooooo; our beloved Sorcha has to hoover up every desiccated piece she can see or perhaps smell, as she eats them in the dark too. Mummified sidewalk worms have even replaced the mulberries that fall here between the old folks home and the church grounds we walk her on. My husband has never known a more food obsessed dog and he was raised with dogs and cats. If anyone ever breaks into our home she will snarl and take them down unless they have some morsel of food on themselves or, say, dead worms then she would probably help them to what little money we have. She was named by me after Tir Na Sorcha and it was apt as can be. This picture is of our beloved worm munching fur ball literally frolicking beside our Summer fire.IMG_0619

And as proof that I am true rock hound, love being barefoot, and will revel in almost an rock situation here are pictures from part of my haul. These are nothing compared to the haul of FOSSILS from Pipsico Falls, VA that my MAGMA club dug along the shores and beaches and cliff sides: To quote a very darling member “The blood and mud of it all” but I am doing what I can with what I got! Any teachers out there that want specimens for a class and or teaching I can get them for you. (I will forever be in the debt of one Mr Boudman who had one week of earth sciences and chemistry to teach and left me with that kernel of awe in my mind and soul.)

Here is the whole haul from my birthday romp. Not at all like my usual trunk load of goodies when I go camping but I am pleased none the less.


Each rock I picked to show the best of what they all have. Each photo is in twos, front and back, kind of. The big rock on the wooden shelf is from Edwardsville and not the same thing at all. The last five pictures are of the same huge stone that is just loaded with crinoid remains!

Something is just awe inspiring about all the ancient oceans filled with these critters and plants and the millions of thousands of years it took to finally turn the shells and imprints into rock: To just go a ways down the “crick” and pick up pieces of history and time frozen in stone. Some of the pieces were less karst more chert and I can not wait to get to our new home and cut some of the chert for cabs: to reveal the little fossilized treasures inside the stone just waiting to be fashioned and shown!!

About three weeks ago I fell when Sorcha went running after a squirrel. It was a full 10 points swan dive onto my right side, I could have have been Esther Williams if it had been a swimming pool and not cement. My great victory was keeping hold of the leash through it all, which the husband said was rather miraculous: Next time I will let go of the leash. I smell like Eau De Tiger Balm and still can’t raise my right arm over my head without an assortment or pains running down from my shoulder. The hardest part is that mentally I know my pain and other discomforts are valid but I keep feeling as though I do not deserve to complain; I know friends who are in far worse conditions and states of health. The nasty thoughts run through my head: “Suck it up!” “Your a hypochondriac.” “Oh, It can’t be that bad.”…

Being able to write down some of my frustrations and thoughts helps me to find some equilibrium, to remember the world around me and to remember I never want to lose my way again. I know there is a great power and strength out there, I have been a part of it since I was born. My husband is another part of it and I have been able to accidentally find other people who know of it, touch part of it, and or just plain jumped “straight naked” into the esoteric. Throughout history in Europe there has been documentation of religious people who could pray for hours, hear testament from angels, and gain unknown strength through meditative prayer. Then you can go look at modern times and the history books of almost any country and get these stories also. I am not some great religieuse (yep, using fancy French words) but I am trying to take the advise from a couple of very wise folks on social media and the same advice I give out: It is how you handle what is dealt you.

Very rarely do I discuss politics but when you hear Irish WoW v-loggers mention the troubles in America… well this is just not in my mind any more. Please!!! all the peaceful and hard working people trying to be positive and useful and aid others or just keep their heads above water: Keep moving forward. Hate and death has been a stamp of misery across so many places and countries, for two or more generations in America we have been spared this. I can barely handle the chaos seeping out of the very bricks, stones, and pavement of my country even though I am safe and have a loving husband. Violence and hate breeds violence and hate and, Gentle Readers, it will taint the very power I was talking about: Ever been in a building or around people that give you the screaming willies (not the British willie, you Naughty Readers) well this is what decrepit people, ignorance, and cruelty create. A beloved friend LF is on the front lines in her district taking care of people, dearest friend TE leads a group of exercise enthusiasts that have walked as a group for social justice, and a dearest young photographer ZW works tirelessly in the alternative arts. Are we all like employees of the State Department who’s blood is red, white, and blue and who work tirelessly for the safety and benefit of America; Are we like the sincere and honorable police and detectives who choose to put their lives on the line to defend us? Are we all like our dedicated military that willingly take up arms and risk the reality of PTSDs to protect and further America? No we are not: But we all must do what we can. I am forever grateful to all the people in our country and outside that openly helps us as Americans to make the American dream what it could be.

This blog is taking longer to post because I have had a relapse of migraines and simply chickened out to those voices-of-smallness saying “No one wants to read any of this repetetive drivel” and “They are just laughing at you.”  So here is the next installment of Mariesha as she begins the foot work required to solve her case.  (Because I have friends who are police, were police, and are/were military: This is fictional fantasy in a fantasy city with undead and interplaner characters for God’s sake!) cont…

 The landlady looked to be made of cinders and steel like the city around her and was covered in a grey shawl and a grey dress and old grey boots.  As soon as Mariesha and Elsbeth had entered her front sitting room and the front door was closed,  the elderly lady wrinkled her face at them while cleaning her glasses, “What in the Hells are you two about?” she half barked out, putting her glasses back on.  “And don’t tell me one of you wants to watch because that is the dumbest lie I’ll have ever heard from the likes of you.”

It was at times like these that Mariesha was glad to have a small silver sigil that proclaimed her an Inspector, with or without the scarlet cloak.  “It’s real.  Please don’t bite it,” she said as the landlady started to bring it toward her lips.

“Where then is your great big red hood?” asked an increasingly crotchety Ms. Moaning who was turning the medallion over in her fingers.

“How many do you want?” asked Mariesha in a vengefully polite tone.  “Elsbeth, as my Recorder would you please take note that Ms. Moaning has personally requested at least five fully cloaked Inspectors to come and ask her questions.”

 “Done Inspector Greywaves.”  Elsbeth nodded sternly to the tiefling.  “As we are very busy at the stations it will be one Inspector a day, Inspector Greywaves.”

 “Sounds good to me,” Mariesha answered, taking the medallion out of the landlady’s hand.

 It was possible for the elderly Ms. Moaning to turn even more grey at the prospect of five days of Scarlet Cloaks, her boarding girls fleeing in their corsets out back windows, and of being black balled from every safe red-light street.  “Then what do you want with me?  All my boarders are clean decent girls.”

 “I don’t care if they are bow-legged and louse ridden. But the necromancers of these families might,” replied Mariesha while holding up a group picture of all five young men.  She noted Ms. Moaning looking slightly more pale.  “And I will speak to the girls they kept company that night.”

 The girls hadn’t liked being woken up but she sent Elsbeth down to intimidate the land lady into making some coffee and the black brew helped win some sullen thanks.  Once the girls had realized they weren’t being rousted for money or to be lectured by Elsbeth on physical morality they had relaxed even more.  Mariesha was also glad that none of them decided to turn it into a tit contest, preferring some sense of professionalism.  The girls were not used to wealthy or clean clients so the five were at least remembered but pretty soon even the tiefling became glad for the coffee.

Mariesha slowly let out her breath as she looked down the street an hour later.  Elsbeth was calmly stoic beside her as the city clanged and rumbled around them.  

“So what have we learned exactly Inspector?”

“They weren’t too far gone to do the deed and they didn’t die in the saddle,” answered Mariesha, shoving her hands in her pockets.

 “Succinctly put,” replied Elsbeth after a short pause.  She paused again as Mariesha began to walk along then asked, “So where do we go from here?”

Mariesha glanced up at her Recorder and half smirked at the look on her face, “Yes my dear Els it is as you feared; the not quite so glorious bar crawl.”

 “I trust in your perseverance Inspector,” answered Elsbeth staunchly.

 Mariesha gazed down the street and up to the roof tops then straightened her shoulders, “The answer is out there somewhere…” started the Inspector as she stepped over a gutter, “We had best get going.”

I am signing off right now to start re-editing on the current story of Mareisha and possibly try some crochet. We have taken two car loads over today to the new place and I can’t wait to get this move all done with. The pup is snoring next to me and I have high hopes of a decent horror movie tonight on the tv. Let there be rain on the parched Summer grounds and a breeze from the mountains for you.

Be Well


Spring Water and Covid-ity

Hello Dearest Readers,

The month of March is almost over and this is an Early Spring already, February was unbelievably warm for a Winter month. Spring in the South is yellow, all pollen from pine trees, watching the wind whip up yellow dust devils down the streets and gutters. Spring in Chicago was the temperature rising over 35 degrees and the sudden appearance of wisps from the cottonwood tree floating along streets like down feathers from cherubs. Spring in the NW of Arkansas is having the storms go around our little plateau so that the thunder sounds like it is growling through the ground; the weather just slowly gets warmer with each drop of rain until you realize the little flowers are peeping in the grass.

The first two pictures are of the Late Winter sky that is practicing to give us Spring weather. The last two are the itty bitty peeping flowers and mosses in the suburban jungle.


I am a rather sensitive person and often have small little worries or fears pop up of upsetting people, and yet for certain aspects here I am not worried. I realized a few weeks ago that I still have no idea where half my baking supplies are in the cabinets of the kitchen and still have no “den” feeling in the bedroom. And of course my husband and I are both allergic to the house, Benadryl has become our bedtime friend. I have also realized that while we were in Edwardsville I had already taken dozens of pictures and was planning out a garden, not here. So we are hunting for a new rental home and I rather like the search of having all these possible houses show up in my e-mail. We have till July so we are slowly packing up the house. Yep, packing up the house when the world outside is screaming about toilet paper and hand sanitizer. We will simply fill up all the U-Haul and liquor store boxes we already have before worrying about getting more. The garage with my pounds of stones and geodes is going to be the bear to pack and my office will be the next hardest room to wrangle.  Our dream is to be able to have a home built by the wonderful Deltec company but regardless of our fortune we will be changing houses. Deltec allows you to send them your ideas and because that part is still free I sent in my plans. As a little girl I made house plans for fun, starting out with bedrooms and kitchens and graduating upward to putting in hallways and doors, so a goodly part of me is thrilled with the idea of having my grown up plans put into reality.

Showing off my idea. Just add a little historic Gothic and some William Morris to the hinges and knobs and light fixtures. (And add a rock garden landscape on the outside.)


When I can navigate through the house and use full sentences, my days are lively and lately busier and more interesting. We have The Bins here in Bentonville and every two or three weeks Ian goes with me to dig through them. I just love the search and hunt through strange debris. And somehow just having his company makes everything more fun. Our Bins have some of the best piles of books!! Apparently books worth reading are rare from Bins but even as we pack the house up I manage to bring two or three back with me. I have also found an Erin Knit Wool sweater and a vintage “Ms Maiszel” type coat with a real fur collar. I also won an auction on crochet blankets; and those can be weird because until you inspect them by hand you can’t tell how used they could be. The newest batch were definitely from a crochet stash, one of those folks who like me makes things just waiting to give them away. All but one or two of the blankets were crib sized and with this quarantine going on I hope colorful, well made, baby blankets will be in demand in 9 months. In the strangest turn of luck and perseverance I have made sales on e-Bay. Yep, little ol’ me took the leap and entered items to sell. Now the profits are a pittance but once I can sell 10 items I can open my own Store Front and that is what I am aiming for. I have sold three items already!!! in just three weeks which is a blizzard of activity for me. (wicked, dry humor, snicker-snort-chuckle) But dearest friends PC and KF who also go crazy at thrift stores and curb side sales will know how exciting this is for me.

Friday we were between rain clouds so we went to this overflow creek, not the cement kind prevalent here but the natural kind. I realized how much I miss the soil and ground beneath my feet. At first my mind went “Oh no!!!! I’ll get my feet wet!” then I said to myself “Nancy, did you just get wussy???!!” ( And I know it was me ’cause Ian was talking to the dog.) I wear ugly Vibrams for a reason and they can get wet, and muddy, and all kinds of fun so I merrily traipsed across to the other side: I was super lucky!!! Fossil bearing chert everywhere!!!  Some of the pieces were more fossil imprints all together than they were rock. I feel certain I found coral imprints, shell, crinoid stems, and worm tunnels. I couldn’t take up any big hunks because I was just off the highway but I did find pieces I can try and cab up as well as treasure.  How glorious to feel the wind blow humid air across my skin while having my toes in the water and earth. I have the two buckets soaking in a bit of bleach because the stream has a lot of run off but as soon as I get them soaked and scrubbed a bit I want to show you some close up pictures.

The cement drainage culvert after a week of rain that runs behind the church where we walk the dog, a suburban river. The chert creek that is overflowing its banks. The creek after the water has gone back down (the wind was blowing and I felt like a middle aged fairy princes.)


5 ‘o’ clock AM  is that apex hour in which the False Dawn has not started yet but you can just feel the gentle tug of Morning’s fingers. Since the late of February the hour before false Dawn has started to bring out the little song birds. These are the soft and fragile looking balls of feathery fluff that come in brown and tan spots and mottled stripes. Now in reality it is 4 in the morning because daylight savings is a farce and it is somehow comforting to know the birds ignore it. (In an aside I feel certain that even a Cynobite or Lord Vermin (Google him) could be voted in as president if they promised to abolish Daylight Savings.) Then there is Night, in late February and parts of March, where it is just warm enough after a day of rain to leave the screen door open: and then I can hear a trilling peep from local frogs. Edwardsvile, IL was somehow pocketed throughout with fountains and ponds that had quaint little armies of frogs but here even with cement culverts and thin mountain creeks scattered like straw the little trilling peepers were unexpected.

Ok, confession time: I play a few video games and phone app games. So I am going to go off on a few quirks that yours truly complains about (which gives the husband a chuckle so can it be so bad?) I play this fashion doll game called Covet where you are given challenges to dress your model with specific items and styles to fit a short five sentence story. Most of the samples shown or expected are Vogue and Haut Couture imitations so some leeway is expected BUT FOR F*CK’S SAKE!!  1) “Style a look to source diamonds in Dubai.” What in the world are some of you thinking???? This is Dubai so why is your paper doll dressed in a crop top, a mini skirt, fish net hose, a fur stole, thigh high boots, and or a see-through evening dress??? What part of Dubai and diamonds do you not get?!!!  2) “Dress for a fun day in the park for a Mother and Son day together.” To quote a beloved pro wrestler, Charles Wright, “Make way for the Hoooooo train!” Why would you wear a bra top and hootchie shorts with your young son? Stilettos in a park with a little boy? Thigh length ruffle skirt?  Are you nuts??? 3) “You are a world renowned dancer of raks sharkie (?) and have been invited to dance for the Berber leader under the desert moon” (Sure lots of ladies do not know what a dancer and a stripper are, so this is really a pet peeve.) Get out the eye bleach!! Neon hair, little school girl outfits, platform pumps, T bars, and or see through dresses. Then some get this idea of doing some sort of semi cyberpunk with eye makeup that looks like flames. God help us all! 4) “Style a gracious look for a beloved commoner about to marry the Prince” (Please reference one Diana or Kate or Meghan) Aaaaaarrrrggg! Bring on every crown, every faux Queen Bess, Venetian renaissance gown with pearls, every scepter, and or mermaid head gear that can be found. What part of “commoner about to marry the Prince are you missing??

I also play a game called Design Home, an actual partner to Covet. You design a house for certain people with different occupations and in different countries/areas. Mostly it is just a matter of taste and what couch style you have in your inventory but once in a while I simply can’t figure people out. 1) “Design a bedroom for a Dutch couple expecting their first baby in Brussels.” Sure, sometimes the rocking horse would be cuter than the purple teddy bear but WHY DID YOU PUT CACTUS AS DECORATIONS ON THE TABLE AND FLOOR?!!! Really people, cactus in a babies room? Or why did they make the whole room in black and grey? Planning on owning stock in Prozac??  2) “Design a rugged living room in the cabin of a family in Alaska” Sure, the cabin looks like a perfect A frame but decorate it in gold filigree and velvet couches?? Marble table tops and crystal chandeliers?? Do you understand the word rustic?!  3) “Design a living room for an active family of five who like gardening.” And?… you guessed it, the whole living room is white furniture with spindly legs and intricate carving. The paintings are either examples of old world still-lives or contain so much pastel pink the Easter Bunny would get nauseous. God knows my own house is 1/3 Norse, 1/3 Gothic, and 2/3 still-in-college but trust me this is monetary and not choice (and yes I know it doesn’t add up.)

As the Covid-19 keeps going there are heroes outside of police, rescue, and medical. Lets hear it for the grocery store cashier who has been given a flimsy piece of plastic in front of his face for protection “Woot!!” Clap for the drive through people who are given gloves and three feet between their window and the car driver!! “Hooray”. Thank you to the liquor store clerk who told us where they put the folded down boxes around the corner outside but still took the time to get within three feet of me to give us some good boxes from inside “Confetti!” Give a huge Vulcan salute to the whole USPS who touch our boxes and mail and have not failed to deliver my e-Bay packages to customers and still sell me stamps with plexiglass that is flimsier than the cashier’s!! “Live long and prosper”. And then there are the Geeks, oh you salt of the earth: Sharing patterns for Renaissance gowns, sharing their art progress no matter how early in the piece it is, selflessly making ear guards for masks on 3D printers like a pro, promoting reasonable fitness when the couch is more comfortable: And my Husband and the Chicago Crew!!! all spending weeks working from home and still finding time to create Role Playing D&D stories for the weekend to run using Discord “Three snaps in a Z formation!” Thanks to the die hard rock hound friends sharing pictures of offices, geode cutting, aloe gardens, house hold mementoes found in garages, and photos of beautiful nature hikes “Total bad ass babes, all of you”.

And now for a good distraction from the real world. Here is a continuation of Marisha in Red Angel’s Rise. She has been given a sudden emergency case away from the mystery of the train stations and the charnel warehouse. Now you can get a feel for a bit more of Cinerarium on the streets. This is a bit more of my voice even though Ian coached me some.  cont….

Ansel Casterwell was a fair haired, politely unassuming young man not much older than Mariesha herself but eminently more important in the schemes of the city; by reading between the lines it became obvious that with a single minded desire someone wanted him found alive. The Casterwells were a family of judges, lawyers, inventors, and artists, all eventually connected to a very powerful undead family by birth and by marriage. And as can happen with the amount of death and undeath flowing through them and their blood, there were also half-wits and sterile cripples. Ansel was referred to by family as healthy, virile, and vital just as often as amiable, even tempered, and sociable. He had an older brother who was muscularly weak, suffering with seizures and spasms, and an older sister who while extremely lovely was said to be rather “simple” and worse of all showed no signs at twenty of entering womanhood.  

Mariesha took a drink of her ale and wondered what it must be like to be loved for your sperm. She then traded her half of the file with Elsbeth, mopped her plate clean with her napkin and chewed thoughtfully, “So, what do you think Els?” 

“I must say Inspector Greywaves, if we question every enemy the Casterwells do have or could have we will never get off of this case.”

 “Yea, I’m readin’ that now.  Gotta say I agree.” Mariesha finished swallowing her napkin and put her ale mug on the edge of the table for a refill. “Although whoever questioned his mates from that night sure did a good job.”

Elsbeth took a sip of her chilled cider, “I think on your next page should be the report from the family necromancer.”

Mariesha read carefully then nodded her head, “Well, I’ll be screwed blue and ta…”  Elsbeth was giving her a cool starchy look across the table. “Er, um, I’ll be Hornswagled,” restarted Mariesha, knowing when to press her unladylike habits and when not to. “They have a top-hat cutter able to search through this city for the boy and all the necromancer can say is the poor sod ain’t dead.”

“Yet,” added Elsbeth while turning a page.

“And there isn’t any ransom note either,” Mariesha pointed out.

Elsbeth’s brow creased slightly, “So, just where could the young man be?”

“Don’t know, but it does mean we’re gonna’ be slogging through some back streets starting with the Star Gazer.”

Elsbeth gave her a firm nod and then carefully drained her drink.

*** ******  **** ****

The information they would get in the upcoming sober bar-crawl was nothing if Mariesha wore her scarlet cloak, plenty of inappropriate offers if Elsbeth wore her normal dresses, and sympathetic offers of grub and ale if Mariesha wore a dress herself because she “needs more meat on her bones to please a man.”  She had actually convinced the department to pay for her Recorder to have a severe work outfit made by telling them it was armor; a stern, grey colored, split skirt and corset-like leather jacket with a leather hand muff. The tiefling herself wore worn pants and a collared shirt with a heavy leather jacket that could accommodate Murder if need be.

The pair were dropped off from an unmarked hansom cab over three blocks away and they walked through the surrounding neighborhood, their sturdy boots going over worn pavement and cobblestones alike. This was definitely a firm lower class neighborhood with pubs, stables, grocers, apartments for let, and the occasional unmarked gaming den.  Through the middle was a grouping of pillons and girders that support two pedestrian bridges and a train trestle: shanty shacks and the remains of an old fountain crowded among them.  

The Star Gazer was an inn and ale house that was found by it’s sign, that of a man on his back looking up at a night sky. Mariesha wasn’t sure whether this was because the inn boasted a rickety top room on a seven story tower or that, for good or for ill, the drink knocked people over and out; standing on the edge of the neighborhood it was just respectable enough to be safe and just seedy enough to be dangerous for a group of five slumming nobles. 

Mariesha was also armed with expert drawings of all five boys, several photos of Ansel, and a hidden purse with generous amounts of copper and silver.  Luckily the bar owner easily remembered the five and was more than willing to talk to what he thought was a wealthy detective with plenty of silver to pass around. The missing nobles had been boisterous, congenial, and inebriated but alive when they had left before midnight heading down the left side of the street singing bawdy songs.

The next question to come up was where the five-some went but that was easily solved when the tavern owner said they kept pinching Bessty the table wench.  She lived in two back rooms made cozy from a small wood stove and patchwork curtains. She was comely enough, Marisha conceded, if you were in your fifties, having sturdy ankles, a rounded bottom with matching bosom, and thick grey curls under a scarf.

“Ol’ Rollo says you been hired to look f’ them boys from four nights back. Care for a cookie?  I make them ma’ self in the kitchen,” she asked as she took down a tin from a small shelf above the stove.

“That would be lovely,“ replied Mariesha as she and Elsbeth pulled up a foot stool and a wooden chair to sit on.

“Then I’ll just put ta’ kettle on to heat some more,” answered Bessty, finally settling back in a padded rocker, obviously enjoying the attention. For a woman that claimed rheumatism and bad eyes there was not much that passed by her: Not only did she remember the five nobles she also gave good descriptions of their clothes and remembered who liked ale and who liked beer. The Inspector and her Recorder also learned that Chersker is back and that means Autumn cattle drives will start soon; Grisole Bandy Hands had coppers to spend so someone is missing their silverware, he being a good second story man, and Caroe Padget had on silk stockings so her engagement to the mill operator was continuing which means that he obviously has a new order of canvass to make. Given enough time Marisha felt that they would be told the whole underside life within five blocks of the Star Gazer.

“And once more about Ansel Casterwell?”  asked Elsbeth trying to get the conversation back on track.

“Ooooh, they were just terrible,” exclaimed Bessty while nibbling on a butter cookie.  “Why those randy lads near to pinched my bum black and blue!”

“Have you complained to the Watch then?” asked Mariesha, already guessing they were the highlight of her week.

“Well,” backtracked a blushing Bessty, “They’re jus’ young and seeing as how one is missing… I wouldn’t want to bother their families none.”

Mariesha nodded in sage understanding and brushed crumbs from her fingers, “I can’t thank you enough for the morning tea Goodie Bessty but we must continue the search.”

“Oh, aye,” she conceded in good humor. “Good luck then.”

The two were let out a side door after thanking her one more time and picked their way through the debris in the ally.

Looking over the street, Mariesha turned to Elsbeth, “Are you thinking what I’m thinking of Els?”

“They were looking for women, Inspector,” replied the Recorder.

“Exactly what I’m thinking. And what about over there?” asked Mariesha as she pointed to a small, neatly painted, red sign across the alley and three doors down.

“An excellent guess,” agreed Elsbeth with a slight smirk.

“Very well my fair Recorder, to “Ms. Moaning’s Boarding House” it is.”


Once again tonight we are having a “sever thunderstorm” which equates to rolling thunder in the distance with a sharp breeze every 20 minutes and rain pouring for five minutes every half hour, but the purple flowers on the weeds and the wild violets in the fields are loving the weather and the thin traces of yellow pollen will get washed down. So many friends have posted loving and happy Easter pictures of family and baskets that a mood of happy contentment is nestled around our house. May the blessings of Christ and the continual renewal of the Earth bring rest and joy to your life.

Be Well


Rambling Ironies and Ouch

Greetings in a New Year,

I wish I could say that this January came in a rush of fresh snow and growing light but the weather has been warm and rather unwintery; windy and gloomy and raining with days just warm enough for a light jacket and nights just cold enough for a sweater and shoes. Thunder storms have been sensational with rumbling and lightening and driving rain but, quite frankly, with a migraine it is all part of a numb background. My Christmas with Family, celebrated in January, was actually lovely and I got to see some of our closer friends. My Sister is a complex person with a husband who is beyond perfect for her and between the two of them I think they cary the weight of half the world on their shoulders. Working for the State Department is a job I would never want and am simply relieved that truly good people are out there in the really real world. She was relaxed and cheery for the Holiday and once again all her gifts were spot on; this is a strange ability she has even though we are not spot on together for more than three days in a row.

The chronic illness thing is raining on my parade, and not in that amazing water-from-the-sky changing everything into glorious-grey sort of way. I will without a doubt sing the praises of medical cannabis over the long term effects of rizatriptans, narcotics, and opioids when dealing with my migraines and fibromyalgia. The down side to medications are the side effects and left over effects while it tries to help you from your illness. I try very hard to remember how much better my health is now that side effects are at a minimum but the truth is I am rather tired of a fluffy head tempered with vague pain for days at a time or nasty pain that leads to holding a bucket over the side of the bed. My time seems to be lost between trying to do something useful between the days of pain. I have a real fear of my husband getting caretaker syndrome again and in a place that is between the Hometown Bread Basket of the Mid West and the Welcoming Warmth of the South I am also stuck with a fear of finding A Tribe. I understand that other people have problems but right now this is my blog and my rant. And I tell myself that perhaps someone else with a chronic pain can not be alone: So I got ya’ huny. No need to feel alone. Other folks are just as muddled and unhappy as you are and to quote a deliciously trite saying “So far your record for getting through bad days is 100% and that’s a good score to have.”

My allergies have me imitating lumberjacks with a train wreck, and the mildew traps we slept in during our holiday visit didn’t help; plus some where at some time a person in Arkansas decided that air intake systems for houses could draw over packed earth crawl spaces: Literally the air is pulled through the air filter, across the crawl space and back into the house: Brilliant. So Ian checked the air vent in the bedroom and the air ducts were cleaned relatively recently but the closure was last adjusted about fifty years ago. We got it closed and covered the ceiling vent with layers of clear packing tape. We then moved the infrared heater in the living room into the bedroom so we have heat; this nifty little box gives out that nice glowing dry warmth and I can pretend that we have a fire place. The outcome so far is less snoring and improvement on the wombat breath: a win-win both ways.

We watch Hoarders, kinda like viewing a garage sale and train wreck all at once. the biggest up side to perversely watching the agony and dirt from other people is I feel so much tidier and I do get the urge to throw things away and donate stuff. Believe it or not I have donated lots of books and furniture, and even pitched out a few rocks. I actually love to give away fossils and rocks to Earth Sciences Teachers because teachers get bubkiss for classrooms and it was a teacher’s private collection that got me interested in rocks and minerals in the first place.  I sometimes wonder what would we watch on tv if not for reality shows like Hoarders and House Wives (which I do not watch): “Ooooo.  Jenny has dust bunnies under that couch! And the toilet paper roll is on backwards!! We have a big job here ahead of us.” “Ted’s sock drawer is unorganized right now AND his tool chest is dirty on the outside. Will we be able to get him to sort the black from the white socks?!!” or “Robyn is shopping in Wallmart for underwear. She is styling that grannie panty with a Steinmart necklace.” “Gracie is just killing it with those deviled eggs.  She is THE highlight of the Church pot luck!!” And of course comes the love folks have for Dr Pimple Popper: “This is the close-up of Sue’s gingivitis: Tarter, tarter, tarter! Now starts the deep gum cleaning!!” “Burt’s toe fungus is intense. We are presenting him with an anti fungal and tee tree oil!” With these for choices I’m kinda glad that there is some dystopia out there.

And so we are going to look for another rental home. It took two weeks to get the gutters cleaned of the plants growing in them, a month to get the leak in the wall to the washing machine fixed, and now the linen closet that abuts the crawl space is WET with the cream colored carpet turning brown. The only upside to this is that we have five months to pack ourselves and we have a realtor that gets us, and the “getting us” is the hardest part. Asking a realtor straight up if they have any de-sanctified churches, houses next to cemeteries, or houses with strange configurations is a practice in dark humor. BUT our realtor here understood us and calls it “quirky”, which is better than stuttering and saying “We don’t have those.” One of the most outrageous, spectacular, artistic, beautiful, and loving Ladies I know used to help her husband with his Realestate practice and they specialized in haunted houses so I can feel justified in my requests. While I have dreams of finding a miniature Adams Family home the reality is hoping for a ranch style with wood floors.

Yours truly and husband broke down and got Disney Plus channel. At this point I can definitely say that The Mandalorian is the perfect send-up to Star Wars and American westerns. Is it cheesy? Yes. Is it for a younger audience? Yes. They do a lovely job of adding a little bit of extra background and personality to the Star Wars universe while giving a smart little “popcorn” story to enjoy. Is this the masterpiece everyone is talking about? Not really but I can guarantee that in years to come heroes will have flame throwers and be armored monks. And yes, the “yodaling” is adorable as all get out.

Righty-o Gentle Readers! It is slipping into March and I am finally able to think clearly without wanting to cry or throw up so let me get this blog post to its end. So here comes the next part of Red Angels Rise: There is a bit of her home with a feel for the city then we get an invitation to peek at a police station of Cinerarium and a fellow Inspector. I promise the mystery of the train stations will continue even as a new adventure is brought in….

   “These sorts of things can happen on occasion.”  Elsbeth said, her face a placid mask. “I’m sure his lordship has a most astute reason for the decision.”

 “Indeed I do.”  Lord Arstair said with more than a trace of irritation in his voice.

Her expression hadn’t changed, but Mariesha could see the glint in Elsbeth’s as she spoke again.  “Are you sure you understand the meaning of astute then, sir?”

For a long second Arstair said nothing, his glare switching between the two women before him.  “Are you sure you understand the meaning of a command?”

“Oh ay, I do know that one.”  Mariesha growled. “If you have a reason, I’d like to know it.  I’d like to know why we’ve been yanked off my case to go chase down some noble sod who’s probably off recoverin’ from a bender?”

The sounds of the Tanbury Patrol Station filled the silence in the room for a moment, a hundred voices trying to shout over one another and only succeeding in making them all indecipherable.  When Mariesha and Elsbeth had arrived that morning, there had been a pile of dead sheep in a cart sitting out front, a trio of ghouls yelling across the duty officer’s desk at an apprentice necromancer, and a tinkerer gesturing madly at a small pile of gears and springs as they tried to reassemble themselves.

All in all a quiet Tuesday morning.

“Sit down.”  Arstair finally said, sighing a little.  When Mariesha simply stared, crossing her arms, the older man scowled.  “Fine… stand there. Listen to me, child, I know what you’re thinking, you may be demon blooded but you have emotions like every other body slogging through this life. This is not what the two of you are assuming.”

It took all the willpower Mariesha could muster not to comment, not to interrupt.  Instead she just stared, fuming.

“I need the boy found, and I need him found now.”  Arstair said, pointedly sliding a sheaf of papers across his desk at the young inspector.  “No bribes getting in the way, no politics, no damned foolery. Just find him.”

“And Inspector Greywaves is thought of as above such things,” Elsbeth announced proudly, smiling.

Arstair smirked.  “No, everyone thinks she’s too crazy to bribe, so they’re less likely to try… and I think she’s above such things.”

Mariesha could feel Elsbeth trying to work up a good head of steam, an indignant rant to remember no doubt, but all the tiefling could do was stifle a laugh.

“Well, I guess every cutter’s gotta’ have some kind of reputation, and there’s worse than that,”  She finally conceded with a shrug, plucking the case file from the oak desk, trying to hide how pleased she was to have Arstair’s approval.  “So who’s takin’ my case til this one’s done? I am getting it back once we get this boy home, right?” 

Her last words were less of a question and more of a warning, something Arstair didn’t seem to miss given his expression.  “Lest we get it solved before then… yes you’ll get the case back. As for who will take it in the mean, I’m putting Deulane on.”

Mariesha glanced up over the top of the papers, then shrugged.  “Fair enough.” Was all she said, though inwardly she was grinning.  If she could have picked someone to fill in for her it was Edmund Deulane.

“One more thing,” Arstair said, turning his gaze fully onto Elsbeth.  “You, Ms. Bailey, are a recorder. You are not some kind of crazed warrior diving into dangerous situations.  When in the field you should avoid danger as much as possible while recording Inspector Greywaves. Is that understood?”

Straightening herself, Elsbeth flashed a disconcerted little frown.  “But Lord Arstair I can assure you I’ve never done anything that was not absolutely necessary in my support of the Inspector,”  she replied in her perfect little docile lady voice, which almost made Mariesha laugh out loud.

“That’s quite contrary to what I’ve heard from the Wardens.  Apparently they feel you are all too eager to dive into the less lady-like aspects of the job.”

Despite her efforts, Elsbeth blushed.  “Well I…”

Arstair shook his head.  “No, don’t even try. Do your job, and nothing more.  I have enough problems with people talking about a woman Inspector.”

Mariesha dropped the papers she’d been skimming over back onto Arstair’s desk and raised an eyebrow.  “And exactly which brain box is tossin’ that about? I can go show them just how ladylike I can be. Just pray they don’t want to spawn any more…”

“Enough!  Just get the boy!”  Arstair bellowed, punctuating his shouts with a slam on the desk hard enough to send a dozen other folders flying.  “By every God left I’d toss you both out onto the street if you weren’t, by some madness, as good as you are!”  

Papers were still settling as Elsbeth stepped out the door into Tanbury’s great entry hall, closely followed by Mariesha.  “I think we made Magister Arstair angry for the rest of the day,” the recorder said as she started through the maze of desks.

Mariesha glanced quickly back over her shoulder, winced once, then shrugged casually, “Well, it’s not like we were doin’ it to the cutter on purpose.”


 Deulane sat in the furthest alcove of the great hall, pressed as far back between a pair of towering pillars as his desk would allow in a vain attempt to escape the cacophony of Tanbury.  Every time Mariesha had laid eyes on the man in the station, he had this strained little smile on his face, like just breathing the chaotic air of the place made him uncomfortable.

Actually that was probably pretty much the truth.

“Inspector Greywaves, a pleasure to see you again.”  Deulane said as he climbed to his feet and extended a hand.

“It’s been a few ticks since we talked.”  Mariesha replied with a smile. “How’s it going for ya’?”

There was a slight shrug before Deulane turned toward Elsbeth.  “Fair enough, I should suppose, though often more busy than I’d prefer.”  As the Recorder approached he once again offered his hand. “Ms. Bailey, it is a pleasure as always.”  He finished just before kissing the back of Elsbeth’s gloved hand.

If Mariesha didn’t know better she’d swear a little blush came into Elsbeth’s cheeks.  “Indeed, it is always the utmost pleasure to see you, Inspector Deulane.”

To one side, Mariesha sat on a corner of Deulane’s desk, perhaps the cleanest and most organized surface in the station.  Hells, if given the choice she’d have preferred a surgeon worked her over here than in most of the hospitals. “So Arstair told ya’ yet?”

“Magister Arstair?  Yes, he mentioned I am to continue a case for you, correct?”

Mariesha nodded.  “The train station massacres.  Els and I should have this other case done up pretty and be back on the massacre right fast, but I’m glad Arstair picked you.  Means the trail won’t go cold while some berk sits on his backside.”

Deulane bowed slightly.  “My thanks for the compliment.”  He said returning Mariesha’s smile.  “It’s a fascinating string of events; truth be told I’ve already been reading what I could find on the case.  What more can you tell me?”

Like magic, Elsbeth pulled a small tome from somewhere within the folds of her dress.  “I’ve transcribed all of Inspector Greywaves’ notes for filing with the king’s clerk while here.  If you should like, Inspector, you can have these and I can…”

Holding up a hand, Deulane cut Elsbeth off in mid-sentence.  “No need, Ms. Bailey. I’ll transcribe my own copy and file yours with the clerk by this evening.  What kind of a gentleman would I be to ask so much palaver from a lady?”

“A pretty damned rare one.”  Mariesha chuckled. “You’re the most gentlemanly gentleman I think I’ve ever met.”

Edmund Deulane was one of the last burks she would have ever thought to be a scarlet cloaked inspector.  He was average height and had a nondescript build, always neatly ensconced in a matching grey suit and vest with a contrasting tie.  No matter how lithe he was in body, he still had vestiges of baby fat on his face that adulthood had not done away with. And although he had plenty of it, his hair was always parted on one side and then held in place with a men’s pomade.  Mariesha often held back the desire to shake him and see if anything would come loose.

As stuffy as he seemed to Mariesha, he wasn’t the blue blooded prig that assumed he was better than a near homeless tiefling because of his birth, forgetting the equality of the scarlet cloaks.  Mariesha had inwardly restrained herself on the first meeting, mostly because of having received her first lecture on insulting her fellow inspectors, and had been pleasantly surprised to find him dull.  

His born status also made being an Inspector a step down, yet once in a while there was a fire showing in the back of his eyes and Mariesha had surmised to Elsbeth that something was driving him; and there was, for he certainly didn’t need the money.  The Deulanes were a solid, well-entrenched middle class family. In a hive like Cinerarium there was never a lack of need for morticians, it was the good ones that were harder to find; and the Deulanes were one of the best. They had been a fifth generation family of morticians quietly serving the wealthy poor and the middle class when Edmund’s father had invented at a young age the ghoul proof coffin.  Nothing can beat a determined being with a sledgehammer but they were proof enough against the jagged claws of a hungry ghoul and now the family was vaulted to the top of the Boxers.  

There are two different ranks of mortician available to the common man; those that make pine boxes and those that can only tie their family in sheets and rope.  Winders aren’t bad people but often the bodies are shallowly buried and become food for ghouls and parts for robbers. Most every poor sod in the city aspires to be buried by Boxers and those that can’t even afford a Winder are sad indeed.

It had been a long night over a year ago belonging to an even longer day, while going over the collected remains of case together, when Edmund had opened up ever so slightly.  Edmund’s recorder had been asleep in an oversized cot made just for him while Elsbeth yawned, having just woken up from her short nap, and was pouring them all more precious coffee.  The exam room had still smelled vaguely of ash and blood while the chemical orb lights had floated over-head.

“I remember as a child,” he had started without urging, “Watching over the bodies as they came in to be cleaned and prepared.  I was very proud of my task, of course, sorting and folding their belongings, because Father had told me I was growing up into a clever lad. I would carefully put everything in a basket; sometimes not more than rags other times even a ring or a bowler hat.  And so I got a very good look at them and their final belongings. And at times I knew with a great clarity, seldom bestowed on a child of those years, that their deaths were not just accidents or old age. As my father cleaned under broken and bloody finger nails, he too knew; but once I had seen the scars under his white shirt, received for having tried to press a mysterious death further with constables, and so we said nothing.”

Mariesha had been afraid to breath heavily and break the spell put over them.

“I had always wanted to be a Boxer like my father.  Damned proud of him I am. But the first time a scarlet cloaked Inspector came into the laying-out room and actually asked my father about a recent death, and we knew that something had changed within the justice of our city; Well, then I suddenly knew what I wanted to become.  The realization burned like a new ember from that day forward: I was going to see to the mystery of justice for all the people of Cinerarium.”

Edmund had then methodically stirred some sugar into his cup and taken a long swallow of coffee.  “Well, Inspector Greywaves, let us go over the evidence again, shall we.”


     The thick file of the missing railway passengers was now in Edmond Deulanes hands and the thin folder of the missing boy was waiting to be read.  Mariesha shook hands with Edmond solemnly and waited patiently while he gently kissed the back of Elsbeth’s gloved hands in farewell.

“Well, Els, lets go and scan about this poor burk,” said Mariesha as she walked past her own desk.  “There’s great tucker to be had at Blythe’s Pub right now.”


All my Love and Adoration to my friends and rock hound family: I miss you all dearly so please keep up with your adventures. Dig Crazy and Create Wildly.

Be Well




Crater Adventure and Coming Winter

Dearest Gentle Reader,

Today is the first of December and the weather hear in NW Arkansas has turned cold again. For several weeks before thanksgiving the weather has been surprisingly warm with daytime temperatures in the 70s and mid 60s and nights in the 40s. This sudden warmth had lulled us into a sense of false security plus the insistence from locals about the temperate winters. The stray sleet and snow squall that scattered over us at the middle of October had dropped the leaves from the trees and their dry, crunchy shells skittered over the driveway and lawn. The cold front came the day before Thanksgiving with a constant driving wind. Now, we are familiar with the winds of Chicago that bluster and blow in the Winter; the kind that will go straight to the bone then run away laughing: This wind is a Midwestern wind, a constant wind that will travel across the city for hours before gusting up and shaking the windows of the house. The thunder storm that night made the room almost shake from the sudden clap of thunder and the lightening was so bright and constant we could see to cross the room without turning on the lights. When we finally pried our eyes open that next morning the temperature high was going to be in the 30s where the day before had been in the Low 70s! Quite a change.

It is with great joy that I wish to tell you, the Gentle Reader, about my trip to Crater of Diamonds State Park in Arkansas during October. My husband drove us out on Thursday evening for a quick five hour jaunt across the state. Now,… the driving app showed us two ways to go, one choice took us all the way over to Little Rock then back to Murfreesboro and the other went rather straight up the middle through Mt Ida with only an extra 10 minutes. As we were feeling brazen and rugged at this point we chose to take the middle path with only a few ten minutes extra. Anyone who has driven this mistake before may now start chuckling softly at us. I am forever thankful that my Beloved is an experienced and steady driver: Halloween night was spent driving up and around the Ouchita Mountains along a curvy road that could put tangled fishing line to shame. I was light sensitive at the time and thought that surely the yellow ‘curving road’ signs would be branded to the back of my eyeballs. Our hotel was in the small town of Hope and it was with relief that we drove into the parking lot of the Motel 6. Ever since I was a little girl and I got to listen to the quaint and mellow voiced man tell us that “We’ll leave the light on for you.” I have had a soft spot for Motel 6s. It was the spartan but clean room we expected and as we settled down into the king sized bed I was imagining the rapturous rock hound heaven I was to visit the next day. It was then that our heater began to make sounds similar to a 747 taking off: every twenty minutes. My husband went to the fellow at the desk and found out that the hotel was booked solid so there was no changing rooms: This was OK, I guess, as the person above us was making rhythmic noises that was quite impressive, one of those times you do not know whether to go upstairs and compliment them with a Gatorade or beg them to stop so you can sleep between the jet flights coming out of the heater.

Friday morning was lovely and chill with bright sun light cutting across the sky and with a least three hours of sleep I was excited not to have a migraine. After a quick fast food breakfast we drove the half hour into Murfreesboro and found the park without getting lost. To be honest I had become used to collecting with my Darling-one in out of the way places and almost empty lakeside beaches and had somehow thought that a great volcano field would be similar, besides it was November 1st, Dia de Los Muertos, and not technically the weekend. Apparently old people like us enjoy going out to volcanic mud flats in Arkansas; so much for getting to trammel through untamed wilderness void of civilization while we searched for elusive fragments that had been hurled into the air millions of years ago. Who ever had the idea to turn this land into a state park and charge you to sift their gravel for elusive diamonds was absolutely brilliant and their mothers are proud. The park was staffed with friendly and professional attendants and for an open mud flat the area was well maintained. We had no idea what to expect so our first two hours were spent walking the plow lines up and down and picking what we could find off of the top. Thankfully I had no interest in finding a diamond but was there for the agate, jasper, basalt, quartz, and volcanic tuff. Pretty soon I could hear the echoing “thunk, thunk” as rocks were dropped into our buckets. I relaxed and even enjoyed listening to the field trip of little children yelling in glee as they ran around in the mud with their brightly colored buckets. I managed not to laugh when two different people stopped to ask me questions because “you look like you know what you are doing.” and was pleasantly surprised when I actually knew the answers: My beloved ex-boss AE can now smile knowingly as I tell you that the educator in me was not far from the surface. There also being the geologists and naturalists that I know who take the time to share their academic work and knowledge with little ol’ me: Not to worry my dearest ones, your words have apparently sunk into my head.

About 1 ‘o’ clock I realized I was hungry and the predictable sausage croissant from breakfast was long gone. With the steady draw of people to the park I had expected to drive past a slew of fast food places but a Sonic was the only quick stop. We decided to skip the burger made of something questionable and picked out a local Mexican restaurant. I didn’t have high hopes but am very pleased to say that Telingas was pretty darn good! I recommend them to anyone eating outside of the park. But it is coming upon Winter and the park closes at 4 in the evening so we chose to go back to the Motel in Hope. The new room was squeaky clean and the heater worked without roaring in time with the mini fridge. To tell the truth I crashed to a nap once my head hit the pillow and dinner was The Waffle House because that was what was open late in the night. We also have a sentimental love for The WH because we courted at the one in Cary, NC while my dear future husband worked nights cleaning floors.  Allas the waitress at the  WH was just as good as their diabetic offerings but I at least plowed through my meal.

And Saturday!!!… I had a migraine. Blessedly on the weekend the Motel was very quiet, as their weekly worker-renters from Texas go home for the weekend. I can attest to both the hushed quiet of rural Arkansas and the ninja like qualities of the maids for this motel. Off and on I could hear the muffled “vroom” as they marched up and down the hallway with vacuumes, that blended with the hum of the heater in our room. My Beloved quietly sat and used the day to write on NANOWRIMO and to research for his work. I want to tell the care givers in this world that YOU are the true blessing in life and are God-given. The quiet waiting and selfless care is such a heartfelt blessing. Sure, my husband is a writer and scholarly but the patience to wait the day out with me was completely endearing. If he were the rock hound then he could have left me in the room to recover; I know how to lay quietly without moving, I probably would have insisted that he go, but I must admit that his voice every two or three hours was like a deep, warm salve in my muddled sleep.

By four ‘o’ clock my head was clearing enough to realize I hadn’t eaten all day or morning. As odd as it is, the best bet in Hope, as in Murfreesboro, was a Mexican restaurant. This one was called Dos Loco Gringos and I must admit I was worried about eating at a restaurant called Two Crazy White Guys that was further into the rural landscape of Arkansas than Murfreesboro. I was wrong. The food was excellent and the stream of locals quietly coming in for a Saturday dinner out was well rewarded. Our idea of a wild Saturday night was to go back to the hotel room and talk together with the History Channel playing in the background, which only proved that the men who dig on Oak Island still know nothing about archaeology. Around nine at night I quickly looked over at my husband and said “whats burning?” He did a fast check of the electrical in the room then realized that the redolent burning smell was coming down the hall. Now I do not panic about stuff like this very much but we could see the pall of smoke in the hall  and I had no desire to hear a fire alarm go off while I was in only my underwear. So… while my husband went to tell the front desk about the smoke I pulled on some jeans and a shirt feeling confident of an alarm somewhere going off, but NO.  The video game playing guy at the front desk apparently uttered words about rooms with smoking and showed no great concern. We do not know if this was just someone with the ubiquitous “seeds and stems” or smoking Russian cigarettes but a wet towel under the door solved our problems and I was able to relax again with the husband.

Sunday came far earlier than I would have liked but I decided to buckle up and put on the big girl panties and collect on my last day instead of going immediately home. The weather was sunny with just enough of a cool breeze to warrant starting off with a jacket. This time we went far to the right away from other people and managed to find plow lines that hadn’t been walked through since the last rain. I have dug in as well as gloried in dirt from Chicago, IL to Aurora, NC and from Virginia to Arkansas and never had the pleasure of feeling the dirt from Crater of Diamonds. Somehow the black, sticky mud was also sandy and really does have the most amazing feel: Just imagine an emory board made of silk and that is the feel of the mud. The agates have all been slowly worn and smoothed in this glorious elixir of mud and the closer an agate is to being translucent the more it also feels like silk has been pulled over the stone.  The agates that were found have some amazing swirled patterns and color spikes throughout them! While I have seen pictures of Lake Superior Agates/Lakers and Fairburn Agates I have never found my own; my agates from Lake Michigan rarely had the intense swirling. Crater of Diamonds has these agates all over: I did indeed do a happy dance in the hotel room and several times at the house. The basalt type volcanic rough is also interesting and on some of my larger pieces I am excited to see if they can be cut and polished.  This matt black rock is speckled all over with a pale green type of mineral and I have high hopes of an olivine.

Bellow is the fun chert from Lake Ann that I talked of last post.


Good premonitions while driving out to Crater of Diamonds: Bright yellow light heralding in a mellow and calm gloaming. The slivered Moon and Evening Star were crisp and bright.BHJ5p%MARhqaQyHICwUYKwmj1gaoEVSkS8cul8DViGYwU59RkwBsQHihS1bIW+pUtw

While we drove out of Murfreesboro toward home the setting sun was an inspiration. The sky was a delicate, almost ephemeral apricot color that transformed around the edges into shades of tangerine and gilded sun light. At times bare whips of night-grey clouds floated in and through the burnished colors.


And…. my rocks from the Crater!!!! Everything was relatively easy to find, in fact the hardest part was picking out the better pieces. They charge per person so multiple buckets are doable. Note: When spraying the rocks with water to show color better, try and not soak the pillow.  546xkryFRd+FkQMhkzQD0QU87mOoYSRx+mmUtHQfT8QAC8CAi7RBS1KUg2ItX6TSBwXl3NBn6LTieAkm+g4BIhXQYyQn7FURQ7GdNLF5FuVHZg

Right now we have the infra-red heater on in the living room and the house still smells of roasting lamb and coconut fruit cake. Sorcha has turned into a heater hog so we put that little marvel-of-modern-technology on some plastic crates so she can’t lean up against the screen. Last night we hung 5 out of 20 or so paintings and the house just seems to be more hospitable. Most of my shopping is already done for Christmas and all I have left is a few items for my brother in law. He is as thrifty as my sister and not a wasteful person so shopping for him is hard if I do not want to give shirts and ties every year. Contrary to what men say, men ARE hard to shop for: no make-up, soaps, and matching outfits to hunt for! (And yes this is written with some humor to it.)

From what my friends have said and from news snippets, Chicago is snowed in enough to have to wait for snow plows and the fellow that fender dented my car said Michigan just had 9 inches before Thanksgiving. Yep, got fender bended right before Thanksgiving but I must say AAA has come through so far with flying colors. As I delve into all the pictures and stories from friends and pen pals on Face Books I am reminded of the wonderful, weird, and artistic people that I know. I am truly blessed to even be acknowledged by so many of these artistic and magical people. Please, Gentle Readers, even if you do not shop local or Small Business would you please share the advertisements of local and small business that you believe in. We, the little people, need all the help we can get, besides the goodly bump for our ego. I am trying out the selling site Our Village,, because ever sense Etsy changed their shipping policy I have gotten no hits at all on my shop page. Our Village was recommended to me by a dear friend, Rockshine, who, although we disagree on politics, is a veteran rock hound, NC mountain expert, and lovable darling who also does artistic photography. You can find my shops at and at (just click on ‘find a shop’). I also recommend TinkerWoman Wares for classic jewelry and artistic stationary. For Steampunk and gems and minerals comes:  Bits madhousemindworks out of Florida and she is super! If your loved one has everything then help them reinvent themselves, Terri March is talented and skilled and does not dress people like clones: terrimarch@wardrobewizard.

Now comes the next part of Red Angels Rise. In a spate of truthfulness I admit that part of this upcoming section is a tribute to literature majors and my english professors from college (most notably the ones who did NOT say that Sci Fi and Fantasy were not valid forms of writing.) And of course this is a nod to The Diarist Himself, Samuel Pepys. cont….

On this rainy night her socked feet were cozily propped on the low table in front of her with a cigar in one hand and an old book in another.  The strange, new, iron radiator made comfortable pinging noises instead of a crackling from the fireplace. Mariesha felt surely that the book she was reading was old simply because no one wanted to waste paper by reprinting it. Samuel Smythe was undoubtedly one of the most tedious and pedantic note takers to have ever kept a diary: If she did not have to read “and so the morning comes” one more time she could live a happy life. The reason that Samuel Smythe and his daily log of working as a surveyor had ever been brought to light was two-fold: that his personal attention to detail gave remarkable insight into early history and apparently his attention to detail included his physical exertions with a comely Mrs Smythe. What Mariesha needed was the five years he had spent surveying the Kummerian planes for the railroads. This was her third house that night and earlier she had been starting to despair of any information remarkably useful when she had run across a reference to Samuel Smythe‘s work as a surveyor. Library Five always had the best collection of biographies and journals.

     She turned the page carefully and took a small nibble off of the unlit cigar.  Tobacco always seemed the perfect snack. Mariesha found that cheap, heavy, cigars and cigarettes were perfect on the go, when a couple of bites and a quick satisfying flavor hit the spot but reading mentally exhausting books in over stuffed chairs in warm libraries called for carefully layered flavors and nuances to the cigar.

      Luckily for her he had not married Jemima Cantrell yet within the diary pages; the Inspector didn’t want the distraction as tempting as the newly Mrs Smythe’s dexterity was supposed to be. The lady in question was still the lovely yet single daughter of an engineering tycoon; a Naturalist set upon sketching the wildlife and habitat of the new frontier.  

     Mariesha flipped another page describing the look of the then Miss Cantrell’s dainty lips around her morning coffee cup and stopped. There it was: Just one line and a set of numbers at the end of a paragraph. She had found the first coordinates for the Kummerian Plains, possibly a clue to the present day massacre on the train.

     Two hours before sun rise and she had the front and back of a piece of paper covered in the smallest script she could manage.  The survey numbers were coupled with descriptions of the small hills, the streams crossed, and the quality of dirt moved. She also had a small list of possible archeological connections but feared that these would prove only interesting, not useful. She rubbed her eyes and made the last notation “only liquor”: There had been one exciting entry that spoke of a possible Whisperer sighting.  She well knew the fear those ghost like whisps could engender. Outside the city Mariesha wore a hat or scarf to hide her upswept ears and didn’t smile to show off her teeth; no need to add to the fears of what only went bump in the night. Compared to most any modern city, Cinerarium was rife with magic, with its tightly controlled runes and wracketting factories the city seemed steeped in eldritch power. Several train rails and coaches even circled around it for fear of the Whisperers that ate magic and lives the same.

    Luckily for Samuel and Jemima the whisperer had turned out to be green horn rail-workers fueled by home made alcohol.

****  **** ******

     Mariesha finished washing the night’s dirt from her hands and face and sat exhausted onto her bed.  It was tucked between two great brick and mortar pillars that rose to the darkened ceiling unstopped.  She knew that bed was a generous term but she had made it all herself and was rather proud of that fact.  Several wood pallets atop each other held a number of old mattresses and over sized pillows that were covered by a clean sheet and equally clean and patched quilts.  Long, thin, metal, boxes taken from a demolished railway vault were tucked under the pallets and held her socks and cotton or linen shirts. She would have rather liked to say they held her dainties but unlike Elsbeth she didn’t have small cotton cups held on by ribbons.  She hoped that eventually she would blossom but had to console herself that the rest of her was feminine enough.

     Skylar was rumbling and snorting his cute wolverine noises in his sleep on top his pile and Mariesha smiled hearing him and the city distantly around her.  Her precious mechanized alarm clock had been wound and set to ring in four hours. It sat above her next to a small cup of water, the ledge having been ground into the bricks by an unknown and long forgotten mechanism:  Morning would come soon enough.

To Be continued…

And so I end another post as the night grows long: Our dog Sorcha is curled on the couch almost between me and my husband, who is in his swivel chair by the fireplace. Our dinner was poor man’s food of sausage and spaghetti which reminds me that all good food is poor man’s; just like Low Country Shrimp and Grits or my mama’s Pinto Beans and Rice with Kale on the side.  May your coffee be strong, your tea be steaming, and your cocoa be dark and creamy. As the nights grow colder and darker with the coming sleep that is Winter let us pray to God and the Sophia for the guiding Light and protecting Shadow,

Be Well




Ozark Autumn and Lakeside Rambling

Greetings Gentle Readers,

As it does every year, this Autumnal Equinox came and went with out even a light pause.  The weather began to rain immediately and now, the 14th of October, we have already had our first frost if only for a night.  While I heartedly miss the shores of Lake Michigan and the never ending sands of the Atlantic beaches, the selective cacophony of the weather here in the Ozarks is both pleasing and energizing.  My town of Rogers, which melds seamlessly with Bentonville, is in a kind of depression or bowl in the Ozarks.  We are above and down slope of what are called the Boston Mountains which are above the Ouchita Mountains, the later not strictly considered a a part of the Ozarks. The clouds and the wind move down from Kansas and Missouri, across the Ozark Plateau with little stopping but somehow get confused when they reach our little place in the mountains. The rains here started the day after equinox and the thunder seems to roll and echo across all the asphalt roads and concrete sidewalks. A week or so ago lightening cracked through the night time storm clouds so sharply that I thought for sure a tree or power line must have been struck.  The rain falls for a day at a time and the stream like reservoirs criss crossing this cement hamlet become miniature white water rivers. The towns were originally built up with great gusto during the 80s boom time then folks noticed that all the soil and ground was sliding away or puddling up into stagnant pools. Benton County swallowed their pride, paid out the money, and promptly dug through the new neighborhoods, developments, and strip malls to put in cement reservoirs and run-off channels like they should have to begin with. I have found a strange joy in walking the giant culvert behind a local church and letting Sorcha splash her paws in the streams once the rains lets up.

My husband finally decided to order a velcro attaching screen for our back sliding door and we can now easily hear the crickets and frogs at night. It is a complete joy to sit quietly and feel the fresh cool air on your cheek or hear the early patter of rain drops. There is occasionally an unknown raptor cry across the manicured lawns and the howling yip from a neighbors’ puppy. This past Sunday I was well enough to go out to Lake Anne and walk about the path for a bit. There was a rock jutting out over the water and if it hadn’t been for fancy leggings I would have clambered onto it just to bask in the drowsy sun and touch the rock beneath me. Just getting out and feeling the Autumn warmth on my back, hearing the water falling down the edge, and even the pieces of grey and white chert found were a great balm to my heart and soul. (I had wanted to share the just lovely photos of the Lake Ann water fall and the very exciting color swirls of the chert but uploading photos is a no-can-do right now.)

For most of October, so far, I have been mentally absent due to migraines and fibromyalgia flares, so it is again with shocked delight that I share the beautifully warm weather today. A cool breeze coming off the mountains around us is wafting the warm sunshine through the shadows making the weather a pleasant 63 degrees.  It is also with a certain irony that while in Chicago 63 degrees was shorts weather in March but is sending people rushing for flannel jackets in October in Arkansas. During our Summer here in Arkansas 75 degrees was cold enough for the AC to be set at but today in October the windows are open with a warm 64 degrees. It is also quite the complex conundrum that a moon child like me enjoys the Autumn sun shine so much. When the sun slants downward through the trees with a yellow light, a color that can only be claimed by Autmn, there is such mellow warmth and casuall grace from the sun beams that I simply want to lie down and curl into an hour long nap.

I gave in to an impulse and ordered the cookbook The Recipes of My 15 Grandmothers: Unique Recipes and Stories from the Times of the Crypto-Jews during the Spanish Inquisition. I warn you now; do not read this if you are even kind of hungry. The stories with each recipe and the story of this woman’s journey for her ancestry are just plain wonderful.  One of the best parts is the regional specific dishes that exemplify not only a peoples but the history as well. Ms Milgrom’s enthusiasm is undeniable and her inherent understanding of passed down recipes is beautifully evident.

Just in time for Halloween and All Saints comes the next installment of Red Angel’s Rise. My writing talent is still growing (The No Name Writers Group can attest) so in order for me to practice creating a plot line, my husband put a “monkey wrench” in the story line and asked me write a part of the “mini adventure” by myself. The “monkey wrench” starts once we make our way to the police station but for now the investigation continues after the pause to talk to Billy ‘O’. With my love affair with books I was an instigator of the Library coming up. This part could perhaps be divided into two pieces but I felt it all warranted one piece. cont…

     The rain was a sullen drizzle as Mariesha worked her way down a fire gutter:  A combination of fire escape and rain gutter, unique to the City itself, created in an attempt to conserve resources, it seemed to gurgle words to her while fine spray from leaking holes hit against her face and hands.  At ground level there was a butchers roughly two blocks away that was always good for beef bones with meat still clinging. Given an Inspector’s salary she knew she could afford better fare but being a teifling meant that as long as she stayed away from too much cinders and dirt her diet was healthy.

      The warehouse district was next to the stockyards and many years in the past it had all been at the edge of Cinerarium.  Now they nestled within a middle ring of the City, like a smudged spot of one-story warehouses and open dirt yards. The livestock cars split off from the regular rails and traveled along special tracks to the pins and warehouses; the tracks, so engulfed by bridges, under passes, and towers that the locals called it the Cow Tunnel.

       Her scarlet cloak was drying on its steel hanger by the iron oven; warm, even heat coming from the bed of coals at the bottom.  Mariesha had a spare pair of dry socks on and was finishing feeding Skylar dinner. Skylar was her joy and baby, having saved him as an infant in the wilds of the Kummarian plains.  The problem with adopting a baby wolverine was that no one wanted to rent you a kip and no one wanted to help feed him. Mariesha bit part of the bone off for him and admitted that sweet baby’s breath had been right out from the start too.  

      For a kip to hang your hat in her space was pretty prime as far as she was concerned.  Most of the time the great cavernous warehouse was silent below her, hiding its original purpose in darkened corners and with forgotten cogs.  The wall separating her abode from the warehouse below went up three quarters of the way to the ceiling, offering her the same air circulation as the rest of the warehouse, which at times was warm and slightly cloying and at others requiring her to break the ice on her wash bowl.  There was of course a bathing tub, one of those huge white beauties with claw feet probably removed from a house right after the mourning curtains had been taken down, but a wash bowl was all she had time for during certain cases.

     She wanted to take Skylar with her that night, as she had when he was still a pup but running the rooftops with a full grown wolverine tucked in your jacket was asking to become one with the pavement.  Plus as Mariesha saw it you can buck the system and wear pants in a drawing room but there were some things you didn’t push: Certain rooms could accommodate a girl, her wolverine, and his bone but several she planned to visit that evening just weren’t made to accommodate her and her Skylar.  She buttoned up a canvas jacket and unlocked the door to the warehouse, stale yet slightly chill air came up to meet her. Skylar rubbed up against her several times and against the door then trotted down into the gloomy crates below. He was already putting in a thick coat and that made Mariesha nervous for the coming winter.  Outside she tied a red rag to the main warehouse doors, the signal to any workers that Skylar was ratting and hunting on the main floor, and headed out into the dark.

    All in all an education in Cinerarrium was for the idle and wealthy, a reason that Mareisha was glad her tutor had kept her under his wing after her parents’ sudden death.  She could understand math and geometry, puzzle out a few ancient languages, and play chess and backgammon but most precious was reading the common word. Reading the common tongue opened up one of the strangest glories of the City:  The Great Library of Cinerarium and all her smaller branches. In a building far older and almost as large as the homes of the greatest undead families of the City, the Great Library had archives untouched for centuries and hallways that stayed silent and untrameled for decades.  

     In her first years of scratching between jobs and searching below in the tunnels, she had slowly earned the trust to move from the common room of the Great Library, populated by day laborers and the homeless, up to the Outer Stacks and then toward the Inner Stacks.  Any book that left the library meant that you have had your thumb pricked and then pressed into a glyph on the inside cover. Mariesha had seen the poor burks who were dumb enough to have an overdue book. They wore a dull grey bracelet that radiated arcane magics and were to a man and woman a sullen lot shelving books and magazines silently and ceaselessly until the fine was paid off.  Once allowed into the Inner Stacks she realized that the chances of anyone checking out the book she wanted was almost nil and therefore her need for checking out books had also become almost nil. All she had to do was read as much as she could in her spare time: The great library closed between Midnight and four in the morning.  

     It had been many years ago and three thirty in the morning when the hairs on the back of her neck had stood up and Mariesha had cracked open an eye with a sinking feeling in her stomach.  A dim blue glow had lit the tucked away desk and the three large books with tight scrawl opened around her, luckily the small pool of saliva had soaked into her sleeve. The blue light also lit up the librarian holding it.  The librarian was tall and thin and wearing a strict grey dress. With the glossy mound of white hair piled onto her head she could have been a vision of severe beauty but Mariesha noted that her face was just slightly too drawn and her eyes were far larger and darker than they should be.  The librarian’s hands were soft and long with a uniquely perfect manicure and pointed fingernails; she was holding a piece of paper and a piece of smooth, carved bone on a leather thong. Witty words escaped the teifling as visions of grey bracelets danced before her eyes all for falling asleep in the Inner Stacks.  For his part, Skylar had awoken and moved in front of Mariesha’s chair.

     “Take this,” said the librarian in modulated and hushed tones, holding out the bone pendant and paper.  “It is yours now. Go to this address tomorrow night between after the gloaming and midnight. You will be expected.”

     Mariesha had dazedly taken both proffered objects and remembered to close her mouth.

     “Do you hear me, child?”  There had been a slightly arched tone to the voice.

     “Yes, ma’m.”  Answered Mariesha quickly.  Skylar had yawned.

     “You may let yourself out after shelving the books you have pulled,” had been the librarian’s reply and then she had turned smoothly, walking in a too much of a gliding sort of way with only a slight scraping from her shoes.

     The nighttime stars had been well upon their path when after a day of watching and scrutinizing the corner home of Tomas Raclete, Mariesha had boldly gone up the front steps and knocked on the door.  Her face and hands had been scrubbed, hair combed back, and boots cleaned to as good a shine as they could take. In her normal times she would have gone by the servant’s entrance to do business but for this night Mariesha Greywaves had been determined to enter through the front door.

     The butler had answered her knock and before she could have said her well rehearsed speech he had ushered her inside, “Welcome.  I was told to expect you. Won’t you follow me and I will tell the Master you are here.”

      A part of her had been wondering if she could get to her knives fast enough but she had followed the butler past doorways and hallways and finally into a large shadowed room with stuffed chairs and ceiling tall shelves.

    “Enjoy yourself.  Master will be here shortly.”

     Mariesha’s face had been screwed up in confusion, worry, and awe, “Enjoy doing what?”

     “Reading, I should think,” replied the butler with a straight face, closing the door behind him.

     Three weeks then went bye and she had read treaties on plant life around The Maw, poetry, histories, and the diaries of explorers in the remains of the Underdark.  Then Raclete had appeared one evening and had given her a second address to go to, a second library. Two months later there was a third address given to her.  

      She now had seven houses to use from the mysterious Floating Library not needing to be identified by the bone pass nor did Mariesha see much use for the front door anymore.  She now knew these great old houses; their stone walls, and their gable windows. She knew where the courtyards lay and how the lattice-works hung. And best of all she knew the over upholstered chairs, tall shelves, and carefully selected books.

to be cont….

As Winter comes along, ushered in by Halloween and Dio de los Muertos, I pray that you all are safe in your revelry and safe in your devotion. May the Veil treat you gently and God warm you from the chill,

Be Well


Moving Right Along…

Dear Gentle  Readers,

Today is the day we start moving, the packers arrived at 9:15 and are already rolling!! Every move before, I have packed the boxes and this is such a pleasure to have real pros do it for me.  We were given 19 days to find a place to live in Bentonville, Arkansas and to pack our house: my exact thoughts on that are not polite enough to put in writing. Layer after layer of memories being wrapped and boxed is like a reverse time capsule. Luckily the young men are really polite and respectful. I will right now without a doubt tout Guardian Movers: Atlas Van Lines.  As we have a heat wave index rolling through there is still not enough coffee in the world to keep me awake. And All Blessings to Hawthorn Veterinary for giving us a prescription for Prozac for Sorcha, she is still slightly nervous but her paw nibbling has stopped: love my pup dearly but when she comes for an ear scratch and you also get a hand full of slobber-paws… well it is special.

Last year we had the orb weaver Big Momma at our front door and this year she and Wicked Sister are absent. I guess they knew we were moving.  The wet season, as I am calling it, ended right on Summer Solstice and now we are baking here in the Midwest. The areas that flooded are still swampy with water so humidity is amping up to the “Dang it. This is N’Orleans hot!”  The night is finally beginning it’s chorus of frogs while slowly building up the cries of a far off owl and the local kestrel. While we were in Bentonville they had a freak weather system move through with rain and storms (Do they follow me??!) so I am hoping to get in the groove soon with the weather and temperatures there.  Baby frogs are now hopping about Edwardsville and keeping Sorcha’s mouth off of them is a priority.  Last time she caught one I thought “Dang! Well, what is a small raw frog to an eating machine like our “Psycho Potato”. Three days of diarrhea later I found out. The community college campus we walk her on at night is home to a successful catering company and I hope the smells from the tires and a few dropped nibbles here and there are a good compensation for a lack of frogs.  Frankly I will miss the Edwardsville area but not St Louis. As a fond and strangely sentimental goodby to E-ville here are some of the better-moments-pictures: Spring time wild violets at our shed, Sorcha in the violets, the White House where Sorcha liked to romp, a rather peculiar tree on the L&C campus, the L&C courtyard with fountain, cool wild mushrooms in yard, three pictures of the AWESOME library, the Autumn light through the tree in front yard, two pictures of delightful idiosyncrasies, backyard snow and COLD, two pictures from part of an Art Extravaganza on the Library lawn, the Lewis & Clark campus on a perfect night, stray flowering weed along Nickel Plate trail, two pictures of the ‘Goat Head’ tree, the amazing doors to Cahokia Mounds Museum, a Spring rain that drenched us for days.

I know that my posts are often cheerful and poetic but recently I had a very upsetting event. Due to migraines and the move I was unable to make the once a year Rock Hound RoundUp.  I had written two very large paragraphs expressing my anger and grief over missing out on all the rocks and seeing some of the people I love best. I was truly devastated and enumerated lots of anger and paranoid fears. Y’all I even baked over 6 cakes and breads to take! (So far the bundt style Coconut with Mocha glaze and even the GF Eggnog Butterscotch with Rum have been absolute hits at the husbands office.) Then my computer glitched and days worth of contemplation and catharsis went down the drain and into the electronic grave yard. I took this as a sign. With hindsight we can all thank whatever happened to my old computer.

So weeks have passed and I can openly sing the praises of Benton County Arkansas and the Ozarks! While we have been hit with high temperatures because of Summer, the weather is normally calm and cozy.  When there is a rain storm it does Thor proud! I stood in the back yard facing the wind and could feel the gusts and lightening coming down the mountains; the rain was driven so hard the first drops stung my face. At night out little neighborhood is nearly pitch dark even with lamp lights and normally quiet like a stayed and fearless darkness:  The evening that the cicadas and crickets came out was like a continually reverberating wave of noise filling the early night.

Our small town of Rogers is blended into Bentonville and together they have put together an open air amphitheater and a water park along with Gabriella’s Panaderia and a farmers market.  The food choices are everywhere and comes in second to Chicago, except that there is almost no decent Tex-mex and Mediterranean is piddliin’. The college town of Fayeteville is half an hour away and in reality is ‘just down the road’. Lake Ann has fossils off of a major highway and THE crystals of Arkansas are 2-4 hours away. Two mentors and beloved friends are in Branson, Mo and my brother-in-law’s family is two hours away in Joplin. Our neighborhood is filled with SUVs with camping bumper stickers and real mud on the tires.  Every garage seems to be filled with work shops and yard salvage is a rule of thumb. My tortured house plants are finally thriving on the front porch, our dog has discovered indoor cricket hunting, and there is even a mud dauber by the front door.

And now for another installment of Red Angel’s Rise where there is a break in the tension and a new inhabitant of the city is introduced: cont..  *****

It may have been clear that morning but steely clouds had been moving in all evening and the air was now heavy and still.  As tired as she was, Mariesha needed the time it would take to get home to clear her head of the worries of the day. The great simplicity and complexity of Cinerarium was that there was more than one street and thorough-fair travelled; Mariesha swung herself onto the outside of a fire escape, climbing agilely to the rooftop. The rain started with the heavy drops of a squall, the shingles and tar-papers of the roof lines turning dark with rain, lit grey by the setting sun. Orienting herself to several of the spires and towers of the City, the young Inspector began to run across the building tops. She threaded her way in a city block of industry through a forest of chimneys; some of faded brick and some of pitted metal, and leaped across the half walls of separated tenement rooms until the warehouse district came on the horizon.

The rain was finer now but in driving gusts, when she came to a hutch of old barrels and waxed canvas.  Doves cooed, nestled in weathered grey crates and cinder blocks, safe from the storm and chill drops.

“Billy-O, you home, old man?”  Called out Mariesha.

“That you, child… Inspector?”  Answered a gruff voice from within.


“Then you come in out of this rain, eh.  Pour you a spot of tea.”

“Fair enough,” replied Mariesha as a flap of canvass was pulled aside for her.  Inside was a gnarled old man with wisps of patchy grey hair and a seven-day beard of white.  He was sitting on an old cot piled with patched and brown blankets, beside him a spirit lamp was barely lit with a dented teapot still steaming on top.  Bill-O brushed off a sturdy crate for her and she sat down arranging her dripping scarlet cloak around her to dry.

“Here you go, lass, drink sumpthin’ to keep you warm,” his hands shook as he poured tea into two tin cans.  Mareisha stretched her legs out across the tarpaper and listened to the rain hit the canvass above her.

“So how goes the pigeon brood, Mr Billy-O?”

“Maevis Lavendar is re-feathering her nest… lots of paper bits.”

The young Inspector sipped the hot tea, “Another clutch then?”

 “O’ aye, I ‘spect so.  Pa’ticular she is. Not like Ms. Opal, she‘ll pick jist about anything fer nesting.”

 “And Ricky-Roo?”

 “Sold him, I did.  Fer a pretty penny too,” Billy-O chuckled into his cup, “He’ped me feather ma’ oown nest he did. 

Knee ‘as been ticken’ on me a bit.”

 “But the weather is still holding out for you?” asked Mariesha, remembering how the seasonal storms could grow chill and wet: Cinerarium standing alone in stone and steel to catch the raw winds from the plains. 

“Good enough fer me but as I kin smell sulfa’ and ash in ta’ air.  North East it is.”

“The brood not cotton’en to it?”  Mariesha showed actual concern over this, giving the old man’s sense of smell some credit over the normal smoke and cinders.

“Not a bit ‘o it.” Billy-O shook his head. “But I do ma’ best to comf’it them.”

Mariesha nodded, silently assuring him that she surely thought he did.  They talked until her can was empty of tea: speaking of rheumatism, prevailing breezes, the quality of bread crusts, and the movement of the stars.  

Finally Mariesha’s boot soles were dry and the scarlet cloak had shed most of its water and the old man stretched out his arms yawning, “Well now, I ‘spect a hard worken’ Inspector sich as you has better things to do than talkin’ to an old man lack myself.”

Mariesha set the can down, “Not really, not for you Mr. Billy-O but I do have some books to search through. And Skylar needs dinner.”

“Oh, aye, ye’r bundle o’ joy,” the old man chuckled.

“Aye,” Mariesha agreed.  “Look after yourself old man.  I’ll be back this way soon enough.”

 “Same yerself lassy.  Ol’ Billy-O will be here.”   cont…. *****


Gentle readers, as I am still wading through boxes and books, fabric, and of course rocks I send you all my love and thank all who peruse my musings and my story.  May God hold you in the palm of his hand and the Sophia shower you with love,

Be Well