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.”
***** **** *****
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.
“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,