Karst, Creeks, and the Lortone

Hello Gentle Readers,

Life is once again laying heavy on my shoulders and if I cry any more there will be trails of salt imbedded in my cheeks; for the last seven months my hair has been slowly going grey.  I try to be honest and forthright with everyone who reads but the pain is so personal and so private I can’t even begin.  (And no I am not crying over the grey hair.)  I have found that when I posted once to every three months it was easier to make breezy and pithy posts that still had heartfelt comments but to post on a more regular basis everything becomes much more personal, also a lack of actually interesting things to tell about on my part becomes a problem.  While this mid life crisis is very tight against my chest and personal to my soul as mid life crises go it is rather like a thin wisp than a tempest or even a breeze on the Spring night air: So enough of self pity lets get this show on the road.

Spring is finally drying the land out here in SW Illinois and even though it rained all Saturday the water was able to drain away instead of making soggy puddles and driving earth worms onto the pavement to die.  More and more I am able to be barefoot outside and feel the new grass springing under my toes.  Crocus that I planted in the Fall came up in fragile yellow flowers, promptly nibbled by all the bunnies proliferating, well, like bunnies.  Lately the strange bamboo thicket that grows two houses down diagonally has been hosting the strangest bird sounds in the morning.  Normally the thicket is a cacophony of tweety type birds that greets us at all times of the day, when it is silent even at night is when we worry.  This weird Spring has brought a bizarre avian to our area and I hope to get a recording to eventually share with my few but die hard and beloved readers.

Everyone has a different name for that nebulous ‘other space’ that harbors the Everyday Magic and the known but unseen; some call it the Shadows, the Veil, Reality, the Spirit Realm or the Fey World.  Whatever the words we grasp at and use to try and describe this Other Space allow me to say that it is active enough along the flooding Mississippi of my town to actually see the shapes move, hear wind chimes with no wind, and feel the chaotic yet benevolent energies in groves of brambled trees and slinking around the gutter drains.  Often when I am in a very religious mood I contemplate this world of the Veil and associate it with the Holy Trinity and the inherent power of the Sophia combining together.  The Holy Spirit is also called the Holy Ghost and in my Celtic Christian mind frame is a most mysterious power.  I am mentioning the above sentences because I also wrote above  “a weird Spring” and yes it is here.  I know that many people do not prescribe to the Veil and the Shadows but I want to mark it down like I would in a personal diary.

Rock success!!!  A new rock hound buddy with GLOAM, Bill, invited me over to his area and we had that get-to-know-you sort of creek hunt.  He is just wonderful and has the same strange love for rocks that I do.  He knew how to talk to locals and easily got us permission to creek walk/collect on private property.  The sky was clear with puffs of white clouds and the bluffs and hills with the chert filled streams reminded me overwhelmingly of the low Appalachian Hills of NC and dear friend Rick plus buddies Rockshine, JC, T, and Pat. And for me the creek walk was in a sort of memorial to departed John D who could charm and talk his way into anywhere and probably did.  I expect John D was in heaven before St Peter knew he was on the books.

Well, I managed to find a nice ‘chic’ sized bucket of rocks even when the creek was below someones grey water pipe.  Not to worry about that grey water thing, bleach is my friend. Lots of fossil-rock of course but several pieces of chert have darker colors and even stripped banding (no not like agate but better than the muddy cream color that is common). Got a great little crinoid stem impression and several larger spiral impressions; as I type this my newest hoard from Grafton is soaking in rinse water after the bleach and I hope to get some really spot on pictures to share with this post.

Fossil imprint
possible color!
Fossil chert that will cab!
Rough color with possible silica band
Quartz carbuncles
Excellent shell imprint!
Too dang pretty for words with SMOKY on the tip
Other side of Too Dang Pretty
crinoid stem imprint

(Woot! Got the pictures!!)

And with these awesome Illinois finds I announce that the Lorotone is up and running finally!  I got is very second hand from a referb guy and while the engine worked, the basic box or casing has no holes, and the saw blade has some life to it the electrical fried in an awe inspiring display.  Previously to the electrical was the axle that holds the blade/wheel: “it just needs to be tightened”.  For two people with almost no mechanical inclination we took years to find someone who took ten minutes to tighten the wobble.  So imagine if you will:  The wooden cary base is finally screwed together and painted with only minimum cussing over several months, the rental electrician has fixed the axial wobble for a cup of coffee and 30 bucks, my beloved spends a week on U-Tube finding out how to fix a single throw double pull switch without electrocution: And the mineral oil is in and we have Take Off!!! …and a leak around a gasket… sigh. Welp, my husband is a miniatures artist of incredible design and he has tubes of silicone window caulking he uses to make water or snow effects.  15 minutes with a caulking gun and ten minutes cleaning my hands to get the extra caulking off and Voila!: The Lorotone works!!! A dear friend, roguishly handsome and an exacting Epicure, MC, sent me some rough scrap to cheer me up and now that I have practiced on some auction slabs I am ready to cut some exquisite pieces.

It is so ironic to have a revelation about a revelation but I have managed to do just that.   The chrysalis I have been experiencing was something I was waiting to have ‘POP’ open and bring some sort of spot light of awareness over my head.  Nope. The ‘Great Change’ I was expecting to help mitigate my depression will never come: The ‘Great Change’ is actually the small things I am doing and forcing myself to continue doing that will help make the overwhelming depression less ‘over’.  And perhaps this revelation will be in retrospect part of the momentous April I have been expecting to have.  My chronic pain may never go away but having the loving support of a spouse and friends who value me for more than my ability to run around and or hold down a job is amazing.  Just knowing that my Beloved loves my creativity, my cabochon art, my aura, my sometimes bubbly nature or the evil grumpy side, and wants me to continue with what I do is powerful good. He wants to actually see and inspect and admire or critique what I make or do.  He cares and this is part of the Love I can’t live without.  Which reminds me, I am taking up trying oil paints (no laughing) and need to gesso some cardboard tonight before I put in the next installment of Mariesha.

Red Angel’s Rise:  Installment Three… where we learn more about the warehouse and Mariesha is soon to learn of the train station incident.


Constable Young shook his head as he surveyed the warehouse carnage from the doorway. “And it was just you two then?”



Elsbeth leveled a glare at the older man, who, though he stood twice her size, took a step back. “Address Inspector Greywaves by her appropriate title, please.”

Young nodded warily, finally looking down at Mareisha, “So it was truly just you two then, Inspector?”

Mariesha looked back at the older man for the first time and sized him up.  He’d been on the force a long time by the look of him, so odds were he was just living out his last few years before he retired.  Hells, he probably did more work getting his bribes than enforcing the laws in his section of the berg.

“Yes, it was just “us” and tell your men they do NOT touch anything, just guard the outside.” Mariesha said coolly. “And if I catch wind of anything coming up peeled I’ll hold you personally responsible, Young. Got it?”

Constable Young nodded again, now not sure he wanted to be around either woman.  In the end he beat a hasty retreat to oversee guarding the perimeter of the warehouse.

Mariesha started to turn back to the carriage where Elsbeth waited, then stopped in mid turn. “Ah! Ells, do you have to do that now?”

A few feet away, Elsbeth was carefully placing her glass eye into its padded case and opening the case next to it. “Yes. You know I do. We have to keep all this recorded and organized; that’s why I’m here,” said Elsbeth primly as she demurely tilted her head back and pushed the new eye into her empty left socket. For a moment it stared off lifeless, then the new eyeball seemed to fall into sync with is organic partner. “There, all done,” finished Elsbeth snapping the case closed.

“That just ain’t natural.” Mariesha grumbled under her breath as she climbed onto the side of the carriage.


“Home then, mam?” Parker asked from his seat atop the carriage.

“Nah, not just yet. We need to clean up a little then we’re lingering about until the necros show.” Mariesha answered as she climbed into the carriages interior.

Elsbeth was just behind her, and pulled the door closed once she was inside. “Ugh, by the Gods I need to wash!”

Mariesha just nodded, lighting the small oil burning heater at one side of the carriage. “Do we have a bag to put this in?” She finally said, peeling a long strip of unidentified meat from her shoulder, her clothes stiff with drying blood.

“I should think the necromancers will have enough to experiment with at the crime scene.” Elsbeth replied, literally peeling the dress from her skin, the dried blood having soaked through making the velvet stick to her body.

“Not for evidence, to burn Els.”

“Oh… yes of course, there’s one around here somewhere.” Elsbeth replied, finally casting her garments aside with a look of revulsion. “We really do need to find a way of proofing ourselves from the gruesome… downpours!”

Mariesha chuckled, sorting through which clothes were still salvageable and which were a loss. “Downpours?”

Elsbeth blushed. “Its all I could come up with.”

“It’s been a long night, no worries Els.”

Each woman took a turn bathing in the small tub mounted at one side of the carriage. Since only the pair of them rode inside, most of the interior was taken up by spare clothes, the small brass tub, and the water heating device Mariesha had jury-rigged.

“Our powder room on wheels.” Elsbeth had once called the carriage.

Mariesha had liked the image, until she realized that the reference was to make-up and not gunpowder; It had lost a little of its shine then.

Clean and freshly dressed, both women emerged a few minutes before the necromancers arrived with the coroner’s wagons.  The long, grey wagons were unmistakable with their heavy doors and rubber seals. The rubber alone cost a small fortune, but it kept the stench of decay from wafting along behind each wagon.

Accompanying the coroners wagons were four more normal carriages, each bearing the symbol for the College of Necromancy on its side along with an armed guard next to the driver, and the reinforced cabin within.  Such precautions hadn’t been needed within the streets of Cinerarium for years, but the College had a long memory and had yet to forget the riots of Deskain’s Eve.

Checking the flame red cloak across her shoulders, Mariesha walked around to where the coroners were making their entry.  The first necromancer in sight was a tall, willowy old man with a trim white beard and thick head of hair. When Mariesha and Elsbeth approached, he smiled.

“Good morning, Inspector Greywaves. When I heard there was a warehouse full of illegal re-animates I thought that you might be involved.”

Mariesha smirked. “And I figured at this time of the morn’ they’d not rouse someone well liked, and yet here you are Professor.”

“An astute observation.” The old man grunted as he started into the building.

Professor Radus Lentz was one of the senior field researchers for the College, a man that had traveled the length and breadth of the continent to investigate every manner of hurt and healing. These days his years were getting the better of him, and his activities were  restricted to teaching and the occasional foray into the streets of the capitol.

“Thrice damned, what a mess.”  Lentz exclaimed as he strode across to the table where the boy had been bound.  “I don’t envy the grave boys this morning. How’d you manage all this and stay squeaky clean, girl?”

“I’m just that good.” Mariesha replied, nudging a headless flesh puppet as they passed. “What do you make of these things?”

Lentz paused, turning to look over the corpse once more laying silent. “Nasty business that.  See the scraps of paper in his windpipe.”

Mariesha crouched and peered down into the shredded stump for a moment, finally catching sight of what the old man had spotted. “Aye. You’ve good eyes.”

“Huh, I wish.  They all still radiate magic, so they glow to me. Someone using some kind of divine magic to turn zombies into a lot more.” Lentz said, scowling. “He’s tearing their spirits in half, and using the connection to the other side to power them.  That’s my theory at least. Think next time you could capture one intact?”

“Shall I put that down on the ‘things-to-do while we’re achieving the god-like impossible list’, ma’m?”

“Yes, do. Put it right around crappin’ gold and dancing around Thargrim’s Maw in a damned meat smock.”

Lentz grunted. “Snarky wenches.” He said before turning an eye toward Elsbeth. “Thought you were supposed to be makin’ this one a better lady?”

“We haven’t quite decided on which of us is bettering the other just yet, Professor.”

Mariesha pulled a serious face, “This is all chuckles and such, Professor, but how long until you can give me something good to get after the berk with?”


“When can we expect your findings?”

Mariesha shook her head at Elsbeth. “I just asked that.”

“Yes mam, but his ears are bad.”

“My ears are fine!”

“Results? When?”

Lentz looked around and grunted. “Tomorrow night, at best.”

Mariesha smiled and gave the old man a pat on the shoulder. “See that wasn’t anything bad.”

A few feet away a messenger dashed into the room and looked around, instantly turning green. When he spotted Mariesha and her scarlet cloak, he made his way to the Inspector’s side trying to avoid as much of the gore as he could. “Inspector… ma’m… a missive for you from the crown.”

Elsbeth raised an eyebrow as Mariesha opened the sealed envelope and read the letter inside. “We aren’t going home for a long sleep are we?”

“We can sleep in the carriage Els, we’re heading west.”


(And I do want to thank Thank my Gentle Readers for having the fortitude and determination to continue with the grisly murders that Mareisha is investigating. One of the ways we write together is my husband reads aloud a line that a character says then I respond as if Mariesha but he types it into the computer. And then there are the revisions of  ‘Hmmm… what if she actually said this…’)

I truly hope for Peace and Intrigue and Contentment and Adventures for you all, my Dearest Ones; so many that are deserving of happiness and success, warm sunshine and protective shadow.  Greet the impending Summer with a Strong Heart and Constancy as we all muddle through this life, some more ‘muddlier’ than others.  With more adventures to regale you with on the horizon, I send you away with warm Hugs and Kisses,

Be Well.

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