Dear Gentle Reader,
Before September I told my husband that the Autumn for our area would be warmish and wet, perhaps to some people dreary but imagine rather the sultry and slow where you want to melt into the pine straw and sleep in the pattering rain. And I waited and waited while the sun shined and not a drop of water falls. Already awake with insomnia I was awake at 12:30 midnight for the start of the Autumnal Equinox and suddenly realized it was raining; continuing to rain until the next morning. What a sweet sound to hear for the coming Darkness and Winter but the gentle falling of water from a light grey sky. Now as the days of October approach closer to Halloween we have nights at 38 degrees and suddenly days at 80. I suspect that Chicago is going to get a slam packed winter and all my Loves in the Piedmont of NC will get a double helping of their “ice-snow”. The Blue Ridge Mountains will have some spotty sleet early on and some light snow through out but it will be January before the hard cold wraps its way through the back mountain roads.
The pond on the premises of the apartment keeps shrinking despite the rain and I can only wonder what upstream of the drainage pipes got blocked. My husband and I joke about fish walking around with bubble helmets full of water around their gills. There was a glorious wide creek along the walking trail from our fancy shmancy apartment. It had tad poles and little fish and crickets and lots of weathered sedimentary fossils. Some person with the IQ of a turnip decided that all the plants were slowing the water down so they got the creek there officially deepened by bulldozing up all the healthy ecosystem and it is now a mud trough. I cried. Perhaps a small, cold, consolation will be that the current rain has washed out some new fossil chert.
I have become bound and determined to prove I have Cherokee heritage. My whole life my mother has said she has the genealogy and could have had land in Oklahoma, so great! no problems ask Mom: “Oh, huny, I have the McCanne genealogy. That is all Risinger. I don’t have the Risinger genealogy.”
So two days later and too many hours on Ancestry.com I am five pages of notes in, trying my hardest to figure out where any American Indian tribes might have entered the family line. The weird, frustrating and yet interesting part of genealogy hunting is realizing that the majority of my ancestors from 1700-1900 did not read or write and the spelling of their name is left to the mercy of the census taker. Also discovering that parents are cruel and named twins the same first name and or that sisters with the same first and last name will marry men with the same name; but with 18 children I have to give a bit of reprieve to the parents. There is also following clues like Nathan’s son being named George and deciding that the best bet for his father is George and not Clement or Rufus. A saving factor is strange names, almost always females, like Permelia/Parmelia/Romelia/ Melia (like I say at the mercy of census takers and a twin sister) and or the name of Zirelda/Serilda/Zaerrilda. You get these strange chills from the past when you investigate a name and the census roster shows 8 total people in the residence: 5 free and 3 slaves, and you really hope that this very common name is not your ancestor; discovering that at least three different men were dirt farmers serving in the Confederacy: even though the McCannes avoided the civil war the Risingers didn’t. It is creepy seeing similar names on the Confederacy Pensioners Roll and realizing the widows who’s husbands didn’t make it home. You see similar names under a list for institutionalized and breath a sigh of relief when you realize it is in Wales or Ireland and not Kentucky. The last name Crow can also be spelled Kroe, Crowe, Crew, or Caro, so you really do have to click on almost every name in the list of over 800 people because you are trying to find out about someones wife and only have his name and a possible date and a doubtful name for her.
I have discovered that Quakers were in Barbados in the 1700s and were accepting of slaves and natives to the island. Now any one who knows me knows that I am pretty much “the whitest white girl in Bypass High” (reference the comic Kudzu), so why am I interested in Barbados? Because the Mystery Woman who marries my Quaker, Moses “Bucky”, was described as “East Indies-mulato-Native Indian”. And the Crow family was noted as being “dark skinned with black hair and Indian cheekbones”. Gentle readers the hard part of this is PROVING the descendants and their pedigree beyond a name on ancestry web sites. After two weeks of searching LDS data bases, Jamaican, Haitian, Barbadon, and Quaker Monthly Meetings I have eight pages of notes and my husband has lovingly told me to take a break.
So now to regale you with the adventures of eBay. I have a store finally and am slowly but surely listing the small mountain of carefully stored items I hav accumulated. I have found my “secret” pipe line for books and can’t resist the search: So now I have a plethora of unique children’s books because books were my childhood friends; magazines and periodicals of Americana and poetry because who doesn’t adore feel good schlock; more jewelry than I can post; hand crocheted (not by me!) baby blankets/afghans in great colors and sizes; naturally opened geodes for incense, celestite, African trading beads, machine and privately made cabochons, and a wool coat with a mink color. I finally posted a jade ring that was sold to me as green agate: I have a Gemology degree by-gum!! so let’s use it, I told myself. I put it on my store to sell and two weeks later got an offer. ***The person asked for me to text her for the payment information*** Aaaaaand…NO! Never take the sales and payment away from eBay where con artists can’t be caught and your sales protected. Well, I guess it was only a matter of time before I ran across a scammer and it still stings but at least I felt something was wrong.
Take a peek at the web site. I take a wee bit of pride in artistic pictures when I have little to work with. I even tried my best to make men’s silk ties look exciting and hot!
OK, blowing off some steam here: “Well, excuse me for being white!!!!!” I am so tired of being called an “European oppressor” “trying to insert myself into a culture that isn’t mine” and “obviously white, no DNA test needed”. I am not blind to the fact that my self tanning ancestry is long ago and I have the skin of a Highlander or Irish peasant. I do not look like my Mother or Father when it comes to skin tone and the ability to be in the sun. If you people pointing fingers at me are so staunchly against European anything then remove your jeans, do not drink coffee, and give up wheat. I am proud of every person on my family tree who loved ( and yes fucked, obviously)(yep, I am torqued; I’m cussing) in order to create me. I do not care if I am actually I/64th Cherokee!!!! and vaguely West Indies, I want to know about the cultures and people that made who I am; besides the fact that it is very exciting to learn about other beliefs and peoples. Was colonial expansion a good thing? It depends on how you look at it; I am glad that spices and tea finally reached the European pallet in large supplies but demanding servitude from another peoples? Try telling someone from Korea that they are Chinese and enjoy your stay in the hospital: Being on the losing side of colonialism totally sucks no matter what time period. Oppression a good thing? Heck no!!! never has been but human beings have been jerks from the moment we were made from clay and or Cain killed Able. Group migration is still causing wars today: The Kurdish people are still fighting, the Uighurs are being picked apart, and once Communist Russia stopped being the main focus of unifying-hatred Eastern Europe descended into genocide. Heck, try going into a sci-fi convention and get Trekies and Babalonians together: prejudice is everywhere and I get it, everyone wants what is “their’s”, their something special. (Not equating global strife with sci fi conventions but trying to highlight the extent to which it occurs.)
I should have posted this blog by now but the weather here comes from three different directions and the migraines have been wailing on me. The cold weather from a depressing Halloween has now become warm again. I am collecting pine cones to burn as fire starter and feel so outdoorsy and mystic because of this: While the is probably a total delusion on my part I am still having fun collecting the falling cones. The different pine trees have of course different cones but for some reason this is a wondrous discovery to me senses. Some days it is hard just to walk but I can ever so slowly push myself from cluster to cluster of trees, some of the pine needles being soft and silky across the spotty grass and rocky dirt while other needles are course and thick, weaving an impossibly perfect flooring. There are also nut trees on the property and I love walking barefoot through the tiny fallen leaves, like a one inch carpet of lush golden velvet that sifts through my bare toes and tickles the arches of my feet. The red maple and brown sycamore leaves create a playful swoosh against my bare ankles, large and delightfully crunchy as if in defiance to the other leaves on the ground. This is the alluring beauty of the South: months of falling leaves and warm weather in mid November.
I have “that” feeling that the weather will turn bad at the end of December or first of January so we ordered two ricks of wood. All they sell in NW Arkansas are ricks which stunned me briefly when looking at prices. I am very used to the Deep South’s ample cord of wood but the ricks we got were generous so I can’t complain much. Who ever decided to design the apartments themselves actually did a great job making sure the fire place can give heat to the rest of the rooms so the fireplace is actually useful. There is something absolutely yummy about a warm fire on a cold night, put a pillow under my head and just lay next to the hearth waiting to hear the sound of the chapel’s bells fall through the chimney and chime just over the crackling of the logs. Tonight a squall of rain came in sideways and I could hear the wind almost groan against the chimney and the cold rain drops splatter against the windows but the bed of coals never left up burning the wood on top of them. Bellow is our beloved Lady Sorcha Bunny Bane, snoozing; one of the remarkable nut trees on the property who’s bark reminds one of a woven tapestry of soft chenille; and a tree showing off as opposed to the rest of the southern foliage.
Never a boring day around her; I am attempting wire wrapping and so far I just can’t get the hang of it. Watching other people do this is “twist, twist, twirl, bend, and clip”: Tada !!!! Work of Art. I try wire wrapping a simple bead “tangle, ripple, ripple, and snag”: Easy done!!! Tangle of Wires but if you glance sideways at it you could call it modern art. I am not giving up though, as I do have ideas and the luxury of a husband with a good job. So this leads me to my seasonal begging and prayer: Shop Small and Shop Local. Just because you ‘could’ do something doesn’t mean you can do it well or really do it at all, meanwhile local artists are hoping to God and or Ancestors that they can get some kind of traction on their Etsy or FB Market. Some of the prices are overinflated, you say? So are most serial boutiques: Just skip over that e-store and go to another. Over priced for a simple calligraphy card or wooden rune necklace? Please remember that a majority of these artists collect everything, fashion everything, advertise everything, make everything, and package everything themselves. And what about your store, huny? you haven’t crafted much of anything in it. Yep but I have searched, collected, salvaged, cleaned and researched every piece: And because this is my blog I will brag that I take pride in being able to offer very reasonable prices without being one of those ‘Undercutters’. What about those that bake?? Same goes to you too!!! Get that yeast rising and the eggs cracking, snag some chocolate or butterscotch chips on sale and get that oven cranking! Baking love for everyone on your list is just as much an undertaking. Now, are we shopping on Amazon and raiding Big Lots this year? Of course the majority of us are! Many small time merchants use Amazon Marketplace as a venue so If you are, lets say, shopping for a coloring book on Amazon you can check to see who is selling it and choose a smaller retailer or just buy Goblins and Garrisons: Book of Coloring+2 (to quote Mick Folley “Cheap pop!!”). My web site on Ebay.
I realize I have faltered on pushing out this blog at a reasonable time because of smallness and fear. I originally added Mariesha and Red Angels Rise for many reasons. One reason was to try and make the posts more interesting and two to test the waters and see if anyone even remotely found it interesting or readable. Well, apparently some folks do like the story and now I am almost to the end of what I had finished writing many many moons ago. Sometimes my husband and I do miscommunicate and restarting Red Angels Rise has been a challenge to my ego and us working together. I had played different versions of Mariesha in 5 separate D&D games that never got to finish and never quite was what I wanted her to be. Creating Red Angel’s Rise with my husband was our way of finally letting me get out and create my snarky, foul mouthed, soft hearted, adventure loving tiefling the way she should have been from the start. An added perk is helping to create the complex, nuanced, and multilayered city of Cinerarium: Part Eldritch, Steampunk, Victorian, Old West, and above all else Unknowable in just one sitting. So here is the next installment of the Inspector and her Recorder. cont…
The second bar after visiting Black’s was dim and musty, squeezed between two hallmarks of Cinerarium; a Winder’s who promised limited embalming and the solid bricks of a mechanical shaft that fed into part of the mysterious internal engine of the city. Mariesha could just taste the fumes of the Winder’s shop inside the bar and silently hoped she would never be desperate enough again to bet on drinking embalming fluid; the taste was bad enough but the ensuing belches stung her nose and throat. She didn’t even wait for the man to notice her but neatly stepped over a grey puddle and put the picture of the five nobles onto the counter.
The owner never even looked up but continued to wipe at a scratched glass as he glanced at the picture in front of him, “Don’t know ’em. Didn’t come in.”
“But you’ve heard about them,” countered Mariesha, who was getting tired of talking to the top of his head.
“Hells, Blackie’s been bitch’n for days,” answered the bar keep finally raising his head to look at who he was talking to. “Shit. Bit scrawny for this sort of work ain’t ya?”
“I’m stronger than I look.” Mariesha’s voice was level and cold. She could feel Murder try and uncoil beneath her jacket.
“All gristle then,” conceded the owner quickly. “We as don’t get many Agents a’ Inquiry here. Try further down a bit unless they was need’n a Winder or a cobbler.”
Mariesha decided to let him believe she was a private agent and passed over a copper, “Thanks for helping a cutter out.”
“Oh,… ya’,” replied the man whose head was already bent back down over another chipped glass.
Hoping with quiet hope that Ansel Casterwell had not somehow arrived either alive or dead at the Winder’s, Mariesha stepped inside the archway and into a cool and somehow muffled shop named Resters. Rester was a common and old surname coming from laying bodies to rest and she did feel the solemn presence of several generations having lived and worked their craft in the shop. The small front room smelled of cheap incense and vague embalming spices, a sturdy door blocking the stronger vapors from assailing clients. A young woman came from the back recesses to greet them. She was pale of complexion while still sallow with the vague smell of rot coming from her thick, black smock. Cybel Rester was quiet when speaking. After the Inspectors’ first questions she murmured a few words then retreated into the back. When she returned she casually brought up a man’s arm that had been found a block away and brought to the Winder’s in case it belonged to a body. Mariesha shook her head because Ansel had no tattoos, trying not to recoil at the putrid smell while still glad the flesh had yet to slough off.
The bouncer at The Hog’s Wallow, which by locals was pronounced “hog swallow”, offered her five coppers for an half hour with Elsbeth but had not been working that night. The door guard at a gambling den called Clipper’s thought for sure he had seen them all pass by on the other side of the street, he didn’t offer for Elsbeth but did call Mariesha “sony.” Spades was strictly a card den accessed by a door and a thin hallway. The dank, enclosed room was lit overhead by one alchemical orb and several smoky lanterns. The lead bouncer went into a shadowed back room and brought out a thin man in dingy purples and brown to answer the questions.
“Kaster says you’re looking for a man,” started the apparent owner with a certain self assurance.
“Yea,” answered Mariesha, nodding and giving him a taciturn stare.
“Well, good luck. Maybe one of them will have you,” replied the small man in the stained purple vest, waving a vague hand at the grizzled card players throughout the den.
“I don’t care for your shit stick or any of theirs,” started the tiefling. “You are less than a puss filled boil on a ghouls’ ass.” She reached into her jacket, pulling out the small badge while Murder openly loosened it’s coils at her hip. In the dim corner Elsbeth inwardly smiled and pulled out the wickedly barbed gloves. “Look carefully at this and know that I can raise this whole pile of kindling in minutes if I want. Even your cock roaches will be dead.” The man looked hard at the badge and back to the calm, still face of Mariesha. “Feel free to try me. Or we can talk peacefully and everyone else here can keep playing cards.”
“Why don’t you and the other one come into my office,” answered the owner carefully, finally picking Elsbeth out of the shadows. Mariesha just caught the slight movement of her Recorder’s hands and the “work gloves” sliding back into the muff at Elsbeth’s waist. But the Recorder’s hands remained inside her muff, keeping ready for a bloody time in the name of Law.
Inside the office was dim and crowded, more a storeroom with an oversized desk. The size of the heavy desk was meant to intimidate and Marisha nearly snorted out loud when the owner settled himself behind it. “Care for a drink, huny?” he asked after pouring himself several fingers worth and starting to put the bottle back in a bottom drawer.
“Yea, why not Babycakes,” answered the tiefling with false sociability, watching as he started to look around for another glass of sorts. He put the bottle on his desk and tried to start cleaning a scratched glass with his sleeve.
Mariesha picked up the bottle and unscrewed the cap, “This will work just fine, Babycakes. Thanks.”
The man finally cringed and looked over at the tiefling who was taking a long drink from his bottle, “Strik. The call me Strik.”
“And I am Inspector Greywaves.”
Strik looked across his desk rather hesitantly and started to speak.
“And do not ask me if I know this job is dangerous,” cut in the Inspector looking at him and the level of liquid in the bottle at the same time.
“Right,” he answered and swirled the liquor in his glass to keep from openly fidgeting. “They were here. Played cards for an hour or two then left… and it’s his own fault if he got killed after they left.”
Mariesha raised her eyebrow and marveled that Strik’s biggest problem wasn’t the possible death of a patron but talking to a woman in power; his childhood issues must be something monumental but luckily that was not her job to unravel. “And why would that be?”
Strik almost snorted but looked her in the face, “Four of them couldn’t play cards worth a piss. But the fifth one, now he could read a deck and read it well. Just didn’t know when he was winning too fucking much. Sooner or later someone is gonna’ stick him in his liver around here.”
Mariesha managed to take out the picture while having another pull from the bottle. “Which one?” asked the tiefling as she pushed the portrait of all five friends across the desk.
He put his finger down on the smiling face of a tan young man with curling black hair and a jaunty gold hoop in his ear, “That one.”
She smiled at the irony and looked up at Strik, “No, that one was tucked safe in his bed the next morning. It’s this cutter here.”
Strik looked down at the picture of Ansel, “Him?” Strik smiled congenially, “He lost as much as he won. Nice enough kid.” Mariesha sighed and looked at him. He chuckled and shook his head, “That is about all I can tell ya’ for certain Inspector but I can say as the Five-some ain’t been further down this block.”
“The Cage here didn’t swallow them up outside your door by chance?” Asked Mariesha in a show of rare dry humor.
“I’de be selling tickets,” answered Strik with his own slight grin.
“Then my Recorder and I had best be going on. Thanks for the drink,” said Mariesha getting up and handing the empty bottle back.
“Been enlightening Inspector.”
“Like a ray of sunshine,” answered Mariesha over her shoulder as she and Elsbeth passed out of the office.
Dearest Gentle Readers, Thank You for staying with me for another post. I hope my angst driven rant earlier was not too full or perfidy as I have led a privileged life in reflection to others. Today is the first few days in December and the rain is back and we may get snow but three weeks from now will still be our time of Winter Judgement. We are in the Darker Days and driving closer to Winter Solstice, and with modern convenience it is easy to forget the cold and continuing night but let us all remember that the seasons flow in a rhythm of storms and halcyon breezes; A God Given Gift and Mystic Marvel. We are all held together in the same weave of our specific time and life with all the others living and dying around us so despite the singular isolation we face with the pandemic, we are not alone. Crows will be in the tree that are sideways to our apartment once the rain stops and there is hope that they will see all and my household is found worthy. May your hearth fire (or pilot light) stay lit and the Yule Season be merry and bright. For many of my beloved may the oil in your lamp stay lit for eight days against the doubt and darkness.