Page the Second


A fronte praecipitium a tergo lupi. (In front of you, a precipice. Behind you, wolves.)

Monday, May 28, 2012

I Remember You


Today is memorial day, a remembering both of those wonderful people who fought to make us free, and those loved ones who have died. I have some of both. This post is for those who have fought for us, some of whom have made the ultimate sacrifice.

My father was in the army during Korea. My husband's grandfather was one of the first four frogmen (later Navy Seals) for the USA. I have friends who manned lighthouses, were MP's, flew in jammer planes, drove military transport trucks, fought in Desert Storm, Afghanistan, Iraq, a Seal in the Falklands, Korea, a Navy Seal in Vietnam, and WWII. Some of them have gone back for several deployments. They rarely talk about the sacrifices they make.

While we're at home complaining about minutia, they are dodging bullets and suffering under REAL trials. One of my friends was having a hysterectomy. I went to the hospital with her as her husband was in Iraq. He had to run half a mile under constant fire to talk to me on the phone to find out how she was doing. He sent me a US flag which had been on sorties.

A very firm family friend was a Navy Seal in Vietnam. One day, while off duty, he and his buddies were hunting rats in the bamboo. Someone opened up on them from cover. He and his buddies shot back, spraying the bamboo until the answering bullets stopped. When they went to see who it was, they found a 12-year-old boy. My friend was never the same after that.

I have another buddy who has done multiple tours as an army sniper. He doesn't have a cushy desk job. He is a huge target. He has three little children at home and a wife who loves him. He is not wealthy, but he loves his country and is very good at what he does.

Charles Perry Leavitt was a spectacularly good swimmer. He was employed by the USA to secure beach heads. He was dropped from planes and had to swim to shore, cutting ribbon wire, defusing mines, and generally make the beach as safe as possible under heavy fire. When his task was finished, a plane flew past, and lowered a hook, which caught him under the arms and yanked him out of the water. He did this job countless times. It was from complications due to the hooking of his body from the water that he later died.

For all of these people, and especially for those who fought to free this country from oppression I have the greatest respect. Thank you for helping to keep this country free.

Here's something my Canadian friend sent me once. Canadian students have to memorize this poem. I love it:

In Flanders Field
by John McCrae, May 1915

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields. 

Never forget for whom the blood has seeped so deeply into the soil. It is we who reap this sacrificial crop. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you!

Friday, May 25, 2012

The Alias Review

I blame Mandy Slack for my migraine today. She wrote The Alias, a book so compelling that I made myself sick reading for so long. It's not often that a book gets that kind of accolade from me. I do read constantly, but usually I can bear to put it down at least sometime. I fell asleep with The Alias awake on my Kindle last night.

Jaycey's story was completely believable. Having had an ex who boasted of Mafia connections, I knew exactly where she was coming from. She put me right into the middle of the firestorm such that I was glad to get back out with my life, and with Jacey's. The writing was clear and the images vivid. The conversations were believable, as was the plot. There wasn't really anything which took me out of the story. She accurately described many of the places I've been myself in Utah, including the old rusty works at Bridalveil falls. I could see every place they went in my mind's eye.

I applaud Jacey's decision to get the control of her life into her own hands and not simply run into Kale's so capable arms to save her. By the way, I picture Kale in the movie being played by Matt Davis. Mmm luscious! I haven't landed on one for Jaycey or Blaze.

I don't remember if we've been to Mona, but I'm betting we have. Those tiny towns in southern Utah are often exactly as Mandy described Mona. In fact, as we've gone through lots of those towns we notice the fake cops at the side of the road to deter speeders. Spotting them is now a game with our family. I love those tiny old towns and would like someday to move to one of them...after our kids don't need constant entertainment anymore...;o)

The one beef I had was the over-use of the word "babe". I get that from Jacey, but Mandy had other people use it too and I hoped for other terms of endearment. Other than that very small item, this was a fantastic book! I'm so glad it's in my library! I wish I had another Mandy Slack book to read right now, as I'm jonesing for a great read.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Graduations, Promotions, and Honors Oh My!

So it's Graduation time again. The stores are filled with gewgaws and kitsch enough to fill a couple hundred dumpsters with fake mortar boards and brilliant flower displays complete with banners touting the blessed graduate, toys, gargantuan boxes of chocolates, and phalanxes of cards.

And I'm down with that.

Except when the graduate is fourteen or even five. (Unless they've managed to graduate from high school at that age--which is an extraordinary accomplishment) People in this town, and surely in many other places, have begun celebrating every little move up the scholarly ladder as if they are amazed their child made it through fourth grade intact. And maybe for some that is, indeed, a laudable feat.

But when we water down the accomplishments of those who stuck it out in school long enough to emerge with a diploma, it detracts from the whole reason we have graduations. Don't get me wrong. I'm all for Honor Roll awards and things of that sort. I applaud the efforts we make to support our students in their academic endeavors and extra curricular activities. Bring on the cheers and letterman jackets.

But there's a difference. We shouldn't be treating Johnny who barely stopped wetting his pants in school the same as someone who just earned a degree in biophysics. We need to reward the EARNING part, not just the passing through part.

The other day I went to an awards assembly for which my child was performing. The auditorium was nearly empty. Recipients arrived often late, wearing flip-flops and Daisy Dukes or slouchy pants! Applause was a weak patter. Many of the award recipients failed to even attend. The audience had been to such a surfeit of kindergarten graduations and penny ante soirées that they couldn't have cared less that these hard-working teens were winning $30,000 scholarships. The whole program was an afterthought to them.

My own child, though a straight A student, got her little award in the mail--not much of a reward for getting almost straight A's the whole year. But you can bet that the cheerleaders and sportsmen had an awards assembly.

I recently went to the U of A's school of sciences graduation. Now that is cause for jubilation! Those people have worked hard and made it through the whole gauntlet of examinations, term papers, theses, barely understandable (or not) accents by teaching assistants from foreign lands, forums, projects, and responsibilities. There were a couple of men who earned not just the two majors I left school with, but three and four majors! THAT'S something to applaud!

Right now there are mommies sitting in crowded auditoriums and cafeterias all over the state straightening the little mortar boards on their kindergarten grads. Wow. And the honor with which little Susie moves into first grade? She no longer bites her friends. Woo hoo! Jimmy has mastered his coloring skills! Cause for jubilation! Let's hand him a balloon bouquet big enough to loft him into space!

By the time he gets to his high school graduation, Jimmy will be so surfeited with balloon bouquets and blow-out parties and new cars that graduating from high school won't matter much. And why bother slogging through four or more years of hard work in college? It's not that big a deal.

I had two graduations. I worked my tail end off in high school (partly because my father was a teacher there). I earned Honor Roll every semester. I graduated in the top 10 of my class. I earned a scholarship to college. High school graduation was a BIG deal. I'd EARNED it. I'd scraped for every last credit and test score.

College took nine years for me, mainly because in the middle of it I got divorced (and later re-married) and had to take two full-time jobs in addition to nineteen college credits in order to support my child. I had enough credits for a double major by the time I graduated. I graduated with high honors after having gotten straight A's for the last seven years. THAT was a BIG DEAL. I'd worked HARD to earn every last A. I waddled up to the podium 9 months pregnant to accept my diploma (H., my third child, was born the next day).

So what message are we sending our children with this watery insipid treatment? We're saying that working hard for our education isn't important anymore. We're saying that they'll be rewarded for every little unearned lurch forward, making it so that they don't care about straining for that gold ring anymore. We're saying, "Go ahead and waste your parents money if you even get to college. Spend that time getting laid and drinking yourselves under the carpet. Education is not that important."

For those who have EARNED their plaudits, I stand up and yell at the top of my voice, "BRAVO! OUTSTANDING!" For you others, "That's nice."

And now I have to go attend my son's promotion. No balloons, just a pat on the back and a few hundred pictures.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

What If...

I love playing the "What If" game. It generates such incredible flights of fancy. Some call it thinking outside of the box. I call it thinking outside the solar system.

What if a giraffe mated with a wildebeest?
What if you could swim to Saturn?
What if house flies were really tiny airplanes full of itty bitty people?
What if you went diving in a sunote and found a new civilization of dog humans?
What if the color indigo and the planet Pluto got together to protest their bad treatment at the hands of naysayers and made trouble for the rest of the solar system?

What if Jeanne D'Arc never burned to death in the fire? What if she lead an army to defeat the English? What if they crowned her queen?
What if the South had won the American Civil war?
What if several states seceded from the United States over this year's election?
What if men could have babies?
What if we found out that cancer could be cured by eating cockroaches?

What if Bodicea beat the Romans and ran them out of Britain? Or if the Celts had trounced the Saxons and pushed them into the sea? Or what if Henry the 5th had gone down to defeat at the hands of the French at Agincort?
What if the Crusaders had managed to take Jerusalem without bloodshed and had kept it to this day?
What if you could figure out a way for fudge to make you thin and turnips to make you fat?

What if cats actually did something useful, like performing a service?
What if you brought up the Titanic and found out it sank because the wrong person pulled the plug in their bathtub?
What if the Monitor and the Merrimac had been effective war weapons?
What if you could utilize the rest of your brain?

The possibilities boggle!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Freaky Cello

I love the cello. 

In the past, I was more of a violin person. When I was in fourth grade, my parents borrowed my Aunt Betty Jo's violin for me to play. I stuck with the horrendous collection of squeaks and moans clear up until seventh grade.

At that time I was informed that if I got any better, I'd get to play in church. That put the squelch on it. There was no way I was going to inflict my brand of aural torture on others in public, although they wouldn't have slept in church after that. Ever. They'd have had to call in a medical team to fix all the broken eardrums.

No. I couldn't stand to hear myself play the violin in private, let alone publicly. So I took up guitar, knowing I'd never be forced to play in church. I lugged that guitar all over the place, including up to Alaska to gut salmon, and to three colleges and a university. It was my solace and my baby, right up until I broke the bridge on it. Now it languishes in neglected, dusty splendor above my bookcase.

I have moved on yet again. Now I play tin whistle (or penny whistle), bodhran (Irish drum) and a tiny smattering of piano,all by ear. 

The thing about the tin whistle is that it's sort of the red-headed stepchild around here. You can't play it in the car or small crowded rooms very well, as you gather all kinds of pained stares, even if you do a great job on the song. That and sharp braking tends to shove the flute into your gizzard.

You'd think the other passengers would be amazed at how well you pick a song out of the ether and just play it, right? Not so much. The penny whistle's notes can pierce through steel pretty easily. Not only that, but when you tell people you play the tin whistle they think you're playing a kazoo. It's an acquired taste best suited for jams or ceilidhs or...well...playing in church.

The bodhran I play at jams too. It's technically P.'s drum anyway. I just play it more often than he does. And the piano is only for plinking around on when I'm the only one in the room--until I get my compositions perfect enough to put on YouTube. I may be too arthritic and decrepit to play anything by then. It's a catch-22.

So now enters a new generation of musicians, or magicians of music. My daughters, C. and J. play with the Tucson Jr. Strings (J. plays violin.), and with their school orchestras, and my son B. plays the tenor sax in his school band.  This affords us plenty of chances to hear them play. Our tiny hovel rings with a cacophony of music, especially when they are preparing for concerts.

For two to four weeks a year we are completely inundated with orchestral magic. Nine or so concerts fill each of those two brilliant chunks of time with nearly nightly flights of fancy. Now that C. has climbed from the aural ooze from which I never could manage to slog, it's a joy to listen to her. J. and B. are getting there rapidly.

I only wish they weren't quite as shy about playing in front of people while not surrounded by an entire chamber orchestra. It sort of nixes those tin whistle/violin/cello trios I have crashing through my cranial concert hall.

Ever since C. took up the cello I have found a new love. The mellow somberness speaks to my soul. Cello is an instrument you can play all by yourself in a dark room. It's molasses tones should be the soundtrack of every rainy day, or the background throb when you're stalking the creep with the dripping knife. The cellos are my favorites to watch in symphonies, now (except maybe for the timpani guy). I love it when cellists get so kidnapped by their music that they lose all knowledge of anything else. They're in the cello zone and making love to the music.

So what does all this mean? It means that I get to live vicariously through my childrens' magic fingers. It means that I get to hear the deep throb of the cello (or the soprano of the violin and occasionally the mellow sax) drifting through the desert heat. And it means that through them, I can alleviate at least some measure of my parents' anguish when I put down the violin for the last time (for some strange reason they never quite caught the dulcet tones of the tin whistle).

They always leave me wanting more--which is a good thing, is it not?

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

This Very Moment Review

Rachel Ann Nunes wrote a book called This Very Moment, which I read last month and am just getting around to reviewing. I like and enjoy reading this author. Was this one high literature? No. But was it entertaining and a fun read? Sure.

I like the idea of the two of these people riding to the rescue of children with disfiguring facial problems. I don't understand the doctor's reasoning behind being a plastic surgeon and yet not wanting to help children. I would think that if it's that much of a problem, he'd have gone into something else. And why did he need to change his name? Not enough of a reason in my humble opinion. It would have been cool to bring a bigger element of suspense into it.

This, to me, is a book about learning to stop running and take a stand. There's got to be a time when you grow beyond the things you fear. The doctor in this book does that. I applaud him for the courage it took to take another look at someone he would just have tossed away before, because she was too demanding that he leave his comfort zone.

I like the doctor's struggle with what he believes religiously. Many people, upon having major struggles in their lives, have this sort of struggle. They ask themselves, "What's God doing up there? Does he care about me or about xxxxxx?" It's easier for some than for others to accept religious beliefs or ideas at face value. Others have to test it. This book kept me reading in hopes that at some time he'd finally figure it out on all counts.

More Rachel Ann Nunes, please...:o) She doesn't disappoint.

This Time Forever Review

I read Rachel Ann Nunes' book This Time Forever right after I read another of hers--back to back. I enjoy her writing style. It's like putting on a comfy pair of slippers and camping on my sofa with a quart of Ben and Jerry's.

These books had me sitting in the front seat of her car, right there in Utah. I've been a single mother struggling to make it on a tiny income. I've had an ex husband who I had to live beyond and try to understand, in order to stay sane. His temper was a match for Mickelle's ex's. This was a lovely book which gave hope to the single mothers out there to whom hope is a rare commodity.

I was so glad Mickelle, like Cinderella, met her prince. He's rich, kind to his family, and an all-around nice guy. What a wonderful fairytale! Insert my sister and she'd be a happy camper.

Bring on the Rachel Nunes books! I'm ready for them.

Review of Love Me Always

Love Me Always, by Marie Higgins is a sweet romance with a teaspoon of mystery tossed in.

I enjoyed reading this book. It was a book of contrasts. On one end is Catherine, a sweet young middle class girl from a dysfunctional home and on the other is Grant Fielding, a creepy well-to-do duke, old enough to be Catherine's father, who is raising three of his grown nephews. Catherine is a normal 19-year-old pitted against her crazy, controlling father and his equally controlling friend. It's a wonder she ended up with the right guy!

Usually in mysteries, I can guess the culprit within a few sentences, but this one surprised me. I guessed the identity of the murderer faultily, two times. Nobody seemed to have a clear motive except the two people I guessed wrongly.

I did, however, guess Uncle Grant's real intentions fairly early in the book. It was just too transparent not to. Despite Catherine's confusion about Grant, that part of the book seemed crystal to me.

I enjoyed the plot of this sweet little book. I enjoyed the delicious hints of insanity and intrigue. I wanted more closure, though. I wanted to know why Catherine's own father thought she was insane. He and his motives and reasoning needed to be developed a little better. Marie kept intimating that Sofia was thought crazy, but it was always unclear why. That should have been more clear.

More than that, I wanted to know what the villain's motive for murdering so many people was. Sure he thought they were evil, but there should have been some other all-powerful trigger. Instead, we never really know anything, other than that he thinks evil-doers need to be punished and knows his Bible.

I wanted to know what happened to Catherine's father after it was all over. Did she invite him to the wedding? Did he finally come to the knowledge that he had been drastically wrong? Repercussions?

The question of whether a person is completely sane or not has plagued people for years. In the late 1700's and 1800's the subject was coming to a head. People were being shipped off to newly installed mental institutions, often willy-nilly. A person could be dumped into an institution for incredibly spurious reasons including the hatred, greed, and/or ignorance of the person recommending it. Drug use was rising astronomically. Opiates were openly touted as panaceas for anything from unsettled nerves to mild indigestion, making a diagnosis of insanity an easy stretch.

I was amazed that Catherine got off as easily as she did with the insanity accusation. I would think she would have had an examination by at least one doctor, be he quack or otherwise, especially if her mother were suspected of being mad.

This book was a pleasant read. It would, however, have benefited by a better editor and a little more research on life in the 1800's. There are some instances when Marie used the wrong word or the characters did something uncharacteristic of a person in that time period.

I enjoyed the book and would be interested in reading more of Marie's books.

The Soulkeepers by G.P. Ching

A while ago I read the YA offering The Soulkeepers by G.P.Ching. From the opening sentence this book grabbed my attention and kept it.

I don't read loads of YA books, unless my teens are reading them and recommend the book. I found this one on my own, though. It was so full of interesting plot twists. The questions I had pulled me through the book to the very end.

I identified heavily with Jacob as the loner boy who didn't have herds of kids to sit next to in the cafeteria. The fact that he befriended Malini made him cool in my eyes, even though he was full of teen angst. Heck, I was an angst-ridden teen. I wanted to join him at his table and ride along when he went on trips through the tree.

Other reviews have either praised this work for its religious bent or denigrated it for the same thing. I tend to try and keep more of an open mind about his angels. I have a notion of what angels are like based on experience, scripture, and conjecture. We don't know much about them.

Why can't Ching write a fiction book about fallen angels? Madaleine L'Engle did it. Orson Scott Card did it. Dante did it. Writers often try to define what they think heavenly (or sub-heavenly) beings are. This work is clearly fiction. Faulting G.P. for angel mechanics is like saying VAMPIRES DON'T SPARKLE! Who says they can't? It's FICTION. And who says fallen angels can't live in a city and devise mean things to do to captive humans?

As for putting down religion, this book is one fictitious boy's take on his church-going experience. I think if you ask any teen, they'll say that there have been at least one or two times when they've been bored in church, or that their church hasn't answered all their questions, or the people therein have failed them in some way (not least that hypocrisy is an on-going human trait that we need to get rid of in our own psyche). Jacob is a kid who is working through some extremely heavy stuff. And he's trying to do it without the help of anybody really stable. What's a guy to do?

I didn't appreciate the instances of bad language or the bedroom visits. But other than that, I gladly await the sequel to The Soulkeepers.

Root by Emily Mah

I just finished a short story by Emily Mah called Root. I wish it had been a novel, for the plain reason that I love how Emily writes. I enjoy her voice and how she makes her characters spring effortlessly to life. Her words are clear, concise, and get the message straight to our admiring eyes, all while feeding us a fantastic plot. YUM!

My only regret at this point is that, like a great mint truffle, her story was gone in a flash, leaving me savoring that last little bit of mental chocolate.

For the record, her story has nothing at all to do with chocolate truffles or really any food at all, other than pizza. It's all about computer gremlins--those nasty little creatures which plague us in our daily work. Those are the horrid beasts which slap on the blue screen of death right in the middle of a fantastic chapter or, in this case, strip grades, destroy room assignments, and generally play havoc in the life of an unassuming college student.

Hurray for Beulah (of the unfortunate name)! She prevails with panache and reminds us that we can get the better of Root and his friends.

Jonesing for more Emily Mah/E.L. Tippetts...;o)

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Happily Ever After

What's up with the whole 'living happily ever after' thing?

When I was growing up, every fairytale ended this way: And they lived happily ever after. The end.
What a crock of doo doo! It's the biggest cop-out in the world since Adam first blamed Eve for getting booted out of the Garden of Eden. Who actually gets to live happily-ever-after-the-end? Nobody.

What really happens is this:
Prince Charming knows he's good looking and spends the better part of the morning performing his ablutions in front of the bathroom mirror. Then he goes out riding. While he's gone, his mom comes and hassles you about why you aren't taking better care of him as he's looking peaked. Then she insists that you need Princess lessons and a massive makeover.

In reality, you're the one looking peaked because you're big-as-a-house pregnant with the Royal Heir and spending most of your time barfing into the royal throne. That's at first.

Then you get teenagers. Prince Charming is still one of them. They all go over to Prince Humperdink's castle to play video games and  eat pizza, despite the fact that you've begged, reminded, cajoled, ordered, and threatened them to do their chores and clean up their respective garderobes (at least that's what their rooms smell like by now).
You get to stay home and deal with the lame horse, the impending war with the neighboring castle over why you can't use their wall, the dog barfing up dinner food in your back room, a tower of laundry the size of the Eiffel Tower, and pint-sized nagging magazine merchants. Your Queen-in-law has decided you're a lost cause and chats incessantly with your evil step sisters over why you couldn't have acquired at least some of their polish. She'll probably never understand what Charming ever saw in you.

Or something like that.

I want to read about what happens after you ride off in your pumpkin coach. (And that, by the way, is going to be one smelly, fuzzy coach in about a day.) There's got to be some magic left over from just snagging the guy. What, you bag the prince and immediately get lobbed into the Worthless Things cupboard along with all the other wretched items such as old butter tub lids, left-handed smoke shifters, and eight track tapes? (Wait a minute. I can use the lids.)

If I'm engineering my own happily-ever-after, I want to be the cool married Queen who goes dancing with the King enough to wear out my slippers. I want my princes and princesses to be respectful to me even if they know that I can't add two poison apples together to make a diamond, like they can. I want my castle to magically grow larger than the woodcutter's hovel. And more than that, I want them to understand me! Yeah. That would be a happy ending!

(This is a work of fiction. In reality, I couldn't have nicer in-laws and the dog we own is invisible.)

This is a piece I wrote in answer to someone else's  blog about Happily Ever Aftering:

I had the whole starry-eyed optimism/naivete nonsense going on. I married a gorgeous, talented guy after spending an excruciatingly short time dating him. He swept me off my little girl feet. And then he went on to sweep OTHER girls off THEIR feet while he was married to me. THAT, my friend, was a wake-up call. He tried to prove to a marriage councilor that I was insane so he could take our adorable daughter. There were all kinds of mind games.

But out of that magma of self-hatred and depression I emerged like one of those fireflowers which spring up after the lava has cooled. I went back to college and graduated with two degrees and high honors. I had two full-time jobs and 19 credits at the time. I danced every chance I got, joined a tour choir, and was the token girl in our caving group. 

My daughter grew up incredibly well-rounded, self-assured around adults (even gave dating advice to my guy friends when she was 4), and whip-smart. I married my best friend and favorite caving buddy and had 5 more children with him. Life has never been what I thought it would be when I was young. I was going to be a ballerina. I was going to marry someone adorable and perfect. We were going to live the whole Happily Ever After Myth.

But there's something to be said about being tested in the fiery furnace. You either come out charred into bitter ash, or you come out a sharp and tempered blade. Those who never have such tempering tend to break under stress. Everyone has some kind of challenge. Every time you walk by those lurid magazines in the checkout lines you see a bit about some famous person with piles of money whose spouse is sleeping with someone else, or they're dying of cancer, or drugging themselves to death. They have not been tempered--or their tempering is taking another form.

I personally would rather be the blade than the ash, for now I know that the sweeping fire of opposition will come whether we want it or not. Such knowledge comes in the face of experience. Welcome to the furnace, my friend...;o)

Monday, May 7, 2012

Review of On Little Wings

It has been a long time since such words wove through my hair, my clothing, and my mind--like sea spray in a stiff breeze. On Little Wings spoke to my soul and reminded me of my own lost, bittersweet loves, my summer magic, my little death as I said good-bye. He waits in my memories, laughing, teasing me. I was once seventeen too.

More than that, the book speaks to me of another--of my own wounds left unbound, years still slowly bleeding as we watch our separate lives slide away in silence. How I wish I had the courage, like Jennifer, to reach out and draw him close, knowing that he finally understood. How I wish I could understand him before it's too late and dark regret seals me away from him.

Thank you, Regina, for your luscious imagery, for your journey to the sea, and back into hours left standing in dusty jars. Thank you for reminding me that words are to taste, not to bludgeon. I'm keeping this book

My Working Knight

Call me, glistening
From your lips
To set the stars
Into the skies.
For I can reach them now.

No other scion
From great house
Can tempt me
From away your
Earth-brown workman's hands

Steal for me the sun's rays
To make another hour
That I might rest
Just a little longer
In the crook of your arm.

Rich seeds once planted
In the spring of our lives
Now bear bonny fruit
To fill our days in deep content
Where once but wishing loaned us breath.

Still I remember love's bright first kiss
Tangling its cherry sweetness
Between our lips
Goading our breaths away
With longing once stoppered.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

A Royal Elf of Abalon

This is a fantasy for elf lovers. If you love pretty fairy stories, this is the set for you. It's got action, intrigue, and magic!

Visit Anna's facebook page here: http://www.facebook.com/ARoyalElfofAbalon 

Tour Dates

May 4 Jewel Adams
May 6 Heidi murphy
May 7 Tristi Pinkston
May 7 Margaret L. Turley RN.
May 8 Roseanne Wilkins 
May 9 Julie Martin Wallace
May 10 Jennifer Griffith
May 11 Theresa Sneed
May 12 Lisa Bennett
May 13 Open
May 14 Luisa Perkins
May 15 Cindy C Bennett
May 16 Mandi Tucker Slack
May 17 Bonnie Gets a Say
May 18 Cindy Williams
May 18 Linda Weaver Clarke
May 19 Open
May 20 Stephanie Brentson

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Bedrock and Air

She clung to the overhang, her chalk bag swinging in the slight breeze. Somehow her fingers found each tiny aperture, each tiny vacant cranny. Concentration beaded her forehead and dripped down the MP3 wire, which ran down her back. The music honed her intensity, severed her ties with the mundane, leaving her swept clean of any thought but the climb.  

Below her, thousands of feet of empty air--layers of halcyon days and ribbons of bird flight. She was a creature of the air. No thought of betraying her native element in a fall. There was only up. 

Down was for another world. And for him. He had no such niche as she had, in the wind. His feet belonged in the loamy soil, growing roots down into the aquifer, down into the under-skin of the world. Seeing her up there, he felt panic, as if his roots, torn free to flutter, ragged flags in the breeze, were already aching for the lush dark detritus.

Against his nature, he followed in her wake, the panic rising up through his roots to choke him into near-catatonia. Would she not at least slow down so he could find a place to rest? He squinted up into the scouring sun, over-bright and malignantly allying itself with the stolid rock to keep him in his place. "Go back," it seemed to tell him. "She's not even of your world. Look how she flies up through the fissures, like ice in reverse, moving up out of the cracks to the roof of the world. How can you hope?"

He gritted his teeth and pulled from the bedrock of his soul, digging a toe into the crack. And the next, and a stretch to the next. At the extremity of his sun-gleaned energy, he found the top. She had already dined on wind and beauty, lying back, now, surfeited.

She grinned, a queen perched on her well-earned throne. She deigned to allow him access to her footstool with a slightly mocking smile. "Finally!" she said, unwilling to let him up before the requisite adulation. How could she know how desperately he needed, not the footstool, but the key to the kingdom he felt he'd earned. He had earned. So this is how it feels. I don't wonder that she climbs up here into her majority. I should have known. He relinquished the scepter, no longer in need. There is no letting. She shines.

He leaned over, tipping slightly into the wind, a tenuous bridge to the unknown. At first she considered letting him fall over, a rocky monument to misunderstanding and missed chances. He's so ordinary, so earthbound. But then she saw a roiling spark in his eyes, and knew it wasn't the green earth which claimed him, but molten. Raw power surged latent, but no less for its cool surface.

He claimed her lips as a conqueror's laurels, once more sure of his place, again on the solid ground which nourished him. At first seeking, gentle, sun-touched, the kiss deepened into tribute exchanged, and then launched into exquisite vertigo. He leaped into the azure vault of space--this time casting away his roots like ratlines from a ship--gladly abandoning the known for the maelstrom.

And she--she with all her queenly power, tossed her crown into the hurricane with reckless abandon. Her world tipped and she was no longer the soul owner of a used throne. Volcanic brilliance exploded, bubbling up towards the troposphere, carrying her with it. Seconds melted into streams of laughing memory, which dripped into a pool, deeply midnight, inside her soul.

She smiled and knew she was growing tiny root hairs, and that eventually they would tie her deep into the same verdant soil, which once she so disdained. She didn't care. There would be time for the air some other when, a time in the distant future, after the titanic entangling of roots had fallen away, leaving only light and air. For now it was enough. "Yes."

Thursday, May 3, 2012

The Authoress



              d M  xwS   fb              c  k    .U   @  j

           u. ,  pq  rh           yi s. ; w       f v  nN   . rg z      ;   a  Fv   . , ..
                       *  ehHeb,, :   r  . x             m  W ?    a
Up through the fertile loam of her soul the letters came boiling, cavorting, dancing. They erupted from her fingers like fireworks, sizzling and capering--Catherine Wheels of fizzing rainbow color.   .o..*D.  e
           . .* U     <n ..*  k    @,j &V .   H q   ~      bKm .. .
The letters flew around her, buzzing like a maelstrom of bees. The little x-height letters held back a little, shy in their smallness, except for the clownish o, which careened crazily off the ceiling. The S's kept getting tangled up with the Q's.
  z. ,  l Dv .. ... s :" eR          t S w,,    O  y pw @         .s.             Z yn  .  /~\
She lifted her arms, her hands poised mid-air. The letters took notice and fell into their ranks. She raised a hand. The self-important T chivvied the h back into line.        "   xj xhrm ,  ek  .o nrk?  b   s whdnirb    o ;       zx    lk p.  ,
                   ,  ,,D  vhreu x. .   ~ `gH  ?  {   vjrf  sn N   sgen e .. . .
Then, to the lyrical cadence of the clicking of the keys, the letters marched, cavorted, or strolled onto the screen and made ideas all shining and still wet behind the ears.     "dh nw    .  syB s. x       ..  .         o   sneb'x w..
           l,., fibioenba s. erun  b      poijihne *  qbdsib, squib fowl   bandersnatch
  ..   malFesance cornucopia ,"   prevaricate          .,.   potted meat   O  quatrain
           corpulent      of     diversiform   gill netter     Happenstance
She smiled as she gave her directions, confident that for the most part, her orders would be followed. Except when they weren't. She frowned, tapped her wand, @ the little commas and semi-colons--not really letters at all--flew giggling back into place.

 "Now then. A tome."

Wednesday, May 2, 2012


I'm limb-hopping today. I received a piece of news yesterday that makes my stomach feel as if it had been plowed and disked.

There is a high school in the town where I live, which is having a dance recital tonight and last night. Sounds fun, doesn't it?

Well I have friends going to that school, who have luckily gotten the guts to spill what kind of program they have in store for their unsuspecting parents. I say that because there hasn't been an outcry and I can only surmise it is because their parents either don't know what kind of trash their girls are getting into, or don't care.

One of the girls went home from school and told her mother (C.) that she'd just heard the song to which one of the other teams was performing. C. immediately searched around until she found that song on the Internet. The words were extremely explicitly sexual. This song would have gotten an X rating for a movie in past years. Yes. THAT EXPLICIT. She read them to me and I wanted to barf in my mouth.

So C. called the school to talk to the instructor. He said the lyrics were open to interpretation. She talked to the assistant principal in charge of activities. That person was clueless but not overly excited about it. Apparently they did yank the lyrics. I'm not sure if they kept the music for that one number.

C. was thinking at that point that things were taken care of. Far from it. The costumes for at least one other number consisted of negligees and the girls did a Flashdance type of number with a chair and lots of grinding. For another number there were "booty pops" which said, "Come on in, guys. I'm easy."

I can only guess what gems they have in store for tonight.

The point is this, folks. What kind of garbage are they pumping into our children if they allow this sort of salacious porn to infect their programs WITH THEIR TACIT PERMISSION? How can they run a school if, at the very least, they have no idea what the instructors are teaching the kids?

These fourteen-year-old freshman girls might as well go on field trips to the local topless bar--maybe get some dance tips from the girl wrapped around the pole. Maybe while they're at it they could take a little side trip to the roadside to talk to a few hookers. One wonders what the term paper for such a class might be (except that they don't write term papers anymore).

I understand that some of the girls want to get a good grade in class. So they don't speak up when they feel uncomfortable. That's sad! And what is detestable is that those girls who don't feel uncomfortable about flinging their sexuality out there on the stage for anybody to leer at, are being encouraged by the very people who should be teaching them to respect themselves and to get an education so that they DON'T have to resort to dancing topless to survive.

What are they teaching our young men? How many perverts are going to be there tonight for a free peep show? Why force sexual predators to register anymore, when they offer this sort of smut for free or nearly free?

This is not about our second amendment rights. This about destroying the very fabric of society from the ground up. This is teaching our young women that the only thing they have to offer in life is a willing aperture.


Train your daughters to know that they are valuable as children of God! Train them to know that they have brains and courage and the ability to smash atoms and discover the cure for cancer. And if they really want to dance, choose something beautiful! Choose something that lifts the spirits and makes you free and alive and joyous!

I'm not just ranting from afar, here. I was on toe in ballet and danced the Red Queen in Alice and Wonderland and other roles. I did so much ballroom and folk dancing in college that I never had to take a P.E. class. I went on tour to Europe with my folk dance team. Never once did I have to dance like a hooker to get people to watch. I never had a costume I couldn't show my grandfather.

What are these people teaching? They should be gone. There should be so much outcry over this "regrettable oversight" that they never get a job like this again. Clearly they don't have the children's best interests at heart.

Part of this is our responsibility is as writers (lyric or otherwise). Some songwriter evidently felt that lyrics (I don't want to have that song on my blog so I'm not going to put the title here. Ask me if you have to know the title) such as these sell. And maybe they do. But so does crack. So does pot. If you write such lyrics to sell, you might as well be an audible porn dealer, as damaging as crack, though not patently against the law.

We writers have a responsibility to write content that makes the world a better place. We're on one side of a war and the other side is heavily outweighing our side (at least on earth). If we write garbage songs, or books or screenplays containing ambiguous, gray scale heroes, what do kids have to pin their respect on?

I'm not saying the heroes shouldn't be flawed. But we should be able to see the flaws are flaws, not behaviors to flaunt. We should know who the good guys are and that they stand FIRM in their convictions. Basically we need to write the TRUTH. Even in a fiction book, there can be basic truths from which a writer shouldn't stray. Orson Scott Card talked about the necessity writing a 'true' fiction story--being true to the character and plot or people don't stay with the story. It means not contriving and forcing characters into false situations that don't ring true.

I think that's one reason movie and TV show makers have had to amp up the violence, special effects, and sexuality. Their stories can't stand alone and people are often being trained from early on to think the effects ARE the story. Many kids nowadays aren't able to dig a plot out of a movie to save their lives. I think they're being engineered that way on purpose, just as girls are being engineered to be sex objects.