Tag Archive | stories

Heart Town Witch

Once upon a time there lived a witch in a town known as Heart Town. The witch had moved here because she was lonely and wanted someone to love her. She had gotten in a lot of trouble over that. People in Heart Town were people made of clear crystal who had beautiful ribbons tied around their red crystal hearts. These ribbons were all different colours, a different colour for each person that loved them.

The witch had gotten into a lot of trouble because she had tried to hold onto the ribbons so she could be sure of who loved her and the whole town had gotten all tangled up and some had fallen and gotten cracks in their bodies. The town’s people were all made of crystal so that everyone could see their hearts and no one had ever even gotten a scratch before the witch had arrived in town. Some of the people still hadn’t gotten over that. It just wasn’t what they were used to but the poor lonely witch had another problem now. She wouldn’t tell anyone her name and people were starting to avoid her again. This had made her sad again.

Names are important things. When you have someone’s name you could call it and get someone’s attention or ask them to do something. The witch didn’t want anyone making her do something she didn’t want to do so she wouldn’t tell anyone her name. The witch didn’t understand the power of two different words, “yes” and “no”. She was convinced if some one asked her to do something and they knew her name they could make her do it. This was a town of very nice and polite people who would never make anyone do anything they didn’t want to do but the lonely witch wasn’t good at helping and she wasn’t very good at even trying that was why she was the lonely witch after all. Besides that she really hated her name. Her name was Penelope Faery Rainbows. That was just not a good witch name. She thought a good witch name was something like Agatha or Esmeralda or Guisbertha not someone who could be called Penny.

So when she went out she was always addressed as “Miss Witch”. She was getting tired of this but she really wasn’t outgoing enough to tell anyone her real name. She was shy and had a hard time making friends at all. The town’s people had finally had enough of this. They got together again and decided that the Mayor should speak to her again. That’s what worked the last time and they saw no reason to change now. They were a very practical town of people and if it worked once it should work again, right?

So Mr. Mayor went across town to visit the witch. He actually liked visiting the witch because she had a beautiful garden and always had fresh pastries and cookies. The Mayor was very fond of baked goods.

The witch’s house was very strange. It was all higgledy-pigglety. It was full of strange towers and funny shaped windows like moons and stars and had a widow’s walk around the top. It was also painted in many colours. It had a teal tower and a cobalt blue tower next to a turret that was painted emerald green. The porch was painted lavender with white pillars and was covered in pink roses that filled the air with a sweet scent and even though it was all mixed up it all sort of mixed together and was quite pretty.

Mr. Mayor opened the gate on the white picket fence and walked up the garden walk. It was filled with flowers. There were columbines and foxgloves. There were nasturtiums and abutilons. There were violets and lavender and sage and marigolds and pansies. The whole garden was filled with colour and around the edges she had planted pumpkins. There were some of the biggest pumpkins he’d every seen. And as he walked up the walk he had an idea. He wondered if it would work. He walked up to the door and used her doorknocker. It was in the shape of a pumpkin too. She must really like pumpkins.

The witch answered the door wearing her apron. She had been inventing a new cream treacle scone recipe and had flour on her nose and all over the brim of her hat. She wasn’t a bad looking witch. She was round where she should be round and not where she shouldn’t be. She had big blue eyes that twinkled when she wasn’t being shy. “Wouldn’t you like to come in Mr. Mayor?” She asked, “I have some new scones that should go nicely with the raspberry jam I made yesterday or would you rather have lemon curd?” She shooed him into her front room.

The Mayor looked around in wonder. There were always so many things to see here. She had bookcases full of books. She had things made of glass that spun and twinkled and made rainbows all over the room. She had an enormous desk that had a huge open book that he saw had a recipe written on it. She also had the biggest cat he’d ever seen sleeping on a foot stool with one eye half open studying him quietly. Mr. Mayor sat in a big overstuffed chair next to the tea table that had a large steaming tea pot in the shape of a big green cabbage.

“So Mr. Mayor, what brings you over to my house on this bright sunny day?”

“Well,” Mr. Mayor started just a wee bit uneasily, “It’s about not knowing your name and I bet you don’t even know mine, do you?”

The witch looked ashamed. “No, everyone just calls you Mr. Mayor and I’ve never heard anything else.”

“You should be around my wife. She uses it a lot.” Mr. Mayor laughed. “My name is Aloysius Benjamin Honeydew but you can call me Ben. We would like to know your name so we don’t have to keep calling you Miss Witch. People here in this town are very kind and won’t make fun of it no matter what it is.”

The witch was blushing and fidgeting in her chair. “I have a awful name for a witch. My mother had no sense of a proper name for a witch so I never tell people my name. I’m afraid I’ll become my name and it’s just too silly.”

“Surely it can’t be that bad, can it?” asked the Mayor.

“Well, you be the judge, it’s just not a proper witch name. It’s Penelope Fairy Rainbows.”

The Mayor choked back a giggle. He could see that maybe a witch wouldn’t like such a foofy name. “I can see that that might not be a name a proper witch might like or even one you could grow into like Aloysius. Have you tried shortening it?”

“Do you think ‘Penny’ is any better?” the witch asked.

“Maybe not.” The Mayor was thinking quickly. “How about Fay?”

“That isn’t too bad.” The witch thought that wasn’t too awful a name. It didn’t make her cringe like her real name in fact that just might work. “Miss Fay? That isn’t too bad but how do I let people know nicely what my name is? I’ve been here almost a year and it seems kind of late and embarrassing to spring it on people now.”

“I have an idea.” said the Mayor. “Why don’t you have a party and invite people to your garden and you could share some of your wonderful pastries and have tea. You could send out invitations and just put your name on them and that way you don’t have to walk up and tell everyone your name. We could also put a pretty sign out on your fence that says ‘Welcome to Miss Fay’s Garden’. Would that be all right?”

The witch sat back in her big chair and thought and thought while the Mayor took another scone and heaped lemon curd on it. She wouldn’t have to leave her house except to go to the post office to mail the invitations. She could just stay in her garden and welcome people in but what if they wouldn’t come? She worried.

“What if no one comes?” She asked fretfully.

“Oh, they will come. People are always curious and they know from taking walks that you have a lovely garden from the outside. They will come, trust me.” The Mayor got up to leave and shook the witch’s hand. “It was nice to see you again Miss Fay.”

The witch sat in her chair for a moment. She got up and got her special feather quill and a packet of stationary and sat down at her desk. She dictated the invitation to the quill and let it get busy writing the invitations out. What was the good of being a witch if you couldn’t let something else do some of the work? She went back to baking. She had just thought of a new raspberry cookie recipe that would be good. She might as well use that jam she had just made for cookies for the party. Later that afternoon she mailed the invitations.

She woke up bright and early on Saturday morning and looked out her bedroom window at the sky. It was going to be a beautiful clear day for the party, so far so good.

She had been tidying her garden all week. The gnomes that lived in an oak tree in the back had been helping and she knew the dryads, devas and faeries had been helping too. All the colours of the flowers were perfect and there wasn’t petal out of place. She was going to set up tea in the side garden where she had conjured up some comfortable garden chairs. So much to do and what if no one came?

Three o’clock came and people started to line up at the gate. Their heart ribbons tied in gay bows and their crystal all shiny. The witch relaxed. People had come. She went out to greet them. The Mayor’s family was first in line. “Hi Miss Fay! We’re here!” they cried!

The witch went eagerly to greet them. She shook hands with everyone and remembered most of their names. They all greeted her happily and called her Miss Fay and she didn’t mind the name a bit. The witch learned a lot that day. She learned that if she was nice and friendly people would want to be her friend too. Now if she could bring her self to share the scone and cookie recipe…

Heart Town

Once upon a time there was town where the people were all made of very strong crystal and if they fell down they didn’t break. They were a very beautiful people and the most beautiful thing about them was their hearts. Their hearts were made of red crystal and looked like Valentine hearts. And one of the many unique things about this very special town is that they were all well loved and every one knew just how loved they were.

How did they know how loved they were? When some one was loved in this town their heart would have a lovely ribbon tied around it with a bow because love leaves a mark on your heart. Everyone always made sure that their ribbons were tied with a bow so that everyone was free to walk around. Because everyone in this small town had a different colour ribbon the hearts were full and amazingly colourful. And in this lucky town no one ever tried to see how many ribbons were on the hearts they just enjoyed their beauty.

One day a new person moved into the town. She changed the balance of things. When she met people she liked she put her ribbon on like every one else but because she was afraid of losing people she held on to the ribbon and tied a knot instead. She was afraid of losing the love she had collected.

Pretty soon people in town were falling down because she hadn’t let go of the ribbons. For the first time in their lives they were showing cracks. It was terrible. The ribbons trailed all over the street and got tangled around street lamps and cats played with them, dogs tried to bury them and birds tried to carry them off to make nests.

The town’s people got together and decided something had to be done. Their children would never make it to adulthood if they started having cracks like this. Some day they might break. So they decided to do something for the witch, for a witch she was. They normally liked witches. Witches did a lot of good work in town but this one needed help badly. She just had the wrong idea about things. So they went to the witch with a pair of big scissors.

“Dear Miss Witch,” they said, for they were always polite to each other in this town. “Would you let us cut the ribbons you are holding and tie you some beautiful bows?”

“No!” said the witch. “How will I know who loves me and who I love if I cut the ribbon and don’t hold on tight?”

“You will just have to trust like the rest of us that you are well loved.” said the town’s people.

“But that’s not right. What if someone doesn’t love me? What will I do?” wailed the witch.

“Not everyone is always loved by everyone. We all leave marks on people’s hearts. We just always try here to make a beautiful mark. We let go and let people come back and tie a bow on our heart when we are ready for them. And if they are never ready to do that we find other people in town who will love us. Tripping people and holding on to their heart ribbons is wrong and makes people like horses on reins in other towns. Even our horses here don’t have reins. You need to let go and trust and I as Mayor of the town will tie the first bow.” He picked up his ribbon and followed it back to the lonely witch and as she cried and shivered he tied a beautiful bow. One by one the people who had met her and cared for her tied bows on their ribbons. She was shivering so hard they thought she might crack herself. Not every one tied a bow, some people didn’t know her well enough and some people didn’t like her very much so they cut their ribbon. This made the witch cry with the loss but not everyone as the Mayor had said is loved by all. Some people just don’t like being held on to so tightly. You just have to grow up and accept this as fact.

The witch looked down when they were done and stopped crying. There were simple bows and frilly bows and silly bows but still there were enough bows to show that she was loved and liked. The town’s people had made their point and she was just going to have to trust that she was loved as much as her heart showed. And from then on there were no more cracked crystal people in town from tripping on ribbons and this made all the town and the witch happy.

Magic and stories in Photos Part 4

I’m having fun so I’m going to keep going for awhile.

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Sometimes even Snowy Egrets have bad hair days. A few months before my brother died we went up to visit him in Mountain View and as my family all have penchants for wandering around in the shrubberies, he and his partner took us to Baylands Nature Preserve in Palo Alto. It would be the last day we spent as a family.

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This was before the wind got to his topknot.

My sister hates this picture of she and my brother laughing. This was in April or May and he would be dead in July. It’s a window into that period that he was taken from us. Chemo and surgery had made him balloon up but he was still my beloved little brother. He could take himself too seriously and he was the one nonpunner in a family that ran on puns. So that day was a gift. The next time we would got up we were supposed to be there for his next surgery but instead we flew up for his funeral. He died of multiform gliomablastoma. A particularly nasty form of brain cancer. It came back after 15 years in remission.

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My sister’s totem is the dragonfly and I just love them and this was out at Sepulveda one afternoon when I was testing my patience. I caught it with my point and shoot Sony with it’s Zeiss lens. Patience and not breathing sometimes gets you amazing things.

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Sunset at Lake Balboa. I was pissed at my bitch of a boss at the time and needed time to decompress before I went home. The White Pelicans are only there in January so it was an early sunset. It gave me much joy and still does.

Magic and stories in Photos Part 3

 

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To get a degree in Naturalist Interpreter/Ourdoor Resource Management one of my required classes was Backpacking. Since most of us turned out to be experienced backpackers, the professor decided one of our trips would be crosscountry skiiing up in Mammoth because none of us had done that and it was winter semester. We were supposed to be there a week but I had to go back a day early but that is another tale. One of the mornings we skiied to a hotspring to take a dip and when I was studying photography one of the guys was talking about how he wanted to get the elusive star effect on film without using a filter. I admit I eavesdropped. On the way back from the hotsprings I turned around and took this. Its a wee bit red but time can do that to Kodak Kodachrome since it favours reds and yellows. I got home and I’d gotten my star. My photography professor entered in a Kodak college photo contest and it was one of the top 60 in the country and was displayed at O’Hare airport where of course I never saw it. It was still very exciting even if it was almost 40 years ago.

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I went to visit Denise and Mary by myself last January and we took a walk late in the afternoon at Jackson Bottom Nature Preserve. It had rained all weekend and a lot of it was under water but it was nice to get out of the house and breathe. When you know someone you love with all your heart is dying sometimes you have to get out of the house and ground. The caretaking becomes too much and your heart needs a rest. So I got Denise out of the house for a walk after we did some necessary shopping. The geese were coming in on the flyway for the night and there were few people there and it was late enough that things were starting to silhouette against the sky. I love teasels. Something that our female ancestors used to card wool and linen. Something that can bite you since the spines can be a bit sharp but something that to me is beautiful in its simplicity.

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Right before Laura died my sister and I went out to the Sepulveda Wildlife Refuge and on trail that is less taken there were a flock of vultures. I had never seen them from less than 10 feet away and they didn’t seem to mind us. All I could think of was the Goddess Nehbet whose head is a vulture. She’s a matron goddess of Upper Egypt. I just love their wings and I got this one just taking off, such a gift.

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This is last year at our camp reunion. This camp sits square on the edge of the San Andreas. That valley and drop off? It’s the fault. Old Arts and Crafts building had the fault straight down across the one lane camp road. When one is raised in Southern California you get hyper aware of the earthquake faults. There was a shower that used to hang out over the fault that they have since torn down. I used to worry it was going to drop off and then I got a bigger worry, one time a rattlesnake took refuge there when I was taking a shower. He was in the dressing area and everyone was at Mass in the chapel so I was trapped naked in the shower wrapped in the curtain until the two maintenance guys happened to come by and I could yell for help. Cured my fear of the fault.

 

 

Magic and stories in photos – Part 2

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I took this the morning Laura made us Druids. It would be the last time the Grove was able to have ritual with Laura and that Mary could walk to. We were at the Sepulveda Wildlife Sanctuary almost at dawn on a fairly chilly January morning. The side of the refuge that was almost never open was open that day and it was an open invitation to journey into the January mist accompanied by Laura’s and the Grove’s favourite bird, the Great Blue Heron who watched us during the whole ceremony from a nearby tree limb.

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This was taken a Lake Balboa on the opposite side of the street from the refuge. The others had gone and I decided to walk around the lake alone. I’m terrified of swans since getting bit badly many years ago when I was three or four and Dad took me to Forest Lawn because he wanted to visit his aunt and uncle and he decided to let me feed the swans there. I have never before or since seen swans at either the refuge or on the lake but there they were a momma and her cygnets. Ever since I got bit, swans show up when I’m supposed to face a fear. Usually someone with give me a gift of one out of the blue, They rarely show up physically but there they were that morning and I got close enough to take these. The Goddess has a sense of humour and timing, make me a Druid and shove me at something that frightens me, Gee thanks Mom!

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I love Descanso Gardens and my wonderful cohort Nancy volunteers there and she also volunteered to take to my MRI when they were trying to figure out what my tumour was doing before the surgery because I wasn’t allowed to drive myself because they were going to give me joy juice and because this was about my 10th or 11th MRI and I hate them.

Nancy offered to let me go for a short trip to Descanso before the MRI and this is the back of the lake area they just redid to allow people access. It used to be walled off. It helped so much to have that walk. Nature always makes things better for me. It was a wonderful gift.

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This is a bat I rescued from small children that were frightening it while pretending to be frightened of this little guy. This was at our camp reunion last year and I got to use my Naturalist skills and teach them something. They were so close he couldn’t echolocate, So I made them back up and talked to them about why he couldn’t get away until they moved. That he was more worried about them than the other way around since it was broad daylight and he was in diffculty under the eaves of the cabin. The minute I got the kids far enough away he was off into the woods. And I was answering a ton of the kids questions. It was a fun moment.

 

 

 

Magic and stories in photos

Photographs are stories in light and air. Every photo has a story, some you will never know, some you may not want to know but they all have tales to tell. So I thought I’d tell some visual tales.

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I used to enter a lot of my jewelry that I made in the LA County Fair. I won ribbons on just about everything I ever entered and this gave me my only blue ribbon. I got red/second and white/ thirds and a bunch of pink fourths. I’m still proud of it.

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This is my first camera and the start of my joining the family obsession with picture taking. I think I was 6 or 7 when  I got it and it went with me every where and hardly still has a scratch on it. It lives with my Nikon FM who no longer works in the tiny hope chest my Great Uncle Winn made my cousin and I one Christmas where my treasures live.

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This is a plant I always dreamed of seeing. It was in my first wildflower field guide by Golden Books. I had a full collection of their field guides by the time I was 5 and was allowed to lecture grownups for some reason on what they contained. I used to stare at the picture for hours because I thought it was so cool. It doesn’t grow in Southern California so I never thought I would see one. The first time I went up to see Mary and Denise in Oregon, Denise and I went to the Leach Botanical Gardens for a few hours as it was already too hard for Mary and her purple chariot to move around. This was the first plant I saw getting out of the car and I’m sure Denise thought I was nuts. It was just a wildflower that was on the driveway but for me it was a long time dream to see one and it was just as pretty as I hoped.

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This was a bit of serendipity at the Self Realization Fellowship Shrine in Palos Verdes. A mushroom in a mini Stonehenge lintel surrounded by shamrocks. You just know there is a faery close by.

 

My heart is broken

Yesterday at Faire, I was reading my stories to everyone and this was the next one I had picked to read and standing there I just couldn’t read it. Now I wonder if I should have. So here it is,  and it’s dedicated to my gay brothers and sisters who died because of someone’s hate celebrating their pride and love.

The Littlest Druid finds the good in the bad.

Aisling looked around at what was left of the tiny village, everywhere around her the building’s roofs smoked. Household goods were strewn over the landscape. People lay where they had been slain. The marks of the weapons clear to be seen. There was nothing here for a healer to do.

She looked at the other druids around her. Some were in tears, some were in shock, some were angry. Aisling wasn’t sure how she felt, numb?

In the middle of the night a young boy had come yelling into the Druid village about the sea raiders that had come to his village up the coast to the north. The Chief Druid had quickly roused all the people old enough to help and they had come as fast as their ponies would go but it wasn’t in time. It looked like the boy was the last one left from his village.

Aisling looked at a loom in pieces on the ground and the half finished wool blanket in slashed hunks around it. She could see it would have been beautiful when it was finished with all the colours of sea and sky in brilliant hues. It made her sad. What made people think that they could come and harm a small village? Aisling’s heart hurt.

She could see an abandoned butter churn milk and butter left to curdle on its own. Ravens and crows gathered in the trees above some of the cottages as if waiting for a meal and she was glad her Raven was back home and not here. She couldn’t stand the thought of her being part of this.

The blacksmith must have run to his forge and laid about with his big hammer but it had done no good but she could see he had taken some of the raiders with him to the Summerland.

The older men went to build a pyre to burn the dead. The ravens and crows would get no meal here today. She wondered if the raiders had taken anything of value or if the reason the devastation was so bad was because the village was so poor. It made no sense at all to her and the tears ran down her face.

What made some people do this? No one in this village had done any harm. They had lived quiet lives. They sometimes sold their extra crops to the Druid village. The Chief Druid put his arm around Aisling and gave her a hug.

“Why? Why do people do this?” she asked him. The Chief Druid looked around and shook his head.

“I don’t understand it myself.” He said. “But it makes me cling to the good I can see. Some people want what others have. Some people think they have the only way. Some people just enjoy doing evil.”

“But what’s the good in this?” Aisling asked. She couldn’t see anything good at all.

“Hamish is alive, he’ll have a broken heart but he is alive. People came to help even though there was nothing they could do about the raiders. People will rebuild this village together and new people will help Hamish rebuild the village and his life. This village will be able to show its best hospitality again as is our way.”

People were now starting the clean up around them. Stacking timbers, collecting the things that were spread around the village. Someone was herding the sheep that had been on the hill above the village. One of the women was getting ready to milk the village’s last living cow. The cow was not happy, She should have been milked hours ago. The cow had blood on her horns and none of it was hers. The cow had obviously fought in the battle. Aisling wondered if it was one of Brighid’s cows since it was red and white.

Aisling went to start help collecting the goods left around the village. Maybe they could collect enough to put one household back together for Hamish. Someone had said his grandparents and an aunt and uncle had been sent a messenger. Would they want to settle here?

She looked towards the fields that appeared to be untouched. The oats were just starting to grow and the fields were aglow with the green of new growth. Would Hamish’s family tend them? It was strange to see such a strong symbol of life when she knew if she turned around she would see the blacks and grays of destruction.

Aisling collected a set of wooden bowls, some linens from where they had been dumped. She found someone’s prized bronze pin of a wild boar. It had a broken clasp but she thought it could be mended again and worn with pride. As the day went on the village started to look more like it would have life again.

Men were up on the thatched roofs pulling down the old straw and the burnt parts so they could be re-thatched. They had found the village thatcher’s store of straw and reed in an outside shed.

Some women from the next village were washing out the cottages and mixing white wash. Soon the cottages wouldn’t show any burn marks.

Aisling was near the back of one of the cottages when she heard a soft cry. She looked around to see where the noise was coming from. There was a pile of old abandoned clothes she guessed wasn’t good enough to steal and gently went over to sort through when she heard it again. This time she could hear that it was a mew. And she dug through the pile. Nestled under someone’s old tunic was a tiny black kitten. Its eyes were barely open. Aisling looked around quickly to see if there were any more but this one was alone.

Aisling cradled the kitten to her chest, it crawled up to her shoulder and nestled into one of her long red braids. So there was still life in the village, she thought. The kitten purred into her ear as she gently stroked its back and she wondered how long it had been since it ate. She headed over to where the woman was taking care of the cow, she had tied it to the outside of the pig sty.

Aisling had grabbed a napkin and fashioned into the shape of a nipple. Maire took one look at the kitten and grabbed the napkin. “I see someone needs to be fed here at least,” and dipped the napkin in the bucket of milk and handed it back to Aisling. “Are you ready to be a mathair?”

Aisling nodded and looked at the kitten as it greedily sucked on the napkin, at least one good thing had happened this day. She looked at the kitten. The Chief Druid was right, it had felt good to help even when she wished it hadn’t been necessary, but there is always some good with the horrid. It just can be hard to find.

“I’m naming ‘Nuadh Bheath’. ‘New life’ seems a good name, Beo for short? Do you like that?” Aisling looked down at the purring sleepy kitten and smiled for the first time that day.