New Writing and Medicine Stories

Fiction is fun. I am so in love with reading books again. There was a time not long ago when I could not read books. Thankfully, I am able to do it now. Wonderful adventures. Delicious words. Great company.

Fiction is also fun to write. I'm still new at it and have committed to write every day (okay almost every day). Sometimes the reality of the spoon theory means I write every day I'm able: that's good, the passion persists and the pace is practical. One of the grand and creative ways I've found to write fiction and satisfy my need to see a pretty page is of course, the world of blog. I love this! I think I've lost the itch for it sometimes, periodically, but then I begin again. Through blogging I found I was able to write fiction in segments or doses of unedited form. That's where the medicine story The Safety Pin Cafe came to life. Life is an adventure, a mystery unfolding, and in it there are the joys and the challenges. Multiple Chemical Sensitivities (MCS) originally challenged me to adjust, and adapt to the new reality of living on the edges, the borders of the everyday. With time, and Nature's influence I have found the metaphor and the myths that turn themselves into story. These are the remedies that work when loss leaves a cracked self. I, like so many before me, have found that it IS possible to live, and flourish from a cracked bowl.

August 4, 2015

There is now a place where all my medicine stories, short stories written as remedy during times of grief, gather in one place. Gathered Magic is a pouch of stories, a gift, to be enjoyed and shared. Enjoy them. In so many ways these medicine stories speak in the language of the Many-Species: Raven, Cat, Hummingbird, Human, Bear, Sparrow, Corn, Squash, Border Witch ... among others. We are at the fork in the road of evolution. We live the time of the Seventh Fire as RWK teaches me. If we are to move forward equity of rights and responsibilities must include the every species; and, before going forward? We must turn around and pick up what we have left behind.

We must gather the magic, and put it in our bundles.

Tuesday morning, February 3, 2015

Dear Readers,

Here is a bit of fiction that made its way out of the corner of my imagination, taking a left-turn from this ramble of a post the other day. These fictions usually make their way into another blog, but as the story tells you right out "this is a different sort of winter." This tale is being written long-hand, onto the lined pages of a sunshine bright yellow spiral bound notebook.
Welcome to the Land of Boote somewhere in my imagination and not far away from a place you might know. It's a start to story that may have some magic for the coming Year of the Goat (Green Goat of Courage infuses with the flexibility and strength of bamboo) and is just the medicine for me to sort through the black holes of stickiness that just makes life burdensome.

Ariel and I
I can feel the possibility of a mythic tale ...
This is a different sort of Winter. All around her the sounds of winter past crowded between her ears: crackling logs and the blissful groans from the two black labs; commutation from neighbors next door assembling toys; the garbage man hollering and whistling as the tinny sound of cans hit the pavement. Nonsense really she shook her head impatient with the explanation. This was tinnitus. Plain and simple. Well, maybe not so simple. The truth was the ringing was bothersome and her imagination was reaching for a story to make the condition tolerable.
"Tolerable?" The apprentice wasn't sure that was an acceptable adjective. Awake for two hours ahead, the smell of toast and sizzling bacon rousted me from dreaming. "Your eavesdropping habit is tolerable, but, only because you are such a good cook." I teased with a dull edge we would need to talk about this habit for riding my thoughts.
"When did you buy bacon?" I sniffed. Inhaling the savory aroma of pork. Ariel stopped buttering the thick slab of freshly baked bread.
"The bacon was a gift. A share actually. Remember that nice man I told you about. The one I helped out of the ditch. Turns out he's a butcher, smokes meats and the whole this and that. Got this in a cedar box, wrapped all tidy in waxed meat paper. Was on the back porch this morning."
Ariel opened the frig door and pointed with the butter knife. A large brown paper wrapped parcel filled most the shelf next to dishes of yesterday's chili.
"Well then. a good deed returns." I took a slice of hot buttered toast and bit into the luscious creamy layer waiting for the contrast of hot baked wheat. There was nothing the young woman couldn't bake. Cinnamon and raisin bread toast was nearly without competitor. I crooned and took a second bite.
The gift was a generous slab of thick back bacon rind still intact.
"The rind will flavor up a chowder, and I know it'll make for crowds of happiness." My apprentice was filled with menu-making a talent I hadn't expected. Ariel and I have a history much like most in this part of Boote. We met when necessity and opportunity waited at a red light. To see us together my bulky shadow absorbed the thin arms of a girl who, up until we joined forces was always covered in newsprint. OLD NEWSPAPERS. Literally wrapped in paper people got their news by reading Ariel.
Barely a hundred pounds and five foot tall the wind sent the girl flying if she was not holding onto something, anything more substantial or rooted. Her reputation had preceded her. Everyone knew her. Except me. WAIT, the light read so we did. I looked over at her. "You're Ariel Courtney."
The girl nodded. Beamed up at me, "Pardon me for not accepting your hand. As you can see it takes both of mine to stay put." Her thin but surprisingly strong fingers gripped the pole. "Wind's in a particular hurry today. Can't say as I blame him the season is changeable ... as the weather." Her smile turned solid--unexpectedly so, as a laugh as deep as drum rolls rippled from the sparrow. The light changed. WALK. We did.
TO BE CONTINUED, so it does ... 2/4/15

The tiny girl-woman walked double-time to keep step with me. I slowed to medium as Ariel Courtney reached for my left hand. "I know who you are. Everyone knows I. Does the initial stand for something? A presentation of your secrets perhaps. A placeholder?"

I had heard the girl was a curious and intelligent sprite but was pleasantly surprised to receive her queries though I skirted answers. "My errands take me this way," I pointed in the direction of the library with my free hand. A book of poetry awaited me on the Reserve shelf.

"After the library. Would you have time to share over peppermint tea?" Skipping on tip-toes now more than walking my companion bobbed her head. Rain had started to dot the sidewalk. Her bobbing head I recognized was dodging the rain. Skillful.

"I'd like that," and it was a delightful offer. Inside the warmth of the heated library the place welcomed us. As well, the librarian waved from behind her computer screen. Ariel smiled back. "Turtle Island" Gary Synder's book of 1970's poetry would add to my stack of tree skins to comfort or crowd my mind and spirit with warnings and prophesies. How many could I affect from my corner of Boote? It was my internal neon sign that question. No wonder the ringing persisted between my ears.

Boote is a town that knew its people for what they are. Some were anchors, others kept watch, many repaired, still others made music, at least one in ten were carvers (wood, stone, dough). Most were skilled at a dozen talents. But what one is though remained a blinking light radiating in different hues and shades from the belly. Natives of Boote were raised close to the breast. Crying babes were rare. Everyone cared for the children.

Ariel Courtney was a Light Sparrow, a watcher by nature and only minimally human -- on her father's side. If history sped forward too quickly as is the case in the corridors of the Predominant, creatures like Ariel were miscalled Homeless by the Occasionals, the visitors who come with more money than Heart Sense and a lust for property, walls and acquisitions. Too many microwaves in the atmosphere tends to bend reality into curliques and miscalls come as a result. Rather than flow like a natural river, Earth's songs are caught in the tiniest space of que (as in curlique) and suffer from oxygen depletion. Ariel Courtney was a tiny watcher with a soul ripe for a bigger adventure.

That's where I come into her story. Let's take the tale forward from Ariel's invitation to share time over peppermint tea...

The paperback copy of "Turtle Island" tucked safely into my huge sling of a purse, more like a saddle bag bright yellow and waterproof, I pushed the heavy library door open and was glad the rain was still a gentle sprinkle. We're a town that loves its benches: wooden ones of sanded and oiled cedar and fir repaired regularly; iron bent into curves to fit the backs and bottoms of variously made human anatomy; large and hearty poured cement slabs with no backs allowed for many-at-once; fancy ones tiled in the colors of the sea, grouted and sealed in fiber-glass. There's not a block or park that is not benched. Word gets to us about cities, even whole countries that FORBID BENCHES. Boote Folk -- the name we all prefer--don't understand the word FORBID and to pair it with BENCH makes no sense at all.

Ariel's bench of choice tucks neatly into the stone wall under the triangular roof at Cornerstone Park. Smooth wooden slates the color of caramels are held together with ropes of wrought iron. The ropes twist into legs that appear fragile but are instead wrought of sturdy stock. I had thought my first tea-time with the sparrow would be in a covered and warm space of one of the many cafes in Boote. But it must have been brain fog. For why would a sparrow want to go indoors? This would be my first lesson and as it turns out the tiny bird had many to share.

Enough for today.

Back with a bit more ... 2/5/2015

Cornerstone Park was carved into a hillside so though the triangular of roof created a snug pavilion it was open all sides only partially walled on the north face. Wonderful rough squares of old stone had given their permission to the family of Stone Layers. Ariel Courtney was born to watchers. Watchers are keen to the flow and details of living. "The Stone Layers of Boote are one of my many favorite families." The girl perched on the edge of the wooden slates leaving most the seat for my girth. She was gracious about her choice, knowing not all benches could accommodate us both.

"My great great gran and great great gran pop were full-through Brown Sparrow," she looked up from her tea preparations appraising my response. When she saw my large face held a quirky life to my lips, she kept on. "They - gran and pop are ground feeders. Sparrows spend most of the light hours there." Between words the girl had begun an intricate paper tear-and-fold sequence. The layers of old newsprint which appeared to be her garment was instead a mesh she pulled at with one fine tipped hand and her lips. She was pulling and pecking at the mesh fashioning a small mache cup. A tea cup.

"When Boote was very young, the Beings of Boote were equally feathered, furred, scaly and skinned" She harummped at this point. Stopped her story and asked, "Would you?" holding the miraculous paper mache tea cup with one hand she beckoned, "Hold out your hand let's see how it fits."

"Ah. I see," I didn't really. The spell fit me suitably. My large black palm laid flat, Ariel placed the creation inside my thick long black nails curled from the ends of my paw.

"Blow on it a bit to dry it, and I'll start on a cup for myself."

"Right." My fascination was complete, as I blew warm breath the cup grew until it filled the whole of my paw.

"Sparrows and Stone Layers have a complimentary ..." She searched for the word.

"Arrangment. In the verrry very old Story of Complements Stone layers must have feathered emissaries. Of course. YOU know. "I" would know all the old complements.

It had been so long since I heard the story told in the ancient way I felt oddly made infant --no long She-Who-Guards. I was a cub. Listening to the Winter Stories. Ariel Courtney spun a cave of memories. Memories I had begun to forget.

Friday, 2/6/15

Ariel's story of complements unfurled in time to the peck and pull of newsprint needed to form her tea cup. My eyelids softened--a state all bears known as a next step in the seasonal drams. did I recognized the tiny messenger for who she truly was? No! silly really. I am regarded as goddess in many circles.

"And yet," the sparrow interjected with no malice intended nor detected, "you have not slept through winter for ..."

This time I completed her vocalizing. "Two cycles of the Sister's Rise.* Rather than sleeping the deep dreaming sleep I have become a napper attached to far too many worries that buzz like honeybees between my ears." Stirred from the drooping slide of my eyelids going where they had long forgotten was Nature's Way, I felt my tea cut being filled. Ariel Courtney poured a stream of amber liquid from a thin flexible silver pipe. The pipe exited a stone much smaller than the rest of the beautifully placed chunks of rock wall.

Steam wisps rose from the freshly created cup now as light and water tight as fine china. Four bright sprigs of green caught the amber liquid instantly releasing the tang of mint. But, there was an additional scent I recognized first over and above the mint. "Honey water!" I bellowed. "Blackberry and fireweed honey." Fixed as it was that winter day a tiny sparrow fashioned a tea party that would re-set and re-wind my wobbled inner chronometer. No one else in this part of Boote had noticed that I had not slept those two years.

Wouldn't you offer a life-saver with such talents an apprenticeship in Goddess? So it began that way. My complementary life with a sparrow.
 * The Sister's Rise refers to the sighting of the constellation of the Pleiades, or Many Sisters in an early winter sky. Many of Earth's tribes recognize the regularity of star placement as clocks, or chronometers built into every being ... internal navigational systems.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015 Mercury goes direct

Before and awhile ago ...

"There's not much to a sparrow is there dad?" The young boy whispered in his best quiet voice cupping his hands into a tiny megaphone to empty his words into his father's right ear.

Setting the binoculars aside David Courtney considered the best way to answer, "See for yourself. See how they spend time. Let's say a minute. Start with one minute." The boy with hair the color of wheat nearly-ready for harvest loved looking through the glasses. Small enough to fit his boy sized face the field glasses brought the tiny birds within reach. Though he knew -- through countless spying adventures with his father--never to get too close or move too fast the urge to do both itched the way mosquitoes bit.

Sandy Courtney waited til he heard the CLICK from his father's silver stop watch. When the man nodded the body adjusted the lenses until the blur of a scene became four small brown sparrows.

"Brown Sparrows are one of Boote's most common birds. They feed on seeds on a forest floor but are just as happy to be nibbling at a bun left on a café table." David Courtney was a birder with an obsession for the smaller feathered folk. He had so much to tell the boy. His son didn't share the affinity attracted more to the corbae--crows and ravens his favorites.

The minute passed quickly. "What's the report old chap? The watch chimed as David Courtney's gloved hand tossled the crop of sandy blond hair. This is the part the boy loved best: the notebook. Smooth leather covers kept all their discoveries. His father's fountain pen at the ready the boy took glasses off his face and licked his lips. "Sparrows hop and peck at the ground a lot. Their tail feathers split open when they fly. They fight each other over food. Scattering ---I like that word dad." Sandy paused to slide in a bit closer rubbing like a cat against his fathers leg. "Sparrows scatter when they hear you coming."

"We've done god." David Courtney showed the boy his notes, he always did though as yet many letters meant little to Sandy. "And the date?" That was Sandy's bit. He was learning his letters and numbers and since there were only nine numbers Sandy felt a glow of confidence with the writing of the date.

His father helped, "It's February, and February is a "2" David Courtney handed his son the fountain pen. The black ink stained the page as he wrote "2".

"It's February 8th." Sandy loved the number "8". To him "8's" are pretzels. He'd watched his father roll the long snake of fresh dough into coils then chop them into sticks. Sticks that he'd twist gracefully and quickly into 8's. The boy wrote "8".

"Nineteen fifty seven," his father continued. This bit took a little more thinking. The man helped again, "One. Nine. Five. Seven."

"Right." Sandy licked his lips again satisfied with it he handed the fountain pen back to his dad and reached for the pencils held in straps along the side of the leather notebook. What Sandy Courtney at age five-and-a-half was very, very good at was remembering what he saw by rendering. His depictions were skillful and included shadow and elements of proportion and perspective. He delight in drawing! Whispering in bird chatter as the pencil stroked the page images coming as if from a prescribed map his small hand was privy to.

He narrated the sketches, "This sparrow has face feathers like mine. My face feathers -- under this face -- of course!" The boy giggled as he stopped for a moment to poke gently at toasty freckles splattered across his cheeks, under his nose, across his nose, above his pink-brown lips and cube of a chin.

It was difficult to tell whether his son was remembering or imagining. The slim distinction afforded the man a degree of...what was the quickening sensation? The man named it hope. Yes. That was it hope.

Raising Sandy without his mother had not been easy but never for a moment did he regret his parenting life. What was difficult was not having Sola to teach their son the ways of Sparrow herself. There had been three beautiful years. She chose. She crossed the edge knowing. How much did the Freckled Feather remember?

"Freckle Feathers!!" David Courtney caught a soft breeze kiss his cheek drawing him back to this Now. He said the name again, "Freckle Feathers. A new nickname. What do you think? F.F. Courtney, Sandy to some, but in the record keepers diaries you shall be known as Freckle Feathers Courtney grand friend and renderer of Sparrows."

The boy wrinkled his nose and puckered his lips sending most of his freckles colliding into a mound of toast brown. His sketch complete Sandy Courtney laughed fully this time sending the four Brown Sparrows into the thicket of huckleberries. Thin arms covered in a thick orange hoodie tightened about his father's broad chest. The field glasses thumped between them. A special sort of glue. F. F. Courtnery,  the boy thought. I like the sound of that. 

More coming ...

Friday, February 27, 2015 

The End

Sleep deprivation shows itself differently. Elves don't need much sleep thriving on activity they dream awake by nature. Ravens and crows make the most of regular roosting times. Sleep refuels them for all the meddling their lot have signed on for.

If a raven has a bad night the neighbors will pay. Caw, caw, caw, gallup and gurgle. Loud, loud, loud! Sparrows on the other hand are bred to watch. The time they live in one tiny body is mostly awake time. They pack in a world of observation.

"There's not much to a sparrow," my slurring was difficult to cipher. Between waking and the glorious milky path of dreams Ariel whispered into my ear, "You the Mother Bear have dreams awaiting. Catch up. Breakfast will be ready when you're done." I obeyed, slipping into sleep as I remember how.

"It's funny isn't it?" Ariel liked to ponder the silliness of the purely-human pathways. With her father's help the honey-doused bear "I" was now settled into her domed cave, yellow saddle bag nestled under the great bear's left cheek. Snores rumbled, a slacked jaw opened and shut, chest rising and falling.

"What's that?" encouraged the man still dressed behind his apron. There'd been little time to change when his daughter flew through the opened window to the bakery.

"No one noticed that "I" should have been missing these two winters. Missing to hunker into the dreams so ..." Again, the serious thinker girl-sparrow wanted just the right word. Her father remained open to the practice. He was a patient man, familiar with waiting as his breads rose at their pace.

She continued, "Ripe and ready! That's what the great bear's job is. Winter sleep is the season to harvest dreams ripe and ready. Two winters worth of dreaming. No harvesting."

"I see what you're after darl'n. I see. Boote has been about its business, content or ignorant of the sleep deprived state of our most precious guardian." Ariel nodded, bobbing on the flour scatter of her father's marble topped tables. The baker swiped at his eyebrows bushy and unruly hedges of brown stubble. Many silver spikes coiled up at odd angles. "Hmm... Seems the wind had a destiny to deliver when you chanced to meet at the light reading WAIT." F.F. Courtney's face was no less freckled at sixty and when he had time such as today to hear of his daughter's discoveries freckles and feathers made his naming a bold and reckoned statement.

In the darkness of the great bear's cave the Sparrow Man's feathers patterned fully. His apron now the white chest feathers of his mother. "Are there bits of magic needed now that she dreams?"

"On our part pop, it's mostly a matter of watching the others. Boote has forgotten how to notice. And, in the passing of time, lost a part of its self. It's in the songs really. Can't say how thing will be in the not-yet there's always the gap that Grace leaves open ...

"What can I do then?" F.F. Courtney asked.

"Ariel Courtney smiled, cupped her thin fingers into a megaphone and poured a secret into her father's right ear.

Can you guess what secret the tiny sparrow whispered?


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