Friday, October 17, 2014

Crafting Blooming Howls: That Old Cat Magic

This is a little bit of poetry I've been crafting on and off for... uh... some years now. I'm not happy with it still.  I haven't quite figured out how to get it from where it is to where it needs to be. I either need to take some away, reword some, or add some...

I have a melody that runs through my head when I read it... a slow, sexy, smoky-bar-jazz melody, with a dark, rich N'awlins Creole voice singing the words. So maybe "poem" isn't the right moniker, but many poems become songs, don't they?

Tell me if y'all can hear the jazz, honeychile...

There’s somethin’ just a little strange
Waftin’ through the air
Dark outside, moon’s up for fair
Lil’ shadow prowlin’ round
Rise to moon, ‘til sun’s gone down

It’s that old cat magic
Black as night, green as grass
It’s that old cat magic
Soft and hard, slinky like jazz
Sharp and sweet, blood runs hot
Tell me once, tell me again
Whisperin’ soft to the wind
It’s that old cat magic
Come driftin’ by again

It was the old days
Everythin’ was sunny and gold
Eyes glowed free and claws stepped light
Not a mouse or a rat to be seen in sight
Goddess laughed, bright eyes smiled
Eyes that shone, green as the Nile

Temple bells soundin’ far and wide
Little black masks and tails confide
Sooty paws held aloft, blue eyes sparklin’ in the shade
Secrets of the Gods, ours to keep
We’re guardians and warriors, don’t you know?
Best be off now, for we protect our own!

Lady Bright, in lands to the north
Begged a boon, from a couple of cats, of course!
Pull my wheels and I’ll feed you well
Won’t you fight beside me
Against Fenrir and his hell?

Across the sea, Highlands growin’ green
There lived a beast both fair and mean
Huntin’ round and round great circles of stone
Teeth and claws like giant thorns
Great wild eyes gatherin’ the storms

Witch’s broom, of cinnamon brush
Brings a purr within the hush
Candles and cards, Circle cast in fire
Smell the static, fur set to flight
Stars reflect like a thousand lights

Memory holds, in blood and bone
Hardwired in to whiskers twitchin’
Mouse will hide, birds all a-quiet
Boneyard silenced, when velvet paws alight
Teeth are bared, laughin’ and whole
Eyes ablaze in green and gold
Shine like jewels, glowin’ hard and cold
With ne’er a blink, seein’ right into your soul

Better keep your eyes on your steps, Jack
Cause you never quite know where that lil cat is at
Eyes’ll flash, claws and teeth a-gleam
and then you’ll see
That little black cat is me.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Crafting Blooming Howls...

It's that time of year again - time for pumpkins plump on the vine (and in our supermarkets), for cider simmering in our cauldrons, for the trees to shed their suits of green and don their gold and crimson gowns (boy, do they know how to party or what?)... and time for Witches in Fiction, a la' Magaly Guerrero. You may remember the first time in April, when your Artful White Fox celebrated in style, dancing on the bones with Magaly and many other friends of the blogosphere. Last October, I celebrated Halloween with her during All Hallow's Grim, telling a story of vampires who make a pact with Death.

Magaly has challenged us to "...discuss, share and delight in those Halloween projects we have always wanted to enjoy, but have never before got around to developing." Her only  real requirement is for the entry to have a witch or magic in it. So here's to October, to warm spiced cider and gloriously gowned greenery, and the wild autumn wind chilling the world in preparation for winter's cold sleep and the blanket of snow the persimmon seeds promise us. 

Won't you join us for a crafty celebration this October?

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

One Day

at its worst
only a few hours
left in peace
to soak it in
and hold on
until the next time

their love
and the promise
of better days
their desire
for home
sustains me
One day, I promise. 

One Day.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Perfect World

There's no such thing
as perfection without
or perfection within
Every so often
we touch a fire
that burns as close
as possible
but every fire
becomes but smoke in the end
may its memory be sweet
at least.

From that fire
is birthed many things
and horror
the good, the bad
the bright, the tarnished
should not be
the subject of desire

Do not strive
for a perfect world
it will always burn
to ashes
From which something else
will rise
Strive instead for that
which makes your heart glow,
makes it full
and glad
and warm.

Be instead
As the Phoenix
And rise
To drink the starlight
and bathe in the moonlight
Let the sun
And wind
Nourish your body and soul
Let the twilight time
Be as a blanket
Peaceful and safe
Balanced in between. 

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Starsoul: the Artificer Enigma, excerpt 3.5

    Weeks went by, and the villagers’ attitudes toward her only got worse. They were angry and resentful, and Farynna was certain that it was only a matter of time before things came to a head. Kylie grew dull and detached, performing her apprentice duties with no enthusiasm and few words. Worse, there was an undercurrent of power, something strange and alien seeping through the village.  She was sure that the strange power was tied to the villagers’ temperaments.
    Something had changed; she could feel it. Farynna was in her garden, Kylie was inside, working on some herbal mixtures. Farynna looked up and saw, on the other side of the village square, one of the women held an object and was arguing with another. Both women suddenly stopped and looked toward the cottage. Farynna went cold.
    The woman holding the object snarled and raised it. Farynna felt sick. It was a bone, a human thigh-bone, sized for a child. She knew, in that instant…
    It had been Kevan’s.
    Farynna was certain she was about to die.
    “She let them die!” The woman screamed, and the villagers gathered, listening avidly. “She is our witch, and did not lift a finger to help them. Our smith, and his child. Kylie is orphaned! And for what? We are left only with a memory of horror invading our village! Kylie is left with only sorrow!  And SHE LET THEM DIE!” The words gained strength and volume, and the woman moved toward her. The rest of the villagers, men, women, and children, once her friends and family, moved with her.
    “Gods, let me pass with grace,” she prayed quietly, and stood. “Let me face this with courage.”
    It took them only moments to reach her cottage. Kylie had not emerged, and Farynna prayed that the girl stayed inside. She didn’t see Kylie standing at the window, dull eyes beginning to spark with a sudden rage.
    Farynna retained enough of her wits to realize that the current of strange power grew stronger and harsher the closer the woman… and her grisly token… came to the cottage. When the woman stopped, bone still raised, Farynna was certain. The source of the strange power was using the bone as a focus for the rage and hate, using it and the woman to impose the emotions on the villagers. The witch touched the power briefly, and terror touched her; it was the same power that had surrounded the creature that had killed Karavoss and Kevan.
    She was most certainly going to die. “Don’t do this,” she begged, her voice cracking. “You are being used and manipulated. The creature…”
    “See how she cannot even save herself!” The woman raved, her eyes gleaming with madness.  She screamed, then, and pointed the bone at Farynna. The villagers surged forward and seized their witch, forcing her down on her potting table. Farynna’s vision blurred; the power pulsing around her made it hard to see.
    “Punish her! Make her suffer as Karavoss and Kevan suffered, as Kylie suffers, as we all suffer. She could not save them! She could not save us!”
    Farynna could no longer see the woman, but she could see the bone in her mind’s eye. It was, in fact, the only thing she could see. The outpouring of rage and hate ceased, and it began instead to draw in the emotions around them. It stank of corruption, and grew stronger with every passing heartbeat. It absorbed the villagers’ fury and hatred; it drank Farynna’s fear and pain and sorrow. It took in the rape of the innocence of the children who had joined the crowd. No one in the village would escape the taint of this day’s actions.
    The crowd muttered angrily; she could no longer understand their words. She felt their hands; she heard cloth rip and tear and suddenly she felt air on her skin, everywhere. She was naked and vulnerable, and she began to weep. “Gods…” someone hit her across the face and she cried out.
    “You don’t get to call to the gods for aid, witch. You are beyond their touch, now.”
    She didn’t know who hit her, but she did know that it was no longer the villagers acting of their own accord; it was the creature’s will that worked this vileness upon them and her.
    Then the pain began, everywhere. They slapped her, and pinched her. They scratched and even bit. She felt every attack, and knew, somehow, exactly who had struck her. She knew when it was one of the children, felt their smaller, sharper teeth and nails, and sorrow overrode the pain and fear, just for a moment. Oh, gods, no. Spare the little ones this, at least…
    Children are the tastiest treats, Farynna. Do you think I’d let them go?
    She screamed at the invasion, the voice in her mind. It was that thing, that creature, she knew.
    Give me your pain and fear. Give me your grief. I will even take your anger, oh yes.  How does it feel, to be helpless and ravaged by those you trusted and called friend? Laughter sounded then, and a new pain between her thighs caused her cries to reach a new, panicked pitch. She screamed until her throat was raw and all she could manage was a hoarse, rasping cry, and still they continued to rape her, even as the others continued their assault. She was bleeding to death slowly from dozens of wounds all over her body. Please, let it end…
    An evil chuckle sounded in her thoughts. You want it to end, Farynna?
    Beg me. The tone of the mental invasion was deep, satisfied, and intimate- the sort of voice that lovers might use in bed. It sickened her, but her life would end one way or another. It could not get any worse for her.
    “Please, end it. Kill me.” Her voice was hoarse, but she managed to get the words out.  “Let me die. Please. I beg you…” Farynna continued in that vein for a minute or so more, before her voice gave out, and all she could manage were weary whimpers.  Please, please…
    I believe… I have fed enough, for this day. Know this, Farynna, even as I grant your wish…
The assault on her body slowed, and then stopped. The bodies surrounding her parted enough for her to see her death coming towards her.
    It was Kylie.
    No, oh no. Not like this, not her. Oh, gods, spare her this…
    Oh, no, Farynna, the creature told her.  The girl who knew you the best will be the one to grant your dearest wish. Just know this, before she rips your throat out with her teeth: I am going to continue to use this village and these people – all of them, men, women, and children – to visit horrors upon poor, helpless victims until I tire of the sport, and the taste of the horrors they can gift me with.
    Farynna’s eyes opened wide. She watched Kylie move toward her, the girl’s eyes wide with an almost feral rage, her teeth bared. The girl paused momentarily, standing over her teacher and staring at her with eyes devoid of anything besides anger.
    There was a flash, just for a moment, of something else in Kylie’s eyes, something resembling fear and horror, as if the girl was aware of what was happening, somewhere beneath the grip of the creature’s power.
    And then the creature’s threat became reality.
    Kylie moved, swift and sure, and tore her teacher’s throat out with her teeth.
    Farynna had just enough life left in her after that to have the sight of her twelve-year-old apprentice, covered in blood and with gory flesh hanging from her teeth, imprinted in her mind, the last thing she’d ever see.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Starsoul: the Artificer Enigma, excerpt #3

    It had been a long, hard road to get here, to get back home.  Her parents had moved away from their tiny village when she was very small, and she had returned a young woman, after completing her apprenticeship with an old herbalist. It had been her dream, all her life, to come home again with knowledge and power, to help her village. She had succeeded at her dream, and was happy in her work as the village witch.  She was young, and beautiful, and wielded her will through her magics, to bless the village and its people. After returning and establishing herself, she had immediately made the acquaintance of the local Druid, who watched over the region’s forests and the river that gave their village so much of its life.
    Life was simple, here in Innishee. Farynna had her small garden, and her small, cozy cottage. The villagers loved her, and she them. Each new day was much like the last. She kept her shelves stocked with various remedies, teas, poultices, salves, and tinctures. She cultivated a small stock of spices to use for trade, when the peddlers came though Innishee.  Life went on, with few surprises.
    Until one day. Farynna awoke with a sense of foreboding, her witch’s senses telling her that something was not right, that something was going to happen that day.  She got up and ate breakfast as usual, going outside then to tend her garden. Later that day, a peddler’s caravan would come into town, and the Druid, Tamsin, would probably come with them. Farynna could ask him if something was strange in the forest…
    Someone called her name, loudly and urgently. The smith’s daughter and Farynna’s apprentice, Kylandria, rounded the corner of her cottage and stopped just short of trampling her plants. “Farynna! Come quick, and bring your herbs, Tamsin needs your help!”
    She didn’t stop to ask questions and grabbed her bag as she followed Kylie into the village. Tamsin had collapsed on the western edge of the village, bloodied and barely conscious. Oh, gods, she thought to herself. “Tamsin? Tam, can you hear me?”
    “Aryn,” he murmured. “Can hear you.”
    “Why didn’t you heal yourself, Tam?” She asked while she worked, taking stock of his wounds. They were horrific, and she was fairly certain she wouldn’t be able to save him. This was too far beyond her skill; she wasn’t a surgeon.
    “Can’t, Aryn. Attacked… cut off from… my grove…” he gasped in pain and jerked; she was trying to cut his jerkin away from his wound and tugged a little too hard.
    Fear filled her. “What could do that, Tam?” She was trying not to cry. He was losing too much blood too fast, and she didn’t have the knowledge she needed. “Tam… I’m so sorry…”
    He opened his eyes and looked at her, shaking his head. “Not your fault, Aryn. Creature… get out. Get everyone out, it’s coming.”  This seemed to cost him a monumental effort and he sighed, closing his eyes again.
    It took her a full minute to realize that he was dead. “Gods, no.”
    “Is… is he…” Kylie, standing to one side, stammered.
    That brought Farynna sharply back to herself. “Gods. He’s gone, Kylie.” She looked around her and realized the entire village, or nearly so, was standing around them. Swallowing back her tears, and her fear, she straightened and faced them.  “Tamsin is gone. He was attacked in his grove by some unknown creature…” she swallowed again, this time fighting the urge to turn aside and empty her stomach. “He said it’s coming here. He said we must run.”
     The villagers looked at each other and talked amongst themselves, increasing in volume. Questions were shot her way but Farynna didn’t hear them. Her fear was growing. That sense of something wrong, something coming, intensified until she could no longer stand it. Unwillingly, she turned to look at the river on instinct; Tamsin’s grove had sat at the river’s edge.
    Its surface boiled. Her horror must have shown on her face, for the others turned to follow her gaze.
    Kylie’s twin brother, Kevan, stood too close to its edge.  Farynna raised a hand, opened her mouth to shout, but it was already too late. Great ropy tendrils of muck-colored something shot out of the water and wrapped around Kevan’s torso. The boy screamed, and Farynna grabbed Kylie before the girl could run to her twin. Kevan disappeared underwater a moment later, and the river returned to its tranquil flow. Kylie was screaming. Shocked faces turned toward Farynna, but her eyes did not leave the river. It wasn’t over, her instincts told her that…
She was right. But, by the gods, she wished she’d been wrong. Something surfaced, something taller than a man and with masses of thick tendrils undulating wildly at every angle, something apparently made from the muck at the bottom of the river. It shifted and grew, and something emerged from its side…
    Oh, gods…!  To her right, someone retched.
    Kylie screamed her brother’s name.
    It was Kevan’s head and one arm, and the boy was still alive. One leg stuck out of the creature’s other side, as though the boy had been unnaturally stretched… or ripped in half. He cried for help, his one free arm reaching toward the villagers. Farynna fancied that he was looking straight at her.
    The villagers looked on in stunned silence for a moment, until Karavoss, the twins’ father and village smith, roared in challenge and charged toward the river’s edge. Farynna looked on in horror, still holding Kylie tightly. The girl was sobbing and calling for her brother, and for her father. Farynna tried to cry out a warning, but something imprisoned her voice, something had reached within her, touching her small store of witch’s power…
It was the creature, she realized. 

    That thing had power… finally she found her voice and she screamed. “Karavoss, it’s a trap! Don’t!”
    But it was too late.
    A heartbeat later, Karavoss lay dead, impaled by half a dozed of the creature’s tendrils. Kevan gave a final scream as the creature fully absorbed his body, his leg, arm, and head disappearing into its form. Kylie thrashed, sobbing, but Farynna held her tightly. The creature twisted, the top of its body reshaping itself into…
    It grew a head, and a face, and that face was Kevan’s.  It grinned at them, using its facsimile of Kevan’s face, and disappeared beneath the river.
    Farynna waited. Kylie sagged against her, staring in the direction of the river. They all waited, certain that it would return and finish what it started.
    Minutes passed, and then an hour, and it did not reemerge. Finally, the villagers dispersed, still shocked and saddened. A few of the men carried the bodies of the Druid and the smith away to be buried. Farynna took Kylie back to her cottage and brewed some tea. She was alone now; her mother had died when the twins were young, and there was no other family. When Kylie finally looked up from her tea and met Farynna’s eyes, they were dull with grief but no longer distant. Farynna hugged the girl one last time and set about brewing more tea, enough for the entire village.
     Farynna and her apprentice took the tea door-to-door, sharing a cup with every member of the village. They regarded Farynna dully, with subdued accusation; she was their witch and she hadn’t saved the smith or Kevan. Or Tamsin, for that matter. Guilt twisted her heart but she was also realistic; there was nothing she could have done with her meager power against that creature. The attack had come too fast. If she could have had a little more time, then she could have made preparations. She could have kept them away from the water’s edge. She could have evacuated the village. But she had a feeling that someone would have died regardless.  The attack may not have lasted very long, but she was still terrified.
    Why had the creature left the rest of them alive?

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

He, Me

I drift
asleep to the sound
of his snores, cradling
my soul in its nightly rest
in the sure knowledge
of his every breath

I dream of his eyes
when sad
for this reminds me that
we had once lost
each other
to the vagaries of time, and to be
that we now walk in tandem

He reaches into me
And draws into the open
things I would rather leave
And soothes away the hurt
with balm from the warmth
of his skin

He has marked me
as his
Within and underneath, where
searching eyes will never see
its light
And in allowing it, I have
claimed him as mine

This struggle
is sacred, and not for
or control
but for surrender, for conquest;
power of a different sort
It is a little death, repeated
a thousand times
I triumph, and he
ensnares my Self, and
neither of us
is the same, afterward

I am the altar
He the sacrifice
This dagger plunged
deep between us
Our sweat and tears
The blood that spills

I surrendered to his
mastery, and in doing so
have gained possession
of the world he thought was his.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Chaos, Erraticism, and Puzzle Pieces

Every so often my brain shuts down almost entirely, except for one thing it wants to mull over. It does this because there's something in a specific topic I need to understand, or come to terms with, or figure out the why of. It's something of an instinctual mechanism. I don't notice the triggers, most of the time. I can't always figure out the triggers afterwards. And, I don't always complete the analysis in a timely manner. I don't always get time and mental space to gnaw at the bones of the topic until it gives up its secrets. Sometimes I need assistance analyzing, because I can't see every angle all the time, and I don't always get that assistance, either. You know how life goes... stuff gets in the way of other stuff, until there's just... lots(too much) of stuff.

I just know, that if my mind cuts everything else out, to the point that it is a ridiculous effort just to -want- to focus on anything else, even for a small amount of time, that there is a reason, a need, to pore over the topic under the proverbial microscope.

The topic this time? A once-friend and (truly, in the worst sense - no offense, Mags!) wicked witch. Wicked Witch acted for a time as a big sister to me, which was both balm and bane at times. We connected in areas that I'd never had someone to connect to before. She was the only one who understood certain aspects of my being, the only one I could talk to about certain things, and also a buffer between me and others around me, during a huge transition. She took it on herself to be that buffer, to shield me from the possible (probable) problems that might have arisen from the over-enthusiasm of other friends around me during said transition (i.e. getting married and moving to a new town, in a new state, with no-one I was truly familiar with around me). I both appreciated and detested her intervention. I would have to face certain things at some point or another (like the fact that two of the female friends in the group I had married into had, at one time, dated and/or been engaged to my now ex-husband). But I was glad for the fact that I didn't have to face it all at once. She protected me from the worst of it, though now I wonder if perhaps that protection didn't harm, in the long run. Ah, well, we are never given to know the might-have-beens...

So it was no wonder, when Wicked Witch became such a friend.

And then SHTF (Sh*t Hit The Fan). You know, things happen. Especially in a group of close-knit friends who have known each other for varying numbers of years. She pissed some of them off, they pissed her off... she and her man moved away (which they had been planning for a year anyway), and things just kind of blew over. Though, to hear them tell it, Wicked Witch had been actively screwing everyone over in one way or another over the years. I can't judge; I wasn't there, but I know who I'm inclined to believe, at this point.

And then more SHTF. My life exploded in directions I had never envisioned. Wicked Witch had predicted it; she once said I was young, and would never stay with my husband. She said it wouldn't last, and I, with the certainty of overconfident youth, shook my head and shrugged and forgot about it. Well, Wicked Witch, you were right about that, at the very least. When I first began the laborious and (unnecessarily)protracted process of leaving my husband, she was there for me, despite the previous SHTF. She listened, and gave sage advice as she was wont to do, which was echoed by my acupuncturist(who is also a spiritual and sweet, wise lady in her own way), and a counselor I trusted. My best friend agreed that it was sound advice, so I(and my Dragon) tried to follow it. I moved in with Wicked Witch, with plans to settle things with my (now-ex-)husband and then move forward with my life, before publicizing certain things I'm not proud of, but they happened and I have to live with it and move on if I can. Demons like that -have- to be laid to rest sooner or later, or they eat us alive, one bloody little sharp-toothed nibble after another.

So I(we) tried. My Dragon and I couldn't avoid each other, it was... impossible. Wicked Witch aided and abetted the secrecy, with her silence and then by inviting my Dragon to visit us for her birthday (I was still -technically- married at this stage. Hence the not-proud-but-dealing-with-it thing). Let me make that additionally clear: she invited him. She was HELPING. And, according to what we have been told by those involved, everyone at that damned birthday party knew, because she had told them. So we played out this farce of pretending to just be friends during her party, while everyone there looked at us sideways and made the entire day bloody awkward, and we had no idea why.

And then, after some things were said and I decided it was no longer in my (or Wicked Witch's) best interest to stay, I moved to my Mom's house, after duly discussing it with the (almost) ex-husband (the little ones were supposed to be staying with me at that point, and I felt that it would be best if my Mom was around, so when I got a job, there was help to be had, as I couldn't afford daycare). Almost-Ex agreed with me, that I needed assistance. (Though he would have preferred I go to my Dad's, but there are, sometimes, things a Mom can do that a Dad cannot.) I needed help and support that Wicked Witch couldn't provide, working long hours and all. I was, once again, trying to do the right thing. No hard feelings... I and my girls had needs and I had to do something to meet them. It was the grown-up, responsible, logical Mommy-decision to make. Or at least, that's how I felt about it.

I guess Wicked Witch didn't agree. No sooner than I had left, then she had gone running to the (almost) ex with a twisted sob story of events, mostly untrue, which catapulted a squishy, wriggling entropic cascade failure into my lap. I don't know why she did it. I am not sure I want to know. She acted like she wanted to help me, and she did (or so I thought) and then set us up for a betrayal of epic proportions. If I had been smart, I would have known better. I should have known better, after other... things. The others, my friends, had tried to warn me. Other events should have taught me better, but in the moment... bah! How can we explain the things that we choose, when the Moment is upon us? In point of fact, one of my friends asked me point blank, "why her?" Wicked Witch was, I thought, a neutral party and would have no stake in the goings-on, and thus was "safe," but I was wrong.

I don't seek to apportion blame. This series of... heh... unfortunate events... has weighed heavily on my mind this evening, and I don't know why. Perhaps it is that very lack of comprehension of Wicked Witch's motivation that eats at me so.

I know I miss the companionship. She is one of two fellow women whom I have been able to share what I consider "girly" moments with on a regular basis. She and I drank together, went clubbing together, shopped together... well, you get the idea. There have been others here and there, isolated moments of connection, but Wicked Witch was one of two. The other is refusing to acknowledge my existence for reasons irrelevant to Wicked Witch. I realize that this whole "girly" thing is partially my own problem, and I could go into analyzing -that- particular issue, but I've already written enough drivel for now. I have no one, now, except my Dragon. I mean that quite literally! No friend to call up and hang out with. No girlfriend to call in the middle of the night and cry with.  Again, I can admit my own fault in that area, but at the same time... I don't think I'm the only one to blame for the lack. I have both lost and been abandoned, in the same breath, by the same people (and myself). The problem I have with it, is that I don't think it was for the right reasons. On either side(s).

I don't know how to talk about this, not now, so long after it happened. I don't know how to apologize. I don't know if it'll mean anything if I do, and I don't know how to ask. Well. I -am- sorry, but I don't know if it matters now.

I don't know why this has come up. I don't know why I've chosen to post this here. Except that I said once, months ago, that truth would come out, and not everyone would necessarily like it. And my dear friend Magaly told me that, often, anonymity in catharsis could be (would be) a saving grace. So here you have it, friends. I don't know if anyone who knows the Wicked Witch will read this... I think there's a 50/50 chance of it - hell, there's an even chance of herself reading this, and that makes me giggle a little - but I feel a little better for getting this out of my head.

In the words of River Tam: "It isn't mine, and I shouldn't have to carry it."

Monday, January 20, 2014

Documented (Artful Reader) Life Project

So I joined in with two community projects this year, the Documented Life Project and the Artful Reader's Club (thanks to Magaly), and they're slowly becoming melded together in my head, like my Muse took up a welding torch and went to town. It's sloppy, but inevitable. And, you never know, something cool might come out of it.

The Documented Life Project is a weekly inspiration group for art journaling. The Artful Reader's Club read books, review them, and do art based on the books.  The second is right up my alley. The first... a touch outside of my Muse's regular hunting grounds. But that's rather the point, now, isn't it? It's time my Muse stretched herself a bit... now to hope she doesn't rebel. It's usually rather ugly when she does.

Before you read any further, I should explain two things about myself:

1) I am a chaotic soul. I don't do well with schedules or plans or resolutions etc. I hop from one project to another and back again without warning or (sometimes) conclusion. This is why I have so many unfinished stories sitting on my hard drive (added to the fact that I'm having issues with my word processor on the birthday present machine).

2) I am easily distracted by bright shiny objects. This kind of goes along with the chaotic soul thing, but is also somewhat of its own entity. It just makes the chaos a little... sparklier.

So, here's hoping I'll be able to stick with this, and forge it into something beautiful. Here's to re-crafting my... our... life, with Documented Life Project (week 1) somewhat late but better than never:

 My (once upon a time to come) Front Door, 
crafted in pen and colored pencil, and Tombow brush markers:

The beginning of my Artful Reader's Club book list:
1) Crafting Magick with Pen and Ink - Susan Pesznecker
2) Grimm's Complete Fairy Tales
3) The Poems of Robert Burns
4) Tales of Mystery and Imagination - E.A. Poe (a collection)
5) The Te of Piglet - Benjamin Hoff
6) Hyperion Cantos - Dan Simmons (February challenge - to re-read a book(s) you love)

More to come.
-the Artful (hopeful) White Fox.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Shove it All in a Blender and See What Comes Out.

Or, if you prefer a more dignified title, then: "Recrafting an Artist's Life" might be more appropriate.

"Recrafting"? What the devil is that? Recycling, reusing, and generally finding a way to remake something. Upcycling. Get it?

So when I say "Recrafting an Artist's Life", what does that say to you? I bet it's not this(though this is often how it feels when one is in the midst of it):

Setting: a (once) lonely young woman, wife, mother of two, and sometime artist and crafter. She bobs through her life like a stick on a river, never noticing when the river turns, or the rain falls, or even really when she goes over the waterfalls. Rapids and languid lazyness alike wash over her; she is as unaware of the currents that carry her as she is of the dangers that lurk beneath the water she floats upon. She is powerless, unaware of her arms and legs. All she sees is the sky, and occasional flashes of green along the banks. One day, she snags upon some flotsam as she's going around a riverbend, and discovers she's thoroughly stuck. Well, here I am, she thinks to herself as she stares up at the stars.

Then, another comes along and points out that she has legs. So she gets up, takes his hand, and walks away, taking joy in the newness of it. She dances in the grass. She sleeps beneath the trees. She bathes in the waters that once carried her but feels no inclination or desire to ride those currents once again. Gradually, the riverbank can no longer sustain her. so she walks into the woods, to find a new way of being. She tries to carry what she loves with her, but is prevented, through life and circumstance getting in the way. She claws at the injustice forced upon her and her children; some things have been out of her control. Some things, she cannot change. She is told that she is abandoning her husband and children. She is told she's a terrible person... selfish, greedy, unrealistic. Head in the clouds. They tell her she acts like the world owes her something. They say a lot.

But she knows the truth... she has spent many hours, as she trudges beneath the boughs, in thought and contemplation. She has agonized over every decision. She knows what the cost is, better than anyone else, except the one who walks with her. She prays that the sacrifice will be worth it in the end, but she does not believe her prayers are heard anymore. They slog through mud, and find dead ends in the forest. They try to climb up, climb out, but the cliffs are too sheer. the rocks too sharp.  They scrape by in the canyons, in the harsh, greedy, grungy, ugly parts that very few who know her seem to see or understand. The world is set against the unprivileged, the downtrodden, those who have lost, and is determined to keep them that way. There is no help to be found.

She has some skill with precious metals and gems, with sculpting and carving, and with words. She has some knowledge of old things, of herbs and medicines, of green and growing things. He has skill with hammer and fire, metal and wood, and is no stranger to hard work. He would embrace it like a lover if he could. There is none to be found. He, too, has knowledge. It does them no good. They have exchanged one pitfall for another, and it seems too late now.
-End Scene-

There's no ending yet for this story. I know how I would have it end, but I'm starting to lose my belief in the idea that I can actually do anything about it. But that's all in the recrafting. I remember that I used to use pen and paper a lot, to write down the things that were important. I remember a lot of things that are out of reach, but this one's not. I used to take a lot of notes, on art and plants and jewelry and medicines and anything else I found. All that went into storage when we lost our place to live. Except for one notebook that has a surprising amount of pages left blank.

We have to find a way to recraft our life. There's few options on the how-to, but there's no choice for the have-to, because no one's really even willing to hear our problems, much less lend a hand up. So I'm starting with the little things, and I'm going to take notes on what I *can* do, here and now, to recraft our surroundings. Do I think it'll create a little sympathetic magic in the rest of our life, slowly transforming everything from the ground up? No, I really don't. But it might make the day-to-day a little more pleasant. The day-to-day is all we've got right now.

I don't have money to buy soil, or pots to garden in, or a shovel to dig up some of the yard. But I do have some empty jars, 2-liter soda bottles and old shoes, and the potential for composting to enrich the yard dirt I can scrape up with my fingernails. There's a stretch of forest behind us to forage in. We don't have money to take our crafting to flea markets or craft shows (gas money+booth+tables and displays=impossible), and I don't have any idea how to get around that. We don't have extra money to list any of my jewelry or Dragon's creations on Etsy, but I do have a  Facebook Page, and a deviantART gallery, and the Twinflame Studios blog, and PayPal, where there are ways to connect with potential customers. I have no effing clue how to improve the Studio's presence online, and most of the sage advice from other small crafters online doesn't seem to take certain aspects of our situation into account. Like the fact that we have no dedicated workspace, and a two year old who's too clever with her fingers by half. Put her to work, you say? Well, Wise Reader, she's more likely to hide the beads down the air vents in the floor than she is to string them...

(And I come back to my surroundings for just a moment, just long enough to realize there's been a bowl of chips, which Moira has shared with me out of her bag, sitting on the counter next to me for over a half hour, untouched... such is the writer's existence...)

The point is, that right now, we don't have the means or opportunity to do much, but I'm going to try to find a way to do *something* with the mediocre bits of existence we do have to hand. I can't change what's been. I don't really think I can change the future, either, with the way the world's going. Our circumstances are *not* going to change anytime soon, unless someone can point the way to a miracle. It's either recraft, or go crazy while nothing changes. Maybe the hours can be a little brighter as they fade behind us.

I just wish... someone, anyone, would listen, just a little. We do need help.

And don't hesitate to ask me questions, or send me suggestions, or any such thing. I welcome it. If you feel the need to start a private message about this, I invite you to do so on FB or e-mail. In fact, I'll post it this once in violation of a very strict personal taboo: spottedcheshire @

Don't abuse it. You *will* be spam-foldered if you do. ;)