Sunday, November 06, 2005

the taste of living

Enough. Enough of this day. Her work was done enough, the cat was fed enough, the night was late enough and so it was time to close the door. Shutting her bedroom door with a soft click behind her, she stepped out of her shoes, let her feet sink into the soft carpet and, standing still, she savoured the nearness of the end. The painful pleasure of knowing it was over. There would soon be no turning back. Not once she made the decision to let it go.

Sloping across the room on her way to the en suite she glanced briefly out the window, casually flicked back the heavily brocaded pink silk curtains, touched her nose to the icy glass for half a breath, then closed her eyes as she turned away from the world. The wind howled against the glass, ever the determined and graceless bully. Enough. She had closed the door on the world and soon wouldn't be able to open it again regardless how long and hard it howled for her to care or to carry it.

She nudged the bowl of orange spice potpourri out of the way, leaned tiredly on her forearms, and gazed into the bathroom mirror. Touching her hair first, feeling the smoothe healthy hair and the rough wiry white ones, she drew one hand across her newly wrinkled forehead and delicately fingered the soft, sagging skin around her eyes. When? Gently, she pushed up and back the useless flesh slowly amassing under her chin, sighed, and let the hand drop back down on the faux marble counter. There was nothing more to explore or crave or reject or reach out to. Enough now.

She looked down at her well-used hands for a moment before she pulled herself up straight and lifted them to her mouth. It took her a couple of breaths before she could start, willingly but joylessly, to begin to taste them. The finger she had pointed at the child was bitter and still stank of accusation. The finger she flung up at the bus driver who turned the corner too sharply for her liking smelled of excrement and was both acidic and salty. The thumb she banged against the doorframe in the ladies room at Zeller's still felt hot against her tongue and tasted of metal. The side of the palm she scraped against the cheese grater when making dinner was salty with a hint of the lemon zest from dessert. Both palms were full of him: musky, maddeningly sweet, tasting deliciously of the thighs, the groin, the belly she caressed on her lunch hour. All the other lines and folds and fingers were the same: a common blend of disappointment, incompetence, and regret. Enough of that.

She reached under the counter and pulled up two thick, fluffy bath towels to catch any of the mess that didn't wash down the drain and prepared to let go entirely. Nudging open the levered hot water tap, she breathed, "Good enough," put her well-used hands under the scalding water, and forced herself to hold them still. As they began to melt, the layers separating and falling away, she watched the colours of the day reveal themselves...the purity, the passion, the resignation swirling white, red, black... Through the haze of steam she witnessed time present fall out of her grasp and drain down into the past. Seeing the mistakes and blunders and "I wish I dids" and "I wish I didn'ts" and "I didn't get enoughs" flow deep and fast into forever-ago, she cried, heartbroken. Then she gave thanks, relieved.

Finally, nudging the hot water tap closed with her wrist, she used the towels to gather whatever parts of the day and her part in it that weren't so easily washed away and tossed the whole mess in the trash with yesterday's leftover mess. Smiling, she shook her head to muss up her hair and laughed at the useless brush on the counter as she passed it on her way back to the window. Nose against the icy glass once more, she smiled at the stupid bully, luxuriating in the freedom from the folly of trying to hold back the forces of nature. Turning her back to the wind, she shuffled contentedly toward her warm and inviting bed. As always, she sighed a great heaving sigh of gratitude as she dropped blissfully down for a wholly unburdened rest. She looked to the left as the cat meowed at the door. "Too bad, Jack. I can't give any more and I can't take any more."

Rolling her head to the right, she looked wonderingly at the hands she had laid out for her tomorrow. She wondered what kind of life she would make with them. She wondered how they would feel. Were they hard? Cold? Kind? Strong? Capable? Clumbsy? How much could they hold? How mightily would those hands resist letting go when the time came? Every day her hands were so very different there was simply no knowing their unusual ways and unique worth until she put them to some use.

Stephanie K. Hansen

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

All Roads Lead to Baba Yaga's

The Amazon Queen has heard that Baba is organising the Advent Calendar this year and has 'all hands on deck'. So she has made haste to be at Baba's and help with the preperations. The Golden Spinning Wheel will be heard whirling late into the night.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Donkey Tale - Name Games

My donkey, impishly grinned and said, "you don't know my name, do you?" "no," I answered. "Well," he mused, knowing I was embarrassed at neither knowing nor having tried to know, after all I could have asked. Trying to set it right I bit my lower lip and said in a barely audible voice, "what is your name?"

"Well," he teased, "it is not sweetie, or babe, or little donkey, and it most certainly is not you stubborn old thing." I tried to mutter an apology, again, he stood there, grinning.

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"You can be insufferable." I was nearly crying.
"You've nearly made her cry" came a small voice just to the side of me. I was quite shocked as I was not aware that the geese in the gypsy camp were also able to speak.

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"You can speak too?" "If you are willing to really listen, we can be heard to speak," the goose explained. "I'm sorry I did not mean to be insensitive, but since I did not know you could speak it seemed silly to ask you your names. Still I am truly sorry if any of the things I've called you made you feel hurt. Would you tell me now please, what are your names?"

"Mine is Ginny," said the goose, "and my grinning friend the donkey is Doncaster Grey, he likes to tease, don't feel too badly" with that ginny crawled into my lap like a cat, she was a lovely and affectionate goose. The donkey was still grinning and making faces.

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"Alright, Doncaster Grey, what is it?" "Well," started the donkey while shuffling his donkey feet in the dirt, "I've been thinking I should like to have a Halloween costume too, just as the humans do. I thought I'd like to be and angel, after all I already have wings." It seemed like a fair enough request and after a bit of consideration I took Ginny off my lap and made a few changes to have Doncaster go from just plain old flying and talking donkey to an angel donkey.

Some glitter in the wings and sparkly eyelashes glued on and a halo fashioned from tin foil and wire. "Would you mind very much, marm, sketching me in costume, to remember the moment by?" so this is what I sketched. Donkeys can be very silly.

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Episode 11. The Amazon Queen

Sophia's injunctions to seek the Amazon Queen had somewhat heartened me. Supposedly she would help me to return to my true home, not a lair masquerading as home where Sybil and her daemons dreamt up disasters for unsuspecting travellers.

An old Fresian cow came abling towards me along the path. She nuzzled into the grass by the edge, pulling up any green shoots she found.The bell around her neck rang each time she lifted her head. As she came closer I could see her brown eyes silently assessing me. Then dismissing me as she searched for another mouthful. Engraved on the bell was.....Amazon Queen!

Not at all what I had been expecting, but I sized the opportunity as it presented and hoisted myself onto her broad and ample, if somewhat uncomfortable, back. Gripping with my knees I began a slow, but for a footsore traveller, a fortuitous continuation of my journey.

Much ,much later we arrived at an open clearing on the side of a hill. In the centre was an old multi-paned glasshouse. Each pane was of a different design...a miracle that they were all intact.
A motley crew were gathered listening to a brightly clothed speaker. Moving clser I could hear
"....and with great pleasure I declare this exhibition of the Amazon Queen OPEN!". There was much cheering and clinking of glasses, and there, bowing to the adulation of the crowd was indeed a tall figure, of indiscernible age and questionable beauty dressed in a long and red cloak!

As the crowd started to disperse, I boldly approached her. She had the look of a wise and loving elder so without hesitation I poured out all that had led me to find her and ventured to ask how to find my way home.

"Home, child?" she questioned. " Which home? A home in Heaven or a home in purgatory? A home of security and love or one of dysfunction and rejection? A home of starting or that of the journey or indeed perhaps that home of final destination. When you have decided which one you really want, come back and I will tell you how to reach it.

I sat by the nearby river, a very broad and swiftly flowing river, with reed beds along the edges.
I stared deep into the water, past the reflections and the weeds and the fish and a lazy turtle following some minnows. Deep down.

First I saw the home of my beginning- my mother's laugh and my father's admonishments. Years of chores and homework and piano lessons. No, I didn't want to go back there no matter how much fun it had been. The home of my journey came into view. My flight over the mountains, the welcome of the gypsies and my obeiance at White Owl Island.The carefree years on the Island in the Archipelago.The adventures and the friendship of Sophia and the scary it was just a journey. Not home.
Next I was transported into a murky reflection of a caclking Sybil with the raven on her shoulder. A home of fear and stomach knotting anxiety. No love. An anti-home.
Suddenly the murkinesss vanished and sunlight dappled the now clear water. I could see my real home! For sure the garden was ramshackle and the Roller door needed attention, but there was love and predictable acceptance and the fluffy mutt looked pleased to see me. My final home!

Hurrying back to the Amazon Queen I pushed my way through the milling crowd and told her of my decision and asked the directions she had promised.
"Simple" she said. " Just shut your eyes and think of nothing else. Wish hard with every fibre of your being and bring into your heart all the love you can summons."

So, as the sun set, I did just that. Screwed up my eyes and thought and wished for all the peace and joy of the little things. The things I had taken for granted. And so I opened my eyes to a joyously barking and welcoming dog and a partner who would have been wagging his tail if he had one and indeed the sun was shining on my ramshackle garden.

" If death prove an experience I live through,
good angel, guide me to a sunlit kitchen
with bread rising, the great black kettle singing
of wisdom and the peaceful life to come".
( Gwen Harwood)

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Spirit Servant and Medusa

Baba Yaga has bought in her Spirit Servant and the Medusa to avenge herself. Le Enchanteur can run but she will have trouble hiding from these two. Let's see how she gets herself out of this pickle. The Spirit Servant's plan is to capture her in a bottle and let her be a servant, at everyone's beck and call for awhile.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Short Lived Glory

Baba said it 'would all end in tears' and right now she is far from happy. Le Enchanteur will need to watch her back because Baba is not someone to toy with. Turning Baba into a purple dragon is not one of le Enchanteur's better ideas, especially when Augustus and Moonbeam are playing out their hero archetypes. Could be interesting come Halloween!

Tree of Lost Letters - Hermitage

copyright Monika Roleff 2005.

This is a tree of lost letters. Seeing Halloween is coming up, the Hermitage is welcoming lost letters, so if you have a letter that was lost, this tree has caught them all. Feel free to write that letter and make it breathe new life. Even if you just think the letter, it might come to pass. The tree is for lost wishes that are captured by nature, and may come true one day.....

Monday, October 24, 2005

Spells Abound

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Le Enchanteur and The Amazon Queen are down at the Archipelago practicing some spells for Halloween. Baba has flown away saying that 'it is all going to end in tears'. You would think she'd be happy to be turned into a purple dragon and not a common and garden green frog. Some people just cannot be pleased.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Episode 10. Home?

I was home and dawn was breaking..this had been the longest dawn ever in my varied experience. The accompanying breeze suprisingly was ruffling the curtains. Suprising because I never opened that casement with the ever present possibility of roaming possums. I lay back, gradually taking in the old familiarities, or hoping to.

What I saw made my heart skip a beat. So much was as it had always been..the bed, piles of books scattered in front of the window. The changes I then noticed were subtle, but definite. The increasing light revealed the ceiling have become a dark purple, now matching the once forest green lampshades. The frames were all on the wall on their old positions, but closer examination showed the subjects to be changed. The rolling hills of the South-west Arthurs in Tasmania were now the mountains in Umbria I had flown over in my journey. The gypsies too were frozen in a moment of dance where once Tuscan villas were sketched. In place of my grand-parent's wedding, still in the same intricate gold frame, was an unmistakable portrait of my guide Sophia. Her eyes seemed to be watching me knowingly. Disarmingly. But to my horror, my beautiful, peaceful St Hannah had been irrefutably replaced by the outline of none other than Sophia's alter-ego, SYBIL! her long bony fingers tracing indecipherable words on the pages in her lap. A flash...was it that lightning again?...flickered through the room.

Bewildered I turned towards the prone body under the covers beside me. Closer examination was necessary but fear had gripped my soul and squashed any courage I might have summoned.
I crept out of bed, scared witless. I needn't have worried, or need I? Hesitant peering and poking showed there was NOTHING there gently pulsating with simulated life. Nothing. 3D of nothing.

Holy Toledo! Heavens to Betsy! What and Where and How, but for sure I wasn't at home at all. As sure as anti-matter existed I was at some anti-home! I fled up the hall to retrace my steps, noting as I ran the ball of fluff I thought had greeted my arrival was non other than a sleeping raven. Now stirring.

Again I raced towards the garage door, fumbling in blind panic with the obstinant and little-oiled latch in my eagerness to escape. Blundering forward I found myself falling headlong into a chilly
murky pool of water. White water rafting may have crossed my mind in the past, but simply swimming? Not. As my reluctant toes felt no sand or, shudder, mud or weeds, underfoot I had no option but to strike out. Breastroke.

By the time I had exhausted my repertoire of swimming styles, interspersed with lots of simply floating, I was not only becoming exhausted, but desperate. The gloom started at last to lift and I saw that in fact I was in quite a small billabong. Well at least that accounted for the eucalyptus smell and the tannin-coloured water I was by now simply trying to stay afloat in. I must have been swimming in circles for hours! It was then a squidgy repulsive ooze became evident underfoot and I was able to heave myself onto the bank. Standing over me, her hands on her hips, was Sophie!

"Heavens, child. I told you to go home! To escape from Sybil before she could take you to her cave."

"I think she did catch me" I sobbed in dismay, describing the anti-home I had found myself in.

"You were lucky to escape.Sybil works in mysterious and devious ways. You must start your journey towards home again. Find the Amazon Queen and follow Her directions. You will find her heading for Ithaka. That is the only true way home now." Sophia counselled. Even as she spoke, she walked towards and into the tea-coloured water, and disappeared.

Where will I find the Amazon Queen?
Is she coming? Or has she been?
Or, is she somewhere in between?

Will she greet me with a croak?
Swirl around in a long red cloak?
or, look more like ordinary folk.

Perhaps some young thing, sweet but strong
Urging me to "come along"
Bewitching travellers with a siren's song.

So I search for this Queen of Amazon
Follow the path she'll set me on
and hope that Sybil is once and for all..GONE!

The Golden Bone Chair

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Baba Yaga brings out this designer, hand crafted, chair especially for Halloween and All Soul's Night. The idea is that travellers can take turns to sit on the chair and have five minutes in the spotlight as they perform for the crowd. Come October 30th - through to November 2 Baba is hoping that one by one travellers will take the golden seat and make a special presentation. Costumes and wigs are available in Pandora's Costume Box. Excuse drunken Silenus who can never miss a party. Hopefully the donkey is taking him away.