Another Healing

Another Healing

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Winter Solstice














"The darkest evening of the year..."
Robert Frost

I like to pause and reflect on the solstices, to try to open my mind to the changes they mark on the celestral calendar, which seems to me to be more in touch with nature than the calender hanging on my wall. To me, it's ironic that as the days begin to lengthen, the season becomes colder and winter takes hold of my world. The same is true in the summer, that just as the days reach their longest and begin to shorten, the weather grows warmer. I understand the logic of this in my head -- planetary orbits and tilts and all that science stuff, but in my heart, I think it's about hope and circles and where we are and where we're going and where we've been as we hurtle through space and time through the cosmos toward some destination, or maybe not.

Today is a quiet day in the midst of a bustling season. This morning, the morning after the longest night of the year, is the beginning of my holiday vacation. I took my camera and my dog and went for a walk, to refocus and open myself to this place while the sun rides as low over the tamaracks on the ridge above my house as it will ever get. I thought about where I was as a writer the last time the Earth had been in this position. I'd just published The Glass Man, The Rosebud, In Starlight, The Dragon and his Knight, and Ice. I was nervous about my reception in the publishing world. I was proud that I'd taken the risk to do it. I was appreciative of the support that my friends and family had given me.  

This year, I've added Notice, My Boyfriend has a Scar, Origin, and The Dragon and the Mistletoe. I've become more comfortable with who I am in this crazy adventure called Publishing. I'm still being challenged, but my family and friends are sticking with me no matter what. I've made an amazing new friend who is quite comfortable splashing around in the water I'm so timidly testing. I want to keep growing as a writer, to make my words, and worlds, better, deeper, richer.

Yesterday's rain brought the brook up above the ice and set it free to run again, a last chance before the snow and cold settle in for good. I listened to the water until I walked out of its range and through a field where the colors and beauty are subtle shades now, where you have to look to find the brilliance of a berry or a leaf silhouetted against a pale blue, winter sky. A quiet cheep from a chickadee working a birch tree was the only sound.

Except for my thoughts.

Yes, this is a good place in the heavens to be.




Sunday, December 18, 2011

Nutcracker!







It's a beautiful, sparkly December morning here in Vermont, and if you live around here, it's still not too late to get tickets for today's shows of The Nutcracker at the Flynn Theater in Burlington, the most magical ballet in the world! Our show is put on by local dancers from the Vermont Ballet Theater School, of which my youngest daughter is a member of the Company. I've been very busy these last few weeks helping with the production. I volunteer to take photographs of the dancers for many local newspapers (have you all gotten the idea I like to take pictures?) Young dancers are a bit different from wildlife and scenery, but I enjoy a bit of a change.

Busy time of year! Off to the theater!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Dragon and the Mistletoe

My holiday short story was released today! It's Notice, part II, but I think it's also a piece that stands on its own. Mistletoe is about love and trust and finding both in a world that needs a lot more of both.

Here's the Blurb:

Dragon-shifter Varian Kendall would rather face a sword than have to pick out a Christmas present for his flamboyant lover, Josh. But this is their first real Christmas together, and he knows he must find something special to go into the red, lacy, fishnet stocking Josh has hung by their tree. But what Varian comes up with is only one of the surprises waiting for them on Christmas Eve.

And here's the Except: 

I opened my wings and sprang off the roof into the frosty air. It was much easier than taking off from the ground. I had the power lines memorized, and I knew that even though the radar from the nearby airport would detect me, I would register only as a flock of birds. I did a quick circle high above the neighborhood to make sure I hadn't disturbed anyone. It was so late and cold that nobody was outside, and my wings were silent as a bat's in the air. All stayed quiet. I felt safer flying on dark winter nights than in the summer, and tonight, there was not even any moon to worry about. 

Satisfied we'd escaped detection, I stroked harder, picking up speed and gaining elevation at the same time. The air was very still, perfect for flying. Above us, the stars burned close enough to touch, little twinkling crystals of pure fire. Below us, the lights of Burlington spread out, the greens and reds of the holiday interspersed with the white streetlights, the orange glow from parking lots, and the occasional moving points of red and white made by cars. We flew across two worlds -- the sky and the land -- and were part of neither, and of both, at the same time. Mostly, we were just together. 

"So beautiful," Josh said, taking his hands out of the loops and leaning low along my neck, caressing me. "I am so lucky you chose me, Varian." 

I couldn't answer, but in reality, I knew I was more lucky that he'd accepted me. I was a lover who'd embroiled him in danger and death last fall, forced him into secrecy, changed his life, and generally not treated him as well as I could have until I'd wised up. I was a lover who'd hatched out of an egg, for God's sake. A lover who bought him a -- I couldn't even think it. When he saw what I'd gotten him for Christmas, he was probably going to reconsider everything.
 

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Some Silliness From My Live Journal Prompts Yesterday

Yesterday while I was hosting Live Journal in anticipation of Wednesday's release of "The Dragon and the Mistletoe," I asked for writing prompts. I was given five sets, and this is the silliness I came up with:




For Rapidess
Varian and Josh
Gift
Mud
Key



Damn it! Here I am, there's my van, and it's stuck in the mud. It's dark and cold, and my lover man never has his phone on... 

"Hello?"

"My knight in shining armor! It's your damsel in distress! Come save me from the encroaching cold and darkness. Pluck me from the teeth of disaster! And afterwards, have your wicked way with me!"


"Josh? Where the hell are you?"


"Beset by grave peril. I'm standing beside my mired chariot."


"Damn it, Josh, I warned you that parking lot was going to turn into mud today! You had to park down there?"


"How else was I to load the works of my soul into my chariot?"


"You could have waited for me to come and help you lug your paintings out the front door."


"Perhaps I wanted you to spend your energy on... other pastimes?"


"Josh, when have I not had energy for that? Listen, I've got another hour of faculty meeting to sit through. We're having a coffee break right now, or else you wouldn't have caught me. Can't you wait in the studio?"


"Alas, the keys are in the van."


"Well, get your feet muddy and get them out."


"The keys to the van are in the studio."


"Josh... Hang on. Arnold, I'm sorry, I've got to go. Josh has locked himself out of his studio and his keys are locked in the van. Yeah, I know. No, I don't think I'll be back in time -- he's stuck in the mud, too. No, no, I can pull him out. We'll be fine. I'll see you Monday."


"Knight in shining armor, winged warrior of the sky, you are a gift to my soul!"

"I love you, too, Josh."


For jmcartwright
Staples
Fairy
Marshmallow
Green

The tired fairy landed on one of the rolls of hay that dotted the field in the moonlight. The way farmers wrapped them up in white plastic these days, they looked like over sized marshmallows. Arthur missed the days when hay was forked up loosely into huge wagons that horses pulled into the barns. It had been fun to bounce on the top. Now, big, noisy, smelly machines picked them up and carried them. No bouncing.


The fairy sighed. The others were late. The moon was already high in the sky. That made it brighter, which was a good thing, but it also meant fewer hours before sunrise, and they would all have to be gone before the first rays of the sun touched the trees circling the green meadow where he'd called the emergency meeting. And if they had to leave before their work was complete, then...


Arthur thought Virgil and Wilbur would be here by now -- they were usually first -- but Virgil had warned him that Wilbur was into a new project involving paper and paint and lots of staples. As hard as it was to tear Wilbur away from things, the fairy was afraid that they would be the last to arrive.


For Ali Wilde
Virgil and Wilbur
Pineapple, volleyball, penguin


Finally, Arthur heard voices and looked up in time to see Virgil and Wilbur dropping in like a pair of volleyballs served over an astral net. Relief flooded through him. Now, if the others would just get here in time...


"What's up, Arthur?" Virgil asked, landing neatly on the freshly mowed grass in front of him and folding his gossamer wings.


Wilbur crashed ungracefully into the roll of hay, almost knocking Arthur off. Wilbur was not known for his coordination. But Arthur could see, as Wilbur picked himself up, that he was holding something tightly in his arms.

"We have a problem," Arthur said heavily. "Did you bring the pineapple?"


"Right here," Wilbur said proudly. "See? I made a cage for it."


"Okay," Arthur said slowly as Wilbur displayed the basket made of brightly painted paper, woven into strips and held together with many staples, in which happily rested a very perfect pineapple without even a single frond broken. "That's great, Wilbur, thank you. That's a beautiful pineapple cage."



Wilbur beamed, and Virgil rolled his eyes without speaking. They'd been a pair for longer than Arthur could remember.


"What's the problem?" Virgil asked, looking up at Arthur.


"It's back there," Arthur said heavily, nodding over his shoulder at the ground behind him.


"Oh, no." Virgil hurried around, Wilbur right behind him. Then they both froze.


"Yeah," Arthur said heavily. "Sunny's turned himself a penguin again."


For Eden Winters
Henry and Rafael
Doughnut, pinecone, handy



The penguin made a soft, pitiful peep and flapped its little wings, looking longingly up at Arthur on the hay roll. Arthur slid down and knelt beside his unlucky lover. "Don't worry, we'll fix you," he whispered. "The others are coming."


"We're here," said a new voice, and Arthur glanced up to see Henry and Rafael soaring down in the moonlight, much more gracefully than the previous two. Henry, tall and lithe even for a fairy, landed first and folded his wings quickly. Rafael, even taller and very regal, landed with a touch of disdain for the pinecones that had fallen from the nearby tree. Arthur knew he detested the outdoors and only cared for his sophisticated urban life. But even Rafael made a little moan of sympathy for the penguin, who flapped again and pressed himself against Arthur's side.


"Oh, how did he do it this time?" Rafael asked.


"I don't know," Arthur said heavily. "If I knew, I'd put him back. That's why we need everybody, and the magic book of spells. When I called Noah, he said to bring a pineapple."


"A pineapple?"


"That's what Noah said." Arthur sighed. "All I know is that Sunny was downstairs this afternoon, working in the damn lab of his, and all of a sudden, he called up to me, "Do you have a doughnut handy?"


"A doughnut?" Henry asked, frowning. "That's a human pastry, is it not?"


"Yeah. He loves them. Every Sunday morning, I buy a box when I go out to get the paper. I was just bringing one down to him when there was an awful bang, and when the smoke cleared, Sunny was a penguin again."


"You've got to stop doing this," Virgil said to Sunny.


The penguin ducked his head.


"I brought the pineapple," Wilbur put in with a worried smile.


For synthrax
Carson and Matt
German, hippos, zip-line


"And I have the hippos," called a new voice.


Arthur looked up in time to see another pair of fairies arrow in from the sky so fast they could have been coming down a zip-line. Muscular and athletic, Carson and Matt were so identical Arthur often wondered if they had common ancestry somewhere long ago. The only difference was the black collar around Matt's neck and the fact that he stayed a pace behind Carson as they approached.


"Penguin again?" Carson asked, looking down with raised eyebrows. "Isn't this the second time this month?"


"Yeah," Arthur said with a sigh. "He doesn't mean to."


"He's cute," Wilbur said.


"Yes," Carson said, "but I bet Arthur likes him better as a fairy."


"Well, I'm more used to him that way," Arthur said. "The hippos?"


"Matt?" Carson said over his shoulder.


"Here, master," Matt said, slipping off a dark pack he wore between his wings. Crammed inside it were two large, gray pillows that poofed up as soon as they were free. Mat knelt and stacked them on the ground, and at once, the penguin hopped up onto them, bouncing a little. Arthur remembered bouncing on the hay with Sunny back in the old days, and he wiped away a little tear for the past so long ago.




"And?" Carson asked Matt.


Matt pulled something smaller out from his pack and held it out to Arthur with a little smile. "This is for you," he said. "We thought you might need a little German Chocolate. It'll fix most anything, you know."


Arthur sniffed and let Matt, always very caring, give him a hug. "You guys are the best," Arthur said, including them all. Carson broke the chocolate bar into pieces and handed them around to everybody.


For Kim 629
Noah & Billy
Kindle
Snow Globe
Bottle opener


 
"Where are they?" Arthur asked worriedly. The moon was starting to fall down behind the pines, and the sky in the east was growing brighter. Arthur knew that if Noah and Billy didn't get here soon, it would be too late, and Sunny might have to stay a penguin forever. Because once the sun touched the land and a new day began, that which had been done yesterday would remain true forever.


"Sorry, sorry!" he heard Noah's deep, gruff voice bellow through the trees. Arthur turned and saw Noah and Billy come jogging up. "Thought you said England, not New England. Been looking for a place called Vermont there. A vampire set us straight, finally. Well, as straight as we'll ever be." He giggled, surprising in his deep voice. The two of them looked as disheveled as usual. Most fairies had learned how to keep their appearance neat and clean and cultivated a carefully windblown look. Noah and Billy looked as though they were permanently caught in a hurricane.


"No one would ever accuse you of being straight," Billy said, elbowing his partner and laughing.


"Why," Rafael asked, looking down his genteel nose, "did you arrive on foot? Don't you know there are unclean pinecones down there?"


"Oh, we just landed on the wrong field," Noah said. "We're here now. Penguin again, you said, Arthur? Never fear, I've brought my trusty Kindle along."


"Your Kindle?" Rafael asked in horror. "Not your ancient book of spells?"


"No need," Noah said, waving expansively. "It's all in here. Much lighter. Easier to fly long distances with." He whipped out a thin tablet-shaped thing with a glowing screen on one side from his large coat pocket. He began tapping his fingers frantically on it. "Ah, here we go. Anti-penguin spells. You have a pineapple, I see?"


"I brought the pineapple," Wilbur said proudly. "See its cage?"


"Very nice, Wilbur," Noah said. "It looks very sturdy."


"Well stapled," Virgil said with a long-suffering sigh.


"The sun..." Arthur said. "Please, guys, hurry! Did somebody bring something to cut it with?"


"I have a bottle opener," Billy said. "Never know when you might need to open a beer."


"Beer," Rafael sniffed, "is the drink of men, not fairies!"


"Oh, it's not so bad," Billy said. "Once I--"


The penguin gave an urgent peep. Arthur sank down onto the hippos and gathered his lover into his arms. "Hurry," he whispered, bouncing lightly.


His friends gathered around. Wilbur took the pineapple out of its cage and held it in the air above Sunny. Billy poised his bottle opener. Noah read aloud from his Kindle, "On the count of three, pierce the pineapple and allow the juice to touch the head of the afflicted. At the same time, those present must chant, 'Penguin, begone,' three times. One, two, three!"


Billy jabbed the sharp end of the bottle opener into the pineapple and the fragrant juice ran down onto the penguin's head. "Penguin, begone!" Everyone shouted three times.


And then, just before the sun touched the treetops, the penguin turned into a beautiful, dark-haired man who flung his arms around Arthur and began to cry in joy. Everyone laughed and cried, and then, as the light grew brighter, they all vanished, returned to their homes.


"What were you trying to do down here, anyway?" Arthur asked, once they were standing in their basement, which was filled with beakers of colored liquid and things that bubbled and smoked.


"Trying to make something for you," Sunny said. "I think it -- yes! Here it is." He held out a perfect snow globe.


Arthur took it and gazed into the gently swirling flakes inside. They slowly settled on an old-fashioned farm scene, complete with a barn and a wagon full of hay waiting to go inside.




"Oh," Arthur said, his eyes filling again. "Oh, Sunny, I love you so much."

Sunny pulled him down to the soft carpeting on the floor and made gentle love to him.


Arthur was happy.


***



 
High up in the air, Varian smelled pineapple juice and circled. Down below, in the growing light, he could see a pair of grey pillows and what looked like a bottle opener and the wrapper from a candy bar.


"Wonder what went on down there," Josh said. "Kids?"


Varian thought he could sense magic, but a very different kind than his. It was too late to investigate, he decided. He needed to get out of the air before it got any lighter. But he marked the spot for later. Interesting.








Saturday, December 3, 2011

Live on LJ

It's a beautiful, sparkly December morning here in Vermont today, 26 degrees with a pretty powdering of new snow, and I'm live on LJ talking about "The Dragon and the Mistletoe!"

Here's my view outside this very minute: