Once Upon A Time….

farmhouse

Of all of my childhood memories, these simple four words could and often did fuel the rustling of the wings of my imagination. Taking flights of sheer fantasy and fancy, my imagination and daydreams got me into more trouble than I can recount. In fact, if I had a dollar for every time I was written up for daydreaming, I’d have been the first child billionaire. Nevertheless, I also used to dream about writing; creating worlds in such a way to allow friends and strangers to share in those far-flung journeys of whimsy and wish. To that end, I thought perhaps I could write a short story ‘het’ romance. Yeah, this one brought its own sorrow and heartache, so I’ve kept it carefully hidden. Nurtured with my own flavor of sighs and tears, however – I recently told someone I deeply admire that “I’ll never fly if I don’t jump off the cliff.”

So, with the aforementioned in mind I present to you a story inspired by the 80’s song by the “Romantics.”

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Talking In Your Sleep

There’s a simple magic at work when you’re sitting on a wooden porch on a moonlit night in the middle of the no-one-can-reach-you-backcountry-sticks on an autumn evening. It’s even more enticing when you can hear the soft whisper of white linen curtains against the zinc window screens and you know from the delicate under-the-breeze scent that later that night there would be rain. Everything that encompasses you at that moment is there to heal you, revive you, wash away all the insanity that you’ve left when you kicked off the pumps, stripped off the suit and the oxford blouse, grabbed your jeans, t-shirts and chukka boots, packed the weekender bag and left the oh-so-ritzy-townhouse condo you rented with your friend in the big city.

When you’ve driven past the last vestiges of encompassing city madness, the scent of open meadows and living landscape begs you to turn off the artificial environment inside the car and lower the glass barrier between you and nature’s earthy scent. The wind rippling thru the open window tugs at your hair, embraces your skin and reminds you of days gone by when you lived without care – barefoot in the timeless dance of youth. All the light captured by the flashing air dances off the hood of your car, reflects in accidental rainbows thru the chrome and mirrors and just below the surface of your façade is a whoop of joy just begging to be given voice.

The day winds itself down to a point of sacred silence as the road behind you winds itself into a sliver of tarmac, then to a dusty trail then to a remembered by-way that wanders around pastures and fences. Rich memories of yesterday fill your mind as the tires gently crunch the limestone gravel, then you come full circle to the present and the presence of someone in the car to share the adventure. What will the weekend hold? Will he be the one to dance to the edge of tomorrow with you? The moon soars in full majesty to illuminate your destination with a grace to the place and the space with a magic like no other.

The routines of alarm clock, shower, dress, pack lunch, grab commuter pass and run for the shuttle had left my mind as I sat in that silvery silence on the well-known and much beloved wooden steps. Memories still danced in and out of the edges of thought as the scents of evening began to waft up from the rich soil.  I watched in awe as a barn owl snatched the first of his nightly snacks from the field in front of the old farmhouse and I had heard absolutely nothing of the drama save for the whispered breezes in the wind-sculpted live oaks. I kept observing the rippling stalks of grass in the hayfield, looking for more evidence that life was secretly dancing under the assumed calm waves of green. As scattered clouds began to rip the moonlit darkness in purplish shreds of haloed mist, a deer stepped out of the brushy break on the farthest edge if the field and I found myself holding my breath to see what would happen next.

First one doe, then three others, stepped out of their camouflaged safety into the moonlit expanse of the small meadow. I’d thought that perhaps this was the extent of the group, and then a stag of at least 10 points stepped out in all his breathtaking beauty. The small herd moved toward an area that had been recently mowed, a move I’d questioned until I remembered that they were looking to graze on the tender new growth, not bother with what was to be harvested soon. I squinted through the stark whiteness of the moonlight unsure of the shadows I was seeing until they hopped again. The jackrabbits were feeding with the deer! Of course! There was a hungry owl out there, and the deer would alert them first to any sudden movement.

The scent of fresh brewed coffee brought my mind from the field back to the porch as my “companion for the weekend” came outside with two cups of the hot savory liquid. I knew before I sipped it that he’d remembered the cream and sugar, and just how much of each. “You know, it’s pretty late, hun,” he softly murmured into my ear as he sat down next to me on the darkened porch. “Mmmmmmmmm,” was all the comment I could or would give. I was still bespelled by the silvered silence and leaning up against his sheltering warmth as I drank my coffee and watched the drama of life unfold in front of me in the closest thing to paradise I could imagine. “Oh, here, I almost forgot,” he said as an afterthought and produced two huge white chocolate macadamia nut cookies from his shirt pocket. “You bribing me for something?” I enquired as I hungrily snatched one of the cookies from his offered hand. I could see the moonlight etch the smile on his face as his soft, slow answer came just above a whisper, “Could be.” Before I could get more than one bite eaten, he was kissing the cookie crumbs from my face and lips as his hands gently cradled my shoulders. I was still clutching partially-eaten cookie and coffee as I blinked into the depths of his eyes, “Wow. Can we do the coffee and cookie thing in the moonlight more often?”

Again, the answer was better than the discussion – it was a suddenly-scooped-up into strong arms and walked across a porch, the screen door slamming shut behind us and then we were shedding clothes in the darkness of the bedroom just down the hall. All the windows were open to catch the cool breezes, the ceiling fan on to keep them moving and the bed linens were clean and soft as we moved to capture the moment in more than coffee, cookies, moon-silvered owls and shadowy breeze-swept clouds.

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When you awaken after a night of shared bliss, the first thing that stirs your senses is the smell of the linens you are warmly caressed within. It is the gentle hummock of the pillow where your head lies cradled, the stirring of a pre-stretch where you feel your neck begin a low stretch to allow more air to enter your lungs just before your mouth opens in the first yawn that kick starts the oxygenation of a newly awakened human body. Then your hands reach out for the beloved one, somewhat sure that they are just there, out of reach; and your eyes open to confirm the reality of another dawn, just as your toes reach out to confirm the edge of the sheets.

A hawk’s cry awakened me the next morning, a morning where in the sunlight poured like elderflower honey on everything it touched, even the dust motes were ablaze with a golden glow. I stretched under the sudden heaviness of sheets and blankets to see that I was alone in the bed, my companion not within sight, but the smells seemed to indicate that he’d been awake for hours more than I. Flipping back the bed linens, I stretched my legs out over the edge of the bed and put warm feet on cool wooden floors. Suddenly, my body remembered that it needed the usual maintenance of emptying of excess fluids and I was stumbling my way to the toilet. Immediate grace and knowledge of body space after awakening was never a personal point of strength; I found the edge of the door with my shoulder, the door sill with my elbow and by the time my warm keister found the cold porcelain of the toilet I knew that I would have bruises to remember the weekend with.

“Good heavens, woman! Do you need a nurse?” I heard my companion just outside the bathroom door. “No, but I may need some arnica gel to keep the bruise from looking suspicious..” I countered with the usual wry non-caffeinated humor. “Have you been up long?” I asked. “Well, now that you mention it….” And his voice trailed off quietly.

“I’ll be out as soon as I wash up a bit. Coffee still hot?” I was trying to get a grip on his mood and my clothes.

“I’ll get some fresh going. Hungry??”

“Ummm, cookies?” I asked in a perky query.

“Ahem. Cookies are NOT breakfast food.” I could just hear the mere hint of an unvoiced chuckle under his breath.

“Ummm, and companions aren’t either??” I was snickering, and grabbing a towel to take a shower; making all the preparations that women do in the morning routines that occur no matter where we are, as long as hot water and soap is available. I heard him chuckling and wander down the hall to the farmhouse kitchen as I stepped onto the cold tiles of the shower.

The scent of the simple Castile soap took me back to memories of my childhood and the warmed towels that my Nana used to dry me and my waist length hair as I stood in front of the fireplace or a gas space heater. She’d fuss over me not to catch a chill, wrap me in her huge chenille robe and put clean warm socks on my feet. Then, I’d sit on the embroidered stool as she took a boar’s hair brush and a carved ivory comb to my hair before plaiting it into the delicate multiple braids she loved to weave into my hair. I’d end up looking like a red haired version of the fairy princesses illustrated in the books from her family’s family in Denmark.

Oh, the stories she would tell me about her childhood. Going with her daddy to the edge of the hayfield to carve out her first garden, and the sweetness of the first tomato harvested – fresh off the vine and still warm from the sun. She’d bring her memories of persnickety cook stoves, overprotective hens pecking at her fingers as she gathered eggs, and the loneliness of a little girl growing up without a mother in the harshness of  post-depression Texas.

The water was cooling as I turned off the shower and stepped back into the present and away from my memories. One last whispered, “Thank you, Nana,” into the towel as I dried myself and got dressed for the day, one more day in a hidden heaven. After I dried off the shower stall and hung the towel to dry, I heard my companion in the kitchen, “Ok, come try my cooking. It’s not as good as yours, but it’ll get you going. Maybe even keep you from finding door sills with your body parts!”

I quickly tied my hair back into a ponytail as I wandered to the other side of the farmhouse and into the kitchen. The smell of bacon, hash-browns and eggs mingled with the comfortable warmth of a hug and the happiness of a full cup of coffee. I looked into his eyes with wonder, appreciation and every intent of inhaling the feast in front of me, but I needed to clear the shadows behind his eyes. “Hun, why were you up so early?” I asked as I went to sit down. A soft sigh and then I felt his eyes peer into my soul as I went to sip my coffee. His voice deep and gravelly as he spoke, “Baby, you talk in your sleep. In fact, I need to know – and I want to hear it from you. Am I more than just a weekend thing? I thought we’d agreed to keep things like this. I heard much more.”

I gulped.

How did I tell him, how could I when I was the one who insisted that we just keep things casual, and then fell in love? I let my hair fall forward, trying to hide my heart that had jumped up to blast through those azure windows of my soul. A gentle touch as his finger reached under my chin to pull my face up from the curtain of auburn hair.  I couldn’t deny my heart, and looking at him I saw the little boy behind his blue eyes just waiting to be told that I wanted to share more than cookies and weekend breakfasts with him.

Softly, I stammered out, “I never intended to fall in love with you, but I couldn’t…” That was the limit of all I could speak as he bent forward and enveloped me in an embrace and a kiss that silenced me into tears of joy. Gasping for air, I pulled back just enough to see a light within his eyes that only barely matched the sheer delight on his face. He attempted to express a serious, more somber expression, but it was ruined by his exclamation of “Oh Hell, woman. Me too! You know, we both suck as this casual relationship stuff. So, here’s a question…”

His pause made my stomach flop like being on the high diving board with the water being way down below my toes.

“Are we ready to do more than this? I think I might be ready to settle down if I found someone who appreciates my cookies.” There was the little boy again, right there in front of me. Like the sudden happy surprise of finding ripe peaches in the sunshine, I realized that my inner little girl felt like she’d found a fishing partner that wouldn’t drown the worms or lose the bait. But I wasn’t willing to be an easy catch, or was I?

Wiping tears from my cheeks and onto my jeans, I looked up at him with pure mischief in my heart. “Um, I dunno. That last batch was sort chewy, I think you almost burnt ‘em. But if you’re willing to take a little direction and maybe a bit of criticism, you might’ve found yourself a baking partner.” I flashed him a grin that quickly was covered by another kiss until I broke away to complain, “Hey! What’s a lady gotta do to get some food around here?”

“Aw Lord, woman! Is your stomach all you think about? Here I make you a proposal to make an honest woman outta you, and you’re grumbling about food?”

I leaned across the red checkered tablecloth to grab my coffee and countered with, “Oh no, buster! You are not going to call THAT a proposal.  A proper proposal has flowers and a ring and someone is gonna get down on one knee and get serious! Hash browns and coffee do not a proposal make…but they can come close.”

I watched his right eyebrow begin to climb into his hairline, but the grin that threatened to burst loose from the corners of his mouth belied the seriousness he was attempting to hide behind.

“OK, if that’s what the lady wants….”

He stood up and went to the sink and leaned over to the windowsill to remove the faded plastic flowers that looked like they had been placed there years ago. I grabbed a quick mouthful of bacon as I watched him pull the bread bag from the pantry, remove the wire tie and just as efficiently tie the bag into a secure knot. He grabbed my left hand to measure, and then placing the plastic flowers between his teeth he wove the bread tie into a rough ring and dropped to one knee in front of me. With flowers in one hand and the bread-tie ring in the other, he suddenly frowned, “Music, we need music.”

I was amused that he wanted this as spontaneously perfect as he could make it, and that it was important to him. I was also still as ravenous, so I had one eye focused on his lanky frame bending over the beige plastic box of an old fashioned radio, while the other eye was navigating a fork into scrambled eggs. I’d almost devoured all the eggs when he discovered that the radio still worked, and was negotiating the hazards of hash-browns cooked with caramelized onions when he discovered what he ascertained was the perfect music. I had to agree with him, “Knights in White Satin” was an excellent choice, and he turned, made a bow and then resumed his one-kneed position in front of me.

He was attempting to make light of the spontaneity of the moment- plastic flowers, bread tie ring and all, but behind it he was somber and serious. “Beloved titian-haired lady of my dreams, she who speaks the truth of her heart in her sleep but hides her light behind her hair in the day…..Will you join me in my life and be my lady for all time to come? And will you accept this token of my affection, desire and promise-to-do-better-when-we-find-a-decent-jewelry-store?”

I would have loved to laugh and accept his proposal, but I’d taken a mouthful of hash-browns and any response on my part would have spewed half-chewed food all over him. I was trying to chew and swallow, but there was this silly grin on his face like he was savoring the moment of me NOT being able to say a thing.

“Oh, woman. I do so love you. Look, don’t choke on your answer, just nod your head and take the ring will ya’?”

I was nodding my head when I got choked anyway…and he ended up patting my back with the solid ‘thud, thud, thud’ and the comment that this was getting things off in a good direction. To which I responded with placing his handmade bread-tie engagement ring on my left hand, and jumping up to hug his neck. We sort of got tangled up in the tablecloth and somehow brought all the plates and coffee cups into the floor while exchanging yet another kiss amidst the laughter.

************

It took a good hour or so for the couple to clean up the mess in the kitchen, by then the sun was high enough to take the chill off the morning and actually make the day warm enough for a good swim. They both changed into t-shirts and cut-off jean shorts and wandered down to the broad creek with towels in hand to enjoy the water, the sunlight and each other. As they walked hand in hand away from the old farmhouse, the radio in the kitchen was softly buzzing with another tune, “…I hear the secrets that you keep, when you’re talking in your sleep…”

Sometimes You Have To Laugh – Guest Post by Angel Martinez

Yeah, it’s that dreaded day of the week, Monday. However, to make it a tad bit easier on some of us, it’s also Memorial Day Weekend, the unofficial start to the summer.   Some of us look forward to those long, lazy days – and some of us greet them with a feeling akin to nails scratching on a chalkboard. However and whatever your particular perception, it’s always better to find a good book and curl up somewhere shady and cool. Let your imagination spread its wings on those lovely summer breezes and glide where it may take you.

Angel is a Gift of Serendipity that I met at GRL 2014, and had seen online a couple of times. She’s come to be a friend and someone I can count on to give an honest opinion when those matter most. Without further ado, here’s her lovely guest post!

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Secret Vampire Shame – or Things Paranormal Authors Don’t Want You to Know 

LimeGelatin

My writing’s about half and half – half serious, half not. Even the serious pieces have comedic moments, funny lines, and the occasional absurd situation. Even the humor pieces have moments of doubt and disaster. But I have a serious soft spot for the satiric, especially when something’s big and loud and popular.

Pack shifters, anyone? I keep saying I’ll write a send up of all the pack shifter tropes out there. You know, the whole Alpha/Beta, fated mates, knotting, mpreg, thrown out of the pack and needs a new one/ has to reclaim pack from evil overlord/stepfather/uncle-who-married-mom. Haven’t had time to do it yet, but some day. Some day…

Another paranormal send-up I think about involves vampires. Oh, come on. So, so much to make fun of. Though I certainly wouldn’t be the first. But one thing I’ve never seen discussed is vampire eating restrictions. Seriously, the transition to immortal can’t be an easy one. There have to be some. What if a vampire was afraid of a certain blood type? Or couldn’t feed from someone wearing a certain scent? Or thought that feeding directly from a vein is icky? What if a vampire had a bad reaction to certain blood components?

Since Lime Gelatin isn’t about a vampire, but has a vampire as a secondary character, I picked that last one. Poor Carrington can’t consume whole blood, so he has to obtain washed RBC’s (red blood cells washed with saline to remove most of the plasma and white blood cells) from the blood bank. Just not quite the same effect, trying to be a Prince of the Night when you can’t sink your teeth into someone. Can you imagine the try at a hookup conversation in a bar?

“Hello there, I’m a vampire.”

“Oh, cool! That’s such a turn-on. Wanna go out to the car and you know, I’ll suck you off while you suck on me?”

“Um. No, that is, I can’t. You’d make me sick.”

*potential hookup stomps off in an offended snit, possibly after punching aforementioned unfortunate vamp*

Now…about that shifter piece…

Lime Gelatin and Other Monsters

Offbeat Crimes 1

(part of Amber Allure’s 77th Precinct Pax)

Blurb:

Officer Kyle Monroe’s encounter with a strange gelatinous creature in an alley leaves him scarred and forever changed, revealing odd abilities he wishes he didn’t have and earning him reassignment to Philadelphia’s 77th Precinct where all the cops have defective paranormal abilities.

Just as Kyle’s starting to adjust to his fellow misfit squad mates, his new partner arrives. Tall, physically perfect, reserved, and claiming he has no broken psychic talents, Vikash Soren irritates Kyle in every way. But as much as he’d like to hate Vikash, Kyle finds himself oddly drawn to him, their non-abilities meshing in unexpected ways.

Now, if Kyle and Vikash can learn to work together, they just might be able to stop the mysterious killer who has been leaving mutilated bodies along the banks of the Schuylkill.

Excerpt:

Kyle sat up straighter, shifting to see between the heads in front of him. Soren looked like a poster boy for the model police officer, tall and straight, uniform crisp and sharp. He stood at parade rest beside the lieutenant, impassively surveying his new colleagues. A little knot of resentment lodged in Kyle’s stomach. At his own introduction to the 77th, he’d been nervous and fidgety, freaked out by the collection of…freaks. How can he be so calm?

“Officer Soren transferred from the Harrisburg PD—”

“Don’t they have enough freaky shit of their own up there?” Wolf called out in his rasping growl.

“Since Harrisburg is in our jurisdiction,” she continued with a quelling glance. “He’ll start out partnered with Monroe.”

“What does he do, ma’am? That it’s safe to put him with Kirby, er, Kyle?” Shira Lourdes asked as she flicked nervous glances across the room at Kyle. An empty chair slid away from her and fell over. Her partner, Greg Santos, shook his head and righted the unfortunate piece of furniture.

“Officer Soren’s abilities are his business, which he may or may not choose to share if you ask. And don’t bully him about it either, any of you.” Lieutenant Dunfee swept the room again, pinning each of her officers with her needle-laser gaze like captive butterflies. “Monroe, my office after briefing. Info on your current case.”

She dismissed them, stalking from the room with thunderclouds in her eyes. Kyle found himself approaching the new guy and trying his best not to be awkward. Did he offer to shake hands? Was it safe? Would the guy flinch like so many people did at the sight of Kyle’s scarred hands? Soren was even taller up close, six-foot-three of lean inscrutability, his blue eyes startlingly bright against smoky bronze skin.

“Um, hi, I’m Kyle Monroe.” Kyle fidgeted when Soren didn’t offer his hand either. “You’re with me, I guess. I’ll show you our spot in the squad room.”

Soren followed him silently and Kyle was starting to wonder if he was like Krisk in the not-speaking department until he finally spoke in a smooth, soft baritone, making Kyle startle and miss a step. “Why do they call you Kirby?”

“You’d hear it sooner or later, I guess.” Kyle shrugged. “It’s this thing I do, absorbing other people’s talents temporarily. If they’re close to me. Or touch me. Like Kirby, the little pink dude in the video game.”

“Ah.”

Just that? Soren didn’t edge away, or change expression at all. Was he made of stone? “It’s a thing. Everyone here has a thing.”

After a few more steps, Soren asked, “Always?”

“What… Oh, was I always like this? Who knows? I mean, maybe I’ve picked up stray thoughts or something, but no. It’s pretty recent. Knowing that I do this.”

Kyle took a wide arc around Vance as he entered the squad room, pointing to the double desk in the far corner, well removed from everyone else. “That’s ours. Coffee’s over there, but you might not want that coffee. Let me grab my file and we’ll go see the lieutenant.”

“So what’s your story, Soren?” Vance called across the squad room. “What flies your freak flag?”

“Yeah, what do you do?” Jeff Gatling stopped ’porting his banana from one corner of his desk to the other.

“I don’t really do anything,” Soren answered as he hefted the empty coffeepot. “Guess I’ll make fresh since I’m the new guy.”

He opened the top to remove the filter and every human voice in the squad room yelled out, “No!”

Most people would have startled, maybe dropped the carafe. Soren just blinked at the roomful of people gesturing wildly. He took the filter out and emptied it over the trashcan. “Why not?”

“You don’t want to do that.” Kyle stayed by his desk, a nice safe distance from the coffee station. “That’s Larry’s job.”

“Larry’s not keeping up then.”

The container of sweetener packets began to rattle. It shivered across the counter and leaped to a messy end, ceramic shards skittering across the floor. The desk that Krisk and Wolf shared rose from the floor several inches and slammed back down. Wolf fled with a squeaking yelp just before the desk flipped on its side.

Soren glanced toward Kyle. “Larry’s not a cop, is he?”

“He is…he was! A dead cop. Larry’s a ghost. He gets ticked if anyone else makes the coffee. Put the stuff back, please!”

“Larry?” Soren raised his voice but to all appearances remained completely unruffled. “I’m new here. I’m very sorry I invaded your jurisdiction. See? I’m putting the carafe back. Closing the top. Are we good, Larry?”

A breeze ruffled through a stack of papers, but no further mayhem ensued. The carafe slid from its pad on the coffeemaker and floated to the water cooler where Larry, who never manifested in a visible form, whistled tunelessly while he filled the carafe.

From his dim corner of the room, Carrington said in his dry, genteel way, “Welcome to the Island of Misfit Freaks…”

Giveaway:

2 commenters will be chosen at random (’cause I have a formula to do that and everything) for their choice of backlist Angel Martinez book!

About the Author:

Angel Martinez is the erotic fiction pen name of a writer of several genres. Her experiences as a soldier, a nurse, a banker, and an underpaid corporate drone give her a broad view of the world and a deep appreciation for the astounding variety of people on this small planet.

She currently lives part time in the hectic sprawl of northern Delaware and full time inside her head. She has one husband of over twenty years, one son, two cats, a love of all things beautiful and a terrible addiction to the consumption of both knowledge and chocolate.

To contact Angel with praise, adulation, sarcasm, and complaints to the management (any management, she’s not picky, but it might not solve your flight reservation issue) please try these linky things:

Email: ravenesperanza@yahoo.com

Website: http://angelmartinezauthor.weebly.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/amartinez2

Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/angelmartinez

When You Least Expect It

galaxy 1

There are some days when the daily drudge of life grinds a person’s spirit to the point that stepping out of the routine is nothing short of lifesaving. Of late, the daily repeat of rain, thunder, wind and humidity had pretty well left me feeling like old toweling; I was ready to let the individual threads of whatever was holding me together release their integrity. I’d gotten to such a point within a manuscript that all I wanted to do was pull out a virtual torch and let fly with the fire. Yes, my finger hovered over the “delete” key.

Then, I saw that someone else was struggling with the same hated dance partner that I was fighting with, depression. I do so wish that the stigma of mental illness was a thing of the past. When you’re dealing with any of the monsters that live in that closet, it’s as if they have a life all their own. Your sanity is their prey and they are avid, cunning predators. Mental illnesses know where all the ‘buttons’ are because they hardwired the triggers. If you own a single erg of compassion, then when you happen across a similar soul fighting the same noble battle, there is no other choice but to lend a hand, a shoulder; Hell, take up arms right next to them.

Not all of us are blessed to find the “other” part of us in a relationship that goes beyond a simple pairing, but when that particular magic occurs, very few of us examine the depth of what it can truly be. We’re not a perfect species, even in relationships we tend to mess things up – sometimes beyond simple repair. Then, there are those of us that despite repeated failure find a way to, with great trepidation and despite the inner warning klaxon deafening us, open that door to our fragile, delicate soul centers one more time. When it’s not a fatal error, this becomes the very thing that poets and philosophers have waxed poetic over for centuries.

For near a quarter of a century, I have woven my spirit with that of another. Whatever it is between us, it has served us well as a medium against the criticism of others, as a nursery of hope to raise three children within, and a shelter against the storms of rising and falling fortune. We’ve found a safe harbor to moor within, and gypsy spirits that we may be, this is our base, our home – no matter where we rest our heads when sleep beckons. With all the hoopla over same sex marriage, legal rights, acceptance of sexual identity, etc. I stand baffled. What is it with humanity that we must insist on finding the most inane, bizarre conflicts of consciousness and inflate them to be the dread monsters of superstition?

In some form or another, we’ve managed to scrape together 2.5 million years of bi-pedal hominid history. Did we ever make it from sentience to enlightenment? Are we supposed to? Or, are we destined to dance around the next transformative force we discover and name it as a god, not unlike our distant forebears around a campfire? This day is too young and there’s too much blood in my caffeine system to follow this line of questioning any further.

I was thinking about my beloved last night as I watched the skies momentarily clear from the seasonal rainy weather. To that end, I will share the following:

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Infinity Plus One

Somewhere on the shores

of Eternity, we’ll still be

walking hand in hand

until the last star flickers

into the shadows of Infinity.

Then, we’ll just turn, one

to the other and murmur

into our shared breath, “That was

interesting. Shall we do it

again?”

My heart shall ever beat as

one with yours, our feet

will dance the same

steps, and our fingers

intertwine. All our joys,

fears and tears to mingle

in the same rain, dance

on the pebbles of the driveway,

and water the flowers in the garden

of our lives together.

One day, maybe the rest

of the 6 billion souls we

share air with will understand;

“I Love You” is just the beginning.

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P.S. Remember, Angel Martinez will be on this blog on the 25th. Come see what she has to share!

Watch This Space

galaxy

I’ve been so scattered of thought, body and spirit of late that I nearly totally blanked that I even had a blog. No worries though; there’s this little e-mail notification that tells me that the spam-meisters have been hard at it again. I really do wish that I had less of an ethical filter at times, because whamming the crap outta their blatant promo would just thrill my little dark heart.

At some time in the VERY near future, I will be hosting a wonderful author & friend on this site, so if you are following me, please be nice to her. Read some of her work and feel free to fawn all over her awesomeness. (Hope you’re blushing pink at this point, Angel Martinez….<evil grin>) Further, to all the beloved author friends hammering the good times gong at the Romantic Times 2015 convention in Dallas this week, huge and gentle hugs. Sorry you folks had to hit here during the rainy season!

This is the time of the year that the Dane and I shift gears into parental mode because the college kidlet is at home for her final summer break before kicking off her senior year at Cornell College. We are incredibly proud of her and just KNOW that she’s going on to incredibly awesome adventures (especially if the posse’ she’s surrounded herself with is any indicator!) Beyond that, there are other opportunities that are dragging us away from Cat’s Paw Acres. It’s time for us to re-connect, re-consider, re-new and re-vamp. That being said, I’m having to learn about some time management wherein health concerns are part of that equation. Did I ever mention that I SUCK at algebra?

We’ve lost some more of our barn cats due to a bumper crop of coyotes and my heart is heavy with their loss. Until recently, both the coyotes and the cats were fine having co-opted a truce that included George the Anatolian being the gatekeeper of goodness. Once George was taken out of the picture by incarnated slime parading as neighbors, everything fell out of balance and relative peace. While I totally despise the idea of returning to being apartment dwellers, it appears that this will be our temporary respite until we leave the State. Which means I get to explore the outer limits of Creative Downsizing.

On a happier note, a completely different surprise in that I’m actually hitting my stride with “Lyriel’s Moon” – a novel that I’ve had in my head to write ever since I narrowly escaped the clutches of the Evil Day Job with my very life. If you are ever victimized by an evil supervisor, boss or co-worker, I heartily recommend exacting revenge through the medium of writing. Nothing feels quite so invigorating as creating your own version of Karmic Payback to bless them with. I’ve created a playlist on YouTube that consists of all my beloved 80’s hair bands, some late 70’s rock, and a few of the latest happy musical creations that has me chair dancing and rocking out as I put my characters through the blender of human experience. The Yorkie thinks I’m two biscuits short of a snack, the cats are conversing about my shredded threads of sanity, and the neighbors are nervously avoiding me. It’s all good.

Sending out love and gentle hugs to one and all. Billy Joel and the rest are tuning up, and the Muse beckons.

LGBTQ Push Back Giveaway 2015

LGBTQBannerFB

Love is Love is Love

Allow me to state once and for all, I am a STRONG supporter of equal rights for EVERYONE. Likewise, I usually allow folks with a differing opinion to enjoy every bit of their personal opinion – as long as they don’t try to shove it down my throat, or the throats of anyone else, OR decide to legislate their personal beliefs into a public policy. Live and let live is a pretty happy place to be and with very few exceptions, a fairly nice lane to drive through life in.

When my firstborn nervously approached me to venture forth the idea that she might be bisexual, I didn’t flinch an inch. In fact, I think she was sort of shocked when I told her that her biological father was and he was closeted about it. Which, wasn’t a nice to for me to find out about until a couple of years AFTER he left the scene and I had to wait 3 weeks for the results of an AIDS test. (Note to genetic benefactor of first born child: Spurned ex-lovers have a very efficient network capability and a definitive taste for revenge tartare….oh gee, is the blood still dripping down my chin from that? Oops.)

Events of late have left a VERY nasty taste in my mouth; especially when righteous dim-wits go out of their way to show the rest of the world what an absolute failure our educational system currently is and just how decayed the interior working of our democratic republic is. We have the legislative process only the most elite of oligarchs could have wet dreams over and an educational system so pathetic that we’re only microns away from dropping statistically below certain Third World countries. Into this festering cesspool we add laughingstock after vaudevillian sideshow of state mandated ‘religious freedom’ statutes and ‘abstinence only’ sex education.

The pathetic outcome of such short-sighted actions will result in hairless bi-pedal hominids with scarcely enough mentation to punch buttons; those that survive their litter’s gestation in mothers infested with drug resistant venereal diseases, that is.

It’s PAST time to push back against the tides of intolerance, the bulwark of bullying, and the rubber bullets of riot police. I proudly support AJ Rose, Kate Aaron and Meredith King’s organized efforts in this weekend’s LGBTQ Push Back Charity Giveaway, and have a couple of short stories to offer up in exchange for donations to their efforts. OR….(keep in mind that in R/L I am clergy) …I will joyfully write a complete liturgy for whatever spiritual need you have.

There you have it in 500 words or less. Please support this cause; next to our fur-babies and purr-babies, it’s near and dear to my heart. Further, for about the same price as that fancy coffee in your hand, you’ll be supporting authors that could be wandering the streets looking for unsuspecting characters to add to their next novel in compromising situations with questionable motives. Scary thought, no?

Remember: What divides us, destroys us.

For more information, follow the link below:

http://diversereader.blogspot.com/2015/04/lgbtq-push-back-charity-giveaway.html

For a snippet of the some of the good stuff at that link:

It started when my sister Sarah overheard me talking to my boyfriend on the phone.
That afternoon, under the football stadium bleachers, Jonathan and I had our first kiss, and
I told him how much I liked it, how I wanted to do it again. I didn’t notice the click of
another phone in the house being picked up, but I sure heard it when my parents yelled my
full name.
“Elijah Michael Goodman, come here right this second!”
“I gotta go,” I whispered to Jonathan, and hung up before he could say anything. My
heart was in my throat as I went downstairs to the living room to see my mother and father
standing there, looking for all the world like they’d swallowed lemons.
“Who were you on the phone with?” Dad asked.
“Jonathan,” I answered truthfully. They thought he was my best friend. “Why?”
“What were you talking about?” Mom demanded, her voice shaking.
I squirmed and did the only thing I could with no time to think. I lied. “A test in
Algebra tomorrow.”
“That’s not what Sarah heard,” Dad challenged, eyes flashing.
Oh shit, I thought, but would never say out loud. My parents would tan my hide if I
swore in front of them, then take me to confession.
My silence made them angrier. Dad’s face turned red. “She said you kissed Jonathan.”
There was no way to refute that. I wasn’t a good liar. All I could do was take a deep
breath and nod, hoping they’d see the pleading in my eyes.
“Are you gay?” Mom demanded. Another nod.
The rest is a blur. My mother began screaming about my soul and salvation, and
they wouldn’t listen when I tried to tell them I tried not to be interested in guys, but it was
impossible. My dad went quiet, which was scarier than if he’d yelled, or even taken out the
belt.
Roughly grabbing my arm, he marched me up to my room, got out a duffel bag, and
threw three changes of clothes in it, grabbed my deodorant from the top of the dresser, and
shoved my shoes at my chest. Then he dragged me back downstairs, twisting my ankle in
the process, and threw me out the front door, the duffel landing beside me on the dry,
brown lawn.
“Don’t come back. You’re not our son anymore.”
My heart, having never left my throat, exploded, taking with it my ability to breathe.
What did he mean? Don’t come back, ever?
That’s how it started. By the time I’d walked to Jonathan’s, my parents—no, Mr. and
Mrs. Goodman—had already called his parents, and his mother met me at the door with
crossed arms and a stern expression, telling me Jonathan wasn’t home, and that he wasn’t
allowed to see me. As I’d walked away shivering, tears stinging my cheeks in the cold
November air, I’d looked back. Jonathan was at his bedroom window, holding an ice pack to
his eye and looking miserable. He gave a tentative wave, which I returned.
I had no choice. I had no money. I didn’t have my coat. No phone. And no one to call
anyway.

A Letter to My 18 Year Old Self

YouTube sent out an e-mail today where in honor of International Women’s Day, they asked women to make a video letter to their younger self.  Well, I’m still on the upward climb of learning video technology, but I knew I could write that letter. Without further ado, here is the “Letter to my 18 year old self.”

**************************************************************************************************************************************************************chicago peace rose

 

Dear Me;

 

I’m writing you nearly two years after a life-altering event and near-death episode. Since it’s been 39 years since I made a monumental decision to join the military instead of attempting to find a way to go to college, I’m writing this so that hopefully, one day, time travel of at least video correspondence is a reality. In November of 1975, I raised my right hand, and had Mom sign an age waiver so I could gain entry into the Texas National Guard. I was so idealistic, so naïve, so sure I was doing the right thing.

Yes, going into the military was a good thing; but I seriously needed someone to tell me about homesickness and familial dysfunction and alcoholism and rape. I seriously needed someone to tell me that my spirit was a beautiful, sacred thing and all those empathic impulses I’d been denying were REAL. I needed someone to help me find the beautiful Goddess in Training that I was, to find the self-confidence that the writing voice within should never have been denied over the need to simply survive. I needed the strong guidance that helped me discover I could do this on my own, that I never needed a man to make me complete. I needed someone to teach me by example that a life companion complemented who you are, not changed you to fit their reality. Further, no one had the right to raise a hand to you in rage; no one had the right to define your spirituality, confine you to their definition of Deity.

There was so much of the masterpiece of my being that was so incomplete at 18 that it should have been considered a felony for me to have been sent out into the world of the late 70’s without at least a Master Class in Reality. You are more than pumps, sandals, boots, or bare feet. You are more than jeans, cut-offs and bikini bottoms. You are more than a bra, a halter top or a t-shirt. You are more than the outside accoutrements of clothing, or style. Your spirit is as free as Jonathan Livingston Seagull, never let anyone tell you or try to convince you otherwise. In fact, do yourself a favor – don’t allow anyone who attempts to corral who you are with conventionality to stay in your life.

Education is a passport to freedom, little one. No one can steal the treasures of knowledge you hold between your ears. There is nothing shameful about being intelligent, there is only the shame later that you were never able to develop the bright promise you held. I said it before and I’ll say it again and again – if the guy you want doesn’t comprehend what you love, let him go. Someone will show up that shares your love of the stars, and the planets, and Star Trek and all things geeky. Someone will show up that is as much a hopeless romantic as you are, and if you are willing to let that special someone, they will sweep you off your feet and worship you every day of your lives together.

Don’t allow the bigotry of those around you blind you to the beauty of everyone you meet. Commit the words of Max Ehrmann’s Desiderata to heart and find a way to live/express/develop the intent of that writ every moment that you draw breath. Find a way to play every day, coloring books are not the territory of the very young, neither are finger paints or Play-Doh, or Legos, or Lincoln Logs or even rag dolls and dollhouses. Remember the fun you had in the kitchen with your grandmother, and your nannies, and learn that food is as much a palette as are words and crayons.

Last, learn to grieve as deeply as you loved. Never allow someone to tell you to “get over it.” While the great sages and wise women through the ages affirm that we are never truly separated from those we love, there are those who will share time with you as you dance on this planet that will only share the journey but briefly. They will be the beacons of Light along parts the dimly lit passages as no life is lived in sunlight alone. Never forget to appreciate the Light in your life; taking people for granted should be considered a mortal sin.

When you have children, stick to your guns and your gut. Your intuition as a mother is a far better diagnostic tool than the most schooled pediatrician, the most well-intentioned educator. You KNOW your children. Never deny yourself a moment spent with the extra cuddle, the additional kiss on the forehead, the caress of a silky head. Spending time cuddled together on the ‘mommy/daddy’ bed builds a bond that no one can ever break, and gives them memories of security and love to hold in their hearts forever. Remember that old pots and pans, worn out aprons and wooden spoons are far better toys than those that others spend a fortune on. Teaching them how to build fairy houses out of leaves and sticks encourages imagination, and planting a garden together grounds them to life itself.

Creating things of use and beauty with knitting needle, sewing needle or crochet hook, hands a legacy to all children. There’s nothing wrong with teaching the playmates of your kids how to do it either. Oh yes, one more thing, and it’s the most important. Kids are like that garden you’ll grow together. They need the sunshine, the dirt and the water. Letting them dance naked in the rain allows their spirit that freedom of expression in a memory that will get them through the tough times they will undoubtedly face.

You are an incredible person. You will meet other incredible persons and you will meet people of both great good and horrific evil. When you meet people of evil, walk away. Quickly. Do not attempt to find the good in anyone that greets you with all the ugliness that they are. Accept them as ugly and walk away. The greatest truth is the saddest lesson you will have to learn, and it is this: Good people attract bad people like ants to a picnic. Ants have the right to be ants, but you do not have to sit there and let them hurt you. They have their place in the scheme of things, and it is up to you if you choose to share your life with anyone who willfully hurts you. Make a different choice.

Life is incredibly short. Dance. Eat with joy. Love with abandon. Appreciate the special people in your life, and allow to pass those who would cause you or yours harm. Grow a garden, love a pet, plant a tree. When it is time to go, you want to look back and laugh with love.

Hug yourself for me – and let go of any regrets – you can always start over, on any given day.

Love,

Me.

Gut-Level Real

Valentine heart ...wtf_thumb[1]

Hello, my name is Rhae C. and I’m an addict/alcoholic. Bet those of you who read this didn’t know this or maybe vaguely remember something I’d mentioned about it. Well, by the Grace of the Gods and Goddesses of my Ancestors, I’ve been clean and sober since May 23rd, 1988. Sanity is always questionable because not only did I get married to my fifth husband in sobriety, but I gave him children, too. I’ve admitted to being a hopeless romantic; seeing that I’ve done this marriage business 5 times should be proof that sobriety has its’ own rewards. The difference being this one ‘stuck’ for 22 years and we’re still trying to see if it’ll work out.

The short story of how I ended up in an AA meeting room with a bunch of folks just like me is pretty standard. Alcoholics on both sides of the good ol’ oaken cask of a family tree. After all, it is Texas and I was a fifth generation by-product of migratory Cajuns, Scots-Irish, Germans and a couple of wandering Native Americans thrown in because females were few and far between once you got west of the Mississippi before 1830. Add in a family history, again on both sides, of raising Hell because neither TV nor football had been invented yet and you get a tribe of instigators that put the ‘fun’ in dysfunctional. Then, at the ripe of age of 30 I found myself a single mother cross addicted to barbiturates and alcohol after a car wreck smashed my face and my upper jaw. That wasn’t enough to kick my ass into the Abyss; my best friend dies less than 90 days after a diagnosis of ovarian cancer. In truth, I should have died when I decided to swallow 2400mg. of a barbiturate compound and take a 6-pack chaser. Instead, I found myself reading The Big Book while kneeling next to the toilet waiting for the next round of nausea to empty the small intestine; the stomach had been cleared in the first 3 hours. Being unsuccessful in committing chemical suicide, I decided that I needed to ‘get right with God’ before I left my child in a park for CPS to pick up and adopt out while I found an 18-wheeler to jump out in front of. I met a Druid elder on the back patio of a non-denominational church who drug me into my first AA meeting. The rest, as they say, is history.

Lately, it has been an uphill struggle to maintain emotional balance; the college-aged kid is sick, the baby girl is getting married, and the eldest child has been inviting the Gods of Chaos to find her automobile for demolition derby practice. Did I mention that my hubby was interviewing for a management position, and that the disability insurance company managing my LTD payments has a stick up their keisters for more medical information? (Look, dimwits….the brain broke. It ain’t gonna miraculously fix itself any further than its’ been pushed to do. On a good day, I can remember the process to fix oatmeal without counting on my fingers and looking at notes.)

My therapist has been after me to find an AA meeting but bless her precious heart, she knows not what she asks. When my last beloved sponsor died with 24 years of sobriety, a part of my heart died with her. She knew that I could never do the Abrahamic religion ‘thing’ – Hell, SHE was the one who pointed out that I’d never stay sober unless I could admit that my personal integrity wasn’t attenuated to Judeo-Christian. I kept trying to go to meetings and earnestly find another sponsor, but nope; it wasn’t going to happen. Somewhere along the metamorphosis of The Program, the hardcore kick-butt sober folks disappeared. I was and remain eternally grateful to a sponsor that was a black-belt in reality based sobriety; she gave me the tools to keep on looking. What I was never prepared for was the repeated rejection of AA members who couldn’t accept a sober Druid.

While I miss the coffee and the companionship of the fellowship of Bill W. friends, I don’t miss the hostility when I step out of a meeting before The Lord’s Prayer is said at the end of each meeting. Not my faith, not my prayer. If I’m not welcome to step out, then why should I step in? I don’t want that kind of sobriety. I learned early on that staying sober is an all or nothing kind of deal. I prefer to maintain a personal integrity with my own spirituality than to compromise because someone else is uncomfortable with my personal choice in a relationship with a Higher Power.

So, it is a bit of a conundrum that I face. I wish to abide by the wishes of my counselor and therapist, but I have yet to find a place to ‘hang my hat for an hour or so’ in a place of safety with other like-minded folks struggling to stay sober in the face of a world gone mad and getting crazier by the day. Some days, I just stay sober 15 minutes at a time because that’s the best I can do. Some days, it never crosses my mind. That is, until we have insane holidays like Valentine’s come up and trigger all the past memories of pain because a little freckle-faced geeky girl got rocks, cat turds and dirt clods in her Valentine’s mailbox instead of cheesy paper cards in little white envelopes.

For the little girl I used to be, tomorrow I’m going to buy her watercolors and a box of those little valentine candy hearts. I’m going to get her a small chocolate heart and a little stuffed Pepe’ LePew. I’m going to buy a bottle of strawberry milk like they used to serve in school for Valentine’s Day only, and a box of graham crackers. While my beloved husband may have some plans for us tomorrow, I’m going to ask him for a couple of hours so I can give the little girl I used to be an alternative to the remembered pain and instead replace those memories with all the happiness she deserved….and I’ll stay sober because I choose to.

For all of us out there that struggle with this holiday as well, I send you gentle hugs and love and strawberry flavored milk. Happy Valentine’s Day.

It’s Not All Hearts And Flowers

Robert A Heinlein_Stranger in a Strange Land_ACE_James Warhola

In Truth, I’m struggling here.

The inner Rhae KNOWS the Universal Laws. The person behind the pen name KNOWS that our experience with our True Selves on this plane is limited at best. However, the spirit that lives within the very fragile, time-limited expression of Homo sapiens is brought to her very mortal, aching knees every damn time by the acts of cruelty expressed by her species. There are numerous tomes, poems, books, movies and scripts to immortalize the highest aspiration of our very souls. Yet, on a daily basis, there are other mortals who actively choose to express the polar opposite of what we’ve been advised is our legacy and our nature; Love.

Love has been analyzed, dichotomized, romanticized, victimized and torn to its very quivering Thread of Quantum Existence. However to this day, despite the wisdom of prevailing religious structures, spiritual expressions, even international law and dictate there are starving children, women and men of every persuasion beaten, abused, demoralized and in some instances killed. There are individuals whom profit off of the misery of others despite the moral warnings written by the wisest and most venerated. There are massive groupings of businesses in existence solely to make as much money for the upper echelon of their operation as possible whilst ignoring the poisoning of the planet they live on. There are businesses that mask their true intentions by parading as religious institutions structured to inculcate the masses into their carefully prepared propaganda.

What is it about the human species that simply cannot accept Love as a pure essence of self? We place strictures and values and rules and taboos and shades and colors and judgment on what Love is until it no longer resembles what it was meant to be; the last Unified Field Theory of Life. Heinlein approached the mysticism of love through a character named Lazarus Long; and I finally found a handle on the strangeness of the male perspective of love through the eyes of this fictional character. Masculine nature quantifies desires and needs, this is a Universe defined by Order through this perspective. The feminine nature knows intuitively that Love cannot be quantified and only temporarily defined; the true nature of Love is Chaos framed by Order until Chaos decides otherwise. Look at any household filled with children and the inescapable Truth of this is lovingly provided in everyday explosions of clothes, toys, pets, shoes and household chores done with an eye towards the activity of framing Chaos again. Androgyny stands in the middle of all of this Divine Drama and poses the eternal question mark of What The??

There are intersections and collisions of Chaos and Order, passion and tolerance, lives of despair and lives of fulfillment. These are the Threads that weave the human experience into the Masterpiece Declarative we live within. I just want to know why, with the majority of us that know the joy of what lives within our hearts, why we have chosen to express anything other than Chaos defined by temporary Order and described as Love.

In Truth, I’m struggling here.

The Year’s End

New Years celebration

 

Tomorrow is my 57th birthday. I still have no wish to “grow up” because to me, the next thing would be “growing old” and I refuse that judgment upon my person. I still believe in love, I still believe in the magic of those Unseen to affect beauty all around me, and I still believe (somewhat) in the goodness of the human race. I believe in romance; the kind that leaves you teary-eyed and breathless after a tender kiss. I believe in long-lasting relationships because the nature of love is compromise, care, comfort and consideration for one another. Oh, to be sure we all mix it up now and again to keep things fresh, funny and delightful to our beloveds.

I believe in reincarnation because I am very much a work-in-progress. It would be absurd, with all the flaws inherent in my being, to expect me to conquer them all in a single mortal lifetime. Especially if your lifetime has been foreshortened in a flash, with an unexpected crash. I believe in Wonder; because if I have forgotten what it looks like, all I have to do is find a four-year old to remind me.

When all the Ugly of this world descends upon me, all I really have to do is reach out to another. This has been the hardest lesson of all, because for years, I only interacted with others thru a narrow window of a bubble – refusing more than the scant contact of a phone call, a brief meeting in a small cubicle, the direct dryness of an e-mailed message. I wrote my stories at home, safely tucked away from the rest of the world in a 9 X 6 office, 30 miles from the nearest hub of human commerce. I liked it that way because those that deliberately looked for folks like me to harass, annoy, tease, belittle or outright bully could not reach me here; and I could illumine their souls with my limited understanding in the vain attempt to discover why they felt so compelled.

When you least expect it, Serendipity waves her magic wand and you find yourself bed-rest bound with a scary prognosis and an interminable wait for a follow-up CT scan and MRI. However, because of the Common Thread of Mercy, you also end up entertained by a lovely series of urban fantasy books. This was to be only the outside of the nesting dolls of discovery, but so little did I know.

Then, I discovered what a wonder a blog could be, and my eyes were sure to be as big as that four-year-old upon seeing fireworks from the top of a hay bale in a moonlit sky. Oh, the Universe wasn’t through with me, because then I had the joy of a writer’s retreat. Not before a near-complete meltdown, however. This little country mouse was secretly terrified of leaving her safe nest under the huge ash tree in the middle of the prairie. It took a lot of hand-holding, some serious acceptance of limitations and a warning of a bruised ego should she turn around and run back to the safety of the sun-dappled shadows, but Country Mouse not only navigated the airport and the rental car kiosk, but Chicago traffic and her own limited knowledge of getting maps to work on a smartphone.

There were some disappointments along the way as well; Google Maps is never accurate, hindsight is always better than gut-level panic, and re-think what you really need to pack before you have to schlepp it all over Creation. Learning your new limits or finding a new normal have been watch phrases for me; and in the spirit of being honest, not exactly welcome. The trade-off, because we do live in a Universe of Balance, is that I made some friends that have felt like they will and have always been a part of my heart.

The next stage of my life is a complete unknown – it’s like standing behind the curtain at an improv. You have no clue what you’re going to do, but you have a gut level feeling that you can wing it if you can just get over the fear factor. Every muscle in your body is both relaxed and tensed at the same time, your mind is racing and your breathing skips a bit along with your heart. However, there is that still, small voice telling you that “You. Got. This. You’ve had it your whole life. Now. Is. The. Time.”

To be sure, there is a wonderful happy part of me that is simply aching to share some good news. (I’m going to be published!) Of course, there is the part of me that simply wants the mess out of the house so she can sit down and finish writing some of the stories that fizzled to a whisper because of the distractions of crap she simply cannot abide! (Obsessive/compulsive, much?)

Here I sit, at the end. A sudden realization tearing my eyes; I am the only one with this voice, this perspective. Should I be too shy to sound out, the whispers of what I see will dim and face into the emptiness of Chaos, with no one to note that I even sat here at all. The fear of silence being more than the shyness of sharing a beloved’s touch on my neck, shoulders and the tentative kiss of “good morning” on a still sleeping face.

Soundtracks of a hundred movies sit in my queue, background music to a chattering brain flexing verbiage and feathered synonyms to paint the mind pictures. The window frames the sere grass overgrown for lack of a sufficiently powered mower to tackle the front acre. Naked limbs of crepe myrtle, mimosa, ash and tallow give depth to the framing, and within a golden pool of illumination, the fingers move and then still; here creation moves one phrase at a time.

Tomorrow, my heart will still waltz to an unheard tune, my eyes still looking for the miraculous, and my hands will still reach to learn that next, more difficult crochet pattern. Getting the brain to engage will always be the new challenge that the new normal has become, but I refuse to ‘grow up.’ No one ever said it that it was mandatory anyway; I prefer to grow better.

Mays the Bells of the New Year bless you and yours with their soul stirring chimes.

Gentle Hugs,

 

Rhae

On The Road to Shambala

 shambhala

With a joyful heart and spicy, wicked grin for planting the earworm of the Three Dog Night classic in your mind, let me tell you where my body, mind and spirit wandered from four o’clock in the morning on Thursday to this Sunday afternoon. Let me help you get your bearings in the “Land Beyond your Imagination” – or where I live in my mind. I am a hopeless, shameless romantic that will occasionally ooze angst. I believe in the Power of Love to overcome all but the most Evil, and perhaps at that to have a fighting chance. I am also dealing with the aftereffects of a nasty cerebral vascular event which tends to make my life play out in vignettes of wonder strung along with tears and laughter.

Love is love is love and should be celebrated and held as Holy no matter how it manifests amongst consenting individuals of legal age. When I learned of the GRL Retreat being held this October, AND that not only would some of the individuals of like mind would be there but my favorite authors as well, it became like the Sacred Quest to attend. Fearlessly and courageously I cleared the mental chess board to ‘make this happen’ in spite of financial, physical and emotional limits. What I failed to consider, no toss that; what I denied even existed was the possibility of my short term memory loss manifesting adventure where I did not need it!

I was so proud that I’d made flight arrangements AND arranged for a rental car. I was going to do this like an adult! Did I LOOK at those reservations closely? Was I aware that I was shorting myself of re-coop time from travel? Did I know I was travelling before the chickens were awake BOTH ways and would miss the closing breakfast? Aww Hell, no!

Amy Lane is an author hiding her Goddess nature well, and as her birthday was close to the event, I packed a gift and card for her along with the books that literally saved my life for autographs. I packed clothes for cold weather, I packed clothes for hot weather. I packed shoes (which upon unpacking, I FORGOT I brought!) I packed all my electronic toys, and by the time I was done, I needed a wagon train with pack mules. Alas and alack, TSA doesn’t allow those on flights. Ok, time to reconsider and re-pack. Ummm, rethought and ended up packing even more. This wasn’t working. Finally, 8 hours before flight time I managed to get it together enough to have a reasonably bulky, but two item burden to schlep….and a purse….and a cane! Oh I was ‘Stylin’ – not!

packing list two

It was off the plane, onto a bus which took me to the rental agency and then into my chosen chariot for the weekend, a 2014 Kia Soul….but I did look lustfully and longingly at the Chrysler minivan as my evil heart had alternative plans flying around. I’d agreed to pick up another FB friend at Union Station whose train would arrive after my flight. This was not to happen simply because a.) The trains do not run on time and b.) Chicago depends on parking fees to pay its debts – simply outrageous! Looking at the maps on Google, my quest appeared to be quite easy. Allow me to interject here that while I have a snazzy Android style phone, the damned thing lost its mind AND it’s voice simultaneously at soon as I landed at O’Hare. Let us also interject that Chicago in its’ eternal wisdom of metropolitan angst decided to re-arrange ALL of the access roads, highways and byways with which one navigates any mass transportation area. I managed to get myself lost TWICE in the span of 4 hours despite having the latest in electronic navigation equipment via cellular device. Some would call it “creative ineptitude” – I prefer to term it as “The Tolkien Effect” – I was not lost, I was merely wandering with a purpose, because I eventually got to where I needed to go. Not without unnecessary drama, and I’m sure that there’s a certain member of Chicago’s finest who will NEVER forget the creative epithets that I have given him gratis for life in describing my cell-phone-that-doubles-as-a-flotation-device.

curse bubble

When I arrived, 4 hours AFTER I arrived, I was in no emotional state to do more than find a cool corner and quiver like nervous dessert (think jello) but I stowed the nervous breakdown for a later date and managed to get myself registered and responsibly present for book-stamping duty. Even though I missed the Swag Room and the Newbie Meeting, thus began the lovely adventure that ended all too soon but was marked by meeting Facebook friends and some new faces. Those I was in awe of: Shira Anthony, Rhys Ford, Amy Lane, Sara York, Ariel Tachna, Cherie Noel and Angel Martinez. Folks that I will share heartspace with forever: Dana Piazzi, Tame Anna, LE Franks, Kazy Reed, LM Somerton, Christy Duke, Kris Gray, JP Bowie, Tim Brehme and so many more that I simply cannot remember names. Allow me to take this moment to drop a deep curtsy of respect to the event organizers – you’ve earned a respite from incarnation as anything less than a pampered adored demi-deity for the next term of Eternity.angel-halo

The biggest development of sheer surprise to me? I sang karaoke without needing copious amounts of pharmacopeia to do so! That was ME – without Zoloft or Klonopin, (I’d brought them with in case I needed to return to the regimen I’d so carefully weaned off of…) and I remember just letting GO. Wow. Niki Massey and I did breakfast together….after schlepping the ¼ mile jaunt down the hallway that reminded me of the labyrinthine passages of a bad sci-fi movie. It was the only negative to a fantastic 4 day adventure that passed as a blur – the eternal jaunts back and forth and having to school the gnat brain into consideration of “things future needed”…(gnat brain barely speaks English on GOOD days. The cold weather and the fireplace gather pit was a welcome refuge that allowed me to enter into conversation as I was able to without an inner nervous breakdown/freak out.

Speaking of which, LM Somerton – honey, you were an angelic intervention when I was on the edge of implosion/panic attack. There simply not enough words to express the gratitude I feel for you being there when the press of the crowd was about to send me screaming off into the shadows. (Turns out that missing that particular highlight was a good thing….after the crush of the crowd, the temptation of alcohol would have been too great…Ya’ just never know when the Goddess will use you for emergency purposes!)

Lessons learned for the next gathering of my beloved, eternally adopted Tribe:

  • Bring your OWN pillows. Trusting others for your sleep comfort is foolhardy.
  • Pack simple basic outfits, not entire changes of wardrobe. Thou art not a clotheshorse.
  • Make room for every comfortable pair of shoes you usually schlep around in. Pack them.
  • Jammies trump t-shirts in cold weather.
  • Remember to send up good prayers for roomies with the patience of a saint – (LOVE YOU, Kris!)
  • There will simply never be enough time, hugs, smiles or tears when you spend time with the weirdos, misfits, and miscreants you call Tribe. That simple seed of Love will grow in my heart forever.
  • Find the courage to go outside your comfort zone – you’re amongst your people!
  •  HUGS. Give them, get them, seek them out. It’s how we stay sane.

Finally, I came home with a secret, glowing happy sheltered in my heart….Amy said my crochet was ‘Beautiful work’…..! I saw her fingerless gloves and was totally in AWE….Thank you, my new beloved adopted peoples, my Tribe!!!

PS: “Unicorn shifters? Ouch!”

unicorn funny