There is a major online real estate company in the UK that is currently running an ad on radio which I find disturbing. In this commercial an empty nest couple are discussing the kids having left, but their rooms and childhood belongings remain in place for their eventual visits. It is then that there is a message ringtone and they shift their stance and say “after all its only a bunch of old junk.” The indication is that they just saw how much money they could make by selling their home. What makes it worse in my view is the company spokesperson then over dubs saying that said company “knows the real value of your home.”
Of your home? Of your house maybe, the harsh impersonal sale price of the bricks and mortar, but the property in and of itself is not what makes a home! Home is an intangible full of relationships, emotions, and memories. A house might be only a house, but a home is so much more.
We are bombarded by such messages. Advertising and “social influencers” strive to indoctrinate us into the lie of image. Life, however, isn’t about the number of your followers. It isn’t about sexualising our toddlers with “mini make-up” and “sexy clothes.” Yes, the stuff is for sale online, not to mention preteen pageants and the like. Films and game have gratuitous sex and violence, and television is awash with swearing – all in the name of ratings and advertising revenue.
We as a society have gotten so tied up in “what’s in it for me,” and the “bottom lines,” that we are beginning to miss the real values of life. Even our “altruistic” politicing is often reduced to the image we produce. It isn’t, if we are honest, always about social justice, but rather that WE seem to be champions of the cause. Worse still these are fluid. Global warming is eclipsed by race relations, that is eclipsed by gender politics, that is eclipsed . . . .
I am not saying that all well meaning people are just going through the motions, most probably aren’t, but when our own reputations, wealth, etc., dictate our “bottom lines” we need to pause and take stock. Just like the message in the real estate ad. Have we missed something when “home” just means a house, or justice means just making some noise about something?
The guilds of Flintower may not have had the wealth or the prestige of the High Guilds of the Capital but their power was growing. Chief among these rising guilds were the Seers with their mysterious powers of divination and interpretation.
Adawyn founded the Guild of Seers. He had studied rune lore in the Capital, and brought that knowledge to the provinces. On his arrival in Flintower he was smitten with a local woman who was known for her herb-craft and it proved to be a perfect match both romatically and metaphysically. The pair was wed and Aewand’s father gave Adawyn a staghorn handled dagger as a wedding present. Together the pair went on to found the guild, coming to be known as Adawyn the First and Aewand the Matron.
Adawyn was entralled by the intricate carving on the dagger’s grip and he spent long hours with his father-in-law learning to master the techniques himself. In time his skill eclipsed that of his mentor. It was then that he tried his hand at carving runed staves. He soon realised that for someone with an inborn ability, the arcane runes weilded power, especially if carved on a “sympathetic” wood.
With Aewand’s botanical knowledge, and a bit of experimentation the best woods for different skills were discovered. Blackthorn was beneficial in finding things, yew for seeing visions, and hazel for obscuring things. Pine was of limited value as it did not hold its glyphs as well as harder woods so its power soon faded. Oak on the other hand was too hard to fashion a useful staff as it was difficult for all but the most skilled of the guild’s artificers to intricately carve.
By the time of their deaths Aewand and Adawyn had used their finding powers to identify and recruit additional Seers with either the innate abilities or an aptitude for the knowledge to the guild. Most of these were finders, who had the ability to master the blackthorn staves to see where an object or person was. These visions could be enhanced by certain runes to draw upon the remembered visions of others. Adawyn carved a yew staff for himself using his marriage dagger, and a hazel rod for Aewand. The former allowed Adawyn to “see” the visions of others, including those of the “Finders” even at a distance. Aewand’s skill was to obscure the location of things that paying patrons wanted to remain undiscovered by others. Though the pair never fully understood the reason the power of the hazel staff could be transferred to the yew staff if the two were conjoined, but its power to hide things increased as it became more distant from the yew.
Adawyn’s son, Adawyn the Second married a distance cousin of Aewand named Rianda. She too was a talented herbalist, and together their powers seemed to be even greater than that of the first generation. The had two daughters: Aewand the Younger, and Ariand who was a sweet natured girl, despite her elder sister’s foul and ambitious nature.
“Once you pass the millstream, I can no longer protect you,” Darret said regretfully.
“You have been more than generous with your help already,” Ariand said with a smile before giving the big blacksmith a hug.
“I hope you will find what you are after beyond the hills,” he said. He then handed her a bundle of bread and cheese his wife had prepared and turned so she couldn’t see the fear in his eyes.
Ariand quickly crossed over the mill course and headed into the hills beyond.
The next day Finders from the guild arrived and questioned the villagers about the blue-haired girl that had passed that way. Most villagers answered honestly that they knew nothing of such a girl, but when Darret’s wife, Darla attempted to make a similar claim the hooded Finder took a look at his blackthorn staff and shook his head disapprovingly. Before she really knew what was happening Darla blurted out that the girl had spent two nights at the forge and that her husband had led her to the village boundary the previous morning.
“Where did you take the girl?” a Finder snapped at the huge smith.
“What girl?” Darret inquired.
The Finder looked at his staff, then at Darret, then at the staff again. He then with some confusion looked to one of his two companions, who came and placed the tip of his own staff againt the carvings of the first man’s staff.
“Where did you take the girl with the blue hair?”
“Surely you are mad. No one has blue hair, though Maggi at the tavern has red locks,” the smith said.
The third staff was added and Darret was asked the question for a third time. While the lead Finder momentarily caught a glimpse of a sapphire-maned figure in his mind’s eye it was too fleeting to make sense of.
“Where did you take Ariand?” he shouted.
“Oh, Ariand. Why didn’t you say so?” the blacksmith replied smugly. “I saw her off on the Port Road. She said she wanted to sail far away. Can’t say I blame her personally, always wanted to see the world myself too.”
The ploy bought the girl a little time, but it was not long until the Finders were back on her trail, and headed into the mountains just before an untimely snow-storm brought their search to an end.
Colleen’s challenge this week is to take a favourite form and tweak it into something new. I have long loved Edgar Allan Poe’s use of Trochaic octameter with its eight trochaic metrical feet. In my piece I have replaced the trochaic feet with simple syllables. I have kept some “DUM da DUM da DUM da” stresses, but have let the beat be driven by the words and the eight syllable form. I have also made this an eight line form.
when at times we do not trouble we complacent tend to stumble into apathetic bubbles the world around us we ignore unaware of what lies in store till too late like midnight raven the world we face – leaving haven to find the old world – “nevermore”
a soft drizzle falls earth dampening by morning flowers drink in life the sunshine returns nights dampness away it burns the cycle goes on water and sun, night and dawn nature in its endless turns
In Colleen‘s challenge, she has posted a new form she devised. It is a “haiku (3-5-3) and a tanka (5-7-5-7-7 with an end rhyme of a, a, b, b, a) together and call it a tanku. Rhyme scheme (x, x, x, a, a, b, b, a). No title.” Her challenge was to create our own new forms which I will try too, but I just had to give her form a go as well. Please see it above.
Jumbo hated getting stuck in line behind Follie. That elephant really had to do something about what he was eating because he had perpetual gas. These were not little poots either, they were toxic clouds, and Jumbo wondered why the leaves didn’t fall off the trees as Follie passed. All he could do was raise his trunk out of the cloud and hope for the best.
Jim Adams’ challenge is to write about a piece which includes the words – Breakfast, Brunch, Dinner, Lunch, Snack, Supper. Arlo Guthrie Alice’s Restaurant Massacree released in October 1967 mentions a “Thanksgiving Dinner that couldn’t be beat.” I have always loved this song, and its rambling story. It is well worth a listen, especially since it has been selected for the National Recording Registry as being “culturally, historically, or artistically significant.”
This song is called Alice’s Restaurant, and it’s about Alice, and the
Restaurant, but Alice’s Restaurant is not the name of the restaurant,
That’s just the name of the song, and that’s why I called the song Alice’s
You can get anything you want at Alice’s Restaurant
You can get anything you want at Alice’s Restaurant
Walk right in it’s around the back
Just a half a mile from the railroad track
You can get anything you want at Alice’s Restaurant
Now it all started two Thanksgivings ago, was on – two years ago on
Thanksgiving, when my friend and I went up to visit Alice at the
Restaurant, but Alice doesn’t live in the restaurant, she lives in the
Church nearby the restaurant, in the bell-tower, with her husband Ray and
Fasha the dog. And livin’ in the bell tower like that, they got a lot of
Room downstairs where the pews used to be in. Havin’ all that room,
Seein’ as how they took out all the pews, they decided that they didn’t
Have to take out their garbage for a long time.
We got up there, we found all the garbage in there, and we decided it’d be
A friendly gesture for us to take the garbage down to the city dump. So
We took the half a ton of garbage, put it in the back of a red VW
Microbus, took shovels and rakes and implements of destruction and headed
On toward the city dump.
Well we got there and there was a big sign and a chain across across the
Dump saying, “Closed on Thanksgiving.” And we had never heard of a dump
Closed on Thanksgiving before, and with tears in our eyes we drove off
Into the sunset looking for another place to put the garbage.
We didn’t find one. Until we came to a side road, and off the side of the
Side road there was another fifteen foot cliff and at the bottom of the
Cliff there was another pile of garbage. And we decided that one big pile
Is better than two little piles, and rather than bring that one up we
Decided to throw our’s down.
That’s what we did, and drove back to the church, had a thanksgiving
Dinner that couldn’t be beat, went to sleep and didn’t get up until the
Next morning, when we got a phone call from officer Obie. He said, “Kid,
We found your name on an envelope at the bottom of a half a ton of
Garbage, and just wanted to know if you had any information about it.” And
I said, “Yes, sir, Officer Obie, I cannot tell a lie, I put that envelope
Under that garbage.”
After speaking to Obie for about fourty-five minutes on the telephone we
Finally arrived at the truth of the matter and said that we had to go down
And pick up the garbage, and also had to go down and speak to him at the
Police officer’s station. So we got in the red VW microbus with the
Shovels and rakes and implements of destruction and headed on toward the
Police officer’s station.
Now friends, there was only one or two things that Obie coulda done at
The police station, and the first was he could have given us a medal for
Being so brave and honest on the telephone, which wasn’t very likely, and
We didn’t expect it, and the other thing was he could have bawled us out
And told us never to be see driving garbage around the vicinity again,
Which is what we expected, but when we got to the police officer’s station
There was a third possibility that we hadn’t even counted upon, and we was
Both immediately arrested. Handcuffed. And I said “Obie, I don’t think I
Can pick up the garbage with these handcuffs on.” He said, “Shut up, kid.
Get in the back of the patrol car.”
And that’s what we did, sat in the back of the patrol car and drove to the
Quote Scene of the Crime unquote. I want tell you about the town of
Stockbridge, Massachusets, where this happened here, they got three stop
Signs, two police officers, and one police car, but when we got to the
Scene of the Crime there was five police officers and three police cars,
Being the biggest crime of the last fifty years, and everybody wanted to
Get in the newspaper story about it. And they was using up all kinds of
Cop equipment that they had hanging around the police officer’s station.
They was taking plaster tire tracks, foot prints, dog smelling prints, and
They took twenty seven eight-by-ten colour glossy photographs with circles
And arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one explaining what each
One was to be used as evidence against us. Took pictures of the approach,
The getaway, the northwest corner the southwest corner and that’s not to
Mention the aerial photography.
After the ordeal, we went back to the jail. Obie said he was going to put
Us in the cell. Said, “Kid, I’m going to put you in the cell, I want your
Wallet and your belt.” And I said, “Obie, I can understand you wanting my
Wallet so I don’t have any money to spend in the cell, but what do you
Want my belt for?” And he said, “Kid, we don’t want any hangings.” I
Said, “Obie, did you think I was going to hang myself for littering?”
Obie said he was making sure, and friends Obie was, cause he took out the
Toilet seat so I couldn’t hit myself over the head and drown, and he took
Out the toilet paper so I couldn’t bend the bars roll out the – roll the
Toilet paper out the window, slide down the roll and have an escape. Obie
Was making sure, and it was about four or five hours later that Alice
(Remember Alice? It’s a song about Alice), Alice came by and with a few
Nasty words to Obie on the side, bailed us out of jail, and we went back
To the church, had a another thanksgiving dinner that couldn’t be beat,
And didn’t get up until the next morning, when we all had to go to court.
We walked in, sat down, Obie came in with the twenty seven eight-by-ten
Colour glossy pictures with circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back
Of each one, sat down. Man came in said, “All rise.” We all stood up,
And Obie stood up with the twenty seven eight-by-ten colour glossy
Pictures, and the judge walked in sat down with a seeing eye dog, and he
Sat down, we sat down. Obie looked at the seeing eye dog, and then at the
Twenty seven eight-by-ten colour glossy pictures with circles and arrows
And a paragraph on the back of each one, and looked at the seeing eye dog.
And then at twenty seven eight-by-ten colour glossy pictures with circles
And arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one and began to cry,
‘Cause Obie came to the realization that it was a typical case of American
Blind justice, and there wasn’t nothing he could do about it, and the
Judge wasn’t going to look at the twenty seven eight-by-ten colour glossy
Pictures with the circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each
One explaining what each one was to be used as evidence against us. And
We was fined $50 and had to pick up the garbage in the snow, but thats not
What I came to tell you about.
Came to talk about the draft.
They got a building down New York City, it’s called Whitehall Street,
Where you walk in, you get injected, inspected, detected, infected,
Neglected and selected. I went down to get my physical examination one
Day, and I walked in, I sat down, got good and drunk the night before, so
I looked and felt my best when I went in that morning. ‘Cause I wanted to
Look like the all-American kid from New York City, man I wanted, I wanted
To feel like the all-, I wanted to be the all American kid from New York,
And I walked in, sat down, I was hung down, brung down, hung up, and all
Kinds o’ mean nasty ugly things. And I waked in and sat down and they gave
Me a piece of paper, said, “Kid, see the phsychiatrist, room 604.”And I went up there, I said, “Shrink, I want to kill. I mean, I wanna, I
Wanna kill. Kill.
I wanna, I wanna see, I wanna see blood and gore and
Guts and veins in my teeth. Eat dead burnt bodies. I mean kill, Kill,
KILL, KILL.” And I started jumpin up and down yelling, “KILL, KILL, ” and
He started jumpin up and down with me and we was both jumping up and down
Yelling, “KILL, KILL.” And the sargent came over, pinned a medal on me,
Sent me down the hall, said, “You’re our boy.”Didn’t feel too good about it.
Proceeded on down the hall gettin more injections, inspections,
Detections, neglections and all kinds of stuff that they was doin’ to me
At the thing there, and I was there for two hours, three hours, four
Hours, I was there for a long time going through all kinds of mean nasty
Ugly things and I was just having a tough time there, and they was
Inspecting, injecting every single part of me, and they was leaving no
Part untouched. Proceeded through, and when I finally came to the see the
Last man, I walked in, walked in sat down after a whole big thing there,
And I walked up and said, “What do you want?” He said, “Kid, we only got
One question. Have you ever been arrested?”
And I proceeded to tell him the story of the Alice’s Restaurant Massacre,
With full orchestration and five part harmony and stuff like that and all
The phenome… – and he stopped me right there and said, “Kid, did you ever
Go to court?”And I proceeded to tell him the story of the twenty seven eight-by-ten
Colour glossy pictures with the circles and arrows and the paragraph on
The back of each one, and he stopped me right there and said, “Kid, I want
You to go and sit down on that bench that says Group W … NOW kid!!”
And I, I walked over to the, to the bench there, and there is, Group W’s
Where they put you if you may not be moral enough to join the army after
Committing your special crime, and there was all kinds of mean nasty ugly
Looking people on the bench there. Mother rapers. Father stabbers. Father
Rapers! Father rapers sitting right there on the bench next to me! And
They was mean and nasty and ugly and horrible crime-type guys sitting on the
Bench next to me. And the meanest, ugliest, nastiest one, the meanest
Father raper of them all, was coming over to me and he was mean ‘n’ ugly
‘N’ nasty ‘n’ horrible and all kind of things and he sat down next to me
And said, “Kid, whad’ya get?” I said, “I didn’t get nothing, I had to pay
$50 and pick up the garbage.” He said, “What were you arrested for, kid?”
And I said, “Littering.” And they all moved away from me on the bench
There, and the hairy eyeball and all kinds of mean nasty things, till I
Said, “And creating a nuisance.” And they all came back, shook my hand,
And we had a great time on the bench, talkin about crime, mother stabbing,
Father raping, all kinds of groovy things that we was talking about on the
Bench. And everything was fine, we was smoking cigarettes and all kinds of
Things, until the Sargeant came over, had some paper in his hand, held it
Up and said.”Kids, this-piece-of-paper’s-got-47-words-37-sentences-58-words-we-wanna-
She was a little taller than average, and slender, though she was a bit pear-shaped being wide at the hips. What set her apart was her blue hair, and pierced nose and lip. She had been an unknown quantity in the village, ever since her arrival two years ago, and many thought she was a witch of a mystic, while others just called her “the Painted One,” owing to her multiple tattoos, a practice unfamiliar to the people of the valley.
What they did know was that she spoke the language well, though her accent and word choice was a bit foreign and that she was quite athletic, seemingly never tiring at the everyday tasks like gathering wood or drawing water. Her dress was not outlandish either, and despite her flamboyant hair and tattoos she dresssed in simple earth tones, with no concern for flair or fashion.
She had been seen on several occasions bringing in medium size game, and seemed able to string a bow a easily as any man in the valley. She was seldom seen with a bow, however, but never without the stag-horn hilted dagger on her hip, and a geometrically carved hazel staff. Yes, hazel; her eyes were hazel as well, almond shaped and heavily lashed hazel eyes. If she looked in your direction, you could almost feel those hazel eyes sizing you up, and you became convinced she was reading your inner-most thoughts.
Ariand had run away from her domineering older sister and crossed the peaks in the late winter and arrived in the valley. All she brought with her was her knowledge of herbs, her grandfather’s dagger and her mother’s staff. They had served her well enough on her journey through the mountains, but he little bundle of belongings were hardly the assets needed to start a new life.
The hazel staff was one of a pair, her father’s staff made of yew being considered superior and was thus inherited by Aewand her sister. The ornate carving on the staff was said to be full of mystical meaning. Unfortunately, her parent’s accidental death had occurred before mother could impart all of staff’s meaning to her, but the symbols she did understand she had tattooed to her arms and back. She believed in doing so it would reinforce her link and claim to the “magic” of the staff.
When she arrived in the valley, people gave her a wide berth. A few an interest in this strange newcomer and she was told of a derelict cottage at the edge of the wood that she could move into is she didn’t fear the curse of the place: the last three families who lived there having died.
Two years on, she had repaired the place and was living contentedly enough foraging in the woods and hunting to sustain herself, and occasionaly making a few coins by providing culinary or medicinal herbs to those in need of them.
Aewand could not believe that her sister would desert the guild in the way she had. Not only had she left, but she had taken the hazel staff with her, deminishing her own power by its lack of proximity to the yew staff. She had sent out trackers to find her sister, and to return her or at least the staff but they lost her somewhere in the foothills when a heavy blizzard blew up unexpectedly erasing her tracks and making her pursuers shelter for three days.
That had been two years ago, and Aewand’s control of the guild was slipping because of her deminished power. The return of the hazel staff began to preoccupy her thoughts. This distraction in turn weakened her grip on the guild further.
“Ariand must be found,” she announced at the meeting of the guild’s high council. “I am beside myself with worry. What could have happened to my dear sister?”
There were some sympathetic nods around the table, and her ploy worked wonderfully. The council approved the expenditure of one thousand silver tokens to find and “rescue poor Ariand” who must have fallen into foul hands.
Aewand gave a contented smile as the council departed the chamber. Power would be hers and hers alone! If Mother and Father were not strong enough to stand in her way, who was Ariand to thwart her?