MYTH, MAGIC, AND HOUSEKEEPING – Marilyn Armstrong

Last night, I explained to Garry about house-elves. He isn’t a big reader of fantasy, as I am, so some of this stuff hasn’t gnawed at the edges of his consciousness.

I told him if we were to leave milk and cookies out, the little folk would come to our house. Overnight, while we sleep, they would clean, scrub, repair, and cook. Fix the roof. Clear the snow. When we got up the next morning, the coffee would be ready along with delicious, fresh baked goods.

solarized art effect horizontal kitchen

He looked at me. I think he wasn’t sure if he had heard me. “Is this like, real anywhere? Has this actually happened somewhere?”

“No,” I said. “Only in folk tales and myth. And Harry Potter. But wouldn’t it be nice if it were true? We could leave out milk, cookies, and an old pair of socks. Just in case.”

Dobby_the_house_elf

One eyebrow went up. “And something that already lives here would surely eat it. And Bonnie would abscond with the socks. Our kids would be sure to leave us something. Probably not fresh baked goods … or a clean house.”

Just for a second or two, I had him. Myth and magic live. So much better than reality, aren’t they?

FAKE NEWS WOULD MAKE LIFE EASIER – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — News

You can’t live without news, but no one can live with it either.

I don’t know how currently active reporters manage to cope with the news these days. It used to be a job. A hard job, an active and sometimes even significant job. Now, it’s like being on the front lines in a war zone. A constant nonstop war zone.

I’ve never been so glad that Garry is retired. It’s bad enough as it is, but if he had to go out there and personally deal with the maniacs and morons running our world? I’m sure he’d wind up crazier than they.

Sometimes, I really wish the news was really fake. That we wish it away. Throw a spell over it and turn it into toads. Then we would not have to deal with reality and its effect on our lives.

If only.

Maybe that’s how the crazies who howl at Trump manage to do it. If the real news is fake, then the yelling, screaming, chanting — it’s like going “nah, nah, nah” when someone is saying something you don’t want to hear.  They are making it go away by making a noise and they won’t have to deal with what it will do to them. Or how it will affect their children and grandchildren. If it’s not real, it can’t hurt anyone, right?

Somehow, I suspect all the screams and howls prove they do know it’s real. Like two-year-olds, they think a tantrum will make it vanish.

It didn’t work when they were two and it’s unlikely to work now. But hey, a good shriek probably feels good.

Bu Mickey Paraskevas

I think I’ll go do some keening and maybe a little high-pitched ululation. Perhaps the dogs will join me. Maybe we should all do it together. Set up a time and place and everyone can scream, screech, yowl, howl, yelp, and bay into the air and the wind will carry it around the world.

Maybe someone will hear us.

THE SECRET BUCKET LIST – Marilyn Armstrong

I don’t have a bucket list. Until I saw the movie of the same name, the concept had never occurred to me. Most of the things I wanted to do, I’ve done. Except for the things no one can do …

That’s what’s on my secret list. The things I really want to do but I know aren’t real. But, in case they turn out to be real … here’s that list.

CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND, CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND US 1977 THE MOTHER SHIP CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND US 1977 THE MOTHER SHIP Date 1977. Photo by: Mary Evans/COLUMBIA PICTURES/EMI FILMS COLUMBIA PICTURES INDUSTRIES I/Ronald Grant/Everett Collection(10307178)

The Mother Ship — from “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” 1977. Photo: Mary Evans – Columbia Pictures/EMI / Ronald Grant/Everett Collection (10307178)

WAITING FOR THE MOTHER SHIP

Since I first read a science fiction story, saw “Forbidden Planet” and “The Red Planet Mars,” I’ve been waiting for the big ship to come and take me away. I have slightly modified this so that they will come and take both of us away. To wherever they went in “Cocoon.” Where we become young again. And where we can leave the mortgage, bills, and problems behind. But we can bring the dogs and they can be young, too.

MEETING THE ANCIENT ONE

Somewhere out there in the dark of night, there is an ancient vampire. So old, he is nearly made of stone. He remembers Egypt, perhaps even ages before that. He will offer me eternity in exchange for living in eternal night. Will I accept? I’ve only gotten as far as the offer. I have yet to determine my answer. I’m still thinking about it.

DISCOVERING MY POWERS

Magic is real and I can do it. I just never realized it until one day, in the kitchen, while mixing up a batch of my internationally renowned chili, I accidentally conjured a spell of enormous, overwhelming power. No longer a sickly senior citizen on a fixed income, I could rule the world. I’ll settle for living in peace. At the very least, I can probably make enough money to pay the bills and have something left over.

Money or not, magic would be the greatest adventure of all, would it not?

wormhole

THE WORMHOLE

There it is, the time tunnel. It has been there the whole time and I never knew it. That’s the problem with having such a heavy bed. I can’t move it aside, so I didn’t see the wormhole. It’s a good one that will let me travel to other dimensions or any-when. Talk about adventure!

I promise not to try to change anything. I just want to go hang out in the past and watch. I’m sure Garry would be happy to join me. Does anyone have a couple of Babblefish they can spare?


While I’m waiting for these things to happen, I’m still hoping someone will invent a workable transporter. Because however unlikely it may be, nothing is entirely impossible.

SONG OF THE BEAST By CAROL BERG – Marilyn Armstsrong

“Song of the Beast” is available on Kindle and Audible.com.

Song of the Beast | [Carol Berg]After years of waiting, the book finally came available as an Audiobook. Since I have the book on Kindle, Audible.com let me buy the audiobook for just $4.49 I was delighted. A steal!

Narrated by Claire Christie and Jeremy Arthur, I was reminded again at how much more I get from an audiobook than from print. I think it’s because I read so fast. When I listen, the pace is that of human speech, perhaps slightly slower than standard talk. I absorb more of the story and I give my aging eyes a well-earned rest.

The dual narration works well. Aiden and Lara having their own voices and perspectives.

Song of the Beast is a standalone book. I wish it were a series. I have it on good authority that another story (short story — not an entire book) will be coming out based in the same world, though not featuring the same characters. I would prefer more books, but I will settle for whatever I can get. If Carol Berg writes it, I will read it. I think she’s brilliant and not nearly as well-appreciated as she deserves.

I came to love her fabulous dragons.

I found the story’s characters well-drawn and three-dimensional. Many relationships are between different species because, unlike her other books, not all characters are human. The relationships are logical extensions of the cultures from which they come. The slightly abrasive relationships between different peoples are fundamental.

The main character — Aidan McAllister has been imprisoned and tortured. His beautiful voice has been silenced, his hands brutally destroyed. His music, which offered solace and hopes to war-torn Elyria, is gone. The god in whom he never lost faith and nurtured him and his music since he was a child seems to have abandoned him.

Yet no one has yet told him what his crime was. He has no idea what earned him such punishment. He has emerged from prison a broken man, battered beyond endurance, wanting nothing more than peace and safety … and the end of pain. Having lost himself, he must find his way back to himself, remember who he was because that’s the key to what happened to him, what is happening to the world and the dragons. There is, of course, a beautiful woman.

Through it all, Aiden remains a gentle soul in a cruel world, a man to whom violence is abhorrent no matter what was done to him. He’s neither vengeful nor mean-spirited. Music is his magic.

I wish there were a sequel to this book. I wanted to know what happened next, how this society evolves. The book left me with lots of questions. It isn’t a cliff hanger — not exactly — but it didn’t seem quite finished to me. There’s plenty of room for more stories as this world realigns and reconstructs itself in the wake of a new understanding of dragons.

I liked the book so much I was sorry it ended. I never want any of Carol Berg’s books to end.

Song of the Dragon is available via Audible download, on Kindle, and as a paperback. It was originally available in hardcover and I have that, too. Next up, Rai Kirah in audio! I have the first volume and this month will get another.

Please don’t miss part one of this prompt, Cate Glass’s (Carol Berg) “Illusion of Thieves.”

RDP Friday: PROMPT – Part 2

THE FOOL – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Fool

RDP Monday: FOOL


Back in ye olden days, I used to read horoscopes and Tarot cards. I was a very good astrologer and a deeply nervous Tarot reader. My problem with Tarot was that I saw things and they had a nasty habit of coming true exactly as I saw them. I saw death — and people died. I saw calamity and voilà! Chaos and collapse.

Not for myself, mind you. You can’t read for yourself and you really should not read for family and friends. Too much of your own baggage gets wrapped into the reading. You tend to see what you want to see or are afraid might happen.

From the Mystic Tarot – Magician and Fool

Of course, the people for whom you inevitably read most often are exactly the people for whom you should not read because who else can nudge you into a Tarot reading at 2 in the morning when you’ve been smoking weed all night and listening to the Doors? Your best friends, of course.

My best — and most horrifying — readings were done for total strangers I had never met. That was what I preferred, too. I didn’t want any live input from someone. I wanted a cold reading without any subconscious or conscious input. You’d be amazed at how much information you can glean from the blink of an eye or the tightening of a cheek muscle.

Eventually, I stowed a couple of decks in the back of a bookcase, carefully wrapped in a silk scarf … and I am sure they are still there. I also won’t do horoscopes anymore, either. Too much information and too easy to read the information just slightly incorrectly. You see travels, but you may not see why — and the why is the important part of the “truth.”

Why do these readings work? I have no idea and I never did. I do know that they did work. Often frighteningly well. It was the deaths that finally got me. I could not bear to see the death of a friend. It wasn’t just any old death. It was dated, often by month and year. I did not want to know that information about anyone.

Garry was smart. He never let me read for him.


The Fool or Jester is one of the 78 cards in a Tarot deck. In occult tarot, it is the first (or last) of the 22 Major Arcana numbered either from zero to 21 or from 1 to 22.

Many artists through the ages have painted the Tarot deck. The “major Arcana” are the “power” cards in the deck, but there are other cards not part of the Major Arcana that are dangerous and powerful as well. Anyone can memorize the cards, but not everyone has a gift (should you wish to call it that) for interpreting what they mean.

Arrangements of the cards vary from very simple to extremely complex and the format you choose to use has to do with your way of interpreting the meaning of the cards. I do not recommend this as a fun hobby for people who think there’s no meaning in it and it is just a game.

It’s not a game.


VisualizationThe Fool is a beggar or a vagabond — or a Court Jester.  He wears ragged clothes without shoes and carries a stick on his back. He is joyfully strolling to the edge of a cliff, his eyes upward to the sky. The fool is likely to fall off the mountain, but as the magician, he could rise to meet the stars. I never met a fool who rose to meet the stars, no matter what books say on the matter.

MeaningThe Fool represents new beginnings, faith in the future, inexperience, beginner’s luck, improvisation, and faith in the universe.

UprightBeginnings, spontaneity, originality, innocence, a leap of faith.

Reversed: Naivety, poor judgment, folly, lack of direction, stupidity, chaos. Personally, I never thought the Fool was a positive omen, upright or reversed.

Our Own Fool:

WE DON’T CARE – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango: A concise view of what’s wrong with us

Someone wrote a little piece of humorous fiction. It had no special significance to anyone.  Except it did. To me.

Buddha, Tibet, probably 19th century and probably stolen from a temple

It included a tepee which is an important symbol for me. Note my blog’s address is https://teepee12.com/. The title of the one book I wrote — “The 12-Foot Teepee” probably infers a kind of meaning — for me and probably for a few other people. From this evidence, you could take a crazy guess that “tepee (tipi or teepee) means something to me and probably a few others.

But no one cared. A tepee didn’t mean anything to them. If it doesn’t mean anything to them, then they don’t care.

I’m not going to get into all the other symbols and how much potential discomfort using these symbols would cause others. How about a Cathedral or a medieval convent as a source of humor? Maybe a Mosque or a Mormon Temple or …

I’m sure you get the drift. I hope by now you are twitching a little bit.

My mother didn’t believe in anything — religiously speaking — the idea of anyone burning a book made her soul unravel. It didn’t matter what the book was about. The “book-ness” was holy for her without any other value attached to it. Humor can be shockingly unfunny when it uses symbols that other people — not your people — take seriously.

Why do they take them seriously?

Does it matter?

The general attitude which I’ve come to accept as the way “modern” people think, is “Who cares? It’s not MY church. It’s not what I believe. I don’t care how you feel about it because you don’t matter. Only me and mine have value.”

I don’t think it was intended to insult anyone. I’m sure the author didn’t see there was a difference between a camping tent bought at a sporting goods store or a hand-made teepee which has been blessed in a ceremony. After all, it’s just canvas, paint, wooden sticks, and rope. And some hooks to keep it fixed to the earth. No big deal.

Meanwhile, I cringe when they knock down temples to make room for malls. I cringe when they knock down abandoned churches and I don’t care whose church it was originally. It’s a horror when they do it in India, Israel, Morocco, or Malaysia. I believe that other peoples’ beliefs and feelings are important, even if I don’t share them. I don’t dismiss them because they aren’t central to my world.

But that’s our “new” world. It’s just stuff. Just words.

If beliefs don’t matter, what matters? Is it only your beliefs that count? Does your core of beliefs make a difference while mine don’t?

“I don’t care” has become the core of what nations believe. You and how you feel is a matter of complete indifference to them.

They don’t care, just like YOU don’t care.

We are not awed by the majesty of a Cathedral if it isn’t our cathedral or the ancient ruins of a temple that was the center of another culture’s universe. We don’t care nor do we want to be reminded of it. Their feelings matter. Ours don’t.

In a nutshell, that’s what is wrong with our world.

If only we all cared.

I am awed, touched, chilled, excited by “otherness.” I believe in a universal entity which is part of every living creature, the sacred part of our DNA.

There is a god in every one of us. It has nothing to do with dogma or a formalized set of beliefs. It is what give us our magic and the power to be great. I weep at the loss of this tiny bit of the divine. Without it, we’re just an upright animal who kills for sport and cares for nothing.

If you don’t care and only “your own” matters, the odds are good that no one cares about you, either. And that’s why we have “government” that doesn’t care if you get a paycheck, healthcare, or have a home in which to live. That’s how they can look in the mirror after a day of lying to us about all the things we care about.

They don’t care. We don’t matter.

WEEKLY WORD PROMPT: HOROSCOPES – Marilyn Armstrong

Weekly Word Prompt: Horoscopes


“Astrology is assured of recognition from psychology, without further restrictions, because astrology represents the summation of all the psychological knowledge of antiquity.” ― C.G. Jung


I thought I’d write about my experience in astrology and as an astrologer. But instead, I’d thought I’d offer you something to think about.

A real horoscope. Mine. If you can read it, you’ll know more than enough about me. If not? I guess it’s just a pretty picture.

Good luck!

Natal Horoscope – Marilyn Armstrong

Whatever does it mean?

Nothing or something. You decide.

THE WEEKLY SMILE – Marilyn Armstrong

This week, our town was a smiling place!

We went to the Uxbridge Christmas Parade. It was a nice day, not nearly as cold as it will be tomorrow. It didn’t rain and it didn’t snow. And the ground was grassy and not all mud.

Chowing down

We took tons of pictures, so here’s another happy opportunity to show our little town when everyone looks happy.

Street scene with balloons

How did they get all those people into that little van?

It was like living in a normal town, at least for Christmas.

GHOULIES AND GHOSTIES AND LONG-LEGGED BEASTIES

From ghoulies and ghosties
And long-legged beasties
And things that go bump in the night
Good Lord, deliver us!
– Traditional Scottish Prayer

I’ve never met a ghoul and I have questions about long-legged beasties, but I can speak from personal experience about Things That Go Bump in the Night.

Ghosts have been part of human mythology as long as tales have been told around campfires. Maybe before campfires. I don’t know if any religion excludes the possibility of ghosts and many have a strong link to them. There seems to be an overall, yet non-specific agreement that ghosts and wraiths are spirits of the dead who linger on Earth after they’ve slipped their otherwise mortal coil. Some are malevolent, others benevolent or merely curious. Ghosts vary by mythology, religion, era, and ethnic origin.

I cannot claim to have seen a ghost, but I lived in a house where everyone could hear ghosts. In 1965 when for $20,300, we were able to buy a tidy little brick house built in 1932. On the first floor were two bedrooms and a bathroom. There was a big bedroom on the partially finished second floor. The house was small but solid, walking distance from the college where my husband worked and I was finishing a degree.

Bedford Ave marilyn owen

The house on Bedford Avenue

The ambiance of the house from the moment we walked into it was friendly. It welcomed everyone and made them feel at home. The little house had been built by a couple who had lived, raised children, and died in it. Not murdered or anything sordid. They merely grew old and passed on in the home they loved. We loved it too. My son wouldn’t come onto the scene for 4 more years, but it was a good house to raise babies.

The house was a bit neglected. Not falling down but in need of paint and some modernization of its infrastructure. It still had its original heating system, converted from a coal burner to an oil furnace. Not very efficient and the radiators were huge, old and iron. Oil was cheap; we didn’t worry about it. We’d get to it eventually.

Initially we lived on the first floor since the bathroom was there. The upstairs had been an attic, but half had been turned into a big bedroom. We wanted to move up there. It was much bigger and had wonderful light, but we wanted to fix it up first.

Before anything else, we wanted to paint. The entire house was painted pale salmon pink. It wasn’t ugly, but it wasn’t any color we’d have chosen. Worse, it was high gloss paint, like one would use in a kitchen or bath.

We painted the downstairs first. Every night, we heard our ghosts walking. You could hear the sound of heavy, loud footsteps upstairs, sharp, like the soles of hard leather shoes or boots. Everyone on the lower floor head it. The walking started around eight in the evening, continued for a few minutes. Then the footsteps would pause and restart randomly until around midnight. The footsteps always stopped by midnight and never began before eight.

We called them “The Old Man” and “The Old Woman.” They wore different shoes. Her shoes had a sharp sound, like high heels on a hardwood floor. His were clunkier, like maybe work boots. Both of them had died in the house, so they were prime candidates for ghosthood, especially since no one ever lived in the house until us.

At first, we also heard them on the steps, but after we painted the stairway, the footsteps retreated and we only heard them in the attic and bedroom. After we began painting the bedroom, we continued to hear them for a while in the attic and then, one day, they were gone, never to return.

Were they watching to see if we properly cared for and loved their home? I thought so. Were we all hallucinating? It was the 1960s, so anything is possible, but I think it was the couple who had lived there watching to make sure we did right by the house. We did and I guess they felt it was okay to depart.

If anyone has bumped into a long-legged beastie, please tell me. I’m still waiting to meet one and I’m all ears.

SOMETHING WENT BUMP IN THE NIGHT

From ghoulies and ghosties
And long-legged beasties
And things that go bump in the night
Good Lord, deliver us!
– Traditional Scottish Prayer

Never met a ghoul and I have various issues with long-legged beasties, but I can speak from personal experience about “Things That Go Bump in the Night.” Long ago in a house far away, we had our ghosts. Friendly ghosts or at least, friendly to us.

Ghosts have been part of human mythology as long as tales have been told around campfires. Maybe before campfires. I don’t think if any religion excludes the possibility of ghosts. There seems to be a general agreement that ghosts and wraiths are spirits of the dead who linger on Earth after they have slipped that mortal coil. Some are malevolent, others benevolent or merely curious. Ghosts vary by mythology, religion and era. Even today, there are rumors and stories.

I cannot claim to have seen a ghost, but I lived in a house where everyone could hear our ghosts. It was 1965 when for $20,300, we were able to buy a tidy little brick house built in 1932. On the first floor were two bedrooms and a bathroom. There was a big bedroom on the partially finished second floor. The house was small but solid, walking distance from the college where my husband worked and I was finishing my degree.

The ambiance of the house from the moment we walked into it was overtly friendly. It welcomed everyone and made them feel at home. The little house had been built by a couple who had lived, raised children, and then died in it. They were not murdered or anything sordid. They merely grew old and passed on in the home they loved.

We loved it too. My son wouldn’t come onto the scene for 4 more years, but it was a good house to raise babies. I could feel it.

The house was a bit neglected. Not falling down but in need of paint and some modernization of its infrastructure. It still had its original heating system, converted from a coal burner to an oil furnace. Not very efficient and the radiators were huge, old and iron. Oil was cheap; we didn’t worry about it. We’d get to it eventually.

 

Initially we lived on the first floor since the bathroom was there. The upstairs had been an attic, but half had been turned into a big bedroom. We wanted to move up there. It was much bigger and had wonderful light, but we wanted to fix it up first. Before anything else, we wanted to paint. The entire house was painted pale salmon pink. It wasn’t ugly, but it wasn’t any color we’d have chosen. Worse, it was high gloss paint, like one would use in a kitchen or bath.

We painted the downstairs first. Every night, we heard our ghosts walking. You could hear the sound of heavy, loud footsteps upstairs, sharp, like the soles of hard leather shoes or boots. Everyone on the lower floor heard it. The walking started around eight in the evening, continued for a few minutes. Then the footsteps would pause and restart randomly until around midnight. The footsteps always stopped by midnight and never began before eight at night.

We called them “The Old Man” and “The Old Woman.” They wore different shoes. Her shoes had a sharp sound, like high heels on a hardwood floor. His were clunkier, like maybe work boots. Both of them had died in the house, so they were prime candidates for ghosthood, especially since no one else ever in the house we moved in.

At first, we also heard them on the steps, but after we painted the stairway, the footsteps retreated and we only heard them in the attic and bedroom. After we began painting the bedroom, we continued to hear them for a while in the attic and then, one day, they were gone, never to return.

Were they watching to see if we properly cared for and loved their home? I thought so. Were we all hallucinating? It was the 1960s, so anything is possible, but I think it was the couple who had lived there before us, watching to make sure we did right by the house. We did indeed. I guess they felt it was okay to depart.

Life is full of strangeness. Panicked might be too strong a word, but it was definitely weird. Meanwhile, if anyone has bumped into a long-legged beastie, please tell me about it. I’m dying to know.

ROBERT HEINLEIN – WALDO AND MAGIC, INC.

I’m always surprise at how many people have not read these two novellas at all, or read them, but completely missed the point. Some readers apparently can’t see any connection between the two stories. They apparently believe the two novellas are in one volume “to fill up space.” Since this is among my favorite stories in science fiction, allow me to remind everyone how good Heinlein was in his prime..

heinlein waldo magic inc cover

Originally published by Doubleday in 1950, Heinlein’s point was that all technology is a based on our belief that it will work. As long as we believe in it, all is well. If or when we cease believing, it will cease working. Everything is magic.

The stories proceed from that axiom. Humans lose faith in technology. Magic jumps into the void left by vanished technology …  and becomes technology. The difference between one and the other is effectively nonexistent.

I read these books at least 50 years ago. I hadn’t read them since, but remembered them. I bought them for Kindle and was glad to re-acquaint myself with them.

These were unique and original concepts when they were first introduced in the 1940s. They were still original 25 years later when I read them. They aren’t stale today, more than 60 years after the stories first publication.

The best science fiction is concept-driven. The ideas in these two novellas have stuck with me for a lifetime. Both are based on a single concept: we believe in what works — and what works is what we believe.

“Nothing is certain anymore. Nothing. Chaos is king and magic is loose in the world.” — Robert Heinlein

Available on Kindle, in paperback and from Audible.com.

MAGIC IS LOOSE IN THE WORLD

“Nothing is certain anymore. Nothing. Chaos is king and magic is loose in the world.” That was the conclusion Robert A. Heinlein drew at the end of his two novellas, “Waldo” and “Magic, Incorporated.”

72-new-calm-canal-110815_001

I have always wanted magic to be real. Over the nearly 7 decades of my life, I have had to accept that if magic exists — magic in the sense of spells and witches and wizards — I don’t have it. But perhaps it is time to redefine magic. Maybe magic isn’t a coven chanting at the new moon or spells cast by wizards. Or amazing feats by creatures born in myth. Magic is everywhere, loose in the world.

Super moon through the trees - November 13, 2016

Super moon through the trees – November 13, 2016

72-sunrise-030716_03

Even my favorite magic — time travel — is real. We all travel through time, but we march not to drums, but to the beat of our hearts. My time travels have shown me a transformed world where technology has created what no one imagined or dreamed.

Is that not magic? And if we cease believing, will that magic disappear?

PHOTO CHALLENGE | Magic

I participate in WordPress' Weekly Photo Challenge 2016

I participate in WordPress’ Weekly Photo Challenge 2016

WHERE LATTE LIVES

The glade was always special. The light was different in the glade. Rumors abounded. Especially after little Mary had gone there to picnic with her dolls and disappeared without a trace. They found the dolls, but Mary was gone.

No sign of struggle. No sign of anything. Dolls, neatly lined up with their little cups, waiting for a party that would never start.

dancing trees

Until, one day long years later, Mary was back.

As she disappeared, so she reappeared. Silently, without warning. By now, she was a tall, dark-haired woman dressed in odd garments constructed of some peculiar design and fabric. None of the local townspeople had seen anything like it before. She talked oddly, too … with a funny accent and very fast. Occasionally sighing and murmuring “What I wouldn’t give for a double latte right now.”

“But where were you?” she was asked. Repeatedly. Usually, she would smile and shake her head. One day, after she had been home for some months, she said she would like the townsfolk to gather in the glade and she would tell them all a story.

I’m sure you can imagine the excitement as the simple farmers and weavers and cobblers and coopers of that rural village gathered in the golden morning light in the very glade where Mary had disappeared.

When all were gathered and quiet had settled on the crowed, Mary raised her hands as if to bless the crowd … but it was only to shush them to full silence.

“I’m no great public speaker,” she began, “But since you all seem to want to know … I went to L.A. There’s a portal, here, in the glade. Not all the time. Just sometimes and if you step into it, you’ll find yourself in L.A.”

“What’s an L.A.?” they cried in one voice.

“That’s where the latte is,” said Mary, smiling, misty-eyed.

And then, another shout. “What’s a portal? What’s a latte?”

“A doorway in time and space,” responded Mary. “And some really great coffee.”

“What? Huh?” came the confused responses.

Just then, a bright whirling light came and settled nearby in the trees. “Like that,” said Mary, stepping through it. And she was never seen again. The town is still talking about it and will continue to talk about it forever and a day.

THURSDAY PHOTO PROMPT: THE GLADE – SUE VINCENT

LIFE LINES

The engines droned on and on as the fat-bellied plane continued on its path to a destination on the other side of the world. She was in a near stupor by now … the loud buzzing, the stuffy cabin, the narrow seats. It seemed the only defense was to slide into a state of fugue and let the hours slip away.

It took a little while before Maggie noticed the quiet little woman in the adjacent seat talking to her.

“I’m sorry, I was off in la-la land. What did you say?”

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The old woman smiled. “Hard to hear with all the noise. I asked you if you’d care to have your palm read. I have some small talent in such things … and I noticed you have an interesting pattern … Has anyone ever read it?”

“Oh,” she laughed, “Years ago when I was out in San Francisco. She didn’t know what to make of it because it didn’t make sense. She said I had the Sign of the Beast — whatever that means — but it didn’t matter because it was my left hand and I’m right-handed. But she wasn’t all that clear on the other hand either, so maybe she just wasn’t a very good palm reader.” She laughed again, a bit nervously.

The old woman raised an eyebrow. Maggie wondered how she did that. Raising a single eyebrow was so expressive, but she could never get one to go up without the other. Then, she sighed. “Which hand would you like?”

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Smiling, the woman answer “Your left. Of course. That is your soul. The right palm shows your life and events, but your soul … what you were given to do in this life … that is on your left.”

She looked at it for a long time then folded Maggie’s hand and wrapped her own hand around Maggie’s fist.

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“Your journey is long, complicated and unclear. You have power to change yourself and others, but many things, many people will take the power from you.” She looked sad.  Maggie twitched uncomfortably.

“Do you want to see the other hand?”

She shook her head. “No, it doesn’t matter. Yours is a unique path. Your story cannot be read on your hands. Or in the stars.” Then she became quiet, as did Maggie and the long miles drifted by in a loud buzzing of engines.

READING THE FUTURE

In another life, I was an astrologer. I drew horoscopes and wrote an astrology column for a couple of newspapers. I was pretty accurate.

I was at my best reading for strangers. The less I knew about the person for whom I was reading, the better reading I could give.

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I also sometimes read Tarot, but cards made me uncomfortable. In a horoscope, you only see what you look for. Almost never does something jump off the page and scream at you.

Tarot is different. Not only do you not always see what you expect, you will see things you wish you hadn’t.

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Like death. That first time it happened, I almost jumped out of the chair with shock. I knew –100% — that the man smiling across from me would die in six years. He was young, just 32. He had already had a serious heart attack, but seemed to have recovered and was living a careful, but normal life. Not employed … he wasn’t up to a daily grind … but he was raising his boys and enjoying life. Laughing in my living room while the kids played outside.

“Read for me?” he had asked. I acquiesced.

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So, I did a progressive reading for him. That’s where you use the “summary” card of each spread as the foundation card of the next reading. In the seventh layout, I saw him dead.

“I’m too tired to do this any more,” I said. “It’s just gibberish,” and I gathered up the cards and refused to say more. He died exactly when I’d seen. I could not go to the funeral. I couldn’t even explain why not.

I tried reading again after a while, but I started to see things. Secrets. Stuff I didn’t want to know and certainly would never tell. I learned things about people that changed the way I felt about them.

You can run, but you cannot hide. The client always knows when you aren’t telling them something. We have “tells.” Our pupils dilate. We become pale. Our muscles stiffen. We shift in our seat. They know.

I quit reading.

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I don’t believe in telling people when they are going to die. Someone told me many years ago that this year — my 68th — would be my last. I don’t believe it, but it’s stuck in my head. Niggling, nagging, bugging me.

It’s a bell that will never unring, but I’m doing my best to hang around.

WHAT CHARM?

If third time’s the charm, how come after three strikes, you’re out? Just asking. Does this go with “If at first you don’t succeed (one), try (two), try again (three)?

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How about three men on a match, bad luck? Because the enemy spots the first guy who lights the match. Aims at the second guy. Shoots the third.

Third time’s the charm, if you’re the sniper. Waiting in the dark on a battlefield. Just saying.