Okay, I caved.  I sketched this up just now and I like it better than the one I did last night so here ya go!  From Prophecies Are Funny Things, my Little yet-to-be-named bundle of half-fuzzy joy and her uncle Renir plushie. ❤

© Eliza Murdock 2013

© Eliza Murdock 2013


What’s That Smell?

I decided to make incense.  Sort of like how I woke up one morning and decided to make paper, I decided to go around the house and pick yummy smelling things like rosemary, lemon balm, cedar, and lavender flowers and grind them up into incense.

Fresh ingredients: rosemary, lemon balm, cedar, lavender flowers

It wasn’t entirely spontaneous, I had been looking up websites for two days how to do it.   That’s not to say I exactly *followed* most of the instructions, but I did look them up.  The most helpful site (and the one I actually followed closest) was this one, but mostly I just got my mortar and pestle (I’ve always, always wanted a green marble mortar and pestle set, and I finally found one at the thrift store!  And since I don’t know what ever may have been ground it in before, I’ll use it for apothecary endeavors!)


Green marble mortar and pestle with dried hibiscus flowers


I’m making non-combustible incense (sometimes referred to as incense of the ancients) which means it isn’t shaped into sticks or cones, you can’t just light it and have it smoke.  It’s the pulverized blending of various woods and herbs and left in a semi-powdered form so it must be added to something to make it burn.  You can do this in a variety of ways, either get some incense charcoal disks, put it in an incense warmer, or sprinkle it into a fire (though the fire’s own scent will likely overpower any small amount or mild fragrance so it would take a very strong scent or a lot of it to get this method to work.)

From my beading days, I still have a handful of little sealable bags, so I can store my newly pounded, ground, pounded, ground, pounded and ground herbs, flowers, and woods.  And believe me, it takes a lot of pounding and grinding, especially the cedar bark, to get to a mostly powdered final product.  I may be developing some blisters on my hands, and no doubt my shoulder will remind me of this tomorrow.

Most of the instructions say to blend your ingredients and then wait at least two weeks before burning it for best results, so I won’t – alas – get to test the fruits of my labors for a few more weeks.

Fresh pulverized lavender flowers


Along with the fresh ingredients I had around the house, I also have a host of already dried herbs – such as white sage, chamomile, and green tea – or other fresh ingredients – like clover or dandelion – that I’d like to try as well.  But that will have to wait.  My hands are a little raw and I want to heal before I go pounding and grinding and pounding and grinding again.

Lavender, hibiscus, cedar, and rosemary, ready to be stored, tagged with the contents and date of bagging for future reference.

I’ll have to experiment quite a bit between the raw smells and the burning scents they produce, as they aren’t always exactly similar.  I’ll also have to do some experiments with which burn well together, and what ratios I should use, though I suppose if I were smart I’d follow the already tried-and-true recipes found on the internet.  But I like finding these things out for myself!  Besides, there’s too many things I want to try that I don’t think anyone has before.

Or they did try and it failed miserably, which is why you don’t find things like green tea and hibiscus incense.  But I’m going to make it anyway!  I can’t wait!  I hope it turns out okay…

Prophecies Are Funny Things

The hem of her dress hung in shreds around her bloodied legs where the thorns had grabbed and ripped.  Though she could not yet see them through the dense forest, the howl of the dogs grew closer; they would overtake her at any moment.  She could not outrun them; her only concern now was securing her child before it was too late.

A strength found only in the need of a mother to protect her daughter propelled her up the tree to where the trunk split three ways, forming a natural cradle where she tucked the babe and then covered her with moss for warmth.  Without time to give even a last kiss, she dropped back to the ground and ran down toward the river.

She knew they would not find the child on her body and would hunt for it, so she had kept the blanket, wrapped now around a stone and clutched tight to her breast.  The turbulent waters would carry her away and the sharp rocks would do the work of the dogs.  She had wanted this to be a last act of defiance: let them find her body and be denied their blood-lust, but it was too late.  Even as she plunged into the water, the arrow found her back.

When they approached the river, they found the blanket caught on a snag just down stream.  Her body came to rest a mile down on the riverbank.  They dragged her from the water and turned her over on the grass.

The leader, Brugar, a bear of a man, stepped forward and drew his axe, lining up his blow before taking off her head with a single stroke.  When he lifted it by the hair and held it up, the other hunters erupted into wild shouts of victory.

“Let it be known,” Brugar cried, “Sigrithr the witch is dead; her demon-child drowned.  The prophecy is  powerless!”

Brugar stuck her head on a pole, holding it aloft as the troupe marched back to the village, making such a sound they did not even notice the child, nor the male figure crouched over her, in the tree above their heads.  When the hunters were far past, the figure lifted the child into his arms, finding a scroll tucked in with her.  He put the scroll into his pouch and held the child up to see her.

“Ah, there went your mother, little one,” he cooed, bouncing her gently in his arms.  “A sad day.  Now you are an orphan, but don’t fret.  I will take care of you.”

She yawned and made some little whimpers.  He cradled her in two arms and she settled back into sleep, closing a hand around one of his fingers on his third hand.  He took his mantle off to wrap around her, for though she was covered with a rich, brown fur starting at her waist and down her hind’s legs, the top half was still bare human skin and no doubt cold.

A woman appeared out of the forest and came to stand at the base of the tree, her wolf looking up, ears perked in curiosity.  “What have you found, Renir?”

He stepped off the edge of the tree, floating easily to the ground on leathery wings.

“The witch’s child,” he said.  “Hidden here with-”

“Enri’s child?” she said, peering at the bundle in Renir’s arms.  “Give her to me.”

“Meet your aunt, Inanna,” Renir whispered as he eased the babe into her arms.   He gave her cheek a little caress and grinned as she fussed and gurgled, eyes closed.  “We will have to name her.”

Inanna nodded.  “I will return and seek the council’s advice.”

“You could take council with me,” Renir said, his smile fading.  He had been reaching into his pouch to take out the scroll he had found with the child, but now he paused.  “Or am I not to be the child’s adopted father?  It was I who found her.”

“She is Enri’s heir, and my kin,” Inanna reminded him, not liking what Renir was implying.  “You may have been the one to fetch her, but that hardly entitles you to further claims.”

“I can be her adopted father without being your consort,” Renir snapped, then softened his voice when the child sounded as though she might cry.  “She will need a father.”

“Enri is her father,” Inanna said between clenched teeth.  Her wolf growled and took a step forward.

“And he is dead by the same hands as those who slew her mother,” he said, trying to temper his anger.  “I offer only to stand in his place in the care and guardianship of her, not claim her away from him.  Or you.”  He let that final phrase ambiguous, letting her draw from it whatever interpretation she wished, whether he was speaking of the child or of herself.

Inanna looked at the child in her arms, caressing her palm over the girl’s head barely covered with hair but already showing her two tiny horns.  “I will seek the council’s advice,” she repeated at last.  “If they agree with you, I will not stand in your way.  But if they side with me, do not think to interfere.”

“As my Lady wishes.”  Renir gave a mock bow and disappeared, deciding to keep the scroll secret for now.

Inanna stood in the growing gloom of the forest and gazed down at her niece and daughter.  “We will destroy them, you and I.  We will squeeze every last drop of blood from them for what they have done.”

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Daily Prompt: Dream Home

Sometimes The Daily Post offers up a prompt that is just too delicious not to take.  Especially for someone who pines for her lost architecture career and has recently been wanting – but too broke – to do more home renovations.

And then this comes along:

You win a contest to build your dream home. Draft the plans.

With a squeal of delight audible only to dogs, I opened AutoCAD and got to work to once again draft yet another set of plans for even more dream home ideas.

Because let’s face it, asking an architect to design their one dream home is kind of like asking a chef to make the one meal they’ll eat for the rest of their lives.

And my dream home will always depend on the exact circumstances of my life at the time, of course.  I have no kids, so guest rooms and craft/art rooms will replace the bedrooms.  This set of plans has a lower floor area of 1,289 square feet and an upper floor of 919 square feet for a total of 2,208.  Still within the manageable range for cleaning, a bit larger than my house now, and most importantly, more bathrooms!

Among the features that make this my dream house are the attached greenhouse, the library with reading nook (which is to say: a bed set into the shelves for good proper book cuddles with cats and tea during a thunderstorm), a nice walk-in pantry, mud room to hose down the people and animals when they come in from the mud, or to catch snowy boots.  I just realized I didn’t put the washer and dryer in the mud room but rest assured, they would be there in my dream house.

There is room in the entry way for a coat tree, a bench for shoes, and perhaps fresh flowers in spring in a little table beside the window.  I love the way the rooms flow into one another.  The kitchen has easy access to and from both the living room and dining room, who also access one another while maintaining a level of privacy as well.

Upstairs, all the bedrooms have walk in closets, and the (theoretical) kid’s rooms are separated by their closets to (hopefully) reduce the amount of annoyance one child can cause another.   But as I stated earlier, their actual use would far more likely be guest rooms or sewing and craft rooms.

The master bedroom has a private deck to watch the sunrise, and a nice big tiled shower.  The second bath separates the sink from the toilet and tub area to allow for multiple use at once.  Though they are on the same floor, the bedrooms are separated enough to allow for a measure of privacy.

The house would be laid out with east oriented up, so the green house would face full south, the kitchen would face east, and the library would be tucked up north, with the entrance on the west side.

Now all I need is about… oooh, $200,000 to build it.

So for today, this is my dream home.  I’ve drawn them before, I will continue to draw them in future, but just for today, this is my dream home.


Main Floor Plan
1,298 square feet
© Eliza Murdock 2013


Upper Floor Plan
919 square feet
© Eliza Murdock 2013


And just for the curious, other iterations of my dream home have included – but are not limited to – a library with just enough amenities to make it habitable, a hobbit hole to go in the side of my hill, a castle (on the smallish side), and a yurt.

Unspoken Things

© Eliza Murdock 2013

© Eliza Murdock 2013


First attempt to create a piece of art out of a poem already written.  (yep, just burned a hole in a piece of paper on my front porch.  woo!)

This is written in Tanka form, which is similar to the Haiku syllable system, but consists of five lines of 5/7/5/7/7 syllables.  This poem truncates that to 5/7/5/7/6, leaving the poem perpetually unfinished.

Which sort of brings me into what I’ve been thinking of recently, writing a poetry chapbook but with a very different focus.  Rather than just filling it with my poems, I want to put in poetry, art (whether inspired by, or inspiration for) for each piece, a description of the poetry style it is written in, and a brief explanation of where the poem came from, what it means to me.

It seems there are enough people out there who say they don’t understand poetry that I want to write a book specifically for people who don’t know a whole lot about poetry.


Living and Learning Together: Module One: How Doors Work

“5. Homework: A writing exercise! Slam that m$*#&#$#$&#%#$* again tonight. Do it. I dare you. Then write a sonnet about what it feels like to be punched in the neck by a cranky person. Some of us work for a living.”

I couldn’t resist.

A sonnet of such eloquence of speech

Presented as evidence that I know

Of standing just within your cranky reach

Upon jugular with befisted blow

Which backward flung me upon my sore ass

And left me sprawled upon the hardwood floor

Who knew my teachers were filled with such sass

Punished for the crime of slamming the door

But my feet again I found beneath me

And stood with such rapturous affection

For he who gave me better eyes to see

And a mind that can make such connection

That between the door and the jam lies sound

Let it be soft, lest I’m flung to the ground!

A Star in the Face of the Sky

Door comparison

As one with multiple attendance certificates from diversity workshops, it chagrins me to report the negative feedback I have received from members of the wolf and cave-dwelling communities over my recent blog post.  My thoughtless remarks may have left the impression that I believe all wolves and cave dwellers are thoughtless d-bags, inclined to stomp up and down dorm hallways, loudly slamming doors in their wake at all hours of the day AND NIGHT.  Nothing could be further from truth.  There are no doubt many courteous canines and Neanderthals, and I hope they will accept my heartfelt apologies.  Understand that I know that you are one of the good ones.  (Not like those others.) 

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Opposites Attract

we drink because we’re poets Thursday Poetry Prompt #11: Dualism

think about dualism and the interplay of forces.  How are they connected?  How are they not?  Are they relevant to one another?  What is the goal?  To make a statement about the interactions of supposedly opposing forces.  The suggested form for this prompt is the Haiku / Senryu or, if you want to go longer than that, the Tanka form.


steam rushes upward
in violent battle where
fire and water kiss
passion’s embrace, ignited
opposition, united

Dysfunctional Dualism

if you leave I’ll hurt
so to make sure you stay   I
have to hurt you first

And a poem I wrote last year, but relevant to the prompt:

The Opposite Of War

The opposite of war
Or so I’ve been told
Is a warm light for all of
Mankind to behold

An enduring peace
Of innocence and mirth
But peace doesn’t build
Peace doesn’t birth

Peace is an absence
Of pressures and strife
But these are the things
Which define us in life

A holding pattern
Not living but waiting
Peace doesn’t destroy
But it isn’t creating

Because of all this
Say instead, I implore
That creation, not peace
Is the opposite of war

I’m Late

we drink because we’re poets Wednesday Short Story Prompt #11

Was a little late today, and thus:

So, taking inspiration from my lateness, I give you this quote from one of my very favorite stories EVER!!

 I’m late! I’m late! For a very important date!

What were you late for? What happened as a result of your lateness? Armageddon? The Rapture? The opportunity to meet your one true love?

Or something completely different?

“I’m late.”

Yisa hung on the phrase, waiting for some further explanation, but when none was forthcoming, she prompted, “Late for what?”

This was followed by a sigh on the other end of the line.  “No, I mean…I’m late.”

Realization dawned.  “Oh.”

Resignation set.  “Yeah.”

Then disbelief.  “But are you sure?  It’s-”

“Pretty sure.”

“Then how-”

“Look, I don’t have a lot of time to go into it, okay?  Let’s just say ‘it happened’ and move on.”

“Okay.”  Yisa could cope with that for the moment.  “Move on to what?”

“That’s what I think we should talk about.”

“Ah.”  She hated that serious tone.  “Well, obviously there’s some people who need to be told…”


“I need more from you than just ‘yeah’,” Yisa snapped.  “I need… oh my god, I don’t even know!”

Another sigh, this time filled with a lifetime of unspoken words that may now be doomed to silence.  “I know.  I’m sorry.  Okay, yeah, maybe some kind of… I don’t know, announcement?  I don’t know how these things are usually done.”

“Me either,” she confessed.  “This is a first.”

“For both of us.”

The ball of stress in Yisa’s stomach turned into a humorless laugh.  “What else?  How are you holding up?”

“Um?”  There was a long pause, then, “Not what I expected.”

“You didn’t really imagine little cherubs with harps laying around on clouds, did you?”

“What? No!  I guess I didn’t know what to expect, but this… I wouldn’t have thought of this.”

Yisa fell silent.  So many questions were fighting for her thoughts, but she pushed them all away and tried to focus on what was most important right now.  “Do you want a ceremony?”

“Maybe.  Yeah.  That would be nice.  Nothing formal, or anything.  But something for people to – y’know – offer a few words?  Not in church, though.  Just… out in a park or something.  Some place quiet; close to nature.”

She nodded, even though it wouldn’t be seen.  Or, maybe it would, she didn’t really know how these things worked, after all.  “That sounds nice.  I’ll make some calls in the morning.”

“I’m running out of time, now.  I don’t know if I can call again, but I’ll try.”

A lump was forming in Yisa’s throat and she had to push it down to get the words out.  “I’m going to miss you.”

“I know.  Me, too.  But I’ll stay close, okay?”

“Can you do that?”

“I don’t know.  I think so.  It’s easier than calling.”

She felt the hair on her neck tingle.  “Are you here now?”



“Right in front of you.”

She held her hand up and felt a cool sensation against her palm.  “I’m going to really miss you.”


A little smile touched her lips even as tears touched her face.  “I never thought it would be so soon.”  She waited for a reply, but none came.  “Zahir?  Are you there?”  But the line had gone dead.

She put the phone down and put her face in her hands.  In all her years of being a medium, she had never imagined this was even possible.  Pulling herself together, she got out a blank note card and wrote,

ANNOUNCEMENT: A memorial for the late Mr. Zahir Salman.  May his soul now find rest.