It was a bit like trying to comprehend how much a billion dollars was.  Most people can’t.  Even those who have a billion dollars probably can’t quite grasp exactly how much that really is.  The human brain is just not capable of understanding a number that large.  Figuratively, sure, but not really.

Not really.

In a lot of ways it was like having a billion dollars – more than you could ever conceivably spend in a lifetime.  In multiple lifetimes.  You’d just never reach the end of it.

And it was nothing like having a billion dollars.  It wasn’t one lifetime of never having to worry about anything ever again.  Instead it was watching everything you knew and everyone you loved die, decay, and be forgotten.  It was watching your home disappear from the face of the Earth.

It was watching the Earth disappear.

It was being utterly, utterly alone, and yet no closer to the end of your life than you were to the beginning.

It was the ultimate curse.

She once thought that to live forever was to finally have all the time in the world to do all the things she had always wanted to do; to be free of the threat of death seemed the ultimate freedom.  But the things of her dreams had not been eternal.   Time to travel, but nothing left to see.  Time to dance, but no one left to play the music.  Time to write, but no one to read her words.  No one to tell the story of her life to, or pass along the knowledge of a billion years.

It was only now that she understood the cage; the key to her freedom lost.  Forever.


So, I said I had more stories, and here’s another one.

While I was in Navajo Nation, I got a chance to listen to a young man talk about his pottery.  I won’t even begin to do this story justice, but basically he lives in an area that was once inhabited by the Anasazi people, and he can walk around his house and around the rock formations and find old pieces of broken pottery, formed and painted so long ago.  And it inspired him to start making his own, based partially on what he finds and partially on a modern twist to their forms and designs.

I thought that was one of the coolest things I had ever heard!  He had some pieces he showed us, and told us about how he makes and fires the pottery, and how he creates the dyes, and all of it how it was done for centuries.

His story then inspired me to do something like that!  I can walk around my house and pick up stones, and then just like *my* ancestors did, I started making stone carvings!  Ok, so I cheat a bit and use a dremel instead of arduous hand carving with manual tools, but still, I’m loving this so much!

My sister got the first one.  She asked if I could do a scrolly design in green.  I said yes to the scrolly, but said there was no way I could color it that it would last, I only have water-based paints and they’d wash off too easily.  But I got a nice pendant-shaped stone and started carving away.

Then… as I sat at my computer desk… out of the corner of my eye… what should I see?? But green nail polish!  Yes! That’s it, enamel, that won’t wash off at all!  And if it’s tucked into the groove of the carving, it won’t chip off, either!  So my sister got her green scrolly design in the end! 🙂

stone pendants

stone pendants

That, along with the other two, were the first ones I tried.  I was using a diamond tipped bit, so it would drill through the stone, and had to keep the stone constantly wet to prevent stone dust from getting into the motor and to keep the stone and bit cool.  (also, wear a dust mask!  The stuff in rock can be super-duper awful to get in your lungs!  As awful as that dust mask smells, it’s preferable to the alternative!)

Well, after having such success with that, I decided to try others, drilling lots of little stones into tiny bead-kinda things, I don’t have pictures of those yet – coming soon.  But then I was telling a gal at work about it and ended up making three more just tonight when I got home, two for ladies at work and one for me.  One of the gals collects heart-shaped stones, so I carved a heart onto hers so she could have a “heart stone” with her always!

Heart-stone pendant

Heart-stone pendant

The other gal gets this fabulous red stone pendant:

Red stone with crystal beads

Red stone with crystal beads

And I carved my Norse SCA name into this and then added gold nail polish to the letters to make them sparkle (you can’t see it very well in this picture but it’s there.  Trust me.)

"Sigga" stone pendant

“Sigga” stone pendant


So this is my new hobby to add to the growing collection.  Stone carving.  Soon I’ll work my way up to larger stones and larger images (beyond pendants) like the Norse did all over the bloody place.


I also painted a cavern scene.  I can’t really blame this on anything except maybe an abundance of rocks on the brain 😉

©2014 Eliza Murdock

Sub-landscape ©2014 Eliza Murdock

(that’s supposed to be an underground lake… and yes, that may just possibly have been meant to be a city down there. >.> )


Oh, and almost forgot, in celebration of the whole Norse thing going on, I’ll add a third poem to the prompt I posted in my last entry for every word starting with the same letter of the alphabet.


Vaginal Vacancy

Vikings verberate violently,
Verily! Valkyrie voices vie!

Vivid vigils viewed: vigorous, volatile.
Vanity vanishes, victory verges.
Voracious vyings, vaginal vacancies
Voluptuous vexations visit.

Valour, virtue vomited.
Vague vapors vent vitality
Vibrating veins, vindicating validating
Visceral vignettes vicariously.
Vikings verberate violently,
Verily! Valkyrie voices vie!

Violet vineries ventured,
Vast vats voiding vows.
Vibrant vert vale vistas
Vast vassaled vaults.

Vilified voyeuristic visits
Via vestal virgin, vandaling vulvas.
Veiled velvet vortecies
Violated viciously, vilely.

Vikings verberate violently,
Verily! Valkyrie voices vie!


Washed smooth by nature’s caress, the jagged edge is eased.  Beside lapis waves which kissed the ocher shores we plucked our wind-worn memories from the sand to leave in our wake a mark of passing.  A tenuous journey across time where two paths cross – the wanderer and the placer.  It takes a steady hand to find the balance; unsettle even one, they fall.  The strength of the offering is in the leaving, an act of faith in defiance of gravity.   Poems precarious, they stand as testaments to the impermanence of creation.

silent words of stone
whisper to the next who pass
you are not the first
follow in my footsteps and
for a moment we are one

Continue reading

Two by Two

T S, “Hakuna Matata, 1″ (via 1stDibs)

Two by Two

When Noah brought into the ark
Animals of every kind, packed full
Leaving to the coming floods
The all-but-two, the majority cull.

Rising waters made the sheep
Look like fluffy clouds upon the sea;
Elephant trunks turned into snorkels
As fish explored new reefs of ivory.

And for a while the arrogant birds
Thought themselves above the tides
Until, one by one, their wings gave way,
Exhausted stars falling from the skies.

Still it rose and swelled until
The last giraffe became aware
Her neck was not quite long enough
To take another breath of air.

2013 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Day 11

For today’s prompt, we’re going to write ekphrastic poetry–or poetry based off another piece of art. In the past, I’ve provided paintings, but today, I’m picking photographs (for something a little different). You may use one of the images below or choose your own

Or in this case, the photo above.  Now I’ll admit, when I saw the *thumbnail* of the above, I thought it was a surreal picture of giraffe up to their necks in water.  It wasn’t until I saw the large version that I realized they were clouds.  Still, I liked the image it brought to mind, so I stuck with it.  Eye of the beholder and all that. 🙂

Do check out some of the other pictures in the link above, they’re really quite pretty.

Enticing to Play

Vacation Poetry Challenge # 1 by we drink because we’re poets (wdbwp)… it hurt not to make it rhyme.

It consists of 50 lines.  The first two begin with the same word, the second with the last word of the second line,..until we get to line 48, when you take the last two words of lines 47 and 48 to conclude the poem…I goofed on mine, the last two words should come first from line 48 then end with line 47. There should be no punctuation…and when read aloud pauses should only be made for breath.

The phrases should be brief but at least two words should be used.  The title must be just 3 words this is what Shadow Poetry tells us about the title:

The title must be only three words, with some sort of preposition or conjunction joining the first word from the third line to the first word from the 47th line, in that order.

Oh…by way…use the acronym wdbwp as the first word of the first two lines of your poem.

Enticing to Play

wdbwp proposing
wdbwp enticing
enticing dancing with my muse
enticing kindling inner desire
desire for the creation
desire to then create
create a connection
create a reflection
reflection of meaning
reflection of soul
soul caught in a picture
soul of the moment
moment caught my eye
moment sliding
sliding between us
sliding beyond
beyond the rivers
beyond the hills
hills of purple and emerald
hills of sacred stones
stones set and aligned
stones of stars ringed on earth
earth, fire, and water
earth, air, and dreams
dreams of distant landscapes
dreams of sidereal times
times yet approaching
times racing away
away through my fingers
away through my mind
mind wandering in ethers
mind altering thoughts
thoughts jumbled together
thoughts strung out on a line
line up one by one
line carved in the sand
sand flowing seas
sand flowing through glass
glass though unbroken
glass under my feet
feet travel without aim
feet weary with every fall
fall colors crimson gold
fall into a pile of leaves
leaves like dried words
leaves me a child playing
playing with nature
playing with sounds
sounds of


Now a picture dump of what I’ve been painting lately 🙂  I’m not happy with all of them, but they’re all helping me grow, and definitely helping me understand how the medium works.  Enjoy!

Rain © 2013 Eliza Murdock

© 2013 Eliza Murdock

White Tree © 2013 Eliza Murdock

White Tree
© 2013 Eliza Murdock

Islandscape © 2013 Eliza Murdock

© 2013 Eliza Murdock

Edge of Night © 2013 Eliza Murdock

Edge of Night
© 2013 Eliza Murdock

Blue Islands © 2013 Eliza Murdock

Blue Islands
© 2013 Eliza Murdock

Autumn Sunrise
© 2013 Eliza Murdock

Not Like A Bicycle. Well, kind of…

Writing is not like a bicycle.  You do forget how.  You think “I totally know how to do this” and you get on and crash miserably and then kick it and go sit in the corner with a scotch.  Then you forget to pick it up for a while and it gets very rusty.  It takes time to oil the chains and make sure it isn’t going to fall apart on you the second you push it out of the garage.  Or that the seat isn’t going to fall out from underneath you.  Or the tires aren’t flat.

Okay, so writing is a little bit like a bicycle.  Maybe you don’t forget how, but you forget how to do it *well* and you get very rusty, and the rustier you get the harder it is to get going again.  Or keep going, sometimes.  Sometimes writing will rust right out from underneath you or the seat will twist or the tire will go flat and you’re all ‘WTH writing, we were doing so well, what happened?’ and all the writing can do is shrug and go sit in the corner with a scotch.

Until a prompt comes along that reminds writing why it likes you, and it’ll come over and tap your shoulder and whisper in your ear and say, “Hey… that prompt looks easy.  No steep slopes or weird turns.  And the weather is nice today.  Maybe we should take that prompt out for a ride and see where it goes.”  And you think to yourself, “It does look nice… and I haven’t written in a while.”

So you try it, and at first you aren’t too hopeful because it didn’t work out so well last time you tried.  Or the time before that. Or the three times before that.  But you’re a writer, it’s what you do, and you’re also a bit fatalistic, so you figure if it isn’t meant to be it won’t happen, but somewhere in that jaded little heart of yours you’re also just a touch optimistic which is why you keep trying anyway.

Yesterday was the result.  It was small.  It was simple.  But I liked it, and I *finished* it.  Because it was small.  But it oiled the chain and re-inflated the tires and did a little basic maintenance and off I went for an easy little ride.  That whet my taste for a bit longer ride today.  To wit:

Līgo Haibun Challenge – Picture Week

Another Life

Red clay encased hair ropes down her back, conjure images of roots deepening through the red clay to anchor the spirit to the land.  This is her land, thick with the blood of her foremothers, the dreams of her children’s future.  The ornaments at her throat were not assembled in a factory for ten cents a day.  This is a life not marred by forty hours of overtime in a race to get the next big screen TV to hang in the mortgage you can’t afford.  But don’t confuse content for simple, simple for ignorant.  A bright mind lays behind those bright eyes, filled with wisdom and hope.  Elsewhere, not erstwhile.   Mukuru bless those who dwell in the between, praised by the joyful clap of work-worn hands beneath the sun.  Ochred black, beautiful.

African mother
First child at her breast nourished
Like the summer lambs

And as an aside:

I’ve always loved African hair.  Ever since I was a child.  I think it started with my love of Ancient Egypt (because really, any culture which worships cats is right up my alley) and just went from there.  The beauty of it always made me just a little jealous.  The hairstyles, the braids, the volume… hair that could do beautiful and amazing things, while mine just hung there all limp and straight.  Of course, then I grew up and realized that I was not only unusual in this, that American society actively punishes African women for how they look, even for just wearing their hair in their traditional and natural styles, from being told it’s unprofessional, to assuming it must be a political statement, to calling it ghetto.   Which is just… really tragic and horrible.

I’ve always found African aesthetics – their hair, their skin color, their smiles – to be absolutely beautiful.  The woman in the picture above?  She could be a model in my eyes.  (Not that she’d want to be, from what I hear of the industry…)

Something Old

we drink because we’re poets Weekly Photo Challenge – 3: Old

“something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue…”

And there it was…something old!

In a world that exalts novelty…get this brand-new giggling joppity great new fantastically never seen before variation of our dish soap… where youth is the by-word and be all of our age…I propose that we look for the venerable!

My “something old” is this gorgeous, vintage sewing machine, lovingly donated to me when my old machine broke down by my dear friend.  It has since been again retired, but the beauty and power of this old machine can’t be matched.

Could we but mend our torn lives,
Patch the holes in our spirits,
Rethread our dreams
With such elegance as this.

‘Tis the Season

Okay so there’s still 3 days to go till December, but close enough.

Back when I was in high school taking typing and computer courses, we didn’t have ‘Word’, we used WordPerfect.  Which, between me and everyone, I liked that program a lot better.  But that’s not relevant to the story.  As always happens around this time of year in English classes across the nation (and the odd typing class) we had to write a holiday letter to our family.

I’ve never been a letter writer.  I apparently lack the knack for non-fiction writing, but whatever, it was a school assignment so no getting out of it.  But far be it from me to actually do the assignment as expected.  Instead I decided to write a holiday letter *my* way.

For context, I had recently gotten it in my mind to memorize the entirety of Edgar Allen Poe’s The Raven.  (and probably not un-inspired by The Simpson’s episode) Just because it seemed like the thing to do at the time, I suppose.  So all that was fresh in my mind, and being forced to write a holiday letter (which I hate doing) and being somewhat more poetic in high school than I tend to be now, all these things came together to produce the following.  Written sometime in the neighborhood of December, 1994.

Once Upon a Christmas Raven

Once upon a midnight Christmas, while I pondered, weak and listless
Over many quaint and curious packages, wrapped and tied and new;
As I pondered, nearly peaking, suddenly I heard a squeaking
As if someone stealth’ly sneaking, sneaking down my chimney flu.
‘Tis Santa Claus,’ I muttered, ‘sneaking down my chimney flu,
With packages, wrapped and tied and new.’

Ah distinctly, I recall It was winter, long past fall
And each reindeer he did call as he flew on through the night.
Eagerly I sought to see them, milk and cookies out to greet them,
Underneath my tree he’ll leave them, presents all marked just for me –
Many rare and radiant presents that are all marked just for me,
He’ll leave them underneath my tree.

And the silken, sad, uncertain rustling of each festive curtain
Filled me with fantastic joys that Santa Claus would soon be here.
Down into the bright room came he, with a red hat, fat and jolly,
And a little twig of holly tight tightly gripped between his… claw?
Some stupid bird with a bit of holly in between his claw?
I couldn’t believe what then I saw!

‘Twas not Santa Claus who came in, but a fat and pitch black raven!
I knew it was food he was cravin’ as he stood and stared at me.
Not a sound then did he utter, but with many feathers fluttered
Flew up to the heavenly angel perched upon the Christmas tree –
To the heav’nly angel Gabriel perched upon the Christmas tree.
Quoth the raven, ‘Feed me.’

(and I’ve the sudden desire to add to it…

…stay tuned.)


It’s that time of year again, when I decide between participating in NaNoWriMo or maintaining my sanity.

For those who don’t know, November is National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo.  It is a fabulous organization which seeks to promote writing by any means possible.  That is, just write.  Don’t try to come up with the next great novel, don’t worry about spelling, don’t edit, leave characters flat, threads dangling and plots filled with holes if you have to, just write.

The goal of NaNo is to write 50,000 words in the month of November.  That breaks down to an average of 1,667 words per day.  But that is only how you “win” NaNo.  The other goal is just to get people writing, for all those who have ever had the slightest inkling that they might want to write a story but always have some reason why they don’t.

This urges you to cast off any inhibitions and ignore any rules you’ve ever heard for the sake of getting words on paper.  As a friend of mine says, you can edit crap, you can’t edit nothing, so get something on the page, even if it’s crap, because then at least you have something to work with.

From NaNo’s About page:

The rules state that, to be an official NaNoWriMo winner, you must…

  • Write a 50,000-word (or longer!) novel, between November 1 and November 30.
  • Start from scratch. None of your own previously written prose can be included in your NaNoWriMo draft (though outlines, character sketches, and research are all fine, as are citations from other people’s works).
  • Write a novel. We define a novel as a lengthy work of fiction. If you consider the book you’re writing a novel, we consider it a novel too!
  • Be the sole author of your novel. Apart from those citations mentioned two bullet-points up.
  • Write more than one word repeated 50,000 times.
  • Upload your novel for word-count validation to our site between November 25 and November 30.

So that’s it, that’s NaNoWriMo.  Write a novel, do it in a month.

I’ve participated in NaNo for several years.  It’s always a good excuse to really push myself, but I can never quite stick to the principle of write freely with wild abandon and care not how bad it is.  I edit as I go, something you’re urged not to do.  I just can’t help it.  It’s how I write.  As a result, I’ve never actually ‘won’.  I’ve gotten close two years, but never hit 50,000.

This year, with my already failing goal to do something creative every day (which as always, started out really strong but has faltered as my life has gotten busier and busier) I feel like this would be yet another year where I see my word count fall pitifully behind daily goals until November 30th rolls around and I’m 20,000 words shy (but if you’re smart, you’ll look at it as 30,000 words further than I was November 1st!).


Sigh.  I’m going to torture myself with this again, aren’t I?

Alright.  I’ll do NaNo again.

And as always, November 1st and I don’t know what I’m going to write yet.  I *knew* I should have written down that idea last night when I had it…