A Moral Tale

There were two children who were told to go play. One child had many toys, the other child had none. The child with many toys would not share any toys with the other, not one! Though the child with many toys had far too many toys to play with all at once, even the unused toys were denied the child with no toys.

Eventually the adults, realizing the child with many toys was not sharing, and could not be taught nor scolded into sharing, gave the child with no toys a few new toys to play with.

Now the child with many toys saw that the child with none was given new toys, and wanted to have some new toys, too. The child with many toys screamed about how unfair it was that only the other child got new toys and not both of them.

The child with many toys then wanted the child who had before had no toys to share the new toys, but still did not want to share the toys that had been there before.  The child with the few toys refused to share because of only having those few.

The child with many toys cried again about how unfair it was that the adults had urged and scolded to share from the many toys, but that the child with a few toys was not only not expected to share, but that the child with many toys was again scolded for wanting to play with the few new toys but would not share from the many toys.

The child with many toys blamed the child with few toys as the reason for being scolded. The child with many toys was angry at the child with few toys for getting away with not sharing. The child with many toys hit the child with few toys for not sharing.  The child with many toys had the toys taken away was put to bed, all the time wailing about how unfair all of this was, and still never learning the lesson.

How many times in life are we the child with many toys.

Dear 2015,

Do you mind if I call you ’15 for short?

I know we don’t know each other very well.  We only just met.  Part of that is my fault, I’ve known for a while you’d be coming and I confess, I didn’t prepare very well.

But I’d like to change that.  I don’t want to start off with the same mistakes my relationship with ’14 did.  And, let’s be honest, my relationship with ’13 and ’12 and… well you get the idea.

You’re only newly arrived but I already feel better about you than I did about some previous.  Some of that is what little I had prepared early.  Some of it is just the sense of hope and optimism that fresh beginnings can bring.  But some of it really is thinking we can be good together.

’14 ended with some troubling news, and some of it is still going on.  I really hope you can help fix some of the leftover problems that ’14 has left in its wake.  It wasn’t really ’14’s fault, these things were going to happen sometime, ’14 was just sort of in the way when it did, but there’s nothing can be done about that now.

Looking forward, I have some specific things I think you and I should accomplish together.  I didn’t get them finish before because either I wasn’t ready, or the year just didn’t seem right.  But ’15?  You seem…. right, somehow.  It just seems like it’s the right time.  I’m ready and I think you are, too.

I don’t want this to be just a winter fling, either, to fade away as spring comes, pushed out by other things.  I want us to really last, our goals and dreams to really have that staying power.

Part of accomplishing that is to really get to know you, to spend every day knowing how precious each one can be and not push off onto ’16 the things *we* should be doing together now.  I hope you feel the same way.

I know you’ll have a lot of surprises in store.  I look forward to finding some of them out.  I worry about discovering some of the others.  But if the past years have taught me anything it’s how to be stronger than I thought I was.

Now, in the spirit of working together… maybe you can help me find that planner I bought for you.  I know it’s around here somewhere. I have things I need to start writing in it.

Sincerely,

Eliza

 

P.S.  I’d really like it if you didn’t rush past as fast as ’14 did.  I’d like to take this slow and savor it a bit more.

Goodbye, Daylight Savings

So this weekend, the US, as well as a large chunk of the world, reset their clocks.  Of course, in the southern hemisphere, the clocks were turned forward instead of back, and some countries turn earlier or later, and a few states don’t turn at all.  But for those of us who do, we got an extra hour on Sunday.

Well, I was thinking of that extra hour, which is a bit of a misnomer, we don’t really get an extra hour, we just get back what we give up in spring, and vice versa.  And losing that hour in spring gets harder and harder every year.

But for one day, anyway, we have one extra hour.  For me, this has historically meant I sleep in for an hour in the mornings, relatively, and feel more rested for… y’know, a week or two before I’ve adjusted and then go right back to normal.  Cats, however, don’t recognize daylight savings time, neither coming nor going, and so they don’t care what *time* it is, it’s time for treats and they will let me know.  Loudly.  So I never really get that extra hour, anyway, and it takes maybe a month for the cats to figure out that I get up later.

Well, this year I decided to do something with that hour that wasn’t just sleeping in, but not really sleeping in because cats won’t let me.  I am going to use that hour for good!  For health.  For mental wellness (ha).

Since I’m already used to getting up at what had been 5:30, which now becomes 4:30, I’m going to just continue to get up at 4:30, which had been 5:30, and spend that hour in the morning doing morning exercises, having hot tea, taking it easy getting ready, just basically starting the day out well and slow instead of rushed.

This morning was day 1.  15 minutes of exercise, hot shower, a nice breakfast, hot cup of tea, a bit of time just sitting and relaxing, fussing with kitties, and making lunch.  Got to work right on time, but a lot more relaxed.

If you observe daylight savings, what are you doing with your extra hour?  (if you just say ‘sleep in’ that’s fine, too 😀 )

Lokadottir

Lokadottir ©2014 Eliza Murdock

Lokadottir ©2014 Eliza Murdock

Now Hel’s abode was beneath the second root of Yggdrasil,
There cast down by Odin, where a portion of the dead are taken.
In winter’s maw she dwelt, within the hall of Éljúðnir.
Her countenance eclipsed, her weeping rose
Even to the ears of her father
Who desired to know the source of such grief.

Then spoke Loki, “What has turned your eyes to seas,
Oh daughter?  What your brow to blackness?”
Hel replied, “For the face of he, oh father,
Who is counted fairest, whom I am denied.
For the company of my heart’s desire,
Barren in my breast as my bed.”

Then spoke Loki, “Be still, oh daughter, and quell your rivers.
Call your servants to array you in dresses and jewels
Your heart’s desire shall be fulfilled, but in time.”
Then upon her father’s cheek Hel gave her offerings of obedience
And her servants bore away her tears in vials of glass,
To make of them jewels upon wires of sunlight and threads of moonlight.

But Loki returned to Ásgarðr, purposed already in his mind
For what father could be blinded to such sorrows?”
Then taking upon him the appearance of an old woman
And in disguise, he persuaded Frigga to tell him Baldr’s weakness;
For the mistletoe alone had she not secured the promise
Of bringing no harm upon her son.

In this was found the chance Loki needed,
And from the plant he crafted a spear.
Giving it to Baldr’s brother to throw
So that it pierced him and instantly he fell dead,
Thus would the fairest of the gods be sent
To the Grave-warden’s halls upon flaming ship.

As Odin banished Hel, so Loki sent Baldr, also,
And to her bosom he was received, fairest of the gods.
When the Æsir came with supplications for his return
She replied that unless the whole of creation grieved –
Even as she had grieved for his absence –
Then he would not be released from the grave.

All creation grieved, save for one alone;
Who, being Loki in disguise, ensured his daughter’s joy.
What father is there who would do more?
As Odin banished Hel, so Loki sent Baldr, also,
To bind them until Ragnarok.
For as Odin does, so too shall Loki Laufeyson.

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Late Start on the Garden, and Other Ramblings

Very, very late start. As in, I just planted everything yesterday. So technically before June.  I did have some salad greens going in planters already, and the borage is just starting to break the surface, but yesterday my dad tilled up the old chicken pen and last night I planted golden and purple potatoes, lentils, kidney beans, multi-colored pop corn, golden beets, three kinds of carrots, and two kinds of radishes.

Late start, but  most of it is short season or cool-hearty so it’ll either be ready before winter, or won’t care if it isn’t.

Here’s the general layout of what I’ve planted, the whole plot is about 12′ x 20′ – ish… and then the half-barrel planters that I drew below are tucked in around my front door and the side of my house.

GARDEN

You know you read too many post-apocalyptic/societal collapse books if after you plant your garden, you begin planning how to defend it from your neighbors…

I’ve also spent a good deal of time this last week slashing blackberry brambles and scotch broom from the side of my hill.  It does make me a little sad, I think scotch broom is so pretty, but it’s considered an invasive weed here in Washington, and my neighbor on that side of the hill is very allergic to it’s pollen so I keep it down for her sake.

Finally bought myself a machete, though, which should make the whole endeavor much easier.  I had just been using my dad’s brush lops but that is a rather slow and clumsy method.  He couldn’t find his machete, and even the lops are getting very old and the stopper to keep you from smashing your fingers together when you cut something is gone, so for an early father’s day present (since I’ll be in Arizona over the actual father’s day) I got him a new set of loppers that won’t smash his fingers!

And yes, for the last two weeks of June I will be traveling in  Arizona with a dear friend of mine who attends the Sheep is Life celebration on Navajo nation.  (So I guess if you ever wanted to stalk me, you’ll know where I’m going to be for a whole 3 days).  We’re driving down from Oregon with a stock-trailer full of sheep and chickens.  Road Trip!

My sister had her gall bladder out last weekend, rather unexpectedly, and so I’ve been stopping by her place in the evenings to help with stuff she can’t manage, and really just hang out and be company since she’s bored.  It’s partly what sparked my sudden desire to go ahead and do a garden this year when I had been resigned to just keeping the barrels and that was it.  It’s funny when you go somewhere and get into a “let’s do stuff” mood and then you get home and you keep looking for more stuff to do!

Not that I have any lack of stuff to do.  I’ve gotten on a cleaning binge as well, and I have reclaimed my living room from the ravages of neglect, and gotten my kitchen back in shape, and mostly tidied up the dining room and guest rooms, but my own room is always the last thing I want to tackle, and as it happens it is the last thing left this time, also.  I will be doing a purge again as well, getting rid of stuff that has become clutter and taking it to Goodwill or Salvation Army as donations.

So that’s about it.  Oh yeah, and the now five short stories I’ve started but can’t seem to finish… I think my muse is just in other-mode right now, so I’ll keep jotting down the ideas as they come and trust that someday, the rotten little muse will come back and cooperate. 🙂

Writing Prompt: Describe Being a Writer

To dream about what isn’t and make it real; to see what is through a lens of what should be, or perhaps what should never be. To paint an image in your mind and weave invisible threads into your feelings to tug and tease at will.

To be blindness to the sighted, poverty to the rich, womanhood to the man; to impart an experience through a commonality which diverges and takes you with it to places you never thought possible. To make sacred the mundane and make known the hidden. To whisper in your ear of how good a sunset tastes at dawn and breathe in the waters of life and death and see which one I become. To be a bridge, to bear your weight as you tread across my back and see what I’ve carved into my hands for you.

And at the last to bare my soul and let you step inside me for just a moment to see the world through my eyes, and in doing so, to see the world through another’s eyes as well.

Love Is Dope

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Writer’s Relief posted the above picture on Facebook with the following caption: “Describe being a ‪#‎writer‬ without using the words ‘writer,’ ‘write,’ or ‘words.’ ‪#‎writingprompt‬ ‪#‎writinglife‬.” I’m always down for a good writing prompt, so I decided to share my (short) response here.

A somber-looking stranger on the train. The bewitching pre-dawn hours while alone at my desk. A long-abandoned building with “beautiful bones”  observed during a walk in the neighborhood. Any and all of these things could be the catalyst for my muse to alight upon my shoulder and whisper into my ear.  My mind starts churning, thoughts fill my head beyond capacity and I must (no, I really must) transfer those thoughts to page or screen. Sometimes those penned or keyboarded thoughts make it to a wider audience than my own two eyes.  In some bizarre corner of the universe, a company or a person…

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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…)

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.

Thoughts?