Monday, March 12, 2012

Antilia Part One

 Waking From Antilia

“There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”
Hamlet Act 1, scene 5

Habia una vez our stories were unmixed.   Some sang with the words de las abuelitas; some marched with those of the grandfathers, and others still were the coughs of Unkele or the singing of 阿姨.   Neither our words nor our peoples knew each other’s stories.   We were separated by lines of not understanding, a web of lines that not one could see - the invisible tangle between realities.
Our people didn't always live here under this bubble of otherness circling the earth.   We were once and many times out there, on the swirly blue marble of la Tierra, 地球, die Erde.   There was a time, after all, when time itself was still happening in a given order.  It was apart from itself.  Then the line between realities began to melt and fade, and we were chosen to become a people between.  Between times and realities, between worlds.  Here in Antilia, we live in a tangle of times hidden by a powerful shimmering mystery, our purpose shrouded in the tales of all time.   We are las real hadas, die Feen, 仙子.  From everywhere.  From everywhen.
When our people were dragged, each one apart, from the places where they fell into the gel of time and space, they brought with them many kinds of words and many paths of thought.  Some had the words that march and walk, the ones we use the most now in Antilia, like these you see on this paper.  Other peoples had las palabras que cantan.  The words that season Antilian voices and speak of la familia, Dios, y el credo.  Still another people had the words of ancient forests, die Schlösser und die Riesen, die Worter that connect our people to an older world thick with magic.  Another people carried the words that sound like pictures, swaying in the wind, floating like the colors of water across space, .  We all come together under the dome of Antilia, swirling words and thoughts and ways together to create the world I have grown up in.  This swirling of peoples and tongues and minds gives space to the whirlpool of impossibly possible realities. 
We live as the keepers and messengers on the ark of ideas that is Antilia, floating in the web of time, the mirage thick with das schatten.  This tangle we rest on, it shifted and twists under the bedrock of la Tierra and on through the universe in sheets of magic, like giant swirling sheets of paper in a gritty and crowded whirlwind.  This mirage of shadows, these curtains of time, plucked my people from the forever to serve the purpose of the gen. 
The tangled power and light make the air shiver in the desert, thick and tangible under the sun, the molten air of the mirage.   It turns das schatten among the giant trees into doorways, and the streams of rain into 窗簾的世界, the curtains of worlds.  

You may see it far ahead, a shimmer as you travel through the heat of the deserts de la Tierra.  You may stumble onto it in the oldest forests, eyes swimming into its shadows, looking for an end of the dark.  You may lose yourself in the rains of the jungles of time, pictures blurring before the drops of magic on your lashes.  The mirage.  Das schatten.  窗簾的世界.
Sometimes a person walks into its thickness.  He finds himself in the mirage without knowing how he caught it up.  He had thought it was not so close to his step, or perhaps he was busy with a thing more important, and he never saw the shimmer.   Maybe he had walked across that same space a hundred times, and every time before his feet had hit the sandy red-yellow soil with its normal crunch and give.   This time his feet reach out and find nothing but the thickness to catch them.  
Another wanderer may casually step into the dense shadow of an old misty forest, only to have the coolness seep into his bones, the space beyond dissolving, pixilated. 
Perhaps still another reaches for a color in the rain, and finds her hand pulling her into a cool grey world, suddenly dry.

Some disappear for only a second, before flying back, suddenly dripping coldness into the heat, dryness in the wet, glimmer into the shadow.  
Some will be gone for days, and then appear miles away, confused and frozen in body and mind.
Some will be back in place again sofort, but with the soul lost inside the mirage.  Sin la alma, these ones will have no life on the outside.  Their family mourns their passing never knowing that they are now everywhere, twisting in the mirage, gathering and scattering time, space, and ideas from world to world. They are part of the shimmering thickening, of rain and shadows, the keepers of the mirage.  They direct the peoples of Antilia.
Some come back never, but instead land in the time of powder blue dust, in Antilia, chosen for their skill or heart by the keepers to become Geschichtenerzähler, travelers and tellers between the worlds they didn’t know existed. 
My people, the people of Antilia, we are los hijos, das enkelkinder, the 曾孫 of the ones who never return from the mirage.  We are the keepers and the Geschichtenerzähler.
 We have been here forever.  The forever of a very small child with el credo tight in both sticky hands, always twisting forward and back with no respect for the calendar of the impossible.  
Here we are always and never.
And from here we may be grabbed back. 
Ours is a strange position between the power to shape time and the absolute helplessness of a floating sun mote. 
 I didn’t know this, of course, when I was very small.  Then I lived each day with my mother in charge.  My big sister, Lorena, infallible.  It was a world where anything - anything good - could happen.  The small tragedies of life were quickly fixed.  I believed in magic because I had never seen anything less.  I didn’t know there could be another side of the possible that would one day make my magic necessary.
I can see myself as I was when the mirage finally broke into my world.   
In my mind I feel again the cold membrane of the mirage folding over me, a sombra falling in slow motion, and see the shadow of Mama beside me...
With a jerk.
A stomach-catching drop.
I could not find my breath.  
I plummeted through the darkness, looking for the ground that had dissolved around me, unable to find even my own limbs.  
 It was a separate forever before I hit the dust and the tangled yellow grasses that were the wrong texture and temperature, hot and rusty instead of the cool silvery blue I knew.   
The grass was dry and papery…thin.   
 I curled up at the base of the only tree that looked almost right, tinged by the thinner light of Antilia in the still shivering air.  I cried myself into a mass of slimy sniffles and chokes.  I knew that I was lost in some un-name-able way, though I did not exactly understand our place in the worlds as las hadas, das erzahler, 說書.  Not yet.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Three Girls, One Hatchet, the Goldengate, Applegate, and an Angel named Byron

We recently discovered at book club that finding funny books is hard.  I decided I should try to write some funny stuff.  Not to set myself up or anything, I don't mean I will be the next Tina Fey, just some non-serious fun stories.  So this is going to be a sort of serial of something a wrote a long time ago re-written and changed up.  Feel free to let me know what you think, it's a work in progress.  All names have been changed and any resemblance to real people is strictly coincidental:) I think I can stick with it more if I know its out there and someone might actually read it, where as I might just let it languish on my desktop.

It was fall break weekend, October 1996, and the snowflakes were falling in soggy white masses designed to put the brakes on the planned camping trip.  Katie stood at the window of the college apartments holding an illegal tuxedo cat named Shortie.  "We could still go," she said, for what was quite possibly the 200th time in the last half hour. 

Mandie rolled her eye, "I am not camping in a  blizzard, Kate."

Jessica sneezed loudly, and with much drama, from the back of the long rectangular living room.  She had noticed Shortie.  Apparently her cat allergy required visual confirmation.

Katie rolled her own eyes at Mandie, hoping she saw the look and read it correctly.  They were not staying here.  Shortie jumped down and sauntered towards Jessica, unconcerned.  Just then the phone rang, kicking Jess off the AOL era internet and instigating a new round of sneezes.  Really?  Kate shook her head, curly chestnut tangles bristling.

"No"  Mandie was saying, "we thought so too....Where?" she looked up from the papason chair, phone in hand, "Kate, have you been to San Francisco?"

Kate looked up from the cookie batter bowl she had been skimming.  Yum.  Mandie's lemon cookies. "No."

"It's not that far,"  Mandie smiled.  It was 11 PM on Thursday night in Flagstaff, Arizona.  The only transport they posessed had broken down three times in the past three months.  The little white truck had a new clutch a new transmission a new battery.  It..Charlie... had been Katie's big sisters before her, and was only 10 years old.  "Lori wants to go."  Mandie wiggled her light brown eyebrows beneath her corkscrew perm.

Katie grinned, "Well, there's nothing left to break on Charlie, I mean statistically speaking, we should be fine. .."  She licked her finger... "We have to spend no money though.  Like not even on food.  We can take it with us."

Mandie nodded thriftily, "Popcorn cakes, honey, peanutbutter..."

"Ramen"  Katie giggled, "We can take the camp stove...OK lets go!"

"We'll pick up in half an hour! " Mandie told the phone, "Get ready and bring food!"

"And gas money!"  Katie wasn't in debt yet.

The girls popped a laundry basket full of random groceries, two school-type backpacks and two sleeping bags into the comfy cushiony back of the truck.  Charlie had a camper shell that opened into the cab, making him more like an early version SUV sans seat belts.  

After a quick stop at the gas station near Crystal Creek sandwiches, the one that sold gas, liquor and your friendly neighborhood firearms in one handy location, they swung up to North Morton dorm and got Lori.  She contributed a bottle of absolute vodka and a bulk bag of jolly ranchers to the laundry basket.  One more stop at the Maverick station for a map and a quart of oil, which Katie more or less added for luck. 

They were on their way, with the ever present Pulp Fiction Soundtrack jangling through the soggy flakes.  It had been stuck in the tape player for about a year.  

The talk wove in and out of Jungle Boogies, and preachers sons, and the snow faded to rain and then to a cloudless starlit sky high above the desert as their ears popped.  Big plans were made to reform the social service system and start an orphanage, and the three girls bounced and jounced along with road trip adventure following after them like swirls from a cartoonist's sharpie.

Somewhere before the sun found them in Barstow with bagels (they bought the bagels in a deli, guiltily eying the Ramen in the laundry basket) there was an eerie orange dust storm, and Charlie started making some very odd dusty, coughy sounds. 

Everyone got nervous.

Kate decided to pretend she was not.

Lori began to question the wisdom of traveling anywhere with someone who could not get Pulp Fiction out of the tape player. 

Mandie remembered with some relief that she had her mom's triple A card in her backpack.

They stopped at a 24 hour Autozone, because, after all that dust, wouldn't a new airfilter make sense?  All three agreed that yes, in the professional opinions of three college juniors, a women's study major, a psychology major, and a photography major, it was quite clear that an airfilter would solve the problem.   Katie new how to replace this filter, which was another point in favor of the plan, and off they went.  Charlie sounded much better, and his turburcule caughing was all but forgotten as they munched the bagels and chugged drinking fountain water from their be-stickered Nalgenes.  If they had been English lit majors they might have spotted the rather heavy foreshadowing at this juncture.  But they were not. 

They were sitting on the tailgate when Lori asked the obvious question, "Umm, guys, why do we have a hatchet?"

"In case we camp!  I got it for Christmas,"  Kate replied, undetereed by the treeless expanses of desert on all sides.  and the obvious civilization.

Mandie giggled.  She was used to Kate's somewhat unusual logic.

Lori nodded. She was not.  Used to Katie.  She knew Mandie from ASWI- the Associated Students for Women's Issues - Kate usually didn't go there because the word "woman" really made her squeamish.  She was with Lucile Ball and the girl/boy classification system all the way.

It may be appropriate to mention at this juncture that Katie had never before driven anywhere outside of northern Arizona, and the trip down I10 and 17 to Sierra Vista., Arizona.  A 6 hour drive.  She had very little experience, and the supreme confidence in her ability to accomplish things that she knew nothing of.   College kid incarnate in her cutoff jeans, NAU T-shirt, and Birkenstocks, Katie snapped some pictures happily and jumped up and down a bit to get going again.  Mandie curled up like a kitten beside the laundry basket, humming a little to herself.  Lori ran to the bathroom.  Only a few more cycles of counting flowers on the wall, and they would be at the Golden Gate.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Backyard Visitors

My sister and brother-in-law live at the foot of the Huachuca Mountains outside of Sierra Vista, Arizona.  They have had some adorable visitors!  These are bobcats, a mamma and two cubs. They said there was a Dad too, but according to some other sources on Bobcats, he should not be hanging around with Mama and the cubs.   The Monument fire tore through the desert and mountains of the area earlier this summer, probably pushing wildlife closer into town.  These guys look healthy enough, if maybe a little skinny.
Bobcats are usually very secretive and only come out at night.  There are thought to be around a million here in North America, even though they are rarely sighted.  They live alone except when the mother is raising cubs, at which time she will have between 1 and 6 babies with her.

Bobcats can eat prey much larger than one would expect, but usually stick to small mammals and birds.  They seem to adapt easily, which is why they are still the most common wild cat in North America.

Interestingly, male bobcats will sometimes overlap territories, but females are more territorial and will not share.  I guess we will know that every time we see this little lady she is the same one.  Have you had any interesting visitors in your yard lately?  I would love to see them! Go ahead and post a comment with your pictures and a little information about who has been visiting your neighborhood. 

For more information about bobcats, click on one of these links:

National Geographic

Defenders of Wildlife

Friday, August 19, 2011


There is a slight possibility that I am nosier than the average bear.  I can't help but listen when people are not talking to me.  I have mostly learned to pretend I am not listening, although every once in a while I forget and jump into a conversation between two strangers.  This is always embarrassing.  When I keep quiet, I hear lots of funny things.  I have noticed that lots of little eaves drops can make fabulous story starters.

Recently overheard at the library:

A ten year old boy called out to a friend, "Hey, you gotta doller?"
The second boy shook his head and shuffled off quickly, "Naah."
A third friend shook his head.  He punched the first boy in the shoulder and said, "Man, don't ask him, he wouldn't give a dollar to his own Mama!"  The words came out of the side of his mouth and looked very out of place somehow under his 4th grader flattop.

Don't you wonder about a ten-year-old who "...wouldn't give a dollar to his mama?" 
Is he the Alex P. Keaton of the 21st century? 
Or does he have a Pokemon habit that must be supported with all his loose change and lawn-mower money?
Does he run a ring of suburban pick-pockets, and store the money he pilfers in a secret shoebox vault buried in the backyard? 
I am curious.

I also wonder about his Mama, and what she would think of this comment.  I picture, based on absolutely nothing, a well-put-together black lady who would roll her eyes and laugh at the comment.  She might say, "If my boy has a dollar, he's gonna put it where I tell him to put it, Honey!"  She would shake her head with a good-natured kids-these-days look, her right hip stuck out, while she checked out a big stack of books for her first grade classroom.  I picture her little boy coming up with a couple movies to check out, and she shakes a head and a finger at him and sends him back to get books, Transformer movies set aside. 

Of course, this picture really contradicts the originally overheard comment.  This child clearly would give anything he had to to his Mama, with little or no lip about it. (School-teacher induced fantasies probably have more to do with this character than the overheard comment does.  Oh how we love those reasonable, strict parents!) 

It could be that he just put on a tough face at school.  That's why his friends chortled and shoved at each other when he trudged back to the book section without a peep after his movies were confiscated.  Maybe at school he is the tough guy who can't nobody tell what to do...just up to the point of actually causing trouble, because he would be shuddering to think what would happen if his mama was called into the office.

Do you have any ideas about this little snippet?  Fell free to post your own story-let about the dollar hoarder that wasn't...or was.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Great Dane that Wasn't

Cool Iguanadon prints at Dinosaur ridge.
So there I stood on the side of Dinosaur Ridge, waiting for some more hikers to come along so I could show them the new and exciting Iguanadon tracks just past the ancient Mangrove Swamp sight.  The sun was beating down on my awesome paleontologist style hat.  I was thinking maybe it was time to start down the trail towards the museum, where I would be painting tracks with some kids for the next hour or so.  Just as I decided to start down, I saw a couple hiking up the road with a harlequin Great Dane gamboling along side.  That dog was huge.  I had better wait to show them the tracks, I eman their dog was probably quite interested in the Cretacious era.

I waited for a few seconds.  That does seem odd, I thought, shading my eyes, he seems to be all over the place and isn't really walking with his people...wait are they running from him?  I squinted down the hill.  Did that dog just head butt his owner?  Wait a second. Is that dog a goat? 

Deffinately not canine.

The hikers saw him jump the fence from the Rooney Ranch and they didn't know what to do.  So they were just sort of run-walking from him all the way up.  They were laughing nervously and edging away from his head butts.  The goat baaaaaaed helpfully as we clarified the situation, and I offered to take him home.  Afterall you can't just let a goat run away people, what was your plan exactly?! 

He had a nice heavy leather collar, so there I was trying to drag a gigantic goat, he came up past my hips, down the road while he tried to drag me up along with the giggling goat-a-phobic hikers.  It was kind of slow going. 

The tour bus stopped, families gaping out the windows at my strange companion.   The driver, Amber,  asked me what is going on so I update her on the goat situation, and then steal her belt to use as a leash.  Note to self, put a leash in your camel back, very handy.  Now that we were walking down in a much more civilized fashion, a group of tourists coming up actually stopped to take a picture of the strange girl out for a jaunt with her friendly pet goat.  I told them he wasn't mine, but ask if they would like to pet him?  He seems very friendly. 

Baaaaaah the goat adds, with a twinkle in his eye.

An entire herd of human kids gathered around to pet my new pal.  He baaahs again, nuzzles a little, smiles a big goaty smile, and then lets loose with a niagra falls of pee that splashes on every child in sight..

Ohhhh, sorry, I didn't know that was a goat thing.

Luckily it was a very good-natured tourist family.  Probably they were Morman.  They just laughed and revised their recent plans to get a pet goat, and my charge and I continued down the trail.  He was laughing silently, I saw his goaty shoulder shaking.

When I finally got him into the ranch driveway, he realized he had missed home all along,and trotted up to Mr. Rooney with a nuzzle and a baaaaahing grin.  Turns out his name is Mocha. 

A goat kind of like Mocha, but much, much smaller.
I keep hoping he will escape again, but so far no dice.