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Inspiration

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Where do you find your inspiration? As a writer, I’ll tell you, I look in many places. Nature, however, seems to be the place I gravitate to the most. If I can see a waterfall, or hear a stream, it immediately brings a sense of calm. Later, the creativity will follow, into an uncluttered, open mind. (Well, as uncluttered as it gets anyway. There’s always something that could use a little work.) ;^)

Also, I think the best writers are great readers. Devouring books is the perfect way to see how it’s done. Of course, most of us read to read. That is a term that I tossed around frequently while in writing courses these last few years. While dissecting fiction, I wondered if I would ever be able to read for fun again, rather than reading a fictional piece to analyze the techniques.

Last semester, I was in the middle of writing a paper on a book that I really wanted to enjoy and was having a difficult time muddling through the technicalities that hover in the mind of a writer once trained. I mentioned this to a professor. She said, “Oh no! I want you to just read it. Don’t analyze it. Read it. Then go back and see what stands out. See what makes an impact upon you.”

So that is what I’m also asking you — not only where do you gain inspiration for what you do, no matter what dream chasing it may be, but what books do you read that inspire you? Is there someone that you’ve read that made you want to write like them? Why?

My daughter bought A Game of Thrones by G.R.R. Martin for me for Christmas. Looking at the 765 pages and the five or six volumes that follow, I was daunted, to say the least. But I found myself with a few idle days, (due to illness,) (boo) and I was able to read it. The praises of Mr. Martin have been sung far and wide. With an HBO series and untold volumes, he doesn’t need my praise. But I’ll tell you, I was inspired. I want to know history like he does. I want to design fully round characters like he does. I want to create antagonists that you love to hate and protagonists that you love to love, like he does.

I don’t want to be quite so graphic. Do you think that’s a requirement of a writer in this century? I don’t. I still believe that you can be effective without the gore and the four-letter words.  Eyes, ears, and hearts are assaulted on many fronts with access to extensive media and it is increasing.  Yet, I believe that we need more of the healing balm than ripping and shredding.    It  has to do with my views upon violence and its perpetuation.  Where do we draw the line?  On many subjects, I say, loose the boundaries.  But there are other places that I must say that I prefer the lines to be distinctly drawn.  I think that we need this as a society; not to take a head-in-the-sand approach, but to encourage innocence to flourish and gentleness to prevail.  I still hope that it can.

My youngest daughter, also a writer and the one who bought me the book, gave me the journal in the photograph for my graduation.  The embossed cover contains a Jane Austen quote. (She’s also the daughter who might chide me for being too uppity about this violence thing in the Thrones series.) But that’s okay. It takes all kinds. I appreciated reading the book. I loved it. I loved the characters. I want to know what happens to them. But I think that I will try a kinder, gentler writing style.

“Let other pens dwell on guilt and misery.” (Jane Austen)

That’s how I feel.

Mary Stewart pulled it off in her epic series of Arthur and Merlin stories, Legacy — The Crystal Cave. She is brilliant at portraying the history, hooking the reader into a marvelous, sweeping tale, and leaves you wanting more.  She can write about the victim, but it’s more about the victory.

I think that is what inspiration is all about. Take a bit of this and a scrap of that, and work it into your own magnificent quilt.

One more quote for today then:
“Writers read.”

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The opportunity to begin again presents itself every morning and I am grateful for it.  I am excited to run into the new year armed with my recently conferred writing degree and a million ideas.  I hope that you’ll join me and see what we can discover.

In 2013, I would like this blog to be a place where we treasure words of wisdom by writers new and old.  I would like to dream here, of my perfect writer’s space.  I would like to write a little fun and fiction, and of course, sip a cup of tea, laugh, and relax.

All the best to you and yours in 2013!

Here’s today’s wisdom, which may be attributed to someone famous, but I could not find it in a quick “google.”  I will say that I heard it from my professors at the University of Oklahoma over and over again and I’m sure I’ve said it here several times myself.

“Writers write.”

A Simple Luv Story

Another tale in a series of assignments from my Mythology and Folklore course:

Once upon a time in a remote valley by the River Bithynia, there lived a happy farmer, Baxter, and his jolly wife, Philisha.  Baxter farmed the land and Philisha kept a few animals:  a milk cow, a plow horse, and a few chickens.  The contented couple relished their simple life and lived their entire married days above the barn in a cozy little space that Philisha tended fastidiously.

Everything they had ever needed they brought forth from their own hands.  They fetched cool, clear water from the river, their garden produced a bounty of vegetables, they had a small fruit orchard, and they tended beehives for their honeycomb, as well.

(The Comfy Abode of Baxter and Philisha — Photo by Cynthia L. H.)

One evening, just as Philisha was setting the table for supper with a steaming plate of biscuits and gravy, two weary travelers rapped upon the door.

Baxter welcomed them to stay for the meal and rest, as night was fast approaching.  Baxter said, “I’ll even bring out a jug of my best moonshine, if you’ll just stay, ya’ll.  We seldom get visitors in these parts, do we, Sugar?  And dagnabbit if I’ll turn you away to wander the darkness in these boondocks.”

“Baxter Dear, please watch your language in front of the guests, won’t you.” Philisha quietly chided.  “And perhaps run down to the garden and fetch a cantaloupe or two?”

“Yes, My Angel,” Baxter said.  He brought out his pipe and tobacco.

The travelers agreed to stay and so all passed a joyful time of fellowship.

When the sun rose the next morning, the guests gathered their belongings and prepared to depart.

“Baxter and Philisha, we have to tell you.  We are gods disguised as men, searching the earth for genuine, kind-hearted souls,” said One.

“And some really good ale,” said The Other.  “I think yours was definitely nine and a half on a scale of one to ten.”

“Why, thank you,” Baxter said.  “I have won several awards and been featured in Better Shines and Gardens magazine a time or two.  But I ain’t braggin’, or nothin’.”

“Why, of course not,” said the One.  “Anyway,” continued the One, “we think that you are just the nicest folks we’ve ever come across.  We want to grant your fondest desire.”

“Choose anything,” said the Other, “anything at all.”

Baxter and Philisha were just completely flabbergasted.  Nothing like this had ever crossed their minds.

“We’re perfectly pea-pickin’ happy,” Baxter said.  “There ain’t nothin’ we need, is there, Baby?”

“Well, if I may,” Philisha interjected.  “There is that teensy issue of the aging process making it not quite so easy to climb up into our little cottage here above the barn.  You remember, Baxter Dear, that today you almost fell.  Then when I reached to help, you nearly pulled me on over with you, Hon.”

(Philisha Saving Baxter From Falling From the Barn — Photo by Cynthia L. H.)

“Aw, psshaw, Philisha.  I ain’t gettin’ old.  My joints was just stove up from plowing so long yesterday.  I’m fine, now, Sweetcakes.” Baxter said.

“Nevertheless,” said the One, “we would like to grant you a wish.”

“Any wish at all,” said the Other.

“Just go ahead and pick one,” said the One.  He nudged the Other and whispered, “I hope they hurry up and decide.  We’ve got places to go.”

Philisha took the opportunity to declare,  “Now, Baxter Dear, remember that house up on top of Knob Hill?”

“That mansion?” Baxter asked.

“Yes, that one,” Philisha said.  “I’ve heard through the grapevine that it is sitting empty.  The owners… you know, what were their names?”

“Oh, yes, um, let me see … now….” Baxter scratched his beard trying to remember.

The two gods looked at each other and rolled their eyes.

Philisha said, “Betty.  Bettisimma.  Bandy.  No.  Barbie.  That’s it ….”

“Barbie and Ken,” Philisha and Baxter said at the same time.

“Oh, yes, Dear.  That’s it,” Philisha said.  Barbie and Ken.  They’re divorcing.”

“No way,” Baxter said.

“Way,” Philisha said.

“What is the world coming to?”  Baxter asked.

“I don’t know, Dear.  So sad.  Anyway, I would loooove to live in that mansion.  Can you do that for us?”  Philisha blinked her long, however gray, lashes at the two gods.

“Definitely,” said the One.

“Most definitely,” said the Other.

They closed their eyes and clasped their hands in front of them and said a tiny prayer.

At the end of the prayer Philisha and Baxter thought the two gods said “Abracadabra,” instead of “Amen.”  But not to worry.

Poof.  Baxter and Philisha were suddenly in a lovely pink mansion that overlooked the valley where they used to live in the barn.

“Oh!  Isn’t this lovely, Baxter Dear,” Philisha said.

“Well, I’m homesick, Pookie … just a little,” Baxter said.

“Oh, pishposh, Baxter Dear,” Philisha said.  “Well, just go on down and sleep in the barn, then, Hon,” she continued.  “I’ll cook supper.  Look at this kitchen!  My my!  Even a microwave!  I am just so excited.”

“What are we havin’ for supper, My Love?” Baxter asked, just a little hesitantly.

“Why, biscuits and gravy, Dear.  Of course,” Philisha said.

“Perfect, Darlin’,” said Baxter.  “I think I’ll stay.”

“Perfect,” said Philisha.  She smiled and hugged Baxter.

He smiled and kissed her cheek with his scratchy beard.

And they lived happily ever after.  Dear.

The End

Author’s Note:  The inspiration for my story came from Ovid’s Metamorphoses — Philemon and Baucis.  Many of these Ovid tales seemed ridiculous.  I decided that another ridiculous story was in order.  I switched the names around.  The female in the Ovid tale was Baucis.  The male was Philemon.  I made the female, Philisha, and the male, Baxter.  I had a little too much fun with this one.  ;^)

Hi-Ho!  Seamus here.  It’s been a while.  Miss Cynthia asked me to apologize for her, but I told her there was no need.  As you can see, Finn has been getting into everything that he possibly can.  Circumstances have gone beyond quite lively.  Well, more on that later.

Miss Cynthia wanted you to know that our summer that was supposed to have been spent learning more on Celtic history and lore, was actually spent straightening out multiple shenanigans that inundated the household.  (Poor Miss Cynthia.  I do believe it was all Finn’s fault.  Oh well.  More on that later, too.)

For now, Miss Cynthia is immersed in her classes at the university.  Lo and behold!  One of her classes is Mythology and Folklore.  (I guess she gave up on me ever helping her.  Little does she know that I’ve been spinning all kinds of magic to inspire the muse.)

For the Mythology and Folklore class, her professor is requiring the construction of yet another blog.   It is, however, private to the students of the class.  Miss Cynthia asked permission to share her tales with you here.

Without further ado — may I present Miss Cynthia’s very first legend in Blogland:

STERLING AND THE VICIOUS BEAST

By Cynthia L. H.

In a mystical valley far beyond normal vision, a ferocious dragonfly tormented the miniscule faerie folk until they had lost hope.  The inhabitants of Glen Ywen found their faith drained away.  All became dark and bleak and the earth around them turned black.  The sky was black and the massive tree beneath which their village stood was black.  Its branches spread broad and high, but every leaf was black as midnight.  Shadows abounded.

The black dragonfly, Ferox, roamed the countryside by night and devoured whatever he fancied.  Wheat crops, grape vineyards, cottages, villagers – it made no difference.  If Ferox wanted it, Ferox destroyed it.  He would feast and then burn what remained before him.  The ashes and coals simmered in the blackness for as long as the villagers could remember.

Ferox was not just a dragonfly, but a vicious creature of death.  Spouting black flames, he pillaged and burned and burned and pillaged.

The faerie folk lived in quaking fear of the rancorous beast.  In former days they were a strong clan who possessed much magic, but Ferox had beaten them into subjection.

The outlook of the villagers had grown so grim that their judgment was as clouded as a storm-clad day.  They sought to appease Ferox, but there was no relief.

Each month, at the advent of the New Moon, when the sky was nothing but blackness, they would lay one of their first-born sons at the mouth of Ferox’s lair.

This day, there was but one who remained.  He was the child of the only noble in the land, who was no longer very noble.  If Ferox had left their possessions, he would have been king.  As it stood, his name was his only redeeming quality:  Sterling.

Now being the last of the boys to be sacrificed, Sterling had been protected and grew strong.  He spent most of his days sword-fighting with an uncle or riding round the countryside.

He was cunning and swift, as well as strong and courageous.  In spite of all that surrounded him, Sterling was rather a miracle, against all odds.

On the day that he was to be sacrificed, his family had kept it secret.  Sterling had no idea of his impending doom.

He thought that he was going on a country ride with his uncle and cousins.  He threw a leaf saddle over the back of his shiny black steed and galloped up into the night sky.  The wings of his horsefly beat against the black of the night and cooled the simmering air.  Sterling looked back and saw no one.  He was puzzled, as he thought they were right behind him.  He was wrong.  His family had sent him on his own to face the mighty Ferox.

Sterling rounded a corner and there he was – Ferox – roaring, belching smoke and spitting up sulfurous hairballs every which way.

Sterling pulled his sword from the scabbard and fearlessly charged the beast.

Ferox roared in indignation.

“Who dares to challenge the Great Ferox?”

Sterling pulled back the reins of his charge.  “It is I, Sterling of Glen Ywen, Bearer of the Standard of Truth.”

Ferox emitted a deep belly laugh that nearly knocked Sterling off his horsefly.  Thankfully, the steed was steady with his wings and remained aloft.

“I will devour your Truth with one breath if there is such a thing,” Ferox said.

“Of course there is,” Sterling said.  “I am the representative.  Truth lives in me.”

Ferox thought this was hilarious.  He had never been so amused.

“What makes you think so, Sir Piety?” Ferox teased.

“If I answer you, will you leave me be?”  Sterling asked.

“I will,” Ferox answered.  He crossed his tiny black dragonfly toes because he knew that he was lying.

Fortunately, Sterling knew that Ferox was lying, too.  As the bearer of all Truth, he could sense these things.

“You hold in your mind the thought that I will make you a fine dessert,” Sterling said.  “Is this so?”

“It is so,” Ferox said.

“Truth,” Sterling answered.

Ferox was puzzled.

“You will not chase me when I turn my steed, because you think that your flames can leap farther and faster than my horse and I can fly,” Sterling said.

“Dare!”  Ferox said.

Sterling whirled his horsefly about and spurred him until they hurtled out of Ferox’s reach.

Ferox was baffled.  No one had ever dared to dare him.  He wasn’t sure what to do next, but he took up pursuit anyway.

Sterling and his horsefly climbed steeply into the sky and were now diving straight above Ferox.

Ferox heard the drone, but did not see them.

Sterling’s Sword of Truth pierced through the heart of the black dragonfly.

With a bellow and hissing, Ferox crashed to the ground with a mighty thud.  He screamed and tried to rise again.

Sterling swiftly searched for the sulfurous spheres of charbroiled sheep that he had seen the soulless beast spit out previously.

He stabbed each orb with the tip of his sword and poked them into the jaws of Ferox.

One last hissing breath produced a tiny spark.  It was all that was necessary.

The sulfur ignited and Ferox sizzled and fizzled until not even ashes remained.  His own darkness had consumed him.

At that precise moment, the village became verdant and full of life again.

A beautiful faerie appeared out of the clouds, riding upon a lavender butterfly.

“I am Verity, Queen of Candor.  I am on a quest to find the Bearer of the Standard of Truth.  Are you he?”  She asked.

“I am.”  Sterling nearly burst his buttons at her beauty.

Verity reached across the span between them and grasped his hand.  She smiled.

Sterling smiled back.

They galloped off into the dawning of a new day where the sun was rising in brilliant hues of amethyst, peach, and amber.

***The End***

Photo — St. George and the Dragon — Stockholm — Web Source:  Wikipedia

Author’s Note:  In this class, we read legends and folklore.  We take a story that we’ve read and spin our own tale off of it.  I based my version upon the story of Daniel and the Dragon from the apocryphal Book of Daniel in the Septuagint.  I love this story and wish that it was in all adaptations of the Bible.  Of course I twisted the details again in my tale.  I created faeries, horseflies, and dragonflies.  I also wanted to question the integrity of family who would sacrifice their children to a dragon — not very honorable.  But somehow, the hero turns out unscathed.  I also wanted to unleash my creativity with my own odd humorous perspective.  I really had fun with this one.

Hey ho.  Seamus here for Miss Cynthia.  She asked me to speak on her behalf, as she is recuperating.  There has been a long list of events that you would hardly believe if I were to share them.  Miss Cynthia made me pinky-swear not to say a thing about them.

But there was that whole tea and tranquility and threats about litigation in blogland thing that threw her for a loop.  She was compelled to change the name of her blog.  She is still seeing spots over that one.  Red spots.  Just came out of no where — the invisible ethernet, she says.

I said, “Magic?”

She said, “Hardly.”

I said, “Black magic?”

She said,  “Something like that.”

I said, “VooDoo?”

She said, “Exactly.”

Well, then I knew what she was talking about and I did feel a mite guilty.  But what is a gnome to do?  We are nothing if not a wee bit mischievous.

I thought back to the Galveston trip and remembered that odd fellow we met in the gift shop…

Miss Cynthia snatched us away in just a few seconds, but not before Finn and this character exchanged a few quick words.  It was all mumbo jumbo to me.  I did, however, catch snippets like, “tea, poison, not tranquil, blog, Miss Cyn___, mean, darkness,…”

Finn is versed in many avenues of magic and I assure you, it has nothing to do with “Bippity Boppity Boo.”

Miss Cynthia whisked us away to a brighter spot and said to be good little gnomes and if we would stay out of trouble, she would buy us our very own sand castle.

Finn said that was ridiculous.  He wanted a real castle.  One like we had seen earlier in our tour of the city.  He said there would be plenty of room there for his friends and a much larger still.

He pitched a king-sized hissy fit and disappeared for several hours.

This is where I found him.

When I explained to Miss Cynthia that he refused to leave his new-found friends, she gasped. “Sharks?  Finn’s new best friends are sharks?”

I tried to explain to her that Finn saw no harm in it.  He was not likely to be devoured by them.  He comes from a long line of shark whisperers.

Miss Cynthia counted to ten and said that Finn must find some new friends immediately, that friends with sharp teeth and beady black eyes were not friends at all.  They would just as likely bite him in the behind as not.

She picked him up by the top of his hat and strode down the aisle mumbling something about how she should have known better.

Finn kicked his little black boots and hollered at the top of his voice, “I’ve known sharks with kinder personalities than you and some of your so-called friends.”

Then Miss Cynthia deposited Finn and me here:

Seriously.  Next to a hermit crab painted with a likeness of Sponge Bob Square-pants.

Not a good move.  I believe you have a saying here that is something along the lines of “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.”

Well.  They haven’t met Finn.

I’m surprised Miss Cynthia allowed our return to her garden at all.  She said that she could hardly imagine Finn’s shenanigans unleashed upon the unsuspecting population of Galveston.

Finn has pouted ever since.  And practiced his own sort of magic around the clock.

Finn has quite the amazing connections with nature.

Since we have spoken last, Miss Cynthia has experienced a horse-fly bite that made her ill for a week.  Then a flying-ant stung her in the eye and made her ill again.  She has encountered eight tarantulas within a few hours time.  Her gardens are experiencing a grasshopper invasion of Egyptian proportions.  The fire-ants are everywhere that a grasshopper isn’t.  The days are an endless chain of 100 degree temperatures.  She keeps wandering about with her eyes glazed over, but seems to have no clue that Finn might be responsible.  She says that summers on the plains just keep getting more difficult.

And that is saying nothing of the additional guests.

Additional guests, you say?  Yes.  Quite.  Uninvited by Miss Cynthia. She said that she is strongly considering finding a mountain cave and becoming a hermit herself.

Finn just whistles and rolls his eyes when confronted with that situation.

Miss Cynthia said that her blog friend, Scriptor Senex, was right.  He made a comment about worrying that her home might become over-run if she made us too comfy.

She truly had no idea.

Stay tuned for photos and an update on the inundation of Miss Cynthia’s home, courtesy of Finn P.  McOrnery.

Sincerely,

Seamus  and Snickers

Dear Readers,

The winds of change are sweeping over the prairie.

The name of my blog has changed to Miss Cynthia’s Spot.  (Tea and Tales on the Plains.)

I hope that I haven’t lost any of you in changing the name and the URL.

I am still here.  The Gnomes are still here.  Hopefully, tranquil moments are still here.

Thank you!

Please leave a note in the comment section to let me know that I have not lost you!

Miss Cynthia

The Gaelic Garden Gnomes and I had an opportunity for a little rest and relaxation before beginning our concentrated  summer history and folklore studies.

One of my friends, also an author and editor, offered to drive my daughter and me to Houston.  My youngest daughter lives there and our plan was to celebrate our birthdays.

Spur-of-the-moment fun and the possibility of visiting Galveston was too good an offer to pass up.  Besides, the gnomes really wanted to go to the beach.  Seamus said that even using magic, we couldn’t do much better than fifty miles to the gallon in the Prius.

We packed our bags and hit the road.

The gnomes were a bit overcome by Dallas and Houston traffic in one day.

They asked if we might stop for some refreshment of tea and crumpets, but my daughter had a better idea.

After polishing off a bag of  kolaches, the gnomes weren’t sure they could move.  They thought we’d had enough excitement for one day.

Seamus loved the kolaches.  He is thinking of opening his own kolache factory in the Old Country.

Finn said, “I think kolaches would pair well with my barley malt.”

Seamus said,”Kolaches would pair well with anything.”

Finn said, “My barley malt would pair well with anything.”

I distracted them with the cry of, “Look!  Palm trees!”

They insisted upon immediately posing for a postcard shot to send back to the Old Country.

It was a beautiful, balmy day, and all was well.

Three Authors and an Artist ~~ Miss Jocelyn, Miss Cynthia, Miss Aubrey, and Miss Lyndsey decided to strike a pose, too.

We strolled the beach and enjoyed the sounds of the waves crashing and the gulls playing chase on the breezes.

That is until Finn decided that he must swim.  I cautioned him that the surf seemed to be a bit strong.

“Fiddlesticks,” Finn said.

Seamus suggested a nice lounge on a tuft of seaweed.  He and Snickers were perfectly happy.

Finn was bored.

Miss Aubrey told Finn that swimming was not only a bad idea, it was prohibited in this area.

Finn pointed toward the horizon and said, “Shark!”

While we were distracted, he dove in the water and swam away chuckling.

“Faith and begorrah!”  Seamus dove in after Finn, but the currents were powerful and unrelenting.

The tide swept in quickly.

Tragedy seemed eminent.

We charged into the waves to retrieve them, but too late.

The gnomes had gone under.

Suddenly, lightning flashed and the ocean boiled.

For a split second, an apparition like a mermaid rose from the deep.

The twinkling lights floated and led us under the pier, then disappeared.

I spied a tiny red hat.

“Seamus!  Finn!  You’re alive,” I said.

Seamus and Snickers were still choking out water.

“Glub, glub,” they said.

“Pub.  Pub.”  Finn said.

There were no more shenanigans for the gnomes that morning.  But the afternoon…my goodness.  You would think that was enough excitement.  Finn, however, was just warming up.

Stay tuned,

Miss Cynthia  ;^-

The Gaelic Garden Gnomes have settled in with a flurry.  If you need to catch up on the saga, the introduction to our adventure begins here.  You can also click on Tea and Tales under Categories.  Pour yourself a nice cup of tea and we’ll begin.

Their first night of arrival was hectic.  I had arranged for them to sleep in the guest room that I call my grand-children’s playroom.  I thought they would be comfortable there.

I was wrong.

Seamus said that he thought he could sleep on the quilted Sunbonnet Sue pillow, but Finn said he was not sleeping with a giant in his bed.

He said, “I’d just as soon be out under the stars.  Besides, it’s too, too — pink in here.”

But when I told them about the neighbor’s cats and the coyotes that frequently run through the pasture, Seamus said they would stay indoors, giants or no.

Seamus said, “Miss Cynthia, mum, do you suppose we could find something a wee bit more cozy and not so … so … pink?”

I located cute little beds in an arts and crafts box.  Seamus said they would be quite comfortable with their packs as pillows.

Finn said it was still too “pink.”

I’m learning, he can be a bit surly.  But he’s the Gaelic Folklore expert.  I must handle these situations with kid gloves.

I started to tell them that they could look around and see if they could find a spot they preferred to sleep when my phone rang.  I took the call and was distracted just briefly.

Afterward, I returned to the guest room.  The gnomes had disappeared.

I searched throughout the house and asked Desi, my schnauzer, and Lucy, my rescue/schnauzer/yorkie/pointer,  if they had seen the gnomes.  Desi rolled over for a belly rub and Lucy just rolled her eyes.  (She refused to even pretend to point.)

I hoped the gnomes would reappear and I decided to take a few deep breaths.   I went to the kitchen sink to put water in the kettle for some tea and what do you think I found?

They were on the windowsill…comfy and happy as ever.  Although I was relieved, I asked Seamus why they hadn’t answered.  He said that perhaps they had nodded off for a moment due to the delirium at being in such a garden-like locale.

I caught a note of sarcasm in his tone.

“Well, there is something green growing from a pot of dirt,” I said.

Seamus smiled.  He tries to be kind and patient.

Finn just rested his head on his elbow and watched me fuss.  He does that a lot.

Everybody settled in for the night.  I had to answer several more phone calls.  My daughters continued to call and ask me if they thought I really would be okay with two such unusual visitors in the house.  They are worried that a bit too much magic will be going on.

“Anything could happen,” my daughters said.

“Something magical needs to happen around here,” I said.

“And unusual visitors?  I’ve dealt with worse,” I said.   “You do remember the autumn when one of you thought match-making your mother with a nomadic artist from Santa Fe would be a good idea?”

I did not need to say more.  End of conversation.

I have to go now and prepare tomorrow’s menu for my guests.  They are quite excited about my potato soup and scones.

When I told them about the recipe, Finn said, “Why do Americans have to put green chile peppers in everything?”

I am quite excited about preparing such teensy tiny servings.  ;^)

Stay tuned.

Miss Cynthia  ;^)

Please forgive the lag in the recent excitement.  I know it may seem to you that I have forgotten that you were waiting to be introduced to my summer guests, The Gaelic Gnomes.  But around here, it has been anything but dull!

After their arrival, there ensued a bit of a fuss.  Thank goodness we have that all ironed out.  (I’ll explain later, but part of it was due to the preferences of one of the gnomes (who shall temporarily remain nameless.)  (He preferred to NOT be here.  He said he had seen enough of the prairie when they arrived.  He wanted to turn around and return immediately to the “Old Country.”  Thank goodness, the other one — a bit more mellow in nature — was persuasive.) We worked out a compromise.  I said that they did not have to stay for the family festivities over the Mother’s Day weekend, if they would please please return.  They decided to make a quick trip to Oklahoma City where a Worldwide Garden Gnome History and Folkloric Convention took place in the Myriad Gardens.  (It was a secret location there, so don’t ask.  Possibly invisible.)  Well, how could I refuse, as they said they would return with much more amazing information in Gaelic History and Folklore.)  Besides, the ornery sensitive gnome said he didn’t care what I thought.  Twenty of my family members in one weekend would be too much to ask of any gnome to meet.  And there was that little issue with my dogs.  But, I digress — I will explain it all later.

May I please introduce you to my guests:

This is Seamus.

He is very patient and thoughtful.  He specializes in Gaelic History (mostly due to the fact that he’s been around for several hundred years, although he won’t say exactly how long, and he’s seen a great deal of it for himself.)  He will share as much information as he can remember, while they are here this summer.

You will notice his pet snail, Snickers, who is his constant companion.  Seamus usually carries Snickers everywhere they go, but Snickers occasionally insists on crawling by himself.  (So that’s where they came up with the term, “at a snail’s pace.”)  Thus the reason I will allow much more time when we have to be somewhere if Snickers is to be allowed to crawl.  And thus the reason Seamus wins an award in my book, for his mountains of patience.  (Which really is astounding for one so small.)

I will mention here, that Seamus asked me to underscore that they are not just  common Garden Gnomes.  They are of the teeny, tiny, faerie variety: Gaelicus  Gardenus Gnomedus Faerieordae Minisculus.  Very rare.  (This of course, tripled my delight to have them here.)

This is Finn:

Finn, by all appearances, seems to be what you would call, laid back.  This is, however, an illusion.  The cogs in his teeny tiny brain never stop.  He promised Seamus that he would just agree to disagree with me.  I have learned very quickly that biting my tongue treating him with the utmost respect and care, even if he does swear frequently in Gaelic Gnomish, is the best remedy.

It is all going to be worth it, however.  Because Finn has received the highest education and awards with honors for his research in Gaelic Gnome and Faerie Folklore.  (He asked me to call him Dr. Finn, but Seamus said that was ridiculous, and he wouldn’t allow it.)  Finn covered his mouth with his hand and stifled a giggle.

Finn asked me to please express his delight in being here (I think I might have seen Seamus elbow Finn’s side at that moment,) but mostly he wants to know if he can please dig through my storage shed for abandoned bits of copper pipe and tubing.  He says he is going to have to construct a small still, as what passes for Scotch Whiskey in these parts is not fit for consumption and he thinks it’s going to be a longggg summer.

Well.

I know now that just because gnomes are from the British Isles doesn’t mean they drink tea.

Nevertheless, I am thrilled to have them here.  I do realize that this is a very rare opportunity.  I can hardly wait to share more with you, so much has already transpired.

But I’ve got to go.  Finn is yelling something in Gaelic to my little schnauzer and Desi is yelping.

Leave a note if you like, with your well-wishes for Seamus and Finn!

(You may follow the entire adventure by clicking on the Category — Tea and Tales.)

Miss Cynthia :^)

I’m very excited to share my plans for the summer with you.  I realize that you may not be so excited about my plans, since you would most likely be more excited about your plans, especially if they involve a beach and swaying palm trees.  However, my summer will be spent close to home and I’ve cooked up some excitement.  I am preparing for the “big” class at the university in the fall ~~ the catapult into my future ~~ Writing the Novel.  I’ve waited four years (and really a lifetime) for this class.

(I know — I know — get on to the big news.) Patience, please…just bear with me while I share a little more background.

A genre has to be selected for my novel  — such as, mystery, thriller, or romance (aren’t they all connected?  I’m not so good at any of those subjects in real life — I’m not sure how they would turn out on the page….)

Science fiction — no, too close to my previous life and very uncomfortable to talk about, much less write about.  Western — (maybe, since I grew up in Nevada near the silver mines and gambling halls….)

Fantasy … well, maybe.  I do enjoy studying the history of many eras, but especially that of Britain, Scotland, Ireland, and Wales — where many of my ancestors came from (I’m looking for a king or a queen in the family files, you know.) (Isn’t everybody?)  Anyway … fantasy… well, you know, too, that a great deal of my thought life  is spent floating in the air among the clouds and castles I’ve built there.  What better genre for me than fantasy?    ;^)

I was thinking about spending time this summer studying Charles Dickens, or Shakespeare, or Jane Austen and giving some of their ideas a fantastical tweak.  Or maybe Stephanie Myers.  You know, the sparkling vampires get such a bad rap in the upper eschelon of professional writing classes at the U….(I thought maybe that I could write about UNsparkled faery vampires full of teen angst …. You don’t think that’s been overdone, do you?)  (We could call it, “Twiflight.”) (Don’t get me wrong — I read the books and watched the movies because there is always something to learn.)  That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.  My lesson is this:  The author is laughing all the way to the bank.  ;^)

Well, anyway — while deciding which direction to take, what to my wondering eyes did appear, but …

A brochure!  (It fluttered through my yard one day, twisting and turning on a wild breeze that we, on the prairie, call a “dust devil.”)  I snatched the brochure from its dusty landing.   This was the title:   Announcing the Summer Mentorship of Gaelic Gnome Lending in Education Society.  Or SMOGGLES, as we will refer to it in the future.  ;^)

Here’s the basic idea of all the info:  They would send gnomes to me from Europe to exchange information about Gaelic Gnome and Faerie History and Folklore.  Well, as you can imagine — that is a deal that I could not pass up.  That was it!  My genre — Historical Fantasy!  I would learn about real gnomes and faeries and then write about them.  That certainly could never be overdone.

All that would be required of me was the exchange of gnomes or faeries from my area, with one or two of theirs! (And, of course, lodging and a tiny bit of food for the summer.)  Well, I promptly rounded up a couple of cowboy gnomes. (Everybody knows that Oklahoma is one of the most magical areas on the continent.  The cowboy gnomes are rare, but really not that difficult to locate….)  It was quite an experience, but that is another story for another time.  I sent them on their way to Europe and awaited the arrival of my exchange.

The blessed day finally came and the gnomes were to fly in by Red-Tailed Hawk Courier at one o’clock in the afternoon.  I sat out on a lawn chair and waited.  And waited.  And waited.  Hours passed.  I feared that the Oklahoma Red-Tailed Hawks did not take too kindly to the Gaelic Gnomes and may have stopped for a snack.  I went in the house and phoned the proper authorities and after much red tape and hullabaloo, I was stricken.  My gnomes were lost before they ever arrived.

Well, I went back out to the patio with some refreshment in hand (tea, mind you,) to lament the poor luck of it all.

I sat in the porch swing and sipped my cup of “tea,” sighing all the while.

It began faintly at first, just rising over the sound of the crickets and cicadas in the locust trees and the evening breezes.  I heard the strains of a jolly Irish tune filtering through the air.

“La Li La Lie … O’er the skies we fly … La Li La Loo … Bringin’ magic to you … La Li La Lold … The truth be told … La Li La Lie … We’d soon spit in y’er eye ….”  (Well, I’m pretty sure those were the lyrics, but I can’t be certain, it was faint and distant.)

I made my way around the yard, checking under rocks and fence posts, when finally, this is what I found:

Don’t forget to “click” and enlarge! You simply must see this to believe it! ;^)

My gnomes!  They had arrived after all and were taking a moment of recuperation in what they said was the most comfy spot in my garden!  (The rest of it is pretty well covered by weeds.)  I was elated.  There they were — in all reality.  Gnomes and their little packs holding all their worldly goods and magic!  From the Gaelic Isles — or the “Old Country” as they like to call it.  Well — I’m very excited to introduce them to you.  But that will have to wait for another post — they are hungry and tired from the long journey.  I must run and sort out the details (and let the SMOGGLES know that the gnomes have arrived safely.)   Stay tuned for updates.

Miss Cynthia  ;^)