Action speaks louder than words, but not nearly as often
-Mark Twain

Read Mend Meddle Magic in the order in which I'm writing the medicine story. There may be typos I miss, and then there will be new words I add after the story has begun its spin. There really is more than one way to share stories. Start with the very first segment "The sign" you'll find a link at the end where you can Read more ...

Hope you enjoy the magic as it unfolds,

Friday, June 5, 2015


Meg was in the garden when Pale walked the short distance from her old truck to the beautifully wound arch of old apple limbs. Unlike every other garden in Salish the Sweets did not fence theirs with tall wire boundaries. "We have an arrangement with Deer. She and her families are welcome to have some of what we grow. We plant what we need, and like to eat, and every spring when the Shes were filled with the new-comers we settle on what they will need from us." The first time Pale heard the story, she was impressed with the conversation skills the women maintained -- the Sweets talked with every being. There was so much to learn about the place in which she found herself. The customs and protocol were not so unlike hers, but, this place where gooseberry bushes grow-- well, used to grow--had secrets revealed to the Border Witch only if she lived with the place. That is, she had to make room for the customs.

Digging sticks and shovels of customized lengths poked from the top of a barrel wagon. The Sweet sisters were tiny women, and their tools were small by comparison to most. The mounds intended for Blue Lake pole beans were covered with straw, the ground beneath the cover needed only to 'be fluffed up with digging sticks. The straw would be easily cleared and tossed to compost.

"Beans are a favorite with with us," Meg opened her line-covered right hand to show Pale the white beans soaked over the last two days and nights of the fattening moon. "If you'll help me with that shovel we can turn the bed, the straw can be wheeled over to the compost bin, and poles easily set for climbing. Make tee-pees. While you start in with the shovel, I'll get the bamboo from around the back of the shed."

"I'll take the soup out of the truck and tuck it inside the kitchen. It's still cold from the frig, be nice to get it to a warm burner and re-heat slowly. Won't be long." Pale grinned back at Meg, nodding as she opened the passenger door. There wasn't really a lot to be done in the beds, but, a little time with her hands in the cool damp black earth wouldn't hurt a jot either. Beans, a wisp of memory, stopped Pale short. That was a story one of her favorite students shared with her about a little bean. Frijole. Her student, and dear friend now, was San Salvador. Little Frijole. Yes, the story came chirping back at her like birdsong. (Click here, and read through to the Comments for a treat of a story about a little frijole.)

Ruth was having a little lie-down. Her back had been acting up on her, slowing her down. Pale was glad her friend could still enjoy the pleasure of a nap at any time. She set the copper bottomed pot on the large burner. Set it to a low temperature, and closed the kitchen door quietly behind her.

Meg was already clearing the first mound of straw. Pale pulled a digging stick from the barrel, choosing it over the shovel and began working the dirt up. Like making pastry, the soil needed to be loosened to look like bits of buttered dough. Between digs with the stick Pale ran her fingers through, and sifted. Meg followed with her softened beans. Poke. Drop. Cover. Two seeds per hole, just in case. Three holes. After each of the four mounds were planted, there would be many happy seeds planted on the Full Moon.

The sun was sinking quickly. But he had done his work today. The warmth in the garden pulsed still. With the last of the tee pees planted, Meg sat back on the soft dirt row.
"Do you know about the precession?"
Pale laid her digging stick beside her, and joined Meg on the dirt. "You mean the slow movement of her self, the Heaven?"
"That is the one."
Pale remembered, it seemed to be that sort of day ... so, she remembered the face and voice of one of her very first teachers. The lesson behind that mana'o was fleeting. Even these long years passed. "I do remember when first I learned the word, and the movement. But, the application to my life ..."
"Tonight the sky has a new view of that lesson. It's one of the few times we'd be able to share it together. Funny how the ones who watch help us soften up enough to stick in a few new beans." Meg was chuckling wildly with that.
"A few new beans for the old crones. That we still have room enough for them is a lesson in itself, Pale Wawae."
"Do you, even with all your know-how. Do you find yourself muddling through an experience with life on this planet?" Being a Changeable, the Sweet Sisters were a sample of how to be permeable: weathered and feathered, and flesh enough to have birthed many children as human. That was what made them similar. Pale yearned to be taught. Really, to be a good and true storyteller you had to remain teachable.

"Our great-great grandmother was a girl who did not change. She was a little human girl who lived in these places, with this land, the water, and the trees. In particular, the Cedar Grandmother to all the People, watched our great-great grandmother. She was born with a limp. She moved funny. Other children made fun of her. And none of them would play with her. She not only moved funny, but she thought about things in funny ways. Her mind picked one thought from here, and another from there. One day, as she leaned against the trunk of the oldest Cedar in her village, the Cedar began talking to our great-great grandmother." Meg was now prone on the dirt beside the mounds and tee-pees. Her eyes were closed. Pale waited for a moment. A long moment. As she waited, she too curled herself on the other side of the mounds. Before long, the two old women were circled like cinnamon buns with one hand tucked beneath their heads for pillows. The two women fell fast asleep.

The sun slipped quietly over the horizon. Soon the cool breeze off the water would send a chill. Ruth was now awake, refreshed from her nap on her cozy bed. She looked from the window in front of the kitchen sink. Smiling to herself, she chirped, "Well, this story has begun its magic. Soup's warming nicely. A blanket. They'll need one a piece." Making sure the stove was set to the lowest temperature, Ruth gathered up three quilts, one for her sister, a second for Pale, and a third for herself. Without ceremony or fuss, Ruth tucked a quilt around and under the sleeping women. When her work there was done, she found a place near the third bamboo pole and fashioned herself into a cinnamon bun as well. Her earlier nap had softened her spine enough to do the circling exercise. "Lucky me. Lucky us she chanted."

The cool wind from the channel off the banks did indeed bring a steady voice. Cedar waited until she could hear the steady breathing from all three crones. When she heard Pale's snore she began where Meg had left off, " I will teach you to weave baskets that will hold water. No one in the village knows how to do this." This little girl with the limp, who also thought about things in a very different sort of way could not believe her ears. "You Grandmother Cedar want to teach me?"

"Well, of course I want to teach you something no one else can do. No one else thinks about things in different ways." So the little girl learned to dig cedar roots. The little girl who was your great-great grandmother also learned how to pull cedar bark and soften both to make fine coil.

When the first basket was finished, Cedar told your great-great grandmother, "Now go to the river and fill the basket with water. Then, bring the basket back to me." The girl who was your great-great grandmother did as she was told.

But, by the time she returned from the river with her basket filled with water, all the water had drained through. "Try again," said Grandmother Cedar.

Three times, the little girl who was your Great-great grand mother re-did her basket. Each time, a little less water drained from her basket.

The fourth time, the little girl who was your Great-great grand mother filled her basket with water, and this time, the basket remained full when she reached Grandmother Cedar. "Very good! Now give this basket to the oldest woman in your village." The little girl who was your Great-grand mother did just that, even though she was shy about making friends with such an old woman. But, this old woman was also not much liked by the people in her village. She limped, and thought things in very different ways.

When the little girl who was your Great-great grand mother found the elder, she told her what she had brought, and how she had learned to do what she did. The two became very good friends from that day forward. The little girl who was your Great-grand mother grew old, and in all her years, she taught many others many things."

Pale was the first of them to wake. She was sure she had dreamed a Big Dream. The precession. The beans. Grandmother Cedar. The Great-great grand mother of the Sweet Sisters. She woke and set the memory. It was past dusk. The warmth of the quilt was comforting. Reassured of her place, Pale wrapped her shoulders with the quilt, and gently rousted Meg, and then Ruth. "Time for turkey soup."

"What a good idea," the two sisters said in unison.

The turkey soup had taken on that robust second-day maturity that all good soup makers anticipate. Pale always made more than enough soup for her and the silver-haired Raven who frequently joined her at her table, and in her bed. Tonight the soup was a women's soup topped off with some of that cream the Sisters had in a small small gravy dish. A platter of signature short-bread cookies and a pot of tea, this time peppermint, was perfect.

" Did we all dream the same Big Dream?" I finally asked.

"Did you meet our Grand Gran, then?" Meg teased knowing that was precisely the direction of this day's journey.

"That was what I was told. The Grandmothers. Cedar, and your ..."

"Great Gran," completed Ruth. "Yes, this is a night, and a moon for serving up Great Gran stories."

"We have a sky to tend now. Pale, leave the dishes. Come, before the Cloud Families move in." Meg was insistent.

The three women headed for the outdoors. Meg gathered up the quilts, and wrapped Pale up. Ruth wrapped Meg. Pale and Meg both wrapped Ruth. Could there be any other sort of comfort to match? Pale had no biological sisters, but many cousins served this same kind of comfort as she was growing up. Maha her best friend offered this reassuring woman's care. Max, her long-time kahuna and guardian gave her many other kinds of care. But tonight was something all together new. She felt a shiver of appreciation tremble from toe to eyebrow. It wasn't the cold.

Outside the clouds were moving rapidly to fill in the sky above. In the southeaestern sky now nearly coal blue-black, bright lights lit at the horizon's edge. "Antares, the fixed in line with the Sagittarius 'Strawberry' Moon, and Saturn, above, time keeper. Not often, as I said earlier, we get to see the Heavenly Timekeepers together. Antares, the fixed star moves imperceptibly by degrees. It takes years for the star your Great-great great gran would have called Lehuakona. She your great great grand would have learned from her grandmother. Slow and regular practice with looking, and seeing one grandmother teaches little girl's who move and think in different sorts of ways. Grandmother's patiently share the gifts with those ripe for them.

"Sometimes it takes such a long time," Pale reflected on her own predisposition to judge her metaphoric limp, her kind sort of thinking. Ruth injected, reading her flow, "Your storytelling is like none other. Water stays in the basket you share with your listeners." She continued, and pointed to the bright glow of Saturn. He, the one who has many rings, keeps track. Over and over again, his lessons are about humility. Bringing us all to our knees when we forget how entwined we all are. Fixed star, planet, moon, Earth, Sun, clouds, wind, water, tree, dirt. All connected."

"Your ancestors also connect the thought about humility in a very different way than many others. Especially the many who have not, yet, learned that a basket that can hold water is valuable. Your language names humility ha'aha'a. Breath upon breath. Generation upon generation. Linked. Ancestral memory. Always connected. Humbled, you trust in the unfolding, the slow and regular movement. The precession."

Pale smiled up from the cape she had now pulled around her head. Hooded and comforted with a blanket, and the grans, Pale felt the breath upon breath. "Did your great great grand mother heal from the limp she was born with?"

"No." Ruth said, "She limped all her life through, and shared her different way of thinking and doing things with many many people.

"Just as I do," Pale said softly.

"Ha'aha'ha" said the Cedar. Just so.

The End

* Many thanks to the People of this Place, and a particular mahalo nui loa a pau to Vi Hilbert, a storyteller who greatly influenced my journey, and my kuleana as storyteller. It is her story, re-told with respect for its value I have woven here. Vi Hilbert's story of "Her First Basket" can be read here. Mahalo to the Tulalip Tribes' Lushootseed Language Department for the fine work they are doing to keep their culture and their language vital. I am humbled, and grateful for their wisdom. Mahalo nui loa a pau!

Medicine stories woven here in my style are like the girl who learned to weave cedar baskets that held water. Slowly, I learn. Slowly I am softened. Slowly like the precession, I turn.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

The precession

Over-night sleep overs was a thing Pale had not done for longer than you could remember. The Sweets offered to airlift her -- come for her via the brooms, but Pale declined and said "If it's all the same to you I've had way too much of brooms for one season." The Scotch Broom blooms affected her ill in spite of the many remedies she tried. Even a witch remains vulnerable to the adapted Nature of things. "I'll bring some of the turkey soup. Is this a women-only moon?" She wondered whether Raven was invited.

"We'll let him know what we have in mind. Best to leave the night to us." Ruth nodded to her sister's reply.

"I'll be there before dusk then." The scones and omelet washed down with two pots of Builder's Tea made a fine start to the day. The crones had their scones, and it was just another one of the moments in the precession. Slowly oh ever so slowly the multiple realities, the fixed stars, the resting places and the birthing places moved. The motion of the low rising summer moon would be visible for just a brief while. The family of clouds were insistent. Even with their influences, that window of opportunity would close if timed carelessly. 

Before they shut the door behind them Meg thought about the timing. "We have some beans ready for planting. Could you help with that? Come earlier. We could use your help with working up the beds if you have the time." 

"I'll be there with my blanket." 
"Good, a little dig in the dirt before supper. Put some beans in their beds and the light of the moon will welcome them up the poles to grow big and fat like old Jackie boy's."

Once out the door Ruth and Meg switched with the snap of fingers from their crone forms and flew into the limb of the Gravenstein. "It's a shame she won't fly with us," Ruth had hoped the initiation would be a quick one. With the flying lesson the BorderWitch's long battle with the Scotch invasive would dilute, and come next season dissipate. 

"We could have convinced her." Meg watched the morning unfolding. Ruth watched her sister. Some and simple, complex and odd, the world in Salish piled on itself. Letting go of the old was something the Border Witch struggled with. Her world of things was never the problem, she was disciplined about possessing material. It was the old beliefs that wore her, stagnating in her. Even Antares moves by degrees. Tonight the Sweet Sisters would move the Border Witch. By degrees.

"Let's fly!" said Ruth after the two felt the wind shift. The robins had arrived hungry for the cherries barely ripe. Two black feathers floated slowly to the orchard floor. The hummingbird saw them, and buzzed protectingly circling the cottage. Leaving her own charms she dotted the eaves with her tiny bill, "Do her no ill, Sweets. Do her no ill."

A final bit to the muddling ... 

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Strawberries with the moon

Hover over the sky and read a bit more inspiration.
"Ruth, Meg what a surprise. Come in please." Pale was not fully awake, but she was aware things weren't tidied up for company. It was Ruth who chirped in first, "Let me be the one to reassure you, we are not the Clean Police. Never have been and don't see that changing for the lasting long time."

"It makes no never mind," Meg added harmonizing with her sister. "We brought scones!"

"I'll turn the kettle on. Coffee, or tea?" The Sisters preferred tea so Pale pulled mugs off their pegs and found a strong black tea blend, and a jar of peppermint.

"Let's live for excitement," Meg laughed pointing to the black tea. The leaves had a lovely rich smell, "Invigorating!" They were leaves from the hills of Viet Nam, and a blend Pale enjoyed a lot though if she drank it too often she'd end up with a head ache.

While the kettle brought the water to boil, Pale fished about in the cooling cupboard and a basket tucked full of brown speckled eggs. It wasn't often the Sisters showed up for breakfast. An omelet with fresh scones seemed appropriate. "We brought a dish of butter. Did you know someone leaves us glass jugs of cream-topped milk?" Pale had heard the rumor. She smiled and remembered it was something she knew. But couldn't put together the name of the milk man, or milk maiden.

"Seems to me, I heard about that. Lucky you!" The kettle hollered. Pale stopped her rummaging long enough to spoon out four scoops of the luscious dried leaves into the ancient blue glazed tea pot. "Blue is the old color of love," Meg said admiring the tea pot. Pale didn't know that, but nodded at the new bit of lore. The boiling water steamed up the scent of high mountain heat. The witch inhaled deeply wondering why she didn't do this more often. Then remembered, oh yes, the head aches.

The tea steeped with the pot's lid in place. Ruth helped herself to the open shelves where plates and jars filled with cutlery were within easy reach. A half dozen near-orange yolks bobbed and then swirled into a golden mix, sprinkles of marjoram and thyme, and snips of basil added green. A smash of garlic under the blade of the knife let out the cast of flavor. A heap of fresh butter sizzled in the pan already laced with olive oil.

"Oh my, we have incited a feast!" Meg was content to be idle as she made enough room for the three plates and napkins rolled around a folk, butter knife, and teaspoon for each of them. The scones were still hot bundled in a towel of muted threads that looked to have been washed a decade of dozen times. Meg settled the towel in the middle of the table.

It didn't take long for the fluffy omelet to set up in the slurry of oil and butter saturating the fresh eggs with a light crust. Pale flipped it in the pan once and removed the omelet to the tiled counter-top. Meg handed the plates to the cook who divided the meal into three equal shares. "I've got milk in the frig. It's not delivered fresh but think it's not turned sour." Pale didn't use much cow's milk. "And, I've coconut milk if anyone's interested." Both sisters raised their mottled and speckled arms for the coconut milk. Sugar and honey were already on the table, and the hot brew had steeped to a robust Builder's Tea.

Pale joined her neighbors. Ruth poured.Without prompting from anyone in particular, the three friends joined hands and gave thanks. "Together for the breaking of fast, we give thanks to those who watch us. We give thanks to the hen who gave up her eggs, and the shrubs who parted with their leaves for tea and flavors for us three. Friends for a feast on a Strawberry Moon. Fire Moon, fuel us true." It was Meg's blessing, she was the one most familiar with Auntie Moon. "So that's what this is all about." Pale said after giving each of the Sweets' fingers a gentle squeeze.

The glaze of galaxies coated the eyes of both sisters, they were after all more than a hundred years old. But like a dark sky at night the light was bright in those old eyes, and twinkles still came easily. For a few minutes the delight of hot scones with melting butter and the clinking of folks against pottery plates, teaspoons stirring white coconut liquid and the satisfying hums of appreciation ... that was a fit way to love a feast.

With the skill of a seasoned dunker, Meg timed the dip and retrieval of scone from her tea and aimed for her happy mouth. "Yum, yum, yum. I'm glad we chose lemon for this batch of scones." The jar of last summer's strawberry jam was a perfect sweet compliment to the melt-in-your-mouth pastry. Between bites of omelet Ruth finally asked, "Do you get a view of the low riding moon from your cottage Pale?" Situated in the woods like it is the likelihood of much moon light in June was slim.
"Not much. It's always mystified me how quickly I lose sight of her once we approach summer. I miss her."

"Just as we thought," both sisters chimed.

"We'd like to kidnap you for a moon watch tonight. Bring your blankie and your nightie. We have something very special to share with you tonight dear Border Witch. Our orchard in the flats of town has an open sky facing west. We believe you need to get some Full Moon tuning by the light of the moon, but also by the light of that strawberry planet, Saturn and the oh so slowly moving star Antares. All three of those heavenly bodies are visible in June. This June is particularly vital for you as your muddle quotient ... your tendency to loose yourself in the journey, is high!"

In tandem the Sweet Sisters were above all ancient diviners of all things celestial. They not only made great shortbread, and scones, these crones took care of all crones, witches and wandering old women within their quadrant. Theirs was a small but particular region, and Pale, our heroine from the Safety Pin Cafe was in particular need this Strawberry Moon. A breakfast feast was laying out the newest crone and witchery initiation necessary to mature a woman who travels with sticks rather than shovels.

A little more ... 

Monday, June 1, 2015

Put muddle in the middle

"Why are we revisiting this story?" 
"Isn't there a rule about conclusions?"
"Steadfast and solid recipes you mean?" The Sweet Sisters weren't against a little disagreement from time to time. After so much time together they found it was actually the most fun of all to spoil each other for one thing, and switch roles for another to see whether things, recipes, approaches to common destinations might be different if.
It was Ruth who finally came up with something of an answer. "We're revisiting the story because I feel the ache of a sorrow pulling at the belly of our heroine. Our Border Witch storyteller has lost her jar of fairy dust, and the fuse her astrologer is writing about as the moon moves to full in the fire of Sagittarius... it's the one that leads to additional options."
"Didn't we conclude this story with her being tucked into a new wagon with many adventures yet to have?" Meg was still at a loss.
"We did." Ruth seemed to know what was missing but wanted suggested a bit more story to answer her sister's perplexity. "Our storyteller though woven with magic is more than half herself an aging woman with a gut prone to muddle. In the middle of all that mending, and meddling with lives, the untidy busy of muddling through seems to be demanding equal time."

Well, there we are readers. A brightly approaching fire-y moon is lighting up a story that has sat for nearly a Gregorian calendar year. What will come of it? I wonder.

Read more ... 

Sunday, August 10, 2014

The party, Part Two

There was still a sliver of light to the night. Skeena flew without hesitation in the direction of Alex's shop. The orchard was in bloom, it was the petals that gave off a hue of pale pink and scent a bird knew to be promises of cherries. The silver-streaked raven boy circled the trees once and spotted the brooding lights Alex used at the front of the old barn he used for his shop. The welder was hunched over the tail-end of his old silver and blue Ford truck. A small tear-dropped caravan was hitched to the truck. There was enough light for Skeena to see the ripple of welds on the top and sides of the caravan. Copper, and other metals was his guess. So that was what kept his friend. The boy circled once again, making sure his wings moved silently, and did not let on to his presence. When Alex climbed into the cab of his truck, the raven headed for the woods.

Ruth and Meg found themselves comfortable on the arms of Pale's couch. The heat from the Jotul was making them drousy, or maybe the heat simply relaxed the borders of their morphing reality and their first nature took over. The old crows bobbed half-asleep but keen to any and all conversation. Maha had her harp between her knees and began to pull songs as old as rain from the strings, White Raven Woman joined in with her rattles, her man beat on the skin of his drum. Pale passed pairs of sticks to as many hands as could be filled, but kept two for herself. Skeena folded his wings into his side nodding to his sister, as he took the sticks from his mother. Alex had pulled the Ford to the side of the cottage and walked quietly through the side door. "Everyone is here. Everyone is here." Pale embraced Alex Santiago, "Welcome Cousin." The two exchanged kisses and glistening smiles.

Without ceremony the birthday woman began the familiar chant speaking to her gods and goddesses, her ancestors and her people dressed for the occasion. Pale asked for permission to know what was needed tonight. At first she chanted alone. One by one and then two and three and then all who knew the words, everyone chanted for themselves, and for all and everyone. The cottage throbbed. The birds rocked on the arms of chairs, the sticks clacked, clack, clack, clack ... clack, clack, clack, clack, clack, clack. "Leave behind the ways of old, the ways of legacy no longer good, beautiful or true. Leave behind the damaged insufficiency, leave behind the faces of fear." Antonio and Lola passed lidded bottles filled with beans, seeds, and colored beads. The bottles hung with laces of leather and more beads. "Bottle rattles," he explained over the percussion already mounting. "Shake them in front of you up and down," he explained as he demonstrated the simple movement. "Clear and make bright your present, your presence, your wonderful true self." Between them their were more than twenty bottles and jars. No hands were empty. Between the heat of the wood burning in the Jotul and the energy of the chant smoke filled Pale's home. Images and faces came. The air was thick with ancestors. Alala. Mo'o. Mano. Salmon. Osprey. Kolea. Palaoa. Squirrel. Kawika. Eucebia. Francisco. Ernest. Chong. Lily. Aunty J. Honu. Ma and Dad. Between the words, voices swam. Borders were swept clear. The night was timeless. The space was timeless.

Pale's Raven joined in gathering the spirit of beauty shaking a long thin bottle rattle up and down, but was also keen in attending the deep cauldron he had filled with clear water on the hearth stones beside the stove. Every once in awhile a small sucking sound came from the cauldron. No one else noticed, but then, no one else needed to notice. It was after eight o'clock when the chanting and sound-making stopped. Sweat poured off the company, except for the birds who seemed to be unfettered. "Welcome, welcome." It was Raven who spoke first. "Our family is honored by your presence, and your company. And now it is time to eat, children first." The cousins and friends put their sticks and jars where they could find them again, and headed for the table of food. Ruth stood beside Pale in her human skin, helping to ladle up mugs and bowls of soup. From the corner of her eye she spied one of the little girls tempted by the chocolate dipped stars. Without skipping a breath she whispered, "Just one wouldn't hurt." The black eyed girl grinned, "Two?" Ruth repeated, "Just one wouldn't hurt," and went back to ladling soup. The word quickly spread through the ranks of small people. But there were many, many shortbread cookies, life was short, and the children have such a long way to go.

The feast created with the hearts of love and affection for the storyteller fed birds, spirit and humans with the enchantment of being alive. The young people found themselves an expanded clan. Skeena watched Dani because she was more interested in snapping pictures. "Your soup will get cold, and my mother will come and fill it with hot." He was half-joking, though Dani didn't know that. "Sorry about that. It's just that I've never been at a party like this before. My grandmother, she gave me this camera. It's old ... and special. Maybe this is silly, but, it feels like this camera was just waiting to be here. To do this." She held the camera still, and clicked several times, recording the faces and clusters of Lola and the Sweet Sisters ... shiny red spandex and black satin crow feathers ... click, click, click.
"Not silly at all. But eat your soup." Dani nodded and put the camera down to finish the broth. He was right, the soup was delicious and made her belly sing. What song? What words. She wasn't sure, but she thought her belly button was glowing with sunshine.

There was no rushing the eating. Dan Branch showed up at just before ten, and not long after C.C. was there, too. The soup in one pot remained half full and warm. Five pies were still whole: two berry pies, and three rabbit. Clattering dishes in Maha's hands made their way through the soapy sink and into hands ready to rinse them clean. After a few minutes in the drain, other hands shook then wiped them dry. Silverware lay on clean towels along the counters. They stayed there until sorted into canning jars, to be used again before the night was over. Maha was elbow deep in suds, "Glad to see you both. Full house tonight." She laughed "Yours and this one." "Yep. We're a crowd of happy campers at the Inn. See some of them right there," Dan waved before cutting himself a nice slice of bunny pie and filled himself a mug of Pale's soup. C.C. passed on the rabbit, and went directly to the blueberry pie. Ruth had made a few shortbread moons naked. "Just the way I like 'em," C.C. collected three crescents, lay them on a small dish, and served herself a mug of soup. Looking around for the baker she found Ruth and Meg nodding on the arm of the couch. There was room on the floor beside the couch, C.C. claimed it as hers and dunked the first rich shortbread into the heated chicken soup. The inn keeper was happy to be off her feet, and happier yet to be with her favorite people. The small rich pastry was a delicate contrast to the rich chicken broth now even more intense with the flavor of juniper berries.

It was nearly ten o'clock. Antonio and his chorus line were outside, breathing in the cool night air,  resting from the feast. "The night's just begun girls," Antonio pat his belly aware that he probably shouldn't have had that second slice of pie. "You could've warned us about all the goodies, or stuffed a sock in my mouth." The tall blond groaned happily. "But god it was worth every bite." Antonio felt in his pocket. His hand closed around the rough surface of the scallop shells. Taking it out and into the air in front of him the dancing man shook his long trusted rattle and called on the best of all his ancestry and the juggling faces that made him the person he was tonight. 1970 was more than forty years past. The war was history. Antonio Santiago had clattered many, many sticks and shook the rattling shells to leave behind the nightmares that were his past. The Road Show tonight made the journey of transformation an exclamation mark! It was his ongoing gay parade, and he was proud to include all of himself in the dancing tonight. "Let's make a few adjustments to the routine ... barefoot, but not bare bones." A drag queen had her reputation but in respect for his cousin's sensitivities to the many product the boys usually used to adorn, sculpt and perfume themselves Antonio and his queens were going natural, and native. The inside of the sunflower wagon hung with poles carrying the dress and regalia for hula. Kahiko. Ancient style.

Yards of magnificently pounded and dyed kapa bark cloth that had taken hundreds of hours to soak, beat and dry were the kuleana of the woman in red spandex. Lola was a practitioner of kapa. She was born the son of a very respected Hawaiian family who maintained the traditions and culture through the arts, but it was her wish to be their daughter that took decades of clacking the sticks to re-open the lid to kapu, the ban, of sexuality and gender. With the sides of the sunflower wagon open, the swarm of activity and heat cooled thanks to the breezes that voiced themselves through the evergreens. Dani and Olivia were in a trance. Every once in awhile Pale paused in her chitchat with family and friends inside her home and caught the looks on the young women. Seeing men change from street clothes that would pass for city high-end junk into their G-strings had Olivia flushing from cherry pink to pomegranate. "It's the life of performance, baby. It's the life that lets you emerge ... encourages you to make a difference with the space, light the fire in the body you have. Opens doors. Sweeps borders clear!" Antonio had his arms around Olivia and then he reached to the pole holding the kapa. From a large wooden hanger he undid yards of soft raspberry dyed cloth and held it out to the girl. "This one is for you if you want it! I know you dance, you'll know at least one of the dances we have planned. Tonight you dance with the moon and she will tattoo you with your true face." Dani had found a place to unload the roll of film that was now filled with snapshots. She had two more rolls in her bag and was reloading. Her grandmother's face beamed in her eyes. Dani felt her tutu, heard her say, "You, and your sister have made the crossing. Young enough to bend the rules. Old enough to remember. Look so you see."

Inside the music of harp and guitar complemented the voices singing. Fairy was cheerfully engaged in a game of magic with Skeena. The two of them were swapping penny for penny as the boy, then the Fairy made the coins appear in unusual places. Ruth could always spot magic blinking, but tonight she saw that the young raven had learned to veil her sight, and that even surprised her. Alex's quiet gaze was drawn to the woman with the purple frames. He recognized her Volvo outside, and now was pleasantly rewarded with her comely face as she stood at the open kitchen door looking at her daughters. "I recognize you and your girls from this morning. Outside my shop. The one with the camera. She's watchful." Camilia turned to face a tall man with lines that patterned him like sheet music. She felt the glow of heat that wasn't from his welding. It surprised her to feel it. "She is watchful. That's a beautiful choice of words for her." Alex Santiago had one hand around the handle of a mug of Pale's soup. It was not quite steamy hot, but the woman's purple framed glasses fogged. He smiled that uncommon full face smile, extended his empty hand to Camilia DeSilva and introduced himself. "Alexander Santiago, at your service." "Camilia DeSilva." That was that. Pale caught that look as well and was happy. She felt Raven looking across at her. They smiled that smile that knows love cross-pollinates, it stings, but oh the honey the bees do make.

The night conspired with the company at Pale's cottage, and through the tops of the cedar and fir moonlight turned the trees into an ether-world of color only moon watches observe. The glow of the 'Ole Pau Moon set a stage for the Border Witch's new year. This one was a phase of never-endingness Pale thought. Some things never end. The small courtyard at the edge of the driveway was lit with strands of twinkle lights. Just enough light for the show that started with Antonio's kahea, calling his dancers from the wagon and onto the soft grassy yard. Dancers and guests thread themselves into the night. Antonio was dressed in un-dyed kapa with a tie like that an obi on kimonos dyed in black and purple patterns of the sea urchin. He had pulled his long hair into a top knot adorned with green ferns collected from the forests surrounding Pale's home. Around his ankles more fern along with kupe'e and cockle shells rattled as he folded himself onto the woven mat where his ipu, a large double gourd waited. The kapa wrapped Antonio in a sleeveless gown of such amazement. Folds of the soft, pliable cloth enveloped him. Tattoos across his shoulders and down his arms seem to be perfectly choreographed to dance with the kapa. Each of the dancers were wrapped and adorned with regalia that called on the spirits most important to the individual dancer. These were men, adorned as dancers who crossed, or crisscrossed gender. They represented their present self at the threshold of the Black and White Gate. None passed through alone. They entered the dance area in pairs, Antonio chanted to them asking if they were ready. "Ae, yes." They were ready. Six dancers including Lola moved as one, pairs replicating movements as ancient as wind, as powerful as fire. The gods and goddesses of elemental forms opened the portal between the events of old and the night's celebration. Life was now. Life was then. The chant spoke of things, people, place and occasion. The bodies of the dancers stamped the ground wakening the past, present and future.

The hour passed effortlessly. The dances flowed one into the other. These were the dances of journeying, looking for the next right place. Sticks, short and long were part of these dances, too. Their purpose? The same as was explained earlier. The final dance shifted emphasis. The pace was less bombastic, but no less old. For this final chant, Lola took Antonio's place. Antonio began the movements as a single dancer. The mele and the dance was an original one created for tonight. It was a mele inoa, a naming chant. In honor of Pale Wawae, Antonio had woven ancestry, important events and the potential of future stories into a dance that ended with English. In the final segment of the dance, all dancers rose from their seated positions, and stood one at a time un-coached spontaneous in their interpretations. This time a seventh dancer dressing in soft raspberry kapa joined the halau. Her nervousness was palpable, her knees hit each other, her belly threatened its own eruption but she was here to dance. Olivia DeSilva was ready. She moved onto the floor and life would never be the same. Her sister click, click, clicked. Olivia used the sticks Clack, clack, clack.

The roar of applause and hooting rumbled through the woods. Nearly two in the morning, people and birds simply found themselves a place to lie with pillow and blankets, sleeping bags or quilts. Birds found roosts in the trees nearby. Raven had stoked and banked the fire in the Jotul. Dan and C.C. were the only ones to leave that night. The kapa and regalia carefully rehang on poles inside the sunflower van, there was enough room for sleeping on the floor there as well. Antonio and Lola, and two other dances found space to fall into the deep sleep of satisfaction without fanfare. Maha and Pale had pitched tents before the festivities began. "Every body is here. Every body is here." Pale repeated her happy and simple assessment. Raven collected his happy, and tired mate into his arms and took her to the gift that he and his friend Alexander Santiago had fashioned. The tiny tear-drop of a caravan would become Pale's story wagon, outfitted with a kitchen and mini-café at the rear the rest of the caravan was a sleeping loft with drop-down table for writing more stories, and drinking cozy mugs of tea or soup. "Where ever you go, I will fly to be with you at night. Where ever you go, I will fly to be with you at night. My heart buzzes with the memory of you tonight. My heart buzzes with memory of you tonight. My Joy Weed you are the honey the bees have made from all my past failures." The two old dears, embraced with passion of the second half of life. "Aware of the gold in having lived with curiosity. Unafraid to be vulnerable. Humbled by the challenges of the unknown. Thank you," she said and she meant every word.

This story has a bit more to say... click here

Friday, August 1, 2014

The party, Part One

The sunflower truck glowed in the faint light of near dark. Seeing it made a person smile, you couldn't stop yourself. And how could you? Angelo Santiago's roadshow on wheels was a uniquely converted 1948 Coco-Cola delivery truck. It was still the same Coke yellow that some people remembered but it wore a custom roof made of layers of fabricated petals and a center of colored glass that was a sun roof for letting light in year round. In the early years the two brothers shared the delivery truck as a mending and magic show bridging the profane and the sacred in common ways. Alex hitched a small trailer for his welding equipment onto the back of the yellow truck and fabricated a roof with sides that opened into a mending center like an old-fashioned grocer's van. People could, and did walk up to the mending trailer with odd repairs of all sorts: an egg beater that needed a handle replaced, tricycles of metal, with seats that teetered after being handed down between a half dozen cousins; these were the early sixties before the trance of big box business or China enticed Ma and Pa to buy in bulk, replace when broken or shop online. The brothers had a bi-weekly route that took them from the small towns in the foothills following the back roads into the city, and then North again, crossing the Salish on the ferry with stops at another dozen locations on the island before completing in a large loop filling up their month at the pace of the times, slow to medium. In those days Angelo was famous for his juggling act and his dancing. Together with the things people brought from home as juggling pieces, and Angelo's fancy footwork the simple magic of his entertaining spirit was plenty to complement Alex's fee and his magic for mending. Passing the hat the Santiago Brothers learned the gift of squirrel, resourceful with their talents, open to opportunity and always aware of the deeply rooted connection to soulfulness and spirit.

Tonight Pale heard the roar of pealing laughter that could only belong to her Leo of a cousin, Angelo of the sunflower wagon. He was accompanied tonight with his troupe of drag queens, all in a gaggle of chatter enough to challenge Raven Clan's bag of tricks. Tonight promised to be a romp of a party. Maha pulled up behind the yellow wagon, she had Minoaka and her cousin in the cab. Skeena rode in the bed of the blue truck next to efficiently packed crates and the smell of rosemary and sage, simmered onions and rabbit, blueberries and cinnamon: pies savory and sweet.

Angelo enveloped Pale in his strong arms, his manicured fingernails a fresh sheen of amber streaked with purple. "Pale Wawae, you ageless witch," punctuated with a throaty cackle he continued,  "Cuz, happiest of birthdays," though he was only five foot eight in his stocking feet, Angelo embraced with the heart of the lion he was. Pale had already laughed herself to tears at the sight of him, and with his embrace her heart flowed up and over until the two cousins floated in a literal puddle of emotions. "I knew this would happen," Angelo said smacking his lips mascara ran in rivers of ink blue. "But ..." he paused to hold the birthday girl's face in front of him. "It makes no never mind, yeh?" Pale nodded ... "Yes." Between simpering breaths, she noticed that Angelo's vest was held together with polished brass pins, safety pins. More tears, and then a slap on his behind as she released him and pointed to the pins. The chorus line of guests were introduced and more hugs were shared.

Skeena had his hands full of crated pie, but he gave his mother a quick peck on both cheeks as he headed to the kitchen table to unload the still warm pastry. The girls had a crate apiece, and Maha carried a crate as well. A woman in skin tight red spandex from shoulder to ankle held the door open for the parade of pies, then went to the truck herself and unloaded the last of them. She was Lola, Alex's partner. Except for the spandex body suit encasing a generous five feet and a couple inches, Lola was not yet in make-up. Even without it, Lola's high cheek bones, eyebrows plucked expertly and bronze skin were exquisite. Her hair was caught in a pony tail high on her head. Hair streaked through with silver, the red-black strands still prevalent. Lines grew from her eyes like cat's lashes fanning golden brown eyes, the creases across her forehead could have been tattoos.

Pale's broth simmered on the two large burners of her old electric stove. The mushrooms and shredded chicken soup laced with onions topped off the breeze of pies. Bowls, plates and trays of dinnerware lined the kitchen counters. Stacks of cotton napkins freshly washed and hang over the heaters to dry added delightful color to the festive room. The song of raven wings turned the heads of Angelo's friends; they'd never been at a party with this clan. With their jaws still agape the Silver-haired Raven flew in through the open window, in his prominent beak a large bundle dangled. "What? Ah ..." Once inside the house, the bundle opened on its own. Fairy had hitched a ride. She was in fine voice tonight, prepared to be informative and hospitable. Seeing the gaping mouths of the chorus line Fairy fluttered over, "A fairy at night in these woods can't be too careful. Unfortunately not all the creatures of the night recognize me...I mean, I can too easily be mistaken for a midnight snack." The trio of queens were well-marbled and marvelously fashioned, no longer lad nor maiden, these were creatures who had fashioned themselves with the clay of interesting lives. Not one of them was less than six foot in stockings. Fairy was barely palm size unless she chose to ramp up to be seen as nearly human size. Tonight she was choosing normal by her people's standard. The queens saw the frame for what it was. The blonde who wore spangled studded jeans and gorgeous amber tear dropped earrings said, "We've heard about the gig going on at The Café, but to see for oneself ... that tells the story I'm not likely forget." There would be many names to remember tonight, and some of them won't be remembered. Making them no less important. Fairy never forgot a face even when it changed, and knew names changed as did seasons.

Ruth and Meg Sweet were dressed in black but were draped with shawls of the rainbow. Pieced together in narrow ribbons the sister's shawls were a shimmering of colors from palest blue to brilliant reds. They walked in the door though Lola, still at her post as greeter never saw the car they drove in. When she was introduced, Lola smiled to note the measure of them. They were nearly a head shorter than she. Everyone took their shoes off at the door, these ladies walked up to the stoop barefooted with a bounce. Bundled in denim draw-string pouches each sisters pulled out a cookie tin. Ruth spotted Skeena at the counter, and hugged the young man from behind even with the tins stacked between them. "Aunty," Skeena had already seen his two favorites when they landed. He was secretly watching for them, though they were as familiar with these wooded skies as any other still he was protective of them and loved that they let him. "Shortbread I hope!" he said turning in her ravelly and knobbled hands Skeena freed Ruth from her tins. "Yes, with at least a handful with your name of them."

Meg was enthralled with Lola in spandex. "I love shiny. Shiny anything. You are Shiny!!" Meg had never met Angelo's beloved before tonight and was pleased to see that Lola was not just shiny on the outside. When a grandmother gives you magic like that you glow. That was the touch of time beyond time, Lola had heard there would be plenty of magic here, and it was no later than a few minutes after the seventh night-time hour. "Thank you Meg," at last Lola could say something. "You can call me Aunty. You shiny beloved one of Angelo. You are family." Meg was off and running but not into the crowd gathering inside. She noticed the lights from an old red Volvo and questioned herself, What sort of fun will come from this? Angelo had been watching for his guests, but didn't know about their old red Volvo. He spotted Camilia at the door. She'd changed her clothes and wore a caftan of crème colored linen, over what looked like the same brown tights she had on this afternoon. He did have a keen eye for fashion, and beamed when he saw the two girls curious at her elbows. "Pale, come, someone special has shown up. An accidently on purpose kind of thing." He had his cousin wrapped with one strong arm. Pale recognized the scent of her, clearly human earthy with a waffle of honey about her. The Border Witch had her arms outstretched, "I see you have chosen the face you had before your parents were born." Camilia was all tears but with composure enough to lift the wooden heart up and out from its place between her breasts. The two women embraced, Pale patting Camilia's shoulder blades with the comforting touch given to a punahele. "These are my daughters," Camilia released  just enough to include the girls. "Daniella and Olivia."

"Welcome Daniella. Welcome Olivia. I'm Pale and so happy to meet you." Angelo was on it once the formality of introductions were over. And "I" he said with flourish, "am Angelo Santiago and if I'm not mistaken you are the photographer, and you, are the dancer." Angelo had his hand out to Olivia and gestured to her with both eyes twinkling and winking at the same time. "There are people dying to meet you." Crouched in a conspiratory huddle Angelo beckoned Olivia with his manicured right hand, "This way to the chorus line." Olivia's normal skepticism took a rain check that night, Angelo's flow was palpable as he reached the young woman with a deft touch. She was under its spell and Camilia felt one more tear reach her chin. Remembering his manners Angelo asked Olivia to wait just a moment as he returned to Dani. "Have you brought your camera dear?" he asked. Dani nodded yes and pulled her grandmother's camera from her floppy carpet bag. "Great, you will be needed on set before the night is over. And, if you like, the dressing room could be fun." Angelo winked and gave the girl a kiss on both cheeks. "It's the French thang!" He cackled and rejoined her sister.

Lola and her friends were quickly entwined with the company of Salish locals filling the counters and table with a platter of devilishly spicy egg salad, fried rice generously laced with slices of Chinese sweet pork, a mound of golden squash masquerading as mashed potatoes. Dani remembered the large bowl of tiny greens and the container of goat cheese along with a bright yellow envelope with Pale's name on it. She walked the few steps back to the car and was surprised to see a single crow perched on the roof. With her hands full she looked to the roof. The crow was gone. Strange, or, she thought again, maybe not. This was not an ordinary place ... Dani found Pale and passed the Branches message along, "C.C. and Dan Branch said they'd be late but wouldn't miss your birthday. We're staying with them, at the Inn." "Of course you're staying with C.C. and Dan!" The Salish Inn could operate on auto-pilot. But guests checked-in later on Fridays, and it was just so tonight. Once they were settled in C.C would free Dan up and then Cedar Branch would lay the lodge to bed with a sprinkle of her brand of automatic and make her way to the birthday gathering.

It was just half passed seven. Early Spring still found the woods very cool at night. The heat of bodies and birds warmed the cottage nicely, but to be cozy Pale lit the prepared fire in the Jotul. She'd damp it down once the kindling and dried fir was blazing. The open window kept the temperature a perfect mix of tree top breezes and fire. She said her prayer of thanks to the Tree People and set the paper to flame. "Thank you grand father, grand mother. You are most welcome here. You make life possible, oxygen-makers." Dani watched. It was the reverent look on the Border Witch's face. Dani asked, "Aunty Pale, may I take your picture at the stove?" Pale knew this girl was one with vision, any picture she snapped would call on many images. "Of course." Pale blew on the fresh flame. Dani snapped.

The Silver-haired Raven found his mate at her soup, sprinkling chopped Chinese parsley over the top of the hot brew. "You are looking peaceful on such a grand occasion." At her back Raven inhaled , "I love that smell." They both knew it wasn't the chicken soup he loved smelling, though he would surely enjoy bowls of it. In the midst of their people, the many faces of Raven would morph throughout the night. Whether people saw him as silver-haired bird or man with tattoos of feathers would depend upon the moment. At this moment, a lover enveloped his woman with arms of a man, kissing her neck it made no never mind who watched.

Skeena welcomed his Raven People as they flew through the window with bundles to add to the celebration. His aunties White Raven Clan from the north were here with rattles and beads for dancing. His cousins carried cedar bark woven into fine sheets wound and tied with cloth. Skeena speculated upon their use, but posed no questions. The company numbered near equally human and bird. The table of food overflowed. Skeena and 'Aka unfolded a couple folding tables, covered them with worn but clean patchwork blankets and made room for the bounty of edibles. Everybody was here, everybody but Alex. Skeena had left the welder after the two finished their sandwiches and spent an hour working the copper pennies, fine-tuning the boy's fluency with the tricks. It was getting near time for the prayers and thanksgiving. Skeena left his sister and said, "I'm gonna see about Alex. Don't start without us, okay?"

Thursday, July 24, 2014

"I'm the one."

"... In mythology, we see that although each generation and each person could expiate the negative family inheritance, or “curse” by accepting a certain degree of limitation in their life they don’t--- and this refusal to make what is unconscious conscious, and to make the necessary sacrifices needed, can be seen as an act of putting personal desires before the needs of the soul. The soul’s needs are ruthless, and require a transformation of consciousness to change the family legacy."
 - "The Family Karmic Inheritance"Elizabeth Spring

The owl was gone when Pale opened her eyes. The hum of the bees was still there. There's a lot to keep them busy Pale thought to herself, feeling the familiar dizziness that was her clue of soul work backing up ... the release would come later. It was dark now. Her family and friends were probably on their way. She went to the switch plate inside the front door and turned the porch light on, took the empty bowl and mug to the sink to rinse them out. The smell of spirits lingered. Pale smiled as she recognized the kaona the mixed meaning of spirit and thought to pull her sticks out from the flannel bags that housed them. Sticks of many lengths and woods were stored near the efficient wood burning stove that kept her cottage dry when she did not use the electric ceramic heaters. Over the decades the burning of wood was something she didn't do indiscriminately. Earth was populated with billions of beings who burned trees without regard for the protocol of asking permission; the polluted air of many more cars' exhaust than countable piled onto chimney smoke of ill informed and ill maintained fires. Smoldering fires choked life. People were stubborn in their practices and habits. They burned wet or green wood adding insult to the Tree People and injury to human lungs. When a fire burned in Pale's Jotul, she burned dried and seasoned cedar kindling and two-year old fir and sometimes apple wood. The bagged sticks weren't there to be burned by fire, but did instead call on the fire that took no wood, the creative fire, the fire of the ancestors who were there remembering the good, true and beautiful legacy as well as those patterns and hewa that had been the family un-doings. Tonight Pale would hand out the Ancestor Sticks, and call on her people. She was eighty years old and had at least eight hundred ancestors to invite.

The 'aumakua's visit had indeed steered Pale to the left, reconnecting the hot-wires of deeper knowing. Her dreams of death were a misread diagnosis, she had more living to do in her present skin. The Border Witch recalled an article she read about applying remedy homeopathically. "The great psychologist, Carl Jung, delved into [applying Neptune's astrological essence] when he said:  “Spiritus contra Spiritum.” This Latin quote is what Jung said to the founder of Alcoholic Anonymous: only “spirit can counteract spirits.” Jung felt that all adult neurosis are primarily a problem of our separation from Spirit.  We literalize spirit, and drink it instead as “spirits.”  Alcohol eases the existential pain of our separation from our spiritual nature briefly, but it isn’t the cure. "Neptune Homeopathy", Elizabeth Spring Escaping through drinking spirits had been a family out for generations. She'd done her prayers, flailed her soul against the walls, promised things she had no right to, and finally found her cure in detachment. The physical separation from family gave her the necessary distance. It was the required sacrifice, sacrifices were necessary. Sacrifices were what shifted legacy when made in the spirit of transformation. Story gave her the means to grow strong roots and be the one who stopped the patterns of disintegration.

Laughter, loud and ruckus broke the spell of seriousness. The party began.