Category Archives: livejournal

Of Sidelocks and Donkey Tales

The following is a story I wrote some time ago with a friend over at PanHistoria and before that at Ancient Sites. It is a reworking of the Aesop’s Tale, “The Man, The Boy and the Donkey.” I have long since lost track of my friend. I hope he does not mind my posting our collaboration on my blog here.

This is from another story of Sekhmet Meritamen and her adopted son, Meni. In this scene she is telling Meni about being different and the parable of trying to please everyone.
~*~*~*~

BoatIt was past dusk on board the Heart of Ra and Sekhmet Meritamen padded nimbly down the wooden deck steps to her cabin. As Royal Physician to a pregnant Per’aa, Sekhmet’s routine was unpredictable; she hurried from her work and was thinking of what to make herself and young Menenhetet for dinner when a sound reached her. It was the sound of a child’s crying and it drew the Lady Sekhmet with a tug on her heart. The sound came from her own cabin.

Inside, in the middle of the floor, a blanket clutched to his breast, lay Meni. Sekhmet’s heart ached at the sound of his sadness. She rushed to the curled up ball that was Meni. His face was a blustery thundercloud, bursting with tears. His sobs were a tiny thunder in his wan chest and lightning shone in the glisten of his tears. Drooping like a hippo’s tail, his new sidelock trembled from the weeping.

“Are you hurt?” Sekhmet asked, kneeling near him and looking over his tanned limbs with a professional calm that surprised even her. She saw no cuts or bruises, but her hands examined the frail boy out of habit.

Meni simply wept, blubbering and oblivious to the tender ministrations. Yet nothing seemed amiss.

“Please tell me what’s wrong?” Sekhmet almost felt as though she herself might cry as well, for the boy’s sobs were like pluckings on the strings of her heart.

“The .. boys .. and .. girls .. laughed .. at .. my .. hair!” he finally managed, hiccuping between each syllable and blinking a stream of tears out of each brown eye. Many of Per’aa’s entourage had children onboard the Coronation Barge. Apparently Meni had been teased by some of them.

Sekhmet relaxed inwardly, vastly relieved. She pursed her lips sympathetically and thumbed away the spill of tears on the boy’s wet cheeks. She held the boy’s head and tried to still his crying with a kiss upon his troubled brow. He huddled to her bosom and cried all the more. Rocking his sobs away, Sekhmet sighed.

“Meni, you like your new hairstyle, don’t you? Nebet Nefeti worked very hard to make you a handsome little man. She shaved your head, just like you wanted and even managed to salvage this sidelock for you to braid,” Sekhmet stroked the dark tail of hair on the side of Meni’s head.

“Yes nebet,” Meni sobbed. “But the … other kids … laughed at … me!”

“You mustn’t let them get to you like that” Sekhmet soothed,. ” They’ll get used to it and things will be better. I promise.”

Meni’s frown was unrelenting and his eyes were still freshets of tears. As fast as Sekhmet brushed them away, more scooted out to replenish the rivulets of on his cheeks.

“Meni,” Sekhmet said, lifting his chin up to her gaze. “It wouldn’t matter what you did with your hair. Any change would have gained the attention of the other children. If you had kept your ragged locks, or shaved your head as bald as an egg, or put it in braids just like mine, the children would have teased you all the same.”

“But I want … to play with … them!” Meni protested, calming a little but still afflicted with his hiccups.

“I know you do,” Sekhmet soothed. “And tomorrow you will try again. You will be strong for me, won’t you?”

Meni blinked doubtfully.

“Let me tell you a story that might help. It’s one my mother used to tell me when I was a girl. When I was your age I was not very graceful, and very much a tomboy, and the kids at school would tease me too. And no matter what I did it didn’t make them stop. But one day my mother found me like I found you, weeping. She told me this story…

“There once was a man, who lived in the far off reaches of the land. He was a craftsman and widower living with his son and a donkey. One day the man, knowing he would have to go to the great city to trade, carefully prepared his wares, and loaded them on the donkey and set off for town. When the animal was loaded he set his son upon the top of the load on the donkey and started toward the great city.”

“The man and his son and the loaded donkey walked and walked and at last they met upon the road two men coming from the great city. They nodded and smiled and exchanged greetings as they passed and the man with the donkey and son overheard the two other men they had passed whispering between themselves, ‘Did you see that selfish child riding on top of the donkey while his father walked!? That is terrible! What a selfish child!'”

Meni’s face grew fierce and he said, “But nebet! That boy might be lame! Those men aren’t nice!”

“Yes Meni,” Sekhmet nodded, finally seeing the flow of sadness drying in the boy’s eyes.

“The man…not wanting to appear to be a fool, stopped and thought about this and decided that it might be best if he rode and his son led the donkey. The boy agreed.

“‘Oh certainly, father,’ The boy replied. ‘I can lead the donkey and you can ride, I am young and my legs will not grow weary.’ And so they traded places.

“A few leagues down the road, the man and boy and donkey met a man and his wife going the other direction. The two parties nodded and smiled and exchanged greetings as they passed each other on the road, but the man overheard the woman whispering to her husband as they passed, ‘Did you see that*selfish* man riding the donkey while the poor child walked?! I’ve never seen anything so pathetic!'”

“That’s silly!” Meni pointed out. “Those people don’t know the man is nice!”

Sekhmet nodded and continued:

“This troubled the man; and not wanting to appear to be a fool–for fools are often taken advantage of in the marketplace of the great city–pondered the predicament. He came upon the idea that he and his son could both ride the donkey and it would satisfy all of the objections of everyone on the road thus far.

“A few more leagues and the man and his son and the donkey met a nobleman and his fanbearer on the road. They smiled and exchanged greetings and the man heard the fanbearer comment to the nobleman, ‘Master! What a terrible waste of a good animal to make him bear the weight of two people plus his load!'”

Meni just shook his head, tears forgotten, eyes wide, and in deep consternation at such things.

“The man, not wanting to appear to be a fool–for fools are sometimes regarded with suspicion and riducule and taken advantange of in the marketplace of the great city–pondered a moment and decided that neither he nor his son would ride the donkey but would walk alongside. There were a few more miles to go, but this was fine.

“The man and his son and the donkey then met a woman and her son on the road and they exchanged pleasantries with the man and his son and when they had passed the man overheard the woman say to her son, ‘Those fools! Neither rides when they have a fine donkey. Surely he can handle more than that simple load!'”

Exasperated at these silly people, Meni snorted.

“The man could take it no longer! He was tired of being everyone’s fool! He found a thicket of saplings and cut a strong sturdy one and then reached into the sacks for extra rope and lashed the legs of the donkey to the sapling and, struggling, he and his son carried the animal into the gates of the city. With astonishment the man wondered at why everyone was laughing at him for he had done everything that anyone had asked of him and in exasperation had done what he knew to be the last choice that was left.”

Sekhmet saw the glimmer of understanding in Meni’s eyes.

“The moral of the story is: If you try to please everyone, dear Meni, you in the end will end up looking like the fool, for there is no possible way to please everyone at all times.”

Meni looked up into the wise dark eyes of Lady Sekhmet and wondered if there were anything she couldn’t fix. Which led him inevitably to his next words.

“I’m hungry!”

Sekhmet laughed and held out a hand to Meni, “Let’s find something to eat then.”

Meni skipped beside Sekhmet, his sidelock twitching from side to side, looking very much like a switching tail.

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Book Review: “Plants of Love: The History of Aphrodisiacs, and A Guide to Their Identification and Uses

NON-FICTION :Plants of Love: The History of Aphrodisiacs, and A Guide to Their Identification and Use“, by Christian Ratsch, 1997 10 Speed Press, ISBN 089815-928-8 $19.95 (US)

CONTENT: Christian Ratsch has done it again with his wonderfully illustrated guide to yet another aspect of all things herbal. He pulls together the appropriate amounts of history, monographs including pictures that would help someone identify the plant in the wild. There are over a thousand plants that through history have been or are still being used as aphrodisiacs, and Ratsch rarely shies away from the frank discussion of any of them. He presents the information both interesting and shares enough knowledge to be of interest to the layperson, the Witch, as well as the scholar or the practising herbalist.

As far as books on the topic of Aphrodisiacs and their uses, Ratsch does the best job of any that I have seen. Far too many either get into debunking as to why these plants have been or are still useful, or they throw alot of urban legend into the mix without qualifying the information. Such practices cause plants (and even some animals) to be used in the process of trying to induce an erotic state or increase virility or fertility; some to the point of endangerment. Thankfully Ratsch is very conscious of this problem.

There are recipes for infusions, ointments, incenses and brews that are sure to entice. I was disappointed that Nymphaea caerulea or Blue “Lotus” (which is actually a blue water lily) was not included. I have tinctured and worked with this plant extensively and was very surprised, especially with its symbology and history that there was no discussion of it. There is a small bit of information about Nelumbo nucifera or ‘true’ Lotus, which is native to India and Asia that was very inclusive – as were most of all of the other entries.

RATING: B+ My only disappointment is that there is not even more in this book. There is a frank and extended discussion of even more plants in his latest book, including the ones that I was disappointed not seeing in this one, “Psychoactive Plants” which I am currently reading and will most probably be reviewing next. I definitely recommend “Plants of Love” as a great addition to any herbal library, however.

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Miles to Go

“And miles to go before I sleep.” — Robert Frost

either of them had done anything that I could condemn them for.

And yet the glances exchanged over dinner, and chess and now on the dance floor of the ballroom left very little to the imagination. From the moment the two had met, the SS Colonel and my youngest daughter, Jocelyn…Joie-Lynn had established a bond. Long glances, deep conversations and shared laughter punctuated their association from the start.

I bid the last guests goodnight. Jean-Pierre Moreau, the Chateau foreman, had left after he had received word his young daughter was running a fever. Begging my forgiveness, he left the gathering, but I suspected it was more than that. I agreed he should be with his daughter and promised that I would send Amarante to see to her or look to the child myself to make sure that it was nothing too serious. Like all good fathers, and certainly since the death of his wife, he was so very much more attentive to the little dark haired cherub with bright blue eyes. In spite of his obvious affection also for Jocelyn, the love of a father was stronger. In those eyes I saw how Sebastien had been with both of our daughters. Nothing could keep him away from either of them if they were sick or hurt. Continue reading

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100 Drabbles of Summer

Table under cut

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Munday – Villains

1. What makes a good villain, in your opinion?
There is no 100% bad villain, just as there are no 100% good heroes. Either one would be boring as hell and there can be no suspension of disbelief in either case. I like a villain that you can find glimpses of that person’s past – why they are the way that they are. When that happens, the reader can almost empathise with that character. It doesn’t have to be emo, or overt. Some of the most powerful things can be articulated with a mere glance, a gesture, or just the smallest of nuances. Those kinds of things add to their complexity and makes the villain far more compelling.

2. Do you tend to write more for villains or heroes? I tend to write characters with more villainous qualities than not. In the character’s mind, they know exactly what they are doing and why and as Faelyn is fond of saying, and the icon indicates, All is fair in the pursuit of power. Faelyn spent her life living by that creed because of who and what she is. Other characters, such as sheldonsandscia is a sociopathic little bastard. He does what he does and feels not the slightest bit of remorse, except in the very odd instance and with very few people. nomanselizabth does what she does because she is a queen, and as a monarch, unpleasant tasks that guarantee one’s survival have to be undertaken. I don’t know that any of them really sit around and dream up new and interesting ways to be villainous, however.

3. Who wins more often in your stories, the good guy or the bad guy? It’s a toss up. Sometimes one side wins over the other, but everyone is a villain or a hero, depending on your point of view. My stories tend to be about survival and the character going for what he or she wants. Formulaic who wins and who loses scenario rarely enter into the picture.

4. Have you ever written a redeemable / reformed villain? A good guy turned bad? Yes. I wrote a muse from child to adult who was just sweet and cute and she slowly changed into something else that in no way resembled her former self. That was hard, because I really rather liked the inquisitive little girl that was there before she lost her innocence.

5. Are there any themes among your bad guys – do you tend to write zombie stories, fantasy villains, etc?
Again, it is about the redeeming qualities of each villain that my muses interact with. captainbarbossa, early on, in spite of his dangerous exterior and arrogance has things about him that provide those small moments of creamy delicious story flavour! is a muse where you clearly do have a bit of sympathy for the Devil! There are lots of wonderful villain muses that my muses will itneract with. such as the Giovanni’s from the World of Darkness fandom. It is a natural for Faelyn / Fanny since she is half Unseeliewhich means,
“Unblessed” She even went as far to marry the “bad guy from the Three Musketeers fandom, The Comte de Rochefort as played by all_forme because they understood each other as more “heroic” muses wouldn’t have.

6. Are some of your antagonists non-villains, just at cross purposes from the hero?

I have NPC’s for that purpose and most of them are just ignorant and foolishly try to stand between my muses and their stated goals. Of course each side has varying degrees of success, neither side can win all of the time. Besides, conflict is what drives a story.

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Wednesday: Mood

Today, we challenge you to find and share a picture that visually represents your mood right now.

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OOC: Grrr!!

For the record, The PDF version of “The Memoirs of the Count de Rochefort” by Cortilz de Sandras (English Translation) is a complete disaster! Then again, maybe it is just the version of it for Kindle PC that is completely unreadable. Anyway…what’s with all these codes and HTML and nonsense?! It is so bad on the Kindle ap that it is completely unreadable. I just want to find out who thought it was ok to upload something so wretched to archives.org and ask what they could have been thinking. Thankfully, however, I have an actual physical copy and just have to figure out the difference between the use of “F’s” and “S’s” and you can pretty much get the general gist. I have always thought that a better rendition of the ‘Memoirs’ from the famous D’artagnan romances would be fantastic since, unbeknownst to most, they are based off of real people. Alexandre’ Dumas shamelessly ripped off both Cortilz and his co-writer, Auguste Maquet and yet gets all of the credit for being so bloody brilliant.

Anyway…

It is officially spring break which means a mad flurry of cleaning and fixing up so we can get the house appraised, refinanced and my ex husband off the mortgage, etc. Then there’s the eBook to finish up and the two manuscripts and upload them to Kindle. Then there is the FAFSA to finish, the scholarship application and the business plans for “Backwoods” and “Dragon Legacy”.

All this and I am supposed to get some sleep in there somewhere.

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Quick Update

I apologise for my continued absence. Believe me when I say it is not apathy. I do try to glance at LJ once in a while, however, with less than 20 days in the semester, two papers due, four final exams and three production projects in the offing – one of which has got to be well underway by Tax Day, April 15th as the crew goes on the road to film the documentary until the end of the month – my world is insane. Apparently I am just one single credit hour away from being what is considered “overloaded” by the school’s standards. :-/

But I did manage to get my taxes done.

I realise that there are those that don’t have the patience to hang in. That’s ok. I completely understand. If I am not posting and commenting, then it is natural to do some spring cleaning of your friends lists.

I also realise that I have not done prompts for a couple of weeks. They will be updated this weekend.

Many of you and your families are in my thoughts and prayers. Some are going through some really rough times, and I honestly do not know how you get up in the morning and face it all. I am thinking of you, I am reading when I can.

Stay safe, stay sane (if you can), and know I will be back when I can.

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Wednesday – Picture that Causes You To Cry

The Unseelie are not easily moved to tears.

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Munday Survey Says….

Attitude in relation to authority figures

Faelyn being High Lady and Queen of the Fortunate Island thinks of herself as an authority figure. As long as she agrees that that person or institution has equal or greater “authority” than herself things are fine. She is, though, a diplomat and can play the subordinate and the suplicant if it is to her calculated advantage to do so. She hotly resents the Christian Church, particularly the Catholic Faith, but she sees many protestants as being far worse in their subjugation and exploitation of women. She won’t be overt in her undermining those authorities, but she does work covertly in achieving her objectives.
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