Thursday, December 22, 2011

Merry Christmas

It is almost Christmas again.

I’m listening to “The Birds Are Singing Christmas”, a CD of Christmas and classical pieces arranged with chirps, trills, caws, hoots. Sweet, sweet, sweet!

My heart is filled with bitter honey because at this time for joy, and warmth, and lights in children’s eyes there are so many, too many beings on this Earth –human or not- who suffer, who are hungry, cold, afraid, desperate, lost. And while I’m in my warm home, with my family, ordering last minute things from Amazon, packing presents, trying to write on my new laptop, baking wonders, getting all Christmassy, I cannot and do not want to not think of these less fortunate beings. I ache for them.

Since childhood, I’ve had this daydream/fantasy. I wanted magic.

I wanted it for a very specific purpose: to help any being that needs help, to be able to give them one surprise moment of sparkling joy that would make their life more bearable.

I still dream about it when, let’s say, in the supermarket’s deserted parking lot, on a freezing, grey December afternoon, I see a flock of gloomy seagulls, sitting around. What if, I think, I could just snap my fingers and each one of them would have his own little fish for dinner? Would that make them happy? And, of course, it would have to be some sort of “replicated” fish (from Star Trek’s replicators) otherwise my heart would break for all those little fishies…

Or, what if I could just snap my fingers again and that squirrel and that sparrow shivering outside in February would suddenly be surrounded by their own little sphere of warmth? Wouldn’t that be nice?

And of course that homeless woman and her dog, lying on the street, in front of that big, nice, bright store. They could do with a little warmth and a little food, couldn’t they?

Childish, of course. Indeed, because some people are doing more than just dreaming about it. I’m trying, too. But in the mean time, it is also a nice Christmas wish. Maybe Santa will grant it one day.

If I have a soul then so does every creature, big or small, and bless them all.

Merry Christmas to everybody! Be good! I love you!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Missed October

I haven’t stopped in a long time to smell the roses… or the chrysanthemums… and not even the coffee steaming in my mug. I missed crisp, fiery, possibly-my-favourite-month-of-the-year October entirely –this is the first year I haven’t prepared at least one Halloween story or poem- and I am almost inconsolable… I also miss you, my blogging friends, and the creative environment of our community, and the warmth or your virtual presence… very, very, very much…

I’ve hit some dead ends in my novel and that brought me to the realization that I no longer can avoid a (detailed) outlining. It was fun for a while to make it up as I went along, to play the “archaeologist” uncovering the story and the characters, but if I want to get anywhere, in any good way for what I want to do, I really need to take the map out of my pocket. So, that’s what I’m doing now, thinking, thinking, thinking, plotting, plotting, plotting. I’m not sure it goes that well...

There is a minuscule stretch of woods next to my house, which has escaped the excavators, and which is, in its unkempt wildness, much more beautiful than the enormous houses that suffocate it. I took a few pictures there two Sundays ago and I would like to share them with you as a taste of the fine poetry of nature…

Friday, September 30, 2011

Her Eyes

Look at her eyes of darkness
silent birds
through colossal redwoods
where green smells
of eternity
black fish kissing
slick foreheads of statues
drowned in forests
of kelp
whispers of foxes
at the edge of night
on frozen tundras
such is the soul
in her eyes

photo by Rolf Hicker

Monday, August 08, 2011

The Cat's Out of the Bag...

...and my story is up at The White Cat Magazine.

I feel humbled to be in the company of so much talent and extremely proud at the same time.

If you have some spare time, do have a look.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Random Thought

If I could only start anew
shed the grey life’s carapace
step out of my unwanted self
leave it behind like a shrivelled fruit
instead of carrying it with me
- a worn coat
too modest for any banquet

oh, to fly free
oh, to hold again the hope
of all that I could be

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Mr. Linden's Library

I hadn’t heard of Harris Burdick and of the wonderful, teasing book by Chris Van Allsburg before my oldest daughter got as assignment in English class to write a short story inspired by the illustration below:

He had warned her about the book. Now it was too late.

I discussed it with my daughter and we came up with ideas together, and names, and setting. Then she wrote her story. This is my very quick take on it:

A Good Book

“Mr. Linden, you said I could take any book I wanted…”

The old man peered through his glasses at the old book Sarah was holding in her hands.

“This one…” he started, shaking his head. In his mind’s eye, Sarah’s face was replaced by the round face of Tommy Sparks who had held the book looking at him with the same pleading eyes… oh, so long ago. And by the faces of the other boys and girls, before Tommy. He couldn’t remember their names. Too many, too long ago.

“Please, Mr. Linden, you promised… This is exactly what I need for my school report.”

Yes, the book was exactly what anyone wanted. It was a good book. Certainly, all those disappearances had been mere coincidences. It was a good book. And it always made its way back home. Still, he felt he should warn her.

“Okay,” he said. “But just don’t read in bed. It’s not a good idea to read in bed…”


She had almost finished the book. The story held her in the grips of fear and delight. Several times she had to put her nose to the pages, wondering if the smells she felt were coming somehow from the old parchment. She couldn’t help rubbing her fingertips over the elaborate illustrations, amazed a how they could feel like sand, or silk, or tender sprouts of a new plant. Her eyelids were heavy and her bed was warm…

Just one more page, Sarah thought.

She fell from a great height, tumbling through icy clouds, blown by great winds, and landed on moss soft enough to make her back hurt less.

“Another one,” a voice said in contempt.

Sarah was fully awake now and looking at a boy. His clothes were more like rags from old pyjamas and his blond hair was long and tangled. His face was dirty but somehow seemed familiar. Strange. The boy had a bow and arrows. At least he wasn’t pointing them at her.

“Who are you?” she said.

“I’m Tommy. Who are you?”

“I’m Sarah. Where are we?”

“You don’t recognize it?”

Sarah sat up and looked around her. There were some hills in the distance and a building, some sort of castle or fort. Before she could answer, a low rumble climbed into her from the ground and then the whole ground was shaking.

“Run! Run! They’re coming! Run!”

The boy grabbed her hand and she had to follow him. There were rocks on the ground that hurt her bare feet as she ran over them but she wouldn’t even think of stopping. The sound and the shaking were too frightening.

“Who’s coming?”

“The Breitlings and the Duke! Come on! We have to hide.”

The Breitlings? The Evil Duke’s huge guards, half-man, half-dragon who killed or enslaved everybody in their path? But… But, she had just read about them… in the book… How…

They scrambled down a cliff then Tommy pulled her into an opening in the rock, half-hidden underneath hanging plants. It was a cave. She stopped, breathless, staring at four more boys and two girls who were all staring back at her in the flickering light of candles.

“Phew! This was close,” Tommy said.

Where are we?” Sarah said again.

The boys and the girls were all wearing tattered pyjamas, and had long hair and dirty faces.

“In The Book, of course,” Tommy said. “Didn’t you read from it in your bed, right before you fell asleep? We’re in The Book and we’ll never get out of here.”

His words seemed so true that she felt like crying. Maybe she was dreaming. But there were cuts on her legs that hurt. And her nightgown was torn. She wasn’t dreaming.

“You’re Tommy,” she said suddenly.

“That’s what I said.”

“I know you… But you’re too young… I’ve seen your poster in Mr. Linden’s library. Your parents have been looking for you for ten years…”

“Well, you don’t grow old in The Book…”

Sarah sat down and hugged her knees. She thought of Mom and Dad, and of her little brother who came to wake her up every morning. Of what he would say when he wouldn’t find her there.

“Hey, don’t be upset,” Tommy said. “There is new hope with every new kid that falls in. Especially with the good readers. What were you reading about when you fell asleep?”

She tried hard to remember. She had been so sleepy.

“For me it was just The Tree,” Tommy said. “But it wasn’t nearly tall enough. I climbed to the top of it but I was still here. These guys have read even less. You must remember, Sarah. It won’t appear unless you remember it. I just hope it wasn’t a Breitling…”

She closed eyes and concentrated. Yes, now she knew what it was.
They waited long enough to be sure that the Breitlings had passed and that it was safe to come out. A few steps from their cave there stood a thick vine, its treelike stems braided together in an agglomeration of vivid green. Sort of like Jack’s beanstalk from another story.

They couldn’t see its top. It disappeared in the clouds.

They started climbing, Tommy first, then Sarah, then the other children. Before long, they were all in Sarah’s bedroom. Sarah reached out and slammed the book shut.

Monday, May 02, 2011

De Bello Lemures

I’m not into zombies. Occasionally, I will read such a story but I would not actively look for it. I will much more likely choose vampires, or werewolves, or even angels… I don’t know why. Maybe it’s the lack of glamour in the zombies’ condition, the unspeakable tragedy of it, the fact that I cannot see them as true characters any more than a force of nature bringing disaster would be.

However, I did not hesitate one moment when buying “De Bello Lemures – or the Roman War against the Zombies of Armorica” written by Lucius Artorius Castus and translated and edited (wink!) by Thomas Brookside. I had made up my mind to buy it even before I read the fragment available online. I was sold on by the title, by the fantastic cover (when in Rome, I have put my hand inside that mouth – la Bocca della Verità, the Mouth of Truth – and it didn’t bite my hand!) and by the idea.

From the cover:

A recovered Latin text tells the story of a struggle between Roman legionaries and the undead in 185 AD.

Lucius Artorius Castus leads an expedition to Gaul to defeat a rebellion against the rule of the Emperor Commodus – and gets more than he bargained for when his enemies rise from the dead to fight again. The power of the zombie horde is amplified by the Babel of Ancient Rome’s religions and superstitions, and the terror the undead bring in their wake foreshadows the incipient medieval darkness already creeping into the world at the end of Rome’s Antonine age. Richly annotated, this mashup of survival horror and alternate history takes the reader on a bracing journey into one of ancient Rome’s dark corners.

Maybe I’m not thrilled by zombies but I certainly am by ancient history and especially by the history of the Roman Empire. Therefore, a combination of the two seemed especially intriguing to me.

I was not disappointed.

Thomas Brookside’s short novel/novella reads exactly as he has intended – a commander’s first-hand account of a Roman military campaign gone awry. The abundance of editor’s annotations does not hinder, it completes, giving the whole a taste of authenticity that makes the story just as real as any recorded by, let’s say, Dio Cassius. In fact, for me, the writing style and all the details, from military techniques to country living in the Roman Gaul, made the suspension of disbelief so high that I not once thought of the zombies (the lemures) as creatures of fantasy or of the story as anything else but a recovered anc manuscript.

In short, I loved it and I highly recommend it.

“De Bello Lemures” is self-published on Amazon’s CreateSpace and Kindle.

Thomas Brookside blogs at Annotated Horror. He has two other books out that are quite tempting to me…

Here's the excerpt from “De Bello Lemures” from Google Docs:

Monday, April 11, 2011

Just Passing

Don’t worry, it’ll pass
this headache
this heartache
this rainy day
this changing of diapers
this scorching heat
this exam
this long winter
this year
this joy
this loss
this awkward youth
this pain
this love
this waiting
this life
Everything will pass

I couldn’t resist posting this photographic proof of the passing (and especially of the lingering) of a certain rabbit through my backyard. ;-) I hope the raspberry and the roses will appreciate the ‘gift’…

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Still Here

It’s crazy how time disappears into the black hole of routine, of fierce struggles to do, more than to be.

I know, I know, time doesn’t exist. It’s just a measure of a passage, of our existence as well as of the stars’. It’s psychological.

However, as the second month of this year (not ‘new’ anymore, is it?) is approaching its end, I cannot help wondering if maybe there is some truth in all those speculations about the Schumann resonances and time speeding up.

It certainly feels galloping to me…

I do not have time…

I think with longing to the wonderful pleasure of reading your blogs, of pondering over your words and pictures, of writing comments in which to speak from my heart… I hope to be able to do it again, rather sooner than later…

In the mean time, I use every spare moment I have working on my novel. As my best friend said to me after she read a chapter, “it’s written in blood…”

So I got out of my little cave where I watch shadows on the wall, just to say “Hello!” and that I’m not dead yet, and that hope is always alive…

And to leave you with two pics from last Sunday in the local park…

The lake looks dreary but I know it's just snugly waiting for the spring to return...

And a place to get bit of maple syrup on ice to sweeten your heart...

Monday, January 03, 2011

Happy New Year

May 2011 hold that sparkle to make it glow and grow into a fabulous year.

In 2011, may you keep or find and keep good health and good love.

May you find in your heart the hope and the tenacity to hold on to your dreams and resolutions. May they come true.

To all who read this, and to everybody else, Happy New Year!