Crystal Magic 7
by Patricia Rice
Hannah Simon holds the library of her ancestors in her head, but she’s in danger of losing her steel-trap mind along with the information it holds. Her only hope is a legendary moonstone said to have healed in times of trouble. The artifact was last seen in Hillvale, a town that needs help as desperately as Hannah.
I realized a few years back that I didn’t care to celebrate the fourth of July as I had when I was younger. I used to love the fireworks and getting together with friends and family, and I still love the latter part, but less so the fireworks. I’m not sure when it changed completely. I quit liking to set them off myself quite awhile ago. I was plenty happy to let others do it. We’d watch the big ones the town set off, and those were lovely, but in the last couple of years, we haven’t gone.
Some of that has to do with the dogs. As they’ve grown older, they’ve handled the fireworks less and less well. We got two puppies last year, and they were fine for the fireworks outside then, but this year, not so much.
Let me describe what I’m going to make. It will be a floor length garment in gold brocade, fitted fairly closely through the shoulders but falling loose to the floor. Front fastenings TBD, long sleeves and a box pleat at the center back. The contrast collar and front lapels will be black brocade with deeply scalloped edges, as will the deep turnback cuffs. All the outer edges will be piped with thick rope piping in two shades of green. Oh, and I have some red lining material for the skirt! For comfort the entire garment will have to be fully lined. A real period dressing gown might have been interlined with flannel or woolen as well, for warmth in a period when houses were heated with coal. I am betting that Bristol in August will not call for extra insulation.
But to make a garment you need to go beyond words. You need a pattern, before you cut. If I want it to fit, I have to plan. And the way to plan a garment is the way all dress designers do it, with a pen and paper. So, from words to image, here we are: Continue reading
The yard was strewn with junk. A wooden kitchen cabinet adorned the lawn, hammer and nails on top. A can of hornet-killer spray occupied the brick flower bed. A pile of plastic bags leaned in a tired manner against the side door. Garbage pail, broom, and a tire lead the procession of belongings up the driveway. And the best: an open trailer filled with refrigerator—not ours, washer—also not ours, stove top, mattress, and whatever else, sat in front of the house for our new neighbors to enjoy.
Before Stephen and I left the car and wondered, muttering things like “whoa,” and “what the f**k is this?”, I texted T, our property manager, who could oblige us in 10 minutes with an in-person explanation. We had just arrived after a four-hour drive from Seattle to Our Albany House. Expecting to collect the keys, check everything out, spend the night, and drive home the next day, beating the 4thof July traffic. Not to be.
Thor and I tiptoed around the mountain village of Komiaki on Naxos, encountering not a soul and wondering if it was inhabited only by gardening ghosts.
NOTE: Since our recent trip to Greece to research more settings for my novel-in-progress, THE ARIADNE DISCONNECT, Thor and I knew we had to return to this magical region. My first entry in this new blog series posted here on Saturday, 10/20/2018. It gives an overview of our rambles from Athens to seven islands in the Dodecanese and Cyclades groups, ending our ferry-hopping pilgrimage on the anciently sacred island of Delos.
If you’re following our weekly reports, you’ll recall that last week we drove many hairpin turns from the fishing village of Apollon on the “Sea of Icarus” to the highest village on the island. Komiaki (sometimes called Koronida) was literally in the clouds on that cool, blustery day. Continue reading
(This post is part of my Patreon-supported New Worlds series.)
What a cheerful title for the first essay of the month!
I’m starting with the simple topic of disease — not its causes; not its treatment; its existence — because its influence on human history is quite simply incalculable. We may grumble about getting colds during the winter, but Pestilence is one of the Four Horseman of the Apocalypse, right up there with War and Famine, the harbingers of Death itself. Our ancestors feared disease to a degree we can scarcely imagine today, with our antiseptics and antibiotics and vaccines, our understanding of where disease comes from.
It’s the Fourth of July. Independence Day here in the United States, except that, at least where I’m from, we never say Independence Day. It’s always just the Fourth of July.
I’m not feeling particularly patriotic. Truth be told, I never feel particularly patriotic. I know too much about my country and its history; my feelings about it are always conflicted. The bad side is on full display this year, with people, including children, being abused at our borders and tanks on parade in our Nation’s Capital, but the U.S. has never been the almost-Utopia we were raised to believe in.
I don’t have much in the way of ties to other countries. I’m Anglo, a mix of various European heritages, mostly from Ireland, Scotland, and England, with perhaps some from the Netherlands, but most of my people came here before the American Revolution, with the most recent coming before the Civil War.
A good deal of the history of my country is the history of my family, and while there are things to be proud of, there are a lot of terrible things just under the surface. It is hard, in this day and age, not to be more aware of the bad than the good.
This one’s for the Americans.
It’s July, therefore we’re embroiled in those debates again. You know the one, where some folk are demanding their god-given and Constitutional right to set of explosives anywhere and anytime they want to, and some folk are demanding their god-given and Constitutional right to not have their PTSD triggered, their children frightened, and their pets traumatized because someone else wanted noisy colors in the street in the middle of the week, in the middle of the afternoon, and any other random time and place.
And here and elsewhere we have the additional joys of drought conditions and fire bans, which would suggest to someone with half a fucking brain cell that MAYBE it’s not a good idea to set of fucking explosives where one spark could, oh, wipe out half a neighborhood (or state park). But noooooooooo.
JFC, people. Continue reading
My parents bought the Barn in 1958. I know this for a number of reasons–mostly documentation I have from when it was transferred (along with a voluminous paper trail) to me in the 1990s. But I have one memento where the date is engraved forever. The bell at the left memorializes the date of acquisition, and my parents’ hopes and plans for the barn, and not incidentally, their marriage and family.
With the wisdom of hindsight, it is perhaps hubris to put that sort of thing in a brass object that hangs by the front door. But my father was given to exactly this sort of gesture (when my parents bought the brownstone in NYC that I grew up in, Dad painted a beautiful watercolor of it, which he gave to my mother).
The bell was hung up by the door to the kitchen at the Barn–when you live in a place that big, you need a powerful CLANG! to hear when people are at the door–and there it stayed for the next forty-odd years, through wind, rain, snow, and assault by small children who liked to make it ring.
I was just old enough in 1959, when the bell was under the Christmas tree for my mother to discover, to remember it in its bright and shiny original condition. In 1959 my parents had been married for six years, had two children, an established life in Greenwich Village, and a sprawling property with a barn in the Berkshires. Were they happy? Me, with the utter clueless self-absorption of a six year old, I did not even think about the question, but I believe that they were happy enough. My parents had a similar set of goals and aspirations, a similar aesthetic (for two very visual people this was in fact very important), similar approaches to the world, and a similar sense of humor. Continue reading
Dressing gowns were pretty spiff wear in the 19th century. They evolved from the Indian banyan, a casual long garment. Our modern bathrobes, worn to brush your teeth or donned after the shower, do not fill quite the same ecological niche. Dressing gowns were more in the line of yoga pants, or sweats. If your regular day wear involved high starched collars, tight waistcoats, and stovepipe hats, a nice loose gown was a relief to don at the end of the day. In a classy dressing gown you could receive close friends, take breakfast or a late supper, or sit by the fire and discuss cases with Dr. Watson while smoking your pipe. Here we may see a typical dressing gown in its native habitat, modeled by Thomas Carlyle. The Sage of Chelsea is depicted by the mid- 19th century painter in the full trappings of an intellectual, pen in hand, his wife Jane by the fire of an intensely-pattern-filled drawing room, wearing a jazzy striped dressing gown. Notice he is wearing it over a shirt (see the white collar and cuffs peeking out) and boots. He probably has trousers on under there too. But he did shed all the other uncomfortable outerwear.