Monday, July 25, 2016

Today's sanity work

Cleaning house today, got an idea of how to make better bone needles. Figured I would make some rings too. Had to do it before I forgot about it.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

some pictures I have finally got around to putting up



       Have you ever experienced personal apocalypse? Has the sudden reality of your emotional existence reached up and smacked you in the sternum like a racquetball that you did not anticipate?  Snow is not what I expected.  It had been a warm year;  it had been the sort of hot year that causes cactuses to wither up and accept the rapture of Mariah.  It is nothing short of peculiar that this October is bringing a northern icy breath south into Kansas.  The first snowfall of the year came like a stalking panther last night; it pounced unexpectedly and suddenly.  It amazes me to sit on a bench and observe the reaction of others who did not anticipate this.  I am slowly beginning to focus on a scene about twenty feet away by a pocket of trees and an abstact outdoor sculpture.
       She is bent over rolling a ball of snow larger and larger.  Dark hair peeks out from underneath her distressed fur hat and she is wearing a deep red coat embroidered with two geese and an array of Chrysanthemum Leucanthemum that brings to mind slavic folk tales.  Her appearance to me is as if I were a perelesnyk[1] dreaming.  She is a forgotten memory of an uncertain rustic Aneliya.[2]  It is not the poetic act of her creation of a snow-man that is so mesmerizing, it is the reality of her existence. 
       Prior to my notice of the situation I was reading intermittently.  I try to intimate that I am still reading.  Sic et Non was not the best choice to read given the situation.  I think of that unfortunate scholar, Abelard married his student and got her pregnant; as a belated wedding gift of sorts his in-laws kidnaped him and hacked his bollocks off.  The irony of this is quite idiosyncratic.  I fein to interact with a book written by  a man deprived of erotic facilities while feeling guilt over my acceptance that my act of observation is in a way voyeuristic at its roots. 
       I feel that it is pointless to undress her in my mind.  I cannot will myself to even remove her coat.  Still I imagine what it would be like to walk over there and kiss her without even taking the time to inquire her name.  Why I imagine this is not quite certain to me.  I understand this to be an assault on her person, yet I know that such an act is nothing short of criminal. 
       I do consider what she smells like.  An exotic mix of baking spices feels likely.  I bet she smells like nutmeg, cloves, allspice, cinnamon, dark syrup, and lanolin.  I am too busy reflecting on the certainty of her coat smelling like fragrant woodsmoke and sheep oil,  a snowball hitting me in the head was not on my radar.
       I look up and see Tony and Nick walking away trying to look very innocent. 
       I place revenge on my agenda.  I remember when they bricked up my door with toilet paper rolls and duct-tape. Nick's gleaming Chrysler got syrup-ed and feathered by some coincidence after that event.
       She had placed the middle section and is now rolling the ball for the head.  I feel compelled to get up and walk the 25 feet over to help her with the snowman.  My fear however, is restraining my steps.  I feel guilty for watching her like a common creeper. 
       She has set the head in place without my help.  I feel self condemnation on account of  my restraint.  She is setting the eyes and buttons, and the bag she brought with her is revealing its treasures.    A pink straw hat that was likely from last summers music festival is placed on the head, a wide ribbon of cable from a broken electronic device is made into a mouth, and she places the squared almond mouthpiece of an old phone in place for a nose.  She breaks some branches from the small nearby trees to fashion “arms” from, and she polishes the “nose” with a disinfecting wipe. 
       She turns to walk away and continue on to her destination, but she turns back as if she has forgotten something.  She reaches deep into the neck of her coat and retrieves a blue scarf.  She places the scarf on the snowman and steps back as if to thoughtfully examine it.  She steps forward, rearranges the scarf, and kisses the snowman's “nose”.  I assume she is satisfied when she walks away with her bag.
        Cautiously I rise and walk to the snowman.  I lean down to kiss the snowman’s “nose”; I find it has a bitter lemon taste.  I consider whether I really want to follow through with what I want to do next.   I remove her scarf and replace it with my own brown scarf.  I have had a long relationship with the brown scarf; it came from a retired professor’s estate.  My mother once cleaned house for the old man while he tried to explain geology to me.  Now I was sacrificing memories for fantasy.
       As I place her scarf around my neck I feel the marks of age and repair on the well loved hand-knitted scarf.  It is striped and has the name “Anna” embroidered on one end.  I walk away I smelling the scarf;  it smells of lanolin, cloves, ginger, and patchouli.  I now have come to feel like I have known her for a while.  Anna reminds me of the girl from my home town who went to senior prom dressed as Gwynhwyfar. While other students teased her and said she was retarded for attending the event in costume, I admired her quirkiness.  I was too awkward and afraid to ask her to dance though.
       In November I see Anna again walking on campus. She is wearing a grey vest and despite the return to warmer weather she is wearing my brown scarf as an ascot.  I walk up to her and compliment her on the scarf.  As she is on her way to lunch I inquire if I could join her in the student union: by some coincidence the discussion turns to Abelard and Heloise. 

[1]    Slavic incubus
[2]    From writings of Henryk Sienkiewicz, A character's name 

A "Benevolent" Cause

 A Benevolent Cause

            Just to make things abundantly clear she did just destroy a perfectly expensive couch.  She took a knife to the red jacquard  fabric with the gold acanthus leaf embroidery.  The only halfway decent thing in the whole damn airship.   To let a woman like Juliet Idonia Keavney Payn on board a ship such as your own was a sure way to bring ruin to even The Hellish Poisin of Atlantis.  Would you have thought she would take so much offense at being rescued from the clutches of Krioål? (Or rather some thugs who intended to introduce the two of them in a rather sanguine manner) You acknowledge her nobility and let her have the run of command  quarters while you command your crew to make a clean getaway.  Granted she never really got a chance to meet big K and we only had to subdue a half dozen of his minions.  She should have had a clue! They call him Krioål the Render for a reason; you have good cause to be alarmed! Apparently he rends things and err... people!  What he would have planned for the noble child of the sleeping wolves could not be any thing but dire. 
            After two weeks aloft things have calmed down.  You have become more acquainted with your small crew and, she has remained mostly invisible though Juliet has came out for the occasional meal with the crew. They have taken to calling her “Lady Jules” despite her dislike for such a Sobriquet.  Usually your cook  Dillon brings a tray to her and usually tries to take her requests in mind when preparing in order to both lessen the work load and placate the VIP.  Dillon came on board originally as a mechanic.  You might remember the first time we had engine trouble after he came onboard.  He claimed that the problem was that we were suffering from a “puff-corned carburetor”. You gave him a puzzled look and explained that because of the altitude a carburetor would be less than effective which is why the airship's engines are not carbureted.  Fortunately he was able to help out in the galley and took over for Deidre when she was forced to leave the crew.  You now have a top notch cook but are still uncertain why he wanted to get a job as a mechanic when it seems Dillon is a cook that any captain would fight for.  You have quite the meal awaiting this evening as Jules will join the crew it seems.
            She entered the room with much of the grace befitting her social rank. You recognize the status exchange as usual but mention nothing.  If she feels like treating you as an underling and not an equal that is her business and none of yours.  Juliet sits down and there is awkward silence for a good ten minutes.  The coffee and slices of a rather decadent looking cake are served.
            Juliet finally speaks “What may I ask is this?”
            “Blackout Loaf” Dillon had to turn around in order to reply “I did try to dress it up a little with swirls of caramel and shaved almonds!”
            “This dessert is brilliant!” Juliet rotates to face you “how did you manage to find such a great cook?”
            Surprised by her sudden willingness to converse you reply in an uneasy tone “I assure you ma'am it was completely by accident.” you observe that several members of the crew including Rusty the new propulsionist nod in agreement.
              “My stay on board has been.... unexpected.”
            “How.” you are curious of course as to the expectations of Juliet who has been acting the part of a snotty noble. 
            “Well your ship is called The Poison of Atlantis or something like that?”
            “Actually it's The Hellish Poisin of Atlantis.” (you make a dramatic pause) “You see Poisin has two ayes not two ohs.” 
            “What difference does it make? Poison or Poisin, they are similar enough.” 
            “Deferring to your nobility I will leave that be then.”
            “Alright If your ship is called The Hellish Poisin of Atlantis then you must be pirates?”
            “Some might call us that.”
            “Some might call us a load of filthy flying bastards!” Jane Callan our navigator shouted out. 
            You turn to glare at Jane while she goes back to hiding behind a mug of coarse ale that the crew brews onboard from whatever is convenient. “Some call us that as well but I tend to prefer that we be called multidisciplinary entrepreneurial merchants.”
            Juliet looks both concerned and confused “So... abuse of captives is not the standard operating procedure for your crew?”
            You have a puzzled look on your face as well. “Ma'am I believe you have us confused with the Royal Air Corps that seems to be how they operate.”  (You laugh a little at your own joke.) “Anyway where is the captive?”
            “Am I not your captive? You do intend to ransom me?”
            “No not exactly we were going to return you home; though, now that you mention ransom it might be a good idea. How much do you think your family would give for your safe release?”
            “You are joking?” She looked concerned again.
            “Yes we will be within the Divine Principality soon, in 14 days we will return you to Casswater.”  You did not think it fair to offer that you had agreed to accept a bounty for her safe return.  You mumble something about foiling Krioål being reward enough.  you feel that the conversation is becoming hollow and so you stop talking.
            Juliet returns to Command Quarters and locks the door.  In about 18 days you leave her at Casswater.  You take the payment for her return which prompts her to throw a fit.  You return to your ship and leave. Business is business. 


Sunday, December 27, 2015

Uncle Bart

Children: I am writing this letter because I have much to explain and my memory has never been that great. I intend to read this when the time is appropriate but if you are left without me make sure you are all here when this is read to the group.  
I knew all of your parents, the majority of us came from different times and places from one another. Perhaps one of them would be given the task of sharing this with you if I was not the last one to be alive.  Even those who died from age did not die young.
You see our “ancestors” actually lived in the future perhaps not the future of this planet or dimension but a future somewhere.  They created a device called a Matrix what they intended is beyond me perhaps they needed a power source as the device does produce energy.   What happened was a device was created that permitted travel through time a desire that had stuck with humanity for centuries.   
The device however, does not exactly go though time.  It really just goes elsewhere perhaps there is a linked timeline of elsewheres perhaps not.   The device also enables special abilities with prolonged contact on some worlds with more exposure the powers get stronger and more numerous.  Perhaps this is epi-genetics at work.  Needless to say some bearers of the matrix have been treated as witches though I think the device is more of the Asimov principle at work than actual occult.  There are probably ten or twenty thousand matrixes scattered though the 160,000 different possible locations a matrix can reach.   There is a memory that is impressed upon a matrix that will designate a place that it will bring you to.  It communicates telepathicly with a user and will both inform the user and read their mind as to where they want to go.  With practice you can transport to a place on the world that you have been before and to a specific time within a day or two from when you have left.  
It will never transport you to a place of immediate danger,  but danger may be nearer than you wish.  Even if it has not regained power you can clench it in your fist and tell it to get you away and it will remove everyone in its sphere to a random world.   Ordinarily to dial out you would place it in your left hand point the first number in sequence up, touch your forehead with your right hand, then touch the matrix, dial the next four numbers in sequence.  If you dial 20-20-20-20 you will be taken to the last matrix yours has been in contact with which for now shall be mine.  There are certain places that are locked out of dialing for some odd reason.  Ordinarily you would ask it for options and it would tell you of places you might wish to go.  There are other versions of yourselves you might encounter. Furthermore there are other travelers, some of which do not need a matrix.  There are some worlds that are used to visitors and most who are better shielded from the truth, use caution when using the matrix.  
  There is more to learn and I will probably write it down later but for now I wish you the best

 Your “Uncle”
Bart H.W. Gummins

PS: one of you might want to take notes as a way of keeping track of where you are and what the matrix has told you as it often will give coordinates as options but not repeat them later when you really need them.  I have given you two satchels that will probably fit into most technological levels but they are some hind of future technology, they are bigger on the inside, they are not infinite but will hold a large quantity.  Also I have some other gifts which I will reveal later.   


A vile ginormous dragon
with heads ands and horns and crowns
nibbled on my little sister 
and then it gulped her down

oh parents tell your children
don't do as I have done  
don't feed your sisters to dragons
and watch them gulp her down

at nearly noon the other day 
the dragon knocked on my door
he said “dear sir if you please
may I have some more”

I fed him my brother
what was I to do
if you make a deal with dragons 
you better pull through

he ate my parents and teachers
my cousins and my aunt
i'm out of people to feed him 
and so I guess i'm lunch

tell all the people 
don't do as I have done
don't feed your kin to dragons

they'll eat every last one.

Children of catyclysm

“Lets see here.  There is still a few cans here in the cupboard” I examined what was still in the kitchen.
“What's in there anyway?” hollered Jaq from the back bedroom.
“We've got dog food, corned beef, the usual stuff that's been  left behind, Wait we have two cans of pineapple and a can of chocolate syrup.  It may have been 25 years or more that this has been here but the cans are still sealed.”  
“Pack them up carefully they will not be that valuable if they get damaged.”
I walked across the kitchen and threw open the other cupboards looking for something to wrap the cans in.  I found towels that were deteriorating in the second drawer down and a mess of rotten rags in the bottom drawer.  I decided to go with the towels. “Jaq have you seen any signs of rodents? I haven't seen any mice or anything else.” 
“Nothing, no I haven't seen even a little turd pellet.  Weird.”
I took catalogue of what was of value in the kitchen: canned food,  wood broken from the table and chairs which I stacked by the door, some chemicals which were miraculously still intact,  a couple spools of string,  one good knife and a few that were not so good but worth scavenging, a scissors,  some stale spices and.......
“Nate, Jaq you need to get down here and see this now.”  a voice thundered from below Harris was obviously agitated. 
Jaq ran into the kitchen.  She was already in condition red. “we need to find out what that was.”
I nodded and opened the door to head down the stairs.  I found Harris, Amanda, and Mike in a back room.
“In there” Mike pointed at a door that was ajar.
I opened the door cautiously and let Jaq look in first. The other side of the door had obviously been black once.  The room seemed larger than the space it should have consumed.  The walls were  deteriorating and bare except for the far wall facing the door.  on it was a darkened antique mirror and a cerimonial sword hanging directly above it horizontally.  The floor had four human shaped mounds on it.  Mounds of dead rats un-decomposed strangely sustained.
Jaq said it was weird and I had to agree.  I felt disquieted by the room and returned the door to where it had been.  “So what is the plan?”
Harris took charge and started in “we have been discussing this and I feel that we have two options.  The first option is to just pack up and get out of here. This just creeps me out and I don't want to deal with this sort of thing”  
Mike piped in “that sword is worth more than anything else we might find here. I think it is worth the risk.  We really need to put it to a vote.  This still creeps me out.”
“Fine let's vote. I'm with Mike.” I placed my vote on the table. 
“I remember stories of this sort of thing from before the world went to hell.  My mother read to me from this book there was a lady in there named Frau Tottenkinder she ate children.  This make me feel like we are in one of those stories.”  Amanda was in favor of fleeing.
“I feel we should combine the two options.  I say we pack everything we have up and then come back for the sword.” Jaq offered.  She looked at each of us as all but Amanda and Harris nodded as if to back her plan.  
“Ok but we need to burn this place down and not come back when we are done.”  Harris was ready to compromise. “If anybody asks we will say the safe was rigged.”
“Fine let's pack it up quick and then reunite in the kitchen.”  I set up the next order of action.
We loaded our meager scavenges onto the back of our cargo bikes and returned to the kitchen.
“Is there anything flammable?” I looked at Mike who was supposed to check the garages. 
Mike shrugged “I never got that far......”  'at least he was honest.'
Mike and I went to the near garage and the other three went to the far one.  We found a axe with a broken handle,  several broken shovels and one good one, and a watering can.  
“I don't see a gas can or anything”  Mike looked at me with disappointment.
“What's on the shelves”  I looked at him interrogatively
“Oil, brake fluid, house-paint,  Oh Saw-blades!”  though his eyes gimmered a bit he wasn't finding anything.  We loaded what we could use on the bikes and went to find the others.  
The other garage was more provisioned there was a motorcycle,  car tires,  lawn furniture, power-tools, and several of what were once taxidermied animal heads.   All three of the others were looking down into a plywood box.  I came over and looked in.  the box contained camping gear.  Amanda had a gas can by her foot.  
“Do we have fuel to start the fire?”  I asked Amanda.
“No the can is empty, I was hopeful when I saw it but there is nothing ”  she replied unhappily.
“It's alright. Well then, load what is most useful on the bikes.  We cannot take this all in one trip.”  I poked around while they were loading and found a box of pool chemicals in the corner.  I pulled out a jar of chlorine crystals and smiled.  
Back in the kitchen we had made a pile of dry brush and set the components needed to start the fire out. We headed down the stairs towards the door.  Something was different when we came to the room.  The door was wide open.  I inquired and nobody admitted to reopening the door.  We went back to the base of the stairs and played rock-paper-scissors to decide who would be sent in to retrieve the sword.  Harris acquired the duty despite the fact that he had voted against retrieving it in the first place.  He was still hesitant until I pointed out that the sword belonged to whoever retrieved it.  
Cautiously Harris stepped into the room with a camp axe from the box in his hand.  He was careful to step between the mysterious mounds of rats.  He lifted up the sword and began to turn around when a face appeared in the mirror.  
“HAVE YOU AWAKEN ME?” a voice thundered from the wall.  “ARISE MY CHILDREN.”  at that moment Harris decided he had had enough and turned and threw the axe which bounced off the mirror.  The rats started moving and Harris decided to run for the door.
We ran up the stairs and through the kitchen being careful to kick the cups of brake fluid over onto piles of chlorine crystals.  And left the house to ride away leaving it to burn down behind us.  We were all jittery from the experience but we made it back to the compound safely.
That night I had a dream of 13 walking golems of rats chasing me.   One caught me and enveloped me and I woke up.  I looked down the rows of hammocks hanging in the lecture hall turned dormitory and calmed down relived that the dream was not real. 
I got dressed and headed to the cafeteria.  Harris and Amanda were already there.  Harris has a bundle with him I could only assume it was the sword.  
“Did ja sleep well last night?” I inquired.
Harris shook his head and Amanda gave me a tense look.
“What ever that was, it was not good.” Amanda was shaken up “Faces in mirrors and bodies made out of rats this is not normal.  That place just felt dark.  We do need to go back and finish cleaning up the lot but I don't really want to.”
“We can hold off on that for a bit anyway”  I said taking a sip of the bitter chicory brew that somehow became the official morning beverage in our compound.  I often wonder how the coffee that this was supposed to substitute for actually tasted.  By now any coffee that we found had decomposed beyond use for food.  “Tomorrow we have to take over for one of the teams at the old high-school.”  We had maintained the various smaller communities across town as a way of spreading out protection over usable land.  “Today we need to go and see what what we can get for what we have recovered so far.”
“THIRTYFIVE! I won't take less than seventy. that is a good coat. It's wool and not a moth eaten spot on it anywhere.” Jaq was trying to sell her finds.  
“It's got a hole right here.”  The merchant was trying to wear her down to a lower price.
“You just made that hole.”  There was no backing down for her.
“Fine fifty, will you take fifty I've got a profit to make!”
“Sixty will be fine thank you very much.”
“You are a nuisance  fifty-five then.”  he was weakening.
“Fine. We have a deal.” Jaq extended her hand “Two hundred for the rest of the bundle?”
He dug around the heap and bargained her down to a hundred and seventy.  “You are trouble to deal with”  
“Yet you always pay well.”
We regrouped after our individual trips to the market.  Harris was wearing his sword in a new scabbard, and everyone else was obviously perked. I really could not bear to tell him he should have sold that thing and he was as likely to hurt himself as anybody else “It seems our band has two new members joining us.”  I was reading the orders sheet for tomorrow.  “Looks like a Rosalind and Deidre will be joining us when we relieve  WB 14 tomorrow.”
“Trainees are like dead weight” Mike said obviously frustrated.
“Maybe we should make them wear a red shirt until they learn how a war band is supposed to operate.” Jaq threw out.  
“Let's just get them trained quickly while we are watching over the outpost.” I was trying to think logically.
That night The story teller read us a story from one of the books that was in the library. She read to us from G.K. Chesterton's Ballad of the White Horse.  The words shook me like a storm I felt that I was riding with Alfred against the Danes.  
Ride through the silent earthquake lands,
          Wide as a waste is wild,
          Across these days like deserts, when
          Pride and a little scratching pen
          Have dried and split the hearts of men,
          Heart of the heroes, ride.
Night came and went and in the morning we assembled ready to go and waited for our new team members.
I heard footsteps approaching from behind “Umm hi..........  I'm Rosalind we are here Sir.”  I heard her talking as I turned around.
“Pardon me I only see one of you.”  I was only honest.
“Do not mean to offend but she's right here.” she set her hand on an invisible shoulder.
Jaq whispered to me to just leave it be so I didn't worry about it. “Alright single file we will try to make this a quick walk to the high school.  It's only five miles.”  I did not mention the last mile or three going through thick forest.  My team already knew If the newbie(s) did'nt know about the way the forest behaved they would learn quick.  The trees never killed anyone who left them be.