“Is this what it feels like to be Queen?” she wondered.
Her attendants moved fluidly around her with hushed voices.
Soon her tattered past was stripped away.
Drowsy from the warm of forgotten times, she barely noticed that she was, indeed, bare.
Gentle hands soothed the grime from her form. A little buffing.
Cheered by kindness she had never expected to feel again.
She gave a small smile upon hearing one of them whisper, “She cleans up well. No serious blemishes. Yes, she’ll do quite well.”
Then she was lifted and being carried in arms.
“Please. Please. Let it be real.
Not another cold awakening in a rough place.
Not another delusion.”
They withdrew. Left her.
At first she blushed, not being Eve.
A garden – but the fence was tall.
The sun warmed her weary frame of mind.
A nature girl? Why not?
Isadora Duncan danced. Naturally. Barefooted.
Celebrities flaunt faces without makeup.
Legally Blond lugged a monster backpack on wild Pacific Quest Trail - without blush!
She stepped into new terrain.
It must be true what they say about nature’s restorative powers.
Soon she showed she was able to hold up her end of things.
(She just lit up with that realization! You know how it is to be simply wired!)
Her heart-strings wrapped around a new life.
Delicate but no longer fragile.
Despite her deep-seated fear, she learned it’s safe to lean upon others.
No need to worry about having a screw loose or working sharp angles.
No reason to become bowed under the weight of life.
Once again she stands bolt straight and with purpose.
Her world unfolded in front of her. And she’s meeting it with open arms.
No rejected stick in the mud now!
Merrily merrily unbroken,
Phil, the Philosopher Mouse of the Hedge.
Catch up with the lady’s story:
Chapter 1. “Storied Ledge” (The cad. How could he treat her so?)
Chapter 2. “Hope Delays Reality” (Convinced he didn’t mean it, she waited. He’d be back!)
Glad you stopped by to read.
Comment Break until after Christmas!
Feel free to jingle all the way away.
Sounds impossible, that. Deceptive.
Like diet approved fudge. (That’s a serving size? For what? A gnat?)
Blogging wafts innocently in. A delicate sparkling spiderweb. Gotcha!
Ah, so seductive, that blogging.
A place to babble. (Stage is waiting. There’s your cue.)
A community! Fun times. (Blog hop. Party at Franks’. Ignore the trolls!)
Oh, then there’s stats. (Look! They like me. They really really like me. How did that post get 762 hits? That post? Not even, Fresh Pressed?)
Then it seeps out. Unseen until too late: Blogging Guilt!
Oh, the laundry can wait. Need to get this post done and up. (They are waiting…really. They are. I’m sure of it. No, I’m not easily deluded…some of those subscribers are real. Don’t want to disappoint.)
Sigh. How rude. Haven’t managed to respond to comments on previous posts. (and a new one dancing out the door.)
All those blogs are being followed now? Oh, the unforeseen obligation. (They’ll hate me for ignoring those post notifications in email. I owe them comments…So many blogging debts so little time…)
And stats. (Dare to look?)
Dancing as fast as I can. You probably are, too.
So here’s the plan until after Christmas:
I’ll still be posting some.
Stories and odd stuff keeps showing up like stray cats. Can’t turn them away, can I?
Working on that guilt…Sort of…
Oh, what a cute little concept and story idea.
Come on in out of the weather. Sit down and gather your thoughts. (Not that chair – her story is unfolding….)
Oh, more outside? Take a number. Your post writing time is just ahead…
Stop shoving and stay in line!
Don’t use that tone with me.
Well, you can see the problem.
That’s not even mentioning the odd photo opportunities.
Is there’s an invisible sign outside announcing a haven for thoughts abandoned?
Comments will be turned off next week until after Christmas.
Not that I don’t want to hear your side.
Not that I don’t care about your thoughts.
You know how it is when you plan to stop at a friend’s house for just a minute, then the next thing you know you’ve been laughing and talking for hours and all of a sudden it’s dark? And you know the dog is freaking out because you didn’t leave lights on in the house and the cat is cranky from food deprivation.
It’s that. Time crunch factor.
Responding to comments takes time.
I really miss visiting all of your blogs and reading your posts.
So I’m trying this instead of a total break.
It’s win-win. Easy peasy.
I get to relax and read without guilt.
You aren’t pressured to comment here, yet your blog gets visits.
Feel free to run by and leave “Like” as a calling card or comment.
It will make me feel so much less insecure.
Stats are a terrible drug…Gateway to what, I wonder?
So run wild. Give yourself a gift: Be guilt free.
Be seein’ ya’ around the neighborhood.
Phil, the Philosopher Mouse of the Hedge.
Two men walk by bayou. One falls in. Bad to joke.
Consequence for lack of thought.
Life guards in training are warned.
People’s first instinct when dunked in water is to open mouth and yell.
Expels all air from lungs. Ends any natural flotation.
Desperate for air, person quickly breathes in. Gulps water.
Animals generally respond differently.
Start flailing wildly, but not barking for help.
Closed mouth. Keeps out water. Keeps in air.
Until environment is understood. Until see what’s going on, animals keep their mouths shut.
That wisdom could float anywhere.
More Bob here.
Seeing from here to there is difficult sometimes.
Some seek heart, some seek coincidences, and some hold tightly to giraffes.
Does the Hallmark Channel prowl the web for potential movie plots? If so, one small Italian girl should be expecting a call.
Annamaria Di Tonto of Naples, Italy hasn’t had a typical childhood.
Born with a defective heart valve, she had her first surgery when one month old, and another when she was three. Without those open heart surgeries, blood wouldn’t flow to her lungs properly.
Tricky stuff as the body doesn’t have zippers and a “pause while parts are replaced” switch.
Last June, her doctors determined she was outgrowing her heart valve and needed a replacement. Each time she goes under the knife, it makes the next one more risky. And Annamaria will probably be facing at least two more upgrades before she is an adult.
Her parents desperately searched for alternatives.
Her grandfather, being like any grandfather, sought help in any place no matter how unlikely.
Mauritzio Di Tonto managed to arrange an audience with the Pope.
During the meeting, Pope Francis gave the eight year old girl a rosary he had blessed for protection and bestowed a kiss.
Great emotional story, but didn’t fix the heart valve.
But oddly things began to happen.
Like a child’s train track snapping together, events clicked quickly.
Her grandfather reached out to an old friend who was now a long way from home.
This man, Mario Ferrari, turned out to be currently the CEO of Methodist Research Institute in the Medical Center, Houston, Texas.
Through the magic of Skype, there were conferences with parents.
Then Ferrari contacted Dr. Hule Lin (Specialist treats adult with congenital heart defect) who then talked with Dr. John P. Breinholt (Pediatric cardiology chief, Children’s Memorial Herman Hospital and UT Health Medical School).
More video conferences.
Dr. Breinholt felt Annamaria didn’t need open heart surgery.
He spotted a narrowing of the blood vessels to her lungs that could easily be fixed by minimally invasive surgery.
The Doctor shuffled and cleared a spot on his calendar, in Houston.
Stunned, the family found themselves on a plane within two days. (Medical emergencies have their own visa rules.)
Rushed, Annamaria brought two important possessions: the rosary and a stuffed giraffe she’d had forever.
Her nervous mom, Francesca, felt more settled by the “warmth and support and great humanity” of those who gathered around the family upon arrival.
Then another quick intake of breath in surprise upon arriving at the hospital.
Annamaria was handed a stuffed mascot for the hospital: a giraffe.
While both stuffed giraffes had to wait in her room as doctors worked on Annamaria last Monday, she did carry that rosary for protection.
The surgery went perfectly – and it was kinda like when you remodel a house, while you’re there you might as well fix….
From a catheter threaded through vessels in her leg, Breinholt used balloon angioplasty to open the pulmonary artery, and also fixed a problem with a stent already in place.
Her prognosis is excellent and future valve replacements should be done with a catheter.
She’s already up running around.
Hallmark movie material, right?
Annamaria left a gift for other children: the rosary.
“I asked them to keep it so that it might also bless and protect the other children who are treated here.”
The rosary is being framed along with a picture of a small girl being kissed by the Pope and will be placed on one of the walls in the cath lab as she asked.
It’s nice to share.
And now leaping over muddles and puddles, time for more sharing and answers from last Friday’s contest.
(Staff: Wait, RC Cat. No Paws of Fury! No Paws of Fury! Here – take the microphone.)
It is a ceremonial duty!
In what Realm would Staff make important announcements?
As RC Cat of the Realm, it gives Us great pleasure to applaud all the clever, the brave,
the insanely bored and the astute who ventured a guess in Our contest.
And the envelope, please.
The winner of the “Guess how unbelievably destructive the Molly was and still could be if not sternly lectured by Ourselves many Easy Walk Harnesses the Molly test drove before determining just the right one
Who does the creature think she is? Goldilocks took less time!
Carrie Rubin with her guess of 6 harnesses.
We are very concerned that this writer/doctor either has a hidden camera located in the Realm, listening devices, or there’s a snitch. We suspect that Sasha cat next door.
While the Molly has redesigned multiple harnesses from multiple manufacturers, she managed to munch only 6 from the Easy Walk Company. We have run out of claws to count the total number of collars, leashes, and harnesses totally deactivated.
We did pen a letter to Easy Walk suggesting that perhaps the Molly should become part of their design staff, but have yet received a response.
We suspect Staff lost the letter on the way to the mailbox. Or they are afraid the company does not have enough high shelves to protect their inventory from Molly’s assistance.
Now for the winner who puzzled out the truth of the mystery picture with the rainbow. Oh, that one gave Us such a giggle.
Martha Schaefer guessed: “…looks like a prism set near the litter box”.
Exactly. Obviously a person of great experience and knowledge of the world.
We must admit We were not initially pleased when the Realm relocated.
But Staff had assured Us that these new accommodations would please even without the Upstairs and Downstairs.
And there was a level of elegance to Our personal quarters previously not offered.
A sunny wall of glass bricks splashes diamonds and rainbows across the walls – even through a narrow door-hinge gap by Our personal facilities (To box it in polite terms.)
Yes, Yes. Upon seeing that rainbow, We gave Our Paw of Approval.
Recognition that RCs are special – even the Universe knows.
And that even the most ordinary objects can be elevated with a little effort to fine art.
What? Stop that mouthing. Now what is the problem?
Gold at the end of the rainbow?
Of course the chemical-free, biodegradable, soft to the paws wheat is worth it’s weight in gold, Dunderhead.
Oh. We were just making a little joke! Of course We understood.
Yes. Yes. Prizes shall be sent to the winners.
Staff shall send that delightful author Susan Toy necessary information.
And a cheery thanks to all that participated.
Such a delightful group, Our Readers…who always remember their manners.
But We are tiring.
Permission to withdraw, granted.
Our paw has waved.
Do not forget to leave the tribute of an open can of food in the doorway.
That is all. Waving!
I am RC Cat and I approve this message.
New to RC Cat and the Realm?
Don’t worry. Your secret is safe with Staff. Brave enough to venture read one of RC’s other posts? “Dereliction of duty. Usurper”
Stupid GPS. Nag. Nag. Redirect! Redirect until embarrassed radio silence after a furious whack.
Should have followed that instinct for a hard right.
Going retro for better results with predictable stars and dusting of the sextant.
There’s always the option of landmarks, familiar routes, or seat of the pants navigation.
But that doesn’t always go well even for famous explorers like Rene-Robert Cavalier Sieur de La Salle.
(With a name like that, you know he’s bound to have a full wig of curls, but have it on authority that there’s no truth to the rumor that Sally’s Beauty Supplies is a descendent or derivative…)
La Salle is that French guy who explored and claimed for France all the land around the Mississippi River and its’ tributaries. Three years after that, about 1685, he once again sailed from France with four ships and 300 colonists planning to established a settlement at the mouth of the Mississippi in order to block expansion by the English, establish a base to strike Mexico and Spanish shipping, and to establish a warm water port for the French fur trade.
Only he missed it. By about 400 miles.
Minus a ship that had been taken by pirates/deserters (which was later intercepted by the Spanish who weren’t happy to hear about the French being in their backyard…)
Another ship ran aground and sank.
(Hearing that theme song from Gilligan’s Island about now? A three hour tour…)
The original “Survivor” reality show. (Without commercial breaks)
Not to be discouraged, La Salle tried to make lemonade out of a sour situation.
(Please let us off this ship. Anywhere. Anywhere. There. That looks like the Mississippi? If it does to you, it does to me. You can go on to China without us. We’ll wait here.)
One of the two remaining ships left for France with the frigate La Belle left behind as a lifeline to France.
La Belle was a comfort, until it sank.
Then came the water shortages, rattlesnakes, disease, and attacks by the locals.
Soon there were only 24 left. Women, children, physically handicapped, and men who displeased La Salle were left when he decided to go for help. The remaining colonists were deceived by the Karankawa and slaughtered during Christmas week. A few children were taken and adopted by the tribes. (Much later the Talon Children were rescued and their stories recorded.)
La Salle eventually attempted to hike through East Texas towards New Orleans area with a handful of men. He still thought it was just around the corner…the next one. The next one. Possibly thought the Trinity River was a tributary of the Mississippi.)
Once again, bad turn.
Having lost faith in their leader after only two months, the men shot him, then deserted to live among the Indians.
A fascinating story that now seems more real. Real and amazing.
In 1995 archeologists realized the lumps under the waters of Matagorda Bay were more than hurricane refuge or railroad ties.
It was La Belle’s keel and large pieces of the frigate buried in six feet of mud.
The Texas Historical Commission working with Texas A&M University built a dam around the wreck, pumped it dry, and gathered the nearly intact hull. Then the timbers were stored in the world’s largest archeologist freezer-dryer to flash freeze all the wood to remove the moisture.
Now it’s time to get ready for the big reveal next spring.
The Bullock Texas State History Museum in Austin, Texas is resembling La Belle.
Watch the progress on-line here. (Wed-Fri. 9-5)
Equally fascinating is all the stuff the ship was carrying:
Cooking utensils, tools, building materials, beads, bells, mirrors for trading, tons of Jesuit rings, cannons with dolphin handles, rifles, pewter plates, buttons, ruler, and even pecans.
Everything colonists would need was still in the hold.
Click here to see 67 of over 100 artifacts recovered.
Check out the rat skeleton! (Stowing away can be hazardous)
Real stuff from real people makes it more than just a story in a book.
Lost. And found.
When completed, the entire hull will be encased in a glass structure so visitors can walk just above the deck and look directly down into the hull.
How cool is that?
As close as you can get until they perfect time travel.
Or maybe this isn’t exactly the destination/event you want to pick. Check out the museum video of what was supposed to be a great adventure before you decide.
Ready to find some adventure of your own now?
Someplace sunny and warm? Sailing does sounds nice.
Yacht racing still a bit dangerous. Watch video of recent Volvo Ocean Yacht Race shipwreck into a reef… a modern 65 foot boat , yet…at night….in shark infested waters… (Dramatic videos of Team Vestas ship and crew once day breaks. Official race site. Australian news article here.)
Maybe something with a bit less drama?
How about finding a nice spot to sit down and lose yourself in a Caribbean island mystery?
Win a free e-book copy of Island in the Clouds from Susan Toy!
Susan has graciously offered, so here’s your chance for a lovely get-away from the frantic holiday mania and warm up from the chilly weather!
Simply leave a comment and tell me how many Easy Walk Harnesses you think Molly has managed to chew through.
Winners will be found in Monday’s post.
Meanwhile don’t get lost in the drizzle or the crowds, watch out for the land sharks in the parking lots, and hope you find wonderful adventures this weekend.
(Inserting that Jaws theme song here….)
Phil, the Philosopher Mouse of the Hedge.
Take the safe contest choice or you can try to guess what this is. Nobody did last time. As always, creativity encouraged here.
Awkward, but must face it. It’s a mixed marriage.
Nurture or nature? Environment or genetics? Pointless debate.
You’re either a Christmas Person, or you’re not.
Or the manic bright-eye caroling Martha Stewart crafty ones who fill every nook and corner with holiday decor…and leave it up all year round.
(The ones you know are headed for a crash and burn-out eventually…usually after the divorce. ..Simply too much pressure for the spouse.)
Just about those who enjoy all the jolly holly holidays.
December in schools used to be heavy with the smell of construction paper.
You could almost taste it in the hallways.
Picky kids would go through the paper pile searching for the red sheets that weren’t faded and the few dense inky black sheets that were left over from Halloween’s black cats and witches.
Cotton balls, glitter, and maybe, if lucky, some multi-colored stars that you had to lick and hope they would stick.
Classrooms were adorned with construction paper projects with red and green paper chains looped everywhere. (Chains that were finally stapled when the glue kept letting go.)
Then the last day of school before the holidays, it all came down, and kids rushed home with their decorations in their arms.
Travel down the neighborhood and it was easy to tell from the proudly displayed childish decorations on doors and windows which teacher each child had.
There was a lot of competition among teachers for the most creative, the most beautifully, the most failsafe projects.
Easy to see, too, which moms allowed more crafty holiday entertainment.
And provided scraps of lace, rickrack, sequins, and more!
Lucky kids got to whip up Ivory soap into snow to slather on their pictures.
There were moms willing to spend money on spray-on snow in a can to use with stencils on windows.
Such joy. Such clogged vacuum cleaners.
So quaint, the windows crowded with childish art.
Now everyone feels obligated to have a professional looking seasonal display.
Readily available yard inflatables make it so easy: Toss, plug in, and done.
(FYI: That entire flock of inflatables pictured in last week’s post are all sold. Gone! Flew the coop. Ceiling is as bare as NASA’s Space Shuttle hangars. Amazing.)
Even modest suburban neighborhoods have services that swoop in and install all the lights any elf could possibly imagine. And take them down again.
Realistically, that may save on trips to the ER.
Instant blimp-like yard decor is perfect for those who must keep up appearances, but are really, at heart, is Not-A-Christmas Person.
But that’s OK. Just so much time, so delegating is smart.
Leaves time for other more important stuff, right?
A Christmas Person may mumble, but resignedly rolls out the strings of lights down the hall each year, carefully tightening each bulb, and making sure there aren’t lights of the same color next to each other before winding all 57 light strings around the tree. And the lights alone take a day.
A Not-A-Christmas Person plugs in the pre-lit tree. Done!
A Christmas Person gathers little notes all year long to remember what each person really really desires. Something they never dreamed you even knew that they wanted! A Christmas Person quietly notes and makes purchases far in advance.
A Not-A-Christmas Person says, “Hey, Starbuck cards. Everyone loves Starbuck cards! Done.”
A Not-A-Christmas Person knows exactly where each store’s gift wrapping station is.
Very professional looking. So elegant. Impressive. “So much better than I could do.”
A Christmas Person carefully selects even which wrapping paper suits each person.
Traditional red velvet bow on dark green for the Williamsburg type.
Santa with thick fuzzy yarn ties for the kids. (Add a small Lego with the bow?)
Cute Christmas dogs or cats designs for the pet lover.
Chic silver for the sophisticated trendy ones.
And on each a special gift tag – with a cryptic hint of what’s inside. (Anticipation is best part of Christmas!)
It’s not their fault, the Not-A-Christmas Persons. Probably genetic.
My Dad was all Frosty the Snowman, Elvis’ “Blue Christmas” and simple country carols – sung really loud.
Always that last hour on Christmas Eve before the stores closed run to find the most ridiculous presents ever. Wind-up pigs playing drums. Closeout candy canes – from Halloween. And an apple and orange in each stocking as a nod to those “exotic fruit” treats given dirt poor farm kids of his generation.
It was all “it’s the thought that counts”. And fun. A month of twinkling eyes, secret plans, and Ho-Ho-Ho’s.
He made a great Santa at the grocery store a couple of times. Did Christmas really well.
My Mom was all budget, underwear is fine for Christmas, and you get one big gift with a couple of (very) smaller ones.
Each kids had exactly the same amount – to the penny – spent on them.
More formal orchestra performances and Handel’s Messiah. (No clapping for religious music.)
She always handed the gifts to me to wrap.
Insisted the tree, the outdoor lights, the wrapping paper – all of it – be packed up and stored away before Dec. 28th.
Must have had a recessive Christmas Person gene.
An environmental vs genetic thing? One of the great mysteries of mankind.
I do the best I can with those afflicted with sluggish holiday spirit.
Those with the deer-in-the-headlight look in the stores.
Those with Sugar Plum phobia.
Those who tremble at the thought of tinsel
The ones who are secretly relieved they don’t have to do the tree or put up lights allowing them to just sit there and take it all in.
Nudge them gently. Hoping to infect them. There’s always next year.
Year 1, Stage One: Here, you hang the door wreath and stockings.
Year 2, Stage Two: It’s only one box of ornaments. Anywhere you hang them is fine. Ok, just the red ones.
Year 3, A plateau. Don’t want to rush progress. How about another box of ornaments? They’re Santas and candy canes.
Hey, your turn to put the star on the top. Perfectly done! (And they’re hooked…)
It’s not just about religion. Much more than that.
There’s so many winter holidays, traditions, and celebrations. So many light ones.
Grew up in a predominately Jewish community. Can sing the Dreydl Song with the best of them.
Always envied the Swedish neighbor’s flowing white robes and crown of candles.
And the kids next door got an extra day of gifts on Three Kings Day.
Wooden Dutch shoes in place of stockings. Father Christmas on pony or goat? Whatever transportation gets the job done.
Add the seven days of messages with Kwanzaa.
Of course, Our Lady of Guadalupe, Las Posadas, and Tamaladas for making Christmas tamales.
Celebrations are something very human. Importance unfathomed.
Found in dark caves with sooty handprints and dancing ponies.
In oak groves. In cathedrals. In hearts.
A lingering primal need? An instinct, hope, or dream?
An ancient human recognition of survival and community.
Contentment with life also flickers in there.
Plenty of time to ponder.
Hot chocolate and a cookie or two?
Settle in by the fire? Holiday Inn is on.
Even if lacking the full Christmas Person gene, bet you can’t help wishing all be merry and bright after a warming up a bit.
(Yes the air conditioner is on, why do you ask? You know how it is: one person is always hot and one always cold…)
(Can you please flip that light string over that branch while you’re standing there? And just snug up that one light bulb there.
Oh, it may not be the brightest one on the string, but in concert with the all others it glows and shines brightly.)
Just right, cookie.
Phil, the Philosopher Mouse of the Hedge.
Christmas pining: A matter of difference. (Step lightly when opposites attract? Fresh Pressed, 2012.)
Crushed by the Christmas Views. (Simply too much for him. Bad Santa!!!!)
Santy Claus wonders. (One final trip) (Christmas slips in. Awful is not always bad. 2013)