Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Confessions of a Collection

I am really not one to collect things. I don't collect comics or baseball cards or art cards or anything like that. I do sort of collect angel figurines, but those are mostly things people have gotten for me: I don't go out and actively seek out little angel figures.

Now, however, there is something that makes me get all excited and girlie; I go out and keep my eye open per chance I will see one I do not have. What are these things that have captured my imagination and eagerness to have many of them, different ones of them? Stickers.

Yes, stickers.

I put stickers on envelopes and letters, in my paper journal for adornment, and sometimes even on cards. At first I merely purchased them because they would give me something to put in my journal to make it all pretty. Now I go out and see them and, if possible, purchase a sheet or two.

Sometimes I purchase two sheets of the same sticker collection, or design. At first I was telling myself that it was because I wanted to make sure I had extra, but I have found myself setting back one page of doubles just to make sure I have them.

I knew I was in trouble the other day when hubby and I were at a small "everything is a dollar" store that was going out of business and he found treasures - Sailor Moon stickers! Not only did I squeal and virtually bounce up and down saying "I want it! I want it!" I also made sure to get a second sheet because there is no way I was going to open just one sheet because finding these stickers is very hard, unless you go onto eBay and then you usually pay more than what they are worth (still, I drool).

I sincerely love stickers. I admit it. I am coming clean. I am a sticker collector.

I collect them and I use them, and I want to keep them. They are little works of art, little works of art I can afford. So, now I give myself permission to be a sticker collector.

*happy, glorious sigh of contented peace*

Monday, August 30, 2004

An Amazing Thing

Yesterday hubby and I went to Church. It was the Feast of Saint John the Baptist, as well as a fast. It is a special fast and a strict one. On that day we try not to touch knives or bladed weapons, we do not eat on plates if we can help it, and we observe the strict fasting rules of no meat, no dairy, and no eggs.

In Father's sermon yesterday he brought out how Christ truly admired John the Baptist and called him, "the greatest man born of woman." My first reaction was that Christ Himself was the greatest man born of woman, but He wasn't. Why? He was also God. So, if Christ is going to say something like that about someone, it is pretty important.

All in all, my faith is growing and expanding. Little by little I am coming to understand life and living none at all, and I realize it's OK. Why? Because I have no control over much of what happens, and if I can keep a hand on what I can really do, then things work out much better. I am finally leaving a lot in God's hands and not messing with it.

That, in itself, is a remarkable thing for me. You see, I have this great "mother instinct" and I am usually reaching out to people, but I haven't been doing that of late. I have been reaching out to hubby, Cheyenne, and a friend I will call "Dora", and my sisters and select family members. It isn't because I suddenly feel reserved, I just realize I can't help everyone and when I can, God will direct them to me.

I am living and loving and being a part of a greater whole called Life and finding I can actually do it - Live and be happy on my own terms. Surprisingly, the terms are very simple: accept me for who I am, and love me if you can, but don't try to make me into someone I'm not.

For the longest time I felt as if I needed to fight to remain an individual, to be "who I am", but I don't. I just need to keep being me and if no one else accepts it, then, that is all right.

I wonder if this is a part of the "nesting" scenario as well?

Saturday, August 28, 2004

Conquering and Becoming , Poetry

Conquering and Becoming
By Henrietta Asher Handy

Copyright (c) 2004 by Henrietta Asher Handy

Dark passions lie within this Soul of mine
No matter how hard I seek to do good I do evil
Hurting those I would most treasure and protect
Protect that which I should despise
I cannot change this Soul within me
Cannot make it white, gray, black or purple
It is so far beyond my control
But my desire is for good though oft’ it falls short
So, upon me I cannot depend for changes good or bad
I must kneel and surrender
Let the dark passions scream and cry and burn
Let them turn to white-gray ashes
So that from their depths love can grow
Conquering who I was
In order I may become who I am.

Friday, August 27, 2004

On Being Domestic

I am not one for domesticity, really. My life has generally been lived writing, reading, thinking, not cleaning and planning how pretty something was going to look at a dinner party. I have never thought about curtains or throw pillows or things to go on the walls to liven up a room. Sure, sometimes I've dreamed and planned in my head and sometimes out loud, but when it came down to doing something in the house and being all girlie and writing a story or poem, the writing has always won out (and it still does).

Since losing my Mom and Dad I have felt a serious need for roots. My roots have always been with them and where I am from, never truly where I am. Hubby has been considerate and sometimes we have argued about my lack of domestic skills, except for the kitchen. I can cook and clean in the kitchen quite well, but that is also because I love to cook and the kitchen was always the heart of the home when I was growing up and it still feels the same to me. Now, I look around me, I look at my little house and all the books and papers on the shelves in the writing room and I do not find anything representing me - except for the books, of course. I do not have roots in this house or in this city and it has begun to make me sad.

Very rarely do I feel sad about anything domestic, and this sadness has compounded the loss of my parents SO much the need for roots; for being a good wife and housekeeper as well as a writer. Now I find myself planning what I am going to do with the couch and actually getting fabric swatches for it! Never before have I gotten fabric swatches.

I have even gone onto the Internet to look for plans on how to do what I want with the couch and, having found them I am eager to begin and make the couch look pretty. This has led me to plans for Christmas and what I want the tree to look like along with the house!

It has not been over-night, this odd change to domesticity, but it sure does feel like it. Now that things are actually being plotted and planned toward a reality I am looking forward to completing my project and beginning another: a couch cover and matching curtains for the living room.

Aghast? No, I am not aghast at myself, but pleased. Pleased at the thought of having roots and feeling like I have a home. Maybe I am finally beginning to nest. Isn't that what women are supposed to do? Nest? Maybe, after all these years, the nesting instinct is taking over in me.

Am I glad? I think I am.

Now, if hubby would only agree with what I want to do in the kitchen things would be near perfect!

Yesterday - conclusion

I didn't make it to the doctor because the bus arrived late. Did make it to Barnes and Noble and was so anxious I didn't enjoy myself as fully as I normally do. Settled myself at a table with a cafe' mocha and a cream cheese bagel and wrote rambling entries into a paper journal accented with bright colored stickers I loved pasting there. Came home. Watched TV slept. Not a bad day. Not a good day. It was, nonetheless, a day.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

An Early Morning Sighing, Thoughts

Yes, today has started off very early for me. I have to be out today for a while, partly necessity and partly for fun. Of course, the fun doesn't happen until after the necessity part.

Right now I am amazed at how quiet it is outside. There are no children playing, an occasional car will pass by, and not even neighborhood dogs are barking. Everything is quiet and peaceful outside my window to the world.

On this side, however, things are a little different. The dogs are quiet and the cat is purring peacefully upon a cardboard box full of books, but my heart is hammering so hard in my chest it feels as if it is trying to come out! It is a horrible feeling actually. I'm nervous and anxious about the day.

This is my first solo trip since I lost my Dad in June. I have really depended on hubby and Cheyenne to help keep me sane since then. Today there is no one to lean on but myself and I am ... well ... concerned.

Between my last outing and this one there feels like a big difference. The city doesn't feel familiar to me and time seems to have stopped, slowed, or sped up, I'm just not sure which. There is also this crazy half-idea that something is going to go wrong when I leave the house. Hubby will be hurt and unable to get hold of me (but that is silly because I will have BOTH my cell phones with me) or I will get hurt (always a possibility), or something else bad is going to happen. Now that last one has me really worried because I can't shake it.

There is this insane feeling that something else bad is going to happen. I will get home to find out someone else has died or that there has been a problem somewhere that will throw my life into full-fledged disaster. It's silly, I know, and this should probably be saved for a journal of some type, but I have a great need to reach out and share this with as many people as possible, to, perhaps, not feel so alone.

Hubby asked me this morning before he went to work what it was that was bothering me so. I didn't have an answer for him then. I had to think about it. Ponder it. Mull it over and taste it until I knew something about the strangeness of my feeling and just how badly I felt it. This wasn't something I wallowed in, thank goodness, at least I've learned a little something since ... well, for a while. I tasted it and found something familiar, something I could put a name to. And, quite frankly, I don't like it.

Most of last year I don't remember. That is how deep my grief was. In April hubby and I were driving in the car and the sun was shining and I felt suddenly as if I could breathe; suddenly everything seemed to settle gently into place and I felt myself smile. Not only my face, but my heart, too. It must have been very odd for hubby, because I said, out loud, "You know, I have a feeling everything is going to be all right now." He asked what I meant, and all I could do is just repeat it. I felt it. I believed it. My heart and Soul were lighter and I could breathe without the extra ten pounds of weight on my chest!

From that moment on I started really getting out, doing things. I was nervous, but not like this. I was excited nervous, you know, that good sort of anxious that sometimes happens.

June 5th hubby and I were helping out a friend at his clothing store, I was even doing some sewing. It was beautiful outside. The sky was blue. The sun was shining. It was a Good Day. The hills and Low Gap were on my mind, and Daddy, but it was a good day - a day of remembering past summers of joy and ignoring all the bad in life for a little while. Then I got the call.

When Mommy passed I was cold. No manner of heat truly warmed me up. With Daddy it seems as if the sun has never been as bright as it should be.

Part of me wonders if this is a new phase I'm going through. There has been so much loss I'm not sure how to deal with it. So, why is leaving the house so difficult for me today? Why is there an over-whelming sense of doom? It is so bad, Dear Readers, I have seriously tried to come up with a reason why I shouldn't go, why I should cancel my plans. Deep in my heart there seems to be a knowledge that, if I do that, if I cancel everything, I will be staying in this house, or some other house forever, never getting out, never venturing further than my porch alone without hubby.

I know, all of this is so silly, but it is a genuine concern to me at this moment so early in the morning. I will try and come up with a more positive piece before I head off today.

Sorry if I've bored you all.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Featured Fiction

The Never Ending Saga of Dram Warrensfield
By H.A. Handy

Copyright (c) 2004 by Henrietta Asher Handy

David Raymond Warrensfield was 18 years old and a good person. He was a good son, a good student, a good Christian, and on his way to being a good man. Dram, as he was called by his little sister, and thus by many of his friends, didn’t let anything bad touch him if possible, especially the role playing games all of his friends seemed to be interested in. Even when he played video games he made certain to stay as focused in reality as possible, except for the zombie shooter. After all, there were limits the imagination should go to, and the zombie shooter was his guilty pleasure his parents didn’t need to know about, but, if they asked.... He sighed. If they asked him about his video game preferences he would just own up to them and take the consequences. Seeing disappointment in his mother’s eyes would be rough, but he couldn’t please them all the time sadly.

Dram pulled into a parking space at Woodland Park and got out of the old red Nova slowly. His red hair was already beginning to thin at the temples and his blue eyes needed glasses for reading. Hopefully he would look distinguished in his thirties and not nerdish and old. Since most of his time had been spent reading, his body reflected it in weaker limbs and a pale complexion. There were times, however, when he just wanted to get out into the sunshine – even then he carried a western with him or a biography to read, his glasses tucked safely in their case in his pocket.

It was hard to believe in just a just a couple of months he was going to be a freshman at the University of Kentucky with a major in robotic sciences and a minor in English. It was just a few weeks really since it was already July 7th. How proud his family would be. He would be able to prove for once and for all his genius in his two favorite areas. At this thought, Dram’s head rose a little higher and a self-satisfied smile appeared upon his face. Life was good.

Casually, slowly, Dram made his way beneath the large oak in the center of the park. Luckily there wasn’t anyone there already as he nestled himself between the large roots that had partially worked their way up from the soil. This was one of his most favorite places to be just to relax, to just...exist. It was also the perfect place to view most of the park itself.

To his left was a gathering of hippie-like people with girls in flowing multi-colored skirts and loose tops and no bras. They would regret not wearing a bra one day, Dram thought idly as he let his book fall open. The guys were all wearing worn out jeans and tee shirts with sayings on them, or old tye died shirts that had seen better days. Not too far from them was an Oriental family, looked to be Chinese, who had a blanket spread out for a picnic with Chinese food instead of friend chicken. Dram looked seeing people picnic who were not American – they were just simply fascinating.

Far to his right was the skate park and all kinds of kids skate boarding or doing tricks on those really cool bikes. Suddenly Dram felt very old - a couple of those kids out there on boards and bikes he had graduated high school with. They seemed to be having so much fun. Yeah, he thought, but they will play their lives away. I won’t. Mom & Dad have taught me better.

Of course there were various other people too with their dogs and their babies in strollers. Young lovers walking hand-in-hand and exchanging passionate kisses close by made him highly uncomfortable. They should know better than that. It was right he wasn’t allowed to date until he was 19 and on his own in the dorm. He could take better responsibility for himself then.

Dram leaned back against the rough bark of the tree and felt his shoulders relax. It had been a long time since he had permitted himself some time to relax. He had been pushing himself very hard to be prepared for as many advanced studies as he could get under his belt for his first semester. If everything went well he could relax his second semester a little, which would be cold and snowy for Lexington, Kentucky, or at least cold and wet.

A laugh like tinkling glass bells sounded close to Dram’s ear causing him to freeze. He was about to pray God’s angels to protect him against demons when a girl fell onto her back beside him, covered in golden fur by her dog. Her hair was dark brown and cut very short. Her eyes were hazel and almond shaped, but neither Japanese nor Chinese. She was slight of body, yet beautiful to behold, which made him blush slightly. Her laughter filled up the space around the tree with joy and made him hope despite himself she wouldn’t jump up and run away. He wasn’t exactly sure why, though.

The dog was large, a massive ball of golden fur. Its head was huge with large floppy ears. The large dark eyes it set upon the girl were filled with adoration and glee. A purple tongue lolled out of its mouth suddenly and attempted to lick the girl’s face, which sent her into peels of beautiful laughter. Dram watched the two of them in rapt wonder.

“Hello, he’s a handful, but I love him,” the girl said suddenly rolling out from under the canine and coming up into a sitting position beside Dram. She was small and lithe with alabaster skin. The ball of fur looked beneath him for a second and then spun to lie at her side upon his back for a quick rub of his stomach, which she gave two handed and heartily.

“He’s quite a beautiful animal,” Dram said politely.

“Animal? Why, he’s a ferocious beast he is!” the girl cried and the dog bounced up to continue bouncing until they were all a tumble. Dram couldn’t help but laugh at them at play, so carefree and honest. At last the girl crawled over to sit beside Dram again, feigning to be exhausted. “Go play, but where I can see you,” she said. As if he understood, the large brute ran close to another dog and began running with him, but never out of the girl’s site.

“Introductions: My name is Faun.” The girl extended her hand. It was warm to Dram’s own.


“Yeah, my family isn’t from around here and is a family tradition.”

“Oh, really? Where are you from?”

“And who are you?” Faun settled her hazel eyes upon Dram with such intensity he felt embarrassed, which he hated.

“I’m sorry, I’m David Raymond Warrensfield, or Dram.” With a start, Dram realized she was still holding his hand.

“Nice to meet you,” Faun said, buoyant and happy. When her hand withdrew from his Dram felt the sunlight dim just a little and the green of the grass dull ever so slightly.

“Isn’t this a beautiful place?” Faun leaned forward and wrapped her arms around her legs. She was absolutely gorgeous and she was talking to him! Dram wasn’t sure what he answered, but, whatever it was kept her there beside him and that, suddenly, was very important. “Ego and I have looked for a happy park like this ever since we moved here.”

“Ego, is that his name?” She nodded. “He is very beautiful.” Faun beamed at his praise. “How long have you been here?”

“Since spring,” she said happily. “Are you a native?”

“Of Lexington? Yes.” What a strange question to ask, Dram thought, but not so strange as to cause him to seek an excuse to leave.

“Faun! Hi!” cried a voice. Dram winced as he saw the hippie girls, no older than him, begin to drift toward them. Faun raised her hand in greeting.

“You know them?” Dram couldn’t hide the displeasure from his voice, or face.

“Of course, my dad teaches them at the university.” Faun was on her feet before they reached them. “And they’re not ‘hippies’ they’re alternative.” The derision in Faun’s voice was very thick, but the smile never left her face. Had he said something about hippies out loud?

“This is my friend, Dram,” Faun said, turning to Dram. “Dram, these are my friends Amber and Coral.” Always the gentleman, Dram rose to his feet and extended his hand. Amber embraced him first, and then Coral. To say he was “uncomfortable” was the understatement of the year. How would he ever explain this to his parents? He wasn’t supposed to go around hugging strange girls! He had NEVER gone around hugging strange girls before!

“Cool name,” Amber said, nodding happily.

“Yeah, way cool,” Coral echoed.

“Are you coming to the picnic?” Amber asked and gestured over toward the blanket that had grown to four suddenly.

“Yep, wouldn’t miss it. My dad is going to tell some stories. I love to hear him tell stories.”

“You’re welcome to come, Dram,” Amber said with a brilliant smile. Dram nodded, not giving an answer one way or another.

“What does your father teach?” Dram asked quietly, once the other two girls had slowly ambled off, their hips swaying provocatively.

“He teaches English history and English lit. For the summer session he is teaching oral story telling. I love it when he teaches those classes. He gets a kick out of them, and so does everyone else. Well, I’m heading over. I’m hungry. There will be vegetarian dishes and meat dishes if you’d like to come.”

“I had better head home. I haven’t asked permission.”

“Permission? Oh, I’m sorry; I thought you were eighteen or so.”

“I am, but I’m still very respectful of my parents,” Dram said defensively. Faun nodded slowly, eyeing him carefully.

“Can’t you...um...call and get permission?” Dram shrugged. Amber and Coral waved and called.

“Well, see ya around, Dram Warrensfield. You’re still welcome, if you get permission.” With that, Faun Last-Name-Unknown trotted over to the blankets where up-standing kids, like him, were also gathering, some bringing covered dishes, others bringing a drink. He could make some brownie points with a potential professor if he stayed, and his parents would surely understand that. Wouldn’t they?

Dram pulled out his phone and called his parents. The answer was a prompt negative. He had already been out too long. “Besides, you don’t know those people, Dram, you could get into a lot of trouble without knowing it,” his mother had added.

Been out too long? Dram looked around him and saw early afternoon had given away to early evening. Traffic had picked up. Still, people were gathering on the blankets and more and more blankets and food were being spread out on the ground. With a heavy heart, Dram went back to his car and got inside. Faun turned back to the tree, and then spotted him in his car. She had such a sad look on her face. Could she actually like him?


Doris Warrensfield settled herself into her favorite chair with some knitting. Her hair was perfectly coifed after a day of gardening and housekeeping. If it were not 2004 you would swear she was a 1950s wife. Although she didn’t have an outside job, she made certain to put on her make-up every morning. As long as Dram had been alive he had never seen her without make-up or face cream at night, and never had he seen her wear the same outfit two days in a row.

His father John was already in his recliner to his mother’s left; his current reading project, a new biography of Edgar Allan Poe, open in his lap and his eye on something on television. Dram had stretched out on the couch. Outside the lace curtains something was happening in a park and he wanted to be there. It was something he could deny to himself no longer. He wanted to be there in the park with Faun and her friends listening to stories.

“So, was she pretty?” Chow plopped down beside Dram on the floor in front of the television. Chow was Dram’s brother, adopted from China before Dram was born. Both of them were eighteen, but quite different in many ways.

Chow was Chinese and elegant. He was a handsome ladies’ man with muscles and who played up the Oriental aspect of his heritage by taking kung fu and preparing the go into sports medicine when he went to college. Chow wasn’t as good on the grades Dram, so he was going to Eastern Kentucky University, in Richmond, just a few miles south. Chow had gotten into fights at school and had almost been expelled once for fighting and defending a girl. Defending the girl was cool, getting expelled wasn’t.

“Yeah, she was.”

“Pretty? What’s this about pretty?” Doris Warrensfield stopped knitting and gave her sons her full attention. It suddenly made Dram uncomfortable.

“Who’s pretty?” Angela waltzed into the room to settle herself in the loveseat to Doris’ right. Angela was 12 and African-American and Dram’s baby sister. She had been adopted from Africa; he thought Mozambique, but he wasn’t sure. Her skin was a rich mocha color and beautiful to behold.

“The girl Dram met today?”

“What girl?” their mother wanted to know.

“A girl?” Angela echoed, curling her legs up under her.

Why was it suddenly a big deal? And why did it suddenly make him feel good to have all of their attention on him over a girl?

“Mom, you are so dense sometimes,” Chow said with a laugh, and patted their mother’s foot. Dram envied Chow’s easy demeanor around the parents as Dram had. Angela almost had it, but not quite. Angela had to live up to the other half of the expectations of the family: they had to do a really good job with her since she was both black, and a girl.

“There was a girl at the park. Her father teaches at UK. He was having a story telling class. She invited me to come and join them.” Dram sat up with an inward smile seeing the stunned looks on his parents’ faces. Chow pretended to be looking for something under the couch in order to hide his grin, while Angela just snickered openly on the loveseat.

“D-dram?” his mother stammered, her eyes tearing. As usual, John Warrensfield was silent – his eyes speaking of the pride in him, though his face was set in stern lines.

“I think I’m going up early tonight. I want to read some more before the lights go out.” His mother’s eyes were like a laser in his back as Dram headed for, then up the stairs. It was a relief to finally close the door to his room.

“It’s not a lie,” he whispered to the coolness of his room. “I just changed my mind is all.” Dram’s hands were shaking when he sat down on the edge of his bed. He had practically told a lie to his parents! If he had been Catholic instead of Baptist he would have gone to Confession to get the huge lump off his chest.

There was a slight noise outside, then the doorknob turned and Chow slipped in. He was red with the effort of not laughing. He jumped onto Dram’s bed and hugged Dram for the first time in a long time.

“Tell me about her, man!” Chow kicked off his shoes and sat meditation style on the bed.

“I just lied to Mom and Dad,” Dram breathed, near tears.


“I said I wanted to read, but I don’t. I just ...”

“...wanted to get away for a while?” Chow finished for him. Dram nodded.

“Yeah,” Chow nodded in agreement.

“Did you get her number?”

“Get her number? You know we’re not allowed to call or date until we’re in school and not under Dad’s roof!” Angered flared so quickly in Dram he was shaking.

“Tell me about it, but there are ways of getting around that.” Dram’s mouth dropped open.

“What do you mean?”

“Don’t rat me out and I’ll tell you.” Slowly Dram nodded, feeling as if he was somehow making a pact with the devil through his very own brother.

“You go to a friend’s house and call her, or from Java House or other coffee house. If you use your cell phone mom and dad both know who you’ve called and they make certain of letting the girl know you aren’t supposed to date yet, when the girl has been dating since she was sixteen.” Chow ground his teeth and smashed one fist into the palm of his other hand. “Then, when you want to go out, you tell mom and dad you’re doing one thing and go out with her, just don’t let them catch you.” Dram made mental notes, already making plans.

“So, did you get her number?”

“No, but she’ll be back at the park and I’ll make sure and get her number then.”

“Cool. I’ve been seeing ... somebody... for a while. She’s going to a school down south and I’m going to EKU until I can transfer in my field.”

“Are you going to marry her?”

“Marriage is something I’m not ready to think about right now, bro, but I’m hoping it lasts, but there are a lot of pretty girls at EKU.” Chow stood and eased toward the door. “Hey, and don’t sweat telling mom and dad something to have some time to yourself. You deserve it. I don’t see how you’ve been able to be their robot for so long. It’s time you have a life now.” Chow slipped out the door. Dram heard Chow’s own door open and shut and the stereo come on softly. Then silence because Chow had put the headphones in the stereo.

Deceit was not an easy thing for Dram to consider. The Parents expected a lot from him.


Dram felt like a stalker as he settled down into the old oaks roots for the third day in a row. He brought a book with him but hadn’t read anything of it either day. He hadn’t seen the alternative people or Faun since he had been there. I am nothing if not tenacious, Dram said to himself, echoing words he had often heard his mother say about all of her children. He would keep coming to the park until he saw Faun again and get her number and he would ask her out. It was a simple fact – it was going to happen.


Dram jumped at the sound of the voice above his head. There was Faun looking happily surprised with the golden Ego on a brown leather leash at her side. Dram scrambled to his feet.

“I was hoping to see you again.” Wrong thing to say! said something in the back of Dram’s mind.

“You were?” Faun said with a smile. It was enough for Dram to...he could fly if she just would give him enough of those smiles. Dram found himself smiling back. “Did your parents give you permission to...um....” her voice trailed into an awkward silence. Dram knew he couldn’t tell her he wasn’t allowed to date because he could see the suspicion on her face already, and it was a horrible thing to see. It had never been such a horrible thought before. Not dating. Not calling someone.

“Never mind,” she said suddenly. “So you were looking for me?”

“Yes, I was. You left so quickly before; I didn’t get your number.” Good line? He hoped it was a good line. A line! Holy schmoly he was using a line!

“Ok. Do you have something to write it on?” Dram pulled out a small notebook and pen he had purchased for just the occasion and even placed some numbers of other friends and family in it so it wouldn’t look so new and unused. Faun was smiling as she wrote down her name, address and telephone number.

“I still live with my parents, but they’re pretty cool about telephone calls and things.” She was smiling up at him and it made him feel...good.

“So, are you coming or going?” Ok, that sounded good. Un-practiced.

“Going, Ego and I are heading home.” Dram nodded. They had started walking toward the parking lot. “Some friends and I are meeting at Mellow Mushroom for pizza later. Want to come?”

“What time?”

“Seven.” Dram did hurried calculations. He could say he was going to Hamburg Pavilion and Barnes and Noble Book Sellers and be home about ten o’clock and The Parents would be all right with that. The sun would really only have set about an hour earlier so they wouldn’t worry about him driving.

“Sure. Where is Mellow Mushroom exactly?”


Faun was one of the most confusing people Dram had ever met before in his life. She could play chess like a pro yet would wrestle with Ego at every opportunity. She dressed up in dresses and was as lady-like as her mother for church, but once they were in the car off came her shoes and she was tuning the radio to alternative stations.

It hadn’t taken long for Faun to become his friend, and then, miraculously, his girlfriend. She had skirted the rule of no one riding in his car when she had started going to their small Baptist church and in an outing had said happily she would ride with him and had been doing so every since. Dram’s parents had felt so uncomfortable with refusing fellow Christian girl a ride with Dram they simply couldn’t deny her, or him. Now The Parents just pretended the rule never existed...at all.

The Parents probably knew they were seeing each other, yet they pretended otherwise. Dram and Faun were harmless friends. Of course, Faun never came over to The Parents’ house. That just simply wasn’t acceptable until he was in school in the fall. For him, however, Dram was welcome in Faun’s house any time, which was another great shock to him.

The Tellingtale household was one far different from the Warrensfield’s. In the Tellingtale household imagination was expected and rewarded. It wasn’t something that was evil. At first Dram nearly stopped seeing Faun because of her love of works of fantasy. Fantasy, he had always been taught, was the work of the devil in disguise, leading little children into hell with cotton candy.

Amanda Tellingtale was a writer of fantasy and Richard Tellingtale was a writer and professor of English and oral history. They didn’t just talk about high ideals and contemplate them. They played baseball and went to movies together, and separately, then talked about the movies the saw. Faun’s older brother was already in college and studying art.

“How is he going to support himself when he gets out of school?” Dram had asked Faun once.

“Paint I suppose. Or work as a janitor. It doesn’t matter, as long as he paints and is happy,” was Faun’s response. It bothered Dram for a very long time. She didn’t mind her brother might end up being a janitor?

“It isn’t the degree that makes you happy, it’s what you learn from it and how you plan on living your life after getting it,” Faun’s father said when Dram asked him about it one day. “I trust my son to have a good head on his shoulders and will make mistakes along the way, but he won’t make mistakes that will let him starve.” The eldest Tellingtale child was named Keer.

“Where is he going to school at?”

The Old Country was all Dram was ever told.


August was had dawned and soon August 14th would soon appear and that would mean Dram would move into student housing on campus. That would mean he was no longer living under The Parents’ roof. That would mean he was a free man to date Faun openly. Somehow he expected The Parents already knew that.

Chow had already moved to Richmond and started a job and gotten an apartment before classes started. Dram envied him and respected him all the more for getting out like he did.

As soon as he was out of the house Dram was expected to take over the payments on his car as well as the car insurance, which meant he would have to get a good paying part time job that wouldn’t interfere in his school work. There were a lot of new responsibilities that were going to be placed on his shoulders soon, and he was looking forward to them. And, if everything worked out well, he would be asking Faun to marry him when he graduated and they would live happily ever after. It was all part of his plan.

All of these things were upper-most in his mind when he pulled into the driveway of the Tellingtale house. Faun ran outside to jump into his arms. She was wearing a flowing skirt and tight little top that accentuated her perfect figure. She was laughing hysterically almost.

“We’re going to get to go and see Keer and you’re going to get to go too!” she exclaimed, and then was out of his arms and tugging his at his hand. He couldn’t go. He hadn’t cleared it with his family. Somewhere in the back of his mind Dram was aware he had even said something that affect when he found himself in the living room of the Tellingtale house.

“Good, everyone is here. This may startle you Dram, so just hold on. We’ll explain later,” Amanda Tellingtale said as Richard Tellingtale stepped forward.

In the center of the palm of Richard Tellingtale’s hand a small blue globe began to form. “Neat, how are you doing that?” Dram asked. Everyone laughed. Dram smiled.

The globe grew to the size of a basketball. The living room and occupants were bathed in a light blue glow. Then the living room was replaced by bright sunlight and a brilliant field full of banners and bright colored tents.

Dram fell back on his ass hard.

The Tellingtale’s laughed.

“We’re Elves,” Faun said, sitting elegantly beside him on the grass. Her ears were now extended and pointed. She seemed more graceful than ever.

“How are you doing this?” Dram scrambled to his feet. The grass beneath his hands was soft. Real, perhaps too real. “It’s starting to freak me out.”

“We’re Elves,” Faun said, standing with him. “We have the ways of Magick.” They all laughed.

“What did you do? Slip something to me when you hugged me, kissed me?”

Faun backed away from him slowly, looking at him with sad, little girl lost eyes.

“I knew you were wild, but I didn’t think you did drugs.”

“This is very hard for you to adjust to just yet,” said Faun’s mother, edging toward him so gracefully she looked and acted like a dream; everything about her seemed to glow a brilliant blue white light. The woman was always beautiful before, but now she was...Beautiful.

“What’s happening?” Dram heard himself speaking very carefully, distinctly. Amanda Tellingtale was too beautiful to look upon, and Richard Tellingtale looked as if he had stepped from a movie he was so perfectly handsome and beautiful at the same time. “My parents are going to worry about me if I’m not home by ten.”

“You will be,” Faun re-assured gently. “Time doesn’t really work the way you think it does.” She was watching him warily now.

Cell phone! He had his cell phone! Dram reached to his hip and tore at his cell phone. It read it had a full battery, but no signal. How was this happening? It had to be a drug of some sort.

“You’re all evil!” Dram screamed, stumbling back from Faun and her family. “You’re just demons in disguise!” Immediately Dram fell to his knees and began to pray fervently for deliverance.

“Ahh, one of those I see,” said a voice above and behind him. “Didn’t you guess he would react like this, poppet?” The speaker was tall, square shouldered, with flowing blond hair with green streaks. His ears were pointed and protruding from beneath his hair. A single braid held his hair back from his face. A long, curved bow rested easily in his hand, and he had a quiver of arrows slung at his hip. He was dressed in brown leather and a green tunic. Faun slipped into this fellow’s arms.

“Oh, Keer!”

Dram’s mouth dropped even wider. Faun was crying. As the water spilled from her eyes they turned into crystals. Keer caught them before they fell to the ground.

“It’s very wrong to make an Elvin maiden cry, youngling.” Keer’s voice rumbled from within that massive chest.

“Demons! You’re all demons!” Dram scrambled away from the shadow of whatever was happening and headed toward the forest. Surely there would be a signal somewhere.


Dram woke, the book lying open in his lap. For a moment nothing made sense. He was in Woodland Park and the girl, Faun was sitting on blankets with her friends and family. She hadn’t even looked back at him.

A huge blond guy knelt down beside him to tie his running shoe. His hair was long and put back in a tail. He looked.... Dram started to struggle to his feet when Faun stood and wave.

“Kurt! Over here!” The guy looked up and lifted his hand in greeting. The guy nodded to Dram and headed toward the group of blankets.

Not everything is evil. Dram froze. The words were inside his head! God gave Imagination to man in order to help him play, but some consider it dark and forbidding because they can’t understand it. Thus, they squash it before it has a chance to fully blossom. It is up to you how to proceed...youngling.

Faun turned suddenly and waved at him, her smile hopeful. Dram found himself somehow on his feet. Confused. It would be dark soon. Hadn’t he already met Faun, dated her? Was it all a dream?

With a heavy heart, Dram headed back to his car. It wasn’t fair. It just wasn’t fair. He had done everything The Parents had told him. He had been the good son. Why didn’t they let up on him every once in a while? Was it because he wasn’t adopted?

Dram turned back toward the gathering of people on the blankets and wished desperately he could go up to them and feel comfortable enough to just talk to her, to them. The “alternative” crowd wasn’t the sort of people he should be hanging around if he was going to get ahead in the world. Still, a professor was over there. Wouldn’t that count for something with The Parents? He was smart, he could figure this out. All he had to do was draw up the right plan to see it through.

Dram watched longingly from the interior of his car at the group of people so distant now. They were so happy. Everyone stood and bowed their heads. Dram felt his heart leap. At least they were Christians.

And then they were gone.

Dram came out of his car slowly. Casually he strolled up to the blankets lying on the ground as if waiting for people to sit on them. The baskets of food, the collections of food and drink were gone.

Of course, there was a plausible, explainable explanation for all of this. He just had to sit down and think of it.

It probably had something to do with his freaky dream. What was it about again? Dram’s memory kept reaching for it and it kept evaporating like so much smoke. It had something to do with the professor and his daughter, but he wasn’t sure what.

Slowly Dram turned and walked away. He never saw the collection of crystals lying on the grass. Keer/Kurt stepped from the shadows once Dram’s car had safely left the parking lot and collected each crystalline tear. It had been Dram’s last chance at simple imagination and possible unfettered happiness, and he had walked away from it. Maybe, somewhere down the way, Lady Fate would give him another chance.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Listening to Bob Dylan on the Back Porch

Saturday, before all my laid-up-ness truly began, hubby and I had a wonderful experience: We sat on the back porch of our house here in Lexington and listened to Bob Dylan in concert.

It sounds strange doesn't it?

Bob Dylan and Willie Nelson came to Lexington, Kentucky and did a concert at Applebee's Stadium. Now the stadium is just about a mile away from my house. When we pulled into our driveway just before dark, we heart the vibrating, nasal tones of Willie Nelson serenading us with "Move Over" and some wonderful guitar riffs.

Since it was looking like it was going to be a clear night, hubby and I decided to make sandwiches and sit on the back porch and listen to the next set, which was Bob Dylan, my favorite (Willie is his). Hubby sent me out onto the back porch when he started hearing the music.

How can I describe the joy ... ?

It was REALLY Bob Dylan and he was soooo close!

I listened in rapture and glee as the stars twinkled above me and the sky turned from the darkest of blues and violet to velvety violet blackness giving the stars a backdrop I haven't remembered seeing for a while.

Hubby brought out the sandwiches and some cola and we ate and listened to Bob Dylan's new stuff. My heart would hammer every time there was a pause because I wanted to hear "Blowing in the Wind" so very much.

"Blowing in the Wind" means a great deal to me, not just because of the words and beautiful melody, but because that was the second song I ever learned to sing, I think. Sissy (Sister3) would sit and sing it to me and so many other "protest songs" that, I was grown before I realized their truest meanings and what they had stood for when I was just a little girl. "Blowing in the Wind" was pretty much mine and her song for years, and in many ways, it still is because every time I think of it and hear it, I think of her, and she doesn't feel so far away.

Hubby and I called people on our cell phones to say, "Guess what I'm doing...." All were excited for us and there were a few comments of "You lucky bums!"

Hubby and I held hands as the music drifted over us. JoJo, however, was not at all pleased with daddy holding mommy's hand. She rooted, sniffed, pawed and nibbled to try to get hubby's hand out of mine. Once I let go and she immediately came and tried to crawl into my lap. I'm not positive, but I'm beginning to think she's a mommy's girl.

When the concert ended I expected an encore. An encore that had "Blowing in the Wind" somewhere in it. The people chanted and even sung. Still, there wasn't an encore. I guess it really isn't surprising considering his age.

You know what else was really surprising? I could understand what Bob Dylan was saying!

Like, cool man!

Open Call

There is an open call for fiction and poetry to be placed in the Wednesdays publication of The Kentucky Mountain Girl News.

Monday, August 23, 2004

And lo, Cheyenne did come down from the strangely cold reaches of the north, muttering beneath sinusy breath that August was not supposed to be chilly, and said unto the masses “Take heart, gentle readers, for our illustrious editor has been laid low by a horrible pain in her right leg, this evil thrust upon her by an overzealous husband who is usually much more careful, and is currently a’bed, waiting out the long dark decades of her discomfort.

“She keeps this grand publication in her thoughts, and misses it dearly, and promises to return at such time that the pain has been bested and her offending husband has been flogged with a large wet noodle.”
And so saying, Cheyenne did turn his back on the world of screens and internet warmth, and with a wet hacking cough on his lips he trudged back north, there to await a potentially warm January.

Saturday, August 21, 2004

Featured Story

Mouse Prayers
by Shane Stewart
copyright (c) 2004 by Shane Stewart

“You pray like a mouse.”

My eyes snapped open. Above me the ceiling was a shadowy blur, and faint starlight crept in through the window near my head. I reached up and rubbed my forehead as the words faded in my ears.


The voice was small, but insistent. I lifted from the pillow slightly and shook my head, knocking loose the cobwebs in my brain. I glanced over toward the clock.

“Yo, dude. Down here.”

A shadow moved slightly on my nightstand. I turned my head slowly, and came face to nose with a small gray and brown rodent. “Uh…excuse me?”

“You pray like a mouse,” the mouse said.

I had to stop at this point to blink my eyes several times before I began the prerequisite stating of the obvious. “You’re a mouse.”

The little snout nodded. “How very kind of you to notice.”

“I’ve got three cats. You should be hiding behind the wall somewhere.”

“Please,” the mouse scoffed. “One of your so called cats only moves when compelled to by specific biological needs. Of the two that move, the smaller one is more likely to move away from me than to give chase. The big one, I’ll grant you, would chase me, but she wouldn’t have much of an idea of what to do with me if she caught me. She doesn’t even chase crumbs from your plate. I think I’m quite safe, thank you. Especially considering that –“

“I’m dreaming.”

The mouse paused, and twisted his head quizzically. “I was going to say I’m dreaming, not you.”

“But you speak English. You’re speaking it now.”

“No, I’m speaking Rodentii. Just like you.”

“But…I’m not.”

The mouse sat back on his haunches and folded his forepaws under his chin. “We can safely say that one of us is dreaming.”

“Yes,” I said. “At least.”

“At least?”

“Well, we could both be dreaming.”

“So, I’m curled up in my nest dreaming of you, and you’re lying on your bed dreaming of me?”

I nodded.

The mouse shrugged. “I suppose it makes more sense than a human speaking Rodentii.”

“I can’t really argue with that.” I propped myself up on my elbow, lifting my head further from the pillow. “Now, then, what were you saying?”

“You pray like a mouse.”

I considered those words for a moment. “I’m not sure I follow you.”

The mouse curled his tail around his feet and rocked back on his haunches, his belly round and tight. “I’m saying that you pray in a similar pattern to the way I do. I am a mouse. Therefore, you pray like a mouse.”


“You still seem confused.”

“Admittedly, I’m having a hard time wrapping my head around the idea that mice pray.”

“So…what? You think humans have a monopoly on Heaven and God?”

“Well, no, I suppose I don’t.”

“You suppose you don’t?”

“I’ve never really thought about it before.”

The mouse sighed. “All things began somewhere, dirt, trees, sun, humans, mice, cats, dogs – we all had to start somewhere. For mice, and most civilized animals I’ve had the chance to speak to, that’s God.”

I nodded. “I suppose animals wouldn’t have much room to consider evolution.”

“Consider what?”

“Evolution. It’s the idea that we’ve been changing as the years and centuries have gone by, becoming better adapted for life and survival. Humans originally were a lot like monkeys and apes.”

“I see. And why would we consider this?”

I shrugged. “Some people think it’s a more logical and scientific explanation for why and how we got here.”

“So how do they explain why I’m here?”

“You evolved from a prehistoric rodent, probably one that was bigger than you are now and adapted to living in smaller spaces.”

The mouse nodded slowly. “So my mother has nothing to do with it?”

“I think you miss the point.”

“I think you complicate the point needlessly. What does it matter whether you used to be an ape or you just sprang up with a snap of God’s fingers?”

“Well, it – “

“If you people used to be apes, then God decided to let you lose hair and learn to speak. If you were created instantly, God did that for some reasons of His own, right?”

“That makes sense.”

“So what does it really matter?”

I shrugged. “We’re curious.”

The mouse cocked his head to either side. “You’re not a bunch of cats.”

“That doesn’t mean we can’t be curious.”

The mouse huffed. “Curiosity tends to complicate things.”

“That I can’t argue,” I said. “So, you were saying?”

“Huh? Oh, right.” The mouse cleared his throat. “Anyway, all the civilized animals I’ve been able to talk to share the same general idea – the first of our respective breeds were created by a semi benevolent divine being, or God if you prefer.”

“Semi benevolent?

“I talk to a lot of prey. You can probably guess why.”

“Oh. Right.”

“All of us believe God exists, but we can’t really agree on what God looks like. I tend to think of Him as a large mouse, but moles think He’s this big mole that drops worms behind Him as He digs through the Earth. Squirrels think He’s this acrobatic fuzzy tailed nut dropping maniac. Rat’s imagine a big rat, naturally. Songbirds are a little more unified in their image. To them, God is a songbird with one feather from each type of songbird in His coat. They tend to argue about whose feathers are where, though – no one wants to claim to be the tail feathers, for example.”

“Of course. What about dogs? Have you talked with them any?”

The mouse snorted. “Dogs, for reasons most of the rest of us can’t fathom, think He looks like a human.”

“Maybe it’s that whole ‘mans best friend’ thing.”

“Bunch of four legged kissups, the lot of them, if you ask me,” the mouse grumbled. “Anyway, along with differing ideas of what God looks like, we have differing ways that we pray to Him. Moles pause in their tunnels at the same time every day and spend several minutes saying thank you – for the dirt, for the roots, for the worms, for the water – and then toss on a half hearted request for eyes that work at the end. They don’t expect to ever get eyes that work, but one of their oldest stories says that the first mole prayed for dirt, water, roots, and worms and got them, so they request eyes just in case.”

“Rat’s probably only pray when they’re about to die.”

“Actually no. Rats have one of the most formalized prayer structures I’ve ever seen. Rat prayers are long processes, where every request they make is accompanied by as many requests for safety and protection that they can think of. I heard of a rat that was hungry and started praying for food one morning, and by the time he finished his prayer and left to find something, it was long after the sun had gone down. You’re thinking squirrels. They run around so much that they barely remember to pray, until they’re about to die or hibernate.”

“I see. And songbirds?”

“They start sometime after sunup and stop right around sundown, usually. They do a lot of group prayer, all perched up in the trees and on roofs and wires and stuff. Every bird doesn’t pray all day long of course – they tend to trade off from time to time.”

“What do they pray for?”

“Mostly that their feathers are always bright and they can always sing. Dogs pray when the thought strikes them, and usually they pray that their human will play with them, or feed them, or pet them, or come home, or some other silly thing like that.”

I nodded. “And I gather you’ve listened to a few human prayers, otherwise you wouldn’t be telling me I pray like a mouse.”

“I have heard some human prayers. I’ve not been terribly impressed. Most of them I’ve heard are asking for things – money comes up a lot. I’ve heard some people that pray like rats, too, very careful and plotted and trying to get something without having to do anything for it. I’ve heard people that pray like moles, throwing on a request that’s pretty significant at the end of a string of gratitude. I’ve heard a lot of people asking for peace – but in the walls, peace is something you work for, not ask to be given. You, though…”

The mouse sat back on his haunches, and his tail twitched slowly. “When I’m about to go somewhere even slightly dangerous, or when I go to sleep, that’s when I pray. Know what I pray for?”

I shook my head,.

“I ask Him to watch over the nest while I’m gone. To keep my little ones safe, and my mate, and a couple of mice that I know and like pretty well. I pray that they’ll be safe, and protected, should I not make it back, or not wake up. I’ve checked with the other mice – and that’s how most of them pray to. We don’t ask for something we can’t have. We just ask that those important to us be kept safe.” He looked up at me, looking in the eye as best as he could. “I have never heard a human pray that way until tonight.”

“I think it depends on the human, honestly. I know a few that pray the way I do.”

The mouse nodded. “It might just be me, but I think anyone who prays like a mouse is…ah…”

“Good people?”

The mouse thought a moment, then nodded. “Yeah.”

I smiled. “Thanks, little guy.”

“You’re welcome.” The mouse dropped to all fours and looked up at me. “Well, that’s all I had to say. Sorry to wake you.”

“It’s ok.” I watched him start to crawl down the nightstand. “Hey.”


“I can leave some food out in the morning, if you want.”

“That would be nice. If it’s not to much trouble.”

“Not at all. I think there’s some cheese in the fridge.”

“Ugh. Cheese gives me the runs.”

I stifled a chuckle. “A couple of grapes?”

“Awfully wet.”

I nodded. “A cracker or two?”

“That would be perfect!” the mouse said.

“Crackers it is, then. Goodnight.”

“Sleep well.”

Friday, August 20, 2004


Have been totally unable to log in to The News lately, which has slowed down publication of a new story and a poem, so, tomorrow we all get a treat: FICTION!

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Here I Am

Dear Readers,

The past couple of days has been extremely uncomfortable for me due to illness, so, therefore, there have been no updates for The News. I know - shame on me. Still, when all you can do is barely raise your head off the pillow or prop your eyelids open with toothpicks, writing is a bit ... um ... difficult to say the very least.

The nasty bug has finally deemed fit to leave my system, so now things slowly return to normal with a posting for today and a short story ready for print tomorrow.

As always, I'm looking for some good stories to print and help give someone a by-line. In saying this, I NEED MORE STORIES PEOPLE!

Ok, that is out of my system. You may now return to your normal reading schedule.

Saturday, August 14, 2004

Wen Fu Part 5

5. On Form

The forms of things differ in a myriad ways,
For them there is no common measure.
Jumbled and jostled in a ceaseless flux,
Living shapes to all their imitations bid defiance.

Words, each with inherent limitations, do only partial service. Meaning harmonizes and integrates them.

The poet's mind toils between substance and the void.
Every detail in high and low relief he seeks to perfect, so
that the form, although it may transcend the dictates of compasses and ruler, shall be
the paragon of resemblance to all shapes and features imitated.

To ravish the eye, rich ornaments may be prized,
so that it appears to the heart as true.

Words may in time be exhausted, but not so that their sense is buried. A far-reaching thought attains its object only in the realm of the infinite.

The lyric, born of pure emotion, is gossamer fiber woven into the finest fabric;

The exhibitory essay, being true to the objects, is vividness incarnate;

In monumental inscriptions rhetoric must be a fail to facts;

The elegy tenderly spins out ceaseless heartfelt grief.

The mnemonic is a smooth flow of genial phrases, succinct but pregnant;

The staccato cadences of the epigram are all transparent force.

While the eulogy enjoys the full abandon of grand style,

The expository must in exactitude and clarity excel.

The memorial, balanced and lucid, must be worthy of the dignity of its royal audience,

Rhetoric with glowing words and cunning parables persuades.

These classifications are meticulous,
Lost passion and thought, given free rein, may wantonly go astray. The maxim: Let truth be expressed is the most appropriate terms, while of verbage beware.

I think this section has impacted me greatly in my own writing and what I try to achieve.

Friday, August 13, 2004


It isn't often I don't mention one of my animals. Whether it is in my private journal, on-line journal (sorry, you guys don't have the link for that yet) or when I am talking with my friends. My dogs and cat are very important creatures to me. They are my friends, companions, and give me great joy. In an odd sense, they are indeed like my children.

JoJo is the youngest of my children, though good sized all in all. She tries her best to do what I want her to do with LOTS of enthusiasm. She tries to help me get up, sit down, and to bring me toys to play with. JoJo isn't my favorite, I try not to have favorites (and am doing a pretty good job), but there is something very special about Jo.

She doesn't just love me, think I'm the coolest thing to ever walk, but she adores me. She doesn't just look on me with love, but with adoration and it is a humbling thing. Why humbling? Because seeing an animal, much less a person, look on you with so much trust and love makes you really take stock of who and what you are as a person.

For me, it encourages me to keep that adoration and trust. God put JoJo in my life for a reason. Sometimes I think it was to teach me how to be a better, more loving person, because that is just exactly what I've become.

So, here is a picture of my darling JoJo.

(She just HAD to get up close and personal to see what I was doing. Cheyenne once said JoJo had more curiosity than a cat. I'm beginning to think he was very accurate in his assumption.)

Thursday, August 12, 2004

"No one loves you like your Mommy and Daddy"

Saturday is my birthday. How old I will be is not important really, just the fact that I'm older than 21 and younger than 45. This is the first birthday I will be having without my parents. This is an odd feeling. It is a lonely feeling to know, accept the two people who made you are no longer living and on this earth with you.

Mommy always used to say, "No one loves you like your mommy and daddy." She was right. No one loves you like your parents, or those who take the place of your parents, whether they be friends or grandparents. No one gives you that all out unconditional love and respect they do. True, not everyone has this relationship with their parents, but I did. I had unconditional love and support and now they aren't here and I feel the poorer for it.

Looking at this birthday looming in the near future I can't help but wonder when people actually become adults. It feels as if I was always playing at being an adult until both my parents were gone. My Dad was in a nursing home suffering from Alzheimer's, yet he was alive and I always felt he was with me in some fashion. Now, he is gone from this earth, from my current existence and it makes me stumble back in surprise and pain sometimes.

Last birthday, my Mom had just passed and I felt absolutely alone, or so I thought. I am alone now.

Yes, I am married, but his love is conditional. Yes, I have friends, but their love and respect is conditional.

Now I must stand erect, take responsibility for all of my actions and be an adult because there is no one to turn to in that unconditional way. The security I once knew is gone and I am going to have to build upon my marriage and my relationships to see me through the remainder of my life.

Now is the time I make a home, because no one loves you like your Mommy and Daddy: They made a home for me, and now I must make a home for myself.

Wen Fu, Part IV

4. The Joy of Writing

Writing is in itself a joy,
Yet saints and sages have long since held it in awe.

For it is being, created from a void;
It is sound rung out of profound silence.
In a sheet of paper is contained the infinite,
And, evolved from an inch-sized heart, an endless panorama.

The words, as they expand, become all-evocative,
The thought, still further pursued, will run the deeper.

Till flowers in full blossom exhale all-pervading fragrance,
and tender boughs, their saps running, grow in a whole jungle of splendor.

Bright winds spread luminous wings, quick breezes soar from the earth, and clouds
arise from the writing brushes.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Featured Story

The Monster Hunter
By Eric S. Brown
Copyright 2003 by Eric S. Brown

The thing sat perched on top of the car. The car's roof had caved inward, barely able to support the thing's massive weight as its eyes stared at him with burning hatred and the night's breeze ruffled its brown fur.

Greg could only wonder how things had gotten so out of hand. In all his years at this job, he had never been so wrong about what he was up against. It was supposed to have been a were-creature. That was what all the reports the church had given him had said but this thing before him was much more than that. It was a demon straight from the depths of Hell itself.

Greg had worked for the church for the last seventy years. A lot of things had changed. The realm of mankind continued to grow leaving the supernatural fewer and fewer shadows to hide in and forcing more and more "things" out into the light. It was his job to make sure they were destroyed before the world at large came to find out the truth of their existence. Not all the changes in the world had been bad though. Technology gave him an edge he'd never had before and kept him safe from a natural death. A serum of nano-bots flowed through his veins which both kept him young and healed his wounds at an accelerated rate. It also offered lucky side-effect of increasing the speed of even his highly experienced and skilled reflexes by a factor of ten.

The thing snarled at him showing rows upon rows of sickeningly yellow teeth. There was no one on the street in either direction but him and it. The small town of Canton was long asleep. He stood at the top of the steps leading into the hotel where he had tracked the demon to before it had turned the tables on him and watched it as he thought out his next move. He hated the fact that it had found him instead of the other way around. Then in a blur, he made his move. He dove off the steps, twin Desert Eagles appearing in his hands. His first three shots struck the creature knocking it backwards off the car as his fourth tore into the vehicle's gas tank. The falling creature was engulfed as the car blossomed into a fireball, lighting up the night and sending shrapnel flying everywhere. Greg hit the pavement of the lot rolling and leapt to his feet untouched by the debris.

Lights were flickering on in the hotel and buildings surrounding the lot. Greg didn't care though. He let a smile cross his lips. The demon had went down much easier than he had thought. Three blessed silver bullets and one explosion, ha, that was a walk in the park compared to some of the vampires he'd faced. He turned to head back into the hotel and let the desk clerk know what was going. As he did so, two things happened at once. The desk clerk emerged from the hotel shouting and asking if he could help and the creature sprang at Greg from where it now clung to the hotel's wall above the entrance. Somehow, it had gotten behind him and was far from dead.

It moved faster than the normal human eye could follow and only Greg's heightened senses allowed him to perceive it all. He tried to side step its attack but wasn't fast enough. It plowed into him and they toppled back out into the parking lot a mass of sprawling limbs. The clerk saw the thing and screamed, darting back inside and slamming the door behind him.

Greg took the full force of the landing as the creature managed to stay on top. He felt bones snap like wooden twigs inside his chest. He fought the pain and jerked his head to the left just as the creature's claws sunk deep in the concrete scraping his ear. Greg emptied the remaining clips of both Eagles into its belly from below it while kicking out and up with all his strength. The demon howled as it was knocked off him.

Greg dropped the empty guns and tried to crawl away from the thing, watching as its wounds closed. He could feel his own body trying to repair the damage done to it but the creature healed almost instantly. He dug into the lining of his trenchcoat and produced a golden dagger. It was his last and only hope. The dagger was no ordinary blade. It had fallen into his care decades ago. It blade absorbed magical into itself and dispelled it into nothingness. Greg just hoped it was strong enough.

The demon was up already and on the move. It leapt towards him like a great cat, arms spread wide and claws shining in the pale glow of the fire and the street lights. Greg threw the blade. It spun end over end through the air lodging itself into the thing's throat. The world around Greg went white as a being of pure magic met the magical null field of the blade. The demon cried out and vanished into the metal of the blade.

As the glowing dagger clattered to pavement, Greg rolled to get a better view of the blade. He said a quick prayer to thanks to the maker for letting his desperate plan work and then collapsed to the ground once more. He heard sirens blaring in the distance as he wondered if he was really getting too old for this kind of work serum or not. Then he laughed. He knew he would never give up the game.

Fay Wray

Actress Fay Wray of `King Kong' Fame Dies

1 hour, 3 minutes ago

By KAREN MATTHEWS, Associated Press Writer

NEW YORK - Fay Wray, who won everlasting fame as the damsel held atop the Empire State Building by the giant ape in the 1933 film classic "King Kong," has died, a close friend said Monday. She was 96.

AP Photo

Slideshow: Actress Fay Wray Dies at 96

Wray died Sunday at her Manhattan apartment, said Rick McKay, a friend and director of the last film she appeared in. There was no official cause of death.

"She just kind of drifted off quietly as if she was going to sleep," said McKay, director of the documentary "Broadway: The Golden Age."

"She just kind of gave out."

During a career that started in 1923, Wray appeared with such stars as Ronald Colman, Gary Cooper and Spencer Tracy, but she was destined to be linked with the rampaging Kong in movie fans' minds.

"I used to resent `King Kong,'" she remarked in a 1963 interview. "But now I don't fight it anymore. I realize that it is a classic, and I am pleased to be associated with it. Why, only recently an entire issue of a French magazine was devoted to discussing the picture from its artistic, moral and even religious aspects."

She wrote in her 1988 autobiography, "On the Other Hand": "Each time I arrive in New York and see the skyline and the exquisite beauty of the Empire State Building, my heart beats a little faster. I like that feeling. I really like it!"

"King Kong" obscured the other notable films Wray made during the '30s. They included adventures "The Four Feathers" (with Richard Arlen and William Powell) and "Viva Villa" (Wallace Beery), Westerns "The Texan" (Cooper) and "The Conquering Horde" (Arlen), romances "One Sunday Afternoon" (Cooper) and "The Unholy Garden" (Colman) as well as horror films "Dr. X" and "The Mystery of the Wax Museum."

After appearing in Erich von Stroheim's 1928 silent "The Wedding March," playing a poor Viennese girl abandoned by her lover, a playboy prince, Wray became a much-employed leading lady. In 1933, the year of "King Kong," she appeared in 11 films, co-starring with Beery, George Raft, Cooper, Jack Holt and others.

In 1980, she told of her dissatisfaction with roles of that period: "In those days, the female characters never knew who their parents were. Leading ladies were not supposed to be funny but were supposed to stand there and look beautiful. That was frustrating as an actress."

In her autobiography, the actress recalled that she had been paid $10,000 for "King Kong" (budget: $680,000), but her 10 weeks' work was stretched over a 10-month period. "Residuals were not even considered, because there were no established unions to protect us," she added.

In "King Kong," she plays an unemployed actress who agrees to take a job with a movie company that is going on location to a mysterious island. Kong is the huge ape that inhabits a part of the island.

When the film company discovers him, Kong is attracted to Wray and abducts her. But he is eventually captured and brought to New York and put on display. Kong escapes and finds Wray, with terrifying results, but eventually meets his death on the Empire State Building.

She was proud that "King Kong" had saved RKO studio from bankruptcy. Of Kong she wrote: "He is a very real and individual entity. He has a personality, a character that has been compelling to many different people for many different reasons and viewpoints."

She was the guest of honor in 1991 at a ceremony marking the 60th birthday of the Empire State Building, saying that if she were mayor of New York, "I would want to run the city from this building ... and get up every morning to see the sun rise."

Although Kong appeared huge, the full figure was really only 18 inches tall. Miss Wray knew him by the arm, which was 8 feet long.

"I would stand on the floor," she recalled, "and they would bring this arm down and cinch it around my waist, then pull me up in the air. Every time I moved, one of the fingers would loosen, so it would look like I was trying to get away. Actually, I was trying not to slip through his hand."

By the late '30s, the actress was appearing in low-budget films, and she quit working in 1942 to be a wife and mother. Her first husband was John Monk Saunders, who wrote such air films as "Wings" and "The Dawn Patrol." She was 19 and he was 30 when they married. She discovered he was an alcoholic and a drug addict, and the marriage became a nightmare.

After a divorce, she married Robert Riskin, the brilliant writer of "It Happened One Night," "Lost Horizon" and other Frank Capra films. In 1950, he suffered a stroke from which he never recovered. He died five years later.

Returning to work in 1953, Wray appeared mostly in motherly roles in youth-oriented films like "Small Town Girl," "Tammy and the Bachelor" and "Summer Love." In 1979 she played opposite Henry Fonda (news) in a TV drama, "Gideon's Trumpet."

She was born Vina Fay Wray on Sept. 15, 1907, near Cardston in rural Alberta, Canada. Her parents moved to the United States when she was 3, first trying farming in Arizona, and eventually returning to Salt Lake City, where Wray's mother was from. Later, they settled in Los Angeles.

As a teenager she haunted studio casting offices and won an occasional bit role. Despite her mother's fears that the movie crowd was sinful, Miss Wray was allowed to accept a six-month contract with Hal Roach at $60 a week.

Wray had a daughter, Susan, from her first marriage and a daughter and son, Victoria and Robert Jr., by the second. Sixteen years after Riskin's death, she married his physician, Dr. Sandford Rothenberg.


Associated Press writer Bob Thomas in Los Angeles contributed to this report.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

An Up and Coming Author, Eric S. Brown

Eric S. Brown is the author of the paperback collections Dying Days, Space Stations and Graveyards, and Portals of Terror as well as the chapbooks Flashes of Death, Zombies the War Stories, Bad Mojo, and Dark Karma and the e-books Blood Rain, Quantum Nightmares, and Poisoned Graves. His short fiction has been published well over two hundred and fifty times in a wide array of markets like The Book of Dark Wisdom, Nocturnal Ooze and Alien Skin magazines, The Edge, Story House Coffee, Post Mortem, and Black Petals among many, many others. He is 29 years old and lives in NC with his wife Shanna. His first novel, Cobble (co-authored by Susanne Brydenbaugh), is due out in early 2005 from Cyberpulp Books.

Last week I had the wonderful opportunity interviewing Mr. Brown and discovered a writer filled with wit, good humor, and a love of writing. I hope you enjoy what he has to say.

Eric: Good Morning
hah: Good morning, so nice to meet you.
Eric: Nice to meet you too.
Eric: I will confess I have never done an IM interview before. Did a live phone call for a radio show once but most editors who run print magazines often just send a questionnaire to fill out.
HAH: I understand. This is my first interview via IM as well.
hah: So, why don't you tell me a little about yourself first? You're married. Any kids?
Eric: I started in March of 2001 one. My wife finally kicked my butt to do it and sent out a tale to Burning Sky mag. and Black Petals mag. both of which I had found in the novel and short writers' digest and BOTH of them accepted it within two weeks. Had to turn down one of the contracts and but the story came out in print that June and I have been at it ever since. My first year, I made $15 and copies. Last year, I made a little more and ton of copies. I STILL am not making enough to just live on.
hah: Wow, that is absolutely awesome!
hah: Still, you are on your way.
Eric: I am 29, live in NC, my wife is a special ed. teacher, I have no kids, have a three year old Maine Coon named Howard after H.P. Lovecraft (the great horror author, 1890-1937), avid zombie movie fan and comic book collector (mainly the Fantastic Four from Marvel)
hah: No Spidey?
Eric: I like Spidey but the FF has a much more SF feel to it and I love the family dynamic of the book.
Eric: Now my wife LOVED Toby M. as Spidey. It sold her on the movies
hah: LOL, I loved the movies. My husband and best friend are WebHeads.
Eric: COOL. Glad to know Marvel has other fans out there
hah: Yes, they do.
hah: So, how long have you been writing all together? Published and non-published?
Eric: Since March 2001 I have been submitting but I have been writing since the 2nd grade.
hah: 2nd grade? That's marvelous, how old were you when you can remember your first story? Do you remember what prompted you to start writing?
Eric: I was about 7 and it was about a serial killer who couldn't die. Kind of like the Halloween movies. I was always an odd kid. I took an issue of Fangoria to Kindergarten with me the first day.
hah: Fangoria? Your parents let you have it so young?
Eric: They say it takes most writers ten years to hit the published side. I just got lucky.
hah:I'm glad you did.
Eric: I was "gifted" according to my teachers and I even had a tutor prior to kindergarten so I was reading on a very advanced level and when other kids were buying toys, I was visiting the comic shop and Fango was there too. My parents didn't care as long as I was reading and getting such praise from my teachers. Though the teachers often had talks with my parents about the material. Didn't stop me though. LOL.
hah: What do you think influenced you to write? Do you believe you were born to do it?
Eric: I believe I was born to write BUT it was seeing Night of the Living Dead that hooked me. After watching it and Dawn of the Dead I was so in love with Romero's work I had to do something so I started cranking out my own zombie tales.
Eric: For instance, http://www.nakedsnakepress.com/
Check out my chapbook on this page.
Eric: These days I almost feel like I am trying to create a sub-genre within horror. Kind of a military horror fiction.
Eric: I read a lot of David Drake's SF military stuff so I guess that rubbed off on me even though I am a horror writer.
hah: What other writers have influenced you in thought, perhaps writing desire, but not in style?
Eric: H.P. Lovecraft of course, I think any horror writer would name him. Dan Simmons, Philip K. Dick, John Bryne, and too many others too list.
hah: So, what else do you do?
Eric: I am a photo tech. I develop, enhance photos, etc. in a lab. It's a part time gig that helps make ends meet. I used to work for a newspaper but got burnt out being told what to write and fixing other peoples mistakes -- a copy-editor.
hah: Ahhh, I see. Is your job as challenging and creative as it would seem to be, or boring?
Eric: Trust me on that one.
hah: I believe you, LOL.
Eric: The goal is to write full time and I am hoping that my first novel (due out next year) will be the next big step towards that goal.
hah: Would you mind telling me a little bit about your writing process? Do you use computer only? Pen and paper for first draft? Carry around a notebook with you for those quick ideas...etc?
Eric: Pen and paper first. ALWAYS. I then rewrite and edit on the computer as I type the tale. I carry around two notebooks actually. One for my tales and one full of records, release dates, when I get the rights back to certain tales, and all that kind of junk plus a pub history.
hah: Can you tell me a little bit about the novel, without too many spoilers?
Eric: Well, it's a zombie book that isn't a zombie book. There's a "zombie" virus that wipes out the world but one little island named Cobble (also the book's title) remains pretty much untouched thanks to the efforts of the local sheriff. So it's really the last place left in the world where people live any kind of normal life
Eric: Then one day a group of rogue military personel show up and stake a claim to the island in the name of a now defunct government.
Eric: Anyway as the islanders and the soldiers try to cope and co-exist, murders begin to happen on the island as the demon who created the plague shows up to finish wiping out the human race as Cobble is all that's left.
Eric: There's a soldier who is a lot more than he seems too, and has strange dreams that go back to the beginning of time and he is the good guy however the sherifff is the main character.
hah: How long did it take you to write the novel?
Eric: It should be noted that Susanne Brydenbaugh co-wrote the novel with me based on a screenplay I had written when I was younger.
Eric: It took eight months and we had to go through e-mail alone as she lives in Alabama
hah: Susanne Brydenbaugh - can you tell me a little of her writing, publishing history?
Eric: www.mywriterstooth.com is her website. She has published around 70 stories I would guess including ones in pro markets like Would That It Were but I don't think she had ever sold a book before our project together.
Eric: For me, Cobble was my first novel but far from my first book. I had sold 3 paperback collections and six chapbooks prior to it as well as 2 e-books, and I have since just this month sold yet another e-book.
hah: Wonderful.
Eric: Yep, 4 paperbacks, 6 chapbooks, and 3 e-books since 2003 so things seem to be taking off and I am breaking out of JUST short fiction.
hah: May I ask you about your co-writing process?
Eric: Well I collaborate a LOT. Blood Rain (one of my e-books, done with Gail Davis) was just like Cobble. We trade sections or chapters and then rewrote things until we were happy. I have sold at least 19 collaborated short stories as well, not counting reprints. I think writing with others helps one grow and experience different ways to write.
Eric: I have never written with some who was actually close enough to write with in person. In fact, I am my county's ONLY working horror author that I know.
hah: What do you think is the most challenging aspect of writing?
Eric: The most challenging thing I am facing at the moment is coming up with ideas post my first NOVEL. The novel took a lot out of me and I have published so much in the last three years it's hard to stay fresh and not rehash stuff I have done before.
Eric: http://nl.newsbank.com/nl-search/we/Archives?s_site=citizen-times&f_site=citizen-times&f_sitename=Asheville+Citizen-Times+%28NC%29&p_theme=gannett&p_action=search&p_field_base-0=&p_text_base-0=Horror+author+Eric+Brown&Search=Search&p_perpage=10&p_maxdocs=200&p_queryname=700&s_search_type=keyword&p_product=ACTB&p_sort=_rank_%3AD&p_field_date-0=YMD_date&p_params_date-0=date%3AB%2CE&p_text_date-0=-
Eric: That mess is the link I was hunting
Eric: I was going to say, being the only local horror author isn't bad. In fact it gets me into the papers a lot. That was a front page article with a photo.
Eric: I have been on the front page of two locals papers in the last year and had numerous articles about me including reviews of my work and was even on the local TV network of ABC last Oct.
Eric: So being unique=press
Eric: At least in rural NC
hah: That can be quite useful.
hah: How do you keep your writing fresh for yourself and for your readers so far?
Eric: That is a tough and excellent question, I am not sure I have a real answer. I just keep trying to come up with stuff (certainly in the zombie sub-genre) that people haven't seen before. How I do it, I have no idea.
hah: Zombies - what is the allure of them? :-)
Eric: I like the end of the world. It's concept that has always intrigued me. Given the moral decline and to a degree even cultural stagnation of our society, zombies seem to be the best metaphor to express where we are headed. And not just that, when you think of all the viruses and the advanced science out there today, a zombie virus isn't ALL that unbelievable.
hah: Do you think you express a lot of ideas people are too afraid to voice out loud in your writing?
Eric: I'd like to think so and in looking back at my work you can see a running theme of "if we don't change, we're headed for the end" but honestly, I think of my work as art. It's just something I love to do and don't go out of my way to put those messages in there, they just happen.
Eric: I have addressed everything from genetic engineering to sociological collapse in my stories and even aliens and solar flares.
hah: You said you thought of your work as art, can you elaborate on that for a moment? I have never thought of zombies as "art" before.
Eric: I did? That was a typo, I meant I totally don't think of it as art. It's just fun for me and if it does express a message too that's great.
hah: LOL, ok.
hah: So, in the philosophical sense, writing is your truest "work" while your employment is your job?
Eric: In 2002 I had one of my tales recommended in the Bram Stoker awards and had a tale be a top ten finalist nationally for best short horror 2002 and last year I got TWO Stoker recs for best collection 2003 and was mentioned in the 17th annual Year's Best Horror and Fantasy
Eric: Exactly, writing is my work and my life and anything else is just a day job. I hope to be remembered for my writing one day, but that's kind of arrogant and I don't really expect it to happen.

hah: I don't believe that is arrogant at all. Each of us wants to be remembered for something, especially something we love. It gives us hope, I believe, whether or not we have children following after.
hah: Where do you find places to submit your work? Do you use www.writersmarket.com? www.ralan.com ... etc.?
Eric: www.ralan.com!!!!!!!!!!!!! It's totally the best. However I also use the SpecficMe newsletter and sometimes even still use the old digest book that comes out yearly
hah: What is SpecificMe?
Eric: http://www.specficworld.com/
It's a newletter of market listings from this site. I got a free subscription with my check when I sold them an article at the start of this year.
Eric: They're pretty good and sometimes have stuff that ralan.com doesn't
hah: It is almost 10am and I have to go soon. So just a couple more questions if I may?
Eric: Shoot
hah: If you could give fledgling writers any advice to encourage them, what would it be? What technical advice would you give?

Eric: Also, in case you want it, here is a link to Dying Days you can use with the article if you like
Eric: WRITE, and then write some more. Try to write everyday even if you junk it. Always keep writing but just as importantly, submit your work. You'll never get published if you don't submit. Editors won't seek you out, it doesn't work that way, you have to go to them.
Eric: And listen to their advice but take it with a grain of salt too. Just never give up.

Monday, August 09, 2004

This just in ..

Fay Wray dead at age 96.

Let us all have a moment of silence for the original Scream Queen.

Will post complete details here in The News at a later date.

Changes I

Life is nothing but change.

Sometimes the changes are good. Sometimes they are bad. Most of the time you never know whether or not they are good or bad until after the change has happened. Then you either try and change again to correct a problem, or endeavor to continue the changing process until you are a better person.

Discovering the Neighborhood

Yesterday, hubby and I went for a walk around our neighborhood and into Lexington proper. Although we have lived here for nigh on six years, this was the first walk we had taken.

As we strolled down the street we met a neighbor who lives straight across from us and has been there for six months. We hadn't met him until yesterday. On down the way we met another neighbor, this time a woman who was busy painting the house for her son and his new bride. They will be moving in some time this week. It was amazing how friendly she was.

Hubby and I talked of little mundane matters of our daily lives as we walked. We laughed and saw many interesting houses we hadn't even notice, even though we drive by them each and every day, sometimes several times a day. Still, as we walked and saw them, everything was so beautiful and people would say hello to us as we passed, usually. I was surprised at how friendly they were.

It became more and more evident as we walked and talked, that getting to know the neighborhood was far easier when you walked than when you drove. People's faces didn't look on you with suspicion in their faces, but usually a smile.

Long ago, back in the hills, I remember when people would walk to a neighbor's house to talk and stop along the way. We could see them coming and my Mom would put on a pot of coffee or start making lemonade or something for them to drink. We always had something set aside in the refrigerator for company, even if it was leftovers.

Although we cannot invite people into our home for safety reasons in today's day and age, I think I am going to return to that "cooking a little extra" just in case a friend drops by or someone passes on the street and stops by the porch for a moment.

Hospitality and good manners can easily be shared, just as the people yesterday quietly shared a piece of their lives with us. We can be careful, and we can also reach out to people in quiet loving ways.

Saturday, August 07, 2004

Sad thoughts float like quiet boats
Upon a sea of understanding
So the waters rise
And life goes on.

Friday, August 06, 2004

Wen Fu Part III

To obtain choice ideas in close observation of things in categories, and elect expressions that will fall in happy order,

All objects visible under the sun or moon will the poet bring into the light, all that can give out a sound hewill ring to test their resonance.

He makes barren twigs put forth luxuriant foliage as they sway, or by endless waves he traces to the remote fountainhead.

He may either work from the obscure to the obvious,
Or follow an easy course to what is hard to obtain.

By illuminating a tiger, the shapes of tame animals are illuminated, or frightens the surf-tossed guss with the vision of a dragon.

Sometimes with sure touches and smooth rhythm his ideas in utmost ease flow on. At other moments, they are beset my mountainous obstacles.

But not until the heart attains calm transparency does thought crystallise into such words as no man before fancied or pronounced.

Then, both heaven and earth find new embodiment in the shape desired, and all things become visible under the tip of his brush, which after parching anxiety and hesitations is saturated and sweeps forth in a moist wave.

When the substance of a composition, trunk of a tree, is by truth sustained, style aids it to branch into leafy boughs and bear fruit.

Indeed, feeling and expression should never fail to correspond, as each emotional change wears a new complexion on a sensitive face.

Thought that swells with joy bursts into laughter;
When grief is spoken, words reverberate with endless sighs,
No matter if the work be accomplished in one flash on the page, or is the result of the most deliberate brush.