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Lothlorién

Yesterday, members of our local Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotilla did a “dock walk” on the three docks on the Kona side (leeward) of our island. We were handing out information to boaters about what the auxiliary does, who we are, and extending invitations to join us.

Wow! Did that ever bring back memories – and made me homesick!

In the late 1970s, when Flower Power and Free Love were languishing, I flirted with trading the equity in my house for equity in a new 37′ O’Day sloop-rigged sailboat. Within five months, I became a “live-aboard” with fifteen-year-old son, my youngest child.

We christened our new home Lothlorién, for the sanctuary in J. R. R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings Trilogy to which the Elf King and Elf Queen transported Frodo and his friends at a critical point in their adventure.

In Tolkien’s story, it was within the Lothlorién that all their healing and protection took place, while all the dangers and threats were forced to remain outside its borders.

Our Lothlorién was that haven for us, our personal sanctuary of peace, safety, and healing. We needed the storms of life to remain outside. We often invited our friends to savor that sanctuary with us for a day sail, a weekend cruise, or sometimes longer.

Tolkien’s famous quote was our motto – “…not all those who wander are lost.”

Characters who don’t know much about boats always ask, “How many does she sleep?” That’s the wrong question! We sailors usually respond by saying that a sailboat will “drink six, feed four and sleep two.”

There may be room enough to sleep an army by spreading people out over decks and into hammocks, but you abandon all carnal comforts in doing so. Naturally, this can depend on just how close you are with the friends you bring along, too.

My boat basically was designed to sleep six, but six people really wouldn’t do that if they wanted to remain friends after the cruise was over.

One summer, I hadn’t gotten paid for about three months. The insurance company that reimbursed us for most of our clients was undergoing a major change in their computer system. None of us in the clinic where I worked were getting paid on a regular basis. My boys and I were hanging on by a thread.

So what does a girl do when the going gets tough? She spends a week moored at the Isthmus of Catalina Island with a good book, and leaves her troubles behind.

We were really living a good life, in spite of having no money. I had a bag of masa, a hunk of cheddar cheese, a few eggs, and stuff like spices. The boys were diving for abalone and fishing. What else do you really need for food?

We made lots of homemade tortillas with melted cheddar and scrambled eggs, along with plenty of fresh fish and abalone. That’s when abalone was still plentiful in California.

Someone taught us how to eat raw abalone. Instead of pounding it like you need to if you cook it, you cut the raw meat into pieces like shoestring potatoes. Dip it into a mix of soy sauce, ginger, and anything else your taste buds desired, and munch! It’s a wonderful treat!!

Once, on Catalina Island, when folks from our local sail fleet had a cookout, my sons and I showed up with fresh sheepshead, abalone, and hot tortillas.

Everyone else was roasting wieners and opening cans of beans. Even though we didn’t have money for hamburgers or wieners, we ate well – and we were the envy of everyone else.

When I feel bogged down with Life, I sometimes think about what fun it would be to live on a boat again.

A hui hou!

Celebrations!

Happy April!

This year, we have several celebrations from April 1 (April Fool’s Day) through through Easter weekend to Earth Day on April 22. There may be others but these two, plus other holy-days, are the ones we honor most of the time.

For me, the calla lily will always signify Easter. May this graceful calla lily growing out of lava represent whatever holiday you are celebrating this season. May it exemplify the simplicity you seek in your life and the purity you hope to develop in your heart.

A hui hou!

Don’t Fear the Dragon

Dragons seem to be synonymous with fantasy. The most famous of fantasy authors rely on at least one wonderful (or dreadful) dragon in the stories.

What do dragons signify? You can look online to get a good description of each sign in the Chinese Zodiac, then check to see if you were born under the sign of the Dragon.

I prefer to think about what the dragon represents in fantastical tales. What are the words you think of when dragons come to mind? Fire? Passion? Mystery? Something primeval? A mythical creature? A dragon is all of that and more, but the dragon will always have meaning for each of us individually.

The dragon above was a piece of glass art created by my friend Carmen, otherwise known as “Firewoman.” I may do a post on more of her glass art some day.

I am so intrigued by dragons that I may need to start writing about them (or not). Can dragons exist in books that are not fantasy? What dragons are in our everyday lives? How do we cope?

  • TIP: In your idea notebook (you do have one, don’t you?) jot down all the ideas and meanings that come to you about dragons. How can you fit these ideas into a story?

A hui hou!

“What Genre Do You Prefer?”

Up to this point, I primarily have talked about writing fantasy in this blog, but my favorite genre is mystery. Perhaps I’ll write a little more about the mystery genre in future posts. I’ve written several mysteries and I love the puzzles they bring along with the story.

For instance, in the sequel I’m writing to Shadowy Tales, I had the culprit all figured out when I outlined the story. But try as I might, I couldn’t think of a single reason why this person would do such a crime against the victim. Back to the drawing board, as they say!

When I figured out all the signs I’d planted throughout the book, the solution came to me, so now I’m rewriting the final quarter of the book to make it clearer to me as well as to the reader. Now it all makes more sense to me, and I honestly don’t know how I missed seeing it as I wrote.

Isn’t that the way with Life? Too often we think we have it all figured out, only to realize that we have been on a different path all along. In writing a book, we can go back and edit the story. How do we edit our lives when we realize we need to make a few changes in order to keep going?

By the way, the sequel to Shadowy Tales is Washboard Tales, reminiscent of the days when women talked to each other over their washboards and talked about what was happening in their lives. Watch for it before the end of 2022.

A hui hou!

What Determines Fantasy Writing?

In psychological terms, a fantasy is something that hasn’t happened yet. We might say to a client, “What is your fantasy about this situation?” In other words, “How do you see this event coming about in the future?” or “What do you think is going to happen?”

In literary terms, we might think of fantasy in several different aspects. We may create entirely new worlds, with new financial terms, new ways of preparing and eating food, new vocabulary, new creatures that are not human the way we know humanity. The plants and geography may be totally new creations. 

Our fantasy might occur in an imaginary world of Little People, talking animals, magic and witchcraft, dragons and unicorns, vampires and werewolves. These fantasies take on whatever form our thoughts make of them, and often they are ruined when put on the movie screen.

Time can be suspended; we can be taken on the “way back” machine, or placed on fast forward to a time that hasn’t been revealed to us. We can take humans and project them into another millennium in our imaginations.

I like to think of “fantasy” as whatever I can dream up to write in a novel, whether it is in a world I know and live in today or the past, or in one that exists nowhere except in my imagination.

TIP: Go back to your favorite fantasy fiction and list everything in it that is new or different from your ordinary world here on Earth. 

A hui hou!

My World of Fantasy

Authors live in more than one world. They live in the everyday world of highway traffic, household chores, caring for children, employment, and more. Authors also live in another world of imagination, creativity, castles in the air, fantasy characters, mysteries to be solved.

When you read what I write in this blog, you will discover a few of those worlds where I live. These worlds come to me whether I am sitting at the computer or in that hypnogogic state as I fall asleep at night, as I drive to my errands throughout the day, or as I tend to my garden at home.

Everyone has these worlds, and yet, not everyone will let these worlds go beyond their thoughts. I urge you to put them down with pen/pencil on paper or in a separate file in your computer. Someday these worlds could come together to form a book that others will read. If not, you still will have developed a rich world where you can play.

Tip: Start now by jotting down the first few words that come to mind when you think of “fantasy.” Let that be the first entry in your “fantasy journal.”

A hui hou!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day This Week!

On March 17, everyone is Irish – or pretends to be! Since I have a bit o’ the Irish in me, as well as the Scottish, I take pride in the wearin’ o’ the green. I certainly don’t want to get pinched!’

The Irish world is full of fantasy and Wee Folk. We have our mischief maker, the Leprechaun; our harbinger of death, the Banshee; and the beloved faierie spirits and sprites. We have dwarfs and gnomes, pixies and elves – anything your fantasy desires.

When you are writing fantasy, these Celtic fantasy folk make wonderful characters. Each has a specific personality and behavioral trait. I’m not sure which of them is my favorite, but I know I’ll find a place for each of them in future stories.

Think “IRISH” all week! Until later, I leave you with this Irish blessing:

May the love and protection Saint Patrick can give

Be yours in abundance as long as you live.

TIP: Read all you can about the traditions and legends that surround these creatures as you begin your journey into fantasy-land.

A hui hou!

It’s All A Fantasy, Isn’t It?

I started this blog in 2009 when my head and my life were in a different place. At the time, I wanted to give readers an idea of what it was like to live on an acre of lava on the south end of the Big Island of Hawai`i. Over the years, I included a variety of other topics – gardening, travel, recipes, stories, and much more.

I’m in a different time, place, and head space now, and I want my blog to reflect that. So, lately, I’ve been pondering other areas for my blog. I still may update some of those old posts and use them for variety from time to time. For now, as my topics seem to dance around, I want to write more about writing.

I was looking through some of my old journals and discovered that I have been wanting time to stay home and write for several decades. Even my dreams were about writing. Now that I’ve retired from all my other careers, I finally have time to write. So here I am, writing full-time at last!

Mystery writing has filled my mind lately, and if you want to find out more about that, check out my homepage for this blog (lavalily.com). I have one mystery published (Shadowy Tales) and you can find it (pre-sale) as a regular book or an e-book on either Amazon or Barnes & Noble. The sequel is on the way and may be out before the end of 2022 (Washboard Tales).

Fantasy writing also appeals to me, and other genres, as well. Whatever I write is fantasy in the sense that it is something that hasn’t happened – yet. The characters I write about are all fantasies in my mind. They live ordinary lives, yet often they become involved in extraordinary mysterious events.

In case you think you might like to start a writing career, too, I will add a tip occasionally to help get you started. Grab a notebook and just start writing. Everyone has a story inside that needs to come out so others can enjoy it.

TIP: Look around you at the everyday people in your life. Fantasize about them becoming involved in solving a small mystery. Choose someone or something and write a scene.

A hui hou!

Jambalaya & Black-Eyed Peas

This week we will celebrate Fat Tuesday, or Shrove Tuesday, more commonly known as Mardi Gras. I’m not from New Orleans, but I spent enough years in the Deep South to have this celebration in my soul. Since I won’t be there to toss beads or join in the festivities on Bourbon Street this year, I plan to do something to feel like I have truly honored the day.

Usually, this dish contains ham and/or shrimp, and/or chicken, and/or sausage. The only thing I could come up with this time was one lone sausage, so that’s what I used. Fortunately, when I added about a cup of black-eyed peas leftover from New Year’s Day, I found pieces of ham.

These are the basic ingredients but just use what you have. You could find many versions of this dish online, or you can dig around in your kitchen and come up with the basic ingredients of a traditional Jambalaya. This makes enough for a couple servings.

You can add the seasoning for your own taste, but I like spicy!

My Version of Jambalaya

Into a slow cooker, I put:

  • 1 can non-fat chicken broth
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 large sliced spicy sausage
  • 1 cup Jasmine Brown Rice blended with Wild Rice
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 diced garlic cloves
    2 diced baby bell peppers
  • ½ large onion, diced
  • A handful of chopped parsley
  • 2 broken bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper (more or less to your taste)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin

All of this cooked for 4-5 hours on high. The last 30 minutes, I put in the pre-cooked black-eyed peas. I think you could put it on low for 8-9 hours if you wanted to leave it all day. Any bean can be added, but somehow the black-eyed peas seemed more in keeping with New Orleans.

“Laissez les bon temps rouler” (let the good times roll), as any good New Orleanian would say, until the beginning of Lent.

A hui hou!

Music From Another Era

 

One of my earliest memories was hearing my parents play and sing together. My dad played the piano, while my mother played the violin. Sometimes they sang together in performances, not just at home. I started playing piano at the early age of five, gradually adding in violin and French horn.

 

Many times I sang and played with them. I remember when I was as young as five (maybe even younger), being part of their performances. As an adult, I added even more instruments – guitar (both folk and classical), recorder, lute, organ, balakaika, koto and on and on – and I kept on singing.

 

When my brother came along, he sang along with us with, sometimes playing his trumpet or piano. A few weeks ago, my brother posted about the sheet music he has from that era. I still have some of those pieces, also.

 

In a musical family, it’s no surprise that there are piles of music all over. They take up all the storage space in my living area. Periodically I go through these stacks and reorder them according to my passion du jour.

 

This past week, while rearranging my music one more time, I pulled out old sheet music from the twenties and thirties, music my parents played and passed on to us. Sad to say that many of the covers had been torn off; I think it was to make it easier for them to keep it on a music stand while they played. I’ve made copies of those not destroyed.

 

I also have stacks of music from my teen and early adult years of the forties and fifties, as well as from the era of my hippie days in the sixties and seventies. Each of these generations of music has its own particular flavor, as you know. Maybe I’ll show covers from those eras another time.

 

My mother and my brother share January as their birthday month (Happy Birthday, bro!), and she would have had her 96th birthday this month if she had lived. Although she was quite musically talented, I believe her creativity in other areas often became stifled, not because of the era but because of the expectations required of her as a pastor’s wife. She and my dad passed their creative genes to my brother and to me. It is up to us and future generations not to let it die.

 

My hope is that my own musical children remember hearing and playing music in our home from their early years, and that they have passed it on to their children and grandchildren.


A hui hou!