The Purple Chrysanthemum

Today’s post is one of the fables in Feral Fables. In the book, you’ll find suggestions for reflection at the end of the fable.
Photo taken at Kalopa State Park, Hawai`i Island.

The Purple Chrysanthemum

Chores never cease, never subside. Menacing dark corners tower above and below her, dusty and dank. Driven here, thrust there, the woman frantically toils in vain. In every quarter of the luxurious home she unearths wads of shabby rags, inside bureau and closets, beneath tables and beds, over shelves and bookcases.

There is no seclusion here. It is no longer her home. Aliens invade, then abandon her in chaos. Serenity is shattered in the assault.

In a frenzy, she searches for one spot, one haven of beauty where she may hide from the muck and gloom, sludge and shadow. She is imprisoned and enslaved by the moment, shaken and disenchanted by infinity.

Others chart her headway as she labors, then regresses. Despondently she presses onward, now advancing, now reversing in an endless non-dance. Joy pales as the obstacles flourish in neglect. Song is stilled, light fractured, until she spots an overlooked box, unobtrusively tucked away behind the bureau.

In dismay, she lifts the lid, supposing it to be filth-filled, or barren at best. A small packet sheathed in foil rests inside, dormant yet dazzling in its obscurity. From the crumpled edge of the opening there protrudes a long green stem, crowned with a large purple chrysanthemum, blossom of her soul. An abundance of petals, long and delicate, unite around a pollen-filled golden center.

Tears fall as she recalls the moment she clipped the bloom from its parent. Tenderly she had placed it into nourishing water where it could take root and grow. Now long forgotten, the chrysanthemum has flourished, alone and in the inky obscurity of the ragged box. Surely it was withered and dead by now, for many moons have passed. Other celebrations have come and gone, but the blossom remains.

She pauses, then meticulously peels back the foil covering. That which was dormant for so long has burgeoned with fragile and lacy roots. What once was a flower, cut off from its source, has sprouted in the dark, unattended and ignored.

Weeping, she holds the hardy segment of beauty in the palm of her hand. The tiny bit of life, buried in the pit of her soul, is resurrected and retrieved. The purple chrysanthemum will never perish. She will survive.

Inspired by Shakespeare

I have always been an Anglophile, with an interest in traditional English culture and the monarchy. My senior paper in high school focused on the newly crowned Queen Elizabeth II, so I imagine that’s when my love affair of England actually began. It’s hard to believe that we are now celebrating her Platinum Jubilee. In college, I focused on English literature, and more specifically on the language of Shakespeare’s time. Even though it was basically “English,” it was like learning a completely new language. Knowing the meaning of the words changed my whole perspective and understanding when I watched his plays.When I did my geneology for membership in DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution) I discovered that my “patriot” had come over on an early ship from England and settled in South Carolina. He fought under Francis Marion, known as the “Swampfox.” So I had a reason for being so interested in anything British.

I had a chance to visit Stratford-Upon-Avon in 2005 and loved it. I also visited the Globe Theatre in Bankside, London. I will intersperse a few pictures from beautiful Stratford, as I tell you about the Hawai`i Shakespeare Festival of 2022.

The season in Honolulu will perform three live, in-person shows for the first time since 2019. Check it out at hawaiishakes.org and sign up for their news. The shows are performed at The ARTS at Marks Garage, 1159 Nu`uanu Ave. on the corner of Nu`uanu and Pauahi, one block south of Beretania near the historic Hawaii Theatre.

I plan to fly over to Oahu from the Big Island (my island of Hawai`i) in August for their gender-reversal showing of The Taming of the Shrew, one of my favorites. It will be fun to see how they manage to portray a male Kate and a female Petruchio.

I went to many plays at the Old Globe Theatre in San Diego when I lived there. Even if you don’t understand all of the language, you’ll love the drama. I suggest finding a synopsis of the story line so you’ll know what is happening.

I stayed at the White Swan Hotel, named for (I suppose) all the swans on the Avon.

A hui hou!

Tell Me About the Characters

One of the activities I love most about writing fiction is working on characterization. By the time I finish, I know everything there is to know about the people in my stories.

I know their sun signs, where they were born, and when. I know how they look and how they move. If they have quirks, I know about those, too. Eventually, I might have several single-spaced pages of information about each one of them and how they are all related.

By knowing as much about them as I can create, I know how they would react in the event of a crisis, what makes them laugh or cry, even to the type of food they eat.

In Shadowy Tales, I know that Pastor Fran relies on preparing a quick grilled cheese with some heated up soup because she would never think about cooking a full-on dinner. She is too busy and has been single too long to think much about preparing food. But she does love Chinese take-out, and she drinks lots of tea or coffee.

I also know that she drives a red Miata and that she does yoga, but you never see that in her story. Just knowing that about her gives her a certain personality. Who knows? It might come in handy in another story sometime.

If you are thinking about writing but you aren’t sure where to begin, try inventing a character and write out everything you can think about that person. Suddenly you begin to get ideas of the kind of story you want to write.

After you have written characterizations for a bunch of people, throw them all together and see what happens! Trust me – they’ll begin to act in ways you never dreamed of. And your story begins to take place. I’d rather play with characterization than watch TV or go to a movie!

If you have read Shadowy Tales, what else do you know about Pastor Fran – or any of the other characters?

A hui hou!

Lucy

Feral Fables

“For centuries, women and men have sought guidance and counsel to help them in processes of change, healing, and transformation.”

That is the first sentence in the introduction to my book, Feral Fables. How many of us have checked the I Ching, or Animal Medicine cards, or the Tarot or even the daily horoscope to see what they have to say to us? Not only is it fun, but it also can be enlightening in some strange, unexplainable way.

We are spoken to through many avenues. Insights may come like lightning bolts or in a still, small voice. A friend says something that strikes us as relevant to a question we’ve pondered. We hear a conversation that brings sudden understanding to a problem. A dream reveals an answer to a situation. We read a story that becomes more significant each time we read it.

Such is the nature of these fables. This is the sort of book you can tuck in your purse or briefcase and always have handy. At odd moments, you can pick a fable at random to see what meaning it can bring to your life. Whether you are male or female, youth or elder, there will be something of value in each brief fable. I have added a few questions at the end of each fable to start your thinking process.

What is a fable anyway? The dictionary describes it as “a fictitious story meant to teach a moral lesson.” I believe it is more than just a moral lesson. I prefer to say that it shows us “Truth” greater than “truth.” I wrote these to use as I worked with psychology clients who were looking for that Truth in their lives. You can do the same for yourself.

If you like to read online, you can buy an e-book on Amazon. If you prefer to have a hard copy, a place where you can write notes in the margins, then a hard copy is available in several places. I recommend you check this online bookstore first.

You can read these fables with the intention of finding clarity on some issue in your life, or maybe the serendipity will surprise you when you read them just for fun. In either case, please let me know your reaction to these wild tales.

A hui hou!

Biblioholism?

Hi, I’m Lucy and I’m a biblioholic.

As a former substance abuse counselor, I know that a behavior is considered an addiction if it interferes with your life and creates a problem. This leads me to wonder if I have a true “addiction,” like some people have an addiction with substances (legal or illegal) and behaviors (legal or illegal). If not an addiction, it is certainly a “dependency.” Anyone interested in a 12-step program for bookaholics?

Does being a biblioholic disrupt or interfere with my life, or cause a problem? Only when I need to move all these books from one home to another!

I started checking the internet to see if there was such a word as biblioholism or if a group existed for bookaholics. Try looking up either of those words and you’ll see how many sites address this very thing. I found a site that gives reader comments that complete the statement “You know you’re a bookaholic when…” All of the comments there are true of me, and my favorite is “…when you select your handbags based on whether they are big enough to fit a book.”

No matter where I go, I have a book in my purse. You just never know when you’ll have a couple of minutes to read a paragraph or two while you wait for someone to show up, or for your car to be serviced, for instance. And sometimes I carry a book with the sole intent of going somewhere only to read. I have a different book (sometimes a stack of books) sitting next to each of my reading places, and I go back to read some of my favorites many times.

I found one site that seems to have disappeared, which gave an excellent definition of “biblioholism” that describes me exactly (and probably you, too). “Biblio” means “book,” so this site states that biblioholism is “the habitual longing to purchase, read, store, admire and consume books in excess.”

The only feature of biblioholism that definition doesn’t mention is writing. I do an obsessive amount of that, as well, but I seldom bother to market what I write. (And that’s another whole problem I need to address at some point.) I write in several genres, usually with several in various stages of completion at a time.

Yes, I also read (and write) e-books, but nothing will ever replace the feel of paper as I turn each page. When I am forced to part with books, it’s as if I’m killing my children! Rather than give away the thousands of books I have, I simply have more bookshelves built.

“You know you’re a bookaholic when _______.” You might fill in the blank on this statement and find out something about yourself. Put your answer in the comments. I’d love to see it.

If you are interested in reading one of my latest books, check out this bookstore.

A hui hou!

My New Career

Friends often ask how I get so much writing accomplished. The answer is simple – I finally retired from my last career.

I was in the field of psychology for several years, then I spent several decades as a full-time pastor and counselor in a mainline denomination. As I finished up my last few years in a local church here in Hawai`i, I began teaching part-time for our community college.

By the time I retired from ministry, I was teaching fulltime at the college and didn’t stop until September 2021. I was an Associate Professor of psychology when I retired eight months ago.

The first six months of retirement were difficult for me. I had never been without a job or career of some sort since the age of sixteen. Perhaps many of you can relate.

I was lost. Who am I? Now what? Is death the next step? What is life about?

Recently, I was looking through old journals to find something I thought I needed. I don’t even remember what that was now, but a phrase in my journals kept coming up over and over: “I just wish I could stay home and write.”

I had been writing bits and pieces here and there, and then I would put it all aside to grade a stack of papers or prepare a sermon, see a client or prepare a class lecture. By the time I retired, my computer held several novels and bits of books and articles, plus notes on other work, and I had published a self-help e-book online. In my mind, none of that counted for anything.

Retirement gave me the opportunity to put it all together and get published. The e-book is now in paperback form, and I have serious notes on the next two books of my mystery series.

I tell this story to remind you (and myself) that little bits of writing here and there do add up. Take those few minutes you have on the way to work, or early in the morning before the household wakes up, or instead of watching TV, or while you are nursing a baby, or whatever else you do. Those things are important, but so is your writing habit.

It doesn’t need to be quality time or quality writing at this point, but it needs to be something. If you are a writer, then write. You can edit and put it all together later, but all famous authors remind us to write something every day.

A hui hou!

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!

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!

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!

My New Book

I have a new book out for pre-sale on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Bookshop (a store for BookBaby Publishing).

Shadowy Tales is a heart pounding thriller that emphasizes the danger of cultural division and social intolerance through a truly compelling mystery. This is the story of a protestant minister, Frances Anna Keeton, newly appointed by her bishop to a church in the conservative south. Arriving from a liberal environment in California, she faces immense turmoil. Frances realized she was entering into a difficult situation. But she never would imagine the danger, harm, and secrets that lie ahead.” (from the sales blurb)

“Heart pounding” is what the publisher wrote, not me! Maybe it is but sometimes it’s difficult to see that in something you write, especially when you have edited and edited and edited!

To my family, friends, and others who follow this blog, please spread the word. The sequel (Washboard Tales) will be out within the next six months, and I believe it will prove to be even better than this one.

If you want a taste of my non-fiction, check out Feral Fables, a self-help book. It is currently an e-book on Amazon, and it will be out in paperback within the next few weeks.

A hui hou!

Lucy