In Whose World is Reality

I wrote this a while back. Its from a dream that haunted me. Article 94’s Mark Gardner spurred this one to be brought here by his piece “My Own Monster”. While this is fiction, it has elements of fact in that my grandmother had one of the longest documented cases of Alzheimer’s. My mother kept her at home with home nursing for years. Doll was treated from roughly 1981 until her death in 2005.
“My car is missing!” I told them being outright ignored.

Doll just wandered around the kitchen picking up the newspaper, putting it back down before settling in a chair at the table. Opening the cabinet, mother pulled out a glass and walked over to the refrigerator, opened it, looked inside then leaving the door open, pulled out her cigarettes.

“Did you hear me? My car has been stolen! I need to use your phone!”

My mother lit her cigarette then replied without turning towards me, “Well you should have thought of that before you loaned it out. Not my fault you can’t make good choices.” She took a drag off of it then got some orange juice out to pour into her glass. Meanwhile, my grandmother sat there staring blankly at nothing in particular while our drama unfolded around her.

“Mother, I need to use your phone.” I said knowing that if I walked over to it without her permission, all hell would break loose, so I stood perfectly still ever watching to see if she would acquiesce. Even though local calls were part of the bill, I was not allowed to call out without permission even as an adult.

“Judy, where’s my juice? I need my juice with my paper in the morning.” My grandmother murmured distantly as if just now waking from a long nap. That she noticed her juice was gone was a good thing. Alzheimer’s had done its number on her years ago taking her idea of what was real and now away so solidly that no amount of putting it in front of her mattered. She had her good days when she was sweet and loving, then there were the bad ones where everyone was a physical target that she had to overcome with any means necessary.

“OH good, the woman who looks like my granddaughter is here. My doll baby is much prettier than you, but she still needs to lose weight. I so wish she would come back from school to visit me.”

“Doll, it is me. I’ve just grown older.” I took a few steps over to her and took her hand in mine. It was soft, withered, with the bones showing through from where she refused to eat now. I tried, not thinking about it, wanting her to recognize me just once for who I am. I knew better. It never worked.

“Don’t you talk to your grandmother that way! You’ll just confuse her more!” My mother lit another cigarette from the one burning as if the first one had some kind of fatal flaw in it. She looked at me with utter hatred pouring out of her, the fury of it licking its way to me.

“I used to sing, “Hello Dolly” to her as a baby. She was such a sweet child.” Doll smiled with the kindest of smiles that lit up her face making her eyes glow with happiness. Then she began to sing in a hesitant but happy voice, “Hello, Dolly! Well hello, Dolly! It’s so nice to have you back where you belong!”

Tears came to my eyes as she did that, wishing that she was singing to me once more. My early childhood had been filled with visits to her when she would sing to me and talk with me, taking me places with her as if I was special. She had been so much more of a mother to me when I was there than her daughter was. I missed my grandmother, my Doll.

I never used a typical grandmother term for her. From the moment I could call her anything, she was Doll. Everyone picked it up from me. Even her friends called her that because my grandmother was so very special.

Mother turned, strode angrily across the kitchen and slammed the juice down in front of her mother, taking Doll’s attention from happy memories back to the confusing present. “Mother here is your juice. You know that SHE doesn’t love us enough to come here to visit.”

Turning to me she spat, “Use the phone. Call the police then leave. Don’t come back, you are not welcome here!”

I woke up shaking, frozen stiff in my bed, still hearing their voices, smelling the cigarette smoke as it burned my nose. My muscles were ready for the fight that was coming. My brain was churning, waiting for the next verbal attack from my mother, but it wasn’t coming. They are both dead, long dead only their memories still haunt me; my dreams keeping them vividly alive.


Crafting the Change: In Reply to Goddesses and Doormats #queenofallevil 7/30/14

Lately I’ve read a few pieces written by queenofallevil that are really hitting home. She writes about empowering yourself and refusing to belittle who you are to someone else needs or expectations. She talks about how to achieve self-realization in a very straight forward manner. While blunt and to the point, what she says needs to be heard, read, understood, and used by so many of us. When you come from any sort of dysfunctional relationship, whether it was how you grew up or was a romantic one, the first step is to be aware of what happened to make it dysfunctional and eradicate it.

Personally, I am one of those people that over-cares and over-does. In my first marriage, my husband-to-be actually told the priest that the reason he was marrying me was because I made everything work. I made it easy for him to live his life the way he wanted to. In essence I was his executive assistant to be, not his future wife.

Being a helpmate is not a bad thing, but when I took care of all of the details constantly for someone who, while admitting that I did so, continued to use me in this manner without trying to change what was going on, I lost track of who I was. He did not want me to work saying that the military was taking care of everything and would stop if I worked a true job, so I was allowed only a small job to cover extra expenses. Over time my sense of self-worth and id just dissolved into who my mate needed me to be. I lost my voice, not physically, but mentally and spiritually. I left my interests and hobbies behind so that I could help him achieve his goals. I buried myself in his needs and wants to the point that others didn’t even know if I could talk or express an opinion of my own.

The best thing I did during that relationship was to go back to school during which I fell into my profession. I started out as a voice major. It was something that I loved, but something that was costly in time. He didn’t mind that I sang and practiced all the time. It wasn’t until I changed my major to speech pathology that things truly got rough.

During my second year of classes, I started getting job applications constantly sent to me with salary quotes. After he picked one up and read that I was going to make more money than he did, well things started getting rough. No longer did he allow me time to study or do my projects. I had to squeeze in all the extras that a graduate student is required to do during the hours that he was not at home because once he got home, I was required to be available for him at all times.

It wasn’t until he left on a year-long duty overseas, that I realized that without him and his needs, I didn’t know what to do. I was finishing up my master’s degree at the time, about to intern, when I finally got angry enough to do something about it. I realized that I didn’t want to continue to follow him around anymore. I wanted my own career, managed by myself without his interference or even his input. I wanted out in a big way, which was my first indication that something was truly wrong. I was growing out of the doormat stage of that particular relationship, unfortunately I had not grown enough to recognize and stop the pattern.

My first dysfunctional marriage led into my second one in which I continued to be the care-giver, the organizer, the doer of the relationship, and in this case one more step … the provider. Focusing on what had to be done and how to do it, I made it to where my second husband didn’t believe that he needed a job at all. He simply stayed home, played on the computer, or played at creating items for his hobbies. Was it entirely my fault that he chose this venue? No, but I made it easier for him to do so. After all, why work for someone else making a little bit of money, when your spouse has made it so simple to just stay home and have fun. I won’t say that we could afford what he was doing, we truly couldn’t but that part never truly bothered him, only me as I began the spiral of exhaustion of mind, body, and spirit.

So, this cycle repeated itself, in a slightly different manner, but the result was the same.

My lesson is to become less available to everyone else’s needs around me. It is very hard to not be the person that has the supplies, has the answers, and knows how to fix or do whatever needs to be done. It is harder still to stop wanting to help everyone around me. As a natural care-giver, I need to work socially on what I do professionally … teach others, not do for them.

As a society, we use the word help in a very positive manner in which the person helping is supposed to be doing a good thing. We have created a generation of people who have been brainwashed into being the end-all and do-all of their families and relationships, but this is not necessarily a good thing. In response to the care-givers, we, as a society, have also created a generation of users; people who think nothing of running their helpers, the ones who love and care for them, into the ground from all of their demands both necessary and unnecessary.

So, in reply to what queenofallevil is writing about, I believe that the answers lie both within and without. People need to recognize their dysfunction and work to alleviate it, but the change is not just for individuals. We, as a society, need to acknowledge the dichotomy and work towards crafting the change.

A Piece of Heaven

Ray Bradbury Noun Twist List: This was a prompted story where nouns were randomly generated. A minimum of three nouns were required to be used. The list was generated by several friends off facebook who do not know each other. Each one gave me three nouns. The list: Georgia, money, football, dirt, cheese, shoelaces, Momma, WalMart, Doritoes, Canadian, field, grape

Living in Georgia, the land of summers so swelteringly hot that your shirt sticks to your body as you exit the door of your car, can be a trial to those not versed in the essentials: peanuts, peaches, and football. Now, my Momma used to tell me as a kid, when we only had three channels, that if I was to ever go to heaven, it would be through the arches at UGA when I got me a football scholarship. She used to say I’d ride on the backs of my team in glory and that way, I’d know just what heaven was. The pats on the back, the “Boo ya’s!” and the screams of the fans as I ran that winning touchdown. Yeah, Momma wasn’t no fool. She knew that I wasn’t never gonna be quarterback material, but man could I ever run! All I needed to learn was how to catch that ball!

So, she talked to the coach and found a local kid who knew how to throw pretty good and took me out to the dirt field where most kids played baseball, not me. I went there to run catches. We’d pretend we were in a huddle, just Josh and me, then I’d race off ducking and weaving for all I was worth seeing my opponents in the clumps of dirt at my feet. Looking back over my shoulder, I’d find that ball sailing, spiraling towards me. My hands would raise up to sweep it out of the air into that sweet spot where I’d tuck it in safe and sound. Running for the goal, I’d dive across that imaginary line nailing that last touchdown of the game, winning it every time in my head.

Junior High came and went with me joining the team, running the ball as fast as lightning down the field. Coach was real proud of me, praised my speed all the time until the track and baseball coaches came around. When they’d show up, he’d hide me away, put me doing something else so they wouldn’t steal me from him in the off season. Once they realized what he was doing, those coaches got smart and called me to their office for a talk. Turned out, they wanted me to run for them. As long as I was running, I didn’t care. So, I added track and baseball. I was GOOD at track, not so much baseball. Never was too good at hitting a perfectly good ball, not when I’d rather catch it.

High school came around and I was sure fire recruited for the teams. I was told that it was a no brainer. They all wanted me running for them, but I had to keep my grades up. Well, there was a small problem with that one. Remember when I said Momma knew I wasn’t quarterback material? High school proved that. First I ran into trouble with Reading. All those words just kept getting longer and longer. I couldn’t tell the difference in them anymore. I was convinced that if people would just write in plain English that I could have passed that class at least. Coach got me a tutor for Reading and I skinned my way through it.

Science and History, now, they were a different matter. Their words just got stranger and stranger to the point that they didn’t make a bit of sense. And the topics? Man, who wants to know about the migration habits of a Canadian Goose? What good was that gonna do for me in FOOTBALL? Coach found a couple more of those super smart guys to help me make it through those subjects.

It was my Junior year that Coach kept telling me to work hard, play hard, and study hard. He even bought a poster for me to put up on my wall at home. He told me that I could be the best player, but that no school would take me if I didn’t graduate. So I tried, I really did! But book stuff just didn’t do it for me. So, I kept working at it, studying at home when I could and going to practices every day. I was a huge success on the field, but a failure in the classroom. That’s when Coach’s daughter stepped in.

Toni was every boy’s dream. She was a girl that not only understood football but who could play better than most everyone hoped. She came up with the idea of quizzing me while I was playing, while I had a BALL in my hands! Her idea was to have me tell her definitions, words, equations even while tossing the ball back and forth. Oh man! I thought she was stupid when she suggested it. But after the first week when I went to take my test in History, well, I PASSED! I wasn’t guessing or doodling all over the test without a clue. I truly KNEW the words, the people, and the events.

After that, Toni and I worked every day getting me to learn the stuff I needed to know for each class. We studied for the SAT’s together even throwing the football, quizzing each other as we went. I scraped by on the SAT with an 810 but back then for most schools 800 was passing. Man oh man how I shouted when I opened that one up! Toni and I hugged onto each other and danced around so excited. I forgot to ask her how she did, but found out later that she scored over 1100. Makes sense, ya know?

Well, the day came for the UGA recruiter to watch the game. We’d been hearing that one was coming for a while, but each time it had panned out or it was some other school. That night, I ran for all I was worth. I caught that ball. I ran that ball and I scored touchdown after touchdown. We won and the team carried me back to the locker room on their shoulders. It was a piece of heaven.

It’s funny how life doesn’t always have the same plans for you that you do. My goal for years was to go to UGA. I wasn’t offered anything more than a pat on the back by the recruiter and a good job before he went over to our quarterback to talk him up. I wanted to shout, “Hey! Look at me!” but that’s not how it’s done. Instead I stood there, staring as the two walked over to the side. I think I would have still been there had Toni not come up to me, put her arms around me and made me look at her.

“They’re missing out on the best and don’t even know it!” Then she pulled my head down and kissed me.

Apple Fillo Tarts

This dish was a spur of the moment throw together at a party I went to at the beginning of summer. I had all the ingredients because of other things I was making and decided, “Why not?” These were not on a plate more than 5 minutes before they all disappeared despite all of the other food and desserts everyone else had brought. There’s just something about apples and cinnamon that says “Home” and “Happy”.

Apple Fillo Tarts


Preheat oven to 400 (375 for dark pans)
4 apples peeled, cored, and diced (I use Granny Smith but others can be used as long as they are not soft and mealy)
1 stick of salted butter separated into 4 Tbs each
1 tsp cinnamon
3 Tbs dark brown sugar
2 Tbs white sugar
¼ tsp ginger (Optional)
¼ tsp cardamom (Optional)
½ tube of fillo dough
Decoration (Optional): Cinnamon Sugar Pecans 1 ½ C whole pecans, 1tsp cinnamon, ¼ C sugar, 1 Tbs butter
For the tarts:
1) In a medium fry pan on low to medium low, melt 4 Tbs butter.
2) Add apples and saute stirring to coat all of the pieces with the butter.
3) Add the spices and sugars. Stir to ensure an even coating.
4) Stir slowly frequently but not constantly until all apples begin to soften.
5) Set aside off the heat once they are softened.
6) Melt the other 4 Tbs of butter in a bowl,
7) Taking a pastry brush, coat the walls of the muffin tin with butter and set aside
8) Take out one tube of fillo. Cut it in half through the plastic and put one half in a Ziploc bag to put away.
9) Taking the ½ of the tube left, unroll it and slice it into 3 section roughly 3”X3” per section


10) Working quickly, take 5-6 pieces to line each muffin tin. I don’t count these, I just make sure I have at least 5 pieces. Fewer and the filling will soak through. You may have some pieces left over. When I do, I gently add these into any area that looks “weak”.
11) Using a soup spoon, fill each muffin round. This recipe will fill exactly one 12 piece muffin tin.
12) Taking the pastry brush and the extra butter, coat the fillo dough edges that are hanging out. If you don’t they will still bake and brown, but will appear “floury” and the flavor will be off. On this step you may rearrange the “petals” a bit. You do not want them hanging down onto the tin, They need to be up off of the metal.
13) Bake 10-12 minutes at 400 or 375 for a dark pan.
14) Remove from oven and allow to sit for 10 minutes.
15) Place one or more pecans on top for decoration
16) Serve Hot.

Cinnamon Sugar Pecans
1 ½ Cups whole pecans
1 tsp cinnamon
¼ C sugar
1 Tbs butter
Preheat oven to 400 or 375 for dark pans
1) Melt butter in a fry pan
2) Add pecans, sugar, and cinnamon
3) Coat well and remove
4) Line a baking sheet with parchment paper
5) Place pecans on the sheet in a single layer
6) Bake for 5-10 minutes being careful to not let the pecan over-bake and burn
7) Allow to sit for 10-15 minutes before using
8) Decorate.

Optional: The tarts may be made using only cinnamon. You may add nutmeg, raisins, almonds, etc. This is just a very basic, easy to throw together dish. The pecans are truly optional. When I made this dish the first time, I didn’t have them and no one cared, they gobbled them all up.

NOTE: When working with fillo it is very important to be gentle but quick. Fillo is a very dry dough and will dry out to crumble in your hands if you are not fast. One method that I use when making more than one recipe is to keep the pieces that I am not working on in a ziploc bag. Sometimes, if the fillo is especially dry, I will add a paper towel that has a smidgeon of water on it. NOT wet or damp, but just a bare hint of wet. If the sheets tear on you, don’t despair, just put them in place and add another sheet on top. They will still work. If ALL of them rip, layer the rip on top of itself. Once baked, it will usually continue to hold its shape.

Baseball anyone?

Growing up as the only grandchild of an avid baseball fan could have been a strife had I been a “girly girl” but by the time I was five it was fairly obvious that I was a diehard tom boy. I was that girl who made mud pies then stored them for later in the tang jars using the tang to spice them up to see what would happen over time. I knew they wouldn’t be eaten, just was that kind of curious. I caught night crawlers in my mother’s pitchers, played with the roly-polies and climbed anything that everyone thought shouldn’t be climbed. My dad taught me how to throw a Frisbee much to our roof and his lack of a ladder’s discontent. He also gave me a Big Wheel about that time that I raced around the block as fast as I could tumbling everyone and everything in my way. While I was always embarrassed when someone fell or I almost hit a moving target such as a dog or cat, it only made me go faster. So, when I was six and moved down to live with my mother’s parents, it wasn’t that big of a step to go from all that to learning how to play baseball.

My grandfather was as much of a diehard baseball fan as I was a diehard tomboy which was a match made in heaven. Understand that my grandfather was born in 1898 and didn’t have much to say to girls, but when he saw me watch the games with him and heard me talk about going to the Mets World Series in 1969, well, he took matters into his own hands. Without talking to my mother or grandmother who were both still trying hard to turn me into a Cupie Doll with curly strawberry blondes curls, which by the way I NEVER had, he drove me over to the Western Union and bought me my first baseball, glove, and a pitch back. Then he took me out into the yard and showed me how to throw that ball! I can’t tell you how many hours, days, weeks, I tossed that ball, but I know that I finally wore it out. I tossed, threw, and slammed balls into that thing until I blew holes in it. When I was about eight, he bought me my first bat. It was a tiny thing, more of a toy size than a real bat, but that was ok. I was a tiny girl. At the age of eight, I was the size of a normal five year old, if that. So there I was in my designer clothes that my mother and grandmother chose for me each day, outside throwing balls as hard and fast as I could into my pitch back. Once I got that bat, well, he took me out into the open field that we all called “The Park” and showed me how to hit that ball! I was in heaven!

My grandfather died in 1989. He had cancer for a very long time, but in the end it wasn’t the cancer that got him but rather just old age. He was bed ridden for years before he went with nurses in his home to take care of him. He was a gentle man, a gruff man who didn’t have much to say to females. As I grew up and my mother wouldn’t let me play “boy games” that would develop “boy muscles” he and I talked less and less. I missed those early days when he would take me places and show me all those neat things. He was a wonderful man who I love and miss to this day.

Memories of another time, a different me

Tonight is a time of reflection. I find myself remembering an old boyfriend from college, Rob Greenway. He was that bohemian personality who was a musician with a genius IQ. I used to say that he belonged to the philosophy of the month club. He liked to try on different Eastern philosophies for size then, when you asked him why he did or didn’t do something anymore, he would reply that it went against …. (fill in the blank) philosophy. During the short time I was with him, I think he went through three different philosophical venues in about 3 months. His brain just couldn’t stop searching for a version of the truth that he could accept. He was a very gifted musician and song writer. He kept several spiral bound notebooks of songs he wrote with their annotated key/chord structures and his guitar tuning for each one. He loved to listen to various acoustic guitar players, then would sit sometimes for minutes, other times for hours figuring out just how they tuned their guitar to create the pieces that they did. Until I met him, I was naive about guitars and thought that they only had one way to be tuned, silly me.

Rob was a kind person, a romantic with a very quirky sense of humor and his own sense of honor. During that time I was going through an extremely shy stage of life and was fairly quiet.  I was that girl that would long for something but never quite get up the courage to go get it. While I was with Rob, he taught me that I was placing boundaries upon myself that I didn’t need. My grandmother said that I never quite learned how to smile as a child, but the neighbor said I smiled with my eyes only. Rob taught me to smile with my entire face, to let the joy out. We would sit under the oak trees on the old North Campus of UGA where he would play his guitar and sing to me the songs that he wrote while squirrels pelted him with acorns. He swore that they aimed just for him. I went along with it just to tease him.  He encouraged me to do the things that I only dreamed of but didn’t do because I had been trained to never step out of the box in public. He told me that acting outside of the box was every bit as fun as thinking outside of it was. He would laugh at and with me on those late nights when I would “set the balloons free” on North Campus after they had orientations and such. It was a simple joy, but so much happiness was derived from watching the balloons float up to the stars.

I haven’t seen or heard from him in 16 years or so. I ran into him at the Ren Faire one year as he was racing to his performance. We hugged and caught up as much as five minutes will allow you. He had traded in his sweet tenor voice and guitar for the penny whistle. He said that too many nights performing in smoky taverns had destroyed those perfect, clear notes of his. He went off chasing his dream, his performance, his love and craft. I wonder where he is now and then and if he finally found that dream of his.

Kitten Wars 7/26/14


Cleo and my coffee

Well, Cleo is definitely picking up more catlike attitude now that she is 9 months old. At 6 AM when Buddy was comatose and the rest of the house was, too, Cleo decided to voice her opinion on kitty food crumbs in her dish. I keep all kitty food and water on a counter in the bathrooms so that Buddy does not put the NOSE of destruction and doom into their food and gobble it all up. So at oh dark, oh my goodness it is NOT time to wake up yet summer morning, I heard something ceramic hit the floor hard then ring it a few more times for good luck. Disoriented, I jumped out of bed and dashed around the house trying to figure out where it came from. Did I mention disoriented? Let’s make that absolutely clueless and stumbling, bumping into things and finding Teeny, Alex, and Buddy still mostly asleep, in Buddy’s case so soundly asleep I tripped over him. I find nothing out of place. Then I make it back to my bedroom only to see Cleo walking with her head held high and her tail straight up as she saunters out of my bathroom. Now, Cleo is only about 3 pounds of kitty, so not much she can do, right? Well, upon entering my bathroom I found cat food crumbs scattered all over the floor with her food dish in the middle of it all. Somehow my kitty dragged, pushed, shoved her dish to the edge of the counter along with her food dish mat, then dumped it to the ground. Turning, I called her name in suspicion. She deigned to turn her head to me then promptly sat down next to Buddy to clean herself. Guess that was one more lesson in how to train a human.

Potato-Egg Hash

potato hash 4 

1 medium to large potato

2 green onions diced

1/8 of a medium white or red onion diced

½ cup of left over meat (steak or ham work but I’ve also used deli meat.)

½ C milk (I use 2%)

4 eggs

1-2 tsp Kosher salt (this truly depends on how big your potato is. The larger it is, the more salt you may need)

1 tsp ground black pepper

1 Tbs butter (olive oil may be used, but I prefer butter when working with potatoes, Taste preference) The idea is to use enough so it does not stick.

  • Microwave your potato for 41/2 to 5 ½ minutes depending on wattage of your unit. The potato should “squeeze gently” when you pull it out without any hard spots. It should NOT be wrinkled up and filled with air pockets. Chunk it up when it comes out.
  • Dice up your veggies and meat while the potato is cooking.
  • Put the onions and potato into the pan with butter. Add 1 tsp salt and all of the pepper. Cook on medium to medium high. Stir every couple of minutes. Do not constantly stir because then your potatoes will not get the crispy browning that is preferred.
  • When the onions begin to caramelize add the meat and taste the potatoes. At this point you may want to add more salt or pepper. Keep in mind that different types of potatoes will be sweeter and need less salt than others. While some will simply gobble up the salt as if you never applied it.
  • Cook this mixture until the potatoes are browned. The meat will brown with them and the onions may appear to almost dissolve away.
  • Mix the eggs with the milk in a separate bowl.
  • Once the potatoes are browned, add the egg mix to the pan and stir. Not constantly but enough to allow the eggs to “gel” a little on the underside before you “turn” the mix over. Do not treat this like an omelet. It will completely fall apart on you if you do. There are too many items that are heavy with edges for the eggs to work with as an omelet.
  • Once the eggs are finished cooking, serve it.

This will serve 4-5 people, maybe more depending on if other items such as toast, bacon, etc are also being served.

Optional: jalapenos, bell peppers, cheese, freshly minced garlic

For the lactose intolerant, you may substitute orange juice for the milk. It will give your eggs a slightly sweet and tangy flavor, but is delightful. It will also make them a bit more delicate.

Pan Seared Zucchini and Red Onions

Pan Seared Zucchini and Red Onions

Olive Oil

½ tsp Rosemary

½ tsp Basil

½ tsp lemon pepper

1 large zucchini sliced into relatively thick “fries” or “fingers” (I usually cut my zucchini in half so that my fingers are no longer than about 3 inches.

¼ sliced red onion

¼-1/2 tsp Kosher salt (Optional. Many people do not use salt at all. I use just enough to make the other flavors pop. Not salty at all)

  • Heat pan to medium high
  • Drizzled the bottom of the pan with olive oil
  • Coat the bottom of the pan with the herbs and spices except for the salt
  • Add the red onion until it caramelizes then remove them to a small plate or bowl
  • Add the zucchini to the pan. Sear the sides until they brown slightly
  • Return the onions to the pan, mixing together gently
  • Sprinkle Kosher salt on top
  • Serve

This takes 10-15 minutes depending on how hot your pan is.

Optional: green onions, chives, fresh minced garlic, sliced grape tomatoes

Keep in mind that spices and herbs change potency when used fresh. Fresh ones tend to have more water in them, so while stronger may also add liquid to the dish that will need to be cooked out.

Winter’s Edge: 7/23/14

Little did we know the connection between our worlds was to become the battle ground. For years, centuries it had been a no man’s land, a place of guarded silence and passage. Over time it was less guarded to the point of being simply a necessary evil. That path, littered with broken cobblestones, leading through the twisted forest on the far side, was the only passage over the ravine. No one wanted to destroy it. More just wanted to escape over and through it as fast as they possibly could before nightfall caught them unawares on the other side. No one knew for certain what lived in that dark woods, but all who journeyed through it would attest to the constancy of nerves prickling hard up and the feeling of eyes persistently following their every movement until they were through it.

So, people would travel to our side, immigrating to that of the light to settle our lands, toil our fields. Serenity and her family always welcomed newcomers providing they came openly. Our people took in these people, gave them work, a place to live, and food to eat until they were integrated into our small community. It was the way of House Solserenay and had been ever since this edge of the world was settled by them. As a result no one ever suspected that treachery would come to our very backyard. After all who would harm the one who was openly giving what was needed?

At first it was only small forays into our forests as if they were gathering supplies, berries, nuts, that sort of thing for some sort of journey. Truthfully, it went unnoticed by most of us. Who would think twice about someone stealing what the forest was providing? The forest was filled with fruit bearing trees and bushes of all kinds from all over our world. Nobles and travelers knew to bring back small plants for the cooks, herbalists, and doctors of our people. There were a few areas that were off limits due to the poisonous qualities found within but everyone knew where they were and avoided them. Those were not the fruits or flowers that were collected, though. No, the berries, flowers, nuts, and herbs gathered had buried magical properties lost, nearly forgotten over time.

Like I said, the House treated the harvesting as someone just getting ready to go somewhere. Slowly, specific trees and bushes grew bare. It took our herbalist weeks before he understood the extent of their foraging and what it meant. While the overt individual properties of each was known, their ancient properties was long forgotten. Our herbalist, however, had been trained far away in the capital. Something sparked his memories from his studies long ago. Birds were sent out, spell bound messengers followed as replies began zipping back. Pieces of ancient recipes were sent. People, high ranking wizards and herbalists, began to pour into our domain. The implications were uncertain, but the ingredients and their potential were clear. To our detriment, we had not considered what these fruits could do when magically combined. By the time our herbalists and wizards figured it out, they were too late. Even then, the full extent of the damage or what was to come was not divined.

Slowly the forests surrounding Winter’s Edge began to die. It was not noticeable at first. They attacked in the winter, while the earth slept keeping its roots peacefully underground. The magical poisons slowly seeped down deep into the earth corroding the tender shoots, corrupting their rejuvenation into wretched torment. As Spring came, loosening the icy grip of cruel Winter, the earth screamed.

A long dark winter had encased everyone in its spiny arms for far longer than ere before driving crazed delusions of Spring upon all. Having so many extra mouths to feed and bodies to find beds for, Serenity was constantly on edge, striving to ration the supplies out until Spring would release Winter’s deadly arms. Nobles and serfs alike were craving escape from their imposed confinement. With dreams of warmth and bounteous color, everyone awaited the earth’s rebirth. With cheer starved eyes people searched for the first buds only to be greeted by hideous fingers of black that stretched twined, pulled, and seared their way through the frozen ground in their deadly imitation of Spring’s tender shoots. .

Toiling their way to the surface, the twisted entlets rose. Sprays of earth darkened, held in Greed’s wide palm, kissed by Sorrow’s delight, tempted by Treachery with his inky solicitation. The triplets had ne’er wandered to Winter’s Edge ‘til then. Serenity had held fast, her sons strengthening her resolve. Peace reigned but that morning, the shattering began. Sundered from its roots, from its home the purity of our earth was stolen and enraged, innocent, no longer. Screaming, raging, falling to the ground, keening our pain, poisons of the earth pooled inside us, awakened as we shared the earth’s agony.

Where once the joyous sounds of birds and frogs enjoined in Spring were now to be found the creaks of vines in the banshee wind. Flowers changed before our eyes into grotesque caricatures. The mutation complete, the plants uprooted. Their anger overwhelming us as over the space of one season, The House of Chaos had created its army.

With misshapen fingers the entlets sprouted from the mildewing earth pulling themselves to their rooted feet before launching forth. They were miniature figures of manlike trees barely coming to the calves of men with fury filled faces. Hair in shades of putridity hung lank, wrapped in fungus shrouded vines. Tunics made of decayed foliage draped their emaciated bodies. Shoes cast from shards of minerals long lost were strapped across the tops of their rooted feet while long claw-like toes stretched through holes clenching clots of poisoned earth and tossing balls of blackened imp fire from their fingers at any who came.

Images of childhood terrors and midnight frights cascaded before us ransacking the huts nearest the forest, awakening frightened discord among the children and maddening the pastured sheep to frenzy. Ripping fence posts from the field and shredding the wooden rails, entlets danced eerily past the boundaries of Winter’s Edge. They created lances, javelins, and cabers from the remnants of the fences they had destroyed. Minuscule weapons they might seem, when held by those horrific creatures they were deadly accurate in their tiny hands.

We lay writhing upon the ground in horror, our insides raging in pain as the entlets rained our ranks with spears and javelins created from our own fences. Clubbing those closest to them our men struggled to their knees, propped themselves upon their swords and attempted to prepare for battle, knowing that all could be lost before the battle had even begun. Still we couldn’t stand.

Leaning on the gate of keep, clutching her stomach as it churned, Serenity directed the men as the women and children behind her fell to the ground in agony. Tears pouring down her face as she witnessed the fall of her home, her domain, she screamed to the heavens for vengeance, for solace, for help. And still she watched on unable to turn her gaze from the massacre before her as nobles, wizards, soldiers, and guards all writhed in agony while the entlets buried each one beneath their hordes.

The strongest among us crouched swinging at those creatures shorter than his knees, stomachs heaving and cramping with each motion. Some just sat there and let the entlets come to them piling up bodies around them while their swords sang out bitterly. Desperation evident in every move, everyone struggled on not knowing from whence help would come or if it would even hear their cries.

Just as the last of us were faltering, falling to the ground, she arrived. Somehow she knew and came to us, the one who had been cast away so long ago. What brought her, we never knew but Quietude brought forth the solution. Dipping the corner of her cloak in the purest of Spring’s freshly melted snow she came to us. She brought fresh water from far away with her, a fount that never seemed to end as she bade us drink. Brought from her hermit’s rest, she washed our brows soothing the quakes with soft spells taught to her by Serenity long ago yet altered and magnified. Using motions older than the eldest of us could remember, she built a Sanctuary, encircling our keep, pushing out the entlets with her will alone.

While no beauty by any means, Quietude was fierce, courageous, and intrepid that day. Moving in ways with knowledge beyond belief Quietude led, directed our retreat to the keep, planned our rejoinder, and defied the battle to cast our rebuilding. Her knowledge of things arcane exploded through the entlets throwing them in shredded, scattered pieces far from the keep. Their imp fire and rooted chaos was disrupted for a time, but it was not enough. As Chaos’ army regrouped, the entlets grew.

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