I recently saw another post by a friend who said that she really hated it when people just stopped blogging without any explanation and I realize that I’ve been guilty of that. I haven’t blogged in a long time for a variety of reasons, but I’m now officially closing this site. I may resume blogging in some form or other and if so, I will do it at daphnepurpus.com. Part of my problem was that I had way too many blogs to maintain, and so if I begin again it will be with just one blog. Thank you for following me and I’m sorry for just disappearing, so to speak.
Missed the beginning? Start here.
“Wow,” said Sabrina as she looked around Juniper’s home. “This is absolutely amazing!”
“Do you really like it?” asked Juniper.
“Truly!” said Sabrina. “I’d never thought about a cave as being warm and inviting, but that’s just what this is. I love all the wall hangings. They are just beautiful. And the bright green cushions are so comfy.”
Earthstone said, “I’m glad you like our home. You are welcome to stay for as long as you like.”
“Thank you,” said Sabrina. “I really don’t know where else I could go as I can’t get home again, but I am also very happy to be here and to have found Juniper.”
“Let’s all get comfortable here and then we do have some things to explain to you,” said Alfred. Seeing a look of alarm crossing Sabrina’s face he went on quickly, “It’s nothing bad. Truly. Just some things you need to know so you can make the decisions that are best for you.”
“OK,” said Sabrina a bit hesitantly.
Once they were all comfortable, Alfred began. “Many centuries ago, dragons lived in your world, along with humans and many other life forms. Gradually, as humans grew in numbers and began evolving, many of them lost their connection with other life forms. They began thinking of themselves as the only intelligent life. They took whatever they wanted without any regard for others. Dragons became feared and were hunted nearly to extinction.”
Alfred paused and Sabrina said, “I’m so very sorry.”
“You’ve seen some of the worst examples of this mindset in the village where you helped rescue Roger’s family. Anyway, to continue the story, our ancestors found an opening into an alternate world. All dragons as well as a number of other life forms decided to leave your world and set up homes here in this new world. Over the centuries, the thin curtain between the worlds has remained, although the location is shifted periodically. The dragons control the curtain and we can see those who are approaching the barrier. We then decide whether or not to let someone through into our world.”
“So you saw me in that cave and decided that I could enter your world,” said Sabrina. “I feel really lucky!”
“Yes,” said Earthstone with a smile. “You are certainly someone we would honor and treasure as a part of our community. You have a good and loving heart.”
“Thank you,” said Sabrina.
Alfred went on. “Unfortunately we aren’t always right in our assessments. When the mayor and his group found the curtain, they were a persecuted minority and we wanted to help them. So we allowed the entire group to enter. Thankfully, we made sure they settled on the other side of the river as a precaution. But now we have a real problem on our hands. Let’s leave that for the moment and get back to you.”
“Me,” said Sabrina.
“Yes. You should know that through the centuries we have had other travelers who came and spent time with us for a variety of reasons. Some stayed with us, but others chose to go back to their world and try to fix some of the problems that exist there.”
“You mean I could go back,” said Sabrina.
“Yes, and the choice will be yours. If you return to your world, then you will have to keep our secret. But you will be able to visit us in your dreams and we will always be here to support you. In addition, if you are fortunate, you may just meet some kindred spirits who have also visited here.”
“Wow,” said Sabrina. “My head is spinning. I never dreamed about all this. Do I have to decide right away?”
Earthstone laughed and said, “No, you can make the decision anytime within the next few weeks. If you wait much longer, then we won’t be able to send you back, and the choice will be made for you.”
“I see,” said Sabrina thoughtfully. “And if I go back, what will I say about where I’ve been?”
“We have the ability to send you back to the very moment you left your backyard, so no one need know anything except that you were going for a walk,” said Alfred.
He paused and then said, “I know this is a lot to process and it is a big decision. Why don’t you live with us for a couple weeks. Go to school with Juniper and meet others, humans, dragons, gryphons, everyone in our community. Get to know us and let us get to know you. Then, I’m sure you will be able to make the choice that will work best for you, knowing that we will support whatever decision you make.”
Sabrina sighed and looked at Juniper. “Well, at least we will have two weeks to be together whatever I decide.”
Juniper nodded and said, “I really want to have you meet those bullies!”
Earthstone said, “Yes, Juniper. We’ve talked with the teachers and the students and tried to impress on them all that just because you have a bent wing doesn’t mean that you don’t have a true dragon nature. But you will be able to show them much better if you head back to school with the confidence you have gained and the knowledge that you saved lives.”
“Yeah,” said Juniper. “That’s right isn’t it!”
“And I want to see what happens to the mayor,” said Sabrina.
“OK, that’s enough discussion for now,” said Earthstone. “You girls get settled and then we’ll have dinner. Tomorrow is a school day so you need to get to bed at a reasonable time.”
“I guess,” said Juniper with a sigh. “But first, let me show you my things and where you can sleep.”
With that, the two friends raced out of the room.
I was at the end of my rope. My neighbors were harassing me because they didn’t like my purple house. They had strung burlap eight feet tall right along the property line which meant it was inches from my home, blocking all my first floor windows. I suspect that the builders of these houses in the early 1900’s didn’t envision that when they put the houses on the property line. My neighbor’s house was four stories tall, and they delighted in spying on me in my tiny back yard from several of their upper story balconies. It felt as if every time I went outside, they would be looking into my yard watching and their watchfulness made me feel extremely uncomfortable. My lot was a half lot and only thirty feet wide. I had become terrified of them and wouldn’t go outside at all if I could avoid it.
One morning I woke up and decided that I had to move. I searched the internet for a suitable secluded spot near enough to Seattle for me to finish my current commitments, and I discovered a beautiful small rural island community a short ferry ride west of Seattle. I looked up all the information I could find on Vashon and it seemed to be just what I was looking for. The community was liberal with lots of artists working in many different media. The gay population was the largest anywhere in the Seattle area. There were still farms and horse ranches as well as lots of chickens, and the educational level was higher than average.
I called Scooter, my realtor, and told him I was moving again. This was the second time in four years that I had been pressured to move by intolerant neighbors. Scooter had helped me before and he was certainly willing to help again. He said he would pick me up the following day so we could go to Vashon to look at what was currently on the market.
I was very clear about my requirements. I needed a single level home with no stairs. I was recovering from yet another foot surgery and was in fact still on crutches. I needed absolute privacy as well as a fully fenced yard for my three dogs. And I wanted a house of about 1300 sq. ft., enough for me and my fur friends, but not more than I could manage.
It was a beautiful day and the ferry ride was wonderful. While I was worried about finding a house, I was still able to enjoy the fifteen minute ride and I delighted in seeing Mt. Rainer from the water. As we approached the dock on the north end of the island, I was thrilled to see that the island was heavily wooded with very few visible homes. This seemed to offer the privacy and solitude I was seeking. As we drove off the ferry, I noticed that there was just one road which was two lanes wide with lots of twists and turns. After about seven miles we came into the town, which was only about two blocks long. There were no traffic signals, but just a few four-way stop signs. I learned later that there were just four such intersections. There were no chain stores but a rather individual locally owned shops as well as a small movie theatre. We were out of town almost before I realized it. Today was not the day to explore as I had an agenda—I had to find a home. As we drove further along the highway toward the south end, I felt myself relaxing on this truly rural, wooded island which is just 14 miles long. I was sure I could make a home here if I could just find something suitable.
There were only seven homes for sale which said they met my criteria. But people must have very different ideas about what single level and private mean. Several houses had a single level main area, but the garage would be on a lower level or the bedroom would be in a loft. Houses would call themselves private even though the neighbor’s living room was totally visible right across the street.
I was definitely discouraged. When I make a decision I want to carry it out immediately. Finally we were down to the last house. It was close to town and situated on two-thirds of an acre. The fence along the north side was a solid eight foot wooden fence. The south side had a similar fence for about half of the length, where it was joined by an ugly four foot wire fence, but the yard was in fact fully fenced so my dogs could run outside safely. I could always replace the wire fence with wood after I moved in. The neighbors’ houses were distant and had no windows overlooking my property. The smell of the surrounding fir trees made me feel so peaceful.
The house itself was totally white, inside and out, and it purported to be a three bedroom house even though the master bedroom was only accessible by walking through another very small bedroom. However, I didn’t care. I only needed one bedroom and the other two much smaller rooms could be used as a den and a library. It had what I required. There was total privacy, lots of trees, and a one-story,1300 square-foot home that could certainly be painted.
I told Scooter that I wanted to have him contact the listing agent. He tried to encourage me to wait as this was the first day I’d even seen Vashon, but at my insistence he called the listing realtor while we sat in the ferry line to go back to Seattle. She let him know that there already was an offer on the house which hadn’t yet been presented because the sellers had been out of town. She was going to present it at 2:00. Scooter looked at me and when I nodded, he told her he would be faxing her a second offer as soon as we were back in Seattle. We had just over an hour to get it to her in time, but thankfully, since Scooter had been my agent when I’d bought my current home, I knew the forms and I trusted him, so we printed forms, had me sign them, and then faxed them off. Both offers were presented and mine was accepted, as I was sure it would be since I didn’t ask for anything except a home inspection and I said I would close in three weeks. I had bought my new home on the day I first set foot on Vashon.
Sure enough, three weeks later, my fur friends and I were moving into our new home. People said I was crazy to move somewhere without checking it out more, but I was desperate. I need to get out of my current situation. It did turn out that my sellers had lied through their teeth and there were major problems with both mold and the roof which my home inspector hadn’t caught. However, I was able to fix those and in fact totally remodel the interior so it is now a two room home with lots of color both inside and out. I built my fences right away and painted my home purple, of course.
I can honestly say now, after living on Vashon for seven years, that it was the best move I ever made and I have no intentions of ever moving again.
Julia sat at her desk staring out her living room picture window but not really seeing anything. She was worried about a couple of her high school math students who seemed to be drifting without focus.
Suddenly, movement in the yard caught her eye and she focused on a group of black-capped chickadees. Some were frolicking in the bird bath. Others were picking up twigs and flying off to a nearby spruce. Julia figured they were building a nest, and she watched carefully as they flew back and forth, carefully selecting twigs that met their exacting standards.
Then she noticed a pair who just seemed to be wandering aimlessly. Unlike the bathers, they weren’t playing or enjoying the water (although how the bathers could enjoy the birdbath when the outside temperature was barely forty degrees, Julia couldn’t imagine.) They also weren’t building nests for spring babies. They seemed to be moving with no purpose at all, not even hunting for food.
Julia couldn’t help but wonder what was going on in their heads. Then she realized that these three groups were rather like her high school students. The first group was out to have fun, and she certainly had students like that. They partied every weekend, pulled harmless pranks at school, and generally seemed to enjoy themselves. They weren’t at the top of the class, but they were managing to do enough work to pass their courses. Julia had always assumed that there were parents in the background who would only allow the social activities if some work was accomplished.
And then there were those who were really serious about their school work, just as the nest builders were. These students studied hard, turning in all homework and doing their best in every classes. Some were at the top academically, but others just managed to pass, but each was focused and determined.
But then there were the two students who seemed to be merely drifting. Julia worried about them as they weren’t having fun but they also weren’t studying. Some days they were in school but other days not. They were always polite and one of them especially always said he’d done his work but forgot it or the computer was broken or whatever excuse he thought might be acceptable. Julia was afraid that both of them were smoking pot, spending their days in a hazy blur.
Julia’s attention was drawn back to the birds. The two whom she had thought were wandering aimlessly had suddenly started grabbing sticks before heading out to another conifer. Now they too were involved in building a nest. As Julia continued to watch out her window, she was amused by all the chickadee antics, but she was especially interested in the two new nest builders. Maybe the students she was worrying over were just waiting and one day they too would gain focus and purpose. After all, even though she had always been one of hard working group, it had taken her several tries to find her own path. With that thought, Julia turned back to the papers she was marking.
Alice walked quickly across the school courtyard and sat down at the same table where she had lunched for nearly four years. It was a beautiful day in the first week of June. Trees were blossoming and it felt good to be done with her last set of finals. She looked across the courtyard for her friends, Nancy and Patty. Where are they, she wondered. Usually she was the last to arrive.
After a few minutes she saw the two blond-haired girls approaching and Nancy was carrying a brightly wrapped package. As they reached the table, Nancy handed Alice the package and said, “We just wanted to thank you for all your help in our math and science classes. If you hadn’t tutored us through the lunch hour for the past four years, we never would have passed any of them. Thank you so much.”
Patty nodded and said, “Yes, thank you. You saved our grade points!”
Alice looked at the package in her hands and frowned in puzzlement. “But we are friends. I was only doing what any friend would do. You didn’t have to get me anything. I was happy I could help. I know you would have done the same for me.”
Nancy looked at Patty and then shuffled her feet, turning a bit red. Both girls looked at the ground and then Nancy said, “Well, we wanted to get you something. Thanks so much and good luck in college.”
Then Nancy and Patty quickly turned and walked away. When they reached the middle of the courtyard Alice could hear Patty say, “Friends? Did she really think we were friends?” and both girls started to laugh. Then Nancy said, “No, she really couldn’t be that clueless,” and they went to sit at another table filled with seniors.
Alice quickly stuffed the package into her school bag and then bent her head to look at her lunch, pretending she was eating, as her tears fell onto her sandwich.
Sarah ran out of school as fast has she could, tears forming in her eyes, her long brown hair streaming behind her, and headed for the woods behind the high school. She’d had it. Every day someone taunted her. Sometimes they teased her because she brought her own lunch or because she wore hand-me-down clothes. Her mom, a cashier at the local market, did her best to keep a family with four kids intact but they had very little money. Sometimes Sarah was teased because she was a horrible athlete, making gym class a particular nightmare. Sarah would admit that she was clumsy and she couldn’t throw a ball or run fast, but that was true of others as well. Sarah loved to draw and paint, but her work was ridiculed. Why was it always Sarah who was picked on? Sarah reached the center of the woods and found a log to sit on as sobs wracked her small body. She couldn’t stay long because her mother needed her at home to look after her three younger brothers, but she needed some time to herself. She didn’t want her mother to know what she had to endure as her mother would just worry more. Suddenly Sarah noticed a small winged creature fluttering next to her. A fairy! Sarah looked more closely and realized that the fairy was talking to her, comforting her. The fairy let her know that she wasn’t alone. The fairy said that Sarah was a gifted artist and one day she would be famous. For now, her fairy would watch over her. Sarah couldn’t believe it at first, but as her tears dried and her breathing relaxed, she realized that now she truly had someone supporting her! She thanked the fairy and headed home.
Everyone in the library looked up as Dorothy, the head librarian, started yelling at Penelope, one of the pages. Her voice got louder and louder as she taunted the page. “You never shelve anything right. You are slow. You don’t keep the shelves in order. You are too stupid and clumsy for this job. It took me an extra five minutes to find this book,” she continued holding up the largest of the reference atlases, “because it was not in the right place.” Dorothy kept walking closer and closer to Penelope, waving the large atlas as she approached. A baby in the children’s section started crying and everyone looked uncomfortable. Penelope silently stared down at her shoes clenching and unclenching her fists. The head library tech, Betty, watched with a satisfied smirk. She believed in bullying people to maintain her own power and she got away with it most of the time because of Dorothy’s example. But not today! Penelope was a favorite with both the patrons and the rest of the staff. They’d seen this happen too often. Without a word, everyone except Dorothy, Betty, and of course poor Penelope, stood up and walked out of the library. It took Dorothy a moment to notice but when she did she yelled at her departing staff, “You get back in here or I’ll fire the lot of you!” They turned and looked at her, some with pity, some with scorn in their eyes, and continued to leave without uttering a word. Dorothy wheeled back on Penelope only to notice Penelope walking to the exit as well. Dorothy was furious. She reached out to grab Penelope, but was too slow and as Penelope walked out the door, loud cheers were heard from staff and patrons alike.
She stood alone at the freshly dug grave. Cold winter winds whipped snow in her face as tears streamed down her cheeks. The memories flooded in. The cry of a newborn after a long labor, the nurse placing him in her arms, how warm and alive. His first day of school, with a fresh hair cut and a brand new Pac-Man backpack. Report cards with comments about unrealized potential. His first guitar which he taught himself to play. All the arguments about applying himself. Yelling turning to silence. The distance between them growing exponentially. Middle school giving way to high school. More arguments about grades and applying himself. Hours spent shut up in his room playing his guitar. Teaching himself to read music. Fantasizing about a recording studio and a band. Calls from the high school. The truant officer, firm but unyielding. More arguments. His screaming that she didn’t understand him. Her screaming that she wanted more for him than she had had. His tears. Her tears. As her body was wracked with sobs, she thought of all his dreams which she had just found too unrealistic, too impractical. She crushed those dreams just as she now crushed the flowers on his grave when she fell to her knees. The memories poured out of her. His first band and his first gig. How proud and excited he was. She went but didn’t understand. The way he’d looked, hurt, crying, lost, tormented when she took away his guitar as punishment for bad grades. The notebooks filled with his songs. All she could see was no homework. And then the final day, when she found him hanging in the garage, his boom box blaring, his own songs on the tape, the songs which finally took flight at his funeral.
It was a hot summer day and Henrietta Hedgehog stood at the side of the road watching cars going by and wondering how she was going to get across to the lake in the woods on the other side. She really wanted to swim, but apparently so did all the humans who were whizzing by in their cars totally oblivious to her need to cross. Henrietta wasn’t even sure they would have stopped for a human pedestrian but they sure as heck weren’t stopping for her. She was afraid that her plans for the day were going to be wrecked. She was supposed to be meeting friends at the lake and she really really wanted to get across the road.
Suddenly, as Henrietta was wondering why she couldn’t run faster, she heard a voice beside her. “Would you like some help,” the voice said. Henrietta looked around and then jumped backwards as she realized that there was a very large mutant slug standing next to her. Was that even possible? Could slugs stand? She’d never seen such a large slug in her life.
“Who are you?” said Henrietta and then realizing that she sounded rather rude and cranky she added, “Yes, I would like help. I really want to get to the other side of this road as I am supposed to be meeting friends at the lake.”
“No problem,” answered the slug. “I am Sylvester, by the way.”
“Oh, sorry, I’m Henrietta,” replied Henrietta. “It is such a hot day and I really want to swim in the lake, but every time I think there is going to be a break in the traffic, another car starts up the hill and honestly, I don’t run very fast.”
“Well, I’ve heard that hedgehogs can roll into a ball to protect themselves,” commented Sylvester. “Is that true?”
“Why yes,” answered Henrietta, “but I can’t move at all when I am curled up.”
“You may have noticed that I am quite large,” Sylvester continued rather sheepishly, “and I can wave my body like a stick. I was thinking that if you were rolled into a ball, I could then give you a big push, rather like a bat hitting a ball, causing you to roll quickly right across the road.”
“What a novel idea,” answered Henrietta. “I’d certainly never have thought of that. Do you really think it will work?”
Sylvester answered, “I don’t see any reason why it wouldn’t. We would just wait for the biggest break in the traffic we could get and give it a try, that is, if you are willing. I know it is a bit risky, but when I fell into the vat in the high school chemistry class I not only got a lot bigger, but also a lot stronger, and I am twice as tall as you are so it should work just fine.”
Henrietta thought and thought. She did want to get to the lake and she did want to spend the afternoon swimming and chatting with her friends, but what an idea, being hit as if she were a ball. But how else was she going to get there? Finally, Henrietta decided. “Ok, you are very kind and I guess it is worth a try. And however it turns out, it was still very nice of you to help an old hedgehog!” Henrietta answered.
Sylvester instructed her about where she should position herself. They were at the top of a short hill and Sylvester thought that if he hit her at an angle, the slope of the hill would help increase her speed. She’d end up on the other side, but a bit downslope from her starting point. Henrietta agreed and curled herself up as tightly as she could on the spot Sylvester had indicated. Sylvester drew himself up to his full height and then swung himself toward Henrietta. He hit her with a resounding thud and then realized a bit too late that in hitting her he had also become stuck to her! The two of them careened across the road at what seemed like a tremendous velocity and in no time at all, they were rolling to a stop in the grass on the other side of the road.
Henrietta unrolled herself carefully and asked, “Are you ok, Sylvester? I hadn’t thought about my spines in all this.”
Sylvester unpeeled himself from Henrietta’s back before answering, “Neither had I, to be honest. Thankfully you aren’t very heavy or you would have crushed me as you rolled! However, it has all worked out splendidly because I too wanted to cross the road but hadn’t figured out how. Now we both are here. I guess you could say we helped each other. Let’s go find that lake now!”
And so Henrietta and Sylvester headed through the woods to the lake, each of them happy to have found a new friend.
NOTE: I am using an iPad app called Inspiro which has very fun writing prompts.
One day a turtle sneezed on a historian. The historian looked up in surprise because she hadn’t even known the turtle was there. Then the turtle apologized, and the historian was even more surprised. “What are you doing here?” asked the historian.
“Oh just wandering around,” replied the turtle. “I like your yard and I thought I’d tell you so.”
“I want to try to create a sanctuary for all things,” said the historian. “In my work I study ancient cultures, but I get tired of seeing the way the same mistakes are made over and over again. People don’t seem to learn and I find that upsetting.”
The turtle agreed. “I know. Humans seem to be focused in all the wrong directions. That is why most of the animal world has given up on them.”
“What do you mean,” asked the historian.
“Well, humans and animals used to be able to communicate telepathically and they knew how to care for each other. But then humans changed and moved into new worlds, developed new ideas, and lost their sense of natural wonder. They lost their sense of joy in the everyday. They turned away from the other animals, forgetting that they themselves are also animals,” replied the turtle.
“But you are different,” continued the turtle, “and so you have been chosen to go on a grand adventure.”
“What do you mean,” said the historian.
“Well, we’ve decided that your efforts deserve to be encouraged. Maybe others will follow your example if they know more,” said the turtle. “Climb on my back and we’ll be off.”
“What,” said the historian.
“Climb on my back,” said the turtle again.
The historian got on the turtle’s back and all of a sudden the turtle started to fly. Things were just really getting weird, thought the historian. Soon they were soaring high over the neighboring mountains, higher and higher. Before long they were soaring around the moon. The turtle was singing a beautiful song, and soon the historian had forgotten how strange this was. She and the turtle were one, and the historian learned through the turtle’s song.
The hours passed in a blur, and all too soon the turtle said that it was time to return to earth. More quickly than the historian would have thought possible, they were back in her study. The historian thanked the turtle for the remarkable experience. That night, as she slept, she dreamt of her flight and how wonderful it had been to feel the connection with the real world, rather than the man-made artificiality that masqueraded as the real world. And as long as she lived she carried that feeling of connection with all of life, sharing it whenever she could. As for the turtle, she made a home in the historian’s pond. They only took that one flight, but that one was enough to change their lives forever.
NOTE: I am using an iPad app called Inspiro which has very fun writing prompts.