blog description

Old women talk about old things: history, myth, magic and their
checkered pasts, about what changes and what does not.

Saturday, September 28, 2013


WART, by the little yew tree, enjoying a peanut

My husband, Chris, has never been fond of squirrels. They got into the attic of a long-ago house and had to be forcibly evicted. They dug up bulbs that I'd spent "his" money on; they bit the lovely heads off the few tulips that managed to escape notice of those earlier marauders. They attacked the bird feeders and gobbled sunflower seeds as if we'd cornered the market and had an inexhaustible supply. I've tried hot pepper spray and even predator urine, but our squirrels remain undeterred, perhaps because the yard has some truly hospitable broken-down fifty foot maple trees which make perfect nesting sites. Occasionally, Chris plugged the bolder "tree rats", but we live in a suburbanizing area, and outright, All-American murder is no longer an option.

Strange things happen to people as they age, and thereby hangs the tale. An odd looking squirrel with a sparse, chewed-on tail and a lump on his/her face began to accost him when he went out, running around his feet and then pausing and holding up clever bony hands, pleading like a beggar. We had some shell peanuts left from winter, so he went back into the house and fetched them out. The squirrel was pleased and scampered off to enjoy his hand-out. Further, the little rodent was smart, because the very next day there he was again, begging for more peanuts.  He also seemed to be able to avoid the attention of Bob, whose stray cat years had taught him that squirrel--especially the
B-r-a-i-n-sssss--could be mighty good eats.

I hadn't been paying too much attention to all this until one day a fresh bag of shell peanuts appeared in the back room after he'd made a solo trip to the grocery store.

"Who did you buy those for?" I asked, because neither of us, in our decaying state, can eat many.

"Well--uh--they're for Wart."


"Yes. The beggar squirrel."

"You've named it?"

"Yeah. 'Wart' because of his face."

Every day now, Wart holds us up for tribute, extending his bony little hands, and risking death-by-Bob as he, apparently heedless, crosses the patio right under the cat's nose. We've also acquired another squirrel (maybe more than one; it's tough to tell squirrels apart) who are all referred to by the blanket name of "Not Wart." This isn't the best name, in the grand scheme of things, however, because sometimes you find yourself saying things like "That was not Not Wart."

Anyhow, age has taken it's toll. I guess our definition of "family" has extended to include even the "tree rats."


Juliet Waldron

My historical novels

Saturday, September 21, 2013

By the Light of the Silvery Moon

On June 23rd of 2013, what has now come to be known as a Supermoon shed a path of light across the ocean to Rehoboth Beach. I stood in the warm sand and gazed at the largeness and brightness of the full moon in perigee – its closest distance from the Earth for the year. Groups of people lined the beach, and the majority of the people faced the moon. The murmur of voices reminded me of the happy sounds at a fireworks show. Many people knew it was a Supermoon, I heard them telling each other on their way out to the shoreline. Many didn’t know what it meant, but it was a cultural phenomenon that evening. And I loved it. The softer light reflected from our superstar had drawn the people into Her spotlight for that moment. 
This is how the Moon has started to speak to me. She is a force for good in our universe. Some would say she is as powerful as the Sun. She provides motion and stability to the Earth. Her tides may have helped life to begin.
The activities of mankind are still marked by the Moon’s months and aspects. Many religions, including Christianity, rely on the timing of the moon for festivals and Holy days. And this attention to her presence in our lives is growing. 
Perhaps it is the result of our concern for Earth’s ecology that is making us more sensitive to the elemental forces in our lives. Maybe our trips there have turned the Moon into another distant country. Or the speed and intensity of a modern, digital world have awakened a longing for more tranquil and soothing moments in our lives. An increased awareness of our need for the Divine Feminine is turning us to Luna – the Goddess of the skies. Whatever the reason, I see this new focus as a desire to be nurtured – this willingness to smile at the Moon.
When I went home that evening, I opened all the blinds and bathed by moonlight. I slept in her silver rays all night. I wanted to soak up that soft brilliance and follow Her dreams into eternity, to live by the light of the Moon. I wanted to hear the stories of her beneficence, and let the Moon Goddess sing for me that night.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Mrs. Owl Is Not The Only One With This Problem

We women of a certain age, often have these conversations with Significant Others:    
~~~~Upon arising from bed this a.m. (I had been up for hours), my husband treated me to this  conversation which, in its own way, is pretty funny.
        Him:    Why are you up so early?  (As he staggers towards the bathroom)
        Me:      The cat tried to eat my head.  Why are YOU up?
        Him:    (stopping in mid wobble)  Because I have to pee.
        Me:    Why didn’t you just go in my bathroom (which is right off the bedroom, and requires no more than about 3 steps)?
        Him:    I just like to do things differently every day.  (as he continues his stagger)
        Me:    (Sotto voce)  You’re weird.
        Him:    What? (from behind closed bathroom door)
        Me:    Nothing.
        Him:    You said I’m weird.
        Me:    (triple forte)  Why can you hear that and not hear anything I scream at you????
        Him:    What?
                                                *        *        *
~~~~~~~~~~~~~Contributed by Anonymous, who, as we all know only too well, was a woman.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Whales, Puffins, and Reindeer

Recently I visited a beautiful country that had previously only been a dream in my mind--Iceland. The land and its people are both magical and mystical. I almost wish I could think of a plot with an Icelandic setting in order to have plenty of excuses to return for research trips. Alas, such is life, I think my writing, at least for now, is well grounded in US history.

Among my visits to the magnificent waterfalls, cinder cones, and glaciers, I had hoped to see a whale, some puffins, and reindeer. After two three-hour tours aboard a boat searching for whales, the only life sighted, besides other tourists looking for the same, were sea birds riding the waves, puffins that resembled black blobs on a rock, and a ghostly view of a harbor porpoise. Overall, the whale tours were a disappointment.

Upon my arrival in the town of Akureyri, the hotel clerk pointed to a picture behind his desk. The fluke of a humpback whale had been photographed in the bay across from the hotel just the evening before. Unfortunately, the whale failed to return during the two nights I stayed there, and I never fulfilled my wish of seeing a whale. At that point, I didn't really count the puffin sighting either.

During the following couple of days, I saw a number of signs for reindeer crossings. Reindeer were brought to Iceland in the 18th century. The first two herds failed to survive the winter. The third herd was brought to the country in the mid-19th century and thrived. In present day, they live mostly in the highlands during summer. After my whale experience, I truly never expected to see any reindeer, but at one point, a bunch of cars were stopped on the road itself (there were no pull offs) with people taking photographs. Sure enough, a whole herd wandered in the distance. Although they weren't right next to the road, they were close enough to observe. On another day, I spotted two more reindeer, but they paled in comparison to watching the herd.

My goal remained of finding some puffins that looked like birds rather than blobs on a rock. Iceland has one of the largest populations of puffins, and over half of the Atlantic puffins breed there. I had timed my arrival in mid-August, and with every passing day, my chances of seeing them grew dimmer because that time of the year is when puffins migrate out to sea. On the sixth day of my visit, gorgeous sunshine greeted me, but during the afternoon the skies grew stormy over the glaciers and at sea. Late in the day, I risked traveling to the cliffs of Dyrhólaey where puffins are known to congregate. The weather had begun moving inland, and the unpaved road was horrendous. At the end of the road, I was rewarded. Puffins were everywhere--on the cliffs and even nearby rocks where footpaths went. It was a photographer's paradise. The following morning the weather was once again clear and sunshiny. Hoping to view the puffins in such glorious weather, I returned to the cliff. Not a single bird was in sight. They had all flown to sea.

Even though the whale remained elusive, I was pleased. After all, two out of three goals isn't bad.

Kim Murphy