blog description

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

Saturday, March 29, 2014


Grandparents used to look like this:

Does this make you think of Turner Classic Movies? Look at this substantial couple dressed in equally substantial woolen coats and hats, perhaps on their way to Sunday service. Hats are a fashion statement that is mostly the province of rock singers these days, but back in the mid-forties, when this picture was taken, hats were something no respectable person went out in public without.

Here's the generation before theirs. This picture was also taken in the 1940's, in a summery backyard. The subjects are still looking hale and hearty, despite being in their late eighties. Do you detect a slightly different air here, a difference in style? I think so.

As in period movies, the woman's hair style, in this case all those sculptured curls carefully contained in a net, tell us something about the days of her youth. In this case, it harks back to the 'twenties. Again, admire their clothes, especially the gentleman's three-piece suit and watch fob and the lady's lovely bouquet and necklace! I believe that the couple pictured here lived into their late nineties, something which was far less common than it is today.

BTW, the subjects here are all New Englanders, but all four of them know how to smile. They appear to be studying the picture taker with genuine fondness. Many years of life experience shines from their eyes.

We're far less formal today, and take pictures constantly, so we don't tend to dress up for them. These grandparents are with their "baby" boy at his workplace. They too are smiling at the person taking the picture, who, I happen to know, is their granddaughter. Frankly, I don't see a lot of difference in bodies or faces or hair color here. We're just grandparents--and not the celebrity kind. We're wearing a lot of bulky clothes on this occasion because it's darn cold. We live farther apart and must conduct our family visits mostly via the internet and cell phone. Otherwise, the bodies are old and the faces are old and the hair is either or white or non-existent. Nothing much has changed.

~~Juliet Waldron
All my novels at

Friday, March 21, 2014

Crone Henge: B0B v. POLAR VORTEX

Crone Henge: B0B v. POLAR VORTEX:   We’re all complaining about the Polar Vortex, and how, like a rock star’s floppy forelock or a too large hat, it’s been slipping d...



We’re all complaining about the Polar Vortex, and how, like a rock star’s floppy forelock or a too large hat, it’s been slipping downward over the northeast US and Ontario, instead of wrapping those icy arms around the usual “Honeys” (as in “Honey, I’m home!”) --places like Baffin Island, Churchill and Barrow.  Certain infamous Bloviators have been saying that the PV doesn’t exist, that “elitists” made it up, but I have it on good authority from my favorite Penn State Meteorology Prof., Fred Gadomski, that this “vortex” has been around since our planet first had weather systems. 

Bob, like the rest of us, isn’t getting any younger. As a kitty boy from the ‘hood who arrived one day and asked if he could come live at our house, he started as a tough customer. The squirrel tails I found scattered around the property were all that remained of the cheeky tree rats who tried to tease him. I’ve pictures of him as 'Zombie Bob', beginning at the squirrel’s head and munching his way straight down to the tail. What a tough guy!

However, this year’s long snowy cold winter has really been working his one good nerve. He’s unbelievably sick of it now, as we creep into March. He’s been known to stand on the threshold, stare up at whoever the current on-duty-doorman is, and deliver a loud-as-a-shout kitty stink eye.

“WTF?! More snow?”

The other night around 9 PM the temperature had dropped to 21 degrees with clear skies, which let me know that worse was yet to come. I called for Bob, but he didn’t show. As I’m up and around every 2-3 hours every night, I didn’t worry, just headed off to bed. No sooner than I’d switched off the light, though, than I heard him yelling below my bedroom window.


Obediently, I went downstairs and opened the door. A few seconds later, Bob shot through it. He didn’t look up or wait for a pat and he was carrying his head low. Right away—because I’ve had this game played on me before—I came after him. Sure enough, he had a mouse. As soon as I reached down, he dropped it on the floor where it landed on it’s feet and sat there, scrunched tight, beady eyes blank with fear.

Now it was my turn to speak.
“Oh, dammit, Bobby!” 

Bob sat, looked at up me, and then back at the mouse in a leisurely, disinterested fashion. The mouse, hitherto a still life, suddenly scuttled beneath the bulk of the assemblage we shall call for ease of description an “entertainment center”.   Beneath this mass of cables, stacks of old  LP records, and precariously balanced electronics, it was--at least temporarily--safe.  Bob yawned and headed off to the kitchen to check out the food bowl. 

As I stood there, bubbling over with cat-related annoyance, I realized that Bob had just solved his Polar Vortex problem. If it’s too cold, snowy, and generally uncomfortable to hunt out-of-doors, why not bring the mouse inside and then hunt it later in the comfort of your own warm living room? 

I’m beginning to think that this cat is a lot smarter than the infamous Bloviator. As it’s impossible/irrational to imagine you can jawbone away an inconvenient truth, you'd do better to figure out a way to deal with it.


 ~~Juliet Waldron
Historical Novels with Passion and Grit


Friday, March 14, 2014

Crone Pathway

In the last twenty years or so the symbolism and healing experience of walking the labyrinth have returned to public attention. Used for stress reduction these pathways for walking meditation are being used in locations as diverse as churches, hospitals, prisons, retreat centers and community parks.
Traces of these convoluted paths have been found around the world in many divergent cultures from as early as 2500 to 2000 B.C.E... Historically they appear to have been used as an alternative to a spiritual pilgrimage, places to pace out prayers for healing and mercy, walking to reach a state of calm, clarity and inner balance.
Walking meditation is especially appealing to those who struggle with sitting still. Once you set your feet upon the path you let the steps lead your body along the way while your mind and spirit are free to contemplate deeper questions. .. or.. perhaps ..practice mindfulness in motion by focusing only on the present moment and savoring the rich sounds, smells, sight of grass, rock and sky…
I didn't really understand the labyrinth until I had walked the turning twisting pathway; circling round the goal of the center, confronting the challenge where the path swings back in the opposite direction. Theoretically I knew that the labyrinth way is different from a maze in that there are no dead ends, no chances of getting lost. There is one entrance, one path, one center… but many twists and turns.
So my first experience was not quite as enchanting as I had expected. When the path turned me back around from clear forward progress my logical mind protested. I wanted the straight route to where I was heading. Going another direction was not an appealing option. I persevered…..

I walk. I turn. I turn again. The desired end within sight of eyes, sighs of heart. The path circles back around, taking stubborn feet in the opposite direction. I question my progress/ feel ineffective. I keep walking/ pulling my attention back to the step just ahead. Finally with a prayer of relief I enter the center… calm.
 Will I ever learn to trust the process?

Friday, March 7, 2014

Researching Crows

I'm sure some of you are asking, "Why would anyone go to the bother of researching crows?" Two years ago, I blogged about researching dogs. Despite being a dog lover, I won't force them into a story if they don't fit. It just so happens that I had a couple of plots where dogs did fit into my stories. Not only that, but I was able to use my own breed, the Belgian sheepdog, in my Civil War ghost story Whispers from the Grave and the sequel Whispers Through Time. In my more recent work, The Dreaming: Walks Through Mist, a greyhound was my cunning woman's familiar spirit. That's also why I began researching crows. In the upcoming sequel to the dreaming series, Wind Talker, a crow is a recurring spirit animal.

Originally, I had chosen a crow because in many Native American cultures, the bird is a shape shifter. A shape shifter is a master of illusion, transforms themselves, and can travel many realms, including passing between the physical and spiritual worlds. The theme fit nicely with my original plot. In Wind Talker, the crow spirit took on much greater depth, so I began researching what the birds are really like.

Crows are highly intelligent and tend to live in family groups. They mate for life. What's more, they have a language. The most familiar sound is a "caw," but they can imitate other species, including humans. They make a variety of vocalizations, of which very few have been deciphered. Some observers also say that crows have a culture because the birds seem to be able learn new information through observation or instruction, then share the information with other members of their species.

They have been known to protect humans who feed them by dive-bombing the threat in the same manner as people often see crows harassing hawks, which are a danger to them. Crows have also been observed holding funerals. They'll surround the dead bird, sometimes in great numbers, and give piercing cries over it. Usually a silence grips the group before they start cawing again. They often spend hours with the dead one before flying off. I've never witnessed a funeral myself, but a close friend of mine has. She didn't know what was happening at the time and was truly amazed.

Because of my interest in crows, I started feeding my local flock. Being omnivores, they eat just about anything. The only things I've really seen them turn their beaks up at are leafy greens, tomatoes, and carrots. When I feed, they'll often come swooping in, sometimes within a couple of feet, and if I leave for a week on vacation, they'll shriek to me a welcome home. Then again, maybe they're saying, "It's about time you got back. Now feed me!" At other times, they'll make clicking or rattling sounds at me. I know they're talking. I only wish I knew what they are saying.

Kim Murphy

Sunday, March 2, 2014

March Birthday Crones ~ March 14 ~ Marguerite de Angeli (1889-1987), children's writer and illustrator

After talking myself in and out of what I was or wasn't going to post this week, I was going to take the easy way out and post a link back to the Birthday Crones list for March. Then I realized that Marguerite de Angeli is on the list for March 14. She's right up there with Laura Ingalls Wilder and Frances Hodgson Burnett as the key writers who shaped my childhood and my love of reading and writing. The Door in the Wall and The Secret Garden were the two big chapter books I first read on my own. 

I was just going to post illustrations from her books (not only are they beautiful but look so springlike while I'm watching the rain or is it sleet starting the latest major storm today) but then thought I should share something about her life and just how important she is in children's literature. 

I'm quoting from Wikipedia now:

Marguerite de Angeli (March 14, 1889 – June 16, 1987) was an American writer and illustrator of children's books including the 1950 Newbery Award winning book The Door in the Wall. She wrote and illustrated twenty-eight of her own books, and illustrated more than three dozen books and numerous magazine stories and articles for other authors.

She was born Marguerite Lofft in Lapeer, Michigan, one of six children. Her father, George Shadrach Lofft, was a photographer and illustrator; her mother was Ruby Adele Tuttle Lofft. In 1902 her family moved to West Philadelphia, where she spent her most formative years. Marguerite entered high school in 1904, but a year later at age fifteen began to sing professionally as contralto in a Presbyterian choir for $1 a week. She soon withdrew from high school for more musical training.

In 1908 she met John Dailey de Angeli, a violinist, known as Dai. They were married in Toronto on 1910 April 12. The first of their six children, John Shadrach de Angeli, was born one year later. After living in many locations in the American and Canadian West, they settled in the Philadelphia suburb of Collingswood, New Jersey.[1] There in 1921 Marguerite started to study drawing under her mentor Maurice Bower. In 1922 Marguerite began illustrating a Sunday School paper and was soon doing illustrations for magazines such as The Country Gentleman, Ladies' Home Journal, and The American Girl, besides illustrating books for authors including Helen Ferris, Elsie Singmaster, Cornelia Meigs, and Dorothy Canfield Fisher. Her last child, Maurice Bower de Angeli, was born in 1928, seven years before the 1935 publication of her first book, Ted and Nina Go to the Grocery Store. The de Angeli family moved frequently, returning to Pennsylvania and living north of Philadelphia in Jenkintown, west of Philadelphia in the Manoa neighborhood of Havertown, on Carpenter Lane in Germantown, Philadelphia, on Panama Street [2] in Center City, Philadelphia, in an apartment near the Philadelphia Art Museum, and in a cottage in Green Lane, Pennsylvania. They also maintained a summer cabin in Tom's River, New Jersey. Marguerite's husband died in 1969 only eight months before their 60th wedding anniversary.

In 1971, two years after her husband died, she published her autobiography, Butter at the Old Price. Her last work, Friendship and Other Poems, was published in 1981 when she was 92 years old. She died at the age of 98 on June 16, 1987 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She was survived by her 3 of her 4 sons, Arthur, Harry and Maurice; daughter, Nina Kuhn; 13 grandchildren, and 16 great-grandchildren.

Her 1946 story Bright April was the first children’s book to address the divisive issue of racial prejudice. She was twice named a Caldecott Honor Book illustrator, first in 1945 for Yonie Wondernose and again in 1955 for Book of Nursery and Mother Goose Rhymes. She received a 1950 Newbery Medal, for The Door in the Wall, which also won the Lewis Carroll Shelf Award in 1961, a 1957 Newbery Honor mention for Black Fox of Lorne, a 1961 Lewis Carroll Shelf Award, and the 1968 Regina Medal.

Marguerite de Angeli's work explored and depicted the traditions and rich cultural diversity of common people more frequently overlooked – a semi-autobiographical Great Depression family, African American children experiencing the sting of racial prejudice, Polish mine workers aspiring to life beyond the Pennsylvania coal mines, the physically handicapped, colonial Mennonites, the Amish, nineteenth-century Quakers supporting the underground railroad, immigrants, and other traditional or ethnic peoples. De Angeli's books carry an underlying message that we are really all the same, and that all of us deserve tolerance, care, consideration, and respect.