The 3 Sisters of the Sky – How Not to Be Afraid of the Dark

I finished the manuscript today for the children’s book.  Daz is hard at work on the illustrations.

If you were a child and you feared the night, would this comfort you?

Would it ease your fears to see the balance of night and day?  For centuries, we have assigned fear and danger to the night. I wanted to create a story about balance, about sisters who must share and perform their tasks.  They are all friendly and positive in their own way. They care for people, animals and each other. They benefit everyone in completing their specific tasks and taking their turns.

Selene

If my perception of night – rife with its histrionic terrors  – could be altered into the character of a young, helpful girl with a magic silver bow, then it would be my favorite bedtime story.  Please enjoy:

The Three Sisters of the Sky.

Celeste, Soleil and Selene, the Three Sisters of the Sky,

The merry daughters of Mother Earth and Father Time

Each sister takes her turn to play day or night

Each sister must do her part and share the sky

Celeste, the eldest sister, is the peace keeper in the balance night and day.  Father Time tells her that it is dawn. Her jackrabbits nibble their grassy breakfast.  Deer gather in the misty forests to watch the morning glories open their deep blue eyes.  It is time to awaken her sister, Soleil. She wakes her sunny little sister, pulling back her pretty cloak of all color stars.  “Up, up, little sister! Dawn is coming. Today will be glorious!”

Soleil, the middle sister, yawns and stretches out her golden rays. She puts on her glorious gown of red, yellow and blazing orange. Soleil calls out to the roosters that it is time to sing. She shines on the farmers who work with Mother Earth.  She strides across bright fields, warming the animals that graze and bask in her shimmering rays. Soleil opens wildflowers so honeybees can drink nectar and make honey. Sunflowers joyfully follow her journey. Songbirds tweet their happy melodies.   “Let’s play!’ she calls to the monkeys who follow her from tree to tree.

Soleil has traveled far today.  Celeste knows her little sister is growing sleepy. The crickets begin singing a sweet lullaby.  Celeste tucks her sunny little sister in under veils of lavender and gold. “To sleep, Soleil. Goodnight, my golden sister. Sweet dreams.”

And now it is Selene’s turn. “Up, up, little sister! Night is coming. All will be well.” Celeste helps her youngest sister dress in indigo and brush her silver-blue hair. Helpful fireflies will keep Selene on her path through the dark. “Don’t forget the dreams.” Says Celeste. Selene picks up her magic silver bowl of dreams. Tonight the dream bowl is full, bright with hope and memory and wildness. Little Selene giggles. Dreams are her favorite part of the night.

Selene strolls quietly through shadowed lands.  Moonflowers and jasmine open their blooms to greet her.  “Come help, my friends.” She whispers to the little bats that fly about eating mosquitos. “Come run and play.” She calls to her foxes who love the night.

Selene sprinkles dreams from her silver bowl over sleeping children.  She lights up the little stars for weary travelers to brighten the path until they are safe at home. She cools and comforts with her soft hands. The owls and wolves sing her wild songs.

The peaceful night is ending. Selene must rest and fill her magic silver bowl with dreams for everyone.  Celeste wraps her glowing little sister in a soft blanket of pinks and blues. The dawn has come again.

Celeste, Soleil and Selene, the Three Sisters of the Sky,

The merry daughters of Mother Earth and Father Time

Each sister takes her turn to play day or night

Each sister must do her part and share the sky.

Practical Magic for Ugly Children

I was raised by my maternal grandparents from ages 2 to 7, and then from 11 to adulthood.  My grandmother’s mother, Gertrude, did not like children. She had had six of them. And now had to put up with her offspring’s offspring’s offspring. It was more of a have-to with me. My grandparents lived close to them and took them to doctor appointments. Gertrude got to visit with me more than she would have liked.

Chet and Gert.JPG

Chet and Gertrude

When I was six, I lost my top right front tooth as normal kids do. However, the tooth that took its place, came in twisted like a corkscrew. Gertrude bestowed the pet name of “Snagglepuss” on me.

Snagglepuss

She was the only one who called me that, but she did it as often as possible. I had the tooth pulled and actually had an extra tooth bud that came in straight. I smiled at her broadly every chance I got, hoping for release from the vile nickname.

Alas, Gertrude was 4’6”.  I was already nearly as tall as she was. And in retrospect, it must have seemed threatening to have a child your own size constantly grin at you like a homicidal monkey.

monkey

As I got a little older, I began to talk more with my great-grandpa, Chet. He was quiet. Never said more than was necessary. I know more of what was said about him that I knew him.  From my grandmother’s stories (his daughter), I knew he had a bad temper. I knew he kicked the shins of people who were rude at dinner with hobnailed boots. I knew he was part “Indun”, or Native American and knew some magic. I knew he was a cutthroat Pinochle player.

Lump

Grandpa Green and me (in my lump state).

It was a beautiful thought for an ugly kid. I came from magical people. Somewhere under this pasty nearsighted, greasy-haired lump, there was a continuation of a magical bloodline. Not a passing on of a cheap card trick or sleight of hand, not some $8 Bill Bixby linked rings nonsense, but real magic. Something that I could like about myself that no one could really see.

bixbybill50magictricks

The summer I was 11, sent back from my feral days in Ohio, I went barefoot every chance I got. My grandparents were supremely overprotective and forced me to wear shoes. With the damp and the heat and the wet socks and closed shoes, I ended up with plantar warts all over my right foot. I hid it at first, embarrassed and scared. But it spread and the toes began to look webbed. The pain of taking a step and desperate willingness to cut my toes off just to stop the infernal itching made me stay in my room.

They found out. My grandfather caught me without my socks. They took me to the doctor. Then to a dermatologist.  Dr. Dickinson prescribed a smelly, burning lotion that smelled bad and burned worse. Then Dr. Dickinson spoke about burning them off or freezing them off.  I’m sure he was a respected doctor, but to me he was a bald barbarian heaping fear and discomfort on an itchy foot wart volcano.

doc evil

And he never spoke to me or looked at me. In fact he was examining my foot and reached up with his gloved hand and separated my hair. He looked at my grandmother and said “I can give you some topical lotion for this oily dandruff.”  He then scheduled an appointment with them for a month later to either have my foot burnt or frozen.

I spent the next week crying. The idea that the oily, dandruffy, lumpy girl was now also going to be the limping, half-footed, clumsy girl too was crushing me. The burning and itching had not subsided. My foot seemed alien. Did I even care about it being burnt or frozen? Was it part of me still?

Enter magic. During a Pinochle game, the situation of my foot had come up in conversation. And my great-grandfather, supreme car shark and “Indun” had a trick up his sleeve.

He told me to take off my shoes and walk to the back of the yard with him. He told me to follow directions.  And he told everyone else that it was none of their business.  So I did.

When we got to the lot line, we sat down on the grass.  He took my foot and held it and looked at it. He took a large, dry navy bean out of his shirt pocket.  He considered it. I didn’t know that old people carried dry beans in their pockets. So I also considered it.

bean

He looked up and the sky and then at my foot. He rubbed the dry navy bean over the warts, humming a bit. I watched him, thinking that I was never going to eat navy beans again. Thinking that this was too simple to be magic and too weird to be anything else.

When he was done, we stood up.  He handed me the bean.

“Throw this over your shoulder and don’t look back to see where it falls.”

So I did.

The pain was gone.

Within three days, my foot was clear.  And magic was real to me.

I have never had a wart since. I have never eaten a navy bean in my life.

My great-grandfather, the magic “Indun” died at 93. In the years between, I was his friend and lucky Pinochle partner. He came to Thanksgiving a couple times. Gertrude passed before him and he married a lady 30 years younger than him about 6 months before he died. They traveled a lot. She took him to see the world beyond the Midwest. I was happy for him.

Chet and Ruby.JPG

Chet dancing at 93 with his new wife Ruby.

A tiny bit of belief, the smallest bit of magic can heal anyone. Everyone has a spark of divine within them, even old people, even ugly children. Don’t let it be lost to the mediocrity of every day. Allow it to be part of you, fight to keep it. Use it to do good.

What The World Needs Now

So I had this song tickling the back of my brain..

In lieu of a complicated, wordy blog this week, I will simply present this video. It was made in 2 days. The artwork is my son’s – the awesome Connor McManis. He illustrated my story about Cougar: Fur Family. The voice is mine – such as it is. I’m literally sitting in the hot car with windows rolled up, singing into my iphone, downing herbal tea and ignoring my ear infection. Daz, my lovely artist boyfriend and skilled video editor, put it together for me. The words belong to the immortal Burt Bachrach – who is a master at finding perfect little niches in the human heart and celebrating them in song.

The world is full and busy and ugly sometimes.  I needed to do something quiet. And honest. And decidedly raw and from the heart. So from all of us here in our little house full of love and music and art, we send love. For everyone.

 

Pre-Writing: The Three Sisters of the Sky

Decades ago, I crossed paths with three sisters. Each unique and full of courage and the kind of beauty that springs from deep connection and authenticity. One of them became my son’s godmother. And athough we do not see her often, I chose wisely.  They remind me that every woman is part of a web and yet we spin our own stories. We all move through tides of loss and glory and joy. I am grateful for my freinds, my siSTARS.

I began work last week on a children’s book. In all the conflict of late between science and religion, I choose mythos. Mythos is the perfect dance between the two. Mythos finds that place within us that connects us to our own story and our own explanations for things.  In this case, it is as easy as night and day.

Daz (the perfect artist for this) has been giving the following description:

The Three Sisters of the Sky.

Celeste, Selene and Soleil

Celeste, the vigilant the keeper of the balance of night and day.  She keeps the peace between her two sisters Selene – the moon and Soleil – the sun.

Celeste is the oldest of the sisters.  She dresses in multicolor stars and black cloaks, misty grey veils, colors of twilight and dawn.  She is about beginnings and endings.  She wakes her sisters and pulls back the veil of stars between dark and light. The morning glory and jackrabbits are her friends. Fireflies are her messengers. Night is coming. All will be well.  Dawn is coming. Today will be glorious.

Soleil is the middle sister, she dresses is reds, oranges, yellows, blazing colors and gold. She visits the farmers to grow crops, she shines she shimmers. She waves to animals who bask. She warms. She strides across the bright fields. Sunflowers always turn their faces toward her. Coyote, Songbirds and deer are her familiars.

The youngest sister is Selene – she dresses is blues and indigos and silver. She visits the children to bring dreams.  She glows and gleams and her hair is silver-blue beams. She follows travelers to brighten their path. She cools and comforts.  She strolls silent through shadowed lands. The moonflower and jasmine bloom to greet her. Her friends are bats and foxes.