The Tumbleweed Fairy

Palo Duro Canyon

Thorn looked up at the endless cerulean sky and thought how much she would miss her canyon.  Palo Duro Canyon is the largest in Texas, close to the city of Amarillo and Thorn was a Tumbleweed fairy.  To her parents surprise and delight, Thorn was heading off to the Austin School of Fairies, the first in her family to do so.  Tumbleweed fairies are an anathema to the rest of the fairy world.  Their unique thorny wings and muted coloring are curious in a world of fairy beauty.  Even more strangely, the male and female of the species look very similar.  Most had names that were gender neutral.  Thorn’s siblings were Spiral, Tangle and Rustle – two were female.  Thorn’s hair was a tow headed mop of curls and her lovely round cornflower blue eyes sparkled in her cute little freckled face.  All Tumbleweed fairies have rounded light brown wings embellished with thorns – the perfect disguise in a canyon full of tumbleweeds.

Tumbleweeds are caricatured by humans and faerie folk and Thorn felt quite defensive about the merits of her fairy species.  In truth, Tumbleweed is a most fascinating plant substance; a ball of the thorny debris of the Amaranth species which includes beet.  Not only does the plant provide seeds and leaves for sustenance but Amaranth breaks up the soil to make it more suitable for farming maize and potatoes.  Thorn’s mom made a delicious oat meal from the Amaranth seeds, sweetened with honey.  Everything was kind of ‘plain’ in the Plains – the colors, the food, the folks.  Thorn thought with trepidation about her exotic future in Austin.  She had always dreamed about jalapenos and Tex-Mex food but would it burn her mouth and tummy?  How plain would she seem in the midst of Red River and Caribbean fairies? Thorn mentally shook herself; she was a Tumbleweed fairy.  Strong but flexible was their motto.

Amaranth By Lynk media 

Thorn’s successful application to the Fairy School had rested on the skill of her basket weaving. Her prospective professors had been charmed by the superficially simple baskets but they also felt that she, as a Tumbleweed fairy, would be a unique addition to the rather conservative school, adding to its renowned diversity.  It was a magical mirror image of human universities that seek to add color to their student bodies – except in this instance it was the lack of color, a peculiarity in the fairy world.   In the safety of Palo Duro Canyon, Thorn had lived a hard but happy life.  There were few luxuries and the weather could be extreme with snow, rain, sunshine and tornadoes.  Thorn’s clothes were practical; soft woven pants and tunics in shades of fawn and blue.  On cold winter evenings, they sheltered in fairy Tipis, embroidering simple but intricate patterns on their clothing with Orb Weaver spider silk that was dyed ocher, indigo and terracotta.  Like all fairy folks their lives reflected or influenced the humans they live among.  For fairy eons, Tumbleweed Fairies of Palo Duro Canyon had lived alongside their Native American neighbors.  First it was the Clovis and Folsom people, then the Apache, Comanche and Kiowa Tribes.  Thorn was proficient in Plains Indian language and understood all the other tongues including the most recent, English.  The Tumbleweed Tipis were identical to those of the Kiowa people but on a much smaller scale.  Native Americans have hunted in the canyon for thousands of years, making clothing, baskets and pottery from the local materials.  Thorn had the cutest little moccasins, warm and lined with cotton fluff.  Her mom had added little beads of turquoise and fossil wood.

Apache Basket, Mint Museum

Thorn’s Mom, Leaf, was worried sick about the cost of Fairy School but Thorn had received a full scholarship.  All they had to provide was her school uniform.  For the first time in three hundred years, the Fairy School had relaxed the uniform requirements.  Although Thorn would have to wear a plain blouse made from cream cotton, she could wear pants.  These were made from mule horn sheep hide; sueded until it was buttery soft with matching moccasins.  Mom was proud but perplexed about her ambitious daughter.  She was the first of their family to leave the canyon and was she ever coming back?  Perhaps the tawdry delights of Austin would tempt Thorn away from their practical life.  Like Thorn had, Mom gave herself a shake, and focused on how sensible her daughter was.  She would return with new skills to help the Tumbleweed Clan face the future.  Seed, Thorn’s Dad, was flying with her to Austin just to make sure she settled in.

Kiowa Tipis

Tumbleweed

The day of departure arrived and the Tumbleweed fairies gathered to say goodbye to Thorn.  Just like all the other Plains people, there were no tears just heartfelt wishes.  This was an opportunity that few other fairies received.  Thorn felt she should be grateful but humble; always remembering her roots.  She hugged her Mom and siblings then flew off holding Dad’s rough hewn hand.  It was a long flight to Austin and the weather changed.  It was so much warmer in the center of Texas.  They landed in the quadrangle just in time for the commencement address.  Thorn and her Dad walked into the auditorium trying not to gasp in astonishment at the great variety of fairies.

There were so many vivid colors in fairy species and the building.  Just like Hazel, Aiya, Ria and Blu before her, Thorn looked in astonishment at the reams of scarlet and golden fabrics adorning the building.  Then she started to notice all the fairies surrounding her.  Her neighbor was a boy from Belize with dark skin and hair contrasting with fantastic turquoise wings and eyes.  Balam’s skin was lightly dappled like a jaguar; his wings and eyes reflected the vivid waters around the Belizean Cays.  Instantaneously Thorn had her first crush!  Balam looked at her with equal astonishment – never had he seen thorny wings or so many freckles.  Her hair was wondrous like a ball of cotton.  Thorn and Balam were entranced by each other but Father Seed’s eyes flashed with to fairies from the Piney Woods, China, Greenland, the Amazon to Australia.  At last, with Australia, he saw some likenesses to the Tumbleweed clan.  Their coloring matched the arid surroundings of the Australian desert and although their skin was darker, their mops of tow hair made Thorn’s look tidy.  He sighed with relief knowing that Thorn would find her way in this strange place.  Then he noticed Balam and Thorn gazing at each other.  He started to worry until Balam’s father winked at him.  Both fathers chuckled – at least their children had found a new exotic friend.

All too soon, all the fairy families had to fly home leaving the new students to absorb the delights of first day at school.  The Principal of Fairy School personally welcomed all the new students at the evening repast where Thorn tentatively tasted baby squash and tomatillo tacos.   There were a number of completely new species attending the school, Thorn was one and Balam another.  They were both so unusual and gifted that the Principal brought them forward to explain a little about their species to the larger group.  After the show and tell, Thorn was surrounded by inquisitive little fairies.  Most were very polite and kind but there is always a mean fairy…  A Californian Golden Fairy, Sunbeam, asked if her if she was a boy or a girl.  It was an intimidating question by a stunning fairy; shimmering golden wings, long perfect golden curls and eyes the color of amber. In the human world she would have been a Barbie doll. Thorn very sensibly decided not to be offended but explained that both genders of the Tumbleweed species looked similar.  Further, she pointed out that, similarly, there are very few differences in the human species’ gender, less than in many other animals.  It was the right approach to take and in time Sunbeam became one of her many acquaintances.  Balam would always be her first friend, however, and he adored her especially because she was different.  His turquoise wings lightly fluttered when he looked at Thorn’s adorable freckled face but that is another story…

The End

Postscript

This little fairy story was just written for my own pleasure and therapy.  Life has been a little thorny lately and the Tumbleweed fairy story had been lurking in my mental files.  I wonder if the lack of color reflects my mood?  My wonderfully talented husband who sells his photographs on Getty Images contributed the first two images.  The magnificent aerial of Palo Duro canyon looks otherworldly.  Thank you also to Wikipedia for such informative links.

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Scottish Veterans

Two Scottish Veterans in Buchanan Street, Glasgow

It is American Memorial Day on Monday 27th May to remember and honor those American servicemen who died while defending our country.  There are similar events all over the world.  In Britain we remember those fallen on the 11th day of the 11th month every year.

As an American I have so many ancestors who have fought and died for our country from the American Revolutionary War to the Civil War.  There may be others that I have yet to find.  As an American who was brought up in Scotland, I would like to pay tribute to four charming gentleman who I met on my sad trip to Scotland.

I mentioned the descriptive words disconnection, connection, familiarity and alienation in my last post.  So contradictory yet accurate.  As I walked towards my lunch date with school friends from yesteryear, I encountered various gentlemen in full military regalia.  I approached the first two and asked them if I could take their photograph.  They looked perplexed but pleased and I explained about my blog.

As I left the second group of servicemen, I thanked them for both their service and the photograph.  They looked at me as though I was a very friendly alien.  With my little blue passport and my transatlantic twang – that is exactly the right description.

Let us be thankful for all those who have given their lives in defense of their country.

 

I wish I had a dragon

Image by Josch13, Pixabay 

No, this is not Game of Thrones ode although Dany’s wrathful flyby of Kings Landing inspired the title and thoughts.  I have just returned from a sad transatlantic trip to Scotland for a family funeral.  It was not unexpected but somehow it is always a shock in the literal sense.  On the return trip, suffering a terrible flight with a revered south-east Asian airline, I drowned my sorrows with some unpalatable wine and wrote words on my magazine cover that conveyed how I had felt during the trip.

WRATH, GRIEF, SADNESS, REGRET, RELIEF, LONGING, THANKFULNESS, GRATITUDE, LONELINESS, RESENTMENT, AMUSEMENT, LOVE, CONNECTION, ALIENATION, BOREDOM, AFFECTION, ADMIRATION, JOY, FAMILIARITY, DISCONNECTION, HUMILITY, REFLECTION, EVOLUTION, ACCEPTANCE, IRRITATION

LOVE, LOVE AND MORE LOVE

I see my psychiatrist tomorrow and I think I will just hand him this list of words.  What will he make of it?  Such contradictions, so many emotions and counseling needed.  Funerals are such complex occasions.  Sometimes they are a celebration of a life lived well; sometimes the family gathering causes angst or the opposite.  This is not the time for me to write a memorial – my feelings are too raw.  For every kind comment there is an insensitive remark.  It has been years since my last visit to the old country and so much has changed.  I can no longer mention my country of birth, USA, with pride.  Do friends and strangers really think that the course of modern politics has been in any way influenced by me?  This is the plaque outside Glasgow’s City Halls were I graduated.  My economics lecturer was the local Communist political candidate.

The political climate is no better in the UK or Europe.  BREXIT; right wing Hungarian rule; Scottish Independence; modern day slavery in Italian fields that gives us our cheap tomatoes – to name a few. I see racism and bigotry on both sides of the pond.  As I left Glasgow airport and was waiting in the check-in line, I noticed a young woman sobbing from one end of departures to the other.  It wasn’t busy so I couldn’t figure out why someone wasn’t helping her.  Eventually she ended up close to me and I asked her what was wrong.  She was sick, had taken Nyquil the night before consequently sleeping late.  She arrived 45 minutes before her Canadian charter flight departure but no-one would help her.  I urged her to go back to the closest desks and ask someone to radio the charter representative.

Eventually I checked in and went to find her.  We were sent from pillar to post and I eventually demanded that we see a manager.  The flight had gone but at least the airline representative might be able to find the cheapest alternative to get her home.  She couldn’t call them on her Canadian phone.  I left her in chastened hands with the manager in route and the airline had been radioed.  Who knew all my Texan airport experience would have come in handy?

At my connecting airport in England, I tripped and scraped my knees despite being sober…then.  The only person who ran to my aid was one of the much maligned Eastern Europeans.  A Bulgarian cleaner who spoke very little English also helped.  On the glamorous flight back to Texas with flight attendants that resembled pretty butterflies, I had to complain about vomit blocking a sink and more dried vomit on the floor of a different toilet.  The response was a poor excuse and certainly not an abject apology which I expected.  It concerned me that they wore no aprons to serve food and inefficiently cleaned toilets throughout a 9 hour flight…and then the toilet tissue ran out.  Can you imagine my upcoming complaint form?

My words are my dragon and I wish I could burn my way through the hateful climate with live in.  I wish I could erase my memories of a sad abusive childhood.  I wish I could forgive.  I wish my self-loathing would cease.  I wish I felt more joy or even contentedness.  I wish I had a dragon.

 

Brunch

I was so fed up with sushi…

…that I thought I would wander into Kerry’s street and check out the lizards.  Found this delicious entree in the neighbors’ yard.

It put up a good fight.  I am 4 foot tall so it was a generous brunch.

Almost down the gullet…

Utterly delicious!

Don’t we all need a change in our brunch venue from time to time?  Especially when wearing our bright white feathers and a burnt orange beak.  I had just come back from grocery shopping when I spotted this great egret in the cul-de-sac.  Ran in to get my camera and voila!

Hope you are all enjoyed brunch on this beautiful sunny day in the sub tropics.  The egret normally lives at the containment pond at the end of our street.

Germany or Texas?

It is Texas, of course, Tomball to be precise!  The closest I have been to Germany was Frankfurt airport in the middle of the night  but there is a distinct German feel to our local area.  We live north of Houston and in the past it was home to German settlers who farmed the area.  Most of the local roads are German or some corruption of such.  The Kuykendahl Road has been mangled into submission by locals who call it Kirkendall.  I think I pronounce it slightly better with my Scottish drawl but am constantly corrected.☹ To be honest I pronounce most things better…

Teddy was off last Friday and we decided to go to Tomball for lunch.  When we first moved here it was even more German, with many descendants of the original settlers.  Most of them arrived in the late 1800’s by ship to Galveston, TX.  There is a Lutheran High School and a sweet little Main Street that has been kept intact.  It slumbered during the recession but now it is vibrant with new restaurants and antique shops.  To our surprise, they were setting up for the spring German festival.

One of our favorite restaurants was empty because it was difficult to maneuver through the vendors trucks and equipment.  America and Texas, to be frank, has a terrible reputation for food.  Some of that criticism is worthy when you look at the amount of fast food franchises.  Life is changing, however, and below you can see the freshest local blackened catfish served with sauteed vegetables.  Just a touch of butter made it delicious.

Blackened catfish with sauteed vegetables

The restaurant was originally a meat locker and the original signs are intact.  The German flags were just for the festival.

 

Teddy and Bunny

We sadly declined to eat the apple cobbler and wandered outside to see what was going on.  My eyes were immediately drawn to a petting zoo from a local farm.  Oh how I love goats!  I would have some but they are little gremlins, always getting into trouble.

Isn’t he perfect. Look at his tiny little horns!

Look at those ears! They are fat little goats.

I was surprised at the amount of goat products in Texas but I think there was some money benefit to having goats at one point and now we all love goat cheese.  Goat’s milk – gaaaaa!

Loved this shot – the water is just a few inches deep.  It gets so hot in the summer here that I guess some liquored locals took the water!  Finally, a happy Teddy is enjoying a flight of local German style craft beer.  I despaired of the regular beer in Texas when we arrived but thank goodness for the current craze of craft beer!  Decent European style beer at last.  We also have some very good wine, vodka and bourbon now.  Moonshine too – that will get you swimming!.

Dancing, donating and dithering

Tree pollen means squinting eyes and no eye make-up…

Look at my new Retro jeans – took me straight back to the 70’s drunkenly trying to unbutton jeans in a disco.  I bought them in Walmart for full price because they fit so well.

These are my azaleas in full bloom so spring is here in SE Texas (it would be summer north of the Wall).  When the azaleas were first planted, they were exactly the same bright pink but I think the soil around one has changed because of its proximity to a pine tree.  The purplish one is underneath our Live Oak.  Isn’t nature wonderful?

Yesterday was a fun day!  I went to my local thrift shop and snagged a coral jean jacket, apple green shirt and brand new faux fur vest – all for $3.  That’s right, $1 each.  They were playing 70’s funk music and the girl behind checking was grooving on down so I joined her, swaying the hips.  She asked where I got my cute skirt and laughed when I revealed it was from Forever 51 21.  Then I taught her how to say Good Morning in Arabic (this segued naturally from a comment about my accent) and I think that’s why I got such an amazing bargain.  I also donated a beautiful quilt so it all works out.

The day before, I was shopping unhappily in Burlington because a gift card was burning a hole in my frontal lobe.  The shop was gigantic but I couldn’t find anything decent.  I noticed a little Central American girl looking loudly for “Papi!” I saw him in menswear and said to the little girl, “Papi, alli!”  Dad placated her but then she ran off wailing “Mami!” who was hiding elsewhere.  I understood their pain…

The previous week I had gone to a Premium outlet out of town, again because another bloody gift card was creating mental chaos.  I went into one store to get some stuff for Ted and was helped by a man?  He was very attractive, with long pink dreads which coordinated with his cute little white wool shorts and sweater and long fuchsia jacket.  His long black legs went on forever with size 11 pink pumps.  I have no judgment, just curiosity, especially since he didn’t have fake boobs.  Then I saw him helping a Mexican man who, by his reaction, thought the assistant was a woman.  Life is interesting these days.

To top my shopping mania, I browsed through Macy’s after the thrift store snag.  At the clearance racks I came across two black ladies getting on down with some more 70’s funk (is there a musical plot in our forest?) so I started dancing with them.  Why not?  The world has gone mad with such sadness in New Zealand.  May they rest in peace.

On a lighter final note, we bought Toffee a new knitted catnip toy at the weekend.  I forgot it was in my purse but delighted Toffee with a new toy.  She rolled and purred.  Then she made a new LOUD vocalization which sounded a little like “I have done the stinkiest poo” but there was a note of elation.  We think it was meant to be Captain America bird but since Toffee is from Egypt he has a new name every day –

  • Captain Ahmed
  • Captain Amun
  • Captain Ali
  • Captain Azim
  • Captain Abdul

I could go on and on but that’s exactly what this post is – a quirky Kerry rambling.  For clarity, I am petering off my anti-depressants because of side-effects and under the care of my psychiatrists.  Let’s just say I am a little ‘happy’ and ‘tense’ all at the same time.  Teddy thinks it is an alluring combination!

 

The Rocking Stones of Auchmaliddie

Last week I was in Texas, minding my own business, when I commented on Ailish Sinclair’s site about Standing Stones in Scotland. I told her that I remembered a beautiful white quartz recumbent stone in the field next to our rented cottage near New Deer in Scotland. At the time, the site was barely noted historically but via Ailish I discovered that they are two of the Rocking Stones of Auchmaliddie.  It was a strange moment, like the notorious series Outlander, but much cooler. I was instantly transported back to the prettiest house we have ever lived in with so many happy memories.

Puss, the hunter, at the cottage

For all the non-Scots, the Scottish Standing Stones were believed to be constructed by the Pictish people or their precursors, mostly in the North East of Scotland starting in Neolithic times. Stonehenge is a magnificent example of a similar but much bigger Standing Circle. They are found all over the south west of England, Wales, Brittany and Scotland. The people of those areas were among the earliest tribes in Britain. Not much is known about the Picts and their written language was Runic so there is a limit to our understanding. The Gaelic people were the next settlers and there language overtook the Pictish one. Certain names date back to the Picts and you can recognize them by their prefix – Aberdeen and Pitmedden are two examples. By contrast Auchmaliddie has a Gaelic root. The Picts’ name for Scotland was Alba.

We were renting the cottage at Auchmaliddie while our new house was being built in a neighboring village. Although we had been living in a hamlet previously, this was right out in the Boonies. I had to persuade the farmer to allow us to rent as the previous tenants with dogs had really damaged the cottage. As soon as we moved in, I wished we could have bought this sweet cottage instead of our new bungalow. It was blissfully quiet with gentle lowing of the cattle. That summer was particularly warm so we didn’t realize how cold and damp the cottage was. It was so hot that we had to leave the bedroom window open (that doesn’t happen in the North East of Scotland because winter is always coming beyond the wall).

Our three cats had rarely been allowed out in our last house as we were on an arterial road. At the cottage they could roam free. Pippy, our difficult cat, loved to climb out the open bedroom window, scamper down the tree and sleep with the dairy cows in the barn at the neighbor’s dairy farm. There were a glut of voles (in the US they are called meadow mice) that year and even our tooth challenged baby Puss caught one. I have a funny memory of Teddy chasing her in circles around the cottage to make her drop the vole. We had rescued Puss the year previously – she was feral and full of worms. It took so long to get her healthy that Ted was determined that she drop the dratted worm infested vole. On the way back from one of the circuits, I noticed that Puss was voleless. Cleverly, she had dropped the vole in the potato patch. Teddy searched futilely for the now deceased vole but Puss found it later and ate it much to Teddy’s disgust. He gets all OCD about parasites… wuss.

I remember when we discovered the Rocking Stones on a summer evening walk to the next field at the top of the hill. The sparkling white of the quartz recumbent stone was otherworldly. Bronze age or Neolithic folks had celebrated or worshiped on this very spot and could see the next set of Standing Stones at Aikey Brae from the summit. My first secret thought was that blood sacrifices would look spectacular on the white stone. There was no record that they did that but it was the first hint of my native Mexican blood running thought me, perhaps?? I thank Ailish for sparking a long lost memory and inspiring a series of blogs set at the cottage.  As far as I know, I did not know Ailish in Scotland even though we lived just miles apart. It is a marvelous small world.