Evolving

No filter, no makeup, just Kerry

Until I moved to the USA, I had no idea that some people did not believe in the concept of evolution.  Charles Darwin and some brave predecessors deciphered the basic tenets of evolution despite wide dissent.  His book ‘On the Origin of Species’ was a masterpiece although undoubtedly flawed.  As more fossils of every species are uncovered our knowledge changes and develops. The virus Covid-19 is a master of change, evolution and mutation.  The sadness of a pandemic is that we are all affected – two members of my family have died from Covid-19.  One was 22 years old.

With intolerable mass shootings in the States and rising violence throughout the world, one can see that the effects of the Pandemic ripple out.  A tsunami is barely noticeable at sea until it hits the shore with devastating results.  Not everything about ‘now’ is negative.  Most of us have stopped and smelled the flowers.  Our gardens or plant pots are better cared for than they ever were.  Our pets and garden animals are subject to our endless gazes or affection.

Quarantine started at a pivotal time in my life.  Last year I turned 60 years old; officially becoming a senior. My husband is retiring this month and our lives will turn a new corner.  I doubt I would have paid much attention to sexagenarian status without the Pandemic.  In my denial, there would have been endless fashion posts, new makeup and exciting hair colors.  Instead, we all slumped into loungewear and natural skin.  At first that felt great but now it is boring yet comfortable.

I have a mild form of body dysmorphia and rarely see the truth in the mirror.  Curiously, when I was obese, I thought I looked fine and now I always want to be slimmer/younger/prettier.  I am not alone, supermodel Pauline Porizkova recently stated that she was somewhere between Jennifer Lopez and Betty White; referencing the invisibility that older women feel.  What is wrong with ageing?  It should be something we aspire to but modern society is consumed by the idea of eternal youth.

It doesn’t help that this last year has made most of us look a little older; the stress shows in our furrowed brows.  A smile would change our visage but it is masked.  Now we look out for crinkling around the eyes to see that someone is smiling at us.  In this new thoughtful phase of my personal evolution, I am beginning to accept that I am an attractive older woman.  Young men won’t whistle anymore but I get appreciative glances from older men who also feel sad about ageing.  My mother was a beautiful woman who aged gracefully.  A neighbor once made the cruelest comment to me referencing my mother, “Isn’t it sad when beautiful women age?”

My personal evolution is deeper than that.  I mentioned in the previous post, Change is Inevitable, that I didn’t like what I saw behind my eyes.  If you asked a friend to describe me, the words kind and funny might be said.  During self reflection during sequestration the following words seemed more apt.  Impatient, testy, judgmental, insular, anti-social, fussy, undeviating and unkind.  Was I a good manager or am I inflexible?  Am I a good friend or wife?  Not always.  I could blame my mental illness for some negative elements of my personality but that is disingenuous.  In my life, I have met so many mentally ill people who were adorable, the opposite or somewhere betwixt.

Prior to the pandemic, I worked, volunteered and was social.  When we first moved overseas, I made a huge effort to be social and get involved with my community.  This continued with the move to Texas but it is not my natural self.  I struggle with small talk, coffee mornings or girl’s nights out.  WordPress has been a source of comfort for me to meet like-minded people.  Quarantine gave me the perfect excuse to retreat to my nest with my bonded mate and I know how lucky we are.  So, what is the outcome of this reflection?  I am going to try to be a better person to everyone I know.  My base personality will remain the same but I can be thoughtful, gentler, compassionate and sweeter.  My evolution has not finished and wouldn’t life be dull if it did?

This is a Pizzly Bear (courtesy of BBC)

Climate change is affecting all species, in particular the Polar Bear. As the world warms, Grizzly Bears are moving further north and interacting with Polar Bears. In a wonderful turn of events, they are interbreeding and their hybrid cubs are fertile. They are the same species but one is brown and the other white. All of homo sapiens were brown before the diaspora from Africa. Those who went furthest north developed fair skin, over generations, to allow their skin to access essential Vitamin D from the weaker sun’s rays. You could describe this as a mutation or evolution. I identify with the Pizzly Bear, we are both of mixed race, have wrinkles and we are BEAUTIFUL!

Naughty Kerry with Clippers

This is a funny little tale about my compulsion with scissors and clippers. For reference – Lourdes Water is Holy or Blessed Water from the shrine of Lourdes, France that Roman Catholics visit. Enjoy!

New Wings

Part 4 of the Fairy Blight Saga

Kiera opened her eyes and couldn’t believe the vista in front of her.  She was lying on a sumptuous canopied bed covered in golden silks looking at an oasis.  She sat up and saw some wild camels drinking at the pool.  Suddenly there was a shimmer and Shula El Masri appeared.  He smiled broadly at her and Kiera realized that she was unclothed.  With a blush and laugh, Kiera pulled the golden silk up to hide her modesty. “It is a bit late for that, isn’t it”, chuckled Shula.  She met his twinkling green eyes and smiled as broadly as he had.  “Is this a mirage, Shula?” asked Kiera. “No, this is my home in the Sahara.  I whisked you here before you woke up.”

Kiera clapped her little hands with joy – the wonders of a Djinn suitor!  Lovemaking with a Djinn was a sublime experience.  She felt that they were both transformed into the four elements – fire, water, air and earth.  “What do you see in me, Shula?” asked Kiera very aware that she was an older fairy. “I love your essence, Habibti (darling).  Your kindness, your laugh, your warmth and those blue eyes”.  Shula explained to Kiera, that as a Djinn who was able to shapeshift into any creature, his perception or vision was different from hers.  It was though he could see her every molecule and loved her entirety. “Ana uHibbuka (I love you) Shula” responded Kiera with happy tears in her eyes.

Shula had prepared a light breakfast of dates, hummus and bread.  Kiera ate with relish; her evening had been more energetic than it had been for years.  She was content and warm but aware that they had to get back to the Texas School of Fairies.  It was time to get back to work.  No one seemed to have noticed their disappearance but they both emanated a subtle golden glow.  Shula’s copper treatment for the blight combined with some old potions was working for most patients so there was some reason to celebrate.  The survivors of the Fairy Blight, however, were faced with long term problems.  The worst was wing drop – their wings desiccated and fell off.  This left the fairies unable to live a normal life and they had to rely on others for their care.  The Fairy Crafters had been working on prosthetic wings.  They had used plant fibers, spider silk and balsa wood but it was as impossible as recreating a dragonfly’s wing.

Fairy Blight

As soothsayer, Kiera was again struggling with the feeling of despair in the school and the entire fairy world – the contentment in her personal life contrasted starkly.  Shula noticed how bad she was feeling and asked her to join him in his suite again that evening. “I might have some good news…”  Kiera shook herself out of her gloom and later knocked gently at his door.  The suite was still transformed into an Egyptian scene but this time it resembled a blacksmith’s forge.  Shula’s greatest skill was with metal so she was curious about what he had been working on.  She gasped when she saw that he had constructed a fairy wing out of titanium, the lightest of metals.  Titanium turns into a rainbow of different colors depending on what level of heat is applied to it.  Shula held out prosthetic wing that was colored deep blue.  “Stand back, Kiera dearest”.  He blew a fiery breath on the wing and it changed color to fuchsia pink.

Kiera looked at Shula with astonishment – what skills this alchemist had. “I think this might work because it is light and flexible yet indestructible”, said Shula.  They spent the rest of the night working on ways to attach the prosthetic wings.  By morning they were bleary eyed but excited.  They flew down to the infirmary to try the titanium wings one of the invalided children.  It was attached by a brace around the chest area made of beetle silk, strong but soft.  The first little fairy to try it was a Tumbleweed fairy with a mop of white fluffy hair.  Her name was Teasle and like all Tumbleweed fairies was pragmatic and straightforward.  Her first attempt was a little clumsy but after a few times she was flying around the patio outside the infirmary. “Don’t go too far,” pleaded Kiera.  Teasle gently dropped to the ground her face gleaming with joy, then she ran to Shula and hugged him.  “Do you like them?” asked the caring Djinn, while gently caressing her fluffy hair. “I love them but could they be a different color, please?” – everyone started laughing and crying.  These prototype wings were a deep pink color but Tumbleweed fairies are unusually neutral in color.  “How about a nice copper or golden color to match your outfit?” said Shula with a chuckle. Teasle grinned, her amber eyes sparkling; she was wearing mule hide suede pants with a matching fawn cotton sweater.

As the weeks flew past, lucky little fairies were attached with prosthetic wings of their color choice.  Kiera’s old friend, Niloufar, a Persian Peri fairy, had brought her granddaughter to the Texas School of Fairies.  Little Fariba had lost both her wings to the Fairy Blight.  It was with the greatest of pleasure that Kiera fitted her with delicate bright green titanium wings; perfect for a Waterlily Fairy.  As Fariba took her first faltering flight, Niloufar burst into delighted tears hugging Kiera and then Shula.  Once the excitement was over, Niloufar and Kiera, spent the evening together.  It had been years since they had met but chattered happily as though it was yesterday. “So, tell me all about this handsome Djinn, Kiera”, asked Niloufar.  Kiera laughingly said, “I wondered when you would ask about Shula El Masri!”  Neither of them knew any other Djinn and Fairy unions so Niloufar was fascinated by the details of the courtship. “I think Shula is my soulmate”, sighed Kiera knowing that this might be a fleeting affair.  Niloufar’s beautiful emerald eyes looked sadly at Kiera and she reached across to hug her.

Fariba, the little Peri fairy, and all the others with new wings stayed at the infirmary for a few weeks to make sure that they had truly convalesced.  The day came when Niloufar and Fariba had to leave for their home in Persia; Kiera tearfully waved them off.  Shula spotted Kiera sitting thoughtfully by the fountain. “Would you like to go to the Oasis, tonight, dearest Kiera?” “Yes, please Habibi.” Shula fashioned a golden shimmer around them and in an instant they were at Oasis dipping their toes into the cool water. “Kiera, said Shula, “I need to talk to you about the future.”  Kiera’s big blue eyes looked at him with dismay but she understood without words that his time at the Texas School of Fairies was coming to an end.  The Fairy Blight was a worldwide pandemic and his skills were needed elsewhere. Tears dripped down her cheeks and he kissed her on the forehead. “Would you come with me?” he asked.  She looked at Shula with a tremulous joy.  “We could spend years traveling the globe helping our species” said Shula. Kiera whispered “Yes, Yes…”

Even fairies like a happy ending.

Part 1 – The Fairy Blight

Part 2 – the Visiting Djinn

Part 3 – Magical Healers

Part 4 – New Wings

Magical Healers

Part 3 of the Fairy Blight Saga

It had been weeks since Shula el Masri (Fire of Egypt), the visiting Djinn, had arrived at the Texas School of Fairies.  He, the healers and Kiera, the Soothsayer, had tried a variety of copper treatments, recommended by Shula, for the Fairy Blight. It seemed to work best in conjunction with the older potions. Slowly but surely the little fairies were beginning to recover from the Blight. They were all still in the middle of a long battle against the disease but this is the story for every species on earth. We fear fungal, virus and bacterial illnesses and are incredulous of their power over us. There is no malice in a Blight’s intent, just a thirst to survive. Fairies understood the interconnections better than humans but they still grieved for those they had lost.

Shula and Kiera were exhausted – Shula with all the alchemical formulations and trials on patient fairies. Kiera was emotionally fraught, her shoulders dropped with absorbing the fear and pain of her students and their families. Shula always looked impeccable with a delightful bow tie but this was not his true appearance because he was a creature of fire and air. Every so often Kiera caught sight of a faint shimmering around Shula and wondered if this was fatigue. Kiera had slipped back into the easiest of outfits with little regard to her appearance. They were all getting closer to a realistic cure for this mutation so Shula suggested that Kiera join him in his suite, provided for dignitaries at the school, for a light meal and some rosehip wine. Keira was a little flustered by the invitation as she knew Shula did not need regular sustenance. Blushing, she said, ‘I would love that’ – Shula’ s green eyes flashed with pleasure.

She ran back to her suite and jumped into a bath scented with night blooming Jasmine oil. Then she chose an indigo blue silk robe embroidered with deep pink hibiscus. Her pink silk slippers matched. She walked past the Hall of Fairies, still resplendent with crimson and gold fabrics but empty…  Kiera sighed with sadness but put a genuine smile on her face when she knocked on Shula’s door. He opened the door still resembling a Persian Peri fairy but had chosen to wear an emerald green velvet smoking jacket, subtly embossed with Arabic geometric patterns. ” Please come in my dearest Kiera”, said Shula which made her heart skip a beat. Then she gasped when she saw that Shula had transformed the frankly stuffy suite into a Bedouin tent, resplendent with Arabic rugs, silks for awnings and copper furniture. There were lounging cushions in red and blue velvet.

“It is so beautiful” whispered Kiera. “I feel like I have returned to Arabia, Shula!” “This makes me feel more comfortable in a foreign environment,” replied Shula with a smile.  Over the weeks since the Djinn had arrived, he and Kiera had been chattering in both Arabic and English.  They both spoke many languages but it helped them bond a little better.  Kiera also enjoyed talking in a tongue that was once very familiar. It was obvious to anyone who watched them work together that they also had an unspoken language and were very intuitive.  Shula had laid out some plates with pomegranate and walnut pilaf, herb tabbouleh, baba ghanoush, and Kiera’s favorite Baladi* bread.  Shula poured two glasses of rosehip wine in delicate blue glasses, handed one to Kiera and said, “Mabrouk!” “Cheers!” returned Kiera with a laugh.

Shula was kind enough to join her in eating the delicious dishes.  Kiera felt better than she had for many months, if not years.  She had never married but enjoyed the company of male suitors from time to time. Now that she was older, it was a special pleasure to be courted by this handsome Djinn.  It is uncommon for different species of magical creatures to have a romantic relationship but Kiera and Shula had a natural attraction to each other bound by the Blight.  For months their conversations concentrated on the copper treatment and fairy medicine.  This evening they started to reveal a little of their souls.  Kiera told him about her Baja and Irish fairy forebears. “So, that’s where those beautiful dark blue eyes come from.”  Kiera looked at Shula, the green-eyed Djinn, leaned toward him and kissed him on the lips.  They were warm and welcoming with that now familiar shimmering.  Shula pulled Kiera to him and they fell back onto the velvet cushions.  It was a night to remember…

*Baladi is an Egyptian word meaning local. We had ‘baladi bread’ (a fresh delicious flat bread) and ‘baladi dogs’ (street dogs)

Part 4 to follow

The Visiting Djinn

Part 2 of the Fairy Blight Saga

Kiera, the soothsayer, was exhausted by the ravages of the Fairy Blight. During this pandemic the healers at the Texas Fairy School of Magic, were struggling to find efficacious potions and treatments. The headmaster had suggested that he ask an old friend of his to visit the school. His friend’s name was Shula el Masri. Keira looked at the headmaster with surprise because it was a curious name. She was familiar with Peri fairies who originated in Persia but they had Farsi names not Arabic.  Shula el Masri translates from Arabic to Fire of Egypt.

As a young fairy, Kiera had been fortunate enough to visit the Arabian world.  Her best friend was a Peri fairy – Niloufar which means Water Lily.  Peris were renowned for their beauty and Niloufar was no exception.  Her face was a fair as the Water Lily Blossom with vivid green wings; her hair was black like silk but her eyes were a bright green.  As much as Kiera loved her, Niloufar made her feel a little dull by comparison.  She was as kind as she was beautiful and made beautiful Persian dishes for them to share.  Just a thought of walnuts and pomegranate brought back delicious and happy memories.

“Kiera”, said the Headmaster, “Are you feeling well, my dear?” She emerged from her reverie to pay full attention.  “Of course, Sir, I am just weary with the Blight.  Who is your friend?” “He is a Djinn from Egypt; an old and dear friend”.  Kiera suddenly snapped to attention with excitement and anticipation.  Djinn are desert creatures, made of fire and air, able to shapeshift into any form.  For the most part, they are benevolent and eager to help.  “Shula has been studying the Fairy Blight and thinks he may have a possible treatment”.

The fairy healers had been using so many new and old potions to treat the Black Shade, as it was called, but were struggling to cope with this outbreak.  Fairy plagues are transmitted from plants with disease, not dissimilar to the animal to human transmission of the Coronavirus.  The Black Shade spreads from Late Tomato Blight much like to the Irish potato blight.  This tomato variation has mutated to cause a devastating browning or desiccation of fairy wings and occasional wing drop.  A fairy without wings cannot survive.

“Does he have a magical cure?” asked Kiera.  “Not exactly magical but alchemic” said the headmaster.  He went on to explain that Djinn have an aptitude with metals because they are creatures of fire and air.  Shula was a brilliant mind who had formulated a possible cure with copper.  In the human world tomatoes affected by the blight is also treated with a copper mixture*. “I can’t wait to meet him”, said Kiera excitedly, vibrant for the first time in months.

Kiera ran to her room to prepare for Shula el Masri’s arrival which was imminent.  She looked in the mirror with dismay.  So many months of quarantine and work treating patients had left Keira looking care worn.  Her hair had more silver and she had cut it into a pixie style to make life easier.  This was generally frowned on in the fairy world where beautiful long hair is an attribute.  Kiera remembered how charming Egyptians were and was suddenly concerned about her appearance.  In her closet she chose a long silver velvet gown, put some golden seed oil on her hair, jasmine oil and a little rouge.

As she returned to the main hall, she noticed a golden shimmering in the air which transformed into a male Peri fairy.  Shula el Masri had arrived.  His dark wavy hair was dappled with gray but his eyes were a vivid green.  The headmaster started to introduce him to Kiera who was flustered when he lifted her hand to kiss it in a courteous fashion.  She stuttered, “Salaam Alaikum” and Shula’s eyes flickered with delight as he responded “Alaikum Salaam”.  This is a traditional greeting in the Arabic world meaning Peace Be With You.  “So… you are familiar with Arabia, Miss Kiera?”  Keira told him about her friendship with Niloufar, an old Peri friend.  “I chose the perfect disguise, then?” said Shula with a light chuckle.  In that moment Kiera remembered that he was a magical creature – the shimmer she had seen before was his true appearance.  He had chosen wisely to resemble a fairy so that the young ones were not frightened.  Kiera wondered why he had chosen an older appearance but perhaps it was more honest given his immortal life.

The headmaster asked Shula if he would like a repast but he asked to go straight to the healers’ infirmary.  In truth, he only ate to be polite as it was unnecessary for him to have nourishment of that type.  Human mythology has reduced the remarkable Djinn to an image of a pretty lady Genie jumping out of a lantern but Shula was much more impressive and gifted.  The little fairies started to smile broadly at Kiera’s entry into the infirmary – she had counselled so many students and their families. There was a titter of excitement when they realized she was not alone and they looked beyond her with curiosity at the handsome Peri fairy.

Shula warmly introduced himself to all the children, parents and staff and Kiera watched as they responded so well to his natural charisma.  Then she let out a sigh of relief – perhaps the worst was over and the Fairy World could hope again.

*Copper treatment only works on tomatoes/fairies…not humans.

**Like Kiera, Kerry has a weakness for green eyed Arabic men.

Silvery Pixie

No, I haven’t had a psychiatric break – I just wanted to see what my gray hair looks like. If I was a guy this cut would be so sexy but even so I quite like it. It is more salt and pepper than silver – that is literary license…

I had a light bulb moment when I realized that I can’t even go out to restaurants for many months so why bother dyeing my hair every few weeks. My hairdresser was trepidatious but cut it so cleverly if very short. I have come to terms with the fact that I no longer suit long hair (and perhaps never did). See A History of Horrid Haircuts for reference.

I thought that the texture might be softer but it is not…but it is much less itchy. When all of this is over I might decide to color it blonde again (or pink or peach) or not. My eyes have darkened to almost all gray and I suit different colored clothes.

On a random note, do you notice my Frank’s sign on my never pierced ear? It has long been hypothesized that this vertical crease on your ear is indicative of cardiac disease. Given my family history, that is probably true but why worry? There is always a new pandemic or crazy election around the corner… 😉

Some good stuff

It is hard to ignore all our global crises, from the pandemic to catastrophic weather, but laughter truly is a medicine.  My psychiatrist Zoomed me last week and I made him laugh out loud.  He suggested I try a stand-up comedy evening and generally gave me a gold star for trying hard to keep the blues away.  The next day, I felt low and overwhelmed but just watched one of my favorite Youtube comics.  The First Minister in Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, has been giving daily briefings to Scotland on Covid-19.  Unlike ours in the US, her briefings are succinct, sensible and more importantly CORRECT!!  A Scottish comedian, Janey Godley, does a voiceover of the briefings in a strong Glaswegian dialect.  They make me howl with laughter because they are so familiar.  I doubt that many of my readers could understand her so I have put a translation underneath.  The First Minister approves of the voiceovers because Janey Godley keeps the real message intact within the comedy.  WARNING!! There are a couple of F bombs in it (common parlance in Glasgow) but the other video below is more gentle and doesn’t need translation.  Just one wee eff at the end…

Right here’s the official word and I will tell you (for) why.  All the Sandras, big Jeanette, all the Pippa Dees (Tupperware like parties?) have all been cancelled.  Nobody is going to Torremolinos (Jersey Shore style Spanish resort).  We are all just chatting on the Snapchat Group.  Stop going out.  Stop meeting your friends.  Stop going to the park and gathering together.

A Bunch of effing Idiots.

You have all been told.

Everybody is going to die if you keeping going about and going home with a virus on you.  So, I’ve told you once and I’m not going to tell you again.

This the Official Line –

If I see any of you out there, I am going to take a run and put my toe up the crack of your bottom.  So stop it.  Stay in the house, wash your hands and keep your families safe.  Effing snapchat your friends.  I will be speaking to Big Teresa later.  All of you; use your phone and STOP IT!

If you browse Youtube you can see the real briefings – that have no F bombs and are less fun!  I know that we all need a wee massage at the moment so I hope you enjoy the virtual cat one below.  I think you will understand this but let me know if you need a translation.  Happy Weekend, Wash your Hands, Keep your Distance, Wear your Bloody Mask and Keep Safe.  Most of all, keep laughing.

My Enigma

Every time I call the doctor or health insurance of late, there is an extra message to check that my mental health is okay and offering care options.  I feel a little bitterness that it has taken a tragedy for society to take mental ill health seriously – where were you when we had to wait many months or years for psychological help?  Clearly, Covid-19 has challenged even those of us who have not had a pre-existing condition.  My psychiatrist seemed shocked at the amount of patients presenting with psychosis during this time, although I am not.

My diagnosis/mental health had always been an enigma to me, the people I love and the medical profession.  Like many others, my original diagnosis is not my current one.  After years of working in the mental health field (and my own personal experience), it is clear that we know less about this complex field of medicine than others.  Heart bypass surgery has become almost commonplace and much safer, for example.  I was perfectly happy with my original diagnosis of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.  It was such a relief to find out why I had to check the gas was off a dozen times or more or check that a plastic bag in the road was not full of cats.  In the back of my mind, I was sure I had separate depressive and anxiety episodes but perhaps it all goes together, I thought.

As much as we would like a clear cut name for our individual illness, for many of us diagnosis seems to be a wavy, mysterious line.  That is not the fault of the medical profession, necessarily.  One of my cousins had very different diagnoses in her later years and she ultimately died of an overdose.  I imagine her doctors were trying desperately to find a medication to make her feel better.  Then there is me.  I present a chameleon personality to both my doctors and loved ones.  At a social event, I seem like ‘party central’ – confident, amusing and fun to be around.  This exhausts me.  My mother was so concerned about my shyness as I child, that she made every effort to bring me out of my shell.  Drama classes in high school and finding a group of peers helped me to blossom.

This pandemic has had the opposite effect on me – my mental health has rarely been better.  Teddy and my doctor express astonishment that I am coping so well.  The truth is I always knew what was best for me – isolation and silence.  After I married at age 21, I followed Teddy around the world for his career.  He was always going to be the major breadwinner with ambition and skill.  He kindly says that he couldn’t have done it without my support – who knows?  My IQ is above average and I have honed my people skills over the years.  As Teddy was pursuing his career as a Geoscientist, I did a variety of dead-end jobs such as cleaner, bar person and fossil picker.  That last job sounds more exciting than it was.  My husband’s company offered me training and a job looking at tiny fossils down a microscope.  I then transferred those of interest to a slide and a micro paleontologist would further assess them – this was all in the pursuit of oil.

It was the perfect job for someone with OCD – timing and precision was critical.  Even though I was smarter than the average bear, I was quite happy to stay in this dead end job.  Teddy persuaded me to push my ambition further and that is how I ended up in the mental health field.  That led to various other jobs where I could use my writing and people skills to their best capacity.  But I was always so stressed, even when I enjoyed the plaudits.  The job I really longed for was Librarian.

So here we are in 2020.  At the suggestion of a doctor friend, I started eating gluten free at the beginning of the year.  This was to try to address my curious neurological sensations in hands and feet.  I have since read some medical journals on the effect of gluten on the brain – fascinating.  It was relatively easy to change my diet – I guess I avoid gluten naturally. At the same time, I stopped working and driving because of Covid-19.  Now I don’t know if the absence of gluten or driving/working has helped but my neurological symptoms have abated considerably.  It’s another mystery – but a silver lining for me.

Turning 60 in 2020 has given me so much time to think about growing older.  Unexpectedly, I have reached an acceptance that I do feel different and a little less sexy.  Teddy disagrees – thank goodness! There is a huge sense of relief that I don’t have to work anymore and I realize how lucky I am to be in that position.  I am perfectly happy cleaning the house, watering the garden and making very short journeys away from the house.  When all this is over, will I enjoy the normal pace of life or need to buy 10 acres of wilderness for peace and quiet?  I guess we will all adapt and realize how strong most of us are, even in the most desperate of situations.

For now, my Enigma remains just that and I am grateful for this moment of stillness in society.

The Fairy Blight

Part One of the Fairy Blight Saga

Kiera as a fairy child

Kiera looked around at the empty room in the Texas School of Fairies and sighed deeply. The beautiful red and gold silk hangings that festooned the ornate Hall of Fairies looked sad and almost gaudy without the flutter of little fairy wings. She so missed the excited chatter of her students. Eons ago Kiera herself had been a nervous sophomore. She still remembered how carefully she dressed for her first day. The indigo blue velvet pinafore almost matched her big dark blue eyes. Her long dark curls were braided into submission and interwoven with blue velvet ribbons. Both her grandmother and mother fussed over her appearance making sure her unruly curls behaved. Her family was surprised but delighted that Kiera was accepted to the school because mixed species were frowned upon for many centuries. Her mother was a typically beautiful Celtic fairy with long straight dark blond hair and wings with just a touch of pistachio green on the tips. Her father was an outcast from the fairy community.  Kiera was too ashamed to even talk about it. Those dark curls were all his, though, and the dark eyes.

Keira loved her wings which were an iridescent mixture of pearl, blue with a touch of emerald. They were reminiscent of a gem stone or mother of pearl. It seemed so long ago when her blue eyes darkened with excitement at her first sight of the fairy hall. So much had happened since then; human and fairy wars wreaked devastation upon the two species. Over centuries there had been so many fairy blights somewhat similar to human pandemics. In human society viruses usually transmit from animal to human but in fairy life they spread from plants to fairies. The worst in Kiera’s memory was the potato blight of 1800 in Ireland. Much like the human Irish, the fairy folk had to flee to far distant parts of earth to escape the blight. In potatoes it caused a failure of the crop leading to famine but it affected the fairy world differently. Some became blind; others lost their sensory perception leading to much the same conclusion – famine and deprivation.

Now in 2020, the human world is being devastated by a new Coronavirus Pandemic and perhaps coincidentally the fairy world has been struck a deadly new blight – nicknamed Black Shade. It spread from late tomato blight which is related to the Irish potato blight and can affect all nightshade plants. The blight has mutated to cause a devastating browning or desiccation of fairy wings and occasional wing drop. A fairy without wings cannot survive. Only a few short months ago this eerily silent hall had been alive with every hue of fairy, chattering in many languages. Kiera had been shy little fairy when she arrived at The Texas School of Fairies but happily discovered that her classmates liked to share secrets with her. Her sweet face and trusting nature made her an excellent future choice for a school soothsayer akin to a human school counselor.

Fairy Blight

Over decades, as School Soothsayer, she had wiped away despondent tears of homesick fairies and helped them find their true path. Her long dark hair had turned pewter and her eyes were still deep dark blue with just a touch of grey. Kiera had succumbed to Black Shade and her beautiful wings were permanently stained brown along the tips. Thankfully she had recovered quickly – the fairy healers had been quick to find unique remedies for this new blight. Eventually there might be a cure but in the meantime almost all students and pupils had been sent home.  Kiera chose to stay at the school to look after those very few staff and pupils that remained. The panic was tangible at first with anxious parents flying in to pick up their children. Some parents had to ask relatives to make the long journey to collect students if they had suffered wing damage or worse. With every new pandemic there is an initial mystery about transmission but this new fairy blight was passed by touch. Little fairies love to touch each other with hugs, kisses and wing trembling. No matter how many times the headmaster or Miss Kiera warned the students to socially distance it was beyond their limited understanding of how serious this Black Shade could be. Just like human children, fairies bairns needed touch to develop into well-adjusted adults.

Kiera wandered the lonely corridors with too much time to think about her life. She was approaching retirement and wondered how she would adapt to that or an extended closure of the school. She caught a glimpse of herself i an ornate mirror and was startled. Where was that beautiful young fairy that looked just like her father?  Over the years she had come to terms with his failures. He had fallen into the Black Arts using his charm to trick the fairy and human world. Centuries ago he was sent to The Spectral Isle for punishment. It was a shameful time for his family who were proud Baja fairies from Mexico. He had ruined his family’s proud heritage.  Kiera looked just like her paternal Abuela, Juanita. Curiously, it was her father’s choice to name her Kiera which honored her long Irish heritage.  The name Kiera is a feminine version of Ciaran which means dark haired. She looked at her untidy Pewter hair in the mirror and quickly tidied it into a braided plait. Kiera looked at her brown tipped wings with sadness but gratitude for having survived Black Shade.

The fairy world is naturally superstitious and Kiara had to bite her lip with many ill-informed parents.  First the Shade was spread by crows, then toads (both untrue) and every possible portent of doom.  Even though the Healers had quickly established that this was the late Tomato Blight, preposterous theories persisted.  Kiera understood their fears and as a soothsayer did her best to reassure anxious students and their families.  It was easier for Kiera who had lived through wars and pestilence to accept that Black Shade was a natural part of living in this world.  One day, when the worst of this was over, we would grieve for the fairy folks who had succumbed but then move on with lightness in our hearts.  The sun will shine again and the Hall of Fairies would be alive with little fluttering wings.

Postscript

My friends had often asked me when I would write a fairy story about myself so Kiera is my alias.  My father did choose my birth name against my mother’s wishes.  He also dabbled in the Black Arts… Fairy stories traditionally allow us to tell children harsh facts about the world in a style that they can understand.  The sun will shine again.

 

 

Pest Control moved in…

This tiny little bug is commonly known as a junk bug or aphid lion – ain’t she cute? Teddy was admiring our fire bush when he saw this wee pile of debris moving.  If you click on the red link to junk bug you can read a hilarious article about this ‘voracious predator’ – it is about the size of the half-moon on your pinkie.  She is a gardener’s friend; the debris on her back is the remains of aphids and other plant eaters (her victims…).  This little dusty bundle is her larval stage and she blossoms into one of my favorite insects, the delicate green lacewing.

Henrik Mackevicius, Pixabay

Teddy and I get so excited when we discover a new animal in the garden no matter how small.  Below is Leo (DiCaprio), one of our many spotted Anoles.  He loves to sit at the prow of the deck and display his bright red throat flap to attract a mate.  There is so much lizard sex going on in our back yard that we should rename it Studio 54.  There are tiny babies, pregnant moms and horny teenagers (none of them are social distancing).

A few weeks ago I found what looked like bird poop in the garage and I was curious.  It was unlikely that a bird had gotten into the garage which is usually closed and then I saw another poop on the front porch.

The black section is full insect bits and the white part is uric acid (pee)

As I was taking in the groceries, through the garage, this week I spotted a small cockroach struggling in a spider web.  Briefly, I wondered whether I should put it out of its misery but when I went back for the rest of the groceries the roach had gone.  Then I spotted her – we have a five striped Skink living in the wall of the garage.  Woo hoo!  She is now called Skinky because I have no imagination.  They eat cockroaches – what more do you need?  My neighbor has one on her front porch and after I told her how useful they are in our bug ridden swamp, she named her Skink, Tiger.

Jan Haerer, Pixabay

Can you tell that the pandemic quarantine is beginning to wear on us?  My psychiatrist forgot to put in my regular refill for Xanax, WTF!  I panicked briefly then I put my big girl pants on and am back in a Breaking Bad situation with a drawer full of meds.  My friend was laughing at Teddy and me when I shared with her that I refused to share my prescription-only painkillers with him.  She felt that it was a perfect senior couple moment – she’s right!