Wednesday, July 29, 2015
The sun is shining beautifully outside. Two days ago snow fell up in the mountains. The crazy sporadic weather systems parallel my mood of late. For moments, I am bright and sunny, ready to take on my daily work. The next moment, I have no desire. I have been reading a lot. The experts say that to be a good writer, you have to be a good reader. So, my hours of being curled up on the chaise lounge with an afghan thrown over me and the puppy on my lap are not all in vein. Alas, here is my Wednesday’s attempt at continuing the story of a dwarf and orc friendship. Beware, I am running late do to appointments and errands. This is an unedited, rough, first draft.
Argora and Vilenok
The morning after the funeral dawned bright. Argora mixed up her favorite cinnamon scones. The swell floated through the kitchen as they baked. Once they reached a golden tan, she pulled them from the oven and wrapped half of the batch up in cloth napkins and stowed them in her travel basket.
Once out on the front walkway, she cringed at the weeds poking out of the soil. The celebration and her coffee get-togethers with Vilenok distracted her from her work. She leaned over and plucked a couple of the bigger weeks from the moist soil. Dropping them in the bucket at the end of the path, she resolved to work on the front lawn once she finished with Vilenok.
As she walked down the lane, she inspected the property of her neighbors. Paint peeled off the front porch of one home, but the rest of the house looked presentable. The home across the way sported a fun color of plum and white daisies and lilies gracing the front walk. The colors popped with the green of the lawn. This house looked the best in the area. When she turned to double check her home, she smiled. She still preferred the playful dance of her multicolored flowers. Her gardens reminded her of the mountain fields above the caverns she grew up in. Turning back to the lane, she looked at the yard of Vilenok’s.
The grass swayed in the breeze. Argora shook her head at the green sprigs reaching her knees. The orc family hadn’t mowed since they moved into the home. She wondered if they knew how to keep their yard presentable. Weeds littered the flower garden along the path to the front door. Soon the offending plants would choke out the flowers. The thoughts of weeds flew from her head as she realized the front door stood wide open.
“Vilenok,” she called in worry. Cavern dwellers kept their doors closed. Argora feared something happened to Vilenok.
“I am in the kitchen.”
The dwarf woman sighed in relief as she made her way down the hall. She looked at the scene in front of her in shock. Vilenok stood on a step stool with a paintbrush in hand, splattering good speckled paint onto the wall. Even more surprising, she wore a divided skirt with a loose fitting tunic in the style of the dwarves. The orc looked down on her with a big smile.
“What in the good name of Brokkr are you doing?” Laughter escaped through her words. “You have paint in your hair and on your cheek.”
“I had an idea of making the kitchen more dwarf friendly. I liked the gold flakes on the walls in the elevator shaft of the department store. I thought if I would add them to my kitchen, it would feel more homey for you and keep the cavern feel for me.”
Argora smiled. The soft lantern light danced with the gold on the wall giving the room a more festive feel. “I like it, but yesterday you left so upset. I am confused. You are no longer upset.”
“Being around sentimental dwarves must have that affect on me. It was silly of me to get caught up in all that nonsense.” The orc flicked the paint brush towards the wall. The gold splattered in a clump. She shrugged her shoulders. “Besides, I am tired of doing nothing in this boring town. I need projects.”
Argora’s brow crinkled in frustration. Either Vilenok insulted her people or her friend couldn’t face deep-seated emotional loss of her father and son. The short dwarf stood straight. “I think you need to talk. I would like to know what happened between you and your son. Why are you estranged? Maybe if you talked about it, the pain wouldn’t be so great.”
The black eyes of the orc closed as she took a deep breath. “Do not but your stubby little self where it does not belong. I will deal as all orcs deal. Well, I can’t kill anything, but I can do stupid projects, like painting.”
“I am sorry. I push too much.” Argora thought for a moment. “Have you considered gardening? Your front lawn really is looking terrible.”
Vilenok growled. “I miss hunting.”
“Have I talked to you about my neighbor to the left? She lets her dogs shit in my yard. I could help you garden if you helped me dispose of them.”
“Argora, I swear that sounded like an orc request.”
They laughed as Argora poured coffee for Vilenok and half coffee and half hot water for herself.
Monday, July 27, 2015
Writers tend to doubt whole passages of their writing. I am having that issue today. I am not sure where I really wanted to go with the celebration of life; I definitely didn't realize Vilenok would leave so forlorn. I will just have to see where it goes from here.
Argora and Vilenok
Solemnly the celebrant dwarves ambled up the long aisle toward the front of the gathering hall. Argora waited as the first dwarf led the rest. He wore brown leather breeches with sturdy leather boots that laced up to his knees. The brown leather tunic he wore hung down to the edge of his boots. A wide belt with a gold buckle held a black apron in place over the tunic. He wore thick leather gloves that continued up to his elbows. In the crock of his left arm, he carried a midnight black forger's helmet. A large hammer he swung in his right hand. Wavy brown hair flowed down his back. His beard formed a long braid down his front. His presence filled the hall with authority by just his confident stride and demeanor.
Behind the chief forger, two dwarves in similar attire pushed a gold plated cart with a matching casket that rested atop. On the top of the sarcophagus, at the front, a circular glass section revealed the deceased dwarf’s face. Argora and three other collectors in a variety of dwarf formal dress finished the procession. Argora held her head high trying not to let her nerves show. This was her first time as a collector for the dead. She noted some of the people who sat in the long benches on both sides of the center aisle. A frown crossed her lips when she saw the dwarves she confronted the day prior. She stopped when the chief forger turned as he reached the platform and helped guide the casket to a stop. He climbed the platform with the other forgers. Argora and the collectors returned to their seats.
The three forgers took seats on the platform. The family of Kathina sat on the right hand side of the gathering all. Grogrim stood. Argora couldn’t help but think he looked like he aged in the last months of Kathina’s illness. He climbed the stairs and turned to address everyone. He thanked everyone for coming on such a sunny day. Pulling at his beard, he talked about the merits of a good dwarf wife. His Kathina contained all of them and more. After he finished up his speech, all six of their children talked, telling funny stories of being raised by their mother. The crowd laughed and cried as they mourned their loss of a friend. Finally, the chief forger stood. The room grew quiet.
"In the name of Brokkr, we bring our sacrifices to his forge to honor our sister Kathina." He motioned for the collectors and forgers to join him at the forge. "May Brokkr guide me during the work of my hands and let my hammer strike true."
Everyone stood as the forgers began working with the liquid gold. Argora took up her large basket and followed the other collectors down the steps of the platform. They spread out on each side of the casket. One by one, people came forward, bowing to Kathina's body. They stood in front of a collector and spoke the words of honor, "Bless our sister of Brokkr on her journey to the cavern of new life." They placed their gifts for the Kathina into one of the baskets. Most of the gems gifted were rubies and emeralds. During her days, Kathina adorned her beard and hair with them. Gold was also given by those closer to the family.
Argora smiled as she saw Vilenok walk towards the platform. Her friend stopped in front of her and dropped a ruby into the basket with an awkward bow. A few puzzled looks were directed at them, but Argora appreciated her orc friend's attempt to participate in the celebration. Once the last person dropped their gift, the collectors placed the baskets along the edge of the platform. Later the gifts would be turned into a beautiful piece of artwork.
The chief forger dipped the gold circular object into a bucket of water. Mist floated up in the air with a hiss. He walked the creation to the casket with a long set of tongs. With a gentle hand, he placed it on the round glass. In the center, Grogrim placed a large ruby to represent his and Kathina's marriage. Each of the children placed emeralds around the ruby forming a circle. Around this, their grandchildren placed sapphires. Kathina's youngest daughter added a sapphire for the baby in her womb who would never meet their grandmother. Argora felt a tear fall from her eye at the missed memories for the babe.
"This concludes our celebration of Kathina, may you go in the peace of Brokkr to prosper in wealth and family."
Argora led Vilenok around the outer edges of the hall until they left the cavern.
"Thank you for the opportunity of seeing a death celebration. I always thought death as such a final element of life. I appreciate the coming together to remember the good." Vilenok stopped walking. "I was just ten summers when my father died. I missed him terribly. One minute he was there, the next, he was gone. I was never able to talk about him."
"You could tell me a story."
Sadness filled Vilenok's expression. "I have none. As orcs, we push it so far away that the memories are lost." Vilenok growled. "I am losing the memories of my son as well and he lives. Sometimes, I don't like being an orc. I must go."
Argora watched as her friend ran. Usually orc ran with the grace of a gazelle, but the dwarf clothing impeded Vilenok’s movements. Argora wondered about the situation with Vilenok’s son and wished she could help in some small way. With a heavy sigh, Argora started her trek back to her cottage. She would check on her friend the next morning.
Thursday, July 23, 2015
Today I am struggling with sitting in the chair. First, I thought I would be mowing the lawn, but the weather is rainy. Second, my daughter is not feeling well and the son is anxious about military training he is leaving for later today. Finally, all of this and some other things have me all discombobulated. Wow, I spelled that correctly the first timeJ However, all writers know that sometimes they have to write through all the bumps in the road. So, here I go.
Argora and Vilenok
For the hundredth time, Argora glanced over at the outfit Vilenok wore as they road to the burial celebration. The orc wore a long wine colored divided skirt with matching tunic. The cape draped over her shoulders was a lighter shade with trim of gold. A gold hair clip gathered all her hair to the top of her head with a few small braids combined in the ensemble in an attempt to look like the dwarf fashion. Besides her physical features the only thing about Vilenok that spoke of orcs was her boots the peaked out from under her skirt.
“You keep looking at me strange.” Vilenok frowned at Argora.
“I apologize. I just have never seen you in anything but the orc style of dress.”
“You mean skin tight clothing.”
“I wasn’t making judgments.”
Vilenok nodded. “I know. I feel a bit odd. The clothing is actually quite comfortable, but I feel like a bloated cow.” Her hand flew to her mouth.
Argora snorted. “Now who is judging?” Before her friend apologized, she rushed on with her thoughts. “I am not offended. I am curious though where you came by such long dwarf clothing in such a short amount of time. I just invited you yesterday.”
Vilenok fidgeted with the trim of the cape. “I have felt out of place since we moved here. I thought I would sew an outfit. I had all but the cape done. Yesterday I went to a dwarf shop for the cape. It isn’t long enough to be accurate. The seamstress is making a more suitable one. She said I can borrow this one for the day.”
They strolled to the entrance of the ceremonial hall of the dwarves, arriving early so Argora could collect the items she needed for her duties. Standing at the door, Grogrim, Kathina’s husband, stood. His meaty fingers fumbled with the clasp of his forearm cuffs. He looked up as Argora greeted him.
His voice shook. “She always helped me dress for special occasions when the arthritis started. My fingers are just not nimble anymore.”
Without a word, Argora took the gold cuff from his hand and secured the ornament around his forearm. A forge was etched into the flat section with a hammer over the top. Grogrim was a master forger.
“How are you doing?” Argora returned the offered hug. She smiled warmly as he kissed her on the cheek like a beloved relative.
“Better then yesterday.” He turned to Vilenok. “You must be the friend Argora mentioned.” He hit his chest. “Welcome.”
Vilenok mimicked his gesture. “I am honored.”
They continued into the cavern. A few dwarves milled about and Grogrim veered off to speak with them. Argora and Vilenok continued to the back of the domed gathering place. At the front on a raised platform, a fire burned in the middle where a large forge stood. At the back, a large work station with cabinets and drawers stood. Argora motioned for Vilenok to take a seat off to the side of the platform while she greeted a few dwarves at the forge. Taking a large black pot out of the cupboard, she rejoined Vilenok and sat next to her.
“Will a lot of dwarves come?” Vilenok’s dark eyes looked at all the seats. “I have never been around a lot of dwarves all at once.”
“It is hard to say how many will come. I may have to leave you if the celebrant needs me to do anything. I will also need to join them at the beginning of the celebration to escort the distinguished guests.”
“You don’t need to worry. I will sit here and try to blend in like a dwarf.”
“No need for that.” Argora frowned as Vilenok pulled her upper lip over her long canine teeth. “You look like you have been hit in the face. Besides, I doubt many people will even look twice because you are dressed like them. I will not take long.”
They waited in silence. As Argora predicted, no dwarves looked their way for more than just a passing glance. The front row on both sides of the isle remained empty, but the rest of the seats in the hall filled. Chatting between the people remained in a whisper out of respect for the dead. Argora slipped away along with the other dwarves who sat off to the side.
Wednesday, July 22, 2015
I think I have mentioned “the time of great forgetting” earlier this summer. The phrase comes from the writer Dean Wesley Smith. During the months of summer, writers get so busy they forget to write. Now, this has happened to me every summer for five years. I was determined to break the cycle this year after my parents’ 50th anniversary. (I knew nothing would get done before that.) I have done well since I started the blogging challenge earlier this month. The days I missed have been conscious due to either travel or family time. Technically, I could say yesterday was a result of family time, but I intended to write.
I woke up plenty early, 3:30am. I spent the next three and a half hours helping my husband with a project and reading during the down times. I went for my daily morning walk with my neighbor and our dogs. Once home, I should have worked on my morning pages; but I was distracted by the huge mess of my husband’s. He tore apart our bedroom closet. The next thing I knew, I needed to get to my physical therapy appointment. Next, I had to clean the kitchen. It was a disaster and my son annoyed me, so I took it out on the dishes. At that point, I called for the daughter. We drove into town (third time that day). I promised her the Painted Pot. We painted our pieces. She picked a dragon and I picked a box with a flower on top. The rest of the afternoon blew by with a doctor’s appointment, shopping, and dinner. I ended the night with reorganizing and de-cluttering the closet. My daughter and I read for our newly started thirty minutes of reading together, the son came home, and we chatted until bedtime. The day ended and I hadn’t written a word, the great forgetting.
The ironic aspect of this entire story is that yesterday my cousin sent me a comic strip about a mouse writer that allowed herself to get distracted all day long, never getting to the page. Well, the time right now is 5:29; I have an hour and a half before I meet the neighbor for our walk. I have a zillion and one things to do today. I will get this done and not forget!!!
Argora and Vilenok
Sunlight streamed into her bedroom window. The side of Argora’s bed remained empty. She wrinkled her nose in distaste. The days grew long with her husband away, especially when the family responsibility fell to her to attend a burial celebration by herself.
Scrambling out of bed, she dressed in her gardening clothes after washing her face. Birdsong filled the air as she left out the front door. She enjoyed walking in the quiet of the day while most people remained in bed. Once outside of the neighborhood, she walked along a nice curving path which followed a stream. Swallows fluttered around and a duck floated on the water.
Her thoughts tumbled around the coming events, the community’s farewell to a pleasant dwarf woman. Argora thought of Kathina’s husband with no one to clean for him or make his dinners. Their children still lived in the dwarf caverns, two days ride from their growing town. She took a mental note to try to invite him to the family gatherings if he couldn’t make it back to his children. The idea of him being alone, struck her heart like when a hammer missed the hot iron and bounced off the forge.
Turning around to head back home, she watched for wildflowers. As she strolled along, she picked a variety of sunflowers and yellow columbine. She left the red paint brush for a trip later in the week. The yellow flowers would add some brightness to her bedroom while her husband worked the mining claim in the dwarf caverns.
As she finished up her walk, she thought of which outfit she wanted to wear. At the last celebration she attended, the deceased requested to have their funeral more like the humans with everyone wearing black. An ironic smile crossed her lips, her mood felt black.
Rifling through her closet, she hung her violet-blue divided skirt next to her black one. She draped the matching tunic over the blue and draped a grey tunic over the black. A walnut box with four drawers stood on her dresser. She pulled the gold handles of the middle drawer. Picking up a thin gold chain with turquoise beads hanging from it, she put it with the grey and black outfit. The colors fit her mood.
For the next hour, she weaved eight tiny braids from the hair on her forehead, pulling them back and securing them around four buns at the top of her head. She plaited six braids on each side of her jaw bones from her beard. Around each ear, she wrapped five of the braids up over the top. The sixth she hung with the chain and clipped it to the bottom of her ear. Finally, she braided twenty medium sized braids from the bottom section of her hair with turquoise colored thread wrapped in them and netting that fell to her shoulder. The finishing touch was a medallion of gold and turquoise she attached to the hair at her forehead.
Looking in the mirror she nodded in satisfaction. Her hair represented the ceremonial tradition of her people. The turquoise held the power of healing and stress reduction. Her appeal to Brokkr for Kathina’s family was healing of spirit during their time of loss. She also prayed for the lack of stress due to the attendance of the different races to be minimal for the family. Argora also hoped for no scenes with Vilenok and judgmental people.
She sighed. The dwarf looking back at her looked old. Lines surrounded her eyes. Wondering when she started looking like her old mother, she felt aged, almost defeated. But, Grogrim and the family needed her presence at the ceremony. She had no reason to feel sorry for herself. Puckering her lips, she added a silver color to her lips. With her head held high, she left to collect Vilenok and travel to the ceremony.
Monday, July 20, 2015
I ended up taking another weekend off. I kind of want to kick myself for that, but I am only human. I did write, just not my challenge. On Saturday, I attended a funeral and helped a friend with her children. On Sunday, I have no real excuse. I was in a mood and just ran with it. I am still on the verge of the same mood, grumpiness, but I am working at getting out of it. I am thinking about playing with a little stain and wood. Hum, maybe I will post the results at the end of the week. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy Argora getting a little feisty.
Argora and Vilenok
Argora watched as Grogrim walked to the clerk to pay for the items he held. She hadn’t thought of inviting Vilenok to the celebration. Going outside of the normal customs wasn’t something she ever attempted. However, participating taught a person more than just reading or being told about it. The book about orcs hadn’t told her a lot about her new neighbor.
Picking a nice piece of turquoise, she headed towards the clothing isles. Her wardrobe bored her. She might find something nice to wear to the celebration. As she started to a corner, she heard her name. Sneaking a peek, she saw two dwarf women browsing through the capes.
“Argora is not the traditional dwarf I thought she was,” the first dwarf woman said.
“Oh, what has she done?” asked the second dwarf.
“She had befriended an orc.”
Argora heard a sharp intake of breath before the conversation continued.
“You know I live across the way from Argora and can see all who come and go. Well, the older orc woman that moved in goes to Argora’s house a couple times a week. And what is worse, Argora goes to the orc house just as often.”
“You don’t say?” The other dwarf lowered her voice. “I saw her go into the orc mercantile the other day. I wonder what transgression of live flesh she is participating in with her.”
Heat spread up through Argora’s face until she felt ready to explode. Stomping her feet as she rounded the corner, she took a deep breath to steady her shaking hands that had balled up into fists.
“Well, good day ladies.” Satisfaction seeped through her anger as she saw both of them jump in surprise and straighten their blouses in agitation. “Why neighbor, I heard the most unsightly rumor. Your daughter shaved her beard. However do you expect her to marry well when she so blatantly turns from our traditional ways?” Argora turned to the other dwarf. “But then, maybe she expects to be like your daughter who is trying to court that elf from the new government. Hum, I can’t think of his name.”
The three women glared at each other. Finally Argora’s neighbor broke the silence.
“Shaving facial hair is not turning from our people. And elves are not brutes like the orcs.”
“Justify your families breaks from the old ways anyway you like, the fact remains that breaking from tradition is breaking from tradition. There are no degrees of wrongness. In fact, we are all breaking from tradition just by being here.” Argora took a second deep breath realizing they would never listen to her point of view. “I apologize for spouting about your daughters. They are both very nice dwarves. I would not have said anything if I wouldn’t have heard you being so rude about my friendship with Vilenok. The fact of the matter is that we are all trying to find our way in this new world. I will respect your family decisions IF you respect mine.”
“I, for one, will never respect anything to do with orcs.” As one, the two dwarves turned and walked away.
“Oh, stop throwing your pompous judgments in my beard when I try so hard to keep my judgments to myself,” Argora muttered to the empty space.
Turning towards the salesclerk, she wanted to pull her beard out for engaging with them. Their words weren’t meant for her. They were just trying to make themselves feel better when they didn’t like the state of this new world any better than her. Sadness filled her. Oh, to be back in the simple days when people seemed to mind their own business. This new world held to many agendas with no room for real conversations, understanding, or forgiveness. After paying for her item, she rode the elevator back up to the ground level and walked home.
Friday, July 17, 2015
The other day I read a fellow writer’s blog. He is challenging himself to write a short story a day during the month of July. Almost daily he mentions how his wife likes his latest story which he doesn’t think is all that good. Now this writer is one that has been living the business since the 70’s. He is good. When I hear him doubt his work, I feel comforted that I am not the only one that thinks they aren’t writing to par. On this particular day, he also talked about not getting any readers responses. He thought he might stop the challenge. Again, I was comforted. I wonder what I am doing with my own challenge. But like him, I will continue even if what I write is drivel. I am having fun and hopefully growing as a writer.
Argora and Vilenok
The door glided open as Argora approached. The magic never ceased to amaze her. In the dwarf caverns, the use of magic was strictly forbidden due to the fear of evil magic. Humans were fascinated by magic and allowed it for everything. She suspected the humans tried to mate with elves just to give the gift of magic to the human race.
Homesickness swept through her as she took the elevator from the landing down fifty feet. The clear glass walls and doors allowed her to see the different types of rocks streaked with gold and sprinkled with sapphires. In the obituary shared with the community, she learned that Kathina’s favorite gems were rubies. Her trip to the dwarf store was for that but she also thought she might buy herself a new beard chain for the ceremony.
The elevator stopped and opened. Stepping out, she smiled. The cold air felt good after walking through the sweltering heat. Mist from the beautiful dwarf-made waterfall moistened the air, cutting the dank smell of clay. The jewelry isle looked crowded, so she wondered to the gem section. An especially robust dwarf turned from the counter that displayed rubies, and he nearly walked into her.
“Excuse me.” He stepped to the side without glancing at her.
She placed her hand on his forearm. “Grogrim, I am so sorry to hear about Kathina. I have so enjoyed being a collector with her.”
The dwarf, tall for their race, recognized her as her words muddled their way through his pain of mourning. His lips curved upwards, but the smile failed to reach his eyes. Leaning forward, he allowed her to give him a hug. As they pulled away, he wiped tears from his eyes. Argora felt a lump forming in her throat.
“Thank you, Argora. You know she has been sick for months.” He waited for her to nod. “We expected her death. In fact, I am a bit relieved that I no longer have to care for the sickness. I do miss her already though.”
“Of course you do. I can only imagine the stress of seeing her suffer.” She shifted her weight. “How is the rest of the family?”
“They scurry around trying to comfort me. The oldest is making all the arrangements for the ceremony as if I am too old. He invited dignitaries from the human and elf races. Kathina’s death is the first not affiliated with the war. I was angry at first for making this a display to the public, but Kathina probably would laugh about it. She enjoyed learning of other races.”
Argora felt a bit uncomfortable. Though they occasionally served together during the weekly ceremonies to Brokkr, god of the forge, she didn’t know Grogrim all that well; yet, here he talked so personally. She struggled to think of something to respond.
“My new orc neighbor, Vilenok, and I have been talking about the ceremony of the dead. People are curious about that which they don’t know.”
Grogrim nodded. “If she is interested, she can attend as well. In fact, in my anger, I told my son just to invite the blasted orcs as well. I am not fond of orcs, but if the other races are coming, orcs shouldn’t be excluded.”
“I wasn’t…” Argora pulled at her beard.
He tried another smile. “I know you weren’t asking. But if you are friends with this Vilenok, I truly don’t mind her attending the ceremony. It is better than dignitaries. I am just an old miner from the caverns. All this hupla about integrating the races make me uncomfortable. But, Kathina was always curious if orcs were as mean-spirited as the stories. She would like a common orc, a friend of her friends, to join the ceremony.”
“Vilenok is rough spoken, but I have grown fond of her.”
“Very well, I will see you tomorrow. I have to go finish my shopping.” Grogrim patted her on the shoulder. “Thank you for listening to an old dwarf.”
Thursday, July 16, 2015
My writing life has many ups and downs. One of the reasons for this is that I have three autoimmune diseases. Now the up side to this is that I was fortunate to receive a disability from them and no longer have to work a fulltime job. The down side is that I can go for days with no energy. Yesterday and this morning have been especially bad. I am constantly debating on how to spend the energy that I have. Today I would love to write, clean the garage, paint, mow the lawn, organize my pictures taken in the last two months, and work in the gardens all before going to a baseball game with the family. I will write because I am determined to have a good writing month. I may work with the pictures and move an item or two in the garage. I might pull a weed or two. Other than that, I will rest for the ball game. Luckily yesterday I wrote this post. I think I will go rest and then write. Wish me luck.
Argora and Vilenok
The buzzing of the flat stone sitting on her nightstand woke Argora from a fitful sleep. Most of the night, she tossed and turned, playing through the previous nights conversation she had with her niece about Argora’s old-fashioned beliefs. She reached over to reset the time piece to give her another hour of rest. Curling up in a ball, sleep eluded her. All the tasks of the day ran through her mind. With a grumble, she tossed the blankets off.
Stumbling through the little cottage, she entered her kitchen. Sunlight poured through the windows. She almost wished to have Vilenok’s dreary room instead of her sunny room. Opening the cupboard, she gazed at the contents. A variety of teas in different jars lined the bottom shelf, but on the side stood the jar of coffee granules. She smiled wickedly. Her mood felt orcish: cranky with a dab of orneriness. Images of saying what she really thought about her niece’s plans to move across the sea brought a smile to her lips. Argora was tired of playing by all the new rules the next generation kept flinging in her face. The family meant nothing to these young people. She didn’t want to be nice anymore. Grabbing the coffee and slamming the container on the counter, she prepared the hot beverage.
Once the water began boiling, she poured it over the top of the grounds. She placed the coffee press on a tray, along with the cream and sugar. The backdoor opened with a squeak. Argora grimaced, one more thing to get to on her list. At the gazebo, she tried to relax. The birds’ songs greeted her, but she took no pleasure in the music.
Grumpiness was not a natural state of being for her. She hated being in bad moods. Fixing her coffee, she took cup in hand and meandered through the flowers. She plucked a weed from the beets. Setting the cup down, she began thinning the radishes. She tried to think of other things; however, her sister crying about her daughter leaving on a ship in a month’s time broke Argora’s heart. She didn’t know what she would do if her children wanted to break up the nucleus of her family. Her daughter lived two doors down and her son lived in the next village. They spent time together each full moon. Poor Merana wouldn’t see Rugra in years. Such a shame.
Argora stretched across the row of vegetables to pick up the coffee. A shiver ran through her as the bitterness caressed her tongue. Progress, all the changes were called progress. At least coffee was a good step. Pouting about the changes wasn’t going to get her tasks for the day done. Standing up, she heard the popping of her old knees protesting. She brushed off her clothes with her empty hand.
Back in the kitchen, she pulled from her pantry all the supplies she needed to bake corn muffins for the evening meal. Noticing the cream still sitting on the counter, she left it and added eggs and butter to the supplies. She began humming a little tune, letting her feet skip along as she crossed the kitchen to get her big mixing bowl. Her children loved her baking. She would make a double batch to take half to Thorthira, her daughter. On her way, she would drop some off to Vilenok as well. The orc probably had never tasted a muffin. Since she liked the carrot cake, she may just like muffins as well.
An idea struck Argora. An orc’s main diet contained meat. She would stuff the corn muffin with a mixture of fresh corn from her garden and sausage. Smiling, she realized she would try to be more accepting of the changes being made. In her heart, she wished others would be more accepting of her still loving the old ways.
Wednesday, July 15, 2015
This morning I woke up extremely exhausted. It is one of those days that I would love to just sleep the day away. I would if my brain would turn off. I guess I should be thankful. Since my muse keeps talking to me, I am forced to get to work on my writing. I was inspired to write about Argora having a bad morning which I did write, but I will save that for another day to post. Now though, I will continue with the two friends sitting in the gazebo discussing death, such a sunny topic.
Argora and Vilenok
Argora was appalled at the thought of her new friend being forgotten just because she would not die in battle. The orcs lived this way for centuries; yet, the world changed. She hoped their customs would also change in this case. Guilt wiggled in her thoughts. Change is what her children’s generation was trying. They needed to adapt to this new world. She clung to the old ways, as she suspected the orcs would as well. The confusion of it gave her a headache.
“I am not orc, so I hope when the day comes that I can mourn for you. I will create something as a monument for your life.”
“I will be dead. I won’t care.” Vilenok noticed the discouraged look that crossed Argora’s face, so she tried to soften her comment. “Now, I consider it a gift that you want to honor me as is the dwarf custom. What is this monument?”
“Well, it depends on the person. At the celebration of life, all the community members bring a precious metal or stone. During the ceremony, each person brings the item to the front of the assembly hall to a collector. In fact, I am going to be one of six collectors for Kathina. In the days that follow, the family will work with an artisan to create a monument or memento.” Argora pointed to the dish holding the carrot cake. “This was made from the items given to my mother’s memory.”
Vilenok looked at the item with a renewed interest. The base contained black strips of metal with green pieces filling in the blank areas in the forms of long slender leaves. The plate’s edge was black with more detail of leaves and parts of flower pedals like the lilies Argora grew in her front garden. The design continued under the carrot cake that sat on top of it. The rounded lid from the bottom flowed grouping of white lilies with the sky finished off the top of the design. The little handle at the top was made of the black medal.
“What is this made of?”
Argora smiled. “The green is emerald. The lilies are made of white opal, moonstone, and jade for different textures. The sky is of the finest crystal known as the Paraiba tourmaline. My mother was highly revered for her work with orphans.”
“Would you make something from my bones?”
“I didn’t think of that. Would your grave combers tag your body if it went into disgrace?”
“I don’t know.”
Both women thought in silence for a moment. A cool breeze caused a shiver to travel down Argora’s spine. She shook her head.
“Well, I think that is enough talk of death. We need to eat some cake.”
Argora lifted the lid off the plate. With a silver knife, she cut the layered carrot cake with cream cheese frosting. Grated carrots and chopped walnuts sprinkled through the fluffy texture of the cake. She laid the slices on the two plates and set them down with forks.
Poking her fork at the foreign food, Vilenok worried she might not like the cake. Watching out of the corner of her eye, she saw Argora use the fork to cut a bite sized piece and take a bite. Vilenok mirrored the movement. The sweetness of the frosting slid down her throat like a raw egg. The deep flavor of the cake followed. She looked up in surprise.
“This white stuff is questionable, but I think I like the spongy stuff with the carrots.”
“I can fix that.” Argora took the knife and scraped off the frosting and placed it on the side of the stained glass plate.
Vilenok took a second bite and closed her eyes in pleasure. “I like carrot cake.”
Tuesday, July 14, 2015
I suck at writing while I travel. Friday was a prime example. We wanted an early start, so I missed my normal time. We stopped in Great Falls for breakfast with my mother-in-law after driving over an hour. Back in the car, we stopped in Havre, Malta, and Glasgow for drinks and bathroom breaks. Arriving at our destination in Wolf Point, around five in the evening, nine hours of travel, the rest of the night was filled with family, dinner, and rodeo. No writing!!!
Frankly, I am surprised that at the moment I have time to write. Everyone is taking a nap. I would love to join them, but this will be my only time in seventy-two hours. Later today, we will participate in more stampede fun, rodeo, and family time. I love it all. Because of the schedule, I opted not to bring my laptop. I wanted to pack light and see if I missed it. On my last trip, I didn’t turn it on once. Well, I miss it. Now, I have to wait until Monday to type my chicken scratch. But on the positive side, I have been working on the story a bit.
Writing into the dark poses problems at times. I was faced with where to go next with the story. A dwarf had died and Vilenok (the orc) wondered about the mourning process. Hum, so did I. I have done no world building up to this point except vague ideas that are in my thoughts. Luckily yesterday (Friday), I had the excuse of traveling to the North Eastern corner of the stat to visit family. My work peculated, much like the second cup of coffee Argora made for Vilenok. This morning while trying to take a nap, visions started to point me in directions for both the orc and dwarf traditions. Vilenok will be the first orc in history to attend a dwarf death ceremony.
As I suspected, I didn’t get any writing done on Sunday. After driving seven hours and going to work for an hour, I was tapped out. I also picked up our beagle puppy from the kennel. He was hyper. I took him for a long walk and snuggled with him.
I didn’t think I would blow off Monday. I intended to write, but after taking Leo (the beagle) for his walk, I started working in my flower garden by the mailbox. I didn’t work all that hard, but I lost all ambition. I thought I would write in the evening which is always a bad thing to think. Instead, we went on a family picnic with friends. I did take the opportunity to take a mini artist date and play with my camera. I am hoping some of my pictures will work well to blow up. In fact, I am thinking I should start working on a collection. But, that is a topic for another day.
Argora and Vilenok
“What in the world are you doing?” the deep voice boomed, breaking the quiet morning.
Argora jumped and exclaimed in freight, dropping the weeds she just pulled from the garden filled with an assortment of colored lilies and daisies. She turned around to look up.
“You scared me half to death.” Argora pulled her gloves off her hand. As she began to stand up from her kneeling position, Vilenok took her elbow to help her stand up. Argora appreciated the help. Her joints ached from being crouched over the plants. “I am weeding my garden.”
“How do you determine a weed from anything else?” Vilenok leaned over to inspect the clump of green foliage piled in the driveway. “Some of it looks like grass.”
The dwarf woman chuckled. “True enough, but grass is supposed to be in the lawn not the garden. Well, unless it is ornamental. Weeds are anything I don’t want in my garden. This is a flower garden, so if it isn’t a pretty blossom, I pluck it out. The same is done in the vegetable garden. Don’t orcs garden?”
“Why would we do that? We are warriors.” Vilenok stood even straighter. “We eat meat and gather the rest of our food.” A thoughtful expression crossed her face. “I guess it could fill the time. Since moving here, I don’t get to roam the forest as much.”
“It can be a hard adjustment.” Argora bushed off the dirt on her skirt. “Well, let’s have some coffee and cake.”
Instead of going to the front door of her yellow house with white trim, Argora led the way around the side to her backyard. Amongst all the flowers, bushes, herbs, and flowers sat a little white gazebo with yellow chairs and a table. Vilenok ducked through the archway and sat down. A white tablecloth donned the table with a vase of purple irises off to the side. The table was set for them.
“This seems a bit fancy,” Vilenok said.
“Yes, I was in a mood to be surrounded by my pets.” Argora’s hand swept through the air to encompass her gardens’ delights. “My friend Kathina was such a lady. She would love to have tea in such a setting. I do this in her honor.”
“This must be part of the dwarf mourning ritual. How long does the mourning last?”
“Each dwarf has their own time of grief and their own individual rituals. As a community, we will have a burial ceremony to celebrate her life. Yesterday I was told the ceremony will be in a week. However, those closest to her may mourn for weeks afterward.”
“Will you mourn for a long time?”
“I will actively mourn until the ceremony is over. When I think of her after that, I will think of her fondly and miss her. I am sure the same happens for you. If it were a family member, you mourn longer.”
Argora looked up from pouring the coffee, waiting for more of an explanation. When none came, she finished pouring the tall mug for Vilenok. In her mug, she filled it a quarter full and finished filling it with cream and sugar. She had been experimenting with the drink. If she cut the bitter with the creamy sweetness, she liked it.
“So, orcs don’t mourn? I guess that confuses me. You never think about the dead or do anything in their memory?”
“The day an orc dies; their body is taken to the cliff of victory or the cliff of disgrace and thrown over for the land to take back its nutrients. If the orc died in battle, he body is tagged and it goes to victory. All other deaths are sent to disgrace and forgotten. The grave combers harvest the bones from disgrace for menial items like bowls or spoons. Victory gulch relatives use the bones for weapons and ornamental items.” Vilenok touched the chain at her neck that held a round disk with a design engraved on the front. “This is from my father’s shoulder bone. He was a great warrior. I carry this to remind me of my duty to his memory.”
“How will you be honored if you don’t have the opportunity to die in battle?”
Vilenok looked down into the blackness of the coffee. “I am doomed to disgrace since I didn’t die before the peace was made between our people.”