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The Real LJ Idol - Season 11 - Week 8 - My True North

The Cthonic Goddess in the Sunless World Guiding the Lord of the Dead Rendered Directionless With Persephone’s First Leavetaking

After she left, he couldn’t abide their bed alone. He was disoriented, floundering within the silk and velvet, could not find his way from headboard to footboard. The pitched black room claustrophobic when once it had been a labyrinth with her at its heart.

He moved out of the windowless basement boudoir they had shared through the dying autumn and long descending wintertyde, and upstairs into the turreted guest room on the second floor. He had forgotten what it was to wake to sunlight, but more, he remembered that he had moved into the earth to avoid the moon whispering his name.

She began again. In earnest. The first night waxing, reaching for him, trying to pull him into the crescent of her sharp embrace. She shaped his name with craters, a cajoling, a plea, a seduction. He stood inside the curving windows of the turret bay and looked up, through the budding crowns of the dying Dutch Elm, and forbade her to come to him.

I love another now, he told her.

And she nodded, weeping stars, I know I know I know.

But her cold hands on his face soothed him. Her palms on his skin cooled the heated grief of the other one’s departure. Her constancy quelled the bottled rage he felt at the ways in which the Fates toyed with him, played with them all. Anger at those witchy women got one nowhere, their ears as though stoppered, their eyes shuttered closed, their hearts fathomless as caves. But still, he broke things, destroyed things, threw his fists at the walls and shouted out their three names like curses. Bring her back to me.

She saw this and despaired. I'm here, I'm still here. No one can love you as I love you. Let me, she moaned through the open window. The spring air smelled of death to him, the elms drooping in their disease, but he rose and shut them all to dampen her silver-plated pleas.

He would not be disloyal. Not to his love. He had already betrayed the moon for her. He and she had forsaken all those who loved them for one another. He turned his back on the lady who had stood beside him since the beginnings of time. His love ran from her mother, who threatened to extinguish the sun himself if he didn’t tell her where her daughter had gone.

That was the way of love, he mused. Loss. He was not well versed like others in the mechanics of ardor. For him, love was grief, the two intertwined and non-negotiable. He was broken-hearted without her, but he relished the agony of the experience. It tied him to her and her to him and soon soon he would begin pulling on that rope of blood and bone and sinew and drag her back down into his arms.

He began to sleep during the daylight hours, awake through the night. The nights were growing shorter as the world spun in her obsessive orbit around the star she longed to touch, to be immolated by.  He could feel her beneath his bare feet each time he stood out in the ruined garden. He could feel the earth straining with the effort it took to stay within the sun’s presence. He recognized how easy it would be for her to give up, let go and disappear into the frozen black edges of the unknown.

He would arch his back, bend his head, spread his arms wide and look up at the moon. There was a lingering ease with which he could give over, tell her take me take me take me.

The days dragged by; he slept the sleep of the dead in the guest bed. He had become a visitor in his own life. He fell asleep with all the long syllables of her name knocking on the backs of his teeth and woke with it spilling out broken from between his lips. He warned Morpheus away and threatened to let loose his nightmares if he wasn’t left alone.

The nights grew warmer with the season and brighter with moonlight. He spent hours at his desk writing letters to his true love and tying them to the legs of flittermice and foxes, begging them to take pity on him and deliver his missives.

He set a trap for a bat that had smirked at his request and watched the creature perish for two days after he caught it. It could not escape the sunlight, it could not unfold its wings and fly away. It mewled miserably, and he felt a kinship with its pain. The moon soon had enough of his cruelty and as the sun set on the third night, she opened the cage, cupped the poor thing in her hands and set it free.

He watched this and felt a twinge of shame.

She forgave him. She loved his impenetrable darkness, the secret of his being, the essence of his graveyard fragrance. Let me take this pain from you.

He shook his head. Something in the wafting of the summer breeze had made him a promise. It smelled of meadow grass and jasmine and the sunwarm flesh of his beloved. He went back into the house and pulled the curtains closed.

The next night she rapped on the window. Come outside. I have a gift for you.

In the moonlit garden, she stood waiting. He approached her, cautious, but they had once been inseparable friends, she would whisper the secrets of all the things she saw at night to him, and he would share with her all the stories of the souls who passed through his kingdom.

Her hands hidden behind her back, she brought out the silvered dipper, the ladle filled with stars and satellites, moondust and comets. Hold out both your hands.

She poured them into his palms, the North Star glistening brightest, reflecting his lifeline. He was overcome with gratitude and kissed her chastely on the mouth. He turned and ran into the house, leaping three stairs at a time down into the basement, unlocking the bedroom door with a key on a ribbon around his neck. Inside, breathless, he tossed them all up onto the ceiling.

He was so very tired. He was lonely, and had never ever felt so lost. He crawled into the bed, and in the darkness he knew so well, the vault above his head unfolded like a map. He fell into sleep.

Waiting for her.
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existential club

* Now I know, November is always always for the rest of my time going to be a personal Hell. And maybe parts of December, too. I don't know yet, for sure. The anniversary of my father's death is a spectre that haunts both the inside and outside of my being. Grief is the price we pay for love. And it costs not less than everything.

"Quick now, here, now, always-
A condition of complete simplicity
(Costing not less than everything)
And all shall be well and
All manner of thing shall be well
When the tongues of flame are in-folded
Into the crowned knot of fire
And the fire and the rose are one."

~ T.S. Eliot The Four Quartets

I have lines from Eliot's masterpiece tattooed ON MY BODY. I know the truths in which he delves, but bereavement is a blind creature that cannot read and oftentimes can do nothing more than wail and stumble through the darker parts of existence. It's exhausting, but sleep brings no respite because Sleep and Dream cohabitate in the body.

So, I stumbled through the holiday OF GIVING THANKS and I am thankful, I am. And yet. But still.

* We got snow and lots of it! It's gone now. This is NorCal not New England, but it was glorious while it lasted. Now it's raining and that's wonderful as well.

Two of the four doe out the back door. A young skittish buck was hanging about. He kinda sorta knows its the rut....but not sure what to do with that knowledge?

snowy deer.jpg

The house from one of the driveways.


* I have been giving myself the task of reading a minimum of 50 pages a day. Trying to read shorter stuff rather than my beloved English Novel preference. So many astonishing short stories in the world, though! I'm in love with this collection curated by *genuflect* Laird Hunt and I recommend it heartily. American Midnight:  Tales of the Dark.


* This morning I'm doing something I haven't done in two years - getting out of the house for a yoga class. Go, me! :)

Hope you all are well and filled with the spirit of the season!
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(no subject)

IT'S SNOWING!!! And it's glorious. The first snow is always so beautiful and emotionally impactful. This is more than a first snow, though, for this area. It's a STORM and we've went from slushy rain to steady small flakes to a white white world within two hours yesterday. And it didn't stop until long after bedtime. Today we are in a Winter Wonderland and it's predicted to start againt his afternoon and snow through the night. Kilding1 and her boy will have to stay with my mother tomorrow night as there is no way they are going to want to come up here in the dark and leave early Friday morning for his family dinner.

So, here's a Victorian Folk Horror rec for you. I know there are already flisters who LOVE Colin Morgan but it took me three episodes to see that our boy had grown up and recognize him. He's fantastic in this! The cinemetagrophy is gorgeous. The dialogue spot on and the story very very compelling. BUT IT GOT CANCELLED. After the first six episodes and I think that was a serious mistake on the part of the BBC. I mean, really???? It was so freakin' original and just utterly fantastic. WHY????????????? Anyway, The Living and the Dead. The costuming is beyond the beyonds, just fantabulous. And the little farmyard and the WHEAT. So much wheat. Which is where the folk horror genre comes in. I have two episodes left and I'm already bummed out about it.

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(no subject)

Waiting for PG&E to cut our power....any second now...for the next 48 hours. I know I owe emails (I see you ashbet!) and comment responses. Trying to get something to surface for this week's Idol prompt but so far, not much. I tried to post a Clash video in the Work Room in which "feckless" is used as a lyric but that doesn't seem to have worked.

Watching Folk Horror - found Blood on Satan's Claw on YouTube and it was dark and amusing and unsettling. 1971 you crazy. And I loved loved loved the disturbing and strange A Field In England. I do recommend that one but be prepared for an unusual approach to film.

I also followed a bread crumb trail from Young Goodman Brown to Stephen King's deeply horrific and brilliantly penned short story The Man in the Black Suit. You can read that online here -
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(no subject)

Folk Horror. There are far more written works that could be considered part of this genre than film....and far far far more poetry! That's something. So, beginning at a very good place to begin, I read Nathaniel Hawthorne's Young Goodman Brown this morning. It's a fast read but very worthy of a second and third return. Hawthorne really was a master and I think is considered overly much by many Americans because The Scarlet Letter is taught in high school and similarly to Romeo & Juliet isn't really taught the way that it should be taught - to teenagers. TRUTHFULLY. Hawthorne was very much a skilled short story writer and if you don't know him, he's worth seeking out.

YGB is disturbing and strange and I think has multiple interpretations.

I think I'll rewatch Oldman and Moore in A Scarlet Letter this evening. And if you haven't seen THAT - WHY ON EARTH NOT???

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engarian says - Sometimes you just have to play ...

▪️First job – packing plums at a plum orchard down the road
▪️Current job – I run my husband's office. We own our own business. I'm also a writer/editor for a monthly parenting magazine.
▪️Dream Job - crewmate on ice crusher up north
▪️Favorite food – anything pumpkin
▪️Favorite dog - Aibo. I want a robot dog.
▪️Favorite footwear – boots boots boots
▪️Favorite Candy – dark chocolate
▪️Favorite Ice Cream - coffee with caramel sauce
▪️Your Vehicle – Volvo XC wagon
▪️Favorite Holiday - All Hallow's Eve
▪️Night owl or early bird- early early bird. I like to be up before everyone else, enjoying the quiet energy of the house and waiting for the sun to rise.
▪️Favorite day of the week - all of them
▪️Tattoos - five and a full sleeve
▪️Like to cook – Not really, but I'm told I'm very good. I do love to bake!
▪️Can you drive a stick shift – My fave! The wagon is a slapstick but I would pay $$$ for a real manual transmission in a Volvo wagon.
▪️Favorite color - black and green
▪️Do you like vegetables? pumpkin?
▪️Do you wear glasses - since the third grade. I switch with contact lenses.
▪️Favorite season - Autumn. But as I grow older I find myself loving each seasonal transtion.

Now you know a little about me.
Someone do this with me!
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(no subject)

* Menfolk have gone deep-sea fishing, so I juggled my usual schedule and I'm spending the next few days with my mother. She wants to get a headstart on holiday shopping, so I guess that's a good thing? Hope is the thing with wings and all that. But the hopelessness has been pretty pervasive. I sometimes wonder if I'm becoming what would be deemed clinically depressed. There's so many things you learn one time only and the lesson cannot be applied. It must be endured.

* I have a soft spot for deep forest witchy dark folk tale films. Did you know this is a genre?! Me neither, but it is. Folk Horror. I will compile my particular faves list if flisters are interested. I would much rather descend into words than film and would enjoy a rousing discussion of books that fall into this category - In the House in the Dark of the Woods?!?!?!?! Those are harder to find. This is also a genre in music and we enjoy it very much here - Darkgrass. Munly, Munly, Munly! So, we queued up Hagazussa the other night. D fell promptly asleep but I really enjoyed it. Dark, yep. Eerie, yes. Disturbing, quite. But it's not horror, it's Folk Horror and in that it delivered wonderfully. Atmospheric and thought-provoking.

* Alone last night I tried to delve into S1 of The Vampire Diaries but it's conflicting for me. I love it yet returning to it makes me sad. TVD is my Buffy or Supernatural or Harry Potter. So, I turned it off and picked up the knitting again. I really want to finish these gifts before Christmas!

Almost ten years on now, and Peej's gorgeous remembrance of The Great War - Let England Shake - still moves deeply.

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The Real LJ Idol - My enemies are all too familiar. They're the ones who used to call me friend.

This then is the experience of death descending, she thinks. She can hear them cutting the tin wall of her cabin, folding back the sheared edges, making enough room for one of them to crawl through. She knows someone is coming for her. She does not know that the machete she had confiscated from a poacher weeks before is the weapon slung over this lifetaker’s shoulders.

The jungle never sleeps, but after two dozen years the screams and cries and wooshing of the windswept Senecio and lobelia have become her nightly lullaby. Now, though, she is awake, straining to listen to the muttering of murderous men.

She is one to always measure and weigh, analyze and observe in shorthand. Woken from a slightly intoxicated sleep by the noise of them forcing entry, her scientific mind scrawls out the equation: enemy = intruder ÷ her graceless temper + a country torn to the smallest bits and pieces of human existence x her endless + endless + complicated grief.

She wonders; is it her sworn enemies, the poachers; her new friends, the young primatologists; or her old friends turned lethal by the hand of greed. She closes her eyes and waits.


She entered the jungle, naïve and young but so earnest, so very earnest. She longed to see the wildest creatures that inhabit the earth in the most untamed environments. She did and did not see this. She saw the wild creatures poached mercilessly, the jungles stripped relentlessly, and the minerals mined as though dug out of a bottomless wealth.

She does not leave the jungle, but dies there, bitter with knowledge of man’s inhumanity to man, the longest war between human and animal. Aeons of human hatred for nature.

She acknowledges to her self, in those last tense minutes, struggling to load the gun in the black of the night, that the joints in her body, the will of her blood, and the temperament in her heart have become exhausted by the work, the unrewarded work.

She is tired. The work has proven beyond her abilities. She has worn out her soul.

She drops the gun, discards the clip – it’s the wrong one regardless - and recognizes the waiting grave, in the family plot she dug by hand, one small human resting amongst the giant butchered beasts she loved and buried. And mourns.


She had friends once. She considers it, pouring another drink. Gin or island rum, imported vodka or smuggled bourbon - she has no preference, it all does the work she assigns it. Dulls the senses, fogs the memories, lessens the pain and quells the outrage.

Now she is never not outraged, enraged, indignant, resentful. Her temper is legendary, the fury that has grown within her is spiteful and very, very dangerous.

The danger is to her.

She cannot save the gorillas, and she will not save herself. Her friends become quiet and uncomfortable in the face of her existential bereavement. She mourns her innocent self, she mourns the slaughtered gorillas. Weeping and raging at dinner parties. Why don’t you see?! She stops attending, she stops being invited.

There is no consolation but the fact that she has tried.

She gives up on human friendship. It is a falsehood in her heart. She climbs the narrow trail up into the mountains and spends days and nights in a gorilla nest of her making.

When she comes back down to camp she uses the stinging nettles to punish those who would do her friends harm.


Before, she had dreams of sunlight and calm seas. Lifeboats and baskets overflowing with fruit balanced high on the heads of willowy women walking with careful steps. Her field books were filled with sketches, the nostril patterning that she had deciphered, this a father, that a mother, cousins, aunts and uncles. The newborns hidden in their mother’s arms for months. The gorilla she had known since his infancy, their friendship spelled his doom. Her love for him brought him his brutal death.

After, she suffered nightmares of running through the dark jungle, traps lying in wait, nooses hungry for her head or hands or feet, the sounds of wrath in the wind-whipped tree tops, a dark ocean crashing onto the shore of her body. The fruit spoiled, the paths tangled, and the bodies gutted.


His mutilation brings on unprecedented panic attacks, screaming, curled into a ball on the floor of her cabin, weeping until her breath cannot be caught. Save him, save him, save me. Save us all.


Who is the beast that uses a gorilla’s severed hand as an ashtray?


I am their mother now, she realizes. I am mother of all flora and fauna. The gorillas, the elephants, the lions, the warthogs, the hyaena. The fruiting bush and the flooding plain. I am the caretaker and protectress. Deep inside the jungle, I have come to watch over them all.

I will fail.

My life’s mission is sacrifice and martyrdom.


She writes to Jane and Farley, and reassures them that anthromorphizing is the way humans learn empathy. It’s how to teach compassion.

Impart this. Animals love, animals hate. They know joy and fear. They smile and frown, play and fight. They mother and father. They are sister and brother and aunt and uncle and cousin and friend and lover. They are us and we are them, and the earth is mother to all.

We live such short lives.


She yearns to hold the infant gorilla, like a child, and coo nonsense into her watchful gaze. She sees the silverbacks willing to die protecting the females and the young and she recognizes nobility.

She loved Digit. She could not keep him safe.

It is I who is the ignoble ape.


Gorilla skulls, gorilla hand ashtrays, orphaned wildlife young, ivory, big game trophies. Human animals driven by economics. Create the words ecology, conservation. The mountain gorillas do not stand in the way of human life, greed is misplaced, the oil that pools beneath the volcano belongs to the earth herself, the blood of the gunshot gorillas will not wash off your souls.

Our souls.


Twenty years after her life ends brutally, the way the lives of too many of Africa’s creatures end, slaughter finishes four of the gorillas she loved. Men who were told that the park was protected because of the mountain gorillas, reasoned that if the gorillas were gone, the park would be abandoned.

Oil is money and money is greed; the battery of the land is a criminal act, but no one is prosecuting.

The villagers craft makeshift litters and bind the bodies to them, then heft the burdens onto their shoulders. They carry each brutalized animal down the mountain, through the streets; a funeral procession. Don’t look away, they implore.

The world looks away.


Thirty years after her murder, a twelve-year-old girl grows up with a new language of ecology and conservation, environmentalism and activism, and suffers selective mutism. The world won’t listen. When she finally is ready to speak, she roars - How dare you continue to look away and come here saying that you're doing enough, when the politics and solutions needed are still nowhere in sight.


No one knows, because she never tells them. She learns she must speak without mentioning the life she endures inside her heart.

The first time she looked into the eyes of a gorilla she understood she would fail them all. This terrible hopelessness filled her until finally – it was part of her destiny - with two blows of a poacher’s machete, it transformed.

When you realize the value of all life you dwell less on what is past and concentrate on the preservation of the future — the last words in the last journal of Dian Fossey.
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(no subject)

* Just returned from the funeral for my co-sexton's mother. She's been in a comatose state the past two weeks and is now gone. She touched so many folks when she was well and there were quite a few gathered graveside to say goodbye. I acted sexton so D could grieve his mother. He made her casket, opened the grave, lowered the coffin and did a bulk of filling the grave back in. The mortician who helped us so much with my father was in attendance and just marveling at how funerals are conducted at our tiny mountain cemetery. "You don't see this in the valley," he said. "It's something amazing and wonderful." And it was. RIP, Alice.

* It's cold up here. 30 degrees this morning. But no rain in sight. Folks at the graveyard looked exhausted. Utterly worn out. These people are older and so many don't have generators. It takes a toll. PGE saying today they will issue $100 credits. That's a start. Not sure if there are more outages on the horizon. Anniversary of the Camp Fire is next maybe? Also, we are hearing there will be a Camp Fire documentary streaming on Netflix this Friday.

* Home alone last night and I queued up On Body and Soul, a Hungarian arthaus film. It was very difficult, for several reasons, but worth the emotional investment. Several triggering things, but it gives it away to explain them. Some art just needs to be gone into blind. The Hungarian language is not easy and it's stunning to spend two hours with it.

* That review just staggered me a bit with this - the trope of a forest as a milieu for unconscious awakening and refuge, one which has a long history in literature and film. I've been trying to sort out my recent forays into writing FOREST and I think that definition explains the WHY.


(no subject)

Very relieved, for him and his loved ones, that an inquest returned a cause of death as accidental. He fell. He in no way jumped.

RIP Zombie Boy.