Afar – #writephoto

After Ladd left home with the small man, Knowledge went back to her job for the day. She was in the spinning room that day with some of the other women. They were sharing cotton and wool fabric and making clothing for their families. After work, Knowledge couldn’t get her mind off her family, so she took a walk to one of the hills surrounding Farnsworth. She stared in the direction of London, where Ladd would eventually arrive. She wished she could see him from afar.

Her daughter, Mercy, was taking Ladd’s departure particularly hard. She saw the tears in Mercy’s eyes during their goodbyes to Ladd. She would speak with Mercy tonight. What she didn’t know was that Mercy had had a difficult afternoon.

Mercy, Ladd’s 12-year old sister, cried all day the day Ladd left for his apprenticeship in wizardry In London. The two children had been close all of Mercy’s life. Ladd protected her. They shared their food. Ladd even gave her part of his food when times were lean for the family. She felt lost without him and could hardly believe she wouldn’t see him for a year. She had to go back to work, and she walked slowly and tearfully toward the Lord’s gardens.

Mercy heard someone running up behind her and she stopped and turned. It was Smith, who she would soon marry. She collapsed on the ground, sobbing.

“Oh, Smith, Ladd is gone to the city. I’m fearful I will never see him again,” Mercy cried.

Smith grabbed Mercy’s shoulders and held her at arm’s length.

“Your father just told me about Ladd’s apprenticeship. He thought I could, perhaps, comfort you.”

“No one can comfort me, Smith. My brother is gone. For a year.”

“Mercy, your brother is a man now. He has to make his own way,” Smith replied.

Ladd’s family had discussed, before he left, that they would not talk to the other villagers about his actual apprenticeship in wizardry. Mercy didn’t know if Smith knew this since she and Smith had not yet married.

Smith walked with Mercy to the Lord’s gardens, trying to comfort her. Mercy’s tears flowed freely. Smith stopped along the path and gently stopped Mercy.

“Mercy, this is a difficult time for you. Let me make it easier. We are to marry. Let’s go ahead and create our union.”

Mercy said, “You will have to ask my father. He takes care of such things.”

She desperately wanted to say no to Smith, but it was not her place. Smith was not a boy, but an older man. She did not love him. She wanted to love her husband.

“I already have a hut for us. It’s much like your parents’ hut. It has two nice rooms. I will make it as nice for you as I can, and I will treat you as if you were the Queen.”

Smith’s statement made Mercy smile.

“I will miss my parents, Smith,” Mercy said.

“My hut is near Lord Percival’s home. It’s only across the village green. You can see your parents as much as you desire, Mercy.”

“Smith, you are very nice,” said Mercy.

Smith smiled. “I’m going to speak with your father.”

Mercy didn’t comment. She walked on to the gardens and went back to work. Now she was crying both about Ladd and about her soon-to-be marriage.

 

Thanks, Sue!

Glow – Walk Toward the Light – #writephoto

93E57F4E-1DB4-41AE-B885-99D0057775D3

The door of the hut where Ladd lived with his family faced east. Dawn broke soon after Archer, Knowledge, and Mercy left for work and Ladd still sat in the straight chair in front of the fire. He noticed Cat, with the red eyes, had come in and taken a seat in front of the fire. Behind Cat, there came a small man. He stood at the doorway looking at Ladd with the glow of the sunlight diffused behind him.

“Good day, Ladd,” the small man said.

“Hullo. Do I know you?”

“No, but you will. I was sent by the Grand Wizard.”

Ladd jumped up, out of his chair, immediately.

“You will be my apprentice in my grocery shop in London. There you will learn the trade of shopkeeping. You will also learn the craft of wizardry for the benefit of the citizens of this village to which you will return.”

Ladd studied the small man as he spoke. He didn’t look like a wizard. He had short gray hair and a gray beard, with sparkling blue eyes. The glow of the rising sun surrounded him. He was slightly built, not as tall as Ladd.

The small man continued, “I know you don’t want to be a wizard. What you don’t know yet is that your background made it your destiny. Now gather your things and we will go see your family so you can say goodbye for now. Have you had breakfast?

“Yes,” Ladd said.

“I am going to eat while you get ready. Do you have mead?”

Ladd pointed out the mead to the small man and started to gather his things. Ladd didn’t take very much. Shortly, the two of them left, along with Cat, to find his family so he could say his goodbye’s.

Ladd and the small man ran into Knowledge right outside the door of the hut as she returned from her talk with Healer. The small man told Knowledge who he was and that he would be leaving with Ladd to begin Ladd’s apprenticeship. Knowledge asked him to wait while she found the rest of the family so they could say goodbye. As she said that, Archer walked up.

“What’s going on here?” Archer asked.

Knowledge replied, “This man was sent by the Grand Wizard to pick up Ladd. Ladd will be his apprentice in London. He will learn to be a shopkeeper as well as receive training in wizardry.”

“When will Ladd be allowed to return to us?” Archer asked.

The small man replied, “Within one year, sir. He will then take up the position as the wizard in the village. He may also want to keep a small shop here.”

Archer said, “This will be a loss for our family. I go out on the hunt often. I rely on Ladd to protect the family while I am gone. He is helpful in providing food for the women.”

“I’m sorry, sir. I serve at the pleasure of the Grand Wizard.”

“Then I don’t suppose we have any recourse,” Archer said.

The family came together with hugs and murmurs of good wishes and love. In a few moments, the small man and Ladd walked from the village as Ladd turned around and waved to his loved ones. Cat jumped up on his shoulder to get a ride.

Glass – #writephoto

 

As Ladd and the small man made their way toward London, they stopped to sleep at dusk at whatever shelter they could find. The first night on the road found them by a lake with water so still it looked like glass. There was a small shelter there that someone, probably another traveler, had built out of limbs and mud. It was enough to keep them out of the weather and away from the wild beasts. The small man decided to stop there for the night.

After they laid down their things, the small man instructed Ladd to gather some leaves to make them softer beds. The leaves from the past fall were still on the ground. Ladd went about the business of gathering leaves while the small man built a fire. Dark had not yet fallen.

The small man went to Ladd and asked him to follow him. Ladd stopped leaf-gathering and followed the man. He led him to the water’s edge and sat down. He motioned for the boy to sit down beside him.

“Have you ever seen a looking glass?” the small man asked the boy.

“Oh yes,” Ladd replied. “The mother of my friend from home has one.”

”Looking glasses are important in your job as a wizard,” said the small man. “They allow you to see through them to the future and in front of them to the past.’

Ladd just stared at him.

“I’ll give you a magic lesson,” the small man said, smiling. “First, we have to cast a circle. The circle will keep the evil powers out and keep us safe inside.”

With that, the small man picked up a stick and drew an oval in the sand around them. He then sat very still with his head bowed. He appeared to disappear deep inside himself. He opened his eyes, raised both arms and pointed out at the lake. Ladd saw that his eyes had turned the color of the lake.

In his hands, he had pieces of lake glass he had picked up, clear in one hand, colored in the other. He shook them and transferred the clear glass to the hand with the colored glass. He said these words,

“Glass and water, Glass and water. We mean you no bother. Show us Ladd’s village. Only a future image.”

From the surface of the lake, a shimmery image of Ladd’s village arose.

As it came into focus, Ladd cried out, “There’s my sister. That’s Mercy!”

“Who are the people with her, Ladd?” the small man asked gently.

“The man is Smith, her betrothed and the blacksmith in our village. There are children I don’t know. It looks like Mercy is carrying a child.”

The small man said, “Remember Ladd, that is an image of the future.”

Suddenly, the image vanished. The small man seemed to draw back into himself and Ladd was quiet. After some time passed, the small man opened his eyes, which were now back to normal. He spoke. He spoke,

“That was quite tiring. It’s time to sleep.”

As he and Ladd arose, he removed the circle with his foot and they walked toward the shelter. The small man placed the lake glass in one of the jars he carried. He and Ladd then put a blanket on their pallets of straw, laid down, and immediately went to sleep.

 

 

 

Cruising the Mediterranean: The Journey to Pisa, Italy

I didn’t sleep very long that first night on the cruise ship. I woke up two hours after I went to sleep. I recognized the signs of jet lag. I also recognized the signs of rough seas. We were sailing from Rome to the Pisa/Florence area and that big ship was rolling from side to side. I don’t get motion sick, but I was curious so I cautiously walked out on our balcony. It’s a good thing I was cautious. High wind and waves.

I came back inside and attempted to get online. We had free Wifi. HA! Yes, we did, but that did not include web access so I couldn’t blog while I was gone! I could send the briefest of messages or emails only. I could read, but I was still too anxious to focus. The ship had many lounges for many things – a coffee bar, a library, a reading room, and much more. Up on the 15th deck, it had the Horizons Lounge. It was open all night for those of us who couldn’t sleep and those of you who know me well know that I can never sleep, so I headed up to the Horizons Lounge. It was there I found my people, my tribe!

There was a panoramic view of the Mediterranean, lit by the ships lights. There were people, all of us with a book in our hands, who were sleepless. Everyone started introducing themselves and we suddenly had a whole host of new friends from many nationalities. A woman from New York City and I instantly liked each other and hung out together all week. She had never known anyone from the southern US and loved to listen to my accent. I’ve known many people from New York, but few women since I worked with mostly men. I liked her so much because she was brash and knew how to get what she wanted. I also met a woman from South Africa who was deep in culture shock and listened more than she talked.

Now I am NOT usually a drinker. But at 2 a.m., in the middle of the Mediterranean, with a bunch of interesting strangers who were drinking, what does a girl do? When I was working and had to travel extensively, my drink of choice was one of two things – tequila shots or champagne cocktails. I decided I would be wise to avoid tequila shots! Since this was a pretty high-end lounge, champagne cocktails WERE on the menu, so that’s what I started drinking. Much less dangerous.

We all sat there until 5 a.m., talking. The Americans, like me, seemed to be the target for questions and most of the questions were – you guessed it – about American politics. The Europeans were exceptionally nice, but very curious about American politics, not a subject easy to defend at this point in the life of U.S. politics, but I did my best to explain. I’m sure my bias did show. There was quite a contrast and compare discussion with their respective political systems.

At 5 a.m., we all finally went back to our staterooms to get ready to go into Pisa as the ship was docking. The next blog post has pictures and a discussion of Pisa. The picture above shows a bit of how the Sea looked on this rough night.

Cruising the Mediterranean: Rome and the Cruise Ship

The trip from the U.S. to Rome was relatively uneventful, but very long. Eight hours from Philadelphia to Rome. I discovered that I don’t fly well anymore. Planes are now so cramped and such close quarters. But, on to more pleasant things. We made our way from the Rome airport to the port where we would board our cruise ship. Rome has a Mediterranean climate and all along the way were small, country homes and every one had a garden. I think that struck me because kitchen gardening is becoming less and less common in the US. The scenery was beautiful. Palm trees and small homes with gardens all along the way. The photo above was taken the first time I looked out the window at the Mediterranean. You can see the tug boat pulling away from the cruise ship. The water was aqua, though it looks blue here.

We boarded our cruise ship, the Oceania Marina. Quite large and with all the amenities. It was filled with university alumni from many major universities, but passengers also included private passengers and other types of tour groups including a large group from Korea and another from the Philippines. Our stateroom was large with a big balcony. It was evening and we had a delicious dinner in one of the many restaurants onboard. Food was strictly European which was not so good for me. I eat a low-carb diet and the very generous buffets were filled with high-carb foods. I had resolved to eat what I wanted on this trip. I found that my taste in food has apparently changed permanently. I have been eating low carb for many years. None of the high carb foods appealed to me at all.

Bedtime came early for us that night. The ship left Rome around 7 p.m. to sail up the coast of Italy. One of the things we grew to dislike about the cruise was the fact we always sailed at night. We wished we had sailed during the day for at least a couple of days so we could see he coasts of the countries we visited. But it was not to be. By nightfall, it was chilly outside and raining, weather that would persist for most of the week.

Cruising the Mediterranean: Getting Prepared

We’re really excited! We’re leaving on an 8 day cruise on the Mediterranean tomorrow. We board the ship at an Italian port. We fly into Rome from Cincinnati, boarding our international flight in Philadelphia. We get to Rome in the early afternoon, their time. I’m not sure if the time difference is six hours or seven hours. They are on daylight savings time as we are, but we change back to standard time tonight. I’m not sure when they change back. But, we’ll be either six or seven hours ahead of Eastern Standard time, where we live. The port where our ship is docked is about one and one half hours by bus from the Rome airport. We have an extra one and one-half hours in case of delays. Not a lot!

Today, we are packing and trying to remember everything you have to remember for an international trip as well as for a trip where you will be on board a ship and on land. Also, the weather is variable at this time of year. It is usually in the 60s in the day and 40s at night, but it could be hot or cold, so packing is a challenge. Whew!

Our cruise line is the Oceania, which is heavily used for group tours. Our’s is a group tour through my university. Other universities are on the ship as well, but no one else. I’ll give you a report on this cruise line. The travel agent between the university and the cruise line is GoNext and I’ll also report in on their services.

My biggest concern is my dog and cat. My dog, Clarabella, does just fine when boarded at the kennel. My husband’s cat – not so much. He is terribly bonded to my husband and suffers when he isn’t with him. This will be the longest we’ve ever left him.

That’s it for now. The next time I will write will be our first night on the cruise ship as there will be no time until then. That will be Monday evening, whatever time zone Italy is in!  I’ll try to be more specific after I get oriented. Our first stop after Rome is beautiful Florence, Italy.

Oh! Ladies! There is a Canyon Ranch Spa on board the ship and I plan to take full advantage of it! 🙂

Back soon!

A Trip. Across the Western Mediterranean

Hello to my subscribers!

Beginning on Sunday, November 3, I’m going to take you on an Adventure. I’m taking you with me on a trip across the Western Mediterranean on a mid-size cruise ship. We’ll stop at a number of fascinating ports of call during the eight-day voyage.

We’re leaving for Rome, Italy on Sunday and the ship leaves on Monday, Italian time. The ship is a luxury vehicle and it should be quite a journey! Be prepared for lots of pictures and commentary.  The blog posts will start with Trip:

Talk to you soon! Start packing!

The Sorcery Shop – #writephoto

Ladd and the small man who had fetched him from the village of Farnsworth reached London after a long walk of about 20 kilometers. Cat had followed Ladd and when he had tired, he had jumped on Ladd’s shoulder for a ride. The small man led Ladd to a shop where sides of meat where hanging in the windows. When they entered with the small man’s key, Ladd realized this was the grocery shop the small man had said he would be an apprentice in while he learned the craft of being a wizard. There were basic foodstuffs in barrels sitting around such as flour, corn meal, sugar, corn, dried beans, and more. Along the wall, there was wool and a little cotton with which to make clothing and blankets. There were things in jars along one wall that Ladd didn’t recognize.

The store also sold a few basic hardware items. Horse hardware items like saddles. A few very basic tools.  Hammers, augers, chisels, trowels. All made from wood. Metal items included chain mail, some armor plating. The small man locked the door behind them, then quickly walked toward the back of the shop with Ladd following. He opened a door to the back room of the store.

”What is this place?” Ladd exclaimed when he saw the suit of armor by the door.

“First, my son, you may call me Uwin. We are in my quarters in the back of the shop. Not only do I live here, but I help those who are to be wizards find their calling.”

”Uwin, I didn’t want to be a wizard. The Grand Wizard chose me.”

Uwin answered, “Then that, my son, is your calling. You will live here with me while you learn your craft. You will perform the tasks I assign to you even though they won’t make much sense to you. I will assign those tasks which will help you to become a wizard. You may find that you enjoy becoming a wizard.”

“When may I go back to my village?” Ladd asked.

“When I determine you are ready, Ladd.” Uwin gently replied. “Now, get settled in and I’m going to go open the shop. You will have the afternoon to yourself to look around. We’ll start work tomorrow. I’m going to go open up the shop.”

After Uwin left, Ladd noticed that Cat had jumped up on one of the cots in the room. He assumed that was his cot so he laid down on it with Cat. Ladd fell asleep and dreamt that the big suit of armor had come alive and was staring down at him. He awakened and jumped up. He was certain he saw the suit of armor move back into it’s place by the door.

@Copyright Rosemary Carlson 2019

Thanks, Sue!


 

Balefire – #writephoto

“Ladd, come along, we’ll be late. They are lighting the balefire for Wizard tonight,” Mercy said.

“That old goat,” replied Ladd, Mercy’s older brother. “I didn’t like him anyway. The way he crept around, watching all of us. Making his silly predictions.”

“Oh, Ladd, hush,” Mercy cried. “Wizard is powerful. We dare not say things like that. Come, let’s run. We must get to the funeral. Mama is waiting and will be angry with us.”

Ladd and Mercy set off from their hut in the village through the woods toward the funeral pyre. The people of the village were all frightened. They didn’t know that wizards could die. After a session in the street when Wizard was making a series of predictions for his people, he suddenly crumbled and dropped to the dirt. The people left him there for three days. They thought he would rise again. Finally, the medicine woman who served the village examined Wizard and determined that he was dead.

There was much weeping and wailing among the people of the village. They had never heard of a wizard dying and they thought they had done something wicked to cause it. The men started building a funeral pyre outside of the village. The women prepared Wizard’s body, including Knowledge, Ladd and Mercy’s mother.

Knowledge told the children that she had heard from the other women that one of Wizard’s predictions was going to come true. The Grand Wizard from the King was coming to the village to talk to the people. She didn’t know when the visit would take place, but she was very uneasy about it.

Within a few days, the funeral pyre was ready for the balefire to be lit and for Wizard’s funeral to take place. Knowledge told Ladd and Mercy it would be that evening and they were expected to be there. She and the other women had to accompany Wizard’s body.

When Ladd and Mercy reached the funeral pyre, the balefire had been lit and was beginning to burn high. The people were standing back. They were fearful of what a balefire meant for a wizard.

Then, someone appeared from the shadows. Everyone gasped. It was the Grand Wizard sent from the King. He roared as he stood in front of the funeral pyre. He said that a wizard would be dispatched from the kingdom to the village to train someone to take Wizard’s place. The people of the village all looked at each other, wondering who would be the chosen one that would be trained.

The Grand Wizard raised his arms to the sky and a lightning bolt struck the ground right next to Ladd. The Grand Wizard declared that Ladd was the chosen one and that he should prepare himself for training to be the next wizard. Knowledge swooned and fell to the ground. Ladd stood there in shock, not knowing what to do. He didn’t want to be the wizard, but he was struck dumb.

The Grand Wizard disappeared, leaving the people of the village to the funeral and Ladd and his family to absorb the news. Mercy, standing off to the side, contemplated the trouble that would likely follow.

#SoCS – Ground

Linda’s Stream of Consciousness prompt this week is the word “ground.” As that word crossed my mind, it was easy to find something to write about. Going to “ground” to me is just about the same as “going to the well.” It means that, for me, it’s time to center myself, steady myself, and stand firmly on the ground in order to decide where life is going to take me next. I’m rather at a crossroads in my life with regard to this second career that I have carved out. I have to decide which direction I want to go.

The Universe is giving me, or maybe forcing me, to take some time to make my decisions. My husband and I are going to take a big trip very soon. We live in the U.S. and we’re going to Europe; specifically, the Mediterranean. I have been all over northern and Central Europe, but never to Southern Europe. We’re taking a wonderful cruise around Italy, France, and Spain and some of the islands in the sea. We’ll, of course, be on the ground in Europe some as we stop at ports of call. I can’t really make any decisions about my career or start anything new until we return. It will give me some time to do some thinking. This will be valuable, I think. I’ll take pictures and share them with al of you when we return.