Sunday, September 17, 2017

The Old Mermaids Datebook 2018

This year is the 10th anniversary of the first publication of Church of the Old Mermaids, my most popular novel to date. In celebration of that, we created the Old Mermaids Datebook 2018 which is filled with my photographs, quotes from the Old Mermaids, and whimsical celebrations. Also this fall, Green Snake Publishing will publish The Second Book of Old Mermaids Tales. AND on February 1, 2018, The Old Mermaids Mystery School begins. (More on all of that later!)

Read more here...

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

15 Tales by Mario Milosevic

Mario Milosevic's new short story collection, 15 Strange Tales of Crime and Mystery, is chock-full of his brilliant, weird, quirky, mysterious work. Some of these stories have been published before—notably some from Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine—and some are brand new. And the cover photograph is by me. (In fact, my Facebook peeps recommended I use that photo for a cover when they first saw it last year. And now we have!) I hope you'll check it out.

Read more here...

The Salmon Mysteries Workbook

Yay, yay, yay! I've put together a workbook for The Salmon Mysteries. We created a place where you can write, draw, collage while celebrating the Mysteries. We're going to create a Facebook private group so together we can participate virtually as well as...non-virtually. If you're on Facebook and want to participate, watch for my announcement about it. In the meanwhile, you can go here to purchase The Salmon Mysteries Workbook and here to find a little more about it.

Read more here...

Monday, April 10, 2017

My Photography

In-between working on about four different novels, I have also been working on my photography. Knock wood, I'm learning and getting better all the time. I've chosen about 400 of my 24,000 plus photos to post and sell on smugmug, a user-friendly outlet for people who want to buy photos. I hope you'll check it out here. 

Read more here...

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Stepping Out and In

Every time I contemplate writing something, I feel almost mute—and a bit sick to my stomach. I have been writing since I could, telling stories through pictures and then words for decades. Yet lately, I have felt surrounded by people screaming and distorting and being generally...inhumane...and I haven’t want to jump into the fray. 

Most of this feeling came as a result of me spending too much time on social media, I know. But in real life, too, I kept encountering one bad actor after another, usually accompanied by an unleashed dog or sitting in a vehicle that was too close to the backside of my own vehicle for my comfort.

I realized not long ago that I had lost almost all faith in my fellow humans. My own natural and life-long compassion and empathy disappeared. I began responding aggressively and angrily to those who were behaving badly. Given where I live—in a country where a lot of people have guns—I figured if I didn’t get myself under control, I was going to get myself dead—or badly hurt. So I stepped off.


Most days, I stepped onto the trail at a nearby refuge.

What a relief it has been. I have subjected myself to very little news. No advertising, little news, no social media. I took thousands of photographs of cottonwoods, ospreys, woodpeckers, great blue herons, finches, red winged-blackbirds, and many ducks and turtles. I soon began to sleep better, my anger dissipated, and my compassion and empathy began to return.

On this particular refuge trail, I encounter so many kind and interesting people. We stop and talk to each other about the weather, the watershed, the birds (and other wild life). Not everyone wants to talk, of course. I passed one older gentleman almost every day for a couple of weeks. At first we just nodded to one another. Then after several days, I said hello, and he answered me likewise. In another day or two, he smiled as he said hello. Then one day, we stopped and talked to one another about the birds we had seen that day, and then we continued on our separate ways. 

A couple of times I have encountered people with dogs on the trail or about to get on the trail. (No dogs are allowed on this particular trail. It’s critical habitat.) In my recent naturalist training, the ranger had suggested that we make everyone feel welcome and safe at the refuge. I have remembered this each time I’ve met someone with a dog. 

One woman was looking for water for her dog. (Actually, she had borrowed the dog from a friend—so I guess that’s why she hadn’t brought water!) I offered her my water. As I poured water into the dog’s dish, I asked her all about the dog. Honestly, I didn’t care. I was just practicing being kind. Sometimes it does take practice.

 Once I encountered a group of young people with a dog. I stopped and said hello. “How are you doing? Hey, you probably didn’t realize it but this is critical habitat, and no dogs are allowed here.” The young man with the dog said someone had just told him, and they were leaving. I didn’t scream at him and point out prominent signs about no dogs on the trail—in fact, I didn’t even THINK about screaming at him. 

No screaming. No meltdown. All was well in River City.

I also haven’t had any road rage incidents lately. If someone tailgates me, I move over as soon as I can. If I can’t move, I imagine being surrounded by protective runes. (Hey, some of you pray. Some of you curse. I throw out runes or Celtic chants.) I’ve also started listening to audio books again. I guess that makes me a distracted driver, but I think it makes me a better driver: Listening to a good book keeps me from focusing on the asshat on my tail.

I have been doing my library work, too, and researching two novels. I won’t mention which ones just in case nothing ever comes of the research. I’m enjoying the research even though I’m not actually feeling any urge to write.

Right now, it’s important to me to try and disengage from as many of the cultural smokescreens as I can as I try to figure out what’s true (and real) in my life and in the world. It’s always been important to me to know the truth. I don’t mean that in some pompous or na├»ve way. I want to know what’s true. What’s real. I have always believed there is so much we don’t know. I think much of our full potential gets dampened or wounded or never realized because of cultural constraints: by what our culture tells us is so, what advertising tells us is so, what social media tells us is so. What we’ve been told doesn’t make it necessarily so, of course, but we don’t always understand this.

No matter who we are, we are affected by the culture—by the cultures of our family, friends, school, church, country, work. They want us to stay a part of them, they don’t want us to change, they don’t want us to rock the boat. This isn’t because of any evil intent. It’s about survival of the tribe. Flying the coop or living up to our dreams or full potential doesn’t maintain the status quo.

I know this sounds vague. It’s late. I’m tired. Maybe I can’t make it sound concrete. It’s like a fish who has lived its whole life in a fish bowl trying to talk about what it would be like to live in an ocean, I suppose.

I believe every decision we make—at least every important decision—is influenced by our various cultures. I believe illness and health and how we get well (or don’t get well) is influenced by our cultures. Scientists now know that our gene codes are only a small part of what makes us healthy or ill. They are learning from the study of epigenetics that our environment, including our cultures, can change and does affect our health.  

During this respite from social media, I have been trying to get well, something I’ve done for nearly every day of the last 30 years, so I’ve been thinking a lot about what makes us ill and what makes us healthy. I want to know the truth of what ails me so I can be well. 

Actually, I just want to be well. Maybe the truth doesn’t matter. 

Just bring me wellness. 

As you know, the musician Prince died last week. When Mario first told me, in an offhand way, I felt like I’d been punched in the stomach. I was certain I had heard it wrong. How could Prince be dead? He was younger than I was. And he had always seemed himself. He seemed to go his own way, to understand himself and his talent. I have chaffed at the constraints of my culture, but I have never thrown it off fully, not in a healthy way. Prince seemed full of himself. I’ve always felt that the world would be so much better off if each of us was full of our true self—not the self created by cultural constraints.

Later that day, the day Prince died, I wondered what I would have done with my life had I been able to truly know what I wanted. Would I have been a writer? I had wanted to be a writer for almost as long as I could remember. I was good at it, and I liked the accolades I got when I did it. Was that the reason I had become a writer?

I let my mind wander. I asked myself: What would I be now if I could be anyone? What would I do if I could do anything and be good at it? 

One word floated into my head: healer.


What? No, that couldn’t be right. The thought of being a doctor or a nurse was repulsive to me. Not because there’s something wrong with those professions: I just wouldn’t be good at it. I’m queasy. I don’t have a strong stomach. I pick up symptoms easily. 

Yet I had studied folk healing for almost twenty-five years. I had even practiced some of what I learned. Sometimes I felt like I had helped people; sometimes I had no idea. I was even able to help myself a few times. But with the big thing that had ailed me for so many years, I was helpless. And I was still sick. After a while I thought, who gives a shit? If I can’t help myself, what good is it? If it was real, I’d be well. So I didn't’t believe in it.

I believe in what works: whether it’s a god or a medicine, a job or a relationship.

Because if it works, then it’s true.
And even if it had worked for some people, why hadn’t it worked for me?

Why? Why? Why?


Anyway. It was strange, odd, unexpected: healer. Did I really want to be a healer when I grew up?

I’m not sure what it means. Maybe nothing at all. I don’t really know what this post means. Maybe nothing at all. It’s almost as if words are new to me. Again. 

Whether I suddenly become a healer, tinker, tailor, soldier, or baker, I know I need to continue to step out. I don’t want to be the witch at the edge of the village, alone except when people need her. Nor do I want to be the one in the middle of everything stirring up trouble and feeling completely burned out. Somehow I need to balance out my despair over what is happening in the world with the joy of living in this beautiful world. I need to find my place in this old world.

Now, every morning I go outside and stand in my bare feet on the cold wet grass. I imagine my roots going down into the ground to wrap around the roots of other trees growing in the area. And then I reach my arms up into the sky and imagine myself eating light, just like the trees. This always makes me smile. And it feels...chilly and thrilling. 

I realized today it’s not just other people I’ve lost faith in. I’ve lost faith in myself and my abilities. I need to regain some trust and confidence in myself again, in my ability to be in this world as a whole, hale, healthy, true being. Maybe as I wash away the influences of the culture, I will become full of my true self.

Wouldn’t that be something? 

If I could do that, I guess I would be a healer. 


Read more here...

Monday, February 1, 2016

Queendom: Feast of the Saints

Queendom: Feast of the Saints is now available!

From the cover: Kim Antieau dazzles readers with stunning tales of our world in novels like The Jigsaw Woman and The Gaia Websters. She does it again with Queendom: Feast of the Saints, an epic saga of empire and family brought to the brink of destruction. 

Hundreds of years after The Fall, life in the nation state of Queendom remains idyllic and lively. The royal Villanueva family and their troupe of servants, led by Queen Reina, all live and work at the Hearth, the mysterious stone building created before The Fall. 

All is well in this paradise for creatives until a new chef arrives to practice the Unified Field Theory of Spices and the former queen returns with ambitious and disruptive plans of her own. Both women harbor secrets that could shatter the Queendom. 

Meanwhile, those exiled to the Hinterlands begin to threaten the country. When disaster strikes, Reina, along with her soothsayer advisor, must rally the family, the downstairs staff, and all of the Queendom to save the nation from ruin. 

A seductive tale of love and betrayal as well as an examination of the illusory nature of paradise, Queendom: Feast of the Saints begins a majestic series sure to satisfy Kim Antieau’s current readers and win her many more.

(Publishers Weekly reviewed the novel here. Print copies are available through Amazon, and you can pre-order the e-book edition at any of your favorite e-book online stores.)

Read more here...

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Church of the Old Mermaids is Now an Audiobook!

The wonderful Elinor Bell narrates Church of the Old Mermaid in the new audio book. Take a listen. She does a fabulous job with this favorite book of so many of my readers. 

Read more here...

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Interview about Maternal Instincts

I did an interview about Maternal Instincts over at Green Snake Publishing. You can find it here.

(The photo? We're the Beatles on Abbey Road. :-) I'm the one on the left with the white hair and flowery dress.)

Read more here...

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Maternal Instincts Has Been Published!

My novel Maternal Instincts has been published. It's available in print and in all your e-book stores. (If it's not available as an e-book tonight, it will be tomorrow.)

Here's the cover blurb: An impulsive ex-cop with her share of troubles, Katie Kelly retreats to Beauty Falls, the small Pacific Northwest town where she spent her summers as a teen until the night she and five of her friends went into the woods and only four came out. Now, years later, haunted by the past, kicked off the police force, Katie must rely on her instincts. When an 11-year-old kidnapped girl begs Katie for help, she grabs the girl and runs. Kate and the girl plunge into a perilous game of cat and mouse, where family secrets and moneyed interests make a deadly combination. Katie quickly discovers that learning to tell the bad guys from the good guys means the difference between life and death. For her and the girl.

Read more here...

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Whackadoodle Times & Whackadoodle Times Two

 Together at last: Whackadoodle Times and Whackadoodle Times Two! Remember, if you buy the print edition through Amazon, you can get the e-book for free. These books are funny, naughty, moving, and sometimes outrageous. I had more fun writing these two books than any books I've ever written. Enjoy!

Read more here...

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Whackadoodle Times Two is Here!

Whackadoodle Times Two has been published! I'm just tickled that I've written my first real life sequel, and it's the sequel to Whackadoodle Times, which was my all time favorite book to write because Brooke McMurphy will say or do almost anything. I love that. And she has a good heart. Mostly I love writing these Brooke McMurphy books because I have fun. I cry some, and I laugh a lot. I hope you will, too.

Read more here...

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Answering the Creative Call is Published!

I'm pleased to announce that Answering the Creative Call has been published! Here's from the Green Snake Publishing site. Here's the FAQ from my website.

Read more here...

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Bees, Bees, Bees...What to Do?

I am often asked to sign petitions to ban certain pesticides because of Colony Collapse Disorder. Neonicotinoids have been found to cause problems for the bees. Although I believe neonicotinoids should be banned, I don't think that will completely solve the problem with the bees or CCD. For one thing, the chemical companies will come up with another pesticide which will continue to cause problems and/or will cause other significant problems, and it'll take years to ban that pesticide. Chemical pesticides in general are the problem. 

Pesticides are everywhere. Many beekeepers feed their bees high fructose corn syrup. Nearly all corn in the US is heavily treated with pesticides. HFCS has a high concentration of pesticides in it. When it's fed to bees, bees are getting a big dose of pesticides. (And yes, certain pesticides seem to cause more harm than others, but they can't always tell which pesticide it is.) One of the things they believe is happening with the bees is that their immune systems are getting suppressed. This may be caused by exposure to pesticides. The bees are then more susceptible to disease. (And this business of hauling hives all over the country is a problem, too: It's not healthy for the bees.)

I keep thinking of my little neighbor children. I know they're getting HFCS in their diets. Most of the people in our country are exposed to HFCS on a daily basis. That means they are getting concentrations of pesticides from HFCS. Unfortunately, we are also getting exposed to pesticides in many other ways. Last I investigated, 60% of the air in the US was contaminated with some type of pesticide. (This site says 80%!) So any way we can reduce our exposure is a good idea. We need to especially reduce the exposing children and animals. Their uptake of pesticides, unfortunately, is greater than adults because of their metabolisms. And they get it from the lawns they play on, the fields they run through, the food they eat, and the air they breathe. 

By the way, one might think then that substituting honey for HFCS in our foods is one answer. It's not. Honey is highly contaminated with pesticides (as well as heavy metals). Honey that claims to be organic probably is not. Bees travel wide and far, so unless you've got a lot of land where no chemicals are used and you know there is no drift, the honey is contaminated with pesticides. AND even if you do have land like that (or your beekeeper does), where did you or the beekeeper get the starter wax? 98% of starter wax is contaminated with pesticides. Which means the hive and therefore the honey is contaminated with pesticides.

As I said, the problem is pesticides in general. It's not about coming up with a new chemical pesticide. It's about chemical pesticides in general. I don't think there's any coincidence in the skyrocketing rates of cancer and immune disorders since the nineteen forties—which is when the "pesticide era" began. 

The chemical companies are legion. They have powerful lobbyists. They've got more money than God, as my mother used to say. In my mind, chemical companies like Bayer are the evil empire. They are Morgoth. So what do we do? We don't purchase those products, for one. We don't use any kind of chemical pesticide or chemical fertilizer. We grow organic gardens and organic lawns. We nag our families and friends about NOT using these products. We volunteer to weed schools and parks to keep them using pesticides. We learn and use permaculture methods. Permaculture will save the world, I believe. IF WE JUST DO IT. Permaculture works with nature. 

People often tell me they do not use pesticides. But then when I ask them certain questions, I'll discover they actually do use pesticides. They just didn't realize it. Properly used, the word pesticide is an umbrella term. Cide means kill. A pesticide kills a pest. So the Department of Agriculture uses the term pesticide to mean: an herbicide (killing plants), insecticide (killing insects), fungicide (killing fungus), rodenticides (killing rodents), etc. So if you're using OFF, RAID, Round-up, or any variation of these, you are using a pesticide. If you're treating your animals with a flea bath or putting on a flea collar, you are using a pesticide. If you use a bug bomb, you are using a pesticide. If you use any of these products, you're exposing yourself, your family, your animals, and your planet to harmful chemicals. 

There are natural alternatives to all of these products. What we hear the most from people—after working on this issue for 30 years—is this: “But when I pull the weeds, they just come back.” Yes, but when you use Round-up the weeds also come back. “When we use vinegar (or hot water or whatever), the weeds just come back.” Yes, the weeds will ALWAYS come back until you change what you're planting or how you feel about weeds. If you employ permaculture methods, there won't be room for "weeds." I live in a rented house, and our lawn can be full of dandelions and Queen Anne's Lace. I don't care. I love both of them. I don't consider them weeds. (And if I didn't have so many neighborhood animals dumping on my lawn, I would eat the dandelions.) 

Etc. I've gone on too long. My point is that we do need to apply political pressure (via signing petitions, writing letters, fomenting revolution) to these issues. You don’t have to go after Bayer. But you can go to your children’s school and find out what pesticides they use and work on getting them to stop. (And most of the time, whoever answers the phone has no idea. They will tell you that they don’t use pesticides in the school. You have to ask the right questions. “You don’t use insecticides in the kitchen? You don’t use Round-UP or something like that on the lawns?” And on and on.) Most parents don’t realize that their children are getting exposed to pesticides every day via their schools and the grounds of their schools. 

We need to change how we live our own lives, I believe. We need to stop using poisons ourselves. We need to be conscious of our actions: We need to consider what we buy and what we use. There are things we can do. And I believe every single one of us needs to be doing—or in the case of chemical pesticides, we need to stop doing.

Read more here...

Saturday, April 12, 2014

New Cover for Church of the Old Mermaids

We've got a new cover for Church of the Old Mermaids. It's just a little update of our "classic" design. Enjoy!

Read more here...

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

New Gaia Websters

We've got a new beautiful cover for The Gaia Websters.

Read more here...

Thursday, February 13, 2014


Today I realized I had been blogging for more than ten years, first on Furious Spinner and then here (and at the Old Mermaids Journal). I’ve put up more than 2,300 posts during that time. It averages out to about 5 posts a week for ten years. And these were often very long essays. (This figure doesn’t include my Facebook posts.)

Anyway, today I saw that I hadn’t posted anything here for a long time. I barely wrote any nonfiction while in Arizona for our writing retreat this year. I didn’t write about our last month at the sanctuary. I didn’t write about my grief at leaving behind the sanctuary. Maybe after Under the Tucson Moon came out, I unconsciously figured I had said all there was to say about my time in Arizona.

And since I’ve been home I haven’t written much nonfiction. I lost my voice for a while after I got home (literally). It’s back now, but I still don’t feel like writing about my life or my opinions. (That might be a relief for many people.) 

When I write nonfiction, it’s almost always deeply personal. It’s always a great leap of faith on my part when I post my essays. Faith or a leap of something. I’m not sure what to call it. One of my sisters once suggested it was narcissism. I told her, “No, it’s what writers do. We’re interested in the world, including our own world and our own lives.” But her criticism stung—probably because I’ve always felt vulnerable writing about my own life. It's natural to question whether one's opinions count. It's natural to wonder if what you've said is coherent. I did it because that’s what I do, and I believed my experiences might be helpful to others. (Judging from the letters I get, that’s exactly what has happened.)

But...for many reasons, I’m ready for a break. I need to be quiet for a bit and find my voice again. I’ve got lots going on this year. Several books are coming out, and I’m in the middle of editing and writing several books. So I’m not going anywhere. I’m just going to be a bit quieter here as I plot a revolution or my next novel. Maybe both. This might be a day or a week or a month. Who knows? I may still post on Facebook, and I will definitely post announcements about upcoming publications here.

And probably when I’m finished with this break, when I’m finished recreating, retreating, relaxing, revolutionizing, rejoicing—whatever it is I’ll be doing—I’ll write about it.

Or maybe I won’t. We’ll see.

Read more here...

Wednesday, December 18, 2013


Nothing like the Sonoran Desert at dusk. Everything becomes so sharp and clear. So three-dimensional...or more. Feels like home with the hard red earth under my feet and the glow of sunset in the big, big sky. 

Tonight the moon rose like a huge piece of butterscotch, just above that dip where the Rincons and Catalinas seem to come together to shake hands and say howdy. So delicious looking. The full moon, I mean. The mountains, too, I suppose. Later, clouds moved beneath the moon like a shaman's misty dress and the light rayed out of the moon, upward, on the dark sky, like one of those rayed pictographs and petroglyphs I've seen on rock paintings all over the NW and SW. 

D.H. Lawrence said New Mexico was women's country. I'm not sure whose country this is: The desert is all, even when you can't see it. It thrums beneath the concrete and you know that one day it will out. I find reassurance in this fact when the sky is ruddy with pollution or the traffic goes on forever. When I know all that is wrong is temporary, too, suddenly I feel as if we are in this together, looking for adventure in all the wrong places, finding encouragement—isn't that what enlightenment is, essentially?—in all the right places. 

No dream has come to me. No flash of insight or story yet. Just cleaning. Fixing. Nesting. 


Things have already started shapeshifting. I looked over by the huge palo verde near the front of the house earlier today, and I saw a coyote watching me. 

It was nearly the same spot where I had seen the bobcat seven(?) winters ago. When she turned toward me back then, I didn't know what she was, and in the setting sun, I remember seeing her ears and thinking she must be a fairy. Until she looked at me, with the sun as her pupils, and I knew what she was. She was the wild in a bobcat. When she got up to leave, I followed her into the wash to see what I could see.

Today I saw a coyote in that spot watching me. But then I realized it was too big for a coyote. It was a wolf. I blinked. It couldn't be a wolf. I shook my head. It wasn't a wolf or a coyote. It was the palo verde tree apparently having fun with me. Or preparing me. Maybe both.

Time will tell. It always does.

Read more here...

Signs Along the Way

Friday, December 13

We began as we always begin: holding hands and whispering to the earth, the sky, to all that is Visible and Invisible, and then we are away, crossing the Bridge of the Gods after a slight delay. A raven stands on the bridge railing—a raven! Rarely seen in these parts. Like a harbinger of what is to come: seeing into this world and that one?

We follow the Big River into Stumptown and beyond, hurtling down the road with the others until—boom!—we all run over a dead hawk, its feathers flipped up like some strange discarded headdress from an awful party. The first time we headed down to the Sanctuary—ten winters ago—just as we were coming up to the T-curves, we saw a car on fire. It was a conflagration, I tell ya. We watched the flames *engulf* the car. The automobile never had a chance. For a few moments, I felt like everything was going in slow motion, like a scene out of a movie. I said to Mario, “If I believed in signs…” Three hours later we were in a car accident, spinning out of control, me mewing like a frightened cat as the car spun around, as my hand went up to the window to hold myself in place, to save myself. I just wanted it to stop, to stop. Stop. To know if we would survive. Finally it stopped. We survived.

We got down to Arizona that year, eventually, sans car.

Now I watch for signs. I wonder what the raven and the dead hawk mean. I stay alert. At a rest stop, three young men throw snowballs at each other. They laugh. I wonder if they’ve ever seen snow before. A homeless man plays a flute and flies the sign near the restrooms. A modern day Kokopelli? I never hear the flute music, though Mario points the man out to me. I see the sign, I see him pull out a pack of cigarettes and sigh. I hurry away from him.

My three day (four?) day headache throbs, and I want to cry. Instead, I tell myself it is only temporary. It too shall pass. But I am tense. Grumpy.

We stop at a gas station near Ashland, just before we start up over the mountains. The sun is out, but it is cold. I look out the window, in a daze after driving for six hours, and I see a man hunched over, sitting on a stool or a milk box just beyond the gas station. He looks so miserable. What is he doing? I get out of the car, inexplicably drawn toward the man. He is older, wearing a black watch cap and a flannel jacket that doesn’t look warm enough over his t-shirt and jeans. An old green pickup with a small camper is parked directly behind him. As I get closer, I see he is surrounded by rocks: mostly crystal quartz. I grin. I put my hands in my pocket so that I don’t touch every single stone. The man looks cold and miserable. 

“Are these from Arkansas?” I ask.

He nods. “Mostly.”

Some are big, some smaller. The prices are quite low. The man looks vaguely tortured. 

“Did you pick them?” I ask.

“Some of them,” he says. “Others we got from people.” 

“I like ‘pick’ better than ‘mine,’” I say. I don’t know why I say this. Maybe because I’m afraid he’ll think I’m ignorant: that I don’t know where crystal quartz comes from. Just one of those inane things we say. 

He seems to understand because he nods. After a while, he says, “You do healing work?”

I look at him. Squint. Not something someone usually asks. Not something I usually answer.

“Yes,” I say, surprising myself by the answer. “But mostly I just love rocks. Have since I was a kid.” I pulled out the crystal I have in my coat pocket and holds it up. “I have rocks in the car, too. I just take them with me. Do you do healing work?”

He says, “She does.” He nods toward the truck, and I see a woman sleeping in the passenger seat. I don’t see her right away. I have to look and blink. Ahhh, there she is. 

“I do some meditation, things like that,” he says.

Mario comes over then. The man says he can give me a price break if I buy two. His cellphone rings, and he stands up and winces. I see the cane next to his chair now, and when he walks, he limps. He’s in pain. That’s why he looks tortured. I glance at the sleeping woman. Can’t she fix him? He excuses himself and walks away, knocking on the truck first. The woman jerks awake. A moment later, she gets out. I give her money, and I take the two crystals I’ve chosen—or the two crystals who have chosen me—back to the car. I am almost giggly with glee. 

And my headache is gone.

I put the rocks in the back of the car, and we start off again, heading toward the mountains. The headache comes back, just a bit. As we head toward the Siskiyou Pass, going up and up, I say, “This is where Emily and Mr. Em came. Only they were on horses.” (From The Monster’s Daughter.) I see it like a memory. Mario smiles at me. We reach the summit quickly, surprising us both, and I say, “And this is where Emily got off her horse and left an offering to the mountains.” Mario pulls over. 

I get out of the car, step into the snow, and I sing as trucks roar past us. I thank the Mountains and I leave a shell and a pinch of tobacco in the snow. As I look at the rocks in front of me, I feel as though I am looking at a painting: like when I’m in New Mexico and suddenly I feel like I’m seeing the landscape as Georgia O’Keeffe saw it. I get back in the car and say, “This looks like a Bev Doolittle painting.” Mario nods.

We go up and over the pass.

My headache is gone. 

I see Mount Shasta. She rises above the pollution that hangs over everything like a dirty fog. We stop, and I sing to the mountain. I sing to the dragon. I am giddy. I feel like I’ve stepped into The Monster’s Daughter again, just like last year. Emily and Mr. Em are all around me. It’s not surprising since I believe the mountain gave me the story in the first place. And I am so grateful.

Soon enough Mario and I make it to our lodgings. It is called a spa, but we stay here because it’s green: It was built sustainably, using sustainable materials, and they don’t use chemicals or pesticides. It costs the same as other hotels. The young woman at the desk greets us, takes my driver’s license and credit card, and says, “And how was your day today?” as she checks us in. I say, “Fine, and how was yours?” She keeps looking at the computer and doing something, and then she says in the same cheerful robotic voice, “And how was your day today?” I almost start to laugh. Instead I say, “Do you know you just asked me that?” This time she almost looks at me but doesn’t quite. “I’m sorry,” she says. Mario and I get our keycards and hurry away. Once we’re outside, we look at each other and laugh. Welcome to Stepford.

While Mario unpacks, I stand outside and whisper to the directions. It’s just polite to introduce oneself to a place. I leave a shell and tobacco, along with my song. We’ve been here many times, so I’m hoping we’ll be welcomed as friends. Of course last year, we got a flat tire, and I left my favorite coat here. Not exactly friendly. 

Mario makes me dinner: a microwaved Amy’s frozen dinner with our veggies and rice. Yum. (While on vacation, we do occasionally use a microwave oven, it’s true.) Then we walk around the place and watch the swans. The first year we were here, Mario was so excited to see them. Then I told him, “They’ve probably clipped their wings so they *have* to stay here.” He looked crushed. “Poor things,” he said then.

So every year we watch the swans and feel a mixture of regret, pity, and awe.

When we get near the pool, I think I see a person by the fence, and then it looks like a mermaid. As I walk toward it, I start laughing. “Hah! I thought it was a mermaid, but it’s a life preserver!” Somehow, given who I am, that seems quite apropos. I snap a photo of my “mermaid” and then we head back.

This year, this journey feels different. And the same. Every year the trip is difficult, and it is wonderful. I am always exceedingly grateful, and I always—at some point—wonder what the hell I am doing. I was wondering that about three hours into the trip today. But still, I do feel different this year. More here. Or something.

To bed soon and then off to the City of Angels in the morning. First The Bridge of the Gods and then to the City of Angels. All on the road to the Old Mermaids Sanctuary.

Read more here...

Monday, December 16, 2013

In Fairyland With Lissa

(This post was one that people seemed to like quite a bit when I put it up on Facebook, so I’m posting it here, too. One of the neighbor children comes over fairly often, and we make fairy things or look at books or have tea parties. I enjoy her company, and we have fun in the imaginal worlds. I write about our doings quite a bit on my private Facebook, and people seem to enjoy these posts. I don’t put up any photos of her (unless she's unrecognizable in them) or use her real name—to protect her privacy and her family's privacy. Before I left for my annual writing retreat, I tried to make my departure easy for the little girl. But sometimes that road was a bit rocky. This Going Away Tea Party took place two days before we left.)

Welcome to the Old Mermaids Tea Shell. That’s what the sign read that I taped to the front door, low enough so Lissa could see it. I’d planned this tea party for weeks, and yesterday I spent the entire day preparing. I had a nasty ass headache, but I couldn’t cancel. I couldn’t do that to Lissa just before we were set to leave for a month. I decided next year if we still were friends and we still went away for the winter, I would not do this! Still, I had fun thinking about how she would react to everything as I got ready.

I set about to transform the kitchen into a fairyland. I figured we’d have our savory foods in the living room. That would be the first part of the tea party. Then we would go to fairyland for dessert. Mario hung a sheet over the entrance to the kitchen so that she’d have to make an entrance to fairyland and couldn’t see anything ahead of time.

The first layer of the fairyland was a blue and white quilt my dad had made for me. I found blue and white cloth, too. Plus Mario got tea lights. (I hope whoever invented tea lights is rich and happy. They’re so fun.) I looked around the house for anything related to Solstice/Christmas and Old Mermaids (that fit the color scheme). I put boxes under the cloth to have variety in height, like a landscape. I got big shells and blue, clear, and white marbles, along with amethyst and crystals. Then I covered the windows with more quilts.

It was getting late, so I hurriedly made a Tea Shell menu on homemade paper. I misspelled Mermaid Marble Eggs so that it was Hermaid Marble Eggs, but I never noticed it! We were serving Coyote Laughter Tea and Hummingbird Joy Tea and Fairy Cups of Magic. I’m afraid my imaginative powers were dulled by pain. Mario came took an early lunch and came home and did the dishes and helped everywhere he could.

So I was dressed and ready by 3:20, barely. Lissa should have been there by 3:30 at the latest—because she usually just runs over after she gets home, but she didn’t come. I called; no one answered. Finally I put on my winter stuff and went over to the house. The sitter said, “I told her but…” This was very odd. I went back home and Lissa soon came over. She didn’t seem particularly glad to see us. She had been coloring with the babysitter while we waited for her! This didn’t seem like her at all. She barely said a word to us as she ate and drank her “tea.” She didn’t say anything about the marble tea eggs. She ate them—well, she ate the white part. But that was eat. It was as if zombie child had come to our tea party!

Finally it was time to take her into the fairyland. I had her close her eyes, and I led her into the kitchen. Then she opened her eyes. She looked around like she was seeing blank cardboard. She had no expression of surprise or delight or anything. She looked around at the fairy cakes and said, “You said there’d be cheesecake.”

I was stunned. Lissa wasn’t usually like this. Mario had to leave, so Lissa and I sat at the fairyland table, alone, and I served her Old Mermaids tea. As I sat there, feeling like a dope for doing all this work, I thought, “Kim, you just shouldn’t do this kind of thing. Too much expectation.” Even though I was very hurt, I kept my mouth shut. I was not going to guilt her. Whatever was going on was perplexing, but I wasn’t going to guilt her.

She ate the fairy cakes, but she didn’t seem to enjoy them. She didn’t look around at anything. I tried to talk to her about what was wrong, but she kept saying all was well. (By this I mean when I asked, “Are you upset about something?” she said, “No.” “Are you mad at me?” “No.” Etc.) 

Well, this was a bust for all concerned, I thought. I just wanted it over. I went and got her presents. She didn’t seem excited or anything. In fact, she opened one and said, “Is this a coloring book like you got me before?” With a tone that indicated she had not liked that book. (It was a fairy sticker book.) What????

By this time, I was ready to send the kid home and cry myself to pain-free land. She wanted to call her mom to come over for the tea party which was fine with me. Her mom came over, and she fed her mother and showed her her presents and completely ignored me. I hadn’t realized I could be so hurt by a 7-year-old—and I kept telling myself that’s what she was.

Her mom had to leave to get her hair cut. Lissa was so clingy with her mom that I suggested she go with her. I was surprised when she wanted to stay. I was ready to wrap it up. I had gotten her a magnet set of mermaids. There are 50 magnets, and you can dress the two mermaids in all kinds of tails, clothes, crowns, etc. We couldn’t see very well in the kitchen, so we took this in the living room. I sat next to her on the couch while she played with it. One mermaid was her and one was me. 

At one point she got cold, so I put a quilt over her. She put her legs over mine, which was the cue for me to rub and tickle her feet, which I did. She put her head on the pillow and relaxed, and I rubbed her feet while we listened to Christmas music. We talked about some things.

Finally when she was relaxed, I said, “You know what I think? I think you’re kind of mad at me because I’m leaving.” She nodded. Finally! “Are you afraid you’ll be lonely?” She nodded. “What else is going on, darlin?” 

She said, “Nana died. Mommy is always working. Daddy is always at meetings.” And my house was practically the only place she got to go. I said, “That’s just because it’s easy.”

I said, “So you feel like everyone is deserting you?” She nodded. I said, “You know I’m not leaving to get away from you. Do you know why I’m going?” She shook her head. I realized then I’d never explained why I was going. “Well, we go down and work. We just spent all day working and walking in the desert.” “But you can work here.” Ah, yes. “That’s true,” I said, “but I get a little sad in the winter, so I like being down where it’s warm and sunny. Plus I get to be with my family. I get to see my daddy. I don’t get to see him any other time. And my sisters.”

I started talking about the Christmases I remembered as a child. About going to midnight mass. Then afterward gathering at my grandma’s house, all 50(?) of us. I told her how beautiful our house looked with the lights off and the tree all lit up. We’d come down in the morning when it was still dark, and there’d be presents everywhere. As I was telling her this, I started to cry. Maybe it was the headache. Maybe it was the stress of the crash-and-burn tea party. Maybe it was because I miss those Christmases past. As I talked, tears streamed down my face.

I said, “I don’t know why I’m crying.”

“Is it because of your mom?”

I nodded. “Probably. And I miss my family. You know, when I was a kid I wanted all kinds of presents, but, darlin, I don’t remember a single present. What I remember is being with my family—and the Christmas tree lights!”

She seemed to be contemplating this. She was either thinking, “How profound, Kim,” or “Dude, that’s because you’re old and you forget everything.”

After a while, I said, “You know, sweetheart, I’ll miss you, too. Tell me how you’d like me to keep in touch with you.”

She sat up and said she wanted Facetime and cards. And presents. I just laughed when she said “presents.” I told her I would write; I’d send photos on email; I’d call, and we’d try to do Facetime or Skype. 

She was her old self now, excited by the tea party, fairyland, and everything. She got the mermaid magnets out again, and we dressed the mermaids. She said excitedly, “I could play with these every day!” 

It was nearly 7:00 by now, and it was time to go home. Past time. I asked her if she wanted me to show her on the calendar again when I would be gone. She did. I showed her, and then I pointed to the full moon on the calendar.

“The full moon is in a few days,” I said. “After that full moon, watch for the next one. We will be home not long after that.” Her face brightened at that prospect.

Then we looked at fairyland together one last time. I told her she could take something from it to keep until I got back. She picked a piece of amethyst and a white marble. I would take another white marble and another piece of amethyst with me, so we’d both have something to remind each other of each other. I packed up one bag for her and one bag full of presents for the other children. (She was happy that her bag was heavier!) Then I knelt next to her as she was zipping up her jacket. She had a brilliant smile on her face.

I said, “Remember, I love you.” She put her arms around me, and we held each other. I said, “I’m very glad we are friends.”

I walked her home. As we parted, I said, “See you later, gator.”

“After while, crocodile.”

“Tootle-loo, kangaroo.”

Then we looked at each other and laughed. Neither one of us remembered what was next. “We’ll have to practice that,” I said.

“Bye, bye!” she said.

“Good-bye, sweetheart.”

Then I turned around in the dark and walked back to fairyland.

Read more here...
All work copyright © Kim Antieau 2008-.