Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Part Two of Queendom: Feast of the Saints is Now Live

Part Two: Summit of Queendom Feast of the Saints is now live at any of your favorite e-book store. (Part One: Arrivals is also live.) They will be available only through December 30, and then this edition of Queendom disappears forever. Part Three: May Day will be published next Wednesday, November 23.

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...

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Counting the Days Until Queendom: Feast of the Saints

Queendom Createspace:2
Join us for this special limited one-time publishing event: the publication of my 5-part e-book Queendom: Feast of the Saints. This special event begins November 11. One part will be published once a week until all five are published. Each part will have extras, most of which will not appear in any other edition of Queendom: Feast of the Saints. 

This event is not for everyone. It is for the discerning reader. It is for those who love stories. It is for those who want to savor everything, including a good novel. It's part of the Slow Reading Movement. Or you can think of Queendom as bibliotherapy. :-) 

All parts can now be pre-ordered. 

Here's the cover copy for this e-book series:
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.
The following are the covers and the blurbs for each part of this series. They are all available in all e-book forms (as far as we know) for pre-order, but I'm linking to Amazon because that's where most people buy their e-books. (You can also get them as pdfs from smashwords beginning November 11.)
This series event begins November 11, 2015 with the release of Part One: Arrivals.

Queendom: Feast of the Saints

Amidst reports that the Queendom faces serious financial difficulties, Queen Reina seeks advice from an old love and finds succor in the arms of a soothsayer. A new chef arrives at the Hearth, along with her daughter and a mysterious theory of cooking. When a former queen shows up as Reina’s mystic daughter Lorelei begins to come out of her shell, all bets are off. Meanwhile, most of the court continues to live the good life, unaware of the dire events about to unfold. Includes extras available only in this edition.

The Annual Consolidated Five Summit brings representatives from the area nation states to the Queendom, uncovering old loves, exposing new enemies, and straining alliances. Teng prepares dishes according to the Unified Field Theory of Spices in an attempt to bring peace and stability to the Queendom. Lorelei meets a mysterious man in the forest who may have revolution on his mind. She and Raphael learn devastating secrets about themselves and their family that could destroy the nation. Includes extras available only in this edition.

On the most important day of the year, when the citizens reaffirm the values of the Queendom, Umberto works to hold house and Hearth together as Reina’s children struggle to come to terms with recent revelations. Meanwhile throughout the country, lovers meet and part. Teng continues to try to free her son. Raphael, unable to find his way, spins out of control and adds to the growing instability of the Queendom. Includes extras available only in this edition.

As the Queendom continues to descend toward economic disaster, Queen Reina and Nehemiah journey to the Stone Monastery to seek advice from legendary soothsayer Gloria Stone. Carall, leader of the rebels, confronts Reina, and an anguished Nehemiah makes a confession to his queen. Lorelei, Teng, and Raphael search for the legendary Moonstruck Saffron, hoping it will prove to be the Queendom’s salvation. Includes extras available only in this edition.

Queen Reina tries one final ploy to save the Queendom from ruin on the day of her daughter’s wedding. Teng must create two great feasts and free her son from his imprisonment in the Hinterlands. But betrayal lurks around every corner as opposing factions clash and bring about a shocking resolution to the troubles that have haunted the Queendom for years. Includes extras available only in this edition.

Read more here...

Mi Queendom, Su Queendom

This morning I am sitting in a casita on the outskirts of Santa Fe working on the extras for Queendom: Feast of the Saints. This e-book project of Queendom is the coolest project I've ever worked on. Not only do I love the book and the evolving story, but working on the extras for those lucky people who buy the series has been a blast! The Queendom story itself has surprised me, and that's always fun. What's also been surprising and delightful is that part of this e-book project has been a collaborative process.

First off, we were privileged to work with Ivan Zanchetta on the cover designs. This Italy-based designer created six gorgeous book covers for us. Then we've been working collaboratively with Carmen Staton, Tracie Jones, and Rachel Slick on cool extras for the book. (I'm not going to disclose what they are because that might spoil the fun.) Plus Mario Milosevic has been doing an amazing job at everything he does to get my stories out into the world, and our sister Nancy Milosevic has helped in so many ways mundane and extraordinary. AND I've got a crew of people on the Queendom's Court who are going out of their way to get the word out on this project. I am so grateful—and tickled.

This e-book series is really my love note to my readers. I had quit writing—or at least, I said I was quitting writing—when I began writing the Queendom story (which had been percolating for about five years). I’m doing this e-book Queendom series for all the readers who love stories, for those who have their favorite authors and like to support them, for those who don’t follow the crowd. 

This project is not for those people looking for something free and ordinary.
This is for the people who are trying to be present in the world, for those who care about the soil, for those who imagine what a better society would look like, for those who plant and farm and cook, for those who sculpt and paint and write, for those who IMAGINE, for those who like to have at least part of their lives SLOW: Like the slow food movement, Queendom is part of the slow reading movement.

This e-book Queendom series is for people who like to savor life, stories, food, experiences. This is for my readers—new and old. I wrote this book and I am creating this unique experience for my readers. I am creating it especially for you.

And it all begins November 11, 2015 with Part One: Arrivals. (Pre-order links here.)

Read more here...

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Queendom: Feast of the Saints Can Be Pre-ordered!

Queendom: Feast of the Saints, my 5-part e-book novel, is now ready for pre-order here. Part One of Queendom will be published November 11. The e-book parts will be published one week apart. Part Five (the final part) will be published on December 9. These e-books will be on sale for a LIMITED TIME ONLY (until January 9), and they will contain extras that no other future editions of the book will contain.

(A paper edition of the complete novel and an e-book edition of the complete novel will be published sometime in March 2016. These will not contain the extras that will be in the 5-part e-book series.)  

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...

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

America, We Have a Problem

Recently someone on my FB suggested that we ignore the violence in our country, as if that would make it go away. Not everyone has the option of ignoring it. Not those who live in crime-infested parts of our country. Not those who may be sitting in a movie theater when someone pulls a gun and opens fire. This was my response to the idea that we ignore reality:

I believe those who say "just ignore the violence" endemic to our country are being naive or willfully ignorant. Would you say ignore racism? Ignore misogyny? Ignore climate change? Many people do say that: And look where that has gotten us. Joanna Macy instructs that we first much face the truth, face the reality, grieve it, and work from there. Any spiritual teacher worth her salt, any scientist worth her salt, says the same thing: Understand reality, understand the truth, and go from there.

If the violence were happening to you and your family would you say, "Ignore it"?

Thich Nhat Hanh, the Vietnamese monk, is an advocate of peace, but he says, once the bombs start falling you must go out and help. When asked once by PBS if violence was ever the answer, he said, "If you see someone who is trying to shoot, to destroy, you have to do your best in order to prevent him or her to do so. You must. But you must do it out of your compassion, of your willingness to protect, and not out of anger. That is the key."

So it's about being engaged, not pretending everything is la, la, la. When we close our eyes to the truth, we are part of the problem.

When asked about the violence in the United States, Thich Nhat Hanh said, "...we have the Statue of Liberty on the East Coast. But in the name of freedom, people have done a lot of damage. I think we have to build a Statue of Responsibility on the West Coast in order to counterbalance. Because liberty without responsibility is not true liberty. We are not free to destroy."

Walter Wink, a Christian scholar and progressive activist wrote, “Violence is the ethos of our times. It is the spirituality of the modern world. It has been accorded the status of a religion, demanding from its devotees an absolute obedience to death. Its followers are not aware, however, that the devotion they pay to violence is a form of religious piety. Violence is so successful as a myth precisely because it does not seem to be mythic in the least. Violence simply appears to be the nature of things. It is what works. It is inevitable, the last and, often, the first resort in conflicts. It is embraced with equal alacrity by people on the left and on the right, by religious liberals as well as religious conservatives. The threat of violence, it is believed, is alone able to deter aggressors. It secured us years of a balance of terror. We learned to trust the Bomb to grant us peace … It, and not Christianity, is the real religion of America."

What is going on in our country is beyond guns, of course, although statistics show that having gun control brings down the violence. It's about the soul and the heart of our country. Mario asked me today if I thought there was something psychically amiss with our country. I said, "Yes," without hesitation. Scientist Rupert Sheldrake writes about places that have morphic fields or a morphic resonance: a kind of memory in nature, he calls it. (Not all scientists are on board with this idea, of course, and I'm not arguing here whether it exists or not.)

Part of what Sheldrake does with this theory is explain why certain places can have a good feel or a bad feel, or why terrible things can keep happening in one place, no matter how much people try to change things. (Think Haiti.) Perhaps something terrible or wonderful happens in a place once and that morphic field is established, and it's difficult to undue it. Maybe there's an energy field to certain places that cause, in a sense, good or bad things to happen. I don't know.

I think of it like depressive or compulsive behavior in people. Science is now concluding that these are habits in our brain which are difficult to change because the more we do them, the better the neural pathway becomes in our brain for doing that thing. (Yes, it's more complicated then that—chemicals, hormones, etc.—but right now I'm addressing neural pathways.)

In other words, every time we drink and we happen to be an alcoholic, we strengthen that particular neural pathway so that it's easier next time to drink. (Vice versa, once we stop drinking, those neural pathways shrink.) Every time we fall into depressive thoughts or depression, we strengthen those particular neural pathways so it's easier next time to be depressed.

So then I wonder if every time violence occurs in our country, are those particular violent pathways in the neural structure of our country being strengthened. (Or whatever the equivalent of neural pathways a country would have. I recognize our country doesn't have a brain. But it is a kind of thing, a concept, a being, if you will, generated by us, by our laws, our actions, and our feelings.)

Mario also asked me what could we do about the violence in our country, especially if it is exacerbated by an energetic field. (And all of you who are freaked out that I'm talking about energetic fields: Everything has energy. Energetic fields exist. I ain't talking no New Age woo-woo.) I told him I didn't know. If we are strengthening the field of violence by perpetrating violence, we could stop doing that. Well, then everything would be OK, right?

But that's not happening. Hiding from it doesn't help. Pretending we're not angry when we are doesn't help. We have to have a collective shift in our attitudes. A paradigm shift, perhaps.

Starhawk, when discussing the Occupy movement and confronting violence, said that the first thing that has to happen is to come up with a strategy. And the first part of that strategy is this: Admit that violence is endemic to our system.

She says, "Poverty is a form of violence. Racism, gender violence—all of those things are immense forms of violence that do untold harm, cause untold suffering to people every single day of their lives. But, they’re also hidden. When you say 'violence,' when you say to someone, 'Who’s a violent person?' they might picture a anarchist in a black mask with a bomb, or they might picture someone of a different race with a gun, but they very rarely picture a white man in a business suit who is making decisions which are causing far more suffering than anybody else.

"The strategy of nonviolent resistance, of what some have called the 'people power' strategy, makes the hidden violence in the system visible by contesting it nonviolently. The system can continue to inflict that violence, because in some sense we all consent to it, we all comply with it. Our lives are so entwined with it that to eat and to feed our kids and to pursue our goals, we do what the system requires of us. When we stop doing that, then oftentimes the system responds with that violence, which then becomes visible."

I agree. The first thing to do is admit we have a problem. Let's get away from this bullshit of pretending it doesn't exist. It does. Saying it ain't so won't make it not so. I think also endemic to this country is the idea that we are the best and we can do no wrong. Right now we are the best at violence, we are very good at killing one another, we are very good at ignoring science and the truth.

So where do we go from here? I don't know. I swing from despair to depression and back again. That's not healthy. But when I can crawl out of the grief, I act. So my advice is: Don't collapse into non-action because it seems too big. Don't ignore it. Come up with a strategy for you and yours. First up: Admit the truth.

Next: Ask what is your responsibility? In other words, what is your ability to respond. We all have different things going on in our lives, we have different energy levels, different responsibilities, different levels of health. But once you determine what is your ability to respond, you can begin to figure out where you want to direct your energy.

Next: Don't participate in the violence, if you can. I know that I fall right into violence so easily when I'm stressed or pressed. It's what I know. I was raised in this country. I was brought up on guns and violence even though I come from a liberal family. I swim in this culture, just like everyone else does. I need to change my morphic field. Thich Nhat Hanh says peace starts with each of us, AND he said, get off your butt and participate. (That's a paraphrase.) He calls it Engaged Buddhism. I would call it Engaged Living.

Next: That's up to you. Mario just handed me my dinner. So that's what's up next for me.

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...

Sunday, September 7, 2014

We'll Be At the Local Author Fair, October 4th 1-4:00, Hood River Library

Mario and I will be at the Local Author Fair in October. Stop by the library and see us! 

Read more here...

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Certified: Learning to Repair Myself and the World in the Emerald City

I'm happy to announce that my new nonfiction book, Certified, has been published! Yay!

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.

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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.

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All work copyright © Kim Antieau 2008-.