Monday, February 23, 2015
Sunday, February 22, 2015
|Flying Machine by Leonardo DiVinci|
on oil pastel painting
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Rumors spread over the land of Maerddth of a beautiful young witch named Alyssa who appears in town, choses a young man, makes love to him, and then, if he pleases her, gives him a flying machine. The flying machines are incredible works of art. Each is different in appearance and flight pattern. The key to the flying machine, and instructions on how to locate and operate it are sent to each young man who qualifies about three months after the liaison.
Some young men destroyed their flying machines in fiery crashes, but miraculously, none of them were killed. Each somehow flew free and landed safely and walked away with barely a scratch. It was this astounding safety record that made the people of Maerddth call Alyssa a witch. Everyone knew that Maerddth had had flying machines before, but the ability to make them had somehow been lost during the tribulations and hard times. People wondered whether Alyssa stumbled on the technique in the massive archives in the old languages, which were forgotten by all but the most erudite scholars, or whether she had somehow reinvented not only the wheel, but also the secret of flight. No one thought she had magicked the machines into existence until several of her young men survived crashes that should have turned them into roast meat.
The men that Alyssa chose were all thin, ectomorphs, they used to call them in one of the old languages. I know the term, because my job as a scribe requires me to learn some of the old languages. And because I am an ectomorph, thin as a rail. I’m guessing Alyssa chooses thin men because her flying machines are delicate and small and wouldn’t lift an endomorph. Or, maybe, I hope, she just likes ectomorphs. I’ve heard some women do. Not many, but a few.
I want a flying machine. But more than that, I want Alyssa. I want to marry her.
The truth is, I am painfully thin. Most girls don’t see me. They look past me as if I were a tree or a rock. A sapling, or very thin rock. But, I have had a lover, a girl named Sadie. I was too shy to ask a girl for her favors, but Sadie asked me. I met her deep in the Archives. She was beautiful. She had long red hair and green eyes. She was slender, but at the same time, soft and full. I had no idea what to do, but she took me deep into the stacks and showed me. She was gentle and sweet. I fell in love with her, but after sex, I fell asleep and when I woke up, she was gone.
After that, I began to read in the old languages on my own time. I stayed after work and read about love, about sex, about how to please a woman. About how to make her happy. And I read about flying machines. What they looked like, how they worked. And I dreamed. During quiet times at work, I fantasied about flying, and about making love to Alyssa the Witch.
Meanwhile, about every three months or so, a young man disappears into the forest and returns in a flying machine. One of the devices is red and yellow, painfully bright to look at, and flies by twirling in such a way that Alfonso, the owner of the machine, becomes desperately dizzy. The machine ejects him and he flies out on a rope and is pulled behind the erratically spinning machine in a terrifying arc toward the ground. Somehow, he manages to pull himself back along the tether to the machine, take control of it at the last possible second and land safely. When I see this plunge toward Maerddth, I reconsider my overwhelming desire for Alyssa. One false move, and Alfonso is dead.
|Alfonso and his Flying Machine|
by me, Mary Stebbins Taitt
Not all the machines are like that. As I said, each is different. One dark-haired young man has a device with rotary blades. I think in the old languages, it was a called a “helicopter,” only this one is smaller than the ones in the old pictures appear to be. Another young man, one with red hair like Sadie’s, only a little more orange, received a flying machine with wings like great cloth sails. They are nearly transparent, pale green.
At night, I dream about Alyssa. I imagine she looks like Sadie, the redhead I met in the stacks at the archives. I remember Sadie’s breasts, how soft they were, and full and round. Sadie and Alyssa merge, and I make love to them, to her, over and over.
In my dreams, I am a great lover. Alyssa she loves my leanness and finds me appealing and kind and gentle and sweet. I am kind, gentle and sweet, or can be. I would be, with her. In my dreams, I know just how to please her and make her happy. But when I wake up, I can’t remember the secret—the one thing that will make me different from other young men, the one thing that will make her choose me and stay with me.
Today, something happened that made me reconsider my dreams of marrying Alyssa the witch. Sadie reappeared in the stacks at the archives. She asked me shyly if I would like to make love to her. Her red hair was longer than last time I saw her, and she seemed a little rounder than before, not fat, just a little rounder.
I made love to her in one of the cul de sacs deep in the stacks of The Archives, remembering my dreams, remembering all things I read about pleasing women. When I was deep into loving her, it occurred to me that it was Sadie I loved. All the time I’d been fantasizing about Alyssa, the person I’d been visualizing was Sadie. Amazed, I blurted out, “Sadie, I love you. Will you marry me?”
She whispered back, “Birch, let me think about it. I promise you an answer. I will not forget you or your sweetness.” She lay in my arms among the stacks until I fell asleep, and when I awoke, she was gone.
It’s been six weeks, and I haven’t heard back from her. I despair.
Today at work in the archives, a boy brought me an envelope made of parchment and sealed with sealing wax into which a pine cone had been pressed to leave the imprint of its scales. I wondered who was writing me, and then I remembered Sadie. It had been more than three months since I asked her to marry me, and I had given up hope of receiving an answer. Silence, I thought, was an obvious enough answer. But maybe, just maybe, she’d finally written me.
I tore open the envelope, and opened the sheet inside. On one side was a finely detailed drawing of a bicycle with wings. And under that, a single word, yes, with lines and stars radiating out of it. On the other side was a map with a symbol I recognized from the archives, a big red X which meant treasure.
|Flying Machine Bike for Birch|
by Mary Stebbins Taitt
As I stood there examining the winged bike, trying to determine how to work it, something hit me in the back and knocked me to the ground. I rolled over and looked and it was Sadie, laughing gaily. She had jumped onto my shoulders from the branch of an over-hanging tree.
“Sadie?” I asked.
“Yes!” she said, “and yes! And yes I will.”
“Are you Alyssa?” I asked, still confused.
“Sarah Alyssa Averill, at your service,” she said, kissing me. “Also known as Sadie, your future wife, and mother of your future children and grandmother of your future grandchildren. You may live with me, here in the mountains, and fly to work.”
“Okay,” I said, “sounds good,” and I kissed her.
“Let’s get a start on our first kid,” she said, when the kiss finally ended. I happily agreed and got to work. Or, got to play, to love, to joy.
Mary Stebbins Taitt
For Keith Taitt and Robert Verney
From a dream this morning, Sunday, February 22, 2015
Saturday, February 21, 2015
|Running along the Grass River at St. Lawrence University|
in the fall of 1964
by Mary Stebbins Taitt
background oils pastels.
click to view larger.
I am currently reading Born to Run, the Greatest Race the World has Never Seen, by Christopher McDougall. Although I am enjoying it so far (a lot), this is not a book review, I never review a book until I finish it (I learned that the hard way, with River King, but that’s a different story.)
When I was a Freshman at St. Lawrence University, I joined the downhill ski team (this was long (14 years?) before I learned how to cross-country ski). In order to get in shape for racing, the coach required ski team members work out with the cross-country running team. It was autumn. The cross-country running trails followed the winding bank of the Grass River for miles. Gradually, the trees turned brilliant with color and I discovered that running made me feel as if I were buoyant, almost lighter than air. I moved into an easy jog and floated for miles and miles, for hours and hours, alone on the banks of the golden Grass River. I remember green and bronze light, sparkles of sun on water, red leaves sailing downstream like little boats, deer bending their necks to drink, picking up their heads, pricking their ears, and then either gliding into the forest, or, after a few weeks, ignoring me and returning to their drinks.
Early on, I gave up running with the others, who chatted as they ran about drinking and parties or hopping in sack with me (they were mostly guys and I was a virgin) and took off to run by myself. I loved the solitude.
Running was effortless and joyous. I not only did not experience the tedium that some of my friends groused about, nor the exhaustion other complained about, but instead, I came back both calmed and energized.
Granted, I ate like a horse after those long runs, but, hey, at the dining hall at SLU in the fall of 1964, we got all the food we could eat, no questions asked. We could go back for second or thirds. (Or fourths or fifths).
Unfortunately, I spent too much time running, hiking deep into the wilds and partying. My grades weren't good enough to race when the snow fell. So instead, I snowshoed deep into the wilderness, alone.
I ran slightly longish distances later in life, when I was married and had kids, nothing like the 100-miles runs in Born to Run, but I would run around the 3-mile trail at Beaver Lake nature a couple times, or take the longer route, the roads around the lake, which amounted five miles.
Born to Run talks a lot about barefoot hikers and runners, and here, too, I connect. I used to trail run in bare feet and climb mountains in bare feet, mountains like Marcy, the highest mountain in New York State, as well as a number of trail-less peaks back when they were really trail-less and required a lot of heavy-duty bushwhacking through dense stands of firs and over rough granite boulder fields. There was no cushy trail, only sticks and rocks. But I had tough feet.
I've never been much of an athlete; I’ve never been able to run fast. As a kid, I came out near the end of any 50-yard dash, which is the only kind of race we had in “gym” class (it wasn’t called phys ed when I was a kid). What I did have going for me most of my life was endurance. Whether I was running, hiking, cross country skiing, snowshoeing or swimming, I could just keep going and going and GOING.
Not any more though. At 68, and for some yeas now, I have and have had fibromyalgia and it hurts to walk or run. I am writing this while riding an exercise bike. I read that walking on a treadmill or riding an exercise bike helps with creativity. I don't know if this is true or not, all I know is, l enjoy walking or biking while writing.
So, that's what I do.
My mother-in-law is 93. She recently fell and hit her head and had bleeding on the brain. They took her to the hospital. She seemed so bad, we were afraid she wouldn't make it. But she seemed incrementally improved yesterday, and that's a good thing. After lunch, we're going to see her.
This and a number of other things have kept me from posting lately. (I wrote this story Saturday morning, 2-21-15. Since then, I have been to see ML twice, and she’s doing somewhat better, but that’s another story.)
I’ve probably written more than a hundred stories intended to be posted that I never had time to post.
Sunday, February 08, 2015
"Had Races and Won"
Acrylic on thin Moleskine paper*
Acrylic and oil pastels on Moleskine Paper
Mary Stebbins Taitt
Click any image to view larger
I wanted paint a picture of anger to go with my Vera House Survivor poems, so I tried to paint an angry man. I tried and tried. I've certainly seen my share of angry men.
But no matter how hard I tried, the man looked as much sad as angry.
Is that deep well of sadness generating the anger?
Or is the sadness in my own heart when I look at the picture and remember?
(It could well be that I am simply not a good enough artist yet.)
|"Biker Buddy #20140218"|
Acrylic and oil pastels on Moleskine Paper
Mary Stebbins Taitt
Click any image to view larger
|"Skull Sketch with conte Crayon effect added"|
sketch in Faber Castell artist pens
including dry one for "dry brush"
Mary Stebbins Taitt
Wednesday, January 28, 2015
|Everyone Cheered to watch Racers Run|
4th later of paint
Acrylic, by me, Mary Stebbins Taitt
Click to view larger
I've added a fourth layer of paint, which took about 4 days, and as you can plainly see, it is till quite a ways from being finished. I added turtles in the audience at the lower because the space seemed too empty, but they need work, and I painted out the head of the wolf on the furthest left because its legs were too short. Since the light is coming from above, slightly behind and to the right, I will have to do some work with the sun and shadows, which right now is just plopped on (To make the turtles more visible.). Too bad, because I was reaching a point of being almost happy with the grass before. I think the Dachshund is finished or nearly finished, and maybe the cat, too. The elephant is getting closer. (Too bad the scanner won't scan the gutter! :-( ) Frankie is my grandson, and this is for a book for him.
*The paper is getting progressively thicker!
Tuesday, January 27, 2015
|A few of my recent books|
I don't think I ever posted my book list for 2013 because I hadn't finished it. This one isn't finished either, but I'm going to post it anyway:
A word about my reading: We have inherited a huge library from Keith's parents, ML and Dean and I am working my way through some of their books (In addition to books gifted to me and some I acquired myself).
- Cloud Atlas, David Mitchell, January 8, 2014
- The Cornflake House, Deborah Gregory, January 15, 2014
- Life Class, Pat Barker, January 16, 2014
- Toby’s Room, Pat Barker, January 27, 2014
- Life of Pi, Yann Martel, Feb 7, 2014
- The Journey, Danielle Steel, Feb 26, 2014
- Persuasion, Jane Austen, April 18, 2014
- Parable of the Sower, Octavia Butler, May 1, 2014
- Eleanor and Park, Rainbow Rowell, May 9, 2014
- The Tenth Circle, Jodi Picoult, May 22, 2014
- The Far Side of the World, Patrick O’Brian, Aug 1, 2014
- Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen, August 6, 2014
- Emma, Jane Austen, August 16, 2014
- The Wine-Dark Sea, Patrick O’Brien, September 10, 2014
- The Story Sisters, Alice Hoffman, September 15. 2014
- Freaky Deaky, Elmore Leonard, September 20, 2014
- The Blind Assassin, Margaret Atwood, October 7, 2014
- The Invention of Wings, October 8, 2014
- Master and Commander, Patrick O'Brian, Oct 28, 2014
- Fly Away Home, Jennifer Weiner, October 29, 2014
- My Erotic Life, San Cassimally
- Blue at the Mizzen, Patrick O’Brian,
- Post Captain, Patrick O’Brian, November 26, 2014
- HMS Surprise, Patrick O’Brian, December 2, 2014
- The Letter of Marque, Patrick O’Brian, December 12, 2014
- Brand New Moon, Douglas W. Millikin
- Daddy Long Legs, John T. Price, Feb 28, 2014
- Brave Intuitive Painting, Flora Bowly, March 6, 2014
- The Lizard King, Bryan Christy, July 1, 2014
- The Lizard King, Bryan Christy, July 3, 2014
- The Lizard King, Bryan Christy, July 19, 2014
- A mountain of Crumbs, Elena Gorokhova. August 5, 2014
- Structuring your novel, KM Weiland, August 7, 2014
- Negotiating with the Dead, Margaret Atwood,
- Edges, Lena Roy, 2-5-14
- Artemis Fowl, Eoin Colfer, Feb 14, 2014
- Artemis Fowl; The arctic Incident, Eoin Colfer, Feb 14, 2014
- Artemis Fowl, The Eternity Code, Eoin Colfer, Feb 22, 2014
- Artemis Fowl, The Opal Deception, Eoin Colfer, March 14, 2014
- A Northern Light, by Jennifer Donnelly, March 15, 2014
- Eragon, by Christopher Paolini, March 25, 2014
- Artemis Fowl and the Lost Colony, Eoin Colfer, March 27, 2014
- Artemis Fowl and the Time Paradox, April 8, 2014 (book 6)
- A Northern Light, by Jennifer Donnelly, April 14, 2014 (2nd reading)
- Artemis Fowl and the Atlantis Complex, April 28, 2014
- Artemis Fowl and the Last Guardian, Eoin Colfer, May 21, 2014
- Path of Beasts, Lian Tanner, 8/11/14
- Revolution, by Jennifer Donnelly, 8/23/14
- Permanent Record, Leslie Stella
- mockingbird, Kathryn Eskine, May 4, 2014
- touch blue, by Cynthia Lord, May 5, 2014
- Mischief in Fez, Eleanor Hoffmann, September 37, 2014
Children’s Picture books
- Best Counting Book Ever, Richard Scarry, January 1, 2014
- What Do Snowman Do at Night? Caralyn Buehner, January 2, 2014
- Sky Color, Peter H Reynaolds. June 11, June 12 2014 (2X)
Books started but not finished:
- The Death of Grass, John Christopher.gratuitous violence perpetrated by protagonists (“the good guys”) UGH! (This is on the iPad, so I want to revisit it for my own novel--I plan to use the BADNESS of the main characters in this book for the BAD guys in my books.) Two varieties of bad guys, really bad, and misguided (but therefor bad).
And here is what I have finished so far this year:
Books, Movies, etc 2015
- The Nutmeg of Consolation, Patrick O’Brian, 1-7-15
- CarSick, John Waters, 1-17-15
- The Yellow Admiral, Patrick O’Brian, 1-26-15