Rita Walker (Blog Fifteen):  By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris

Rita Walker (Blog Fifteen):  By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris

In the past vehicle batteries were often just thrown in bodies of water like lakes or rivers.  Batteries can be completely recycled now.  The importance is getting the batteries to the recycling plant.

https://www.batterysolutions.com/recycling-information/how-are-batteries-recycled/

https://www.livescience.com/40459-what-do-cats-see.html

On the Grand River, just on the border with the Oakhill Cemetery, a new factory was built just the year before.  Rita had driven by the factory and saw a sign in bold blue letters with the words Kanetic Reusable Batteries.  Under the name were the words:  Clean Energy.   On her excursion the other night her feline nose suggested otherwise.

She wants to get inside Kanetic Reusable Batteries and see what’s going on but not in her human form.  Part of the factory extends into the Grand and she noticed the river’s water flows in and out of a grate.  But the grate opening is small and even as a rodent she doesn’t think she could swim through the river’s current to get inside.  Perhaps Marlo could help her with that.  Rán had told her she could find him at Mohawk Lake.  First she wants to observe him unnoticed.  Invisibility is sometimes just becoming something else.

It’s Saturday and the night before she had asked Zsofia to pick her up from a grove but not as her normal self.   She sees Zsofia’s BMW i3 pull into the parking lot.  As Zsofia gets out of her car and looks around, Rita leaves the grove where a pile of dirt sits beside the tree trunk of a black birch.   Zsofia looks down and waves at her as she opens the front passenger door.  Rita leaps inside.  It took a long time to get used to a cat’s poor daytime vision.  The reason she prefers to investigate at night.

As Zsofia drives towards Mohawk Lake she puts on the radio.  There isn’t much sense in talking since it would be one sided.  So Rita stands on her hind legs and stares out the window.

I’ll Melt With You by Modern English starts playing.  It’s like listening with two separate pairs of ears.  Her feline ears hear mumbo- jumbo but her human memory can still discern the words.

Once they reach the lake Zsofia lets Rita out.  She carries Rita towards the shore where Marlo is gazing over the lake.

Kyle Montyro as Marlo 1
Kyle Montyro as Marlo

“I’ll read my book for half an hour than honk,” Zsofia tells her as she sets Rita down.

Rita looks side-to-side as she steps ever closer to Marlo.  She sits on her haunches and stares up at him.

 

He crouches down and places the fingers of his right hand into the lake’s water.  Without looking at her he says, “I will get you inside the factory.”

Kyle Montyro as Marlo 2
Kyle Montyro as Marlo 2

Rita Walker (Blog Fourteen):  By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris

Rita Walker (Blog Fourteen):  By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris

In 1974 Spanish pilot and marine officer Juan Pérez was the first European to discover the Haida Gwaii but bad weather stopped him from landing and claiming it for Spain.   James Cook, Captain of the Royal navy was the first European known to visit the Haida Nation.  Archaeology digs have determined the Haida have been living on the Haida Gwaii islands from 6000 to 8000 years ago.

https://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/haida-gwaii

https://www.raconteur.net/business-innovation/cobalt-mining-human-rights

https://norse-mythology.org/gods-and-creatures/giants/aegir-and-ran/

https://www.historymuseum.ca/cmc/exhibitions/aborig/haida/havwa01e.html

As she drives home from the college the sky is dark and clear.  A song she hasn’t heard in a long time comes on.  Chalk Circle’s “This Mourning” gets her tapping her hands against the steering wheel.  It reminds her why Kaneki needs to go back to Centre Earth.

The weeping willow string she planted is growing little nubs that she hopes will grow into tiny branches.  It was wonderful that Kaylee asked her to teach a Haida language course three times a week along with her once a week Environmental Technology class.  She knows she’ll be financially stable for the next three years.  Her real focus though is on what she does at night.  So with a cup of licorice tea she sits in front of her window in her kitchenette and concentrates on the tiny willow sapling.  A quarter moon shines through her window awakening the elemental inside her.  She could control its pull for her to change but tonight she wants to transform.  Her eyes remain open but become unfocused.

She finds herself at Soper Park.  Before her Oya is dressed ready for action.

“What do you want child?” Oya asks in an exasperated voice.

“To visit Rán.”

“This is a bad time for me child of Ailbe Rose.  I must deal with Kaneki’s influence on mining for cobalt in the Congo.   Think of Island and go!”

To Icelanders their home is known as Island.  It’s where her grandfather wanted to return to.

When Rita was five her father took the family to Kiusta at the northern tip of Haida Gwaii.  Taking her hand he led her to the shore where the ruins of a long boat rested near a group of ancient totem poles.  “My father, your grandfather arrived on this boat.  He was nearly dead when they brought him to a sweat lodge and your grandmother nursed him to health.  He came from far far away.  You and I have his eyes whereas your brother has pure Haida eyes like your mother.  I would find him staring at this ruin as we worked on his new boat.  I think he would have stayed if your grandmother had not died during the Tsimshian raid.”

Rita only remembers her father’s father vaguely.  Tall and strong, with long brown hair and a red beard that flowed to his chest.  His voice was loud sometimes but more often hushed as though his soul were broken.  By the fire pit he would stare at her but with his chin turned slightly away.  It made her feel as if he was watching her wearily.  His Haida Gwaii words were clipped and often he added words she had never heard before.  He always kept his distance from her.  “There is something else in this child,” she would hear him say to both her mother and father at different times.  He would shake his shaggy head afterwards and stare at her out of the corner of his eyes.

When she was four her father’s father had taken dry fish and fresh water onto his new boat with its many ribs.  “Someday others like me will come,” he warned before he paddled north towards the Bering Sea.  In the distance Rita remembered seeing him unfurl the strange red and white curving sail his mother had helped him sew.  He was right others like him would arrive at Haida Gwaii but Rita wouldn’t learn about that until later.

Her vision becomes cloudy.  As the cloud dissipates she can see Rán walking in modern clothes by a river.    Rán stops and turns to her with a beaming smile.  Rita realizes Kaneki has not made his presence known as much on Iceland—yet.

Gunnhildur as Rán for Rita Walker November 9 2019 by Freyr Holldorsson
Gunnhildur as Rán for Rita Walker November 9 2019 by Freyr Holldorsson

“What can I do for you Rita?” Rán asks in her boisterous voice.

Gunnhildur as Rán for Rita Walker November 9 2019 3 by Freyr Holldorsson
Gunnhildur as Rán for Rita Walker November 9 2019 3 by Freyr Holldorsson

“Do you have student named Marlo?”

“I do.  When you change you can watch him by the lake near where you live.  He is with you Rita that I can assure you.”

“Thank you, Rán,” Rita says as Rán fades away and she feels herself changing.

Rita Walker (Blog Thirteen):  By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris

Rita Walker (Blog Thirteen):  By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris

The type of soil and climate found in a particular area will determine what plants will grow best in that location.  In Brantford the soil is mostly Luvisolic:  a mixture of clay, silt, and sand.  Clayey Gleysolic and Gray Brown Luvisolic are the main soils with the major crops being corn, soy, and tobacco.

https://soilsofcanada.ca/

http://ecozones.ca/english/region/135.html

https://www.gardenguides.com/128379-types-soil-ontario.html

https://soilsofcanada.ca/orders/luvisolic.php

https://www.thespruce.com/what-is-loam-1401908

 

Rita looks up at the students in her class and sighs.  She counts sixteen students and only one of the five she expected.  As she met each of the Ancients, though she only saw Rae, they gave her the ability to see an aura on the very rare occasion her path connected with another elemental’s.  She sees a blue hue around a tall man with dark dreadlocks and trimmed beard.  “Water,” she whispers.  His head tilts to the side as she speaks the word and she knows he has heard her.

“Soil is composed of many different chemicals and organisms.  The type of each is determined by the composition of the minerals in a given area.  Wind blows soil and glaciers move large chunks of it.  And what else is soil?   It is the by-product of death and waste.  When leaves die and fall off a tree or as plants wither and decay they decompose—into soil.    Whatever your body doesn’t use must come out as waste products.  In the natural pattern everything dies and everything is used to help the growth of life.”

“We’re going to focus on the soil in Brantford.”    Rita moves to the side of large screen behind her and clicks a button on a remote.  An image of Canada with multiple colours appears representing the different soil types and where they are located.  She uses the pointer of the remote and points a red dot to the area where Brantford is on the map.  “The yellow represents Luvisolic soil.  Glaciers pulverized the soil so that the dominant minerals are calcium and magnesium leaving the top soil as predominantly loamy or clay.  Loamy soil is a mixture of clay, silt, and sand.  Clay and silt help keep in the water while sand creates gaps for better root growth.

“Farmers use both cattle and human manure to fertile the soil.  That will be our next lecture.  Are there any questions?”

The man with the blue aura raises his hand.

“Yes?” Rita asks.

“What happens when the soil is polluted?” he asks in a voice that is both soft and deep, “and what about soil microorganisms?”

“That’s coming up in future lectures Mr.?”

Rita Walker (Blog Twelve):  By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris

Rita Walker (Blog Twelve):  By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris

The Haida like so many other indigenous people had their children removed to learn European ways.  Midnight Oil made it clear that Australia’s treatment of indigenous people was a disgrace during the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Australia by wearing black coveralls with the word Sorry.  Nature has a way of diffusing the thought that any people are better than others when people of different races and backgrounds fall in love and have children.   People have different hair colour, skin colour, eye colour, physiques and yet are all the same.

https://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/haida-native-group

https://www.songfacts.com/facts/midnight-oil/beds-are-burning

https://petergarrett.com.au/biography/

https://www.mohawkcollege.ca/about/campuses/six-nations-polytechnic-brantford-sb

Rita places the potted weeping willow branch into the back of her car.  With loving care she hopes it will grow.  Either in the fall or in the spring she will plant it on the schools lawn.

Midnight Oil’s “Beds Are Burning” is playing on the radio as Rita drives to the Six Nations’ Polytechnic College to organize her classroom.   She taps her fingers on the steering wheel as she sings “The time has come, a fact’s a fact/ It belongs to them, let’s give it back” along with the band’s lead singer Peter Garrett.   She read an article that at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney the band members performed with the word SORRY written across the chest of their black coveralls.  It was a blatant rebuttal of the Prime Minister at the time, John Howard, for his refusal to apologize for the former policy of removing aboriginal children from their families.  After reading the article Rita realized this destruction of aboriginal families happened all around the world, not just in Canada.  The song reminds her of how hard it is for her to keep positive.  But the world already knows about all the atrocities.  Now it’s time for everyone to focus on working together.  It’s time to show that those who were bullied are wiser and will not become the bullies.

She doesn’t think there are any songs that represent her, a half breed or multi-raced person.  Then she recalls hearing Cher singing “Half Breed” written by Mary Dean and composed by Al Capps.  She wonders, if like so many other songs and writings, did the lyricist really understand what it’s like to be a “half breed”?  Do they know what it’s like to find out one half of your ancestry was warring or abusing the other half?  She shakes her head to clear the negative thoughts away.

Sometimes life is strange.  As she pulls into the college Depeche Mode’s “People are People” comes on.  She pulls over and sings along with the band:  “It’s obvious you hate me/Though I’ve done nothing wrong/I never even met you/So what could I have done”.  Well, next week she’s about to meet four individuals who represent a hidden race of humans.  And she needs to figure out how to get them to work together.  One will be the hardest to change.  And one probably won’t want to collaborate with the others.

Inside the classroom she feels small standing at the bottom of the sloping floor gazing up at the desks that will allow the students to look down on her.  She set the potted willow on the ledge of the windows at the opposite side to the door.  Next she takes out her papers.  The first of the lessons will focus on the different soils found in different areas of Ontario and what’s being done to keep them healthy.

Rita Walker (Blog Eleven):  By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris

Rita Walker (Blog Eleven):  By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris

Willow trees live all around the world.  Oxygen producers, pain relief from the bark, and used to make flutes to fish traps.

https://dreamastromeanings.com/willow-tree-meaning-and-symbolism/

http://tropical.theferns.info/viewtropical.php?id=Salix+mucronata

https://goddess-files.livejournal.com/3019.html

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5f_fkZ3tW3U

https://goddess-files.livejournal.com/3019.html

 

Rita parks in the small gravel driveway across from the raised flower beds the city re-plants every year.   She heads towards the section of Mill Creek that flows through the park where the giant Weeping Willows grow.  When she was younger she fell asleep thinking about Rae.  But Rae did not answer, instead another ancient one appeared from Africa.

 

Her mother was telling her the Haida Creation Story.  “Raven was walking on the shore when he heard many noises coming from inside a clamshell…,” her mother was saying when Rita fell asleep thinking of Rae.

Her soul watched as she floated out of her body.  She saw her face, eyes closed, and mouth slightly open.  She saw her mother’s dark brown hair flowing over her shoulders in strands to cover the top of her deerskin shirt.  Her mother gently stroked her forehead and said, “Sleep.”  Her soul’s eyes turned upwards towards the ceiling of the tent and floated upwards by moving her arms and legs in a swimming motion.  As she swam between the Sitka spruce and Yellow cedar trees a tug to her chest pulled her down to the draping branches of a dwarf weeping willow.  She touched one of the thin leaves and found herself somewhere else.

She was hovering before a giant weeping willow with a creek flowing nearby.  As she stared, frozen in place at the willow’s gnarly trunk, a woman appeared.  So powerful and strong was the women’s presence Rita didn’t know if to flee or stare in awe.  “Child,” said the woman with raven coloured hair.  The woman’s voice had a lilt and a mixture of tenderness and strength that demanded attention as she pointed her finger at Rita.  “Why have you called me?”

Gloria Antwi as Oya and thanks to La Sab Hotel Ghana West Africa

“I was calling Rae,” Rita admitted still torn between wanting to flee and getting to know this woman better.

“Rae is healing her soul and I am with her through Raven.”

“You are connected to Raven?” Rita asks.  “I thought only the Haida knew of Raven.

“I am of the wind child–and the willow which in its many forms all around the World, both hears the wind and tells it stories–communicates with me.  When you thought of Rae she must have sent you to me instead.  I am Oya, the Yoruban Goddess of weather, and known to others like you as the Elemental Ancient One of Wind.  What do you seek from Rae?”

“She lives in the Haida Gwaii and is directly connected to my people.  So I seek wisdom from her.”

“Ah, I see.  You are not just Haida but also Irish, German, and connected directly to the Earth.  The World is round my child and that makes all things connected.  But we seek what is familiar and you are closer to Ailbe Rose than Rae.  So that may be why she will not answer you.”

“Why would someone want me to contact you Oya?” Rita asked with a slight bow.

“Some day you will meet the one who is connected to me.  Let her know that you and I have met.  The cat may eat the sparrow and the hawk may eat the rabbit but when there is a greater danger all creatures heed the warning of Raven’s call.  What argues and fights now will need to collaborate in the near future.  Unnatural things are beginning to be created out of what lies deep beneath the ground.”

 

Rita walks up to the willow she saw in her dream.  With great diligence and respect she snips a section of overhanging branch off.

Review of Cixin Liu’s “The Three-Body Problem” translated by Ken Liu

A couple of weeks ago I decided I needed to take a break from working on my own stories and read someone elses.  As I walked down the aisles at Indigo’s in Cambridge (Canada) I came across an interesting title called “The Three-Body Problem” in the science fiction section.

This is a Hugo winning story for best science fiction originally written in Chinese and later translated into English and German.

After years of reading science, fantasy, and historical fiction along with other genres I didn’t think I could find something completely original to read.  Cixin Liu’s book caught my attention and held it until the end.  I’m not an astophycisist, nor an engineer, nor a mathematician so I am grateful he does an amazing job of explaining the sophisticated scientific concepts that run throughout the book.  There is also the fascinating matter of taking me on a journey through Chinese history and way of thinking.

Ken Liu sums up the book for those of us brought up in the West in the postscript of the book:  “The English words are arranged in such a way that the reader sees a glimpse of another culture’s pattern of thinking, hears an echo of another language’s rhythms and cadences, and feels a tremor of another people’s gestures and movements.”

A marvel of a story to read outdoors, or inside across from a  large bay window, where you can glance up at the stars.

D.W.

Liu Cixin:

https://www.amazon.com/Cixin-Liu/e/B007JP96JU

Ken Liu

Home

 

Rita Walker (Blog Ten):  By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris

Rita Walker (Blog Ten):  By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris

In the August 9, 2019 Waterloo Region Record there was an article called:  Rebuilding a road for tomorrow by Catherine Thompson.  By using perforated storm sewer pipes and Silva cells on Ahrens Street West the city of Kitchener was hoping to stop run off of salt and other debris from entering nearby creeks.  Currently Highway 24 or Water Street South by Churchill Park does not have a road designed to protect wildlife.  But perhaps in the near future these roads will be everywhere.

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/2019/04/wildlife-overpasses-underpasses-make-animals-people-safer/

https://www.deeproot.com/products/silva-cell.html

http://www.bigorrin.org/haida_kids.htm

https://haidacultureproject.weebly.com/clothing.html

 

In the morning Rita showers off the sweat from her struggle not to change from the night before.  As the water pours over her she glances at her hands and up her left arm where the tattoos line up as a totem pole would.  Stepping out of the shower stall she stares at the mirror.  Through the mist created by the shower’s hot water she can see the shadowed images of the other tattoos on her body; each a symbol of survival or rite of passage.  Her eyes drift back to the feather symbol on her left arm.  Birds are part of the Air Elemental and today she must travel to Cambridge to meet with the Ancient One who represents the human aspect of Air.

Driving along Highway 24 in Cambridge she notices sections of the road are humped as she drives next to the Grand River and past Churchill Park.  This is a main area for turtles to cross.  The humps or mini-bridges are long so the drive is safe for cars and transport trucks.  Many years ago an innovative idea was put to the test in the city of Kitchener.  Perforated storm sewer pipes were installed under roads to lessen run off during heavy rain and to create more dispersion.  The dispersed water is captured and treated by what was then pioneering technology called Silva cells. Lightly compacted soil within the cells allowed trees to grow.  The roots of the trees help absorb and dissipate salt and other run off by-product before it reaches water sources such as creeks and rivers.  Now most road repairs are built with the environment in mind.

She glances at the feather tattoo on her left arm in the side view mirror of her leased Volkswagen e-Golf.  It reminds her of the time she saw Rae in a dream.  In the dream a female dressed in a red cedar bark dress stood on a tiny Island.  Rita watched as the woman raised her left arm.  She noticed a band around the woman’s forearm made of yellow cedar as a raven flew onto the woman’s outstretched arm.  Rita could only see the side profile of the woman and little of her face.  But the raven turned and stared directly at her.  That’s when the dream ended and she knew that she had caught a glimpse of Rae and the spirit Raven.

In the morning she had asked her mother about raven but left out Rae.

“You have strange dreams child,” her mother told her as she wove together new deerskin moccasins for Rita’s father.   “Raven may be many things, but is a protector for us above all else.  Ravens will steal food from you, have no doubt, and you should shoo them away if they try, but never hurt them. They are our protection against supernatural beings.”

As Rita drives down Shades Street towards Soper Park she wonders if the raven she saw as a child was protecting Rae from Kaneki.  But mostly she wonders why so long ago Rae allowed a glimpse of herself but so far would not communicate with Rita directly.’

An Interview with Bill Ashwell, Co-author of a Great New Play called “Dark Sanctuary”

For anyone who missed my interview with Bill Ashwell, co-author of the play: Dark Sanctuary.

Interview with Bill Ashwell at the Blackwing Café, Cambridge Ontario, September 14, 2019.

After seeing the play Dark Sanctuary, co-written by my friend Bill Ashwell I enjoyed it so much that I asked him if I could interview him.  If you want to know more about Bill I’ve included his bio at the end.

I just saw Dark Sanctuary, a play you co-wrote with Steve Robinson, and got so immersed in it I completely lost track of time.  How did you first come up with idea for the play?

  • It came from possibly too many nights watching old film noir movies on TCM: The Big Sleep, Out of the Past, Chinatown

How long did it take to write the play?

  • Once Steve got me off my butt about writing, he and I had a first draft completed in about 3 months.

Because it’s a cloak and dagger play did it take a long time to make it flow properly?

  • In a sense, yes. We had to frequently tweak the characters and the back stories to give more of a sense of their motivations. There had to be a viable reason for Father O’Rourke to support Nicky the way he did. And Detective Widmark needed his own backstory to be what he was.

A lot of social issues are brought up during the play.  Was that intentional or did they implement themselves into the play as it evolved?

  • A bit of both, I think. The issues of Nicky’s homelife and Father O’Rourke’s internal struggles are real and in a sense timeless, so to speak. We just worked them into the story to expand beyond the simple noir-ish stereotypes

Why did you choose to have the play take place in 1952?

  • Simply, it fits with the film noir approach. But really, the time frame isn’t that much of a factor. Just sets the scene.

Some of the actors spoke with an Irish accent.  Was that intentional?

  • Again, it was all in keeping with the story. We wanted the archetypal characters; the kindly priest, the busybody house keeper, the hard-boiled police detective, without dwelling on the stereotypes, simplifying the characters to the point of parody. So the accents fit with the characters and, I suppose, vice versa.

I was very impressed with the choice of actors.  Were they asked or did you have auditions?

  • Mainly auditions. Steve put the call out and we auditioned quite a few local and area actors. I was quite impressed with the depth of talent in this area.

You’ve also written non plays.  Can you tell us about your other writing and if it is available or will be soon?

  • I began writing poetry waaaayy back in the ‘80s, but had no idea what to do with it of how to hone my craft. I stumbled across the Cambridge Writers Collective in 1995, a wonderful group of writers who taught me more about writing than I could have ever imagined. I have been fortunate enough to have had some of my work published and self-published.
  • Poetry taught me to bend the physical rules of writing, that expression of the idea is, in some way, more important than composition. I struggle with rhyming poetry (and don’t get me started on limericks), so free verse poetry became the vehicle by which I could effectively express myself.

 

Bill Ashwell has been a member of the Cambridge Writers collective (CWC) since 1995.  His poetry and prose have been published in several editions of CWC’s Writers Undercover Anthologies and The Cambridge Wartime Scrapbook.  In 2001 he published Moments of Clarity, a chapbook collection of his poetry.  In 2007 his work was published in the Ascent Aspiration Magazine’s: Aguaterra Anthology of poetry and fiction.  Also in 2007 he was awarded the City of Cambridge’s prestigious Bernice Adams Memorial Award for Communication and Literary Arts.  Bill has also participated in numerous public poetry readings, notably, at the Cambridge Arts Festival, the 2004 Remembrance Day Service at the Galt Cenotaph, and at various local celebrations of the spoken word.

You can reach Bill at:  bashwell@gmail.com or text him at:  226-218-1242

 

Science Fiction, Fantasy Fiction, and More!

Interview with Bill Ashwell at the Blackwing Café, Cambridge Ontario, September 14, 2019.

Bill Ashwell Co-author of the Play Noir “Dark Sanctuary”

After seeing the play Dark Sanctuary, co-written by my friend Bill Ashwell I enjoyed it so much that I asked him if I could interview him.  If you want to know more about Bill I’ve included his bio at the end.

I just saw Dark Sanctuary, a play you co-wrote with Steve Robinson, and got so immersed in it I completely lost track of time.  How did you first come up with idea for the play?

  • It came from possibly too many nights watching old film noir movies on TCM: The Big Sleep, Out of the Past, Chinatown

How long did it take to write the play?

  • Once Steve got me off my butt about writing, he and I had a first draft completed in about 3 months.

Because it’s…

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Rita Walker (Blog Nine):  By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris

Rita Walker (Blog Nine):  By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris

Airmid is a Tuath Dé Danann and the goddess of herbs.  Only she knows the three hundred and sixty-five herbs that now grow all over Earth.

By decreasing industrial waste and leakage of toxic, heavy metals water ways can become cleaner and plants safer to consume.

http://www.orderwhitemoon.org/goddess/Airmid/airmid.html

https://www.hollowreedholistic.ca/blogs/test-2018/tending-the-garden-healing-the-body-a-new-old-pers/

https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/pub/82-003-x/2008004/article/10717/6500108-eng.htm

https://www.nrcan.gc.ca/mining-materials/mining/minerals-and-metals-policy/minerals-and-metals-policy-government-canada/8690

https://healthycanadians.gc.ca/recall-alert-rappel-avis/hc-sc/2019/69596a-eng.php

She forces herself to take deep breaths as her hands clench onto her bed sheets.  The full moon calls but it’s not a good time to change.  Not just before school starts.

She remembers that after dreaming of Ailbe Rose a month passed before she dreamed of Airmid.  Her mother was hanging the kelp they had gathered earlier on long sticks while Rita gathered wild blueberries nearby.  As Rita bent over to pick a blueberry her hand brushed against a salal berry and she fainted.

She opened her soul eyes and saw a woman with long brown hair that accentuated a world loving smile.  The woman was kneeling amongst herbs that grew beside a house.  Rita gazed closer but she could not recognize any of the herbs nor the style of house.

Brenda Gabet as Airmid 5 (2)

(Thanks to Brenda Gabet, an Amazing Mother, and Fitness Instructor)

“You have met a Tuath Dé Danann already,” the woman stated in a strong voice vibrant with life.

“Airmid?” Rita asked.

The woman looked up at her with caring yet mischievous eyes.  “Yes.  You were supposed to meet Rae first but she hides from Kaneki, who seeks to be with her again, as they were when together they formed the Earth’s core.”

Brenda Gabet as Airmid 1 (2)

(Brenda Gabet as Airmid)

“Is Kaneki the tainted one?”

“He has trained the one that comes from him.  Kaneki was never meant to live above the core of the Earth but now he does, and tries to make his permanent home upon the surface where it does not belong.”  Airmid caresses the leaves of one of the unknown herbs.  “What do you know of herbs?”

“Very little,” Rita had admitted.

“What do you see when you look at my garden?”

“Plants, weeds,” Rita replies.

Airmid caresses one of the herbs with a long green leaf that’s furry on the surface.  “Sage can be used for memory improvement, digestive problems, and more.”  She touches a nearby plant with yellow petals and long, jagged leaves.  “Different parts of the dandelion can be used to make coffee, help with digestion, and pain relief.  Someday Rae will tell you of the herbs of Haida Gwaii and what they are used for.  Herbs are akin to elements.  Some, like fire, you eat to make you hot when you are too cold.  Some you drink, like water, as tinctures to cool the heat inside.  Some, you alight to flow through the air, like wind, to help you breathe.  Some, you coat your skin with, like earth, to moisturize and draw out infection.  But many of the herbs are contaminated now, by metal, like mined cadmium, mercury, arsenic and more.  Necessary in minute amounts for life but in greater quantities deadly they belong mostly deep in the ground.”

“What can I do?” Rita asks as she feels her body pulling her soul back.

“Gather the other elements.  Both learn and teach each other to find balance.”

Rita sees Airmid’s image fade as the blue sky over Haida Gwaii becomes more vibrant from where she lies amongst the blueberries and salal.

An Interview with Bill Ashwell, Co-author of a Great New Play called “Dark Sanctuary”

Interview with Bill Ashwell at the Blackwing Café, Cambridge Ontario, September 14, 2019.

Bill Ashwell
Co-author of the Play Noir “Dark Sanctuary”

After seeing the play Dark Sanctuary, co-written by my friend Bill Ashwell I enjoyed it so much that I asked him if I could interview him.  If you want to know more about Bill I’ve included his bio at the end.

I just saw Dark Sanctuary, a play you co-wrote with Steve Robinson, and got so immersed in it I completely lost track of time.  How did you first come up with idea for the play?

  • It came from possibly too many nights watching old film noir movies on TCM: The Big Sleep, Out of the Past, Chinatown

How long did it take to write the play?

  • Once Steve got me off my butt about writing, he and I had a first draft completed in about 3 months.

Because it’s a cloak and dagger play did it take a long time to make it flow properly?

  • In a sense, yes. We had to frequently tweak the characters and the back stories to give more of a sense of their motivations. There had to be a viable reason for Father O’Rourke to support Nicky the way he did. And Detective Widmark needed his own backstory to be what he was.

A lot of social issues are brought up during the play.  Was that intentional or did they implement themselves into the play as it evolved?

  • A bit of both, I think. The issues of Nicky’s homelife and Father O’Rourke’s internal struggles are real and in a sense timeless, so to speak. We just worked them into the story to expand beyond the simple noir-ish stereotypes

Why did you choose to have the play take place in 1952?

  • Simply, it fits with the film noir approach. But really, the time frame isn’t that much of a factor. Just sets the scene.

Some of the actors spoke with an Irish accent.  Was that intentional?

  • Again, it was all in keeping with the story. We wanted the archetypal characters; the kindly priest, the busybody house keeper, the hard-boiled police detective, without dwelling on the stereotypes, simplifying the characters to the point of parody. So the accents fit with the characters and, I suppose, vice versa.

I was very impressed with the choice of actors.  Were they asked or did you have auditions?

  • Mainly auditions. Steve put the call out and we auditioned quite a few local and area actors. I was quite impressed with the depth of talent in this area.

You’ve also written non plays.  Can you tell us about your other writing and if it is available or will be soon?

  • I began writing poetry waaaayy back in the ‘80s, but had no idea what to do with it of how to hone my craft. I stumbled across the Cambridge Writers Collective in 1995, a wonderful group of writers who taught me more about writing than I could have ever imagined. I have been fortunate enough to have had some of my work published and self-published.
  • Poetry taught me to bend the physical rules of writing, that expression of the idea is, in some way, more important than composition. I struggle with rhyming poetry (and don’t get me started on limericks), so free verse poetry became the vehicle by which I could effectively express myself.

 

Bill Ashwell has been a member of the Cambridge Writers collective (CWC) since 1995.  His poetry and prose have been published in several editions of CWC’s Writers Undercover Anthologies and The Cambridge Wartime Scrapbook.  In 2001 he published Moments of Clarity, a chapbook collection of his poetry.  In 2007 his work was published in the Ascent Aspiration Magazine’s: Aguaterra Anthology of poetry and fiction.  Also in 2007 he was awarded the City of Cambridge’s prestigious Bernice Adams Memorial Award for Communication and Literary Arts.  Bill has also participated in numerous public poetry readings, notably, at the Cambridge Arts Festival, the 2004 Remembrance Day Service at the Galt Cenotaph, and at various local celebrations of the spoken word.

You can reach Bill at:  bashwell@gmail.com or text him at:  226-218-1242