A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part Six: Blog Forty)

By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris, co-authors of the Rita Walker series

The Captain and the rest of the shore crew, along with what’s left of the Surprise, stagger back to the pinnace.  Master Jo Anne notices that the ‘Harlot’ and Humphrey are missing, and so is ‘Dizzying Blade’.  She looks quizzically at the Captain.

The Captain gives her an archaic smile and staggers up to her.  “We can’t call her ‘Harlot’ anymore.  The Horse People are letting her and Humphrey stay together in one of their strange stalk huts made from a plant similar to sugarcane.”  The Captain shrugs and sighs so that Master Jo Anne can smell the heavy sent of brandy on her breath.  “And…after much drinking, ‘Dizzying Blade’, sparred with one of the Horse Woman and won; though I told her to lose.  Now she has to stay with them until the Surprise is ready to sail and teach them her fighting skills.  Silly girl, it’s her fault, she refuses to lose to anyone.  However, she told me Arsema and Amelie can replace her.  So we’ll have two Master-at-arms now.  At least until the Surprise drops her and the ‘Harl—.” The Captain slaps the side of her own head with the palm of her hand, “Thelma.”

“We could caller her Sewer, Stitcher, or even Flag Weaver from now on,” Master Jo Anne suggests.

“’Flag Weaver’,” the Captain says thoughtfully.  “That would do.  Two days from now we’re going to use our pinnace and the other one that’s amongst the Aloe Vera, if it still floats, to get the Surprise free.  ‘Ship Builder’ says we need to do it during the end of high tide.”

“So we’re staying?”  Everyone knows time is precious to attack Barthadrow and take over another ship before heading towards the Pregnancy Ship.  She spits and can see the Captain knows who she was thinking of.

She and the Captain both stop talking.  Baffled at the sight of the Cannibal woman Melinda sauntering up to Captain Peg leg. 

“Get your rapier ready,” the Captain tells her as she starts to draw her own out.

Dumbfounded she watches Melinda kneel before Captain Peg leg and take his wrapped hand or what’s left of it in her owns hands. 

“You could have tried to eat me,” the Cannibal woman says in a soothing voice.

Captain Peg leg’s eyes grow wide as the Cannibal girl stands back up, with his wrapped hand still in hers.  “I wanted to feast on the one who stole some of my crew.  You know what happened to them, when they were put in that barrel.”

“I do,” Captain Peg leg says before gulping.

“Listen,” the Captain says.  “Take our pinnace with ‘Wheel Turner’ and return to the Nague now.  We’ll be here a few days, so I want you to go back to the ship and tell ‘One Eye’,” the Captain continues, while still watching the surreal scene between Captain Peg leg and the Cannibal, “that we need to drop the nets and catch some fish.  And let Amelie know she’s Master-at-Arms until ‘Dizzying Blade’ returns.  However, our guest,” and the Captain nods towards the Cannibal, “will stay in ‘Dizzying Blade’s’ room sans the weapons.”

“Not Arsema?”  To her Arsema always came across as closest to ‘Dizzying Blade’.

“Arsema is going to train with ‘Ship Protector’ as Master-at-Arms of the Sea,” the Captain replies in a drunken, but thoughtful tone.  “I want Arsema along with ‘Ship Protector’ to dive down and investigate the damage to the Surprise.  We’ll also need them to help the ‘Ship Builder’ get the ropes in place to release the Surprise from that rock.  I want this done as soon-as-possible.  We need to prepare to attack—you know who.”

She and the Captain both spit on the ground.

Dan Watt is the author of the epic dark fantasy fiction book BARD

Taylor Norris, RMT, as First Mate ‘One Eye’ Olanis:  taynorris@gmail.com (Kitchener-Waterloo)

With thanks to Joanne Gosling (Navigator ‘Storm Caller’ Master Jo Anne): Joanne is an Interior Decorator who specializes in closets: Jgosling@calclosets.com Calclosetsjoanne or Joannegosling22@gmail.com

Leah Weir (Helmswoman ‘Wheel Turner’ Synthia): model and cover editor;

Fire & Steel for the Medieval Rapier:  http://fireandsteel.ca/

Alex Watt for background pictures

Daiana Duca for background pictures

Krissy Karmaschek for background pictures

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part four: Blog nineteen)

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part four: Blog nineteen)

By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris

As the Nagua moves beyond the visibility of the city Umi’s thoughts turn to the next day when she will dive for the wooded plants ‘Dizzying Blade’ wants for the bow and arrows.  “You will come on the boat with us tomorrow Zala and Chesah.”  She smiles at the others.  “The rest of you, we try next time.”

She hears the other girls grumble that they won’t be going.  Umi smiles at the sight of Zala putting her arm around Chesah and asking her if she’s excited about the coming morning.  Only a few of the girls are willing to swim.  Most are terrified of putting their head below the surface.  She chuckles under her breath at the memory of the ‘Harlot’ telling her, she would rather eat ‘Unibrow’s’ wormy fish meal, like they were forced to years ago, than learn to be an Ama.

The Nagua is anchored about a mile from the shore of an atoll.  Umi is wearing a kimono robe with images of the leaves from a sakaki tree stitched on.   She closes her eyes and takes in deep, even breaths of the salty air. 

She opens her eyes and sees ‘One Eye’ who isn’t currently wearing her eyepatch looking back at her from the bow of the pinnace with a lopsided grin.  “We’ll keep the embers going while you dive,” ‘One Eye’ says with as she swipes away one of the flying insects that live near the shore. 

Umi stares into the yellow sky.  Pelicans with their long thick beaks swoop nearby.  She can also see frigatebirds with their thin pointed beaks and long tails.  Nearby a yellow beaked masked booby, with its wings drawn in, dives into the water.  Most of the other birds she has seen on this world keep closer to shore.  She remembers the Captain saying she wonders if they’re originally from Earth and were resting on the ships when the whirlpools pulled them to this planet.

Before her, in a cast iron box made from one of the unused cannons, are the embers of a fire.  She’ll need the warmth when she leaves the water.  She undoes her sash and lets the sun shine on her mostly bare skin.  She ties a tenugui over her head to keep her hair out of her eyes.  She is already wearing a fundoshi below.  Over the side she can see the sunlight piercing the water.  About two fathoms down the tops of seaweed flow back and forth in the current.   Growing in-between the seaweed are the hard and straight stands of what the Queen of Pirates named dogweed.

To the stern of the pinnace sit Zala and Chesah rowing.  ‘One Eye’ is navigator.  Zala’s eyes are bright and observant.  Chesah appears a bit squeamish. 

“First Mate Olanis knows that if I tug the rope once, I’m coming up, but if I tug twice I’m to be pulled up,” she tells the girls.

“And if we see danger we tug twice, wait for a tug back from Umi, then pull her back to the surface like Crazy Bumbee would,” ‘One Eye’ adds.

Rita Walker: Australia (Blog Four) by Dan Watt and Taylor Norris

Rita Walker: Australia (Blog Four) by Dan Watt and Taylor Norris (reference links at bottom)

A totem is an object or thing in nature that is adopted as a family or clan emblem. Different clans are assigned different totems and, in some cases, individuals are given personal totems at birth. In the Torres Strait, people wear personal pendants, which are mostly carved out of wood, turtle shell or shells and often represent the person’s totem. There are well-established rules about when they can wear the pendants, often only during ceremonies or rituals.

 

As a school of trout Rita has to let the trout do what they naturally would so she asks Dilga if she can enter the dreamtime.

Rita floats bodiless in space.  She looks down and sees a group of women known as the Djunkgao sisters shrouded in mist.  They are naming the Australian animals and clans.  One is making sacred wells with a yam stick.  The image disappears.

Again mist swirls around, and this time Rita sees the youngest sister observing the ocean’s current.  A male figure related to the sisters accosts her.  Angry words are exchanged.  The man forces the youngest sister to the ground.  Unable to stop what happens next Rita goes elsewhere to avoid the sight of the father, uncle, or brother raping the youngest sister.

In the next image all the sisters are standing on land looking up into the sky.  To spite the man, they all know, for what he did to their youngest sister, they have become dormant.  Now the land grows dry and overheated from lack of rain.

“Think of water as the sisters, and pollution as the man who raped the youngest sister,” Dilga’s voice echoes in her thoughts.  “There are parallels between the past, the present, and the future.  Follow the trail of coal as energy and encourage alternatives and less destructive uses.  It’s time for the Djunkgao sisters to come home.  Thank your…friend…for what he is already doing.”

 

http://www.aboriginalart.com.au/culture/dreamtime2.html

https://australianstogether.org.au/discover/indigenous-culture/aboriginal-spirituality/

http://www.gbrmpa.gov.au/our-partners/traditional-owners/traditional-owners-of-the-great-barrier-reef/language-totems-and-stories

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2019/nov/01/six-biggest-coalminers-in-australia-produce-more-emissions-than-entire-economy

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-50869565

 

Blue Mountain Jenolan Caves background pic by Peter Samuel with Rita Walker body makeup by @amasonart Alannah Mason, model Taylor Norris, picture of model by Dan Watt

 

Caedar-writing-artwork.com

Mythruin.simplesite.com

Recommendation to read Shayleene MacReynolds: Wildheartoflife.blog

The body will say what it feels; the mind will conceive of a plan based on what it sees and wants; but the soul speaks what is real.  The soul’s language is not conceived but dwells in the depths.  And it is a language so hard to let out.   I have read the word images of Shayleene MacReynolds’ over the last while and have come to realize she is speaking from the soul.

The work…

What Becomes

Rita Walker (Blog Twenty-nine):  By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris

Rita Walker (Blog Twenty-nine):  By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris

The Haida Gwaii has carvings of three men with hats on the top of their totem poles.  These watchmen tell the carver of the totem pole if enemies are coming or if there is any other important information they should know.  (all references are at the bottom of the blog).

It’s unusually warm for autumn and Zsofia had asked Rita to bring her class to Victoria Park in Kitchener.

From the driver’s seat Rita glances in the rear-view mirror of the college’s Ev Star Min-eBus.  All the elementals are here now.  Marlo is sitting right behind her with his arm across two coolers full of sandwiches and thermos with water.  Behind Marlo is Aella and Ember.   The other students fill the rest of the double chairs behind her and the single seats.  Kanayago sits on a single seat at the very back by herself.

After the police came to talk to them about the attack the man named Norm made on the woman called Wendy, Rita asked Aella her background.  Once Aella found out who Rita is and that she teaches the Environmental Technology class at Six Nations Polytechnic Brantford Campus she became more talkative.  Aella explained that she was supposed to be in Rita’s class but couldn’t.  She was volunteering in the Haida Gwaii as a Red Cross Emergency Response Worker until just a few days ago.

No one is talking so she turns on the radio.  The Beatles “Eleanor Rigby” comes on and when the song gets to the verse “All the lonely people” she glances in the rear-view mirror at Kanayago.  The girl is looking out the window with a conflicted look on her face.

After she parks she and her students walk towards the lake that runs through the park.   Rita sees a weeping willow.  Not knowing why she touches its bark.

 

Shrouded in mist she stands on the eastern shore of Haida Gwaii.  She knows its Tlell because of the totem pole with the three watchmen carved into its top.  The mist disperses for a moment and she can see Rae standing on a wooden outlook with cedar rails.  Rae is staring across the Hecate Strait.  This time Rita can tell Rae knows she’s there.

Nicki Henry by Darren Henry

Rae modeled by Nicki Henry, picture taken by Darren Henry of Nixxx Design Custom Printing   nixxxdesigns@gmail.com

“You have all the pieces,” a soft soprano voice says.  “They must come to Haida Gwaii before the eclipse.  I have already told this to Ember.”  Mist covers Rae and Rita awakens from the vision with a feeling of displacement.

 

“Are you okay?”  Marlo asks.

“Yes, but I need to get everyone to Haida Gwaii.”

“I don’t think that will be so hard.  Rán has already told me we must go and the new girl, Aella told me of a vision she had from Onya also saying we must go to Haida Gwaii.”

“I wonder if Kanayago has received a message from Kaneki?” Rita asks.  She sees Kanayago walking separate from the others.

As they reach the shore of the lake Rita sees Zsofia standing in a sleeveless t-shirt and shorts reading over a sheet of paper.

DSC_1036 (2)

Zsofia modelled by Dr. Arla Kasaj picture by Dan Watt:  akwellness@gmail.com

Zsofia looks up and says, “You’re all here!”

Rita doesn’t miss the remark: all here.  Zsofia is the only person who is not an elemental that knows almost all her secrets.

“Have a seat but watch out for the Canadian Geese droppings,” Zsofia tells them.  “What happens with our medical supplies once they’re used is quite interesting.  In the past many of the sharps such as needles and syringes were put into containers and autoclaved.   Hydroclaving was found to be more efficient so that’s how all needles and syringes are sterilized now.  All other medical items such as bandages, gloves, and so on have to be sterilized and buried in a separate landfill or incinerated.  Incinerating is becoming safer for the environment as stricter rules are enforced and as better technology developed.”

“Our health is hurting our environment?”  Marlo asks.

“Not as much as it used to,” Zsofia answers.  “Infectious disease such as AIDS, Hepatitis, and super bugs such as SARS will increase if we don’t keep everything sanitized.  But to clean items like bed sheets or to sterilze needles means putting CO2 or other pollutants into the air.”

“A catch 22,” Aella says with a shake of her head.

“Less so as we use better technology and learn to waste less.  Any other questions or comments?”  Zsofia asks.

No one else asks anything so Rita stands up.  “Thank you Zsofia.  Well let’s eat,” she continues nodding towards the coolers they brought from the mini-bus.

As the others eat Rita walks with Zsofia along the lake’s shore.

“What happens now that you have them all gathered together?”  Zsofia asks when they are out of earshot of the others.

“We go to Haida Gwaii,” Rita answers with simple solemnity.

“You want me to go?”

“Yes,” Rita replies.  Zsofia may be part of the solution no one considered.

 

https://www.greenpowerbus.com/

https://www.redcross.ca/volunteer/apply-now/emergency-response-team-ert-supervisor-17

https://www.readersdigest.ca/travel/canada/haida-gwaii-watchmen/

https://www.whetung.com/products/haida-raven-iii

https://www.cmaj.ca/content/183/18/E1307

https://www.hydroclave.com/technology/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK233627/

With thanks to Nicki Henry of:

You can contact Nixxx Designs Custom Printing at: nixxxdesigns@gmail.com

Nixxx Designs Custom Printing

And Dr. Arla Kasaj:  akwellness@gmail.com

 

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

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

We take some liberties with Rita Walker, such as suggesting what supermarkets might be like in the near future.  The idea is to show possible solutions but there are always other ideas that might be better.  A concern is if only one replacement, like hemp, were to be used what would be the environmental impact of trying to grow enough hemp?  So the answer might be having a variety of sources to replace plastics in supermarkets.

https://www.huffingtonpost.ca/entry/sustainable-alternatives-to-plastic-bags_n_5a732a7de4b0bf6e6e225ee0

https://www.simpleecology.com/shop/organic-cotton-muslin-produce-bags

https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/cellulose-film-packaging-market-is-estimated-to-grow-at-a-cagr-of-4-9-during-2018-2028-882076644.html

http://www.nzwc.ca/focus/food/guidelines-for-food-donations/Documents/18-064-FoodDonation-LiabilityDoc-v7WEB.pdf

It’s Saturday and Rita can hardly focus.  Tonight she meets up with Marlo near the Kanetic Reusable Batteries by the Oakhill Cemetery.  First she has to discuss an upcoming lecture with the Metro Supermarket manager.

She walks through the supermarket’s sliding glass doors and heads towards the Service Desk.  As she passes the aisles she notices that most of the customers are using muslin produce bags.  At the Service desk she asks for Ryan Day, the store’s manager.

“Hello Rita,” says a man in his forties who stands slightly taller than Rita.  He has fading blond hair and a sharp nose that makes his smile even broader.  “Let’s go for a walk.”

“The bags you see in the produce section are made from cellulose,” Ryan tells her.   As they walk past the other aisles Ryan points out the meat section.  Instead of Styrofoam or plastic for the base we use paper packaging coated with cellulose.”

“What’s the environmental impact of using cellulose?” Rita asks.

“That’s something the owners of the supermarket are considering.  If it’s affordable it might be better to use numerous sources to replace plastic.  So we have cellulose bags available but also customers can bring their reusable bags.  We have some packaging made of hemp but it would be devastating to the forest and farm to grow enough hemp to make it the only reusable alternative.”

“Well thank you for the good news,” Rita says as she gazes at the reusable packaging.  “What happens to the food that doesn’t get purchased?”

“Initially we sell it at a discount or give it to the foodbank.  Once it expires the food is sent to be converted into energy or fertilizer for local farms.”

“Can you give the food to the foodbank?”  Rita had heard supermarkets and food markets were concerned about being sued if they gave day old food to food banks.

“No, there’s a law called Donation of Food Act.  Obviously food that is moldy, smells bad or has other signs of going rotten cannot be donated.”

“Well, thank you Ryan, you’ve made my day,” Rita says as she offers her hand.

“My pleasure.  I hope to have more good news for you in the near future.”

As Rita drives home she wonders what the night will bring.  She researched Kanetic Reusable Batteries and found very little information except a list of its current employees.  Kanayago’s name was listed under research and development.

 

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

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

Both nature and technology follow the circle of life.  A river that flows is alive and healthy but block off the flow and it stagnates.  Forget to fill a car up with gas or keep up the oil and other liquids and the gears rust and it eventually refuses to work anymore.  Everything is breaking down and building up constantly.  What happens to our bodily fluids is no different.

https://japanesemythology.wordpress.com/tag/kanayago-kami/

http://yokai.com/kirin/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_legendary_creatures_from_Japan

http://wessuc.com/agricultural-use-of-biosolids/

https://www.simcoe.com/community-story/7323434-from-toilet-to-field-barrie-poop-becomes-agricultural-fertilizer/

https://www.sare.org/Learning-Center/Books/Building-Soils-for-Better-Crops-3rd-Edition/Text-Version/The-Living-Soil/Soil-Microorganisms

She stares up at the classroom.  Her heart pounding as she sees Marlo calmly staring back at her.  Later she’ll need to talk to him about visiting Kanetic Reusable Batteries with his help.  To Rita’s surprise a girl much shorter than Marlo with long brunette hair and wearing glasses with a metal frame is sitting beside him.  The girl’s innocent face is confusing considering her aura is metallic grey.  “Hi,” she says to the new girl.  “Welcome to the class and could you tell everyone your name?”

“Kanayago,” the girl replies with a sweet voice.

Rita is dumbfounded.  “Do you know the meaning behind that name?”

“Yes.  My parents told me they found me in a crib at the doorstep when they first moved to Canada from the Chūgoku Mountains in Japan.”

“They named you Kanayago?”

“No.  The name was written in Hiragana syllabary on a gold anklet they found around my left ankle.  Since I do not look Japanese my parents told me they were confused at first but accepted that it was the mythical Kirin that delivered me to their doorstep.”

Rita shakes her head.  Her bias suggested the child of Kaneki would be obtuse and the least likely to join her class.

“Today’s lecture,” she begins with a shaky voice, “is about biosolids.  It’s important in this class to remember we want to know where a product starts and where it finishes.  So we’re going to talk about how poop and urine is turned into biosolids.  We eat and drink, go to the bathroom and our waste–and let’s put waste between quotation marks–goes to sewage plants.  Then what?”  Rita stops talking and gazes across the room at all the students.  They all look confused, even Marlo.

“The excrement and urine or waste goes through many processes to change it into biosolids.  The biosolids are used on farms to help grow food.”  She sees that all the students have disgusted looks on their faces.  “Everything needs to be reused or recyclable with as little greenhouse gas emission as possible.  The biosolids are anaerobically or aerobically digested before they are used for growing food.  Think of a leaf.  It grows on the tree in the spring; helps gather sunlight and rainwater in summer, and falls off in the autumn.  Over the winter the fallen leaves give protection to plant beds and insects.  In the spring when thaw arrives the leaves break down and become soil.”

Marlo’s hand shoots up.

“Yes,” Rita asks trying not to stare intensely at him.

“Like cleaning out a gutter.  If the leaves remain from autumn to spring you’ll be cleaning out dirt instead of leaves.”

“Correct.  Thank you Marlo.”  She knows her eyes say I’ll meet you later but she hopes he’s the only one who notices.  “I want you to study up on biosolids and how each and everyone one of us can make this an easier process.”

 

Later in the day Rita goes to Moonshadows Metaphysical Shop near Mt Hope Cemetery to pick up a Haida made whale talisman.  But she knows the owner and opens the door to the house instead of the shop.  Rita halts in the front of the hall.  Inside sitting half way up on a carpeted stairway is the girl Kanayago where she’s reading a book.  Rita immediately notices the metal framed glasses and the silver ankh charm that sits against her chest held their by a silver necklace.  Kanayago seems absorbed in the book about nanotechnology.

Kaitlyn Lindemann as Kanayago
Kaitlyn Lindemann as Kanayago

Remembering this is a child of Kaneki and that she must tread carefully with this one Rita diligently steps back outside and gently closes the front door.

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.

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

 

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

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

Rita Walker is a science fiction blog about the interaction of technology and the environment, and an introduction to North American Indigenous ways.   Each distinct environment: grassland, snow, mountainous, desert, boreal forest, swamp, rain forest, and so on will decide the best methods of housing, food supply, and culture.

https://www.britannica.com/topic/Native-American/The-Arctic

Astral traveling is common around the World.  Is it the soul traveling or the subconscious creating images?  That is for you to decide.

https://www.healyourlife.com/astral-projection-101-a-powerful-secret-from-native-cultures

 

Memories flood through her as she continues to twist and turn fighting off the impulse to become what the Earth wants her to this night.  She remembers that after the dream of the Tuath Dé Danann she was sleeping in her parent’s tent when her soul traveled across North America, over Greenland and Iceland, across the Atlantic Ocean into Northern Ireland.  Places she has never been.  Her speed slowed to a walking pace as she reached a tall hedge of Ilex Crenata.  Its early afternoon and people are walking amongst nearby flower beds but none seem to notice her, nor a tall woman in an olive green dress wearing a wreath of white flowers.  Rita’s soul halted as the woman turned and stared directly at her.    This woman had green eyes that emitted a depth she could barely comprehend.

Leah Weir as Ailbe Rose Kimberely Lee Photography 2 use

Thanks to Leah Weir and Kimberley Lee Photography https://www.kimberleyleephotography.co.uk/

In the dream she became material and her bare feet pressed into the grass.  She had glanced around and noticed there were no longer any other people around.  “Ailbe Rose,” she said in awe and respect to the women with the green eyes, “Mother Terra.”

“You are ready to learn the Change child,” Ailbe told her in a rich Irish accent.  “And though you are mostly from me you will also be the Gatherer of others from the other Ancients.  Though your soul can fly, you cannot.  Although you can swim, you cannot breathe underwater.  Although you can make fire with materials, it cannot come from you directly.  There is one left, and she is tainted.  Although you can hammer and heat metals and can combine some, you cannot do it with your thoughts alone.  She can, and you must turn her against the Ancient One who has encouraged the destructive nature of industry for too long.   Bring all these elementals together and teach them to work together.  That is your task.”

Rita watched as Ailbe Rose grabbed up soil from where it was available under the hedge.

Leah Weir as Ailbe Rose picture by Kimberley Lee Photography

 

Thanks to Leah Weir and Kimberley Lee Photography https://www.kimberleyleephotography.co.uk/

“You are an Earth Elemental, as well as Haida, Irish, and German.  Soon you will meet Airmid and learn that all life is interconnected.  Stretch out your hand.”  Rita does and Ailbe places the soil in her palm.  “Change is easiest during a full moon but you can change at other times.  The closer to a full moon the longer the change can last.  Without soil you can only change partially, remember this.  Close your eyes.”

Rita had taken in a deep breath and exhaled as she closed her eyes.

“Picture a land animal, a mouse, a cat, a beaver.   You cannot become a seal, but you can turn into a snake, though not a sea snake, nor an eel.  You can only become a large dog, a wolf, a deer, a moose, a bear or any other large to giant land creature during a full moon.”

“A cat,” Rita had whispered.  She pictured a tabby cat with her mind.  As she focused the soil in her hand had grown heavier and increased in amount.  It hurt and her eyes had bulged.

“Breathe child,” Ailbe told her with a voice gentle and full of encouragement.

It hurts so much as her body changed that she gave out a cry.  But the sound was that of a cat.  She had looked up and up until she saw the smiling face of Ailbe.

“The pain will grow less as your body grows use to it.  But as your extra weight turns to soil so must it also return with as much soil.  You cannot change back where no soil is available.  Close your eyes and go home now.”

Rita remembers lying down and resting her feline chin on her left forearm.  The next moment she awoke inside her parents’ tent.