Friday, April 7, 2017

Wide shots

ani•ani kau•lona paʻi lau•lā
kik (noun) Wide angle lens. Lit., wide shot lens. Also aniani paʻi laulā. 
Unpublished new word list to: Māmaka Kaiao: A Modern Hawaiian Vocabulary, 2003, U.H. Press

Dani took her time in the dark room. The smell of coffee permeated everything; strong instant coffee was the basis for her developing solutions. "I heard there's no plant as poisonous as coffee." Without the strong Pidgin in his delivery Dani had to ask, "What was that Grampa?" "Coffee. More poison den weeds." Umm. That was too bad. Her grandfather had never steered her wrong but still that would change things up for sure. The girl was hoping for a plateau ... a break from the learning curve, but she is young and the tale is long. The story spirals. She knew better than to question why she was part of this dream. All her favorite people were here. It was a gift. "Nevah mind the price. Honey, your Alex he stay outside da door. Waiting long time already. What you going do wit dat pictah Dani girl?"


Alex stretched his long lean body on the bench outside the dark room. Using the padded mitts for a pillow Alex fell quickly asleep. Who could really know where a dreamer goes while dreaming. A wide view, a double image? His snoring was regular when Dani propped the envelope against the wooden bench leg.

When he woke it was upon the bench back in the Salish town where this began he found himself. You know that space between sleeping dreams and those with eyes wide open? Of course.. Blinking to re-anoint himself with time Alexander Santiago pushed himself upright. No padded mitts there were his hands as he had always remembered them. Large. Mottled from the years. Fingers and thumbs. All there. With effort he stretched his back, his legs, pressed his feet onto the gravel. Ah. The ache of pain. Evidence. He was.

At his booted feet was a large manila envelope. Dani's familiar swirl of writing, "ALEX." A steady rain less than a downpour but much more than a mist reminded the man he was in the damp Pacific. He wondered where Camilia was, put this faith in the moving spiral, undid a couple buttons in his shirt, tucked the parcel safe against the wet and headed for the cafe. It was a long shot but he was taking it.

Against his warm old chest in a simple paper envelope were five black and white photographs and on the back of the envelope this link written in big crayoned letters

... Yes the tale did split, but it does continue here. I was distracted by a potential worm and now have returned to base-camp again. Excited to keep sharing the long tale of life in the Salish territory with Alexander Santiago and his many adventures. I hope I haven't lost you.


Thursday, March 30, 2017

Photographer of dreams

"I want to tell you about YAMA. This is the Warlpiri word for a shadow, or reflection. It’s also a word that we use to describe a meeting or a meeting-place; we gather under a tree that casts a shadow (a reflection of its shape) onto the ground, and we talk in a group - both men and women together, equally - to make decisions and to reflect on ourselves and our lives. But it’s deeper, too. In yapa (Aboriginal) culture, if someone says “you don’t have a shadow”, it means you don’t exist. All the birds, all the small animals, trees - these things all have a shadow; all of your country and everything in it; this is your universe..."The Home Within"YAMA
Emu in the Sky, Milky Way (photo credit: Barnaby Norris )

The metaphor was strong. He heard the message, it smelled of ginger. "A stimulant, the root is meant to be used short-term and doesn't add to the quality of your health in anyway." With hands wrapped in tape like a boxer Alex followed his nose into time that was much more solid than a dream. Something rankled just under his skin. Not an itch exactly, but something. Camilia loves ginger, cooks with the fresh root, steeped it in tea, grew it in pots in their kitchen even in this water-logged Salish world. Contradiction, the metaphor was a contradiction. He felt that sick to his stomach ripple. Alex Santiago pushed himself to keep up.

Dani DeSilva was no stranger to mistakes, of any kind. She risked often and learned quickly. Early on, it was her bounce-back that gave her the edge. Face down in the dirt ring at eight years old, she heard her Papa's voice, "False pride. Goin' get you every time." Pops DeSilva was an amateur boxer, Fly Weight. What he loved about the sport he loved even better when he was teaching kids -- girls especially, how to fight. As she grew his voice stayed the same, his strong deep brown arms ready to pull her up from the fall. The only change came when both he and Dani were eye-to-eye when she bounced back. "Now we learn tricks," his one gold tooth sparkled. She loved it when her grandfather smiled.

Her dark room was her closet of secrets; there was space for her and the muse alone. A faded photograph of a tiny girl with boxing gloves big as Hayden mangoes hung at eye level. The gold tooth of Pops DeSilva the only light. The roll of film contained just the five shots taken in Alex's dream. The old welder kept his distance, and waited on the padded bench outside the dark room door. A stranger's voice came from the other side, Alex guessed it was a radio. Dani was a young woman with old school tastes. Old camera. Flip top cell phone. Radios that plugged into walls with a dial for tuning.

Up until the start of this dream, Alex Santiago lived magic with his eyes wide open. Welding and meddling required a very grounded presence. His approach to life put him in charge of the burn. He respected fire and the rules for manipulation, or enchantment, depending on who was asking, were clear: do no harm, ask permission of place and people, be prepared to to make amends and watch out for anyone without a shadow. That last rule was worrying him. In this dream, he didn't have one.

Now what?

New to Banana Skin and Ginger? The story begins here.

Monday, March 20, 2017

The advantage

Alex Santiago was, as you recall in the early bits, worn to paper thin. The harsh winter had pulled the plug on his mojo; he was tired. The experiences with the young Resident Mouse and his former student, Skeena of the Silver-haired Ravens hadn't helped. Not only were his hands missing the pockets of his favorite jeans and long sleeved shirt that fit him so well were now left with incisor signatures -- pairs of two small holes. The metaphor did not escape the former welder, and always magician. He was loosing things left and right. Now he had no idea where his mate was, and that should have been the worst loss. But the odd reality was ... he was happy for them. Twenty years of a particularly sweet partnership was gold. He loved Camilia, and would always treasure their life together. Was it done now? So unexpectedly over?

From wherever he was at the moment the sky was punctuated with star light, planets, constellations. Instinctively Alex looked west and found Makali'i the Pleiades clearly heading for the horizon. "She's hitched herself to them. She's got relatives there. I know she's headed home." Alex's voice was tender and clear. Speaking to no one in particular a milky gauze mottled with faded patches of red, a rose red almost pink swirled from the dark night. "A rose, a rose, only a dollar for a rose." That voice was familiar. With no hands it was impossible to swipe the tears that flowed. Between the two Santiago Brothers there had been a sister, Rose. She did not live long, only ten when she died. Too young and too painfully did she die. Alex never forgave God for that cruel act though never, never to any one did he voice this rage.

"Pent it up all these years?" it was little Rose who asked wrapping the gauze of her memory round and round the magician's limbs where his hands would have been. "A rose, a rose, only a dollar for a rose." The girl's voice was unusually deep for child so young, but, it was definitely the same voice that would tease and issue outrageous requests. "More Cremesicles!" after the ice cream truck was long gone from the neighborhood, or comical dance numbers that required her brothers be fitted with crinolines and pirate hats. That they both acquiesced at the time, and was such a strong emotion now that was the binding. His sister's ghost continued to chant and wind the gauze until Alex Santiago was right and truly cocooned. "Slash," with one upward motion the switch blade severed the faded red gauze leaving two bandaged stumps. The ends fluttered with the scent of something ... "A rose, a rose, only a dollar for a rose." But no it was not the smell of roses or flowers but the scent of melting iron, solder.

"Whose dream is this!" That voice was connected to yet another young girl from a time more recently connective.

"Dani?" Alex recognized his step-daughter's inimitable voice.

"Well, yes. It's me, my grandmother sent me. Said there was an ... "she paused to reckon the condition of her substitute father, the man she had come to love with no reservations. "Tutu said there was a once-in-a-lifetime photo op. But this is even a bit beyond the normal stretch of definitions even for my grandmother." The camera that had been Dani's inseparable accessory swung from her shoulder. She eyed the two pinkish wrapped stumps and wrinkled her sensitive nose to the smell of the solder.

"Any explanation that would make me believe this is not bad t.v.?"

"Nope. Not one word could explain what you see here. If you could just look through that Argus and capture the moment for us, maybe the ending to this story could seem a little more within reach." Alex felt himself reaching for the comfort of leaning into Camilia for reassurance. How odd that he had taken her so for granted.

The Argus tucked into the familiar place over Dani DeSilva's left eye. The two fit like sunrise out of the ocean's depth. "Click. Click. Click." For good measure Dani took a forth and then a fifth shot. If there was an advantage to being a photographer of dreams, these would be interesting images. Hoihoi.

In Hawaiian 'hoihoi' means 'interesting. Click here for more story to interest you.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Good witch or Bad witch

"...Jupiter’s an expansive planet, and Scorpio is all about scrutiny, so those who were born with Jupiter in Scorpio have extra strong spidey sense. You can either be a “good witch” or a “bad witch” with Jupiter in Scorpio. If Jupiter in Libra brought over-optimism with regard to relationships, Uranus has had a say in it and Jupiter in Scorpio (Uranus is exalted in Scorpio) is the final arbitrator..." - Diane O.
"There is a space as large as Dreams that slides unnoticed between the transits of Jupiter through the heavens," Holding the broken Moon Snail in her deeply winkled hands her mother rubbed at the spiral that made the curves of hard shell. "We call the planet, the star Jupiter, Iao, when we spot it in the morning. He dawns on us." The ageless woman laughed and bobbled her large head leaving the kaona of her message the multiple meanings to be inhaled if her daughter was ready for it. If she wasn't ready there is a chance the kaona would feed someone else or ... spiral round again later when Jupiter showed up again.

Camilia looked across the familiar gray Formica topped kitchen table to watch her mother. The hands. The face so comforting and informing. As always they were animated expressions of a woman, family goddess now, who would have been 99 years old this week. The body language reached across time and massaged the tense muscles in her shoulders. The Dream Mother of the De Silva clan was no less vital and probably more powerful for that Camilia was entirely grateful. Uncertain about the limits of her world at the moment Dream expanded in scope. The blue suit and seaweed lashings had become like second skin, and she liked the freedom of a bared crotch with strength binding her legs with limu. The seaweed fed her thyroid the iodine that was missing in her mundane life.

"A powerful grounded soul!" Her mother pointed the camera at her and snapped the button on the Argus C 4 the same Argus C 4 that has been in her daughter's hands for more than thirty years. Ghosts like her mother read minds with ease, and to prove the point the elder confirmed, "My granddaughter is very generous. We have this working agreement about sharing this Argus. We don't steal the soul of those we photograph, and they who we photograph ... don't steal ours." The context of the old ways the culture that went deeply and surely underground in the 1890's Hawaii throbbed out of site but not out of mind. Camilia left that Waianae homeplace in the 60's. Her daughter Dani switched places forty-five years later. "Place holder soul, your daughter, my mo'opuna. It's a good thing, too. Good to keep the smell of you close-by, Honey. In case you decide it's time to come home to yourself."

Here, here.
The Argus. A strange and wonderful thing is happening with the writing of Banana Skin and Ginger. A dropped thread, a forgotten plot has shown up. If you, dear reader, are fascinated by mysteries, and not put off by tangents or tentacles that like the many 'legs' of an octopus can flow in more than one directions (at the same time!) this segment of the story deepens Camilia's second menopause. This segment calls on the child, the Ancient, and the evolving Crone in unexpected ways. I am surprised!

Monday, February 27, 2017

Keep an eye on the wave

Alex Santiago. Now that man appeared solid to many people who have known him. Dependable as a repair and fabrication man in his early years, there was also the magic and subtlety or mutable-nature of the signs he created. 'Old magic' meant many things: tradition and established rules; methods kept secret and passed mouth to mouth/hand to hand. But, as well 'old magic' could mean a legacy of methods was passing through and on its way out. Now that his literal deck of favorite cards was a pile of ash a man who was known for his hands had none. Skeena of the Silver-haired Raven Clan, now a fully-grown man was initiating his mentor in the finer points of magic.

"Like a reverse walking lesson," Skeena explained when Shine asked about The Old Man's whereabouts. "The Old Man has his feet now thanks to banana skins, but he must learn what to do without his hands. Seems odd?" Skeena laughed a belly laugh that would greatly please his mother. "Alex had huge hands, banana sized hands! Without them his whole body will need a different kind of balance."

"So, are you telling me Alex won't be back for pie and ginger tea?" Shine sat up on her elbow, and cradled her head to look into the Raven Man's golden eyes.

"It may be both our elders are on their own for ... well, for awhile. You put Camilia on a surfboard living life rather than wearing it, and put a mele a song in her mind and heart with lyrics that will test her investment in producing moments when ancestral knowledge is reborn again. That is no easy meat to chew!"

"Does this mean I don't get that Apple Banana Pie until they return?" Shine had listened to Skeena's words and knew this story was all about making bargains and taking small and unusual steps. The Old People will have to keep an eye, or all four eyes on the spiraling wave. Life will be a little shaky. Her hearing was keen, and though she was in the small bathroom now, showering and cleansing herself she listened for Skeen's answer. This is what she heard. "New rules for old magic make allowances for rewards, and seems to me there's nothing stopping us from walking down those stairs, and asking 'Aka for a slice of that pie and some hot and spicy ginger tea."

"... Something is brewing. Something that starts out with a deep desire within and results in an adjustment to your fortunes, your story, from the outside. There are walls that must come down in order for your outer fortune and inner desire to balance.
This week there are rumblings of such. And Mars moves from its involvement in the Jupiter-Uranus opposition into trine with Saturn: Sudden actions propel us on a new course, one of work over time. One that pays off down the road. Just keep that in mind if you find yourself stymied in love or money, frustrated. Take those first steps that are experimental and bigger than usual..." - more from Satori
Like homeopathic remedies, Wise Woman Medicine and medicine stories, the pause is everything and patience or ho'omanawanui the long haul key to the journey. We press the 'PAUSE' button for now and let this story infuse...

Banana Skin and Ginger UPDATE: 
Nana kela! Look there!

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Losar, Tibetan New Year

"...There’s going to be stability offered, available, something recognizable and reliable is there to catch on to and navigate by. Jealousy can flair when people are awash in emotion. Validate your connection to others and the same twinge can solidify into reassurance and connection. All creatures crave connection. When deprived they can lash out. So offer it freely. Touch base and renew that promise.
Sunday morning the Moon conjoins the Sun in Pisces at 8 degrees...The fire of the Leo full moon eclipse is quenched by the healing water of the Pisces new moon eclipse. Fire burned something out. This is a fresh, wet start that everyone is taking together. How together? How indeed. That’s what we’re just starting to find out. Take those first moments to acclimatize to something new, something different. How does it feel? Relax and let it simmer and flow.
In some ways, we’re all wiped clean… to reveal a great history that we share. Don’t look for what’s lost. Follow what shows up. Lost, gained, these are constructs that won’t necessarily apply at this juncture. Look for the side of the truth that feels like the active stream, the healthy stream. Get in that stream and flow with it. Don’t waste your energy fighting the current. Mars conjoins Uranus and moves into opposition with Jupiter. Push off into the flow and get somewhere NEW. Jump in! The water’s fine." - Satori
Normally Camilia and her family celebrated the Chinese New Year, cleaning their homes, cooking a meal of abundance to share with friends, having fun and finally walking the land banging pots and pans to clear out the rascals left from the old. This year had ended or begun quite differently. It was the harshest winter yet. With all the challenges of health and conflagration the Chinese Lunar New Year went without ritual or recognition. Camilia and Alex had stalled in their combined spirals until a certain mouse took up residency and familiarity with the old welder. A small thing, a being, unblocked the flow.

The tides in prelude to Losar, the Tibetan New Year offered two pair of highs and lows. Saddled loosely atop the small board Camilia breathed in the newness of her strengthened pelvic floor. The winking had stopped but her confidence with the blossoming was memory she would commit to in the coming new year. A New Moon finds both Sun and Moon in the sky and in the same astrological sign. All day long the Moon shares a close conjunction with the Sun. As Camilia parked herself both in between the dream and the threshold of the mundane world, she was conscious of the beginning of a fresh start.

When she was newly faceless decades earlier, it was the ending of a marriage to an old life she left in the Gypsy Woman's cauldron. Another lifetime now ... ginger blossoms and kelp thongs had a message of sovereignty for her at 70 years of age. "This is a great time! Great time to be old, and powerful." It was the last thing Shine Molina had said to her before you became part of the old color of love.

Thoughts of returning to Waipi'o Valley, home of her mother's mother's mother haunted Camilia. "Will I be truly ready, this time." When the girls were young she had left them with their father. What a mistake. She shivered at the memory. At the time, Camilia had returned to Hawaii hoping to find her hiapo her first-born, the son she had never held, the same son she knew as well as the palms of her hands.

"Always in dreams, we know each other without question," the tide was shifting from slack to rise.  She felt the sea move toward land.  Dangling free from the blue velvet nest between her breasts the narrow rope with a wish bone, hallow bone, funny bone and back bone titillated her. How funny to feel such pleasure when there was still nothing solid or sure. The sea was curling into a wave. Camilia instinctively lowered herself into a paddling position, securing the bones into their nest for this new adventure. A memory of a progression came to her as she pointed her surfboard toward land, a shore she could not yet see. The memory was a bit of astrology written for the Aquarian Sun-signs; the sign of her current progression.

"Take the time to put your feelings into words and share them. Size is not everything, though I suggest this be longer than a tweet. Reach into some of the unusual depths that you’ve been feeling, and that may be daunting. It is, however, the expression and sharing that will help you validate your experiences and keep your exploration going. If you keep silent, you won’t hear yourself as clearly. If you don’t write down your thoughts, you’re less likely to remember what ground you’re covering. It’s not just your arrival to a new place that counts (and such is inevitable). Rather, it’s how you got there that matters. "

- Planet Waves for February, 2017 by Eric Francis

How grand that I, the storyteller of this tale of Banana Skin and Ginger, have an arrangement with Camilia to 'put those feelings into words and share them...It's not just your arrival to a new place that counts...Rather, it's how you got there that matters."' As the wave crested strong and confidence Camilia with her backbone and roots born in Waipi'o Valley pulled herself into standing position and rode.

In her mind and heart, this music of Waipi'o accompanied her.

To read what happened next go here. 
To read Banana Skin and Ginger from the beginning go here.

Friday, February 24, 2017


The door between the mundane and mythic worlds opened to the human and interstitial traffic of feet, paws, claws and wings. The Safety Pin Cafe maintained its allowances for any and all beings. The ducks padded in and waited patiently for human hands to push the way in and the hospitable clan that operated this way station made space for the web-footed ones. Though some humans writhed or vacated when resident rodents made their presence known, these small beings were welcome too, with some special provisos. I would say if you dear reader be squeamish or locked in a predisposition regarding rodents, now would be a good time to take your leave for a fresh pot of tea while I go on with the history of this myth.

It all started long ago when Raven and Fairy Woman happened upon the notion of a cafe of safety for the beings. In a way, the place they imagined was a substitute situation, a culture where old worlds and traditional ways came together between borders. Raven was a place-based maverick  -- indigenous would fit, known for his trickery of course. But, this Raven was silver-haired and cross bred with something all together, or at least in the main, open to making allowances. The Fairy Woman was a mostly traditional urban spirit facile with the goings on of commerce, exchanges, cookery, and particularly fond of spells that aided in transitions of any sort. Hospitality was her prime motivation.

The first of these medicine stories began with The Safety Pin Cafe "on a day a duck could love." Behind the scenes and as a result of being both a mundane and mythic gathering spot, provisions had to be made to accommodate mice and rats.

"Eradication," that is the only solution said the Gypsy Woman. "They carry disease and since these rats ..." Gypsy Woman was turning a brilliant shade of red that said without doubt Don't Fuck With Me!' "don't eat mice, you will just have to bait them and snap them and dispose of them. This is an eatery." There were exclamations on that last bit. The Gypsy Woman was the matron and reader of Tarot and her opinions were always well regarded. Why in some camps Raven ate mice just as Owl did though not as stealthfully. But, in this story Raven did not eat mice, and there was a twist of karma involved. Mounds of furry cats made good security and like it or not mice and rats will likely remain residents of this planet along side, or not far from humans.

Over many pots of peppermint tea and slices of apple pie the Silver-haired Raven and Fairy Woman conjured a most creative solution to the issue of rodents in the cafe. The provision applied only to the ground floor. The Gypsy Woman put both feet and her clear opinion about eradication in place when it came to the rooms upstairs. NO RODENTS period. Thus you understand why Resident Mouse remained where he did in the earlier installment, "Dangling Bones." 

But downstairs in the cafe itself, an extraordinary negotiation took place between Mouse, Rat, the Silver-Haired Raven and Fairy Woman. It became known as the time of The I.A.D. Treaty (Inoculate And Diaper) and it probably takes little imagination to come up with the details of this agreement. It started with a great feast on a New Moon one winter in the long ago. After hours and long into the wee hours of the morning stores of food and invitations of welcome brought dignitaries and representation from Rodent Clans within the mundane and mythic borders. Raven's people and Fairy people, and Mouse Woman, came to hear the issue and tell the stories of their worthiness; why not worthy?

Can you imagine the discussion, the jokes, the mischief? In fact it took the better part of four months of winter to make the details stick and the diapering of rodents is no less a task. Since that winter so long ago, all rodents are inoculated with a homeopathic formula created after-hours in the kitchen of The Safety Pin Cafe. The Gypsy Woman was chief inspector for the proportion of ingredients and distribution of the serum. All very secret this formula. Even I, the teller allowed to birth this tale am not privy to the serum's specifics. The important part is that it worked to transmorph any disease carrying and the diapering ... well, from senior rodent ware to new born nappies the idea is to keep the leavings to a minimum while allowing for ease of motion, and tailoring more wildcraft than Patagonia.

Alex Santiago's nearly new born Resident Mouse carries the genes of inoculation thanks to his dear and departed mother. But, she was taken by owl before he could be diapered, so that explains the distasteful smell. A bit of a waggle in the tale to give you reader a place to hang unexpressed queries about Resident Mouse. His part in the story was to begin this tale. Where is he now? Well, I can't be sure and isn't that just like life.

Here we go.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

"If only ..."

The blazing light of the Raven Skeena was lazer sharp and directed at the cedar plank door with the spring-hinge. Alex clamped his eyes against the glow shielding his face with his arms. The old cedar boards burned quick and hot. This was a dreamscape rendition of the old welding barn, and in it the spirit being directed and controlled the burn. The door and the box within were his targets.

"So much for the old deck," the smoke was real enough. Alex coughed to clear his lungs, then opened his eyes to survey the damage. A small pile of ash remained a pile that was quickly reconfiguring itself into palm-size rectangles.

"A new deck of cards old master Alexander," the bird man was now only a voice. His body form hovered somewhere close, but it was his magic that sustained the dream. One after another the large deck fanned itself. Eight cards the thickness of cardboard. "The deck of Iktumi, the Trickster and Illusionist.These are the lies he tempts us with, the illusions that consume us, and disappoint us." the disembodied voice of the Raven was as a stage production fit for audiences at Banana Skin and Ginger. The fully grown changeling child had created a one-audience performance. Words and a single figure animated each card. Each line of words on each card began the same way.

If only I was rich, then I would be happy
If only I was beautiful or handsome, than I would be happy
If only I had no physical handicap in any way, than I would be happy 
If only I had more or better friends, than I would be happy
If only I,               than I would be happy 
If only I,               than I would be happy 
If only someone close to me had not died, than I would be happy
If only the world was a better place, than I would be happy 

Alex read the cards in turn and digested the figure on each palm-sized card. A fine woodcut point had etched the lettering and drawn each image. One by one Alexander Santiago considered the lies, and chewed on the fit. His was a long and lean body that wore no fat for long. Where does a man with no visible bulge bear an illusion, and for how long can an illusion wear a man such as this? These were questions that weren't dealt with in a common day or night in the life of the welder schooled in old magic.

In that place where Those-Who-Watch pause while waiting for the infusion of nourishing herbs to steep in their recipes requiring more time than tea Shine Molina tapped Raven on his left shoulder. The silver and black wing feathers rippled in a shiver at her touch. "My bit is done Raven man," she said her voice as deep and unforgiving as a tsunami. "Like a wave, the spiral has curved onto itself. I left the woman with painted nails and blossoming privates. She will never be quite the same. If your man is to be a suitable partner the future will be interesting, at the very least."

The pair of meddlers watched. The hefty yellow metal kettle continued to let off more steam from the water left in its belly. The glass jars capped with boiled water and dried Stinging Nettle and Comfrey were already turning deep green and amber. Both jars sat on the simple wooden table over looking the alley in back of the cafe. The smell of pies baking in the kitchen below made even the spirit being hungry for the delights promised.

"Shall we?" Shine had put in a full day's work and hadn't had banana pie made from the small fingers of Apple Bananas, contraband bootie thanks to the new apprentice. "Must we wait for both their dreams to bake as well!" There was a protocol and she knew as well as the Raven all involved must sit together.

"It won't be much longer, Whale Woman," he rarely called her by that name the sacred name that few knew. The remnants of kombu and sea lettuce made the naming impossible to resist. Shine still smelled of the old color of love. To answer him Shine dug her claw like fingers the color of pomegranate into the wings of the now giant bird and pressed herself into him with unbridled passion. "If I must wait," she thrust her breasts into his heaving chest. They fell together as Raven became a fully grown man with all the anatomy to prove him so.

While we all wait for Alex Santiago to deal with his next deck of cards, let's step back a little.

Monday, February 20, 2017


"The victim cries, the woman who is going to change things gets angry!" Shine Molina was quoting her mentor, Green Blessings Susun Weed. "I apprenticed with Susun Weed after Skeena's mom,the Border Witch and I switched places. Skeena was a very angry man when we first met. Raging angry because his mother chose death. As a sacrifice, she  gave her life for mine." Camilia had heard the stories, told from more than one point of view. This was not a venue she could have predicted. But, what she was getting: Shine Molina was not just another pretty face or a fairy princess kinda gal. A fully grown woman, the girl who began life signing as language was brightly lit with audacious voice and she was letting it fly. Literally.

Her words spiraled from her lips. Streaming kombu Pacific kelp swelled into the sea around Camilia and Shine. "Is there a particular verse in that song that strikes your gong, rings your bells, flutters your vagina!?" The silver and ginger gold of Shine Molina's rope of hair sparked with the question as she pulled at the kelp words and split the thick green stock into three strands with claw length finger nails painted pomegranate.

With no hesitation Camilia responded, "The spiral is a bubbling cauldron... When I showed up at The Safety Pin Cafe. Met the Gypsy Woman who read the cards. My flesh, my former face, fell into her cauldron. She sang to me, 'So long to your Hit Parade ...' No sweet Giselle McKenzie version either. You aren't old enough to remember Giselle McKenzie or the Lucky Strike TV show."

"I get the drift Camilia. She was one of the harsh and fierce tribe of witches, like Susun Weed, she was the Baba Yaga." Camilia was mesmerized and in spite of the old propaganda about good girls' oughta her vagina was winking ... fluttering like a hummingbird sucking nectar.

"Ha, ha, ha," Shine cackled and twirled spinning the three narrow strands of kombu into an intricate braid. Like welding a whip Shine threw the braid at Camilia's ankles. The tether and harness snapped from the board and Camilia's ankle. The flexible and slimy seaweed wound like leather binding that stopped just short of the winking and fluttering vagina. The kombu continued to cinch and tighten on the older woman's calves and thighs. "Ouch!"

"What? Did you think transformation would be painless!" Shine continued.

"This is one weird dream," was all Camilia could manage. Shine wasn't done. She quoted memorized segments from Remedios.

"Ginger is the lover who looks at your malaise of self-doubt and insecurity and tells you to stop indulging yourself with reruns of the past," Shine paused one of those Banana Skin and Ginger signature moments -- the thirteen step -- the pregnant pause. Camilia realized she was holding her breath. A bubble of connection raised that cauldron across the sea the old color of love. Shine went on, " when your present is strong and sweet and spicy. Though ginger may burn your throat, its intention is never to be harsh. It's just that ginger knows exactly what is needed. With its flowers like sex and its roots like firm hands with a grasp of the essential, there is no better friend. Cultivate ginger!"

From the freshly implanted braids of kombu sprouts of ginger unfurled and knobs of ginger root bulged from the seaweed laces. The fragile and pungent flowers, yellow and white ginger blossomed between her legs. If it were possible to see a brown skinned woman blush on a surfboard that is what you'd have seen.

"Of all the medicine plants you could have as ally your guardian, your 'aumakua, ginger, ke `awapuhi,in your mother's language, is the one you need close-by. Always."

"When this dream is over, will I remember? Will I invest in it and defend it?" Camilia was thinking out loud.

"Don't doubt yourself. No need to rerun that old hit parade!" Shine left one last talisman. With snaps of her fingers on both hands, a school of gold fish swam in and between Camilia's bare feet. The fish disappeared as quickly as they appeared in their place Camilia was left with ten toenails brightly painted the color of pomegranate.

This Banana Skin and Ginger is spicy! Is there more? Oh yeah.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

"One step beyond is thirteen"

The soothing flow of warm salty water relaxed tension she had ignored or denied. How old these knots, cramps, and rage-bundles? Camilia pushed herself to sit astride the perfectly-shaped wooden board. The current was slack, only a gentle rolling motion rose from the deep aquamarine womb. The blue velvet swim suit was more accurately a wrap that encircled her body but left her ma'i her genitals free, unencumbered. From Womb to womb the old color of love entered and escaped her reminding her of things she forgot things -- pleasure among them-- she might have been taught if the protocol the rituals the caring ways had not be damned.

"Oh, the injustice of oppression!" The voice was sonic, a deep and Ancient Mother sound. The sound of Whale Mother Guardian. Rising in a spiral Camilia watched as the now fully grown Shine Molina sang her way toward her.

The symbol of the Wise Woman tradition is a spiral.
A spiral is a cycle as It moves through time.
A spiral is movement around and beyond a circle, always returning to itself,
But never at exactly the same place. Spirals never repeat themselves.
The symbol of the Wise Woman tradition is the spiral.
The spiral is the bubbling cauldron.
The spiral is the curl of the wave.
The spiral is the lift of the wind.
The spiral is the whirlpool of water.
The spiral is the umbilical cord.
The spiral is the great serpent.
The spiral is the path of the earth.
The spiral is the twist of the helix.
The spiral is the spin of our galaxy. The spiral is the soft guts.
The spiral is the labyrinth.
The spiral is the womb-moon-tide mobius pull.
The spiral is your individual life.
The spiral is the passage between worlds: birth passing into death passing into birth.
The path of enlightenment is the spiral dance of bliss.
The symbol of the Wise Woman Tradition is a spiral.
Twelve is the number of established order.
One step beyond is thirteen, the wild card, the indivisible prime, the number of change.
Walk a spiral, you will inevitably come to the unique next step, the unknown, the thirteenth step, the opportunity for change, the window of transformation.
The thirteenth step creates the spiral. - THE WISE WOMAN TRADITION IS A SPIRAL by Susun S Weed

This gets wilder! 

To read Banana Skin and Ginger from the beginning, click here.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Playing the old deck

Alex Santiago was a man who enjoyed the challenge of playing the same game, like solitaire, day in day out. His enjoyment came from seeing how the old deck turned the corner every time he laid the grid. The idea of sacrifice wasn't an easy one, he'd never liked the word and was having to retool the steel grip of his thinking. But, he was a welder after all the element of fire and the properties of metal were known to him. Between the soldering he had found the spiral of magic, the spin that brought soft to hard, and counter to the usual tick of clockworks. His wizardry called for practice, and rigidity? Things break when they're brittle. "Hmm," mumbling to himself, and using his feet to push himself up from the blue corduroy couch his wit chinked into a groove with his sense of humor. He saw a new angle on this game.

"If this is my old welding shop, there ought to be a deck of cards a few paces from this spot," swinging his long limbs so his freshly restored feet found solid ground the welder headed for the stairwell that led to his former domicile in the loft. The wooden stairs and custom brass railing raised memories sweet and long tucked in some safe and out of the way location. Alex reached his right arm toward the carved wooden box stowed shoulder high behind a spring-loaded hinge then  he remembered he had no hands. The light at the end of his arms pulsed a pale glow of a beeswax candle. Soft, warm but not something to hold an old wooden box. "How 'bout a hand?" Alex turned to Skeena and laughed at the pun, then laughed some more when he saw the Raven fly over his head to wait at the top of the stairs.

"To be of service from this point on old master," the Raven started, "you must know what you are giving up. It doesn't need to be something you're ready to give up. In fact if you cling to a thing, a belief like one of those lies Iktumi taunts us with at the point of Initiation? Well, if you feel you cannot do with out it ... then, you can be sure THAT is precisely the sacrifice to be made."

"The thing, the things I most cling to. Geez Raven Child! You know the answer to that," Alex was very uncomfortable with this edge. Irritable didn't come close. He exhaled and continued, "You know how I cling to those old paws of mine. Shuffling those old cards. Shuffled them till the marks and color made the game one of guessing."

"Right," Skeena remembered the game and the deck of cards, and remembered also the big magic the rest of the world attached to him. "Signs were your calling card. Funny how the curve of a rune, the shadow inside a letter could cause it to switch and reshape itself." The Raven paused that pregnant silence that all good musicians and comedians knew to be the essential difference. Alex recalled the day Camilia's girls had been enchanted by the glamour from his shop sign. Mend Metal Magic or ... was it Mend, Meddle, Magic? * " With that one transforming bit Alex Santiago had changed his fortune and his destiny from solitary man to stepfather and mate. Now that, was legion.

"A whole 'nother game old master." Skeena the man was very careful not to read another's thought without permission. Raven on the other hand did what Tricksters do. With a pluck as quick as this the spirit being snipped the memory of the sign from the old welder. From his perch on the stairs the Raven's golden eyes shone bright. What sunlight had been streaming through the wavy windows and leaks from the weathered cedar walls blinked out. All that shone were Skeena's golden eyes glowing brighter and warmer as though the sun was present in the old welding shop. "How will you turn a guessing game onto its head and make your magic live again?"

Keep on here.

* Click on the sign  Mend, Meddle, Magic to read just what happened that fateful day, or return to "Playing the old deck" once you've followed this tale to its end.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017


As she stood in line the day before a loaf of bread, half pound of Alex's favorite granola and a bag of frozen beans filled both her hands. The young cashier chatted with the man two ahead of her. He was asking about her headdress. "It's Valentine's Day tomorrow, I'm reminding you ... don't forget!" The guy chucked and bobbed "Flowers maybe." "Or chocolate, sweets are fine," she was enjoying the banter and added to the sodden weather that kept coming and going between the occasional blue skied day.

The young woman's headdress was a lavender fluffy band anchoring two lavender hearts. She wore her costume without skipping a beat, greeting her customers with equal and personal exchange. Camilia always noticed how service was offered her first job as a drug store clerk still made her smile. Stocking shelves of Pond's Cold Cream, working the register once she learned where things were so she could answer questions without her throat closing down -- Camilia was sixteen, shy but itchy for something else to call herself. Counting out her till in the backroom with Old Martha when her shift was over, or laughing when Laverne teased Arnold the Assistant Manager about his lack of girlfriends.  These were her neighbors and her best friend got her the job, all part of the small staff of a store now long gone from the memory of most of O'ahu.

Slipping in and between the mundane dream of life with eyes wide open, Camilia left the young cashier and her old friends and didn't get an answer to her call for Alex's whereabouts. At this point anyway the two of them were dreaming separately. "Just as well I suppose," tough decisions needed to be made. After twenty years of marriage, fifty years of separation from her west O'ahu birth place and Alex pushing eighty it was no wonder Spirit Beings from this place were showing up with protocol for him. This harshest of winters was growing a dream neither of them had allowed much juice: move back home. Home where winters were warmer, oceans invited swimming, and "culture fed instantaneous moments when ancestral knowledge is reborm again." That was Pua Kanaka'ole Kanahele's voice again. Camilia wanted this. She was enrolled in an online Beginning Hawaiian Language Course to mark her commitment to fill in the puka the holes that made her cultural knowledge incomplete. Alex wanted it for Camilia. Now it seemed the split bench technique was giving them a chance to map out a common dream.

It was Valentine's Day. In the luminous space of dreaming the lavender headdress flickered behind her eyes as blue remained the dominant sense. She could feel the board as she remembered the compass rock tattooed on her left wrist, Camilia pressed it. Her Aunty Lily's appearance was a gift Camilia couldn't have predicted, "I haven't seen you for so long!" The Japanese woman and next door neighbor who loved her as a girl was smiling as she counted out the thick layer of bills. "This is five hundred dollars," she said to Camilia who was trying with no success to decline the gift. Aunty was having none of it, simply went on counting. Valentine's Day a great time to remember Blue is the old color of love.

Where is Alex Santiago?

* A link to a piece about Dream Incubation by Robert Moss helped inspire this bit of the story.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Pulling coins

Skeena waited for his old friend and mentor to adjust to the speed of time at mythic pace. Of course Alex Santiago was not new to the diversity of magic he was only out of practice. By the clock it was going on ten in the morning. The sky was red, and if one looked up out from a cozy bed it would be difficult to tell whether it was sunrise or sunset.

"Ahhmm," Alex moaned stretching his long body the way he did when we woke. Without hands it was tough to feel his way into the moment or rub his eyes with gestures of coming to.

"Morning," Skeena knelt at Alex's long limbs, and was busy rubbing something on the older man's ankles.

"And what young Skeena is that?" Alex could feel the mushy stickiness on his ankles. If he had hands he'd have been scratching an itch where his feet should of been.

"Banana skin or banana peel. I'm rubbing the inside of the skin onto this rash at the back of your ankles. '"Below the thick yellow jacket that covers melting sweetness, inside the lining, is a layer, pale brown and potent, that can carry your burdens, take up your scars...Banana Peel is the scavenger that cleans up the damage, that scours the residue, chews up the no longer needed. Banana says leave it behind, cast it off, time to move on.

"So is that what you've been learning ... slid banana into your magic, moved on from pulling coins and freshly laid eggs from of thin air?" In spite of his urge to change position, Alex Santiago could not move. Skeena kept rubbing the insides of banana skin first to Alex's right ankle. "Banana Skin has been very very good to me and Shine. Banana Skin and Ginger are very potent magic Alex a very earthy kind of medicine."

"You sound like your mother, the Border Witch had a feel for earthy magic," Alex missed his friend Pale. More than any thing it was her decency he missed most. "Your mother had an innocence about her, never arrogant of her own potency it was those stories she wrote that held the potency." Where was this coming from, a feeling he hadn't allowed himself ... longing for old friends and the company of heart-based adventures.

Skeena nodded and smiled. " I miss her soup. She does figure into things and would have loved knowing about the power of banana skins. The wisdom of the skins comes from the writing of another brown-skinned witch, also a storyteller. Goes by the name of Aurora." Skeena kept on rubbing, moving from the right to the left ankle, gentle and careful to let the one ankle ease down before starting on the left. The old mender, and former welder relaxed as his thoughts and observation skills pointed out the details of his current surroundings.

His part of the bench had transformed into a couch long enough to accommodate Alex's length. The hard though smooth wooden surface was instead padded and covered in corduroy, wide wale, the same deep blue of Camilia's robe with the generous hood. "You in charge of this Mystery?" Alex asked. His curiosity was piqued and in equal measure Alex asked the question knowing the answer already.

"We are never in charge of the Mystery. You know that. You taught me that ... Ravens don't forget," now both men were laughing and with each echoed chuckle Alex felt the pins and needles of awakening, he noticed he could wiggle his toes. "You have become very good at your magic. Now all I really want is a slice of that banana pie you enticed me with."

"Ah, first you will need a hand to hold a fork, or both hands to bring the slice to your hungry mouth. What was it the tiny mouse said you would need to do before crossing the beaded curtain of dangling bones?" Setting down his mentor's newly anointed left foot Alex Santiago recognized he was in his old welding shop. "The Resident Mouse said I would need to sacrifice something of my old self."

"And so what will it be?" Skeena was now his fully Raven self. "In exchange for these two new feet that can take you places before you are given hands to be of service, again, what will you leave behind master mender? What do you no longer need?"

What about Camilia?

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Those in charge of the Mystery

Last night as I was sleeping,
I dreamt—marvelous error!—
that I had a beehive
here inside my heart.
And the golden bees
were making white combs
and sweet honey
from my old failures.

-Last Night As I Was Sleeping, Antonio Machado

A pause, a whisper, a message from the storyteller, between the coiling adventure  

It wasn't so long ago, but long enough for time and seasons to heal an otherwise untouchable wound. Even demi-gods and spirit beings have their vulnerabilities. Skeena and his twin are changelings with the genes of Raven and the sensibilities of a particularly sensitive human being. That story laid itself into medicine for this storyteller, weaving myth and parallel possibilities, and unknown to me a family of adventures would continue from the place of common magic. Banana Skins and Ginger nods at the Mystery that is surely working me on the incubator Island in the middle of the Salish Sea. If I had been born more practical money and stable solutions might be common the need for myth perhaps less potent an option. Perhaps. Pela. Paha. Practicality does thread itself in me, leaving a light in the form of a North Node signature in earthy Taurus. Friends with powerful Taurus natures come and go like Mahina the moon to be the ginger I need on mornings when I'd much rather sleep the day or week in dreaming. With heavy pelting rain sounding on the metal roof my practical nature is comforted: the roof is sure, curved like Earth and does not leak, I have a partner who has practical hands and a funny bone close to his backbone. Beyond that, those in charge of the Mystery make room for my imagination to be healthy, and feed me characters who expand the path for a robust life. 
"Last night as I was sleeping, I dreamt--marvelous error!"


Here now ... the bench upon which the two old lovers sat stayed just as it was. At least for as long as it took for the elder and teacher to chant her way into the heart and gut of both Alex Santiago and his wife Camilia. But then, the bench split in two, time moved and space became different.

Camilia was a swimmer long before she found how much she loved to play with needle and threads, buttons, scraps of ribbon and soft well-worn fabric. The thick velvet robe with deep pockets and generous hood began to slowly and steadily unravel into threads of blue ... the old color of love. With each unfurling motion Camilia spun counter-clockwise creating her personal low pressure system a small and growing storm system. If she tried to control the storm nausea overtook her. Instead she remembered who she really was and rode the wave through.

Her part of the bench formed a vessel, a kind of canoe, ka wa`a?

"No, not ka wa`a, a surfboard a small one," Camilia was having a conversation with herself and found those in charge of the Mystery have a great sense of humor and practicality. In this dream the seamstress was strong and comfortable with deep water. The threads from the long thick robe filled space with ocean and waves leaving just enough fabric for a nicely fitted swim suit. Spiral tattoos on both wrists and ankles, the left spiral on her wrist ended with the shape of the compass rock. A bias cut slender length of soft velvet fell from her neck. From it four small bones dangled: a wishbone, a backbone, a hallow bone, and a funny bone.

"Marvelous!" Camilia had not been on a wave or a board for more than forty years. The feeling was exhilaration a sensation of such joy. Dreams allow for the stretch we too often call a limit, but maybe we have more than one life being lived at once. With dream body memory Camilia pushed into the wave as she lay upon it her left arm held the board her right paddled and guided. The board fit between her legs, Camilia kicked noticing for the first time there was a strap and tether something not yet invented when she was a girl woman on a surfboard.

Surrounded and enfolded with warm salt water the only thing missing was Alex.The four bones dangled from the velvet around her neck, Camilia focused on the wishbone as she tucked all four bones between her breasts, and called, "`Auhea where are you?"

Click here to find out.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017


Sacrifice. That word had come up more than once in the last few days. The sacredness of everyday had never felt more real. Camilia instinctively shoved her hands deep into the pockets of the velvet robe. A chill seized her as her left hand felt something, a disc of smooth stone? Pulling the object out it was indeed a disc the size of a silver dollar put plump so more like a hard small dumpling. Across the face of the stone were lines within a circle. "A compass rock." Without thinking Camilia rubbed and then pressed the point where the two lines crossed.

Whoosh ...  Across the room projected this imagery. "How clever and contemporary those in charge of this mystery ," Camilia's voice and the structure of that one sentence tickled something within the woman. She had slid into a contemporary pidgin, a pattern and grammar not used in her everyday world of Salish. How comforting, she had not forgotten how.

Camilia recognized Pua Kanaka`ole Kanahele right away. Alex did not. "This won't take more than a few minutes," Camilia had seen this presentation before. She laughed out loud and in response a bench appeared for them to sit while the Hawaiian elder did her thing.

I do so love a bench, and now what happens?

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Dangling Bones

The tiny mouse listened as Alex described the relationship he and the old mender and magician had struck up. It was an odd but fitting partnership that was in fact an Initiation for both mouse and man. Not meant at all to be a pun on the obvious, Resident Mouse was learning something he would need to demonstrate to his most respected Elder, Mouse Woman. She was not eavesdropping or monitoring the young mouse's activity at this point and was busy with her hands making cozy nests of wild goat fleece in some other place. The man Alex Santiago who was trying on a new name was very much involved with Raven, Mouse Woman's spiritual counter-part. In many traditional tales the adventures and misadventures of beings tangled up with Raven might have to do with creating mischief. This story has a bit of a twist to it: an agreement has been struck and the reverse is in the making. Raven, the son of the Silver-haired Raven and his mate Pale Wawae the Border Witch must undo the stitchery of misplaced values. And who better to assist but a woman familiar with handwork.

Like they say about sacrifice, it happens all the time. Sacrifice, from the root sacra, to make sacred. The tiny mouse moved aside as Camilia and Alex stood. Alex tentatively pulled the door wider. "I stay on this side," Resident Mouse read Alex's thoughts and explained, "They don't like the leavings that are inevitable for a creature such as I." The man understood, it was just those signatures that were most distasteful about this arrangement.

Alex automatically reached to hold the door open but the light that now substituted for his once facile and busy hands moved through the heavy door. Camilia stood beside him and helped. Together they looked at long and short bones, hallow bones and funny bones dangled like a beaded curtain just inside the now fully-open doorway. "You, both, must sacrifice something of yourselves on the way into the room," said Resident Mouse. "There is something of your old selves no longer necessary. Can you imagine what that might be?" First looking at each other the old married couple exhaled at the same moment. Resident Mouse was gone in the same instant, his shadow as quick as that.


Saturday, February 4, 2017

The door ajar

The smells were the only pieces of time that followed them into the crack. The ducks remained in place, the other customers chattered with hands still nestling their warm mugs, the tiny lights cast their pin-sized reflection against the windows. `Aka and Skeena made space for Alex and Camilia with the magic of old knowing in the hands of service and wing tips of Raven. The common magic for uncommon necessity had enchanted and reassembled Camilia as a young and newly-faceless woman, she recognized the well worn steps leading to the floor above the cafe. Her heart beat loudly in her chest when she realized her eyes Saw the shifting grace that led between the ordinary and the world wild with textures.

"Have I died? Have we died?"Alex Santiago had the very odd sensation of being like cheese, Swiss and full of holes. In erratic fashion light shown through his long tall body. A lot of light substituted for his hands, a similar but different effect opened a section of his chest and belly. He could not see his feet though he moved ... with less effort ... up the steep and narrow stairway.

Camilia appeared as she always did to Alex, nearly perfect. Except for the clothes she was wearing downstairs Camilia was unchanged. In place of her jeans and warm hooded coat a robe of blue settled comfortably over her shoulders. The robe was velvet with deep pockets and a generous hood. A pair of thick padded slippers the color of persimmons with embroidered symbols she didn't recognize cradled her toes and cushioned her feet.

"No, not dead. We, we're between my darling, that former student of yours is casting spells and setting a stage for something ... I vote for something delicious!" She nodded to the one door among the four in the hallway that was left ajar. The smell of hot banana pie and ginger tea was coming from the room beyond. A deep resonant woman's voice seduced them with song, in case the smell of pie and tea were not incentive enough.

Transitional places were everywhere if one was looking for them. When Earth was Wild and those on two feet lived with protocol and reciprocity asking permission, and giving back was common magic. "Is there too much distraction or perhaps you have become obsessed with embroidering those shrouds of insufficiency?" The very small voice was coming from the top of the stairway. From the edge of the landing Alex spotted Resident Mouse.

"For a mouse just barely born, you get around." Alex squinted, it would be four to six weeks before his new glasses arrived, to be sure it was indeed his mouse that was speaking in such esoteric language.

"I'm not all that familiar with this sort of travel, but it appears you and I are fused in a special bond and until further notice I am here to keep you on track. Where you go I go," explained the little mouse.

Camilia was used to picking up conversations her husband had with himself. That was not unusual. But the leaning over and speaking into the floor boards was a new activity. She asked, "Honey, is there someone you want to introduce me to?"

"You don't see him?" Alex asked.

Camilia shook her head. Alex was truly surprised. "Remember that pistachio shell I showed you the other day. I was telling you about how a mouse had eaten the meat but left the shell?"

"Sure, I remember that." Camilia said.

"Well, that mouse and I have developed a rather friendly relationship," Alex continued. Camilia decided it might be a good idea to sit down. Some of her husband's explanations could get windy. She pulled the long robe up and sat at the top of the steps, and leaned against the wall.

"Resident Mouse, that's what I've come to call him. He's a very young mouse and lives in our wash house. We have conversations almost every night. I've gotten into this habit of setting out food for him. Not trapping him, I gave that up after seeing there was no trap quick enough to contain him. Anyway, this mouse, Resident Mouse is something more than just a mouse. And though you can't see him he is waiting just outside the door left ajar."

And then what happened?  

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Balance, continued

Life in Salish had a long history for Herbert of Clay Banks. People come to depend upon you, expecting a surety of give and take because there were well-worn grooves that led from need to outcomes. The women who recognized him from the local documentary were both newcomers and Grange stalwarts. The Grange members knew him for the decades of repairs to every farm tool that needed a weld or a replaced handle. The small and the large mending to tractor hitches and the signage that was more than fifty-percent enchantment. Herbert wondered why the men didn't call out, "Saw you in the movie." Well not really. Many of his old friends were either dead or not fans of the more recently popular farm and market cliques. He knew men competed for a place in the volunteering pecking order and admitted he liked being alpha. A bit of a hard swallow, but it was true. To himself, though loud enough to be heard he muttered, "When did that happen?"

"What's that, honey?" Camilia had tucked her shoulders up around her ears, but heard her husband's comment. This winter his place in this town once comfort and well-fit wasn't. The cold had a lot to do with it, but there was more to it than that.

"Just grappling with old ghosts, or maybe the new ones," Herbert answered. He wasn't sure that was what was happening, but he didn't keep secrets from Camilia even when an idea or thought was still only half-baked. A stiff breeze had started up. The morning errands had been done: a bag of groceries for dinner, no mail in their post office box, The stripes of gray clouds over the Cascades had collected into a watering can of late Winter rain. The usual next stop would have been been the library but instead their two sets of feet headed through the alley between First and Second Streets. The familiar red awning, faded from years of wear, was nonetheless welcoming. The tiny fairy lights twinkled and with the rain starting to puddle the ducks waited at the door. Camilia felt the skin on my arms prickle as she remembered the first time she stood at the door to The Safety Pin Cafe.

Herbert pushed the door in, the ducks, four of them led by the drake, waddled in ahead of Camilia but not before he turned and looked up at the tall old man. "I do love a gentleman," he said. The drake winked then continued into the warmth of the place where every kind of being was welcome for warm almond milk, peppermint tea and hot slices of apple pie.

The menu remained mostly the same as it had always, but, switched up on Fridays when the current apprentice planned the menu, and the stage for his or her version of something warm, soothing and satisfying. Of course, today was Friday. From his vantage point Herbert spotted Aka through the split curtains dividing the cafe from the kitchen. Herbert whistled slow and low and caught the owner's attention. "Alex!" She was not onto the name change and the sound of Herbert's set-name flipped a switch something that was inevitable for certain people inside the cafe.

Two or three other customers were nestled over hot mugs of spicy drinks. The ducks were already assembled around the specially designed rugs, removable floor-setting for the two-step eating and excrement routine that was the ways of ducks.The smell that circulated was a mix of spicy and comforting. Alex couldn't put his finger or his senses on it, but Camilia knew instantly.

"Banana pie and ginger tea," the tropical genes of a woman who had been more than fifty years away from the warmth don't forget comfort foods and their smells. The once faceless woman was seeking balance not only for her husband, the balance was calling her home and to start The Safety Pin Cafe was serving up their common magic. "Bring it on," Camilia said that with such ferocity, Aka heard it, and her face lit up. But what sent the buzz going for Alex was the sight of the Raven-haired waiter who was helping a customer with her paisley wool shawl and coat.

How long had it been seen he'd seen Aka's twin? Reading his mind, the bronze skinned bird man who wore his fully present Raven self in his family's cafe, turned and walked toward Alex. "It has been too long, but I have never forgotten when and how to pull copper from the ears of the unsuspecting." With a dull but clearly minted 1947 copper penny in his left claw, Alex Santiago broke down with tears and allowed his emotions to spill and his confusion to unmask. Skeena enfolded his mentor in wings of blue-black as time slipped in the crack.

Follow the enchantment here. 

Friday, January 27, 2017


"There's a bounce in my step. I'm walking on the fronts of my feet again. Not so much drag ass." Herbert and his wife, Camilia, strolled the familiar sidewalk of their town. A town that was growing out its seams to accommodate the new gentry -- city dwellers had discovered its quaint and once rural sensitivities. Half a dozen long time businesses had closed just this last year. Among them The Eggplant, a favorite Mediterranean cafe run by the Capella Brothers; The Garden Shop where Camilia's cats loved to sun themselves off the back porch; and Pockets and Patches a store that sold sensible cottons, sensibly-priced, and often Made in USA. All three businesses sold either because their owners were offered deals they couldn't turn down or found the rent too steep to keep covering on a mostly tourist trade. A trendier restaurant, an oyster bar, and outfitters to costume the rich who commuted via their small-engine planes were already replacing the old stand-bys.

"I noticed those women checking you out," she teased.

"Must have seen me on that documentary, ha?"  Herbert squinted, blushing under the three-day old growth of silver beard, at the thought of the film. It was his five or ten seconds of fame on the silver screen, and it seemed every woman in town had seen him talking about the role of volunteers. In a community firmly based in non-profit organizing, the issue of volunteers -- of which Herbert was one -- was one of those balancing acts. An act which was in his experience sourly off kilter. As he tried on this new name, Herbert of Clay Banks was as much weighing his feelings about the way people and organizations actually worked together. Or, as he liked to observe, "Are they fishin' for themselves alone?"

Camilia had her own opinions about why women, of all ages, checked out her husband. And as for non-profit and volunteers she would keep her hands busy with stitching while the meddler found his new groove. For the time being it was enough to know he was feeling his mojo rising. Camilia was a shop keeper herself. Her fashions made from recovered drapery and natural fiber curtains, Drappz, were hand sewn and tailored right there in Salish. Come this Spring Drappz would celebrate its twelfth anniversary. If they stayed.

It continues ... 

Monday, January 23, 2017

The Glamour

"Ginger is ferocity and stubbornness. Ginger is aggressive and sharp. Ginger is the friend who drags you out of bed and makes you get up and face the morning. Ginger loosens your cramp against the difficult. Ginger stokes up the fires of digestion so you can assimilate what you can't stand the thought of having swallowed. Ginger clears fog from the brain. With its flowers like sex and its roots like firm hands with a grasp of the essential, there is no better friend. Cultivate ginger!" - Remedios: Stories of Earth and Iron from the Puertorriquenas, Aurora Levins Morales

Raven. On this island he too was known by more than one name for he wore his lineage as the son of his silver-haired Raven father and Pale the border witch. There was still a generation of old timers who remember his birth, and were regulars at The Safety Pin Cafe. Skeena, the name he was called when he walked human was a magician, a shaman to some, and beloved as dramatist and co-founder of Banana Skin and Ginger the international acclaimed Salish theater company. Skeena and his partner Shine Molina wove the glamour of tradition in and between the complicated stages of the interstitial. It was not the glamour that was often mistaken for beauty we're talking here. Banana Skin and Ginger was a product, an agreement between the stars, the mystery and the grounded souls of many lifetimes. They dealt in enchantment.

The man trying on the name Herbert of Claybanks has known Skeena the boy and the Raven-blooded all his life. The boy's life. Among the first of his teachers, Herbert was the town's favorite mender and welder of all things broken. When Skeena was curious to learn sleight of hand with shiny copper pennies and warm freshly-laid eggs it was the mender and welder who taught the boy about metal's magical property and respect for all forms of birthing.  The original barn and workshop where metal work and dragging fenders found new life was now a bakery and pin ball arcade but the history of both the building and beings still trickled with magic. It was the verb trickled that had the former mender and welder seeking out the cracks. Aging gracefully was not coming easily. The Raven changeling had come to return a favor.


At this point a curious reader or a reader who has forgotten the mo'okuauhau, the genealogy, of the medicine stories might like to step off the path ... catch the floating past for a spell. Or, perhaps you, dear reader, just need to know there are tentacles -- many other stories -- that reach into the deep water surrounding Banana Skin and Ginger. 

Joy Weed Journal will introduce you to Skeena, the Raven child's beginnings.
Mend meddle muddle magic introduces you to the Santiago brothers Alex (aka Herbert of Claybanks) and Angelo
Shine's Song will introduce you to Shine Molina and her familia. 
Pale in Purple will both weave and unravel the Raven child's and Shine's stories.
Spider Season does more of that weave and unravel activity.


To keep on with Banana Skin and Ginger go here.

Sunday, January 22, 2017


"Banana Peel[Skin] is the scavenger that cleans up the damage, that scours the residue, chews up the no longer needed. Banana says time to move on, cast it off, time to move on." - Remedios: Stories of Earth and Iron from the Puertorriquenas, Aurora Levins Morales

Worrisome traits are the ones we love to cling to because they itch us with that old, familiar sensation. Some even give them names so we can hate them all over again. Others prefer the drama of denying any relationship with the twitch leaving the mystery to someone with credentials. As the transformative planet Pluto crossed the roots of his star chart Herbert had chosen the name previously assigned to a fantasy character as a way to slip between the cracks. It seemed a perfect time: winter was a time for hibernation and the extreme temperatures gave the usually virile and active man the perfect cover.

"Doesn't the man know how fertile cracks are?" Resident Mouse posed the question from his space beneath the foil wrapped bookcase. His ears twitched as he picked up the key strokes from the storyteller's computer. This was his story as well so of course his curiosity made room to eavesdrop

"Apparently not." Raven happened by in time to hear the tiny mouse's query. "That's the beauty of chaos, which is my favorite condition. Once firmly in place chaos will enjoy a place in the sun for as long as all the players keep their places." Partnerships between the kin of the tiniest of Grandmothers with the genes for meddling and Raven have a long history.

One source put their roles in Northwest Mythology thus: "There could not be two more opposite individuals among the Spirit beings of the Northwest Mythology than Raven and Mouse Woman. Raven was the Creator-Trickster of the Northwestern Indian mythology. A voracious glutton, his appetite was only matched by his enthusiasm for mischief. A shape changer, he could take many forms. He loved to upset things and cause trouble. As he sought to satisfy his appetites and often as a result of schemes and tricks that backfired, Raven established the ways of dealing with the chaotic natural world, taming it for the benefit of mankind.
Mouse Woman was the busiest of busybodies and the tinest of Grandmothers. Upset whenever the proper order of things was disturbed, she always sought to restore order and maintain balance. She was as dedicated to undoing mischief as Raven was in creating it. As a Spirit person, she could go anywhere and her mouse ears often overheard trickery in the making."

"But is there room for all the players? I mean in the cracks where there is so little room won't that get a bit ... cramped."

"That's funny little one. You who come with a skeleton able to compress into seemingly paper thin --to escape -- speak of cramping."

"I've a sense for, an instinct ... " Resident Mouse was trying that word on. Raven nodded encouraging the youngster in his self-expression. The mouse kept on. "Yes, I've an instinct for knowing how it is to be in small spaces but the man seems a very large creature to fit between the cracks."

"Ah, you slide into the very essence of Herbert's choice. Some thing, or things, must be left behind and for the time being the man is not quite sure what will be left of him after the no longer needed is stripped away."

And then, what happened?

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Between Skins

It was one of those times in Human reckoning when the cloaks of power with a capital 'P' were passed between the old guard and the new. For all their supposed evolutionary turns this species was more tousle mind and meager-hearted than was good for them, but they are children still, and children who had too little experience with good manners as well. Resident Mouse nibbled on the sweet crunch of nutmeat through the convenient opening between the shell, and left the Pistachio shell for the Man to find.

"Look at this," the Man said to his wife the next morning.

There was so much to learn between the Beings and so little opportunity, or inclination, to know how similar they really are. Of course little creatures with ravelly hands and sharp incisors will secure food that way. Noticing Mouse Ways during this harshest winter yet was a bit of cosmic meddling to be sure. Magic was in the making and some would say the building of character was among the sweetest sort of magic. The man was called Herbert though he had other names as well on this particular winter he was trying on Herbert from Clay Banks as practice. Writers sometimes take on pen names to create stories which tell a slight variation on those pulled from the spider's thread with their certified names. Spies and under-aged drinkers carry passports and altered I.D. to get what they're after. Leon Russel and Elton John both renamed themselves after people they knew. The man was in between skins and at least for the while Herbert Duck was trying on a life with fewer distractions and a sharper focus.

Resident Mouse has more musings ... 

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Camilia's Tea Pot

In the dream the plain metal kettle looked heavy, fit for a hefty cook used to lifting kitchenware filled to capacity. She recognized it without hesitation from a bit of Two Fat Ladies' history and found to her delight that the dream makers had colored it yellow. The kettle that is. The gathering of folk for whom this kettle had been set to boil were strangers, but it was her son, as familiar as the palms of her hands, that lifted the heavy steaming source off the burner pulled the stopper out and caught his mother's attention with a signature eye-catching glance: left her a message her son did.

"Do you suppose," began Resident Mouse, "her son was giving his mother the message to let off some of that steam she's built up?" The tiny mouse was very young, not much older than newly born and innocent of any restraining attitudes about being delicate when talking about Others. Being an orphan, Resident Mouse spoke into the air as if it was his companion and confidante for in truth Air was his company. Well, if we're really being truthful here the thing that happens with mice, especially ones as young as Resident Mouse, is they have an open channel an uncluttered corridor to Mouse Woman The Mouse Woman who is the Grand GuGa of these parts. The tiniest and the greatest of all busybodies Mouse Woman is most attached to the young. So, in addition to Air Resident Mouse's musings were being monitored by MW herself.

There was little chance young Resident Mouse could have known that this winter was the harshest winter yet. Before his mother was caught for a winter snack by the owl, she had left him with a cozy home among the stored fabric scraps and worn out sweat pants. In time that cozy home was meant to be used for patches and embroidered ornamentation. But as they say, it made no never mind to Resident Mouse and his Mother. They had no notion of patches or embroidery. Hmmm, or did they?

The Air and Mouse Woman collaborated on their answer for Resident Mouse appreciating the young man's sensitivity. From her corner just inside the threshold between her realm and that of the mundane, Mouse Woman said, "I believe you are on to something. The woman does have a bit of steam pent up, and the man is stretched to paper thin." She felt sure this young mouse had come with a gift for dealing with Others. Though she did not let herself be seen Resident Mouse felt the affirming overture, took a deep gulp of evening Air and waited for the man who set out pumpkin seeds and a raisin each night.

Who is this man who sets out food for mice?