I dare you to prove that statement wrong.
He loved the unlovable. He loved the outsider. He loved when it was hard. He put himself in physical danger. His disciples were driven from their homes. Stephen was stoned in the street. All but one of the first disciples (except Judas Iscariot) died violent deaths at the hands of others.
Because of love. Because they believed there was something more important than their safety, something so important it required everything of them.
You can argue about safety and security, but none of that matters in the face of love. None of that matters in the face of such need.
That’s a dangerous thing to think, you might say.
Love is dangerous. Love is hard. Love is messy, but if you do it right, love is everything.
We are called to love despite the danger, despite the hardships, and despite the fear.
“Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:37-40)
There are no qualification there, no exceptions, no room to wiggle out of what we are morally called to do.
I sit here in my safe house, in my relatively safe country, with food to eat, and I think I am not loving enough. We can’t say no to people in need because of fear. We can’t let danger, hate, or insecurity be bigger than the one thing God asked us to do.
Love God. Love others.
He asked it of us because it is stronger than everything else, anything else. Love can change the world because it is the most dangerous thing of all.
There are a lot of organizations helping refugees. Donate to one. There are a lot of organizations helping people in your own community. Give some time to them. The hurting of the world belong to all of us and it is about time we stopped acting like it’s not our problem.]]>
Be honest. I know most of you think of this when you think of Cerberus:
We can all learn a life lesson from Hagrid’s penchant to acquire things in pubs. If a slightly inebriated, shady chap is trying to get you to win a three headed dog or dragon egg, just call it a loss and walk away. Nothing good ever comes from this kind of transaction. Just ask Harry.
Cerberus, thrice the heads, thrice the drool.
Cerberus was another illustrious offspring of Typhon and Echidna. Cerberus was a dog with three heads and was said to have a serpentine tail and a mane of snakes. Remember, Greeks did not think a large three-headed dog was scary enough. They added some other animals parts to make him truly horrifying.
Cerberus guarded the entrance to the Underworld. He allowed shades (souls) to go in but would not let them leave. He was without pity and feasted upon raw flesh.
The last of Hercules’ twelve tasks was to capture Cerberus. Not to be daunted, Hercules made the journey to the underworld and asked Hades for the hound. Hades agreed on two conditions. Hercules could not use any weapon but his own strength and no harm was to come to Cerberus. Hercules agreed.
Hercules wrestled the three-headed hound, managing to wrap his strong arms around all three of Cerberus’ throats. Even though Hercules was bitten by the snakes on Cerberus’ mane, he subdued the beast and carried him out of the Underworld slung over his shoulders.
Hercules presented Cerberus to King Eurystheus at the gates of Tiryns. Eurystheus begged Hercules to let the monster go and not leave him at the gates of his city. Hercules released Cerberus and the hound returned to his duty in the Underworld.
There are various versions of the tale of Hercules and Cerberus, but they all end with Hercules triumphant and Cerberus back at his post.
In Turning Creek, the Remnant of Cerberus has only one head, but he manages to cause quite a bit of havoc.]]>
Today, a rant for you.
I am a word person. I like words. I love the way some words roll off your tongue, like fisticuffs. I love what some words imply, like shenanigans. Words are important.
I admit, I might be a word person, but I am not a spelling person. You can’t have it all.
I want to take up the matter of what has become a common word usage that bothers me. Very few of you probably care or have noticed. I want to discuss the blog post.
This website is a blog. A blog is a website with entries that are chronological, usually with the newest appearing first. There are video blogs (also called vlogs) picture blogs, word blogs, and music blogs.
The individual entries on a blog are called posts. Their long name is a blog post. This entry you are reading is a blog post.
The problem is that I have noticed with annoying frequency that people refer to a post as a blog. They say, “I wrote a blog.” or “I posted a blog.”
I know why this had come about. Most of us are, at heart, very lazy and blog post is two words. People have just started saying blog when they really meant blog post or simply post.
The problem is that calling a post a blog means something entirely different than the way it is being used. “I wrote a blog” means you wrote an entire website which, in your defense, you may have done. It’s like a journalist saying “I wrote a newspaper.” They did not write a newspaper, they wrote an article for the newspaper.
It is more appropriate and correct to say “I wrote a post” or “I posted on my blog” or even “I wrote a blog post.”
I know this makes me a word snob, but the words we use have meaning. We argue over the use of certain words we find offensive because words matter.
Blog post, blog, and post matter very little in the grand scheme of things, but all words matter, no matter how small. Please, I beg you, stop using the word blog incorrectly.
Thanks for reading my blog post and rant. Have a fabulous Friday.
Today, we are talking about dragons! Who doesn’t love dragons? This girl LOVES them. Every once in awhile, I binge through a dragon shifter series. Because dragons.
The dragon-like monster in Greek mythology was the Ladon. He was said to be the monstrous child of two monsters, Typhon and Echidna. The Ladon was a one hundred headed serpent who guarded the golden apples of Hesperides.
Hesperides, a goddess of the golden light of sunrise and sunset, was frequently given the task of guarding treasures of the other gods and goddesses. The tree which bore the golden apples was a gift of Gaia, the Earth, to Hera on the occasion of her marriage to Zeus. The apples, besides being beautiful, could bestow immortality to whoever ate them. These were the same apples that were used to trick Atalanta into marriage. Hesperides used the Ladon to guard her garden in which the tree of the golden apples grew.
The Ladon frequently tormented the Titan, Atlas, who carried the world on his shoulders. In some tales, the Ladon was said to be able to mimic voices.
Among the twelve labors given to Hercules by the Oracle at Delphi was to collect some of the golden apples. Hercules slay the Ladon who stood sentinel in Hesperides’ garden and took the apples. Zeus placed the slain monster in the stars as the constellation Draco. He is entwined around the North Star.]]>
Everyone has heard of the ferryman who takes souls to the Underworld, but not everyone knows that his name was Charon. Many cultures have a death ritual which involves laying coins on the eyes or under the tongue of the deceased as Charon’s Obol or coin. This coin or coins paid Charon’s toll for the ferry ride across the River Styx or the Acheron, the lake of pain, depending on which version of the myth you are reading.
Charon was the son of Erebus, the primordial god of darkness who existed before the Greek gods came to power. Charon served Hades by captaining the ferry which carried souls across Acheron to the Underworld. The obol placed in the mouth of the deceased when they were buried was his payment. The souls of people who were left unburied or who were without payment were left to wander the land of in-between as ghosts.
Charon does not feature in any stories centered around himself, but he plays a supporting role in the adventures of other gods when they find themselves on the shore of Acheron seeking an audience with Hades.
Charon was often described as a bearded, surly man whose eyes shone with unnatural color or, as in Dante’s Inferno, with fire. I imagine ferrying the dead would make anyone surly. Can you imagine how hacked off some of those people are? Or how sad they would be?
Psyche uses Charon’s service on one of her quests. She was on her way to beg Persephone for a box a beauty ointment because nothing says everlasting youth like cream from the queen of the dead.
In Turning Creek, Charon has not made an appearance, but the characters do refer to him and his services into the Underworld.]]>
Fall weather takes longer to arrive here in Houston than it does in other places. Sometimes, I think it will never arrive when I am sweating in the humidity and heat on Halloween.
You might think I am exaggerating about the heat, but this is how green things are at my house.
I have never seen actual fall leaves so pictures like the one below, look fake to me.
When the heat drops, even the smallest bit, I am ready to celebrate by whipping up a batch of my favorite pumpkin muffins. These muffins are more like mini spice cakes and will make your house smell wonderful.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Combine the flour, cloves, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, baking soda, ginger, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Stir with a whisk to combine well. Stir in the raisins.
In another, medium sized bowl, combine the rest of the ingredients and mix well.
Add the wet mixture to the flour mixture and stir just until moist.
Line your muffin tin with paper or foil then spray the liners lightly. This will help the liners not peel away half your muffin when you remove them.
Despite every recipe I have ever read telling me to do otherwise, I always fill my muffin cups right to the brim of my liners and my muffins are always big and beautiful. I suggest you break the normal rules and try it.
If you are making regular sized muffins, bake for 15 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. If you are making mini-muffins, check them at 10 minutes and then keep an eye on them. These muffins are best when they are not overcooked.
Variations: Add nuts. Sprinkle turbinado sugar on top before baking. Add cream cheese frosting on top!
These muffins freeze great. Enjoy.
Have a safe and Happy Halloween or Samhain!
This was my view for the weekend. It was a rainy, windy mess. From the time we arrived on Friday until we left Sunday, the rain fell and the wind blew. It was perfect writing weather.
My goal for the weekend was to finish my round of development edits on Letters in the Snow (TC3) and write the additional scenes I still needed to round out the plot.
I was able to do both, by Saturday night no less, so I wrote this on Sunday morning, at my leisure.
Total words for the weekend, not counting that I also deleted a bit along the way, was 9,053 words. Less than last year, but last year I was still in the draft phase for Storm in the Mountains and I plowed through that.
This means that I have plenty of time to read through the book, yet again, before sending it on to my editor in December. I know you are thinking, “But how does this effect when I can have the book?” If all goes well, you can have it in February. Probably. I make no promises, but that is my goal.
I am so grateful to my boys who managed to survive without me for a couple days. I am blessed with a husband who helps me make time in our lives for this thing that I love to do.
I am always immensely glad once I get here that all the pieces fell into place once again. Some of my writer friends I only see during this weekend. Even though we spend much of it hunched over our keyboards or staring blankly into the waves on the lake, there are still moments of conversation that I cherish all year long.
We come from different backgrounds, have different day jobs, and write in an array of genres, but we are all writers. We all have words to share and that makes us the same.
Until next year!]]>
There are two kinds of people in the world: dog people and cat people. I am a dog person. I married a man who thought he was a cat person owing to the fact that he always had cats growing up. His mother is a cat person. He was a dog person just waiting for a dog to be in his life. We now have two large, ridiculous dogs and everyone is happy about it except my mother-in-law.
This post is not about my crazy dogs. This post is about Laelaps, the hurricane dog of Greek mythology.
Laelaps is a female in some stories and a male in others. I am going to refer to Laelaps as a she because I like imagining a powerful female dog running around causing a bit of panic.
Laelaps originally belonged to Zeus. She was a fierce hunting hound who, once set on her prey, never failed to catch it.
Zeus stumbled upon the maiden Europa picking flowers one day and he decided that he must have this woman as his own. To those of you who have been paying attention, this should come as no big shock. Instead of declaring his intentions, like a normal person, Zeus decided on his usual practice of transforming himself into something, this time a white bull, and seducing (or perhaps pestering) Europa until she climbed up on his back and he kidnapped her.
Zeus set Europa up as the Queen of Crete and gave her three gifts. One of the gifts was his beloved hound, Laelaps. Europa named the son that she bore after riding the white bull Minos. Minos inherited not only the kingship of Crete, but also the hound, Laelaps.
I was unable to find exactly how Procris ended up with Laelaps, but at some point Minos gifted the hound to Procris who took it home to please his wife, Kephalos, after they had an argument about being on a “break.”
It is possible that Artemis, goddess of the hunt, may have gifted Laelaps to Procris, but accounts differ.
About this time, the Teumessian Fox was terrorizing Thebes. The mythical fox was a monster that could never be caught. To appease it, the people of Thebes fed it a small male child once a month. As you can imagine, the people of Thebes tired of this arrangement very quickly. They appealed to Kephalos who sent Laelaps after the fox.
The hound who always catches its prey chasing after a fox who could never be caught created an unsolvable conundrum. The hound chased the fox for many days. Zeus grew tired of this and turned both animals to stone. He put them in the sky as the constellations Canis Major and Canis Minor where they chase each other forever.
In Storm in the Mountains, Marina meets the Remnant of Laelaps on one of her adventures.]]>
It is 5:20 am, which is too early for civilized humans, and I have the Reading Rainbow theme in my head. I loved that show. Incidentally, you can now relive your childhood by making your children watch the awesome that is Reading Rainbow on Netflix.
That is not why I started this post.
I was writing a letter to my editor this morning, congratulating her on the launch of her new focus, what she was already being fabulous at, being a word guru, and I realized part of the email needed to be a blog post.
A few years back I read something or heard something which talked about how we never know how much time we have and that all our relationships were precious. They went on to say that we spend a lot of time not telling people that we care about that we care about them. What a waste of precious time.
I grew up in a big, very loving family, the kind where you have to hug and kiss everyone when you come in and when you leave. It takes a long time to make it through the house, but I always knew, beyond a doubt that those people loved me dearly. As the years past and we grew up to have kids of our own, we still greet each other with hugs and kisses, it just takes a lot longer to make it through the house.
After hearing that, I decided I would be honest with people and tell them when they were important to me because there are a lot of people I love and I wanted them to know it as often as I could say it.
I do not think this diminishes the words when I say them. It is not like the argument that goes like this: If we say, “I love pizza.” and “I love the mountains.” and “I love my husband.” all the loves become meaningless. The love I have for pizza does not diminish how much I love Mr. Rochester. I do really love pizza. I love the mountains with a soul crushing love and I would do absolutely anything, go anywhere for Mr. R. I love them all.
Many languages have multiple words for love and we only have this one word: love. I think the word takes its meaning from the context of the discussion. Do I love my children the same way I love a good book? No, though occasionally I wish I had less of one or the other which depends on the day and the volume of the arguing going on over the legos.
I think it is ok to love pizza, my kids, my husband, my friends, and my family because I do love them. Not only do I love them, I want them to know it. I never want them to doubt when I am gone that I cared for them, deeply. I want them to know I prayed for them and rejoiced for them and loved them. And yes, in case you were wondering, I did pray for that pizza. I blessed it unto my body as a gift from the Lord because pizza and beer are amazing.
The thing about words is that you have to back them up with something. I love my children, but I treat them like I love them too. I love my husband and so I try to do things I know he prefers, even when they are not my preference. I love my friends so I listen to them and spend time with them. I hope that my actions match my words.
I know sometimes they do not because I also love myself and sometimes I am selfish.
Today, someone you care deeply for needs to know it. How often to people get to be told they are loved? Be a blessing in someone’s life today and tell them they are important to you.
Sometimes, you just have to say it.]]>
Since I started writing about my harpies, I have been doing a lot of mythology research. Before starting the Turning Creek series, my mythology knowledge was about what any good English major picks up over years of reading, a decent bit but not encyclopedic. After over a year of reading and writing about Greek mythology, I have come to a conclusion I should have seen coming.
The gender roles in the ancient world were supported by the rigid and degrading roles women were given in the myths told and retold as religion. In modern times, we read them as classic literature.
In Greek mythology, women were allowed to be virgins, whores, or something monstrous. They were never allowed to be beautiful and I would argue that any woman who was not a virgin was made a monster because they believed them to be monstrous.
In this discussion there is always one exception: the goddesses. The goddesses of Greece and Rome were allowed to be virgins, sexual beings, beautiful, ugly, or anything in between. The female gods were allowed to do almost anything without punishment, but if a mortal woman was anything but an ugly virgin, she was punished, and punished harshly.
A woman could not possess beauty or skill. – Beauty was prized by the ancients, but it was reserved for those of royal blood or those who were children of the gods. Likewise, a mortal woman could also never excel at anything if they outshone the the gods. Arachne, who had the misfortune of being a very good weaver, was challenged by Minerva, weaver of the gods. When Arachne was found to be equal in skill to Minerva, the goddess beat her until, shamed, the woman hung herself. Minerva felt remorse over her action and changed the woman into a spider.
Scylla was a beautiful woman seduced* by Poseidon. She was turned into a hideous beast both for being beautiful and for being seduced. Medea was a beautiful witch that Jason of the Argonauts seduced, married, then abandoned. Medusa was a beautiful mortal who had the misfortune of being seduced by Poseidon in Athena’s temple.
A woman was allowed to be a virgin, at least until one of the philandering gods noticed you and then they seduced you, making you a whore. In a culture where your ability to bear children was the sum of your value, your maidenhead was your ticket to a better life. Unfortunately, this was a ticket easily ripped apart (pun intended), by any man or god who happened to stroll along. Losing your virginity meant you lost your value in society, but if you lost your virtue to the wrong man or god, you were punished. Scylla and Medusa, from the examples above, were turned into hideous creatures by the goddesses who felt betrayed by the rape of the mortal women. The women were punished for the gods’ infidelity.
A woman was allowed to be a whore or a monster. There are many female monsters in Greek mythology, though monsters are not exclusively female. Feminine monsters, of various origins, included Medusa and Scylla (which I have already mentioned), the Sphinx, the Harpies, the Amazons (women who dared to have power and skill, thus they were monsters), the maenads, the Gorgons, and the list goes on and on.
It makes sense that the stories which people told to explain the world were influenced by and supported the beliefs of that culture. Women were not valued. Women, beyond their ability to bear children, had no value and no place in society. There are always exceptions, but I am speaking about the generally accepted views not the exceptions.
Greek Mythology, and other mythology from the ancient world, reflected the idea that women were virgins until they were desired by a man and then they were taken. After they had been used, they were no longer of value, they were monstrous, both physically and spiritually.
This has implications for us today as we consider how the ancients myths have woven their way into the vernacular of our modern culture. Using an example above, we remember Medea as a witch who killed her children and Jason as a virtuous hero. We do not remember this couple as they were in the myths: Medea as a desperate and abandoned woman and Jason as a narcissistic adulterer.
As I learn more about ancient myths, I have been reminded to look at the stories critically with a modern lens that is sensitive to the culture which created them. They are stories of greed, betrayal, jealousy, desire, love, anguish, and life. We are all capable of any or all of these emotions. Perhaps the thing we should learn most from the ancient myths is temperance.
*Seduced in the ancient writings is a gentle way of saying the god didn’t take no for an answer and raped her.]]>