A Mermaid is Formed

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As the Titan, Astraeus, covered the sky with darkening colors, a shadowy head peaked above the waves of Poseidon. Her inky black hair flowed with the weight of the water as she emerged onto the sandy beach. The starlight glittered off of her hair and into the water like falling diamonds.

She walked across the beach towards a picnic table as seashells formed beneath her feet. Bright emerald eyes enhanced her translucent green skin. Aquamarine, connected by strips of tiny shells, hung from her forehead. She ended her walk at a picnic bench. Upon sitting, the picnic table turned into a mosaic of tiny shells and ocean sand.

As she sat there a clear pool of water sprang up, surrounding her delicate ankles. As she gazed jeweled eyes at Artemis’ sacred palace glowing brightly in the sky, a soft voice behind her whispered, “Ambrosine! You came.”

Ambrosine turned to face the newcomer. Her pixieish features were full of hope. Her dark, wavy hair blew in the light breeze provided by the trees and sapphire blue eyes were brighter than a bolt of lightening. “Of course I did. You’ve been praying to meet your ancestors since you found your mother’s book. Why should such as simple wish not be granted, when you’ve been talking to us for years.”

“Mother said no one ever answered her prayers,” the child whined.

Ambrosine shook her dark head and replied, “Gaiana, we can’t answer all prayers. Yours struck the heart of the queen of the oceans herself,” Ambrosine explained as she reached slim fingers forward to caress the child’s ragged and tangled hair.

“Your family’s blood runs strong in you, Gaiana,” Ambrosine murmured. Her fingers left a trail of kelp and sand entangled in the child’s hair.

“Mother doesn’t think so,” Gaiana answered mournfully.

Ambrosine smiled mischievously and answered, “Sea kelp wouldn’t wind through your hair otherwise,” Ambrosine returned as she cupped the child’s jaw.

As she pulled her hand away, Ambrosine noticed a dark spot form on the Gaiana’s cheek.

“You’ve been harmed, little one,” she asked in confusion.

“She doesn’t mean it,” Gaiana answered trembling.

“Our blood does not harm each other,” Ambrosine sternly informed.

“There’s nothing that can be done,” Gaiana reasoned.

“Yes there is. Our beliefs may no longer be prevalent, Gaiana, but we still hold power,” Ambrosine insisted.

“I don’t want anyone to get hurt,” Gaiana said as tears fell from her sapphire colored eyes.

“We can help you,” Ambrosine insisted with a nod.

“How?”

“Come home with me. Queen Amphitrite would welcome you under her protection and I could teach you our ways,” Ambrosine kindly enticed.

“I wouldn’t have to come back?”

“No Gaiana. A mermaid you would stay, along with the rest of your long lived kin.”

“Please take me home,” Gaiana whispered prayerfully.

With a gentle smile Ambrosine stood and took the child’s hand. As they walked back to the ocean, Gaiana’s legs began to feel weak and slimy. When they stepped into the welcoming waves, a strength of power filled her little body. When the water was waist deep, Gaiana looked down. No longer did she see two thin little legs. Instead she saw a swirl of green, purple and blue. She could barely make out the translucent form of her fins. The grin that lit her face caused Ambrosine laugh harder than the waves.

“Come Gaiana, it is time to meet your future.”

As the sun began to rise the two mermaids disappeared from the mortal and into one that only they could see.

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Fall From Grace – Chapter 14

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Here is the next installment of Fall From Grace. As Always feel free to tell me what you think and Happy Reading!

The blazing midday sun turned the Dungeon and Jail into a humid oasis of pain and displeasure baking in a cramped beehive. Grace and Tituba sat in the shadows of the window bars with their backs to the stone wall.

Grace’s bloodshot eyes glowed as brightly as hot embers in the dim lighting of the cell as they overlooked the roaming prisoners, her throat and jaw were a mottled mass of bruises resembling the garish makeup worn by the royal court.
Just after dawn the two guards came and whisked Mrs. Nurse away to her trial, leaving Tituba and Grace alone in the confines of the cell. Tituba quietly sat up with Grace after the sheriff departed from the communal cell last night, whispering prayers that no one could hear; every so often she would wake Grace to make sure that the young woman didn’t leave the cell in the company of the grim reaper – the king of terrors frightened all who resided on earth. After the sheriff stormed out in a rage the other prisoners settled down to rest as best they could in these hellish conditions.
The heat of the sun signified that it was almost time for the afternoon meal. The accused in the large, communal cell took turns walking in the walled off courtyard, while Grace watched them as her head rested on Tituba’s bony shoulder.
The bruising on her neck resembled the vibrant hues of autumn leaves with some patches being as dark as freshly tilled soil. The dim lighting of the cell may have hidden her bruises, but it couldn’t hide the ominous glow of bloodshot eyes leaking murky tears.

Those same eyes widened when the door separating the cells from the sheriff’s office opened with a thud. Four men rushed into the midst of the prisoners. Grace could hear metal clanking as the shackles that hung at the deputies waists moved about. Their hands were filled with rough, heavy rope.
Each of the deputies had full beards and enough scars on them to frighten the devil himself. They wore no hats, leaving their shaved scalps, glistening with sweat, for all the world to see. As the grit built up in her eyes and her vision continued to burn and blur Grace watched the deputies roughly seize the prisoners and bind them together with shackles.
Shrieks and cries resounded in the Dungeon and Jail as multiple people were crammed into the remaining solitary cells – four at a time. The prisoners rained curses down upon the jailers as though it would make them see reason. They tripped over each other as their bindings caught and landed in piles of arms and legs. Apparently, the sheriff had not taken the prisoners show of solidarity lightly.
The cacophony of terror that the prisoners were shouting resembled horses stampeding down a dusty road in a deluge of rain. The only thing clearly heard over the noise was the foul insanity that the deputies were growling. Once the last of the restricted cells were slammed shut, the deputies stomped out to the courtyard and rounded up those that were still free.
Those outside were pulled into the communal cell in pairs of two, bound by rope. More than one of the prisoners had fresh cuts that stung as sweat and dirt mixed into them. Of all the prisoners only one was escorted in by herself.
Her proud head was bent while her steel grey hair was streaked bright with blood, but the strength in her shoulders was not to be denied. As the guards drug the middle-aged woman between them, her head flopped from one shoulder to the next. When Grace caught a look at the limp face on the rough body that the guards were dragging towards her cell, she paled allowing her blood shot eyes to glow in horror at the sight of an abused human being.
Bruises formed on Mrs. Bishop’s blood soaked body. Two deputies roughly pulled the unconscious form of Mrs. Bishop in front of the cell Grace and Tituba inhabited.
One deputy roughly held the still body of the tavern owner and the other unlocked the cell. Mrs. Bishop was roughly thrown to the floor in a limp heap as the cell door slammed shut.
Grace looked upon Mrs. Bishop with pity and took a deep breath while glancing at Tituba before gruffly asking, “Why are we the ones accused of witchcraft, when they are the people that go against God’s Law?”
Even though prisoners were still wailing and groaning about their fate, Grace’s gravelly voice carried. Tituba looked at her friend as though Grace had lost her wits. The other prisoners were muttering in agreement with Grace’s statement and the guard that had thrown Mrs. Bishop around like a rag doll had the decency to blush apple red in shame.

The other deputy on the other hand, sneered at Grace and spat, “Were you Godly citizens we wouldn’t have to be teaching you your place.” The grey eyes of this deputy were colder than a sunless day in the dead of winter, showing Grace all she needed to know about this so-called creature of God.
“Were the Reverend Parris not so greedy, we wouldn’t be here. He wanted more firewood and stricter laws to curtail our small earthly pleasures away from the Town and thus reigned this evil down upon us. Now he and the judge believe the mouths of babes who have naught enough to do during the day,” Grace boldly stated.
The deputy with the cold grey eyes turned an angry shade of purple. Rather than open the cell to rain down another punishment on Grace for her stubbornness , the deputy stood as close to the cell door as he could and spat on Grace.
The man’s spittle landed on Grace’s chin and was a mix of slimy mucus and day old tobacco. Grace angrily bestowed a glowering glare on the guard as his spittle dripped onto her already tattered and filthy dress adding another stain to the mix; she refused to give him the satisfaction of seeing her clean his filth from her face. Pride may be a high offense to God, but Grace would not give this soulless creature the pleasure of seeing her break.
“We shall see how prideful you are the day you swing lifelessly from Gallow’s Hill as God condemns your soul,” the deputy sneered as he turned from the cell in a cloud of dust.
“Should that day arrive I will meet God with a heart full of devotion. Can you say the same,” Grace retorted. This bold statement caused only one of the guards to hang their heads in front of the prisoners; though none of them could face the accusation honestly.

Rather than face the truth, the deputies did the only thing left to them. They strode from the communal prison leaving only a mouse to scurry around looking for crumbs of a meal not yet served.

Fall From Grace – Chapter 13

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It’s been a while since I posted about my latest WIP – Fall From Grace. For all of you wondering about what is going on, here is a rough copy of Chapter 13!

I would also like to remind you that the Salem witch trials were a dark and ugly period in the United States’ past. In this story I am striving for historical accuracy. My goal is to shed light on these actions and to tell a tale that leaves you thinking and wanting more.

As always, Happy Reading and feel free to leave a review!

 

The dying embers of the communal fire were all that could be seen in the despairing pit of the jail. The heat the fire gave off disappeared shortly after sunset leaving the multitude of prisoners lost in their own shadows and trapped in the torments that their minds played on the stone walls. Grace and Tituba sat next to each other in their tiny, rock-hewn cell; the rope that bound them together lay lax between them. They shared what little heat their bodies provided. An old woman with steel grey hair lay just outside their cell.

Tituba’s head rested on the wall as she asked, “Miss Grace, why aren’t you bitter for being held with no cause?”

Grace let out a breath and quietly answered, “Bitterness has only been known to accomplish despair; faith in God, on the other hand, is known to work miracles.”

“You can’t see God, Miss Grace. In times such as these, seeing is something we can grasp in our darkest hours.”

Grace hummed lightly and answered, “God is all around us. He created the sun to warm us and plants to nourish us. If the bounty in the earth can come back after a bitter winter, surely we can follow God’s plan without seeing him,” Grace finished serenely.

“To right you are Grace Bacon. Remember though, the bible also directs, ‘When ye thought evil against me, God disposed it to good, that he might bring to pass, as it is this day, and save much people alive,” the old woman on the other side of the cell softly croaked.

“Mrs. Nurse! You shouldn’t be awake. The least you could do is try to rest in these deplorable dungeons,” Grace quietly exclaimed.

Mrs. Nurse scoffed before replying, “Tosh Child! These hard stones do nothing for my creaky, old bones that hurt with the cold and rain. ‘Sides you’ll need to speak louder than a prayer for my failing ears to hear you. What need of sleep have I, when they’ll be deciding my fate in the dawn,” she boldly stated in her frail voice.

Grace shook her head and answered, “Mrs. Nurse they could do nothing but find you innocent of all charges. The entire town knows of your piety; your regular attendance at church shows that – as does your kindness for those in need.

“Besides, your children and grandchildren follow yours and Mr. Nurse’s generous lead in the world,” Grace insisted.

Mrs. Nurse scoffed as she began, “Good Lord child! You are naive! The curse of man is that he always has a choice. Remember, God does not force our hand; man does.”
A lightening bolt flashed outside emphasizing Mrs. Nurses’s dire words. Grace sighed loudly at the omen of the weather to come. Before she could say anything a roll of thunder shook the Dungeon and Jail.

“It seems that nature thinks we need another bath,” Grace tartly stated.
Mrs. Nurse chuckled at that before muttering, “I’d rather meet my fate clean and smelling of rain than streaked with mud from these suburbs of hell.”
Tituba and Grace chuckled at the truth in that. “The court would definitely prefer the smell of clean skin and spring blooms to the stench of human waste,” Grace assured grimly.

“I think we’d all prefer it,” another woman replied from within the cell.

“A gentle rain would be nice; it’s been awful dry this spring. They’ve not even brought us winter wine to drink,” another woman hollered from across the room.
Several of the prisoners nodded at the injustice of being denied a strong drink.

“You think we can get them to bring us some from The Ship,” the same woman halfheartedly mused.

“Doubtful, Mrs. Bishop, but it couldn’t hurt to try – especially as what they serve is the best made on Gods sprawling hills,” a man dryly answered.

“The Reverend didn’t like the fact that travelers stayed up later than curfew, gambling and a drinking; so it’s Witches Brew they accuse me of making.

“Never mind that Judge Sewell uses my winter wine for his fancy syllabub. A noble drink for a high-classed man.

With my luck they’ll post the jury summons for the trial on the doors of my own tavern,” Mrs. Bishop finished snidely.

Before the imprisoned crowd could become unruly Grace began, “Ladies and gentlemen, please calm down. If the sheriff should come in here and find us in a such an angered state, I feel God wouldn’t be able to make our stay in this Dungeon and Jail more bearable.”

“The devil himself couldn’t make our stay more vile,” a random man called out.

“You would be surprised by who and what can be forgotten. A meal or two can easily be missed as the sheriff will easily be distracted by other duties,” Grace insisted.

“They’d not miss a chance to charge us for our stay,” another woman countered, this was punctuated by another flash of lightening.

“Yet such an act has been done,” Grace tried to reason over the growing dissent as thunder rolled once more.

As the prisoners grew more restless a clinking of metal on metal rattled causing Grace and Tituba to flinch.

“Enough! Bacon if it be your wish to start a ruckus, mayhaps you should plead guilty to the courts and see us all rid of your abhorrent presence,” a rumbling male voice shouted from the front of the cell moments after Grace’s warning.

Lightening flashed outside the Dungeon and Jail, illuminating Grace’s pale, haggard features. Her stringy hair lay matted to her face while eyes flashed in anger. For the first time in months her scalp didn’t itch. Her temper on the other hand would not be stayed, “May God lay me low if any word I speak is untrue. My hand has signed no contract with the devil, your actions on the other hand suggest you have.

“Were your mother to see the way in which you treat these fair people she would bear more shame than there are leaves in the trees,” Grace finished vehemently.
The sheriff stormed over to the tiny cell, pushing the other prisoners out of the way. Thunder rocked the Dungeon and Jail with every step he took. The anger distorted his face and the dim cell light so that he resembled the creature the accused were said to follow.

The sheriff stopped at the edge of the cell and reached one hand in, tightly gripping Graces’ jaw, “ My sainted mother sits in the golden pews with God. She would have no pity for the likes of a witch serving a sinful master!”

Gasping for breath, Grace gurgled, “Than I hope God takes pity on your soul; for there is no way that your mother would.”

As the sheriff’s hand squeezed her throat tighter, Grace began to wheeze. Her vision started to gray while her arms and legs became tingly and numb. She struggled to pull the sheriffs hands away from the base of her throat. Her nails were so weak they wouldn’t leave a scratch against the sheriff’s tough, leathery skin. As bleak unconsciousness was about to claim her, Grace heard, “Let her go!”

With a whoosh of air Grace looked up to see Tituba clinging to the arm of the sheriff. On the other side of the cell the prisoners were pulling the sheriff away, forcing distance between him and the confined prisoners.

A human shield formed between the sheriff and the bars to Grace’s cell. These tired and tattered people found a cause to unite them – protecting one of their own from undue harm.

While the sheriff limped from the communal cell, Grace lay confined in her tiny cell with her head in Tituba’s lap. The filthy rags on her chest heaved as though she were drinking in the air around her. As sweat beaded her forehead and she tried to catch her breath, Grace heard, “Don’t let them forget us, Miss Grace.”

A New Venture

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Earlier in the year I picked up a new hobby. Beading. What a wonderful world it is too. The versatility involved reminds me of the books I write.

Upon seeing what I was turning out in my workshop (yes I have one of those!!), my husband encouraged me to start selling the jewelry I make. Thus Isle Breeze Creations was born.

The name was chosen because it implies relaxation and having fun. Something all hobbies should do.

I make earrings, bracelets, and necklaces. Single strands, multi-strands, pendants, and historically reminiscent pieces. When showing my pieces to a neighbor she said, “This is fancy costume jewelry! You have something here.”

An example of my work includes the following image. I hope you get as much pleasure from these pieces as you do my writing.

If you are interested in seeing the pieces as they are coming out, feel free to follow Isle Breeze Creations on Facebook.

For those of you that are wondering, this new venture doesn’t take away from my writing. My Latest novel, Fall From Grace, is due out this Halloween.

Happy Creating and Reading!

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Paper Love

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What is a piece of paper?

Paper. Parchment. Carta. Papyrus. These are among the many different ways to say paper, an invention that has arguably (depending on who you ask) made the world a better place. Thanks to the ancient Egyptians weaving strips of the papyrus reed together, even the lowliest amongst us can record their words for posterity.

It is true that without paper much of history would be lost – after all, knowledge became extinct when Alexandria first burned. It has taken us years to rediscover what was lost on those precious scrolls. But, what does it truly mean to those of us that live day to day in a modern and ever more complicated world?

As an author it is my means of creation and communication. Painters use it to paint and readers to read. Some people roll it up and smoke it while others use it to wrap dishes on moving day. It makes great paper-mache for pinatas. Kids use it to make paper airplanes. The Japanese even use it to make delicate works of art called origami. All in all paper is a wonderfully useful tool invented by the ancient Egyptians.

As someone living in this world it also means so much more and less. Why do I need a piece of paper to tell me I am married to the man I love, my best friend? He and I both feel that it isn’t necessary to prove our love by obtaining a piece of paper made by man – a near decade together should be enough to prove that. Common law marriages have been around since time immemorial and were often used when a priest couldn’t be found. Yet others around us seem to think that we are temporary or nothing without it.

I know of couples that couldn’t stay together with a piece of paper and vows. I also know of couples that never should have gotten married in the first place. For one reason or another they went after a piece of paper that they didn’t respect and all the legalities in the world couldn’t keep them together.

While true that couples do grow apart, if a couple decides they don’t want to be together, that piece of paper will not keep them together. Just like a child can’t keep a couple together, neither can a sheet of paper.

What keeps people together is people and their love are respect for each other, not paper. People and what they want and believe are what counts. Just because you believe in something, doesn’t mean everyone else does though.

Reading this, you might think that I am against legal marriage. I’m not. I’m all for it when the time and person is right for those involved. My situation is perfect for me, don’t tell me it is wrong just because you don’t believe in it. If a common law marriage was good enough for Benjamin Franklin (yes the founding father – don’t believe me, Google it), then it is more than good enough for me.

If we want to take a historical look at marriage, lets use the Puritans as an example. They believed that a marriage was a contract between two people to care for and help one another that was separate from religion. I, personally, don’t need a sheet of paper to do that. I know where my heart lies and a piece of paper won’t change that. It can’t.

Traditionally marriages were used to make alliances between families or countries. More than one war was averted by an arranged marriage. People even married to keep crowns out of other peoples hands. They married to make sure children were taken care of and to lessen a burden at home. They married to share chores on a homestead. Very rarely were they about love. Something I am glad about for the modern age – I love that my marriage (be it on paper or not) is about love. Because love is what matters and nothing else.

I realize that for many people, religion states that marriage in a church, synagogue, mosque, or temple is the only way to signify that you are married before God – I won’t even get into the fact that in the time of Jesus a marriage was consummated in a church (ewwww). While I do not personally believe this to be true, I do respect your point of view. Note that I did not say that I don’t believe in God, I wholeheartedly do – those are another set of beliefs that I keep to myself.

What keeps my husband and I (as well as many other common law couples) together is choice. We choose to be a couple. We choose to communicate. Above all, we choose to love. A piece of paper cannot guarantee any of those choices being made. As human beings we can.

It is our choices that define whether paper is even necessary to a given situation. So why do so many people define a situation by something that isn’t necessarily relevant to those involved?

That is an answer that I don’t have. I wish I did.

What is SEPSIS

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Sepsis

What is sepsis?

Sepsis is your body’s overreaction to an infection.

What types of infection can become septic?

Any. By any, I mean viral or bacterial infection on the planet. The flu? Yep. A hangnail? Sure. Pneumonia, major surgery, even food poisoning can go septic.

There are three stages to sepsis.
1. Sepsis
2. Severe Sepsis
3. Septic Shock

It is my opinion the Stage One, sepsis, is the most dangerous. You might wonder why. It is because sepsis masquerades as the flu. Yes, the flu. Fever, aches, chills, nausea, and vomiting. Temperatures on the fever can reach over 108 degrees.

The flu is the one thing that doctors tell us to stay at home and wait it out. In the case of sepsis that is a deadly mistake. Almost sixty percent of people who make it to Stage two die. By Stage three that number doubles to ninety percent.

By Stave two you get to loss of motor control, difficulty breathing, and confusion. Loss of muscular skeletal systems also occurs. By now a patient risks brain damage from the infection and the fever.

Once a person hits septic shock they are intubated and put into a medical coma. Once a person enters the coma very rarely do they come out of it. When and if they do they could have memory loss, PTSD, limb loss, and above all post sepsis syndrome.

That last term is likely to be a new term to all of you. So allow me to explain the joys of post sepsis syndrome. Feel free to read as much sarcasm in that last statement as you wish.

Post sepsis syndrome is something that every survivor has to live with for the rest of their live (most live to be octogenarians). Some of the signs of post sepsis syndrome include lethargy, weakened immune system, and an exacerbation of any preexisting conditions that you might have had. Those are only some of the know long-term effects.

By lethargy I mean that they will most likely have to rotate the days they do work on; such as work two days, sleep two days. By the end of the day they are mumbling and possibly incoherent. There will be days they cannot get out of bed or off the couch. This is not their fault but that of the disease that struck them low in the first place.

A weakened immune system means they will likely catch any bug that is going around. Expect the need for antibiotics on a regular basis. Vitamins and probiotics may be needed by some. Especially B12.

Anxiety and panic are never far away. It sometimes seems that they can’t go a day without it. The feeling of uselessness because they can’t do what they once could is devastating to them. With the help of a good doctor and support from family and friends these things can be overcome. I promise.

Prior conditions is the worst one. If they had bronchitis before hand it is likely to turn into full blown asthma. If there was a kidney problem before hand, expect to need dialysis afterward. Blood pressure problems are known to get worse and so is arthritis.

Between twenty eight and fifty percent of people die each year from sepsis in the United States alone. This is more than the total of prostate cancer, breast cancer and AIDS combined. This is the primary reason we need to question something even as simple as the flu. Sepsis is survivable – the earlier it is detected the better your chances of survival. Thankfully the CDC has declared Sepsis its own disease and not a condition of a prior infection. This gives me hope that awareness of it will spread.

If the long-term frightens you the short-term will hurt you. Hair and appetite loss occur. The person also changes from the one you have known. Some of them get more wary of their surroundings and all are terrified of getting ill again. Many find a new purpose in life while others may lose their way.

A New Normal

After all this doom an gloom, I’ll move on to something a little brighter. That topic is, A New Normal. By that, many of you may be wondering what I mean. Unfortunately, there is no mystery to that fact. The words are self explanatory. Survivors of sepsis literally have to find what is now acceptable to them and their bodies. What they can tolerate now will be different than what they could before.

They may not be able to work as hard or as long as they once could before needing a break. They might not even be able to do the same job as before – more than one person has had to change careers. Many survivors end up on disability due to the amount of damage done to their bodies. Energy seems to be a recycled concept now. They have good days where they were almost what they once were (those are what I like to refer to as a shining moment in the sun); then they have the bad days.

Those are the days they can’t get out of bed and staying awake seems impossible.

Any medical problems they had before sepsis magnifies after. For instance, bronchitis can turn into full blown asthma.

Fibromyalgia is known to develop. Arthritis flares dramatically. Because of the high fevers hair loss occurs. That one at least grows back. Exhaustion becomes a familiar friend and memory loss is a regular occurrence. Some have an increase in appetite and others a decrease. Anxiety tends to go through the roof. You worry about ever getting that ill again. You don’t want to go through it again.

Something Personal

Life isn’t all doom and gloom though. The survivor finds a new appreciation for what was almost taken from them. They challenge themselves more and often find new purpose.

I know I have. I ended up with septic shock due to salmonella – that’ll teach me from eating out at a certain restaurant. How I survived, I don’t know. But I am grateful for it. At almost two years out I am still recovering and trying to find my New Normal.

I barely remember the beginning of my illness. I don’t remember my husband having to put me into the shower – clothes and all – to break my fever. I don’t remember not being able to hold any food down for a week. I don’t remember doing the can-can while trying to walk. I don’t remember arguing about not going to the hospital.

In that time I have gained so many memories. I’ve regrown my hair (which grew back curly instead of stick straight, the color also slightly changed) and learned to watch for the signs of exhaustion – weak knees and difficulty getting out of bed. I’ve gained an inhaler and have learned to watch my footing.

My favorite memory is the look on my husband’s face as I stood for the first time in two weeks. The combination of shock, awe, pride, and love on his face is one I will take with me to the grave. I remember that day well.

He walked into my hospital room and I was sitting in a chair with the table in front of me doing a crossword puzzle. A nurse was changing my bedding. When he walked in I pushed the table away and used the arms of the chair to push myself up. When I felt his arms around me for the first time in weeks I almost cried. I think he did too.

I’ve gained new skills during my recovery as well. I can help build a house and use the tools necessary. I can now make hand made jewelry, and in my personal opinion my writing has reached a new level. I’ve even learned to cook in a better way than I could before. That is something I am profoundly happy with.

I’ve learned my share of lessons as well. One is to be patient with myself. When I compare how I am now to how I was I am amazed at my own progress. It hasn’t been an easy road to travel, but I have overcome it. I somehow managed to turn insurmountable boulders into pebbles when I taught myself how to walk again. I’ve learned to accept that parts of my body will never recover. Thank you lungs and bladder – a ventilator and catheter for that length of time will do that to you I suppose (or so my doctor says).

I’ve also learned that coconut oil is great for your hair (I use a spray on) and that dissolvable B12 doesn’t leave an aftertaste in your mouth like the pill form does if you don’t swallow it fast enough. I’ve learned peace is hard to come by, but it does eventually find you. Patience is a friend that you become familiar with.

Of all these lessons though, the important one for me is to cherish what I have now. Because I almost wasn’t here to enjoy it.

Puritans

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I am in the midst of writing a historical fiction novel in which I am striving for accuracy. Luckily for me I love history and research

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At any rate, my current work in progress (WIP) is titled Fall From Grace. It is a story of an accused witch’s survival during the Salem Witch Hangings.

 
The more I learn about the Puritan’s and their daily life, the more I realize how much the history books in school left out.

 
Normally when we think of the Puritan’s we think of all black clothes, highly religious, and down to earth. Not to mention reserved and dour. In my research (thank you Google), they were so much more than that. The Puritans took their religious beliefs from the Geneva bible which was written in 1658.

 
Let’s start with clothing and jewelry. Yes, jewelry was seen as adornments that weren’t to be worn for fear of you forgetting your place before God. Their clothing on the other matter was a whole different matter. Very rarely was black worn. As colorful as their clothing was it was simple in design so as not to forget one’s station in life. The Puritan’s wore every color they could derive from natural dyes. It being that cloth was expensive they would mend their clothes until the couldn’t any longer.

 
Those natural dyes were boiled down wood, berries, grasses, and vegetables. Woad was used for blue dye and madder root for red bases. Weld was used to produced the color yellow.

 
The colors in their wardrobe had meaning. Servants wore all blue which denoted servitude and heavenly grace. Black and brown stood for humility. Orange and red represented courage while yellow and green meant renewal.

 
Among the many laws that the Puritans had were sumptuary laws. These laws forbade poorer people to dress like ladies and gentlemen of means.

 
The reason that they puritans didn’t have grand celebratory feasts was that they believed that everyday was reason for a feast. History may have recorded the Puritans as a somber group, but their food was anything but. They tended to eat three meals a day.

 
They were a highly religious group of people who felt that one shouldn’t dress above their station in life less it lead to corruption of the immortal soul. Attendance at Church was mandatory twice a week. Anything less and you risked being excommunicated or worse – accusations of witchcraft were known to happen to those who abstained from attendance. For the Puritans their soul was the most important part of their lives. They believed that there were two groups of people, the Chosen and the Unchosen. It was the job of the Chosen to lead the others to God’s Grace.

 
Amongst the many reasons that the Puritans left England was that they didn’t agree with the Anglican/Catholic stances in the church. The Puritans felt that the earthly church was to decadent and heavy handed, they also despised Rome as it was the embodiment of the ecclesiastical church and therefore far too rich and bold for their tastes.

 
The church in England felt that the Puritans were to harsh in their thoughts and manners. The Church even had insults for the Puritans. One of these insults was the term “round-head”. They were called this due to the fact that the Puritan males shaved their heads bald. They shaved as a way to keep head lice under control.

 
Upon arrival in the “new world” the Puritans wished to found a “shining city on the hill” – a city that would be admired by all. While the Puritans wished to outlaw drinking it was realized that they couldn’t. This was due to the fact that the tavern was essential to their survival in this new land. In fact the first building to be raised in any new city was the tavern. On colder days when the church wouldn’t warm up enough the tavern often substituted as a place of worship.

 
On a side note all legal business was handled in the tavern until the capitol building of a city was built. After the capitol building went into use it was acceptable to put a jury summons on the door of the tavern for jury duty. It was thought that since everyone went to the tavern they would see the summons and appear.

 
Another side note is that Puritans tended to accept their fate if they went to jail and most often would not try to escape.

 
Though drinking was legal, drinking in excess was illegal and frowned upon. Alcohol and the tavern were considered a necessary evil. Then as now, the more money you had the more you can get away with.

 
Many researchers feel that the Witch Trials were used as a form of retribution on those who had too much money or were too far removed from the daily life of the church – the tavern owners. This is, in part, born out by the fact that one of the first accused witches was Sarah Bishop who owned “The Ship” tavern. Of the many side notes in this article, I should mention that the songs sang in the taverns were as raunchy as anything we could come up with today. *insert full body blush*

 
A member of her husband’s family married into the powerful Putnam family and felt that she was owed some of the profits of her late brother’s business. The Putnam family was a prominent member of the Puritan Church and was a main accuser in the Trials.

 
Another reason for the Trials was that the Pastor in Salem, Samuel Parris, was persecuting those that had voted against his becoming the leader of their church and were therefore not paying their portion of his salary.

 
Other researchers believe that what started the accusations was ergot of rye. Ergot is known to cause hallucinations and body contortions that the original accusers were noted as having.

 
These accusations also occurred in a particularly cold winter which is, historically, when most accusations of witch craft and trials happened. These trials were more than likely the darkest period in Puritan history.

 
When it came to education the Puritans were truly a society to marvel at. If a village had more than eighty residents they were to establish a school that was funded by the taxes collected. Both sexes were taught to read – primarily so they could read from the bible or help in the house hold, but at least they were all literate. This puts them ahead of many other societies at the time.

 
They were also the ones to print the first bible in the New World. The first was actually written in Algonquin by John Eliot. After taking the time to learn the language in hopes of converting the Natives, Mr. Eliot realized that certain words did not exist in the Algonquin language. This can be seen in the passages regarding the birth of Christ.

 
Though their clothes were bland and they were a reserved bunch of people one thing about them that was neither, was food. Much of what they ate would be on par with some of today’s top chefs. Food was prepared in the European or African styles and was enjoyed by all.

 
Meals were served three times a day with breakfast usually being stew and bread, lunch being a left over with some type of fruit and dinner was usually bread and cheese. All of this was accompanied with either cider or beer.

 
To get an idea of the type of foods they ate, the first “Thanksgiving” consisted of eel, mussels, lobster and other assorted meats. Squash, potatoes, corn, asparagus and other greens were also on the menu. And lest I forget the sweet aspect of nature strawberries, blackberries, and sweet grapes were also to be had. This type of meal would have been eaten on any day of the week as the Puritans didn’t need a particular reason to hold a feast since being alive was celebration enough.

 
On a side note I should mention something about lobster. It was considered cruel and inhumane to feed it to a prisoner – there are records of a jailer asking that it not be sent to the prisoners for this reason. This was because at the time lobster was piled up to two feet high on the beeches and could be picked up easily. When they did cook the lobster it was already dead. Therefor when it came out of the pot it was disgusting. The only reason they ate it at all is because it was so plentiful a food source. That is a massive change from what lobster is considered today.

 
Their beliefs on marriage came as the largest surprise to me. Puritans did not believed in arranged marriage. Men tended to marry by the age of twenty-six and women at twenty-three. A marriage was based on love. There were courtship rules and men would often by small gifts for the family of the girl he was courting. A woman was free to turn down an offer of courtship.

 
Obviously sex was reserved for marriage but it was not frowned upon. Puritans believed that sex was an act of love and a healthy part of a marriage.

 
Women were expected to be obedient and be able to be a help to the husband in his daily life. Women were expected to be what they are by nature, a help mate.

 
While frowned upon, a divorce was granted in certain circumstances. Those circumstances were abuse and neglect. A man convicted of either was often fined, imprisoned, or executed. Women were also allowed a divorce if a man proved impotent. In this last way, the views of Puritans seem extremely modern.

 
While children were a blessing, they were also essential to keeping a colony afloat. Aside from life older children were also able to contribute to the work force – a thought that makes many modern minds shudder.

 
All of this research leads me to wonder how far removed we are from the beliefs of our ancestors. In one way, I would say not very. In another, drastically so. If the only way to understand the modern world is through religion than maybe we should ask ourselves why we still believe that an institution has more sway over our lifestyles than we as humans do. I personally don’t believe that an institution of any sort should dictate what I, or you, can do. I do believe that we should all respect one another. But my beliefs are not what I am questioning; and that doesn’t make me different from anyone else.

 
In conclusion I would say that in one form or another the Puritan beliefs still exist to this day, what we see in reference to them is up to us. They have different names, but as a whole are generally classified as the Religious Right. They are often considered old-fashioned in their views and beliefs but they aren’t necessarily wrong. Just different and in my personal opinion, close minded.