“Take Your Broken Heart….”

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Off the Rails - Track 451

In a world that has felt crazy and out of control for a while now, it is a true delight to know that there are women in the world like the radiant Viola Davis and the incomparable Meryl Streep. Their words from this year’s Golden Globe Awards are both touching and eloquent. Faced with the reality into which we are all about to be plunged, Meryl Streep’s words resonate profoundly. They bear listening to and repeating again and again.

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Remembering John Lennon 💔

We can all use a little John Lennon….

Off the Rails - Track 451

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John Lennon – Instant Karma (We All Shine On)

Today, Thursday 8th December 2016, is the unfortunate Anniversary of John Lennon’s Assassination. It happened around 10:50 p.m. (EST) on 8 December 1980, as John Lennon and Yoko Ono returned to their New York apartment in the Dakota. Mark David Chapman shot Lennon in the back four times in the archway of the building. Lennon was taken to the emergency room of the nearby Roosevelt Hospital. John Lennon was pronounced dead on arrival at 11:00 p.m. (EST). Earlier that evening, Lennon had autographed a copy of Double Fantasy for Chapman.

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'maggie the cat' ‘maggie the cat’

I decided to simultaneously post on ‘Off the Rails – Track 451’, and ‘the secret keeper’, on the 8th of December, to show a solidarity for John Lennon as the Artist, Writer, Song Writer, Poet, Philosopher, and the remarkable Being we were blessed to experience in our life…

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Guest Blog: No Boundaries – A Collection of Poetry by Karen R. Sanderson

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One of my great pleasures here at the Nest – right up there with Month of the Dragon – is helping to spread the word about books my wonderfully talented friends have written.

Today, by way of a guest blog, I am delighted to share Karen R. Sanderson’s debut volume of poetry, No Boundaries.

No Boundaries is a long-arced portrait limned with warmth and humor. In blank verse and rhyme, limerick and haiku, she skips across the emotional touchstones of family, friends, memory, nature, and the writer’s craft itself. This is a delightfully accessible collection, full of wry observations and little gems, including the following.

Enjoy. And be sure to order your copy in time for the holidays.

My ancestral home

I am wondering about my ancestors,
About the music they might have listened to.

 
I wonder what they felt when the harps
plucked at their hearts
while coal miners picked and
shoveled the coal.

 
I wonder about their choral voices raised in lament,
for the brothers and fathers they left behind
under the mountain.

 
I wonder why the mothers
did not sing for their sons,
but cried instead
among the southern valleys, among the coal.

 
I wonder what mountains could be moved.
I wonder.

 

 

Shawn’s Limerick

There’s this gal I like to call Kenzie

Her writing shows us dragons a-frenzy

Lives with cats and chinchillas

Feeds friendly woodsy fellas

I’m grateful we’re editors friendly.

 

***

Karen R. Sanderson was raised by a mother who wanted to be an English teacher and who worked for Merriam-Webster as a proofreader and an aunt who could complete the Sunday New York Times crossword in a day. Their favorite expression was, “Look it up!”

Karen is an editor and proofreader, blogger, poet, writer, and a fabulous grandma. She completed writing coursework through UCLA and the University of New Mexico. Her short stories have been featured in The Rose & Thorn Journal, Every Child is Entitled to Innocence anthology, Valley Living Magazine, BewilderingStories.com, and WritingRaw.com.

Karen is currently pursuing a degree at Minot State University and Lake Region State College in Interpreting and Sign Language Studies.

You can connect with Karen on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+ and on her blog at www.karenrsanderson.wordpress.com.

Contact karenrsanderson@midco.net.

 

 

 

I’m published!

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Always love sharing when friends get into print! Congrats, Karen.

Karen R. Sanderson's Blog

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Here’s a holiday selection

From my collection

(changed slightly to accommodate Thanksgiving)
**** 

Holiday Dinner

Chicken runs round the farm yard,

Wishes he was the duck.

Duck runs round the barn yard,

Wishes he was the pig.

Pig runs round the pig sty,

Wishes he was the horse.

Horse smiles, relaxes in stall.

Thanksgiving Eve, he’ll mourn them all.

****

My collection includes Family and Friends, God Bless Our Military, Limericks, Beautiful Earth, Art, Imagination, & Miscellany, Haiku, and My Funny Bone.

To order, go to “No Boundaries” at Amazon.

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Safe

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So, we’ve gone full-tilt down the rabbit hole and are entering a frightening time when a host of terrible things are possible. Indeed, some are fearful that a return of the Dark Times is just around the corner.

Here at the Nest, we want everyone to know: this is a SAFE SPACE.

For one and all. Now and always.

safe

Remember, Remember the 8th of November

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vote

As most regular visitors to the Nest know, Dragons have very little use for human politics. Oh, now and then, when concerns over habitat protection and civil rights are part of the mix, sure. In that respect, they’re like a lot of us: politics, in the end, being local and personal.

So, on this Guy Fawkes’ Day, let’s get personal.

Now, US public schools teach scant English history, so for many Americans Guy Fawkes is some noble figure appropriated by the wonderfully anti-totalitarian film, V for Vendetta, and, subsequently, by the activist group, Anonymous. Image result for guy fawkes v for vendettaBeing a radical anti-fascist myself, this is an invigorating association. Sadly, it’s a leap of fancy rather than fact. (Anyone who likes a bit of classy Brit-drama with their history should check out the 2-part series, Gunpowder, Treason, & Plot on Netflix. Excellent acting and not too biased.)

But let me return to the personal politics of our time.

Despite what the media, with their desire for ratings and a horse race, would have us believe, the Republican and Democratic candidates are not flip sides of the same, terrible coin. In fact, the candidates, their intelligence, experience, temperaments, and platforms could not be more different.

The Democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton, is a woman who, as lawyer, First Lady of Arkansas and then the country, senator, and Secretary of State, has spent her adult life in service to the people of this nation. She has fought for women and children, the poor and the middle class, the underprivileged and the working people of this country. She is smart to the point of being a policy wonk, and treats friends and foes alike with respect. She is prepared to be President, and, unlike her opponent, she understands that it is a job for which one needs to prepare, especially in an increasingly complex geopolitical world.

She understands how the government works and, when she was a part of it, got glowing reviews from both sides of the aisle. She understands and respects the Constitution. For 20 years, she was viewed as the most admired woman in American. Until she started running for President, of course. Suddenly, over-night, the media and right-wing opposition turned her into the devil in a blue pantsuit. Amazing.

She believes in science – I know, this shouldn’t be a thing in 2016, but sadly, it is. She knows that climate change is real and must be addressed for the sake of the planet. Her fiscal policies continue building on the progress we’ve made over the past 8 years, addressing economic inequities and investing in the country’s people and infrastructure. (Even though she has targeted Wall St., they are far more assured by the prospect of HRC as President than her opponent.)

She respects a woman’s right to choose, LGBTQ rights to marry, and understands that the problem between citizens and the police in this country will not be solved with more militarized “law and order” but with a judicial system based on equality and fairness regardless of race, creed, nationality, or sexual orientation. True, she is a little more hawkish than I would like, but she understands the way the world works and the need for supporting and working with our allies.

In the realm of politics, where hyperbole and exaggeration can easily run amok, she’s been found to be by far the most honest, truthful candidate of either party for the whole campaign season – including the primaries. (Facts, of course, tend to have a liberal bias, so this is not often reported by Republican mouthpieces like Fox News and the Drudge Report.)

She is not perfect – what candidate is? She has a reputation for being guarded, almost secretive, at times. Yet, after 30 years of being hounded and investigated by the opposition for every little sneeze – and found nothing – who among us would be different? At least, when she makes mistakes, she acknowledges them and learns from them.

Hillary Clinton is a candidate who can make long overdue history as the first woman President of this country. Her gifts may not include either the soaring oratory of President Obama, or the folksy charm of her husband. But almost everyone who has worked with her, regardless of party affiliation, sings her praises.  She is a decent human being who cares about her fellow human beings. She will keep us safe and protect our rights – yes, even those 2nd Amendment rights some are so convinced they will lose. She will represent the United States to the world with intelligence, empathy, and grace.

On the other side, we have a  man who is an ego-maniacal bully with a fourth-grade vocabulary and zero experience or interest in governing. Despite his boasts of great personal sacrifice, he’s not served his country in any way, shape, or form. This is a candidate whose grasp of the Constitution is thread-thin at best. He believes that, once he is President, he can unilaterally: overturn treaties – including the Paris agreement on climate change (because, hell, climate change is a liberal and Chinese hoax); fire all the generals and admirals (he knows more than they do, anyway); change the libel laws to strangle the First Amendment; deport millions of immigrants; instigate a religious/cultural test for citizenship; roll back LGBTQ rights, reproductive rights, and civil rights; throw his political opponent in jail in the manner of a tin-pot, third-world dictator (who needs evidence or a trial, just lock her up); and bomb our enemies into oblivion. That he actually asked why we have nuclear weapons if we’re not going to use them displays a depth of ignorance that is staggering! And then he insists the whole election is rigged and he’ll have to consider accepting the orderly transition of power upon which our nation is founded should he lose. So much for the Constitution.

He is a man with such a pathological relationship with the truth that fact-checkers find over 70% of what he says is divorced from reality. Despite what he says there is no voter fraud, the unemployment rate is not 45%, our military is not a shambles, Mexico will not pay for his wall, and he does not know more about ISIL than the generals. He boasts of his business acumen as a reason to vote for him, yet he’s filed for bankruptcy 6 times. He says he’s charitable, yet his charity amounts to taking credit for giving away other people’s money, not having donated to his own foundation in over 8 years. He says he will be good for middle America, yet has stiffed American workers over and over again, while lining his own pockets with millions. He manufactures his products overseas and uses Chinese steel in his buildings, then blames HRC for not making him do the right thing when she was a senator (one of 100 – such tricky, inconvenient things, numbers, facts, and government). What his accountants were able to do with the tax code is positively obscene to say the very least – he says it’s smart which makes the rest of us who do our part, what? Schmucks? (And yes, it’s his accountants who understand the tax code, not the candidate. He just signed the forms.)

His narcissistic need for approval is such that he will embrace the praise of dictators, white supremacists, anti-Semites, racists, and xenophobes. Like a carnival barker, he hawks fear and scapegoating in a way that would not be out of place in the Weimar Republic.

He treats veterans, the disabled, minorities, and women with a deplorable lack of respect. He has boasted of being able to assault women, then dismissed his words as “locker-room talk.”  And yes, make no mistake, kissing someone without their permission, grabbing them by the “pussy” – or anywhere else for that matter – is sexual assault. He then threatens anyone who speaks their truth with legal action. He wants to be the face of our nation to the world, yet is a man every parent should worry about leaving alone with their daughters.

His economic plans would send us tumbling back into recession (or worse), his health-care plan would make millions uninsured, and his foreign posturing – it can’t even be called policy – would alienate our allies and embolden our foes.

This is the Republican candidate. As George R.R. Martin, a man who knows something about Dragons and politics said, “You don’t need to like Hillary. You don’t need to listen to what Hillary says about Trump, or what I say about Trump. You just need to listen to Trump. If you can do that, and still consider voting for him… well…”

If you’ve made it this far you know it would be disingenuous of me to say I don’t care who you vote for. I would love to see the Democrats take the White House and the Senate and be able to really do something without blind opposition.

The FBI has already been caught trying to tip the scales, as has Russia and Wikileaks. This is not a time to toss your democratic right – your democratic responsibility into the dumpster.

THIS IS OUR FUTURE, OUR KIDS’ AND GRANDKIDS’ FUTURES.

It is not a time to wallow in a media narrative of false candidate equivalencies and lessers of two evils. They’re not. It is not a time to get complacent because the pollsters say it’s a virtual done-deal. It isn’t. It’s also, with all due respect, not a time for a protest vote. HRC may not be Bernie. But Bernie’s not on the ballot. And Clinton is a hell of a lot closer to him than either Jill Stein or Gary Johnson, and much more fit to be president. Make no mistake: a protest vote is a vote for the Republican.

Tuesday – or before, if you are able – go to the polls. Think carefully about who you want to be the face of our nation for the next 4 years. Who you want comforting the nation when the next Hurricane Katrina hits or the next Ferguson or Newtown. Who will care about all Americans regardless of race, creed, sex, or sexual orientation. Regardless of how fat their wallets or fawning their praise. Hold to hope, not fear. Don’t be intimidated or deterred. Use your heads and hearts – swear a little if you want – and vote.

If we can all do that, I think – please Great Dragon! – we’ll be ok.

 

 

Dragons, Dark Times & Samhain…

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Another MotD has come to an end.

First, a hearty welcome to all new WAFDE members, and my thanks to one and all who have made MotD 2016 such a pleasure and success. You help to insure a profound, eternal, Dragon presence in the world. 

fuji-and-dragonI have always thought it fitting that MotD ends on Samhain (Halloween). This is a very special day for Dragons around the world – though Westies and the lesser dragons in their ken tend to lay special claim to it. Indeed, as much as Dragons have holy days, Samhain is right up there at the top of the list.  

On this night of ghouls and goblins, it is only right to look at a chapter from Dragon history full of blood and gore and nightmares that would make the strongest Dragon weep. https%3a%2f%2flh5-googleusercontent-com%2fqkqsbgmkpl4uucavmxtrnv0j8duco7qwqd7-yoo-wfuq%3ds0-dI am speaking of the centuries of loss and grief heaped upon the enchantments of Europe known as The Dark Times. For some of you, this may be a familiar tale, yet, here at the Nest, we believe it is one worth repeating.

Technically the Dark Times ran from 2000 BCE to 1450 CE, though it was the indiscriminate dragon slaying of the Dark Ages that nearly drove Western Dragons from the face of the Earth.

St George – Giorgio Vasari. 1551 

By  the 7th century, the Trans-Atlantic Transmigration[1] , which had diminished the continental Dragon count by half, was deeply etched into the historical record. Gone were the havens of grove and spring and standing stone. The weyrs were on edge: Queens laid smaller clutches – stress even forced some to skip generations of hatching altogether. For most, it was coming down to fight or flight, and the former didn’t hold much appeal.

Shadow Dragon – Ascynd

This was when the sidhe came to the rescue.2f17976d4c8199ccf0ec93ac436a46dd They offered the Dragons of Europe a way out, a refuge in the Otherworld. And so it was that Dragons retreated into the mists – along with the unicorns and other rare and unusual beings – until the world of humans became more Dragon-friendly.

Except on Samhain. Once a year, when the veil between the worlds of sidhe and human thinned, and an expectation for the strange and unusual was in the air, the Dragons returned.hp7-dragon_06g In the umbra of streetlight and balefire, they flew over housetops and buzzed the frost rimmed pumpkin patches. They danced across the face of moon – often mistaken at a great distance for large bats – and played hide-and-seek with those who, attuned to the mystical, could actually see them. As night tipped towards dawn, a great lamentation coursed through the heavens, a keening for Dragons lost and lives left behind….

Then they were gone.

For another year.

So it continued decade after decade, generation after generation. Then, in the 18th and 19th centuries, the tide began to change. Some say it was the strength of the Enlightenment, driving out the darkness of superstition, others the resurgence of mysticism and neo-paganism. Either way, it was the opening Dragons were looking for, the glimmer of hope that the worst of the anti-Dragon madness had passed. And from then on, every Samhain, more and more Dragons not only came through the veil, but chose to stay on our side of it.

October 31 is a time of somber and jubilant celebration. When we mourn Dragons gone and rejoice in their return.

As is noted in The Dragon Keeper’s Handbook: 

It is now the twenty-first century. By the blessing of the Great Dragon, we made it past the Dark Times and farther than many thought possible.

Out of the darkness, Dragons roared, reminding us we need them. Reminding us of their right to be. With horns charmed and scales ashimmer, they walk amongst us. They share our lives and lend mystery to the mun­dane. They fill the skies and sing in thunderous tones for all to hear, “We are Everywhere!”

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Wishing you all a very draconic Halloween. Keep safe, fly high. See you all next year.

And for those of you in the States, don’t forget to get out and vote on November 8th (or earlier if you can). Dragons may have little use for politics, but this election is vital for us and the planet. Including our spikey-wikey friends.

*****

[1] An exodus of a passel of adventurous European Dragons who were fed up with the rampant anti-Dragon sentiments coursing through Britain and the Continent in the Dark Ages. Shortly after the Saxon invasion of the British Isles, they heeded the call to “Go west, young Dragons!” and crossed the Atlantic. In the New World they made their way amongst the enchantments of North America.

Mischief in the Wind

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blender3ddragonfight03gg4Every now and then, even the calmest, most disciplined among us need to stretch our wings, kick up our heels, and blow off a little steam. And when better during MotD than on Mischief Night.

Depending on local custom, the day before Samhain is set aside for tricks, not treats. Devil’s Night, Cabbage Night, Mischief Night – in centuries past it was a time for late night garden raids and scarecrows ablaze with Dragonfire.scare When humans got in on the fun there were eggs dripping off windows, frost-spoiled cabbages smashed hither and yon, and firecrackers blowing mailboxes off their posts. In all, it is a night of messy but harmless shenanigans. What Dragon wouldn’t want to join in?

Of course, any time Dragons are involved, a certain amount of prudence is advisable. Through no ill-will of their own, our friends can be a destructive, especially in urban and suburban areas. They are, after all, forces of nature. Very large forces of nature.

So it is best to establish some ground rules and stick to them. This will help keep injuries to body and property – and any ensuant legal actions – to a manageable minimum. Back in the 1990s there was a Mischief Night so incendiary – 130 + arson reports in one day – that Dragons and their people were under suspicion from New Jersey to Michigan. It took almost a decade of laying low and being on their best behavior for public perceptions of Dragons and Mischief Night to return to some semblance of normalcy. 

So, keep things safe and fun. Raise a little ruckus – maybe offer dragon rides to the kids. After all, Dragons are better than cherry-pickers for getting toilet paper into high branches. Try not to spook the neighborhood animals. It makes for terrible Dragon press, especially in rural areas where frightened cows make edgy milkers.

Plus, a civil Mischief Night makes for bigger, better treats tomorrow.

Have fun.imp