Monthly Archives: May 2014

A Familiar’s Tale, Prologue

If you’ve been reading the Ogre’s Assistant series, you know that Amy is a witch with a familiar. Below is a recent conversation between them as recounted by Amy:

Fudge's current incarnation

“You tell me you’re older than Yoda. You must’ve seen some interesting stuff, huh?” I said.

My familiar, a chocolate-brown cat named Fudge, interrupted his never-ending bath and looked at me.

“It depends upon what you consider interesting. I have seen a lot in my time, yes.”

“I’m not doing anything at the moment. Care to tell me about it?”

“You want me to relate my life story? Why? Is not the fact that I have a lot of experience working with humans enough?”

[Fudge had spent enough time in my head to know that I always want to know about people. Not only am I a nosy person in general, I put people I meet in my stories. They’ve made my secret life as a paranormal romance author easy at times.]

“Why not? Your story might give me some insight into the way you think and maybe then, I’d understand a little more about your role in my life.”

[Did I forget to mention? I’m a thirty-something single woman who just found out she’s a witch. I’m what they call a late-bloomer. It’s inconvenient. And I just found out that the cat I thought was a pet is actually a familiar and that he’s been rootling around in my head since he came to live with me. He knew about me. Turnabout is fair play, wouldn’t you say?]

“You are not going to put me in one of your stories, are you?”

“I’ll be honest, I don’t know. Maybe. But no one would recognize you anyway so what are you worried about?”

My cat heaved a sigh. “I know you well enough to know you will not stop asking. Refill my water dish and I will tell you something of my life.”

I grinned. As I performed the duty asked of me, I said, “Start at the beginning. First, how old are you, anyway?”

“I am not as old as some familiars but quite a bit older than many. In the way you humans count years, I am two thousand, two hundred fifty-three years old and have been a familiar to eight magical beings before you.

“To understand my story, you need to have a basic understanding of familiars. Someone should have told you all this already but …

“We are essentially present to help boost our human’s power, although we also act as guardian and a repository for information. Familiar magic includes the ability to retain youthfulness in the body so we are able to stay with our human throughout their lifetime. There are exceptions, of course. A fatal blow such as a direct strike to the heart, lopping off the head, and the like will terminate the body. Should a witch or wizard allow that to happen, we do not return to them. They are charged with our safety, just as we are charged with theirs.

“When the witch or wizard dies, whether of natural causes or not, so does our corporeal body. Our spirit is then assigned to a different body by our ruling council. We always incarnate in a species appropriate as a companion for the magical person we are assigned to.”

“How is a familiar made?” I interjected.

“We have not yet discovered the answer to that question. The Universe, in its infinite wisdom, decides when a spirit will be a familiar and when it will not. The oldest of our kind and head of our council instinctively knows when a new spirit comes into being and adds it to the rolls kept by the Familiar Council.

“I will try to use terminology you are familiar with but stop me if you do not understand something. I would prefer not to repeat myself.”

“Before you continue, I have another question. I assume you didn’t always live in the United States, so how many languages do you speak?”

“Languages? Those are human terms. I know you think I am mind-speaking English but that is just how your brain interprets my thoughts. If a species is capable of mind-speech, we exchange thoughts. It is as simple as that. May I continue?”

I poured myself a glass of wine, curled up in my chair and gave Fudge my full attention.

“I was born in the country you call Egypt in your year 252 BCE. My human was male. We were together for approximately two hundred fifty of your years. I then was assigned…”

I interrupted. “You sound like my college marketing professor and he put me to sleep. I don’t want a five-minute rote recitation of your life. I want to know about your humans, what you experienced with them, maybe even what really happened during some momentous times. Tell me a story!”

My cat sighed. “Very well…”

 

To be continued…

 

On Bitchy Labels

My dear friend, Kallan, posted a blog on labels this morning. Toward the end, she talks about the label “bitch”. I dislike labels and always have because I’m me and there’s no one else like me. (At least I hope not. One of me inflicted on the world is enough. 😀 ) However, as you can see here, on my Facebook page and on my Twitter header, I proudly own the “bitch” label. Do I consider it derogatory? In most cases, yes. But I chose and choose to make it a source of strength:

I came of age when the women’s lib movement was a toddler. Every boss I had from my first job until I started my own business was male. Most were a generation older than me. Without exception, they were all chauvinists. Because I was female, they attempted to pigeonhole me into the role of just a secretary or just a bookkeeper. Also without exception, every single one of those men wouldn’t advance me because at some point (they assumed), I would abandon my job to get married and have babies.

The problem arose when I ventured to voice an opinion on an operational procedure. Although my bosses knew how good I was at my job (if I hadn’t been, they would have found someone else), they refused to acknowledge that I might have a better idea on how to do something. Any man who persisted in pushing an idea would have been labeled a “bulldog” or at the very least, “go-getter” and patted on the back. Instead, I was labeled a “pushy bitch” and my ideas poo-poo’d as not having merit simply because a woman wouldn’t know these things. Because I knew I was right, I continued to push to have my ideas implemented. And I continued to be called a bitch.

Rather than backing down and forgetting about making things better so I wouldn’t be called something derogatory, I decided to turn that label into a positive. (After all, a female bulldog is a bitch, right?) When someone would call me a bitch, I’d answer, “Yes. But if you think about [idea], you know I’m right.”  I got my ideas implemented.

It may be an antiquated thought in today’s world but I’m a bitch because I’m not afraid to voice my opinions, refuse to be talked down to, and know my own worth. In other words, I’m a strong woman. Almost twenty years ago, I saw a snippet in the newspaper that took the word and made it into an acronym: Being In Total Charge [of] Herself. (I can’t find who coined it. I’ve wrongly attributed it to Hillary Clinton but I think she’d agree.) I’ve thrown that acronym in the faces of those who call me a bitch since then. Those who know me will stop, think, smile and agree. Those who don’t will at least stop and think.

So yes, I will tell you I’m a bitch and proud to be one. Besides, it rhymes with another label: witch… 😉

For the Newly-Independent Witch

We all know times are tough, especially for someone just starting out on their own. I can remember how tight I had to pull my belt on more than one occasion. You want herbs for cooking, health and magic but can’t afford to buy one herb for one need. What’s a witch to do?

Toward that end, I’ve compiled a list of thirteen (!) herbs that will do triple-duty for you…they all can be used in cooking, for minor health issues and in magical workings.

TDSR Cover 1600x2400

This is a quick guide. It certainly doesn’t go in-depth on any one herb. But the best part is… it’s FREE and always will be! Download it in any electronic format you wish here. I’ve uploaded it to Amazon, too, but in order to get it into the lending program for Amazon Prime, I had to put a 99¢ price tag on it.  Hopefully, Amazon will price-match at some point.

Happy Herbing!

Polar Vortex Fallout

In case you didn’t know, mountains have micro-climates. We’re on the southeast side of a mountain and the worst of wind and cold seem to go right over us. We’re generally a degree or two warmer than just 400 feet downslope. Although I cover the more sensitive plants, we’ve managed to dodge the bullet winter-wise…until this year.

While not the coldest on record (which is -16°F), 7th January saw the temperature here drop to 0.3°F and it never made it above freezing that day. The month continued with much colder-than-normal temperatures. I wouldn’t have worried except those frigid temperatures were accompanied by high winds, blowing covers off tender plants.

We lost shrubs that were winter-strong for ten years. The lovely Fragrant Tea Olives that delighted me with their light, liquoring scent as I walked up the front steps or just sat on the front porch in late fall are gone. Two screening shrubs (one was ten feet tall) didn’t make it, either. (Those I’m wonder how we’re going to dig out without destroying the shrubs to either side that did survive.)

The most devastating loss, though, was four of my six Rosemary plants, including two that were about three feet tall by three feet wide (and that’s after a bountiful harvest a couple of times during the year). The wind blew their “greenhouse” off them – twice –  and they were exposed for several hours before I could throw a coat over my bathrobe, get out there and once again recover them. Two children of one of the big plants survived but still aren’t very happy.

You probably know from my other writings that I have a special relationship with Rosemary and have had since long before I put the first plant into the ground at my old house. I was in tears when I uncovered them a month ago and discovered they had died. My garden just didn’t feel right. I knew I would replant but had a few other things to do, first.

Yesterday, I stopped off at a garden center (a real one, not one attached to a home improvement store) on my weekly trip to Atlanta. I hoped upon hope that they would have some Rosemary plants left. It’s past normal planting season in this neck of the woods and most stores are very low on stock by this time. I was – sort of – in luck. They had one left and one is better than none, right? As I checked out, the clerk asked the usual, “did you find what you were looking for?” and when I replied that I would have taken more if they’d had them, she offered to look at the inventory in other Atlanta-area stores to see if they had some. Not only did another store have three, they are doing an inter-store transfer so I don’t have to go farther to get them! (Atlanta area peeps – give Pike Nurseries a little love.)

New Rosemary

As I walked out to my car with my nose buried in one Rosemary plant (I’ll pick up the others on Saturday), my world was made right.