Your old Uncle Morty is old and tired and dead, though not without the empathy that remains in the empty brain and abstract heart of anyone who has ever worn a suit of flesh. His previous embodiments leave him still puzzling as to why the living seem to value the miracle of being human so very little. Even when they can be led to believe that they themselves might have some intrinsic value they seem always unlikely to give that benefit of the doubt to others. I will give you a few scraps of reasonable advice that I myself found when I walked among the living. It was expressed by two of the best men I have ever known, Kilgore Trout and George MacDonald.
Uncle Morty’s Halloween Journey
By Mortimer R. Wolcott
This week the Netherworld is preparing to celebrate the day when the barriers break down and the disembodied, the undead, the restful and the wakeful, can cross back again to see the world of the living. The embodied call it “Halloween.” Of course, your Uncle Morty crosses back the other way to visit his gardens, and his shadow home. Alas, I have been unable to complete the décor due to my present assignment among the flesh-covered. No more of that right now, the crimes for which I suffer my penance will not be particularly comprehensible to my embodied friends. But for me, Halloween is a one-day vacation from the vacuous world of the living. The boundary is already becoming hazy and I can see the old homestead now, tall and thin, multi-gabled, with its diamond windows and diaphanous draperies drifting gently in the moonlight, windows open to the frosts of autumn no doubt, just as I left them last year. The old house awaits its occupant and longs for the one night the blue flame will be lit in the fireplace.
Here begins the blog of Uncle Morty:
I find that the weather has become less pleasant and I am expected to earn my keep by writing a blog post. (I am pictured at left warming my bones during the brief period of warmth.) After a difficult and somewhat depressing winter - things always go downhill for me after Halloween - I find that I must clear my empty skull of loose thoughts before I can write a proper essay. So before they begin to roll out my empty eye sockets like loose marbles, I have captured these random ideas and placed them here for your perusal. They come in no particular order.
On Civility - The Truth cannot appear friendly to a lie any more than a pediatric nurse appears friendly to a toddler getting shots. Liars loudly demand civility - never honesty.
On Understanding the Universe - Spend the morning playing with a kitten. It will give you a glimpse into the strange balance between tenderness and cruelty for which the Universe is justly famous. (Especially when you remember this delightful creature will shortly become a cat.)
On Other People - The more easily you can consign someone's soul to Hell, the more easily you can consign their body to the grave.
On Evil - No one wakes up one morning and decides to be evil. Most evil people don't know they're evil. They begin by seeing evil in others and attempting to root it out. The more you try to root out the evil in other people without looking in your mirror, the more you can justify treating them poorly, even doing the same things you accuse them of without feeling bad about it. Then one morning, you wake up...and you're evil. Other people will know. You never will.
On Listening - If you're afraid that listening to someone else's viewpoint will confuse you or give you doubts. You're right. Uncle Morty approves of that. It's called "being human." If you meet people whose entire philosophy of life or religion consists of listening only to themselves and other people who recite the same list of beliefs, please take my advice and run.
On Being Alive - Don't be dead while you're alive. Be Alive.
Here's some of our favorite children's books! Mekayla Trout, who has done some book reviews for us before, is also contributing to the post today!
Julie- I’m not quite as old as Uncle Morty, but I’m digging back into my childhood for recommendations. I am going to recommend Frog and Toad and Winnie the Pooh. All of our readers already know my brain is spring-besotted and flower-obsessed, and both these book series put me in mind of gardens, forests, rain on the roof, tea shared with friends. In fact, I think if you could take a tiny peek into the real estate of my brain, you would find a good portion taken up by the Hundred Acre Wood. It’s bordered by the River where Frog and Toad swim. Toad’s flower garden is there too, the one he agonizes over until the first seedlings sprout.
Not only are these books part of my inner gardenscape, both series focus on the importance of deep abiding friendships, even when your friends are as grumpy as Toad, as sad as Eeyore, as scatterbrained as Pooh, or as frightened as Piglet. I know that there are lots of new, great book series out there for kids, but these books are still close to my heart, and they haunt my gardens, a lovely, hovering dream.
Jarad- The books I loved as a child were classic fantasy: great, burgeoning quests, witches, wizards, dragons were mostly what I read, and any book with those themes I immediately devoured. I made it my mission to read all those that I could find in both the school and the public library (consequently, Halloween will always be my favorite holiday). I'm located in the South, and I know a lot of people who were restricted in their reading as a child, and I'm lucky that those ridiculous rules were never imposed on me. The Hobbit, Harry Potter, and the Lost Years of Merlin series come to mind. As a result, I was often lost in my head most of the time (and sometimes still am). I was also always reading under the table during math class because who needs adding or division when you have book? My teacher, unfortunately, did not see it that way. Apparently, math is essential or something.
If you're a person who reads regularly, then you know the feeling of getting into a slump. You may be in one right now, especially if you've had a busy Holiday season. Here are some of the ways we get back into reading when we've been slacking!
Julie – If I’m in a slump, it usually because I’m busy and my mind is whirring about other things. I find that this is not the time to attempt the medieval works, Faulkner (I started blogging about why I couldn’t read As I Lay Dying before, but I couldn’t make myself read enough of it to make it work, and if you like the guy…fine…he just can’t find much of a resting place in my brain…I’m willing to blame myself) or Moby Dick for the hundredth time. Page five of MD and I skip to the end. So, if I’m stuck in a rut, unable to concentrate, I go to my comfort zone and hang out with old friends in familiar places. I can dive in, relax for a few minutes and then return to whatever soul sucking mess I have going on in the real world.
I stick to old favorites, sometimes going all the way back to children’s literature. The Mary Russell series is favorite, Jane Austen, and Poe if I’m feeling up to being an adult. But sometimes, I just pick up Alice in Wonderland, or Winnie-the-Pooh or The Princess and the Goblin. In crazy times, I tend to go for a setting where I’m happy, Regency England, the Hundred Acre Wood, or even the creepy bridal suite in Ligeia. But as the Wise Man said in Labyrinth, “Sometimes the way forward is the way back.” There’s no shame in a wise retreat.
Uncle Morty and the rest of the Sacred Chickens team would like to share their reading resolutions for 2019. We hope you're making your own literary resolutions and Happy New Year!
Your Uncle Morty has no specific books in mind. However, he does plan to read a good number of biographies in the coming year to help him contemplate his upcoming project: Mortimer After, A Deathography. So if you have any memoirs or biographies to recommend, please feel free to make suggestions here or on the FaceBook page.
Uncle Morty seems to have a lot of times on his hands since he departed the land of the living, and he spends much of that time writing (especially when asked nicely). So, over the years he's figured out a few tips and tricks about writing along the way, and he'd like to share them with us!
By the way, your Uncle Morty can always use original material. The living around here are always pestering the dying nightlights out of him to work on their silly blog. As such, he has created a writing exercise. Feel free to share your results with us. We may publish them so your Uncle Morty can actually RIP once in a while. This exercise can be used with your own work too. Use it to enhance dialogue. (When you get to Step 2 you’ll see how that works.)
Because it is Christmas Day, the Team at Sacred Chickens is taking the day off, as we hope you all are have been able to do, to enjoy time with friends and family. However, we just wanted to post a little something to wish you all a Happy Holidays and a Merry Christmas! We hope you saw our post yesterday and are reading your favorite Christmas books right now!
Merry Christmas Eve! Since it is that time of year, the entire team at Sacred Chickens would like to share with you some books that put us in the holiday mood! Enjoy your eggnog and happy reading!
This Christmas, Julie's reading.......
Eight Cousins and Rose in Bloom by Louisa May Alcott
By Louisa May Alcott
If I’m trying to get into the Christmas spirit, I always find myself slipping backwards into my childhood, and for me that means diving back into old favorites, since I spent a great percentage of my childhood deep inside the pages of books. For me the spirit of Christmas is wrapped up in two books, Louisa May Alcott’s Eight Cousins and Rose in Bloom. Each of these books has a Christmas scene that has somehow wrapped itself around my brain to form a pattern of what Christmas should look like with stockings in the morning and a dance in the evening. Of course, no real Christmas could match up to such expectations, but I enjoyed Rose’s Christmas vicariously.
There are, as with any books of a certain age, problematic portions of the books where a younger reader would benefit from discussion and knowledge of historical context, but as I reread the books now, I find Alcott’s thought processes even more interesting. At the time of publication, the book Eight Cousins scandalized many parents because Rose’s Uncle Alec taught her anatomy and forbid her from wearing corsets. Like Little Women, the two books display Alcott’s unconventional wisdom about how women should behave. So each time I read the books, I not only get a Christmas feeling, I get to think about how grateful I am that things have changed and I’m not wearing a corset while opening gifts around the tree.