The Ghost in the Machine
Review by Crow Carpenter
Note from Julie: Sometimes Crow watches television and I watch him watching television. Sometimes I'm bored enough to take pictures and videos of him watching videos. This is how I've been affected by isolation. It could be worse. Uncle Morty is trying to learn the bagpipes and Jarad was last seen wrestling a large vine and calling for a machete. On the other hand, if you are taking the time to read this maybe you shouldn't judge us. Anyhoo...here's how Crow felt about the story of a haunted painting, a love story gone wrong, and a secret underground tunnel.
New Place, New Plants!
by Jarad Johnson
I recently moved into an apartment, and there is a distinct lack of landscaping here. There’s a few weeping holly’s and some poorly trimmed hedges - don’t even get me started on that! Who trims a hedge when it’s going to winter damage? Fools! - but that’s about it. Of course, I’m not lacking on indoor plants -it’s a jungle in here- but outdoor plants are what I prefer to deal with. I’ve got a balcony to work with and some railing at the front door, and I’ve already got some plans for that- lots of planters, vines and endless other plants are on my buying list this year. Rosemary, lavender, moonflower, black eyed susan vine and heliopsis are must haves. Lilies and clematis and a lemon tree also. I’ve already moved some very pretty (and very heavy!) stone planters up the steps near the front door, so that’s likely where I’ll start. I’ve also got a large pot earmarked for a rose and some spilling annuals.
by Naomi Ulsted
This week we're lucky to have a piece by a fantastic writer, Naomi Ulsted. Glamour Shots is a delightfully funny and poignant look back at a time when hair was tall and glamor could be had for about sixty dollars and a trip to the mall. Enjoy!
I had spent my morning fantasizing about the UPS guy. He had thick dark hair and a natural smile, and he usually arrived at the office around ten in the morning. While booking reservations at La Quinta hotels across Texas for the children’s theatre show I worked with, I made sure I was in the front office in case he was just running late. After lunch, I gave up and was in the back room reorganizing our costume box, when I heard the door open. I draped my sparkling green witch costume over an office chair and darted to the front, ignoring my office manager’s disapproving look. She didn’t care for me bolting in or out of rooms. She pursed her lips as I slugged back Gatorade, suffering from after effects of an evening dancing down on Sixth Street. It was only a salesman selling Glamour Shots from the mall. So maybe I bought them because I was consoling myself about the UPS guy. Or maybe because the office manager sniffed with disdain as I reviewed the package; a sitting that included makeup and dress for up to three people and one eight by ten print, all for a flat rate of sixty dollars. I handed over my credit card.
Author, Tomás Prower
by Jarad Johnson
This is a book that I’ve been meaning to read for some time. If you’re a long-time reader of the blog, you’ll know that Julie and I have no problem discussing death or the topics that relate to it. People call it morbid; I call it healthy. To me, it’s important to come to terms with the fact that your death is going to happen. Not that I’m encouraging you to speed up the process, of course, but accepting your mortality brings a sense of peace. So many things we do are motivated by our fear of death. Why fear something you can’t avoid? As the saying goes, “no one makes it out alive.”
What Is the Worth of a Human Being?
A Writing of Uncle Morty
Yes we've published this before. But it seems like a really good time to publish it again.
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.
Planting Bulbs or...
I Hate Winter
by Julie Carpenter
This is an old piece, written when I lived on a little farm in Fayetteville, TN. I now live in Atlanta with a much smaller yard and somehow I planted my bulbs even later this year - in January. Some things never change.
This is hope. Fat at the bottom. Pointed and slender at the top. The bulb is wrapped in onion skin and a little bit dirty. I am angry at it. “I don’t believe in Spring any more,” I tell it. I look around as if to prove my point; the trees are bare and somehow an old paper cup has escaped the trash can and is slowly dissolving into the lawn next to the bed where the bulbs will spend the winter. The crepe myrtles reach frantically skyward with their bare rust colored arms, as if they died of fright. That misshapen red bud that has to lean away from the clutch of the cedars just to breathe is bare as well; grabbing my hat with its skeleton hands whenever I walk past it to go to the barn. The leaves are morphing into dirt under the naked trees or becoming paper shadows of themselves. It is, of course, cold. Barely above freezing. The universe conspires to make sure the only days I can plant bulbs are either cold or wet….and always, always windy. It's December. Two days after Christmas.
by Julie Carpenter
I have a vivid dream life that sometimes crosses over into my writing. Of course, many times, dreams die with the light, cracking into dust and scattering. Poof! I’m no longer running in place through a field of skulls while zombies fling lime Jell-O bombs at my head or sweating through an interview with FBI agents in the guise of talking dogs, or whatever was happening in those immediately forgotten visions. Vanished nightmares disappear into a miasma of never-was. Just as well.
But sometimes I have dreams that follow me into the waking world, hanging on in the light, refusing to dissipate, some lucid as the full moon behind inky tree branches, some hiding around corners and only jumping at me when triggered by an object, a word, or a scent. Those detailed dreams I sometimes put into words and stories. Dreams seem safer pinned in ink to a page. Is this cruel? I can’t tell but I reserve the right to defend myself.
Announcements and Apolgies
Sacred Chickens Staff
Hello Chicks and Chickens and all you groovy birds who read our blog! You will have noticed that we have been posting a bit less recently. Why? It’s not because we don’t love you.
Julie is writing a novel and is right (or write) in the middle of the knottiest part of tearing apart Hell. Trust me, that last sentence will make sense when you read the book.
Jarad is in the midst of a new temporary job, a hunt for a permanent job and a move. By the way, he’s up for some freelance writing and content creation. You can hit him up at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Two Book Reviews
by Julie Carpenter
We would like to introduce our readers to two books by author Cynthia C. Huijgens, The Boy Between Worlds: The Cabinet of Curiosities, a middle grade book that helps readers unlock a world of magic and history, and Polar Bear and the UFO, an illustrated children’s’ book with a whimsical and beautifully rendered combination of the Artic and Outer Space!
Mourning a Garden
by Julie Carpenter
I wrote this piece after leaving my little farmhouse in Fayetteville, TN. I spent a brief time living in a condo and missing my garden terribly. I now have a new garden and new thoughts but I thought I'd go back to this moment for a minute and reflect on losing a part of myself and moving on.
My garden now consists of a table full of house plants I saved from the little farm in Fayetteville, TN. By way of confession, I actually bought a few more plants, a pot of primroses and a tiny orchid, regardless that there is no more room for them in this little place. Soon we’ll be forced to wear potted plants as hats. Crow has already attempted to use one as a litter box.