The shape changer god no longer knows what he is. The change of shapes so often, takes away the god-like sense of human-form, until a part of him is monstrous.
Even at his birth, when lightning took away his mother, he had to survive. Laufey had ran away while heavily pregnant, in fear for her life from Cruel Striker, she ran. Deep into the Iron Wood. At the moment of Loki’s birth– lightning struck and Loki was alone. He had to change.
To hunt, to hide, to feed,
What monster in a god’s form entered Asgard?
He was embraced as blood-brother. Here he could be equal, and, he loved; his beloved wife and children, to them he was fair and loyal and true.
Yet he felt the call to share his love, to fly away – He went with Giant-woman Angrboda. Went with her often. They had children.
If ‘children’ is what they were. A snake. A wolf. A half dead daughter. Their wildness, their corruption, the danger of them spread as word to gods. They must be stopped.
Now. Jormungand the Midgardyrm is cast into the sea, to grow and fume and wait.
The wolf they could not kill, they tricked it: tied it down to howl and wail and strain with magic dwarven ribbons holding him.
The daughter; blackened half, commandingly beautiful in half; she was cast to the very deep.“Become the queen of all the death, the cowardly dead, the trickster dead, the oath breaker. – Keep them, keep them.” So hollered High-seat god of all the worlds.
How Loki fumed. It turned his heart. They were not monstrous to him. They were his monsters. They were his offspring. See ahead how bitter are his deeds because of this. “My children! My monsters! My offspring!”
I was challenged by Chieftain-bro Georg and as usual I got carried away. Here is an album of pics from the past to share with you.
The shop had been full of them till I started parading the streets, then people started running up to me and saying, “Where do I get one of those?” Pretty soon they had sold out.
I was focussing on doing my promotion work, but people kept coming up and stroking my rat. It was most often men, and they would stand and stroke it for far too long, until it became quite uncomfortable.
When I checked back in at the office and was asked how it was going by one of my bosses I explained that me and my rat got far too much attention from men. He answered, “Mmmm I think maybe I better get myself a rat.”
(When I left I bought him cute little white one with a bell and left it on his desk while he was out.)
OK I don’t knw how I did that. Anders the Njardarheimr Blacksmith said will you try out these new axes to us all. I said that I had never thrown an axe and it was my first go. He said that was all the better. I think afterwards he rounded off the ends of the handles.
As the seventeenth approaches I would like to say what great people the Norwegians are. Seventeenth of May is not just the date it is also the name of the Norwegian National Day. The parades are wonderful. there is a strong sense of pride, yet it is mixed with cheerfulness and a welcoming spirit.
This is my good friend Lynn, although twice I had people say, “Ah, this is your wife. I’ve been wanting to meet her. This was the day of celebration and they are going ahead this year, although they will all have to march two metres apart. Even in the Fordtell Banquet households will be sat well apart from households.
You are great.
DIG in York were holding a medieval event. I cant remember if I was storytelling or fortune telling, but they asked me to help with promotion beforehand. I am the best leafletter and promoter the world has ever seen. I agreed to dress up, but I didn’t expect this. I know it is not an authentic costume but I am reenacting in a way. (There will be quote a lot of that sort of thing as we go along.) I found a jolly jester creeped people out and they turned aside but if I looked miserable, not only did it draw their attention but they felt sorry for me. “Ow alright I will take one of your leaflets.” Generally they were laughing, but some people would take it seriously and shout, “Oh for god’s sake cheer up.”
Back to Vikings…
Emma and I heading off to the Viking festival, well we are probably going to the Kings Arms.
This is just outside my door at the time and will have been taken by Gramey Smith of GSmithMedia.
I notice it has been snowing, so there it does snow in England! A lot.
This is me being the Sea King. I turned up early I swear I did, and in the right place too. I got a where are you text and they were all round the corner. “Hurry up and get changed. You are late”. – “Where am I going to get changed?” – We were in the middle of the seafront promenade. People were walking along with ice creams. Folks were sitting outside the pub. Crowds were in and out of the amusement arcades. There was the loud sound of the bingo caller coming over the loud speaker. I was instructed by our producer, “There is no time. Get changed here.” – But everyone will see.” – “Everyone gather round and block the view.” It was all the kids who gathered round, while their parents stood looking on in wonder. I undressed, and put on, well, a dress. A voice came booming over the speakers from the bingo caller, “Look outside. What on earth is going on?”
(Some of the best times of my life have been with We Are Theatre.)
Back to me being handsome…
Out in the sun all summer. But as Karin says, you get a Viking tan; nose and hands. Folks all gather round, of all ages and from all places, “Hello, where are you from?” – “Israel.” – “Germany.” – “Palestine.” – “Sit down. Enjoy.”
Right opposite the chieftain’s area is Pete the boot maker (and amazing carver). He would be working a group just the same as me but then say afterwards that he really enjoys just the atmosphere and the funny voices and the reactions. He particularly likes the talking horse.
Now back to Barley Hall…
We had some great times, here at Barley Hall working very hard.
I was lucky to start getting invited over to America to festivals.
Back at Gudvangen we have an incense burner it was presented to Georg my Chief-Bro by a wonderful couple of Polish crafters. It was modelled on finds from Norway and having origins in the Arabic lands. so, that burner was originally Islamic, then used by Asatru (What you might call Pagan or Wicca) and then I guess they may all have turned Christian.
So when we parade we are representing a simple multi-faith message of blessing.
Then I got invited to the amazing Norsk Høstfest what an experience. We have an great outside area with activities and then a huge indoor village full of tents and displays with a great stage and children’s activities and everything. (There are another thousand Scandinavian displays just along the walkway from us.)
I took along another burner, crafted for me by Marcin a Polish crafter who works at Njardarheimr, Gudvangen, Norway, and was delighted when a major star of the Viking stage Kari Tauring agreed to participate in a blessing. It went down so well with many people.
Another blessing back in Gudvangen.
The wonderful Torill (and her husband Olav) of the Fjordtell in the valley of Gudvangen brought about the whole Viking concept there. Inspired by the words of the future Chieftain no doubt. Their tireless imagination keeps the place in existence, even in such difficult times. Torill arranged for a sculptor to come and create this statue; Njord god of the sea routes.
Every year we have a blessing with a ceremonial parade and the sharing of a horn of mead. People step forward to visit Njord one at a time to share their hopes and promises.
The first year after Torill and I had written poems specially for the presentation someone came up with an idea. that we put the chieftain on a throne in the middle of the Viking village which is across the bridge from the hotel. then we get big strong warriors to stick poles underneath the immense statue and parade across. There is a picture somewhere of lots of strong people not only red in the face but red all over with eyes bulging.
Olav and Torill came to me and said this is a newly create tradition which we shall do every year, but we will parade to the statue not have it carried.
I don’t think there were any hernias but it came close.
Now to the darkness…
In the dark in the dark age village just outside York and the Murton Farming Museum. Here they have a village. The York University Medieval Society (Who later morphed into Vanaheim Vikings of which I am a member) hired the village and hired me as storyteller. What a great feast we had, in great company.
From a show at the UWGB Viking House for a group brought in by Jarldress Heidi Sherman.
Here I rather dramatically prepare for the parade and ceremony on the holy hill. Njardarheimr Viking Village, Gudvangen, Norway has a recreated holy area upon the slight hill at the top of the town. We parade asking all to join, then gather to speak to the heart. There are parts for various faiths and an opportunity to step up and speak. It pulls in quite a crowd, as long as we pick the right moment when enough Vikings are free and there are plenty of visitors around.
Now for the plague doctor…
We are doomed, we are all doomed
Originally they wanted me to wear the mask as I handed out leaflets, but no one would come near me. I found that trembling as I reached out with the leaflet got the best results. If they just walked past I would say, “Oh well, never mind.” They would turn back and take one saying, ” Aw bless you.”
From time to time the staff who employed me would come out to check how I was doing, I would reach out as they approached and they would take one.
So many wonderful experiences. A family from Bergen came to visit; a mother and two girls. There was also a teenage who it turned out was on a visit with them. He had come all the way from Mexico. He wanted a story. He wanted another. He fired questions at me. He told me a story. Then the lady said, “He has been with us on a visit for 4 and half months. He came to us because he is obsessed with Viking Mythology.” Trouble is we don’t know anything about Vikings. He goes home in three days.” I told another story. An hour and a half they were with me. They got up to go. He rose up. He sat down again, “You are the best thing that has ever happened to me in my whole time in Norway.”
I recreated the Mythology of Sutton Bank above the North York Moor…
The white horse which leapt off the edge turned to stone half way down. Some who fell in the lake below found a while village under there and were led to a rushing underground stream which flushed them out on to the moor. I didn’t try it.
This is a popular place for walkers, and up at the top of the climbing road is the Sutton Bank Visitor’s Centre. A fort high up here resisted the Romans. It is now the highest spot to go gliding from. It can be seen for miles across the Vale of York. It was they of the centre who commissioned me. I had an assistant, from the theatre group I work for. He only just got his car up the long high climb. He parked up and went into the Sutton Bank Visitors Centre and said, “There is a really steep hill there you know”.
Sometimes enacting isn’t about being yourself at all or even being real….
This isn’t the whole team around the table this is just me and my followers if I recall rightly. I am the lead figure (as in leading), I am Sponge Pencil. I think we were in search of the Breadman, he who runs all things.
Moving on swiftly…
I was actually trapped in a fairy ring at one point. Being commissioned to create a medieval themed performance for a wedding can be a dangerous thing.
Now roman age…
Dave also filmed this performance. I am in the actual roman bath in the Roman Bath Museum in York, or should I say Eboracum.
Last I heard the film is still on show as you walk around the museum.
Dave also mixed the image with the words of the piece and it is here for you to see.
The farm upon the hill held a gathering and feast for Joloblot the Viking mid-winter.
The latest one was pretty good too. After sharing Christmas together Heidi and I went to the January Blot and got married.
I was at Galtres Festival…
I had an enormous chair in a our own marquee. the whole place was decorated by Ruthy and team. then a selection of specially created props were displayed to choose from. Ruthy painted their faces after they had chosen from a list. They picked out a prop each and I created a story from the selection. Their faces turned them into the cast and they played the parts.
We were a great team…
Ruthy stands in protection as I dare to open the Hobb trap to see what is inside.
Now over to Denmark…
The Mythology Festival in Jelling booked us to create this show. Gods Bless Ya!
Here I am with the amazing Alda as she sings with Sigrun’s goddess models in front of the stage. Sigrun had created all the costumes for the Goddesses such as Skadi. Alda and I wrote the show and performed, as models took turns to parade and react to our lines.
A village had been set up nearby for refugees from Syria. They were invited to join us for free, once tickets had been sold. So a whole host of the audience had not been long in Denmark and had escaped a war-torn country in small boats. When we did Alda’s Rise up song and I Called for everybody to get up and move like zombies, they all joined in! Lady Hel Herself was a big hit when it came to photos afterwards.
Now on to God of War
It was all a big secret up until the day. This was the launch of the new version of God of War and gamer bloggers and vloggers gathered in force. One of them has 30 million followers. As well as sampling the new game in a darkened room they had to take part in many tasks to earn points. so they would come in in small groups and listen to a story then be given a bead to show. Most filmed me two. It was a one day event and I was flown in specially.
Here is another time in Gudvangen at the Market there among the fjords…
Let me tell you a secret, the hat is not mine. I took it with me to Norway but it wasn’t mine. The night before my flight I did a corporate gig at Barlehy Hall in York. this rather drunk executive of some company or other kept taking hats off the costumed statues and swapping them with mine. Every story I had a different hat on. It was rather distracting. I was up very early so as soon as the gig finished I changed and threw everything into my costume bag, to throw into my case when I was home. When I unpacked in Norway I had this hat. Much later when I had finished touring telling stories and running workshops and returned to York I was booked to tell stories at Barley Hall. There on a dummy was my black hat so I swapped them. Nobody ever believed when I said, “That hat has been to Norway”.
Among moody skies within the walls of the fjord at either side of the town, you might expect me to be telling stories or teaching, but no I am on guard. Well that’s how it looks anyway.
Now for something pretty weird…
But it isn’t winter, it is mid June, and here is ice out in the wilds of Norway. Well just off the road actually. Georg says, let’s go for a drive and we went around a few places, but the first stop was just two kilometer inland from the fjiord waters and up a small bank. It was a red hot day and yet there in the bank just a few meters up, was a hole in the ground. Georg reached in and there was a snap. He came out with this large icicle. Where’d dat come from!.
As we were leaving he was going to take it away, Angela said he couldn’t as it would be bad luck, so he threw it back in. You could here it going tinkle tinkle tinkle all the way down. The hole was full of ice.
He tells me that if ever I snap off another one I will grow two icy horns and be stuck with them forever.
Talking of horns I can now reveal a truth……
Vikings did have horns! they just didn’t have helmets.
When this pic went out on social media someone got quite cross about the fact that Vikings definitely didn’t have horns on their helmets. I pointed out that I didn’t have a helmet.
Promoting a medieval week at DIG…
York Archaeological Trust commissioned me to tell stories whilst pageants were going on outside. They asked if I would do the promotion beforehand. I agreed but never expected to end up in a costume like this. Have we been here before?
This might be the least authentic outfit I have ever had course to wear, but by golly don’t I look gallant.
Back to Minot in North Dakota…
I am supposed to be modelling the hooded top I had stolen from someone to see if it suits me and should I get one to keep? When I look at the picture though, all I can see are my amazing trousers.
My patchworks. When Vikings get crafting there always seem to be left overs, and I think there always was. so the natural thing to do it to make use of them. so when there were quiet patches (sic) between stories in Njardarheimr I would sit sewing bits together. Once folks cotton on (geddit) to what I was doing they got all excited and started bringing me bits to use.
I was thrilled to wear them while storytelling at the massive Scandidavian Festival too.
One of the greatest things I’ve ever done…
Creating Multi-National storytelling. These mini shows in many languages are performed at the Gudvangen market every year.
No the greatest thing I ever did was to hand it over to Annabelle Heaseman. I write her a new set of shows each year and she gathers performers from all nations (And one or two imaginary places).
While on the big stage we then announce that I am doing improvised storytelling in the chieftain’s hall and all are welcome. We have had some great sessions. Someone draws one of my mythical carvings from the bag and then I do a poem or story off the top of my head while musicans weave in and out of my words. The pics shows the events we did where I turned up with Don Shaw (Who can be found with a chicken elsewhere in this blog and the great couple in the pic. Enchanting.
In one impro I was howling like a wolf and we heard an echo. We looked out and their in the door way of the hus opposite, howling, and straining at her leash was a tiny chiwowa.
The Jorvik Viking Festival…
Specially made chair and backdrop it was a wonderful experience, I was asked to perform many of the poems I had written with groups over the many times I had worked for them. I have gone on to write Viking related poetry ever since.
Back when we were just good friends.
Or perhaps we were relaxed in each others company and hit it off straight away.
We later went to a Sons of Norway feast and each person had made a Norwegian dish. I wasn’t going to be left out so I made a very typical food stuff.
The place to be when it is the Jorvik Festival is the Kings Arms with good friends – unless it floods then you might want to be somewhere else.
Or up a mountain over looking the Norwegian Viking Town.
Or anywhere really.
But I better get bck to work.
We are about to parade to the opening ceremony of the Market, as we do every day that week. Here we see Rune and Liga on percussion, and Arnt on The Chieftain’s Horn. There of course is the chieftain himself, we will lead the walk together and as we go many others will join. There we will tell of all that is happening, and say special words. They are waiting though for me to shout Oooooooodin. We have visitors from afar who bring Arabic produce, so we will start he march with the shout, “Saladiiiiiiins”.
We are safe here in our town. We are well guarded.
Everyone needs time off so the two of us pretend to be bone carvers.
Back to Barley Hall, well a connection to the place.
I worked for Darren and he knew I could fit anything into a story. So when he and Virgina got married they got me along to the church to tell a story based around all their interests. It is the first time I have told a Viking story which included Transformers.
Jelleylegs the dancing pirate takes a break for a Turkish coffee.
Speaking of legs…
There are 21 different ghosts to be seen here in the Black Swan, Peaseholme Green, York one of them is just a pair of legs.
Oh I miss that hat.
But not this next one
Otherwise it was a brilliant outfit. What a fantastic experience (Being hit on the head by Sandra we had such a laugh and went down great. Although I do recall we were crouched in the bottom of the Punch and Judy box for like ages and ages. Plus the turn around time was so quick that we were getting changed in there ready for our next acts.
Back to Norway…
This was a school in Bergen.
The shrunken treasure I think. The tiny sword is available to feel – “Don’t touch it’s sharp!” “Anyone else want to try?”
In Gudvangen we watch the fjord waters for ships approaching.
Then to the River Ouse…
I was ‘Boatman’ for a project on the river barges. Each section had a story to go with it and the childen picked one, so eventually we created a full river scene. That way the story unfolded differently every time. It was all based on research interviewing the boat people.
This below isn’t me.
Although I think it is supposed to be.
I am open to gifts of further apparel.
Your gotta keep training.
During Lockdown I run around the house like this all the time. I don’t think Heidi is too keen.
And here are some of the amazing Vanaheim team on a ‘fishing’ trip to Scarborough.
And so we parade with our great chieftain.
Thank you for exploring my pictorial journal.
Here is what I should have done…
Every day take an image taken from your life as a re-enactor and publish it without explanation then appoint someone in turn to continue the challenge. 10 days, 0 explanations, 10 photos, 10 nominations .
Today I nominate
Son of York’s First Ghost Walker Wanders the Winding Ways; a Recollection – #2 The Exhibiton and the Barguist Beast.
Come along with me on an atmospheric walk around the winding ways of this ancient city where I utilise forty years of experience of hosting ghost walks around York. I shall write as I recall and be as true to the recollections of witnesses and to my own innate abilities as for accurate representation of historic events you may feel the need to go check such details out for yourself.
Oh yes, As we wander I shall try to remain true to my major influence for I shall be explaining as we go along the details of my claim to fame; Son of York’s first ghost walker.
#2 The Exhibiton and the Barguist Beast
As we head towards our second collection of ghostly encounters we roll away from the Theatre Royal towards a small arch in this broken section of the City Walls (They are called the Bar Walls really but you are probably a tourist).
Pause here for a moment and look up at the guest rooms of the Exhibition pub (Actually tourists will later benefit from my simple guide to York further on in this feature). Do you see a face? No? A full figure of a man? A guest looking out in their underpants, or possibly sometimes without their underpants? Let us go in and find out a little more.
When I did go in there was a very enthusiastic welcome from (I think she was called Christine) Christine, who was thrilled to be able to share her experiences for you all; I have never seen someone so happy to tell of being scared half to death.
Not that the man in the window was totally scary, or at least not initially. She simply told her two workmates that one of them ought to get up there and tell the guest to put some clothes on when viewing Yee Olde Yorke. There was no need, it was explained to her, because there were no guests, they had all checked out that morning, there was nobody upstairs.
She found this cranky and interesting and not at all scary, well not until she checked the rotas and saw that she was on chambermaiding duties.
She saw no one upstairs and felt no presence so decided that the ‘guest’ was a different spirit to the one in the kitchens.
She did see him again but only from outside, and increasingly without any undergarments. It was the kitchen spirit who was unsettling however.
She remained pleased with herself. This seemed to be because she had a deeper experience than the other staff. Yet her experiences were always eventually verified.
Everyone picked up on the atmosphere in the kitchens especially after she had noticed it. Older staff acknowledged that there had always been something uncomfortable.
Like her those who had been there longer had problems with things going missing, crashing noises just as one was swinging in the door, or at other times things being found smashed.
It was Christine who saw things smashing first, well only by a split second. Her and one of the guys went in via the swing door together with arm-fulls of dishes.
“Look at that,” there was a butter dish hovering in the air. The instant her mate looked up to see it too it dropped out of the air. It smashed in the sink. She went on to see such things often.
It was her also who would notice when the spirit moved through into behind the bar. “Oh oh” was more or less all she would say, then things started to happen. Almost empty shelves would fill by the next time you bent down to add a pint glass. An upside down wine glass slowly sliding up its rack to crash to the floor. There would be a spate of such occurrences then things would calm and the kitchens would start having problems.
There was also a problem in the public area but Christine felt this was a different presence. When she was tidying up at ‘yucking out’ time she would find one of the wooden table tops to be swimming in beer. She would sort it, move on and look back to see it a-swim with ale again.
This went on over several weeks and then one evening she noticed a glisten and stood still to watch as the table top filled up with beer all on its own, as if the beer was welling up out of the wood itself.
As I watched this table anxiously and while we are ‘sat here’ in the warm let us cast an eye down the road to another haunted establishment.
Just along Bootham and down to the left on Marygate, there are two places to tell of actually, down near the bottom is the Jorvik Guest House where a figure is often seen in the building; in rooms and in the bar, perhaps all the more spooky for its hazy dark appearance.
Back up the way towards the main road I will tell of a ghost which is so clearly seen it is often not thought of as a ghost.
The Coach house hotel is the haunt of a soldier. In First World War trench gear he is most usually seen in the bar-room off to the right. At the far end of the serving area. How people generally react is to point out that the re-enactment guy was before them. Staff will say there is no one there and if customers get up from the left ha nd restaurant area sure enough there is only them waiting to be served.
As I am about to scare you about one of the letting rooms I am sorry to say I have forgotten which room this concerns, so when you stay there you will have to take pot luck.
Sit there at the mirror if you will, the chances are you will feel the presence of someone else sharing the long, cushioned, stool with you, look around and there is the indentation of them.
Slightly less common, although commented on by guests a few times a year, look up, in the reflection you will see the lady who shares your passion for long well-brushed hair.
Ask to change rooms if you will, but one of the other rooms has a spirit who sits on the bed in the middle of the night – at least the mirror lady doesn’t wake you up – sleep well.
Up behind the Exhibition and across the road is a building with a grizzly tale to tell, I am just waiting for the ghost stories to emerge.
The bakery shop there was the scene of something ghastly. A customer was selecting a pie when something dropped down on to it – it was blood.
The residents of the flat above resided no longer. They lay dead. The story is that they had been taking benefit cheques off other residents and one had had enough of going without.
The flat was re-floored and re-let; the bakers reopened – nobody went in.
Back to hauntings or at least monstrous beasts but first torture along the way.
The Board Inn – The Hole in the Wall – we are heading down the alley at the side of there but let us mention the ancient torture chamber reported in the cellar and the steps upon the stairs; the loo stairs. I am among many who hear footsteps behind them on the way to the loo. The many who see a door open ahead of them and feel there is someone else in the loos with them. Listen, someone left.
All these ghosts. This is York. An ancient place. Battles and sieges. Famines and wars. Jealousy and rages. Poverty and power.
There are more dead under the earth than there are people walking above on the surface. Small wonder that their essence comes seeping out from between the flag stones.
It is not the dead we are concerned about just now it is becoming dead. Being scared to death. Jinxed. Hexed. Summoned. Cursed.
We are stepping down into the realms of the Black Dog of Death.
It is an ancient beast and it is down this alleyway, or the next, or the next. It is a sign you are about to become dead. Whenever it is reported seen there are simultaneous reports of death, or near death, or injurious states – down alleyways – read the reports.
People have seen the hound of our alleys since the long-ships. Word of the dark creature slinking ashore litter the tales of remembrance of the Norse.
This dog is far older of course even than that and it is among the dead. Burial mounds, deathly places, battle scenes, aftermath, anywhere there is death.
York city sits upon death, it venerates it – thus we have the barguist beast.
Nip not down a ginnel, turn not from the main-way, stay in the light. The barguest beast gleams its red eye tonight.
Living in America – A pictorial guide – My sister asked me what it was like where I am living, so here is my attempt to sum it all up.
Welcome to Green Bay, Wisconsin.
Also features ‘Cooking with Lu’ making Egg Fried Rice
One of Heidi’s lovely lamps…
A beady lamp, this must be the sort of things Americans use I think…
The house is over a hundred years old and the original room divider is still fitted. There is a display cabinet attached at each side…
The divider goes up and over…
The other side is a fitted cabinet too. Full of beautiful things. Sewing kits and all sorts…
This is a beautiful lamp. It has three bulbs with separate chains to pull to turn them on which is a bit of a pain, but it is worth it…
Always wear a mask, but I find it difficult when we are eating.
A small part of Heidi’s decorative tape collection. They are in pristine condition.
I was feeling left out so I have stated my own tape collection…
The original sink…
The Butcher’s Block
This is what cupboards are like in America…
Or like this…
No here is a completely different type of cupboard, wait for it, this is a pie cooler. How ‘cool’ is that! I hope these were proper pies, ie with pastry underneath and pastry on top. If it doesn’t have a pastry top it is a tart, just so you know. There is a good name for one with only pastry on the top, that is a pot pie. I might even forgive a pot pie for being just a casserole or pot roast with a pastry top. There is one other rule I intend to ensure the globe (or disc if you are flat earther) comes to learn, it should be short crust pastry not flakey. Lesson over, mark my words well.
Not everything here is over a hundred years old.
Giffa gets behind the wood-burning stove where she is really really warm yet safe from flying logs…
I thought a good way to make use of my time was to make magazine racks for filing my paper work. I am hoping to make a dozen by the end of next week…
I decorated them. There are enough for Heidi to store all her stationary…
Little Shop of Horrors…
That one’s going to take a bit of filling…
The flax hangs drying, the mice climb and dine. Twigs, bits and bark partly fill paper bags to make fire-starters or firebombs. The log was all cut shorter than usual especially for our small wood burning stove…
I need help with this thing. What is it? What is it for? How do I fill it? –
What’s in the jug? How do you know how much to put in?
There’s a lovely expression here in the US of A; Kitty Corner. There is a Walgreens kitty corner to us; diagonally opposite. All of America is square, I’ve worked that much out. It is all blocks. As we walked home in Scarborough in Yorkshire in Britain we went down a steep narrow hill and as we turned a tight bend and looked down at the seafront promenade below, Heidi turned to me and said, “Ah, you were right, Britain isn’t all built in blocks is it.”
Walgreens is like Boots, it’s a chemist but with beauty products and stuff. It also sells tinned food, snacks, frozen food and alcohol. Wine, beer and spirits. Each state seems to vary on this. Some you have to go to a separate shop. Others like Wisconsin you have to show ID so they can log your DOB into the computer.
Every house has a porch or a stoop. I guess this is a porch and it is ours. I plan to sit there whittling. We are last but one of our street with an auto repair shop at the end.
You get S for such as South Bay Street, that’s how they write it. There are cross roads everywhere. If you were able to get a bus, as it approached, a machine would call out something like, ‘Howard and Mason’. then you would know to get off, except I couldn’t work out how to use the doors.
I kind of understand why they say yard instead of garden. Nobody seems to do any gardening, except for sticking in a few bulbs and riding round on a grass cutter. (This one below is about the most floral I’ve seen.)
I plan to change all that one garden at a time till I’ve gone coast to coast.
The windows are kind of double glazed. This is a survival necessity when the snow gets to about eighteen foot deep. or so I’ve been told.
Then you unclip them and replace them with screens. This is to protect against things called mosquitos, but quite how such creatures survive here I am not sure.
This is the neighbour’s place and beyond are the newly built apartments. They were built by the local church on what used to be their garden and are described as affordable housing.
This is our back yard. You can see the Buckthorn beyond the fence on the strip of land which is ours too. Now they tell me that birds eat the berries of the saplings and then poop out the seeds. They sit on the fence to do it. So as I understand it, every fence in America is lined with hundreds of Buckthorn on either side. Well, ours was. I cut back all the one inside, and I will be working on the outside ones too.
There is a dead tree on our land just beyond the fence. Well, it is half dead, but all the way down to the ground so could go at any moment. I found a chain saw in the garage and I have never used one, so I thought I might give it a go. what do you think?
Ah, Heidi is reading over my shoulder and says I can not, I repeat can not do it myself. We need to get a tree feller feller in. Not three tree feller fellers, one feller should do it.
(And not three smart fellers either.)
Here is where I cut a load of Buckthorn back, but it still needs clearing…
And all along the fence is roots lurking…
Oh no, here they come…
This is the half dead tree… (Whoever cuts it down I hope we get to keep the wood.)
I think this must be Wisconsin… (There must be a lot of Latvians live here or something.)
Hewey and Lewey must be confused…
Vintage bathroom fittings…
(It’s not just Britain who don’t know what mixer taps are it seems.)
There is an attic, apparently, but I have never dared go up there…
There are many things about America which frighten me. This house has a basement! I am going to be sucked into a swirling hole. Aliens are trying to break the gratings. I shouldn’t have gone off on my own wearing just T shirt and Jeans when there is a killer around taking us out one at a time. I have seen too many movies. I think that American movies (Yes there are other types) are more scary if you are not from America. If you are American watching a film, you are like, oh yeah its a basement. You all have them. They are a far less common commodity in other countries.
Lots of thing scare me. UPS vans. I am not even sure which film it was where one kept appearing and you start thinking, he turns up every time there is a disappearance. Those traffic lights which go over the top of the road, I expect a gang with bandanas to turn up next to our bus and shout, drive or are you chicken!
Everyone in America collects novelty spoons, or everyone in my experience anyway…
My pal Judson asked me to get him a Green Bay Packers cap; I think they play some sort of game or something. Most people seem to have heard of them though.
I am having trouble with communicating over here. Oscar Wilde said Britain and America are two nations divided by a common language. It seems he was right. Back to those Buckthorn roots. I spent several hours searching for a place which would hire us a piece of equipment that would destroy them there pesky roots. I was looking for a rotavator. I stated that I wanted a hand-held one. It turns out, what I need was a stump-grinder. A walk-behind stump-grinder. Hours.
My pal Dwayne is on the case and once he finds one which will fit through our gate to the yard and isn’t $200 dollars a day to hire (no really) he will be out there turning them woody critters to dust.
Why I mention this here, I tried all sorts of phrases in my searches. At one point my attempts to hire garden equipment resulted in a whole page of links to the Green Bay Packers. What on earth they have to do with yard work I have no idea. I mentioned this to one of the students I am working with, (on line), he said, You are in Wisconsin, any search will end up going to the Packers.
The place we pass by at a cross roads, at some point of the compass, which seems a vital method of giving directions here, which is a problem for someone who has no idea which way is which, any way; the big sign says Trucks. I don’t think any of them are trucks. They all have a flag on top. That is several hundred flags. I would stick a for sale sign there myelf, but hey ho.
When I asked a lady in Minot what this was, in the picture below, she said she was of a family of farmers and their main cop was flax. I said how Heidi had grown this and then I went on to demonstrated how it was worked into fibres. She said, we use a big machine, it’s a lot quicker.
On the large crate below this hanging flax were tons of little brown round things. I asked Heidi what they were and she said they were they flax seeds which had fallen off. They are all over the garage so I investigated. No they weren’t. They were very light and empty. Mice had climbed up the wall along the barn and down the corn sheaves. They had taken one seed at a time and carefully opened it. Then dropped the outer casing. These were empty little packets which once held a seed each.
I told my pal Greg of the Lakota, who is now connected to the corn-growing Oneida tribe, and he told me of how they grew corn. They hung it from beams in the barn, but they created bowl-shaped wrappings that went around the corn just above the cobs. When you turned the light on and went into the barn there were all these little mice faces looking down, obviously thinking, How do we get down there to that tasty corn?
Every month a box turns up full of Japanese stationary. This is a very exciting time and involves shrieking. They are treasured and kept forever…
Not more decorated boxes!
Just how many does one household need? Many…
Here these are known as biscuits. I was wonderfully excited to find some actual biscuits recently in Walgreens; Biscoff. Ooooo, said Heidi, Cookies. No, I said if they bend they are cookies, if they snap they are biscuits. Biscuits are not sweet, you have them with gravy. The gravy is white!
They come in a pretend tin made of cardboard…
Them aint biscuits. We didn’t make white sausage gravy, whatever that is, We had them split and hot with lashings of melted butter.
We found a great store Nearby. A Mexican store. It is great to be able to get fresh produce just around the corner. There are a few interesting things worth a photograph. Pork Scratching warning. Now this is an enormous scratching. Bigger than an American football…
Now some really horrid produce. (I am going to post a tin to Martin, anyone else want an order?) –
Do you want a cigarette? There’s plenty here…
The owner makes this. It is raw and needs cooking. We asked if it was spicy. We were told no. – It wasn’t hot and tasted like chorizo…
I may spend a lot of time looking out. I do practice social distancing though. I particularly wanted to distance myself from this feller…
I think he was collecting scrap. That must be what they do in America. Oh no. he’s coming over!
We have stockpiled to a degree…
I can think of nicer things to make cough syrup of…
We went to my favourite place; Peaseholme Glen with its little path down the hill. The squirrels follow you as you walk alongside the narrow rushing stream. The statues along the way make you stop and look, but you soon want to move on again because of the sound of the next of the mini-waterfalls. There are a couple of dozen of them. You want to rush from one to the other.
Now, I had heard from many people that there were fairy’s living among the trees. They come here to watch the water sparkle and to hear the children giggle. I had heard this, but I wasn’t sure I believed it. Until the day I saw one. My little visitor heard my talk of them and she ran ahead. Now this is the little girl who when she hears that I am a storyteller she wants to tell me all her stories, but I am not sure she believed me.
Whenever we saw a fairy she was nowhere in sight. Yes, we saw a fairy. Off my little friend would run, and as we tried to catch up there would suddenly be a tiny voice from within the woodland. It was a fairy. Then a few trees ahead along the way my little friend would pop out from the trees and we would tell her about the fairy voice. Off she would run calling out she thought she had heard another one. We chased after her. We didn’t see her, we saw a fairy. Skipping about among the twiglets to the side, dancing and fluttering. Then, sure enough a few saplings ahead out popped little E, “Did you see the fairy?”
This happened all the magical way down the twisting, winding, enchanting pathway.
We came out of the glen, into the park. Normally it is a really really good park, with lots to see. Everyone wants to sit and see. We couldn’t see. It rained so hard that our eyes were inside waterfalls. Our shoes filled. We felt our way up the wide steps to the café, all we could do was have a hot chocolate. If we sat in the warm with a hot chocolate covered in whipped cream, marshmallows and sprinkles we could look out of the window and wait till we saw it stop. It didn’t stop. It rained all day. We couldn’t see out of the window and they announced that they were due to close. We had to go.
We managed to find our way out of the park to the far end of town. We were a long way from anything. Then a bus came. We got on. Now this is a special bus, it is open-topped. People climb up the stairs all excited and sit on the very top to look out and get excited. We didn’t. We were the only people on the bus and we went into the lower deck and were glad to get out of the rain. It rained inside the bus.
The rain was so heavy it was coming on through the seam. In through the ceiling. In through the windows. It concentrated itself into fine thin heavy lines of twisted waterfalls and pointed itself right at you. One stream down a leg, one stream down you neck and one in your eye. The little girl looked up (a bad mistake) and she said, “When we get there can we go on the beach?”
We could not go on the beach. We could not see the beach. So we promised that we could go in the amusements. There are amusement arcades all along the front in ‘sunny’ Scarborough.
We got off the bus. We went to my mum’s. We got dry as best we could. E had more hot chocolate and then it was suggested that it was time to go to the beach. No, we had to explain it wasn’t going to be a beach day.
We went out anyway. I hung back. I let them get ahead and I went in a gift shop.
Then I rushed along and caught them up, just as they went in a big door. It was a large way into a noisy room full of flashing lights. We went to a machine which gives change.
We got two Ps. There were the push a penny games. Big games. You climb up on to a standing step and you pick which slot to put your penny on. You think about when and then, you let it go.
Now some of these have plastic toys in them. Key rings and little creatures from the films. They are supposed to come out with your winnings, they never do. You might see them getting a little nearer the winner’s slot though. That is enough to get you all excited and you put more money in. You get a whole bowl of money from the ‘free two P’ machine and pretty soon you are asking for more.
It does pay out though, clunk clunk clunk, and if you are very very lucky, clunk.
This little girl got lots more winnings than that. Every time there was a clunk the pay out slot was filled with a handful of seashells. They were not on display anywhere and grandma seemed to point the other way for a second as the winning come in. The little girl looked where she pointed and there was nothing, but she had heard the clunk, she looked down. In the winning slot, along with a few pennies, was a handful of beautiful shells. They were all different colours.
We went from arcade to arcade. In everyone, as well as the penny winnings, there they were again, they were all paying out the same. By the time we left the sea front she had a whole bag of beautiful shells. They were just like the ones you see in the gift shops.
We timed it right and got the bus to town. There was plenty of time before the train. So we took the little girl who’s shoes were full of rain into a local café. We had as many burgers and hot dogs as you would like to imagine. We had more hot chocolate of course then fruit pie and ice cream; lashings of ice cream.
Then the little girl said, “Sometimes,” she stared out the window when she spoke, “Sometimes, when I am disappointed, I get a bit naughty. This was a very wet day and I didn’t get to go onto the beach. There will be other days though and we will be in the sun”
We went to the station. I stood on the platform and waved. I will never ever forget the day it rained inside the bus.