Finding Our Inner Interior

Raven3 

To honor the darkness of this bird's wing, we turn to our own hidden interior, the parts of our own past marked with shadows of unhealed wounds and unexpressed emotions. The Raven is the symbol of our own Soul. This is the side of ourselves that, according to Thomas Moore, is nostalgic, melancholy, lost in memories and dreams, rooted in the past, resisting change and seeking stability. The side of us that doesn't want to go to the meeting in the first place and would rather stay home and rest. The Raven symbolizes the home of our ancestors, our personal stories and body memories. It is distinctly earthy, and feminine.

Meet Gwen Myers

gwen

Me???  A quick bio of me?  Which me, I must ask?  Are we talking about the child me, the mischevious child whose brain never shut up?  The lonely teenager who began to put her words on paper, because that was the only time she could finish a sentence.  Perhaps the young woman, whose ideals blinded her to too much truth.  Maybe the young bride, who lavished her husband with care.  How about the maturing woman, whose home was known as ‘the place to go to feel better’. 

Those were but signposts, a map of from-there-to-here in the cycles of my life.  Although they all still live within me, they are not all that I am.

My ‘new life’ began in September 2003, when I called my mother from Oregon, and begged to come home.  There were no possibilities or future for me in Oregon.  So, heavily burdened and sore wounded of mind, heart and spirit, I returned to Arizona. 

Not long after that I discovered that wonder of the technical worlds, the Internet!  By Spring 2004 I joined Soul Food Café, and I want to remain here for as long as they’ll let me.

Imagine the shock, and wonder to find people that not only let me finish my sentences, they listened, and liked what they read.  Not only was I given voice, and heeded, I was home!  Home in a way I had dreamed of for forever.

I am among creative minds, passionate spirits, there are others like me.  I am not some freak, doomed to alone-ness for all of my life.  My daily fare is encouragement, trust, honesty and courage.

All of these wonderful, talented, beautiful people also had their own personal crucibles they were being purified in.  All of the crucibles glow constantly, yet they do not flare simultaneously.  There are these supernovae if passion, thought, and creativity all over the world.  There is never a time devoid of the voices of our sisters and brothers.  Inspiration is but an URL away, and the “Welcome!” you hear when you sign on to the Internet becomes a portent of wonders to come.

The people reach out from their crucibles and contact one another with gossamer words spun across the globe; the words bounce joyously from country to continent, gathering friends as they circle.  This creative micro/macrocosm is a small mirror of the Universe, and like a mirror, their light is reflected and refracted to fill the emptinesses between spirits.

gwen

One Eyed Red

In the time that I have walked the worlds of Soul Food Café I have been fortunate enough to have created some characters and themes that spoke in my best-me voice.

One of the ones most liked by the Ravens of Lemuria is One-Eyed Red, a fearless, multi-talented veteran, someone who has seen the best and worst of the worlds, and loves all of it. She is the deepest of my characters, a fount of both knowledge and wisdom, she rolls with the waves, and revels in the roar and spray of the wildest storms.

To be honest, I am not sure if I created, or ‘channelled’ Red.  She speaks from a position of authority, and always knows what she is talking about.  Her advice is sound, and her word is her duty to keep.

You may not find her mindlessly swilling grog, but you will find her where she needs to be, happily helping someone, somewhere.

I never know when she’ll hop into my dinghy and tell me where to steer to , with her pipe in hand, and long dark auburn hair braided and wrapped around her head like a corona of embers not yet ready to slumber. 

There are multiple piercings on her ears, the earrings reflect some of the places she has been, and celtic tribal tattoos in a deep, brilliant purple on her arms and face.  Almost every finger is adorned with rings of solid gold, and stones both faceted and cabochon set in all of them.  She wears a medicine bag of pure white buffalo hide, with fascinating lumps and bumps, gold chains with pendants and a sold gold torque, decorated by ankhs, crosses, triskeles, shelagh-na-gigs, fleurs-de-lis and pentacles, with words in Celtic and French incised along their length; the ends of the torque are gleaming golden balls, wrought to appear to be the clawed toes of a dragon gripping globes.

For dress she prefers long, extra-extra billowy skirts, with comfortable cotton pantaloons under them, she will wear a simple shirt in a colour to complement the brightly patterned skirts and comfortable juaraches stiff with salt and time, shaping to her feet and the second sole is cut with diagonal slits for greater traction on wet decks.

You’ll find her on board the Calabar Felonway, in places like :

Chat on the Foredeck
Skeleton Crew
Red's On Her Soap Box
Back Aboard Home
Greeting a New Pirate to Be
Be Warned Lads
Opening the Galley

Halloween

devil

One of my favourite holidays is Halloween, Samhain for the Witches; and I have delighted in the Halloween blog every year since 2004, always wanting to do much more than I contribute.  This year, especially, the Halloween blog was shortchanged two more Halloween-themed photomontage videos due to spastic uploads.  But, there are posts for every year that I was especially fond of.  The ones that worked, and one where the comments of others added so much to the tale.

Halloween
A Halloween Tale
Hadley Happenings
The Haunted Pool
A Local Urban Legend
Return to Red Death

The Rookery - Day Nineteen

The people reach out from their crucibles and contact one another with gossamer words spun across the globe; the words bounce joyously from country to continent, gathering friends as they circle.  This creative micro/macrocosm is a small mirror of the Universe, and like a mirror, their light is reflected and refracted to fill the emptinesses between spirits.

Dragon

My fascination with dragons is well-known to some of my fellow ‘Foodies; cropping up in more than one place, and in both prose and poetry.  I fly with dragons in spirit,and have grown to love their cantankerous, hot-tempered natures.  They may nearly fry you with their rages, and in moments be worrying about the damage they may done to you.  They’ll fight to the death for you, before airily telling you that they owed it to you for some small service.

They adventure fearlessly, love passionately, think independently, and live joyously.  They’ll tell you the wildest tales with a straight face, and then laugh with delight when you outthink them.  My own personal dragon is a stately lady, with all of a hatchlings’ mischief and curiosity.  She’s smallish (for a dragon, that is), and clad in a gleaming hide of greeny-gold, her wings are a translucent peridot when the sun shines through them.

Her legs are sturdier than most dragons’ due to time she spends walking with humans, and her eyes look like stormy seas, a shifting grey-green, full of shadows and dark secrets.  You can see how flight has thickened the leading edge of her wings, and the seeds of arthritis are well planted in all the joints.  Her nose is gone flabby and wrinkled from the times she dared too high, and the vanes of her wings are freckled with silvery scars.

My dragon has appeared as poetry, art- and prose.

The Creative Side of the Tale

Gwen

Click to View Video

When I first volunteered to do a page for the Advent Calendar, I had no idear what-so-ever what I was going to for that page.  Finally, to no-one’s surprise, I decided to do a photomontage video.  For the theme… well, why not the preparations? So I started herding together photos from my external hard drive, and a theme began to emerge, as I began to piece the photos into some semblance of order.  It wasn’t clear, completely, until I added the music, but I could see it well enough to get it to the music point.

The pictures came from several different sources, mostly family photos, and they began to tell the story, the one of struggling through an aggressive throng to get the year’s must-have toy,

You remember all the traffic, noise, and frayed tempers?  All the worry and fuss over gift buying, ensuring some version of ‘fair gifting’, wrapping.

And those lines!!!   With every pre-school child in the county pointing a dirty finger at something screaming, “I-Wann!!  IIIII-WWWAAAANNNNN!!!!!!!”

“Will someone please, get that dog/cat/bird/ferret/lizard out of the presents, it will tear up the wrapping.”  Ad infinitum

“Are you sure we have enough presents?
Does the tree look bare to you?
Is that enough garland?
Do we have enough tape??  Circling around in your brain with the inevitable;

“Now, Sam told me that Jessi wants boots and a matching scarf, Jessi told me that she wants her ears pierced.
Scotty wants real cowboy boots and a hat,
My brother Steve, and his wife want classic movie DVD’s
Sharin and Jack said they want a small composting bin.
Grandma Williams said she just loved those caramels last year, but later told me that they stuck her dentures together.” Jigs around,

Will that 23-pound bird be enough?
Maybe I should make two kinds of potatoes.
I don’t know about Asparagus canapés, they sound rather… mushy.
Do I still have that wonderful old baking dish of Great-Aunt Gemma around here?  It makes the best Au Gratin Potatoes.
Let’s see, I have chocolate chip, sugar cookies, teacakes, petit fours, Oatmeal, and Peanut Butter Cookies, and four different kinds of brownies.
Do I have enough, do they still sell, where can I find, how much does it cost?

Now the house seems almost alien because there are so many decorations out, you feel as though you’re on display because the whole family is here and drinking.  If I see that *^*&^%$ cat/dog/bird/ferret/lizard in the food one more time, I’ll scream!!!!

And if that wasn’t enough, your brother’s wife’s cousin, twice removed, and her three brats get colds and cough on everyone all day.

And…
And…
And…

AAAAAaaaaaaaaaaacccccckkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkk!!!  It’s January already??

This is what that chaotic preoccupation feels like in sound and pictures.

What happened to what the season is all about?  The dream of rebirth, the chance for redemption, renewed hope, to know innocent joy again? 
*standing with my hands over my mouth*

And somehow I made it deeply, blackly funny (at least to me).  So, I hope you get a breather from the madness and a good giggle.

The Technical Side of the Tale

When I started gathering the photos I wanted to use, I had a set of questions I asked about every single image:
Can it be used to communicate the idea of Christmas?
Is it a clear image that can tolerate cropping?
Can I ‘play’ with it in Paint Shop Pro and still retain the original freshness of the image?
Does it infringe on anyone else’s copyrights?
Is it an image that I would not be ashamed to show to anyone?
Will this image fit with the theme emerging?

After having asked and answered all of these questions, I now go through the images, and fix them in Paint Shop Pro.  I resize humongous images, crop out unnecessary background, balance the colour, sharpen the focus, and clarify the brightness and contrast of the images, do the red-eye removal (sometimes), and put them in the order I want them in for the video.

Now I have the images I want and the story line the way that I want it, it is time to polish them up in the video programme itself; set the duration of each image, choose transition effects that will harmonise the images, choose how each image will be shown, and add titles or comments to help tell the tale.  The comments need to written, a font chosen, sized to best fit the window, a complimentary colour chosen, and then placed on the image in such a way as to add to the story.

Finally!!  I am ready to add the music to the photomontage video.  Again with the questions I go:
Does the music fit the theme I am working with?
Is it music that just about anyone will enjoy hearing?
Does the music fit the tempo of the video?
Will the music fit the timeframe of the video?

This time the music choices were easier than for earlier photomontage videos I’ve done.  One I have a lot of Christmas music, and two, I knew that I needed two different feels of music before I even began the search. 

When I first returned to Arizona Mum and Matt introduced me to the stunning talents and performances of Trans-Siberian Orchestra.  If you’ve never heard their music, give it a listen, not only are all of the musicians top-notch, the composer understands music and knows how to successfully marry different genres of music, as well as writing powerfully evocative lyrics.

I finally settled on two cuts from their most recent release, “The Lost Christmas Eve”.  I chose their glorious rendition of “O Come All Ye Faithful”, and a delightful cut by the name of “The Wish Lizst (Toy Store Madness)”.  I hope that all of you find as much delight in their music as I do.

When I finally got everything together, well, as close as I could get them without going all kinds of obsessive-compulsive on them, three watchings later I was still laughing like mad through most of the video.  When Mum previewed it, she laughed until she had tears in her eyes, and watched it at least four times; which is a high compliment from Mum!

I hope that the season brings you joy, love, all sorts of wonderful memories to live on for many Christmases to come.  May your family gather together in celebration, and deepen the bonds of shared memories.

Merry Christmas
Happy Hanukkah
Have a cool Yule
Joyous Kwanzaa
And all other lovely seasons.

Contributing on Collaborative Blogs

Gwen makes it clear that she has delighted in posting and commenting on the collaborative blogs. Each year there is a special Halloween blog and in 2009 there will be more speciality blogs to engage in. Collaborative blogs that function all year round, that are open to all Soul Food members include: Taverna di Muse, Pythian Games, Temple of Solace, Soulful Art Room, The Calabar , Artelier Digital and Heart Places. Plenty of prompts are made available on the site and fun is had by all. It is really just a matter of joining in.

For newcomers to Soul Food these are the best places to begin. Before you know it you will be offered wings and then, when the call goes out that E is on one of her tours you can always slip through the Portal and set out to Lemuria.