Look through the window and you will see Moriarty, the Phantom of My Blog, and me sitting on the low, stone wall by the folly, a short walk across the meadow from my blog. We are eating sandwiches and discussing the tulips growing here at the base of the wall. Dickens, Moriarty’s black, fluffy dog, lies in the grass, snapping at bees.
The warm sun and the buzzing of the bees lull me into a reverie. “The colors of the pure white tulips and the deep pink ones make me think of the richness I derived from taking up my first A to Z Blogging Challenge this year,” I say.
Moriarty takes a bite from his sandwich, tossing Dickens a piece. “I thought you didn’t want to go all back through telling your stories of your dementia caregiving for Emma, your mother, yet you went ahead and chose it as your A to Z theme.” He pours himself more lemonade from the thermos.
“I’m hoping to save the maidens,” I say. “You know, like Scheherazade did.
“The tales of the one thousand and one nights originated in Persia and then spread throughout the Middle East, Egypt and India, and were added to.” I offer my cup for a refill. “Tulip is derived from the Persian word for turban,” I tell him.
“A very long time ago, the Sultan, upon learning that his wife and his brother’s wife had been unfaithful, deduced that all maidens once married became unfaithful, so each night he took a new maiden for his bride and then in the morning had his vizier behead her.
“To save the maidens, Scheherazade, the vizier’s daughter, offered herself to the Sultan. Each night Scheherazade told the Sultan a story, but she didn’t finish it; so the Sultan couldn’t behead her because he wanted to hear how it ended. He brought her back night after night, until finally he realized that not all women are unfaithful.”
I take a sip from my cup. “Mmm, this is good. You made this lemonade this morning?”
“Yes,” says Moriarty. “Lots of sugar, lots of ice, made in a metal pitcher — the secret.”
“Like writing the A-Z posts,” I reflect.
I continue: “So, I hope that by telling and retelling my stories here of Emma’s and my journey through her dementia that they will help others in similar situations. In my days as caregiver I didn’t know where I was going or what would happen next.
“It was like that time you came up behind me on the blog catwalk and nudged me over the edge and I fell into a heap of backdrops and I didn’t know which scene I was in, what my role was. I thought I was speaking English to an English-speaking audience, but they did not comprehend.”
Moriarty smiles an enigmatic smile — or is it diabolic…?
“So, anyway,” I say, “I thought that my taking up this A to Z Challenge and retelling my stories would draw attention to my two books on Emma’s and my experiences, but I gained something far richer — the blooming of one thousand and one tulips: new acquaintances, positive support, new knowledge, extraordinary writers from around the world. And, too, for myself I derived a new self-discipline of sitting down each morning for about three hours and writing.
“I thank Arlee Bird and his co-hosts and minions for providing us this opportunity. Additionally, on non-WordPress sites, I learned to copy my comments ahead of posting them before Captcha methodically folded them and sailed them into a black hole, and to include my name and blog URL in my comments. Especially I thank those wonderful writers, who no doubt bloggy-eyed as I, took the time to visit my site and leave the most heartwarming and encouraging comments.”
“Some of them said they liked me,” says Moriarty.
“Will you take up the Challenge again next year?” he asks. “Can’t you make less mess with the drafts?”
“With the drafts, I doubt it,” I say. “As for taking up the challenge next year, yes, I’d like to, b—-”
Suddenly Dickens spots a rabbit and takes off after it.
“Dickens! Dickens, come!” commands Moriarty. “Dickens!”
Dickens keeps on running. “Dickens!
“He’s saying, ‘I’m not him,'” says Moriarty.
“There goes a character, running off ahead, chasing rabbits without me,” I reply.
Here are some good friends and terrific writers and thinkers I met along the way:
Susan Scott — http://gardenofedenblog.com
Patricia Garcia — http://www.patgarciaandeverythingmustchange.com/
Gwynn Rogers — http://gwynnsgritandgrin.com
Hilary Melton-Butcher — http://positiveletters.blogspot.com/
Sara Snider — http://saracsnider.com/
Fee — http://weewhitehoose.co.uk/
Kern Windwraith — http://www.oddparticle.com
Annalisa Crawford — http://annalisacrawford.blogspot.co.uk/
Celine Jeanjean — http://celinejeanjean.com
Samantha! I honestly can’t believe that I am getting to your reflection post only now. I’m sure I receive your posts automatically? I don’t recall receiving this one. I missed out on Hilary’s too and commented on hers only yesterday but hers I cannot sign up to.
Anyway, enough of all that. But I will go back and check for May 5th.
It’s wonderful that Kern, Hilary, Sara (besides the others who we ‘know’), those wonderful women were supporters of your blog. It gives me such pleasure that I was instrumental in a small way in encouraging you to take part. Your work deserves a larger ‘platform’. It is always a delight to read your posts which leave me gasping with literary envy I have to say .. and Kern nailed it when she said you bring your heart and soul to your writing.
Please send my very best wishes to Moriarty, the Phantom, and a special tug of the tail to Dickens. One day I hope to meet them at the round table when we’ll have wine, blueberry scones, thick cream and irises and camels in the near distance.
Dear Susan — Moriarty’s blushing; and Dickens is wagging his tail. (I think he’s actually smiling, too, at Moriarty’s rare blushing.)
I signed up to receive notification of my new blog posts, but I haven’t checked that email box in ages, so I don’t know if the notifications are going out. I lost widgets and gadgets when my website was down, and then I had the A-Zs, so I am just now getting to fixing things.
I thought that since I was seeking intelligent readers and good writers such as Kern, Sara, Hilary, Fee and the others to support my blog, then I should tap yours, and I am thrilled. Thank you. And thank you for your kind compliments. Ah, a larger platform: now I must go out and build that.
Here’s to seeing you at the round table. Cheers!
Just now getting around to visiting the blogs in the challenge. April was a busy month for me. Congrats on completing the A to Z Challenge! Looking forward to next year! See you on the Road Trip!
Hi Mary — I am really glad you stopped by — and for a particular reason: music is my first love; in fact, some of my posts have soundtracks. Unfortunately, currently my mp3 player is down; now that the A-Zs are over, I will work on fixing that.
I just visited you site and left a comment on your “Reflections” post. I also read your “Tequila” post and that recalled for me — out of the blue — the first rock ‘n’ roll song I ever heard, back in 1955, when I was 13 — “Roll With Me, Henry,” sung by Etta James. So, upon recalling that song today, I set off on a Google expedition to find it and learned it has quite an interesting backstory.
Back here on my blog, I interrupted a series on music that I was posting, to begin the A-Zs. Now I will return to that: I will write a post on “Roll With Me, Henry.” I will let you know when I have posted it, and if you’d like you may re-post it on your blog, as long as you credit me and link back to my site.
Thank you for coming by. Some say there are no coincidences, but it so happens that the Georgia Gibbs cover, “Dance With Me, Henry,” topped the juke box charts on this date 60 years ago — May 14, 1955. Wow.
Don’t yet know if I’ll do the “Road Trip” — it depends on if I can fit it into my writing/reading schedule.
Then I forgot the honourable mention – appalling manners us Cornish have … it’s been a delight meeting you .. and Susan’s blog seems to have been a great spin off for some wonderful writers and blogging friends from this A – Z … I will be forever lurking! Cheers Hilary
Thanks, Hilary. I am delighted to meet you, too, and shall return to visit you and learn more about Cornwall. Last year I learned about Calabria and the foot of the Italian boot’s vulnerability throughout history; this year Cornwall. Utterly fascinating.
When I sought spinoffs from Susan’s blog, I sought people as intelligent and interesting as she, and you are among those. 🙂
Hi Sam – I am slowly catching up – very slowly. Now I’m getting to grips with your Chronicles and now of course realise Dickens is Moriarty’s beloved black dog … there’s me thinking he was Dickens of literary fame, also stepping out of the spectral wilderness to help you … mind you having run off – perhaps he is leading you to pastures new.
I loved the Chronicle take … and like you I need to start at the beginning and follow your whimsical mind through … I think I did – as I was very impressed with your thoughts on Emma and your journey with her to her new pastures in heaven.
I’ll be back ‘soon’!! Cheers Hilary
Yes, Hilary, without being overly redundant I tried to note in most of the episodes in which Dickens appeared that he is Moriarty’s dog and that Moriarty is The Phantom of My Blog, because I realize readers are jumping into this midstream. But, I didn’t want to overdo, thus creating stumbling blocks for regular readers — you know how it goes.
I read a wonderful book last year by Gay Talese, one of our best American writers, “Unto the Sons” — 600 pages, hardback, dense type, recounting enthralling tales of his experiences growing up in Ocean City, New Jersey, the son of an Italian immigrant from Calabria, a tailor, and the history of his family and the Italian people, since before the Etruscans, in evocative detail, indeed since the first human set foot on the Italian boot. He does not miss a stitch. It was a lot, yet Talese always seemed to know when to re-identify people and places for his reader without seeming redundant. I’m still working on mastering that. So, I apologize for not making clearer the identities of those characters seen out of the corner of my imagination — and not that Dickens the dog isn’t inspired by Dickens the author.
I think you are right about Dickens (and Moriarty) leading me to new pastures. I allow my characters to do that, and so far it’s worked for the best.
Nice spring weather for exploring new pastures. I think I’ll go see what’s out there.
Thank you, Hilary, as always, for your kind compliments and insight.
Samantha, huge congratulations on completing the challenge. I feel that I can’t impress on you enough just how utterly magical I found your posts. Your writing is beautiful, thoroughly imagined, and inspiring. Since the challenge has finished I’ve really missed my evening routine of sitting down before bed with a cup of apple crumble tea and reading my favourite A-Z Challenge blogs. I always saved yours until last because your writing was so calming and I enjoyed having your words in my head as I drifted off to sleep. I look forward to keeping up with your writing in the future.
Fee | Wee White Hoose
Fee, your gracious compliment really means a lot to me — as warming as apple crumb tea (I must look for that in our local markets), and most encouraging.
I am very glad to have met you. I shall return to The Wee White Hoose to read more and to catch up on your earlier A-Z posts I missed.
Thank you so much.
What an elegant and creative Reflections post! Congrats on finishing the Challenge and I’m glad it was such a good experience for you. I’ll definitely be back to read more.
I am so glad you came by, Nick. Thank you for your kind compliment. I went back to your site and read your “Nick Wilford, Freelance Editor” post. I do the same thing you do — writing, editing, proofreading, copyediting, formatting for indie print and epub books. And — subconsciously editing the backs of cereal boxes.
I’m disappointed that I found you after the A-Z fact, but will return to read more; in fact, I plan to take a brief break from writing posts and return to read earlier posts of favorite A-Z authors I met along the way. Besides, my doing so will give Moriarty a chance to hang a new header photo and otherwise clean up around my blog without my being underfoot. 🙂
What I like so well about Moriarty is his independence and is self-confidence. You’re sitting there talking to him about the challenge and he says, ” Some of them said they liked me.” That is a great sentence from Moriarty and it has me laughing. 🙂
I so enjoyed visiting your blog on a daily basis and yes, I do hope that you take the time to be a part of it next year. Notice, I didn’t say, “find the time” because busy people with purpose in life never have enough time, we take the time, regardless. So I look forward to reading your blog posts and I wonder if my dear Moriarty and Dickens will make an appearance or two.
Thank you also for your recommendation. That is a good idea and one that I want to follow up on for my own blog.
Love you and Happy Mother’s Day.
Thank you, Patricia. What a happy surprise to have you come by and visit me on Mother’s Day. A great gift.
Yes, Moriarty’s comment did make me smile. So understated. I’ll bet he spent the rest of the day admiring himself in the mirror.
True, we do make the time for what’s important. My friends are important, so I try to keep up with them. I’m already thinking about next year’s A-Zs. May do a “flash” story based on a photograph, if I can find 26 titles to match corresponding letters of the alphabet.
Thank you again and again for reading my posts and commenting. It means a lot to me.
Moriarty will be back. Except when he’s taking his zither lessons, he’s usually lurking around somewhere in my blog, and he normally has Dickens with him.
I love you, too. Be well. Belated reply to your email coming up in the next few days.
What a great way to reflect.
I had a few comments disappear into a black hole too – except I never learned to copy them 🙂
Thank you, Annalisa. Glad you came by. I appreciate it.
It took me a while to get the bright idea to copy my blogger and BlogSpot comments before posting them. 🙂
Enchanting as always. I’m inclined to agree with Kern, I’m a little bit jealous my blog doesn’t have a ghost. It’s just me, and maybe some tumbleweeds. And thank you for sharing the story of Scheherazade. I recognized the story after reading it, but I didn’t connect it with the name. Now I understand why you’ve named your blog that, and it’s beautiful. Thank you for the shout out, too!
Tumbleweeds are good, Sara. They present a good image in which to relax between intense story scenes.
Yes, I thought I had better come right out and say who Scheherazade is and the intent behind my blog name; sometimes I can be a little too subtle.
Do serialize your stories. I think you’d be very good at that, and I look forward to reading them.
I’m so glad to have met you and I have subscribed to your blog, if the sign-up went well. So, I will see you soon. 🙂
See, this post is exactly the reason I’m so glad I found you through stalking the commenters on Susan Scott’s blog. It’s your creativity and inventiveness that first captivated me, and the heart and soul of your posts that kept me (and will keep me) coming back for more.
I’m a little bit jealous that your blog has a ghost. I may have to conduct a seance to summon a spirit to haunt mine–I can only hope that spirit is as entertaining as Moriarty and his dog Dickens.
Here’s to stalking the commenters, Kern.
Well, I think every blog has ghosts. Moriarty would know; I’ll have to ask him.
“Heart and soul” — thank you so much for such a kind compliment. (Moriarty says utterly observant — but, then, he would.)
I am so glad to have met you. I have subscribed to your blog, if all went well at the sign-up, so I will see you again. 🙂
Lovely post. It is wonderful to meet new friends a long the way. I hope you derive everything positive from the Challenge!! Hopefully your computer works again too. I’ll be without mine for a few days… EEK!!
Congratulations on an excellent job! Hugs, Gwynn
Thank you, Gwynn. Taking up the A-Z Challenge has been a pleasure. And I made it all the way through without a word processor. All I had was WordPress on my blog and this Lenovo Notebook with a screen and typeface so small that I cannot read it from the distance of my external keyboard (my buttery keyboard, if you recall) that I attached to the Lenovo. My computer’s supposed to be ready tomorrow — unless there’s a glitch Theo thays. 😉
Congrats to you, too. Thanks for being here all the way.
Indeed. Have some more lemonade, R.