Wednesday, December 15, 2010

How to Stop 10,000 Years of Bullies

Bullies can be stopped. All it takes is for the rest of us to be steady, united, and compassionate.

I sometimes think about how the bullying started. If those who write about the ancient goddess cultures are right, there were few bullies in those matriarchal villages and any who attempted to bully others were quickly wrapped in a love that stopped them. In extremes, a bully could be sent into the forest to fend for himself, but that would not be done until all other efforts had failed.

If my history lessons are accurate, domination cultures started about 10,000 years ago in Eurasia and washed from the dry steppes down into the more fertile river valleys. In any case, there came into the peaceful lands, tribes eager to harass and fight and enslave or kill those they found. These same peoples also fought among themselves and established a hierarchy of power based on size and strength and willingness to cause physical hurt or emotional harm.

What is the matter with the bully? He lacks confidence in himself and covers his self-doubt with force and taunts. What is the matter with the rest of us? We've been wimping out and folding up, letting bullies harm us. That's because we, just like the bullies, lack confidence--and we need guidance.

The theme of "the bully and the wimp" is played out in my novel Gideon's River and in Swamp Walking Woman, a novella size fairy tale in which alligators represent the bullies in the story of our threatened environment. While in the fairy tale, people must literally fight the alligators and take back their world, in the novel a mother and son find their way out of the destructive drama by communicating. It has been said that communication is the great solvent.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Swamp Walking Woman, the beginning

Responses to Swamp Walking Woman



[Swamp Walking Woman is] a depiction of how humans create their very own swampland on this planet, allowing the ‘gators’ amongst us to usurp our power and to control our lives through fear tactics. I like [the author’s] solution: recreate your own reality and reject the fearmongers’ agenda. Dismantle their power base one positive thought at a time. EB

SWAMP WALKING WOMAN

A Tall Woman Tale

Patricia Mitchell Lapidus

Cold water numbed the woman’s legs. Sun burned her face. Leaves and burrs hung in her thick, unraveling braids. The pack was hot on her back. Her arms ached from carrying the child. One more time she asked herself how life could have taken such a difficult turn.

She had been out late one evening helping a neighbor with a sick grandparent, had started home down the familiar wood path. All at once her village vanished. She knew she had gone the right way, but instead of finding her home nestled among other homes in Oak Valley, she found only scrub oak forest petering into a boggy marsh. In the distance she could hear voices, but when she called out, only her echo answered. And when she turned to retrace her steps, even the scrubby oak forest was gone. All around were ponds dotted with small, wet islands, some of which were but hummocks of tufted swamp grass and a tree or two. She proceeded west by following the moon and, the next day, the path of the sun. Her village should have been in this direction. She pushed hopefully through the mud and water, subsisting on berries and sleeping that first night on a tiny island.

On the afternoon of the second day she walked across one such small island and almost stepped upon a little girl asleep on a grassy hummock. She stepped back and looked around for the child’s parents. She called out, but, as before, only her own voice came back in muffled echoes from the misty wasteland. The child yawned and moved. In the mud the woman found a single footprint with large spreading toes. A wildcat? She wished she possessed her grandfather’s knowledge of the signs of animals and the uses of plants—but no one in her modern world had thought that old stuff of value.

Waking, the child regarded the woman soberly.

The woman squatted beside the little girl. “Hello. What is your name?”

“Where are my grownups?”

“I don’t know, honey. Who left you here in the grass?”

“The cat.”

“The cat?”

But the little girl didn’t explain.

“Come. Let’s find your grownups.”

The girl did not protest being lifted onto the woman’s hip. She was dressed in professionally faded Gap jeans and a purple Gap shirt. In her hair was a purple bow. A child of good fortune, thought the woman. May her good fortune return.

“What is your name?” she asked again.

But the child did not answer.

“I’ll call you Futura.”

Two more days of travel brought no change in the territory. There was no firm ground anywhere. All of Earth seemed a misty, murky place where one struggled to find a solid step. A horsefly buzzed around, whispering in the woman’s ear, “Swamp life is too hard. Why not give up? You could sink into the water and sleep.”

“I can’t give up,” the woman said. “I have the child.”

“Saving the child,” he buzzed. “How noble of you to save her for swamp life. I am touched.”

The horsefly droned around her eyes and hair.

She brushed at the fly. “Dammit!”

“Dammit,” said Futura, the first word she had spoken since “the cat,” and she puckered up to cry, the first emotion she had shown.

The woman, who had been known as Song in her village, smiled at the child and straightened her back. “I am Swamp Walking Woman,she said. “I will persevere. And I should not be teaching you to curse.” Then she shouted with all her force, “Darn it!!”

A pretty blue dragonfly lit on some rushes.

“Oooh!!!” said Futura softly. With the backs of her fists she rubbed the tears from her eyes.

Before the woman could blink, a flock of dragonflies—also called Darning Needles—thickened the air. Flying and lighting and flying and lighting, they wove the rushes together into a long mat. Back and forth they flew, up and down, in and out, carrying the tip ends of long blades of swamp grass, weaving in and out until a tight rush path stretched before the woman and the child toward an island they had not seen before.

“Put me down!” said Futura.

Swamp Walking Woman set Futura’s feet on the rush path and followed her. When the two reached the beach they ran forward and back and around each other in all directions. The woman laughed and the child shrieked with an exuberance as high as her apathy had been deep. At the edge of a sunny patch of gravel they found morning glory vines climbing tall grasses, blue blossoms sparkling with dew. A sea of flowers carpeted the area between the beach and the trees. There were big bull thistles with bulging purple buds, a bank of wild roses, and fuzzy broad-leafed plantain with spikes taller than Futura. Daisy heads danced in a pleasant breeze and buttercups shone like gold. Futura bent to examine the tiny purple flowers of a Bittersweet Nightshade, deep purple petals curling back from each long yellow center.

“Don’t touch,” the woman said gently, knowing the plant was poisonous.

Near a little stream that ran from under the alders, Futura made sand pies and sprinkled them with seeds. Digging into the bank of the stream, she discovered colors—a layer of purple sand, under that, a layer of red sand, then yellow, then green.

“Why is the sand colored?” she asked.

“Each layer was laid down at a different time. This reddish layer has iron in it. The green has copper. The others have different minerals.”

“Oh.” One sand pie, she said, was a strawberry apple pie, two were pumpkin pies, and one was a blackberry pie. She sprinkled more red and yellow sand on her cakes and left them to dry in the sun. Together the woman and the child ran into the woods looking for adventures. In a glade were fat skunk cabbages whose thick garlicky smell filled the air. Here and there a Jack-in-the-Pulpit stood, ever ready to give a swamp sermon.

Friday, November 5, 2010

The Innocent in the Ancient Fairy Tales

Where to find Swamp Walking Woman

http:www.tinyurl.com/pj33ns


I have posted a video about The Innocent as seen in ancient fairy tales.

I say "ancient" because in more recent times the old stories were changed to reflect a different and usually lesser wisdom. For example, the Brothers Grimm altered older tales to make them scarier and more graphic with blood and dismemberment. Because they were writing in the context of a patriarchal, domination culture, the tales begin and end in slavery, which is to say that they make us afraid and give us no guidance. Disney, on the other hand, takes the fear completely out of the tales. Disney's fairy tales, rewritten for children, begin and end in innocence.

We could say that every life begins in innocence, however brief. Some of you can look back to the very day you realized your parents didn't have life figured out and were only hoping you would grow up and tell them what was going on. I know of one child who came to such a realization at the age of six, much too young. Even babies, sadly, can lose their innocence if poorly cared for. If you are lucky, you may keep that simply belief that life will work out as you plan right up until college or the first time you get fired from a job.

People can remain innocent well into adulthood, no matter what they may hear of the troubles of the world and of children starving in Biafra, as long as nothing too disappointing happens to them. They lead a charmed life. They feel chosen--and perhaps a bit puzzled why, but willing to have the good life while others do not. I remember feeling that way.

In the old tales, The Innocent was one who did not yet suspect the trials that lay ahead. Her only task is to fall, to lose that state of protection we call grace, and to suddenly be vulnerable to a world that is not as benevolent as she thought. In Swamp Walking Woman, the main character walks down a familiar path and sees her world change into a swamp. A polluted swamp--which is a metaphor for our world today, abused and misused and quite a mess, a hard place to live.

In my next blog I'll speak about the next stage of growth, The Orphan.


video

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The International Women's Writing Guild in Connecticut: Swamp Walking Woman video clip

The International Women's Writing Guild in Connecticut: Swamp Walking Woman video clip

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dk2vAW5KzyA

The International Women's Writing Guild in Connecticut: Swamp Walking Woman video clip

The International Women's Writing Guild in Connecticut: Swamp Walking Woman video clip
While my book Swamp Walking Woman is getting a great response from readers, we are getting ready to launch a novel, Gideon's River, in time for the holidays.

This is a story about a family that heals itself from a centuries long drama we could call "the bully and the wimp."

Have you ever watched a child grow up without confidence? You will recognize that child in Gideon, a boy who does not sit and brood as some children might but pushes for a place in life, pushes in all the wrong ways, though with spirit.

Have you seen two family members arguing, perhaps shouting at each other, hurting each other more and more? You just want them to stop it--but they don't know how.

The story is about more than one family's struggles. It shows an entire community trying to find itself in the 1990s, which were a time of both darkness and incredible light.

For an excerpt, go to http://fictionforfamilies.wordpress.com

Friday, October 1, 2010

from Swamp Walking Woman

Swamp Walking Woman

Cold water numbed the woman’s legs. Sun burned her face. Leaves and burrs hung in her thick, unraveling braids. The pack was hot on her back. Her arms ached from carrying the child. One more time she asked herself how life could have taken such a difficult turn.

She had been out late one evening helping a neighbor with a sick grandparent, had started home down the familiar wood path. All at once her village vanished. She knew she had gone the right way, but instead of finding her home nestled among other homes in Oak Valley, she found only scrub oak forest petering into a boggy marsh. In the distance she could hear voices, but when she called out, only her echo answered. And when she turned to retrace her steps, even the scrubby oak forest was gone. All around were ponds dotted with small, wet islands, some of which were but hummocks of tufted swamp grass and a tree or two. She proceeded west by following the moon and, the next day, the path of the sun. Her village should have been in this direction. She pushed hopefully through the mud and water, subsisting on berries and sleeping that first night on a tiny island.

On the afternoon of the second day she walked across one such small island and almost stepped upon a little girl asleep on a grassy hummock. She stepped back and looked around for the child’s parents. She called out, but, as before, only her own voice came back in muffled echoes from the misty wasteland. The child yawned and moved. In the mud the woman found a single footprint with large spreading toes. A wildcat? She wished she possessed her grandfather’s knowledge of the signs of animals and the uses of plants—but no one in her modern world had thought that old stuff of value.

Waking, the child regarded the woman soberly.

The woman squatted beside the little girl. “Hello. What is your name?”

“Where are my grownups?”

“I don’t know, honey. Who left you here in the grass?”

“The cat.”

“The cat?”

But the little girl didn’t explain.

“Come. Let’s find your grownups.”

The girl did not protest being lifted onto the woman’s hip. She was dressed in professionally faded Gap jeans and a purple Gap shirt. In her hair was a purple bow. A child of good fortune, thought the woman. May her good fortune return.

Friday, July 23, 2010

The Darning Needles


Some years ago I embroidered a Darning Needle resting on the stem of a cattail. I have liked Darning Needles since childhood summers spent watching them hover over Mud Pond, the pond on my grandparents' land. There was a not too muddy gravel approach into the water and the pond was large enough to be mostly clear.

The Darning needles stayed with me. Also called Damsel Flies and Dragon Flies, they have been much the same since prehistoric times. In the fairy tale, when Swamp Walking Woman is weary with walking through water and mud, a whole tribe of Darning Needles show up to weave for her a swamp grass path onto an island that appears as if by magic. Such "helpers" are common characters in fairy tales.

Swamp Walking Woman is now available on amazon.com.

This book is also available for distribution to libraries. Just ask your public library to get it.

The story can be read for fun and it can be read for deeper meaning about the misguided guys who are suppressing the people of earth and how we women and men can find the strength to keep our green earth green.

I'll write more soon about fairy tales, myths, and fables. Also, tall tales.

Happy summer days to all. Trish

Friday, July 9, 2010


This is the right weather for a trip to the ocean. Seems it is always cooler at the shore. My brother and I recently traveled to Land's End on Bailey Island. We took many great pictures. This is one of the best.

Swamp Walking Woman longed for land as solid at that granite and for water as clear as that expanse of blue. Swamp Walking Woman didn't set out to be a heroine. She was just helping a neighbor when she got lost in the swamp--and found a bunch of lost families. Her story is an allegory of modern times told in the style of ancient stories such as myths and fairy tales. The book is a tall tale like the tales of Paul Bunyan and Pecos Bill. Or it can be seen as a modern fable in the tradition of George Orwell and James Thurber.

The book is about women's strength. Stay tuned for launch date and find out how Swamp Walking Woman inspires a community to resist oppression and protect their children.

More soon. Trish

Bailey Island Ledges, photograph taken from Land's End.

Friday, June 18, 2010

This Is Exciting!


Many of you have been asking when Swamp Walking Woman will be released. We are getting all our frogs lined up--uh, maybe we should have used ducks!

One of the things I liked best about writing this book was remembering all the woodland flowers I loved in my childhood roaming near our farm in Maine. Here's a lovely trillium my grandson discovered near his great-grandparents' house. Children have an enormous capacity for wonder. They grace the world with joy. Find out how grace comes into the story of Swamp Walking Woman and the little lost girl she befriends.

Keep watch here for launch date.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

City Gardens

Spring and Summer

















The raised bed on the left is now brimming with peas, above.

There are more than 50 community gardens in New Haven, plots here and there where caring neighbors grow food for community kitchens. The generosity of spirit shown by these gardeners should be celebrated. They are a group dedicated to green living, to feeding folks, and to creating on our planet a hope and a determination that we will survive and prosper. There is no better answer to oppression and foolishness in high places than simply to flourish and live good lives such as we dream possible when we are children. This blog is dedicated to the Seventh Generation.

My book Swamp Walking Woman shows a community who must confront bossy "gators" and rally to take back the land on which to garden and prosper. Watch here for launch date.

Friday, June 11, 2010

In Times Like These

The oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico makes me feel I need to be stronger, to have more answers, especially about how to stop greed and money from making wrong decisions about our planet. There are people in positions of power who are crazy enough to harm this planet beyond repair.

My book Swamp Walking Woman is about a woman who faces those monsters and inspires a world of troubled people to take a stand.

We used to sing a song in Sunday School that went like this, "In times like these you need an anchor." Of course, the anchor was meant to be faith, and we know faith can do miracles such as bring better health. Self confidence is a kind of faith, faith in oneself and one's own ability to do hard things.

Swamp Walking Woman launch date to be announced soon. Keep an eye on this blog.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Book Launch


Dear Fans,

For those of you who have been waiting for news of Swamp Walking Woman, this fun fairy tale is ready to go!

I want to make a game of it. I want to be Best Selling Author on Amazon for one hour.

In a few days I will set a launch date and hour. I'll let you know so you can get your copies then or as close to the hour as possible. I'll be emailing, making videos, and sending out news releases. Stay tuned! Trish

Monday, April 5, 2010

A Grandmother's Quick Trip

When my daughter-in-law signed up for Skype she urged me to join, too. We looked forward to an on-line visit. Life went on for a time, all of us busy people. But tonight while I was working at the computer she called me on Skype. I answered. Soon we were on exchange video, she and my grandson looking at me while I could see them clearly. He was eating cheese, he told me. Later, I offered him an imaginary cookie and he accepted. Yum!

And there I was right in their home looking at my grandson--and he could see me! I took from the wall a ceramic print of his Papa's hand, made in kindergarten, and held it up to the screen. He placed his hand over it.

My daughter-in-law and I showed each other around our new homes, having both moved lately. What a treat to have her walk me through her house, the good spaces in and out. What fun to show her my apartment. I feel like I just got home from there! Quick trip.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Measures of a Life Well-Lived

I invite you to celebrate an amazing life. My dad (age 96) is in the hospital ICU and on the mend. He had some gallstones melted down and is beginning to drink broth (asking for a hot dog!). A couple of days ago he was cold. The nurses wrapped him in a blanket and took care to tuck his feet in. He said, "You better get a rope and tie 'em so they won't get away!" The nurses compete to take care of him, he's such a pleasure. My brother goes up every day to sit with him and my sister took Mom up yesterday. I am grateful for such a brother and sister. I am grateful for such wonderful parents. I thought after the Red Sox won a couple of World Series Dad would decide to shove off, but he keeps finding reasons to stay around!

Those who know Dad have seen him re-invent himself several times in this life. When he was a young man he raised his first flock of roosters to sell on the market and paid off the farm's back taxes, to my ailing grandfather's huge delight. When the poultry business got tough, Dad installed automatic feeders and a grain mill, bought all the ingredients from the mid-west, and hired a trucker to bring soy, wheat, etc. from the train station in Lisbon Falls to the dumping pit on the farm. At that point he was one of only four independent poultry farmers in Maine, and he stayed in business even in the bad years. He served on and sometimes chaired the state Poultryman's Association.

While he was farming he sometimes worked at the gypsum mill to supplement the family income. He also substituted as a rural mail carrier. He was elected to the Board of Selectmen and later served as Chair. When he tired of calculating carloads of ingredients for chicken mash, he went to school and became a tax assessor/building inspector for the town of Gray where he worked until the age of 70. As we know, taxes can be touchy. People would come in hot about their assessments. Dad would say, "Come into my office. I'll show you how I got those figures." People knew he was fair and they knew he would never get riled. He was beloved at the town offices.

My brother, meanwhile, planted and tended a large garden with Dad’s help and lots of canning and freezing from Mom. When Dad retired he devoted himself to tending his pine trees and raising vegetables and berries. I think a lot of the longevity of my parents can be explained by the homegrown vegetables they ate summer and winter all their lives. I have to work very hard finding "real food" and I pay a lot to eat as well as they eat. Further, it's really true that behind this successful man is a strong and loving wife. Dad has always said that my mother's companionship meant a lot to him. Please celebrate with me this amazing life.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Strength for Girls and Women

I owe much to my writing teachers. Pat Carr is a teacher who encourages girls and women to write, to write honestly, and to find their strength through writing. Susan Baugh guides women writers to use the healing wisdom in the patterns honored by ancient fairy tales. Both teachers help women to face today's problems with strength and perseverance.

Swamp Walking Woman is a serious story and a playful story written to give strength and insight to any who feel "swamped" or overwhelmed with today's environmental and relationship issues. And the sorry state of the environment is about relationships. One of my sons, coming home from a band practice in which the musicians had argued about the songs and about who had the say, commented, "You think it's about a band, but it's always, always about relationships."

Life today is about finding method and strength to handle the bullies who harm our green planet, our only home.

Swamp Walking Woman will be published before the end of February. Watch for a date.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

The Darning Needles

What did Swamp Walking Woman feed the Darning Needles?

She whistled sharply and called out, “Darn it!” Instantly there appeared a cloud of the Darning Needles who had befriended her many months before. In a fever of activity they set to work sewing the sides of the water against the shores. While they worked the woman stood with one foot planted on the shore of each island, holding each part in its place. Soon the tapestry was finished. She bowed. With her own needle and thread she sewed in a stretch of swamp flowers and grasses that were home to the insects Darning Needles like best. --from Swamp Walking Woman, publication date January 2010.

Darning is an activity of the past. Not that my socks last very well these days, but I don't darn thread back and forth over the holes in the heels as I used to when I was a child. I remember the wooden "egg" on a stick, how it was placed inside the sock and used to hold the form of the toe or heel. If the hole was very large, you had to catch the darning thread in the good cloth and weave back and forth, up and down across the hole, creating a patch of new cloth. The whole activity of darning socks makes sense when you consider that often the socks themselves were home knit and not to be thrown out lightly.

The dragon flies my mother called Darning Needles were small with thin blue and black needle-shaped bodies. They didn't sting or pester us in any way so we came to enjoy watching them skim over the water or buzz among the cattails.