Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Mysterious Monday: Merrows

Photo by Victor Habbick.
Found on freedigitalphotos.net
This mermaid picture is the closest royalty-free
picture I could find to a merrow.

Another day late post. I’m so sorry. I’ll be staying with my dad for another week and a half. While I’m here, it’s been difficult to find time to write. My father is a wonderful man, but he’s ever been the restless sort. If I don’t do chores for him while he’s at work, he’ll come home and do them; I don’t want that, as I feel it’s the only way to really “pay” him for mine and my son’s stay here. He doesn’t want any pay, but I hate to take and not give—it’s just who I am. I am also here to work on helping him clean up some of my mother’s items now that she is in a nursing home. If I don’t step in, he’ll have photos and interesting family history in the garbage.

He’s also from the generation and class that has this image that if you’re not doing physical labor, you’re not working. Since my sales business and my writing career both involve a lot of time on the computer, either typing letters or stories or blogs, or contacting folks, or taking classes, I have to almost “hide” my computer activities in my basement bedroom. I don’t want to stay downstairs too much, though, as I am here to visit as well as doing the cleaning up of thirty years in one home. So please bear with me for the next couple of weeks, until I can get home and settled once more. I appreciate your continued support.

At any rate, continuing the watery Irish mythology theme, this week’s Mysterious Monday focuses on merrows. Merrows share many similarities to both mermaids and selkies. These half-fish, half-human creatures sat on rocks, luring sailors to their deaths on the nearby obstructions.

Male merrows are purportedly drunkards who wait for ships to sink and then liberate the doomed ships of their supplies of whiskey and brandy. The males are described in very uncomplimentary terms—sometimes as having a red nose from their drinking, sometimes as being completely covered in green scales with green hair. They are also said to have pig-like features and long, pointy teeth.

Female merrows, however, are quite beautiful—more the pity and curiosity that the males are so hideous, then. They have the upper torso of a human and the lower torso of a fish; fine webbing is found between their fingers. The female merrow usually wears a red cap and sometimes a dark cape which covers a bright white gown. It sounds like the merrow is a bit more modest (or cold) than her counterpart in Greece.

Like the selkie, a human male may find that which holds her magic, in this case, her red cap. Should he do so, the merrow will become his willing and submissive wife, but—also like the selkie—she will return to sea immediately upon finding her cap. Unlike the selkie, she does not remember her sea home while in her role as fisherman’s wife.

Sailors who tried to steal the merrow’s cap were taking quite a risk. As members of the magical Sidhe-folk, a merrow’s temper was as changeable as the sea. One moment, she could be sitting on the rocks, singing a lovely tune in her beautiful voice; the next, she could tear the mortal apart. Only if he was lucky enough to snatch her cap and make her his bride would she become docile. On land, she would age like a normal human, but once she found her cap and returned to the sea, all of her mortal years would fall away and she would become immortal once more.

With all these magical creatures finding the sources of their magic and leaving, it does make one wonder why the mortals kept these items, instead of destroying them. A number of reasons come to mind:

  • Bragging rights: “My wife’s a merrow!” “Prove it!” And he brings the lads home from the pub, pulls the cap from hiding, and shows it about while they all oooh and aaah.
  • Insurance: Since these men are heartless enough to woo a female by trickery and theft, it’s not a stretch to think that they might want to make sure that they can get out of the marriage should something better come along, or should they decide they don’t like being married all that much.
  • Idiocy: If they have to steal the merrow’s cap to find a bride, they might not be the brightest bulb in the box.
  • Cover story: What better alibi for your wife deciding to leave you than to claim that she was a magical creature who found the source of her magic and returned home? Also good for a man who kills his wife, especially if he’s already claimed that she was a merrow or selkie.

Do you believe in the magic of the sea? Or do you find a more pedestrian explanation for these myths?

Friday, June 14, 2013

Five for Friday: Early to Rise

I am, of necessity being a mom, an early riser. For many years, I worked second shift and burned the candle at both ends, but I have to admit that there are things I like about getting up early.

Peace: The house and the neighborhood are so quiet with everyone still abed. I love that sense that you’re one of the only ones in the world at that moment. This stillness is where I can get a lot of my creativity onto the page (or the Word doc). It’s a great time to get chores started, too, like the laundry—things that won’t disturb others and that take time to do.

Sunrise: Some days when I get up, it’s still dark outside. There’s something magical to me about those two times of day when it is neither day nor night. Sunrise is one of those times, and as the light fills the horizon, it refracts and paints the sky with such beautiful pastel colors. Even the streaks of white that dance across the blues and pinks and lilacs have an almost ethereal quality to them.

Coffee: There’s just something to be said for that first cup of coffee, drunk in the stillness of the early morning. The scent as it fills your nostrils is so tantalizing that it is almost a reward in and of itself. The first sip that nearly burns your lips and trails the most pleasant warmth over your tongue and down your throat makes life worth living. Whether you like it black, black with sugar, or with just cream or with cream and sugar, coffee makes the morning.

Time: It’s odd how some mornings, time seems to become mired in cold molasses, allowing you to enjoy the wee hours even more. This morning is such a one for me. As I write this, I’ve been up now for over two hours. I’ve gone to Dunkin Donuts with my dad, driven him to work, showered, dried my hair, checked my emails, checked in on the Stargate forum that I hang out at, rebooted my laptop after an update, and am now sitting here, drinking my coffee still and writing this entry. What a fabulous morning so far.

Watching my boy(s) sleep. When they were babies, I would always check on my boys, every night, to watch them sleep for a bit. The innocence of their slumbering forms always tugged at my heart. These days, with the youngest being nearly a teen-ager and the oldest nearly a man in legal terms (both this September, in fact), I give them their privacy. But there is just something so beautiful about seeing them asleep, that I am almost happy when I have to act as their alarm clock and wake them. I don’t feel this way every day, mind, and certainly not when I wind up being the alarm with the snooze that gets “hit” every few minutes, but today is one of those nice days.

Well, there’s this week’s FFF. I am off now to re-wake the pre-teen and get out the door to get my dad’s car serviced. See you all next week. Have a great week-end!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Wednesday Check In: A Day Late and 1200 Miles Away...


I’ve tried to keep the food intake down this week, but I’ve been very naughty on the carb front. Between that and going out to dinner with hubby to Olive Garden, I wound up with a gain over last week. I’m back to 200.8. Not thrilled. Not that I did anything about it yesterday. Got up and had no time to exercise, as I had to catch a plane to Connecticut with my youngest son. He’s spending the summer with his grampa. We ate a very, very quick McSandwich for breakfast. Lunch/supper was at a very nice restaurant. I was hungry, so I had an appetizer of New England Clam Chowder. Ate a relatively healthy lunch of braised herb salmon and asparagus, with a small bit of smashed potatoes. Dessert was an issue. Lava cake and ice cream, split with my son. Oy vay! Connecticut’s gonna be hard.

On the plus side, despite the rain and chill keeping me from walking around the hilly neighborhood and the lack of exercise equipment at the house, I should be able to get over to the local YMCA. My dad said that they have a two week free trial that I can participate in. Failing that, the local gym has a 10 day free trial. I’m hoping the Y has a pool; although there is a town pool, it’s so far been cold and rainy and the town pool is outside.

The other thing going for me is that my dad is a diabetic. I know that sounds wrong, but what I mean is that there’s not a whole lot of sugary crap food around his house. Now if I can just get him to stop feeding my son and I like we’re starved and having a low-sugar attack, we’ll be fine.


At least I’ve gotten some words written this week. I got up a couple of mornings and knocked out some writing while waiting for the teen to get ready to leave for school. I also wrote one day in a notebook while I was at an amusement park with my son and his friend. With all of that, and despite getting ready for my trip to Connecticut, I still managed to pop out 1823 words. I was super-proud that all of the words were in my sci-fi romance instead of all over the place. Now, not all of it was in a direct timeline from point A to point B, but still…

These next couple of weeks will be a challenge to find writing time, as I am at my dad’s to help him clean out some of my mom’s stuff. Mom is in a nursing home and neither knows about nor wants (when she does know about) a good percentage of her things. She has resigned herself to being in the home and knows that she has no room for many of her things, most of which she has not even seen, let alone used, for several years.

There are also the numerous dusty items that are found when one has been living in the same home for dozens and dozens of years. I need to help Dad sort through a lot of that stuff while I'm here, and since he'll be working during the day for the next couple of weeks, it's pretty much on me. 

Vocab: Conflagrate: to be on fire.

Story idea: A dragon walks into a pub…

Monday, June 10, 2013

Mysterious Monday: Selkies

Very late this week. Sorry! Monday snuck up on me and tackled me in almost dog-like fashion, licking my face and wagging its tail until I was nearly overcome.

Photo courtesy of savit keawtavee at freedigitalphotos.net

At any rate, this week I decided to talk about selkies. In Irish myth, a selkie (also known as a silkie) was a sea creature that took the form of a seal. Most often, we hear tales of the female selkies, who come ashore to dance in the moonlight after shedding their skins. If a man is lucky enough to capture a selkie’s seal skin and hide it from her, the selkie will become his wife. She will make a good, if melancholy, wife, who yearns to return to her sea home. When and if she finds her pelt, she leaves the man behind, sometimes taking their children with them, sometimes leaving the children at home.

Less often, we hear of male selkies, who come ashore in search of dissatisfied women, mostly fishermen’s wives. Apparently, the male selkies hide their pelts a bit better than their female counterparts because we don’t often hear of the males being kept in sexual slavery. Or it could be that we don’t hear of this because the selkie male would get chased off by some unhappy husband. The human women can “call” a male selkie by going to the beach at high tide and shedding seven tears into the water.

Personally, I think the whole thing stinks. The selkie females being taken against their wills, and the males taking advantage of over-worked, over-wrought, over-anxious wives. Now, admittedly, these stories originated in a time when being a wife was little better than being a slave in many instances, a time when women were little more than chattel, but my modern female back goes up when I read about some man taking the selkie female’s freedom. Not real pleased at the casual display of cheating by the selkie males and human women, either.

So why am I thinking of selkies this week? Frankly, I’m not 100% sure, but a selkie tale is playing at the edges of my consciousness, teasing, dipping its head above the waves to disappear an instant later. I would like to write a tale where there does not seem to be so much casual disregard for the feelings of the human or the selkie. My interest could be because of my research on Hy Brasil last week, where I delved into some Irish myths, a favorite past-time of mine since childhood. It could be because of the deluges of rain we’ve had the past few days that are making me think of gathering the local fauna into pairs whilst I work on a construction project of approximately forty cubits by forty cubits using gopher wood.

At any rate, the selkies are close cousins to the other water spirits, one of whom I almost wrote for my NaNoWriMo project last year, and will probably pursue this year. I’m always interested in the myths and legends of the northern peoples, be they Celts of any flavor, Lapps, Scandinavians, or Russians. Such a rich breeding ground of stories that could use a little brushing off and modernizing, or just a nice little re-telling. 

How about you? Do you use myths and legends for your story ideas? Or do you just like to read the stories of others? Do you have a “go to” culture that you prefer?

Friday, June 7, 2013

Five for Friday: Refreshing drinks

Summer is officially here. My kids are out of school and the temperature has become unbearable to the point that my air conditioner runs constantly. With that in mind, I thought I'd share five of my favorite refreshing drinks (that the whole family can partake of).

1. Sweet tea. I was raised in New England on that powdered Lipton stuff. I thought I knew what iced tea was and I liked it. Then we moved to Texas and I got my first taste of real, brewed, sugar-added tea. I will never go back to powder again. The only problem I have with sweet tea is that it does a number on the calorie count and the carbs from all that sugar. But if you can spare the calories, this is the only way to go.

2. Coca-cola. I have loved Coke since I was a kid and the only way you could buy it at the store was in the glass bottles. The burning coldness as the bubbly liquid hits your hot mouth is like nothing else on this earth. No diet, no New Coke for me. Just plain old-fashioned regular coke. All right, I wouldn't mind a squirt of vanilla now and again.

3. Root beer. Pick a root beer, any root beer. Gramma used to get us Hires. Mom used to buy A&W. My first taste of Barq's came in the summer of my twenty-second year, when I found and purchased it at a little store in Nebraska on a road trip to Denver. I was intrigued, having just heard about this soda in a country song. It was good, real good, and I understood what they meant when they said, "Barq's has bite". But in all honesty, I'll take any root beer. Go ahead a drop and scoop of vanilla or chocolate ice cream in there, will ya?

4. Mountain Dew. Totally refreshing, despite its dubious color. One of my favorite uncles growing up used to buy this stuff by the caseload. Whenever we'd visit the campground he and my aunt owned, he'd have the refrigerator all stocked up. Perfect way to cool off in the un-air-conditioned summer of the backwoods of New Hampshire.

5. Water. Believe it or not, I love just a nice cold glass of water. Flavored or plain, just not bubbly. There truly is nothing quite so refreshing and replenishing to me after mowing the lawn or coming in from a walk in the summer heat.

Hope you all enjoy your summer. Keep cool!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Wednesday Check In


Well, Aunt Flo, who has been conspicuously absent for the past couple of months, decided to show her ugly face again. I thought I was done with this monthly visitor, and moving on to the next phase of my life with no fuss, no muss, no mood swings or hot flashes. I was wrong. Along with my monthly came the usual cravings for salt and sweets and red meat and pasta and bread. Also explains why my legs were killing me yesterday as I did my calisthenics.

So I’m sure I killed my calories yesterday, but I was so sure it would be depressing that I didn’t mark them down. There wasn’t a fruit or veg in sight yesterday. I’ll need to make up for that oversight today.

I did do an extra 40 minutes on the treadmill to try to make up some of the calories, and managed to burn an additional 214. This morning, I went for my usual full hour on the treadmill. And still I wound up gaining overall, coming in at 198.8. Some could be water weight, but I get the feeling it’s pasta weight.


Lots of words this week—well ahead of the Little Bites Challenge schedule, which is great. Total word count, as of this morning, is 2117. That’s not including the words I wrote this morning, which will go on next week’s check-in. I've been dreaming my story at night, then waking up and writing while I wait for the teen to get his butt in gear for school. School's out now, so we'll see how I go from here on out for the summer. Ironically, I'm not feeling very verbose right now, so I'll see you all Friday. 


Forthright: Honest, unswerving

Story starter: Druid meets Christian.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Mysterious Monday: Hy Brasil

All right. I’m going to admit something to y’all that I don’t tell very many people. I watch the show “Ancient Aliens”. And I believe a good chunk of it. I’ve always been a fan of Erich von Däniken and Edward Cayce. The myths of Atlantis led me to reading about aliens having come to Earth many centuries ago. The other day, there was a marathon of the show on the History Channel. One of the things they spoke about was the land of Hy Brasil.

Hy Brasil was supposed to be located off the southwest coast of Ireland. Although it shares many similarities with Atlantis, Hy Brasil has much more supposed documentation. Both Saint Brendan and Saint Barrind mention the island on their voyages, in great (and extremely similar) detail.

Two famous stories of encounters with Hy Brasil happen approximately two hundred years apart. The first was in 1674 by Captain John Nisbet of Ireland. His ship encountered a deep fog and when they emerged from the other side, they found themselves dangerously close to running aground on the shoals of the mysterious island. The crew took boats and rowed to the island, where they were showered with gold. One hundred ninety-eight years later, T.J. Westropp, an Irish historian and author, watched in consternation as the island disappeared. He had visited the island on three previous trips.

Despite eyewitness accounts, very little is known about Hy Brasil. It was a roughly circular island, cut down the middle by a channel. Buildings were topped in gold and silver, a very rich display from the residents. Pastures were dotted with strong, healthy cattle and sheep. The human inhabitants of the island were reported to be highly intelligent and very knowledgeable in the healing arts.

Oddly, if you look for maps that show that area in the years between 1325 and 1872, you only find Hy Brasil when you type the name into a Google search. Also, I can find no direct quotes from either Nisbet or Westropp, despite their amazing visits, and despite the fact that one of them was a prolific author. To be fair, I have not read all of Westropp’s works, merely scanned titles, but wouldn’t you think something of this magnitude—an island that is shrouded in mist and full of rich, obviously advanced beings, that simply disappears one day—wouldn’t you think this would warrant a book of its own, with an appropriate title?

This begs the question of what’s going on? Is all of this pure bullshit and have those who want us to believe simply added in the “roughly circular” island and the stories as “proof”? Are the maps simply mistaken, the stories fantastical tales told by seamen to spice up the routine of their trip and get them some interest (feminine or financial) upon their return? Or is something more sinister going on? Has Hy Brasil been struck from the historical record for some reason?

Personally, I would love to believe that Hy Brasil, Atlantis, Mu, and other legendary islands are not just flights of fancy. I would love to believe that these islands once existed, and that an advanced race of humans lived and worked and played there. What about you? What do you think?