A Fairy Tale for Writers: Maybe Nana Doesn’t Need to Know

A Fairy Tale for Writers: Maybe Nana Doesn’t Need to Know


“Well. Good evening.”

“What? Where–” My eyes began to focus in the dimness of what appeared to be a cave.

“Fazitz and I brought you to my home. Hollow Bark. You… are a little drunk.”  The cave, I could see, now, was a cozy little room in the hollowed out trunk of a tree. It was sumptuously decorated. The walls were smooth and polished till they gleamed. Tapestries hung from them, with scenes of golden bees paying tribute to their queen. Tiny stitches, so delicate, depicted the painstaking production of honey. Each tapestry was bordered in intricate spirals of fairies squatting atop red, white, and purple clover or riding bees into battle.

Leiliaticia hovered over me. Her expression of concern was both alarming and comical. “I’m all right, I think.”

“We’re used to the dandelion pollen. I thought you might sneeze, but this – well, it’s a most curious side effect. I had forgotten how you humans made wine from it.” Nana had some Dandelion Wine in the cellar, but she had never let me try it. I might have to sneak in a nip, if I ever got big enough to pop the cork. Dandelions were dreamy. I lay back on a downy bed and smiled at the memory. My fingers hung over the side of the bed and touched something soft as a newborn kitten. Fazitz! The bee lay beside the bed, napping. Soft buzzing rumbled low in my ears, vibrating through my fingertips, a cross between purring and snoring. I stroked the wisps of bee-hair. A sharp slap brought me back to reality. “We have to get you home.”

“Can’t I stay a little longer?” I asked, feeling my lower lip curl in a pout, as if I were three and Nana had said it was time to go home from the town’s annual carnival.

“No,” said Leiliaticia sternly. “You’ve been out for hours. Your Nana will be worried sick. Come on, Fazitz. Time to hit the sky.” The fairy’s tone warned against any backtalk or debate.

“Can I come again? There’s so much I want to learn.”

“We’ll see. If your Nana approves, she’ll let us know.”

“Wait, what do you mean, she’ll let you know? She knows about you?”

“Of course, ninny. Did you think we made a habit of kidnapping little girls?”

“Do we need to tell her about the dandelions?”

Leiliaticia grinned at Fazitz. “Maybe she doesn’t need to know everything,” said the fairy.

Anti-racists: Don’t Lose the Focus!

Anti-racists: Don’t Lose the Focus!

This is my daughter, and I could not be prouder of the young woman she has become:

Already, racists are trying to spin this into another nonsensical, blame-the-victim narrative, saying, “But Blake had a KNIFE!” Well, sure. In his car. On the floorboards, apparently. I guess that means I can be shot by police in my front yard, because I have a huge chef’s knife in my kitchen. I sometimes carry sharp, crochet scissors on a crocheted chain around my neck. I’ve even brought those on board an airplane – does that make me a terrorist! Got me – I’m a wannabe yarn bomber!

For crying out loud, people. Anti-racists want law and order, too – which means that they want everyone’s Constitutional rights to be upheld. When police shoot an unarmed black man in the back, seven times, but hand out water to a teen carrying an assault rifle – who shot 3 protesters with it, killing two – and lets the kid go, there’s a problem. And if you can’t see that, you are a big part of that problem.

I read something this morning that struck home:

It’s a privilege to be educated on racism and not have to experience it. Black folks having hope when it comes to racism ain’t about Black people these days, it’s about making White people feel good about finally taking their blinders off after decades of ignoring our suffering, maltreatment and their history of neglect.

Hope in 2020 is asking Black folks to hold their breath waiting for White people to make the decision of our lifetimes and the lifetimes of our Black children and grandchildren.

Hope is asking us to wait on White people…again.

View at Medium.com

So, this is one “privilege” I’d urge my white friends to exercise: Sign up for my friend Sharon Hurley Hall’s Antiracism Newsletter: https://antiracism.substack.com/ – in addition to her own insightful articles on racism and shadeism around the world, including her terrific “While Black” series, which should be required reading for corporate America, she will be sharing great content from other anti-racist writers. I have known Sharon for – well, near as we remember – eight years, now. She is also a talented freelance writer and editor.


A Fairy Tale for Writers: Flight of the Bumbling Writer

A Fairy Tale for Writers: Flight of the Bumbling Writer


“No, of course not.” I stood there, eye to giant eye with a bee, and it wasn’t fear that made me agree that the bee looked anything but stupid. On the contrary, I felt stupid for imagining that Leiliaticia and the bee had grown huge; in fact, I had shrunk to roughly the size of the fairy, meaning that the bee was now the size of a small pony. And yet, standing there, waiting for me to mount him, he seemed completely non-threatening. “Fazizt?” I asked. “Is this all right with you? That I climb on?”

Fazizt and Leiliaticia exchanged startled glances. The bee bent his six knees to make it easier for me. I grasped the soft hairs – so silky, so much finer than fur – and I pulled myself onto the bee’s back. The buzzing sound he made was now akin to a cat purring. “Thank you, Fazitz.”

I sensed that the bee was used to dodging the panicky hand-waving of humans, their aerosolized poisons, and plastic swatters they aimed at all six-legged creatures, but that he had never encountered a human who asked permission for anything. Even my Nana took the bees’ labor for granted. She loved her bees, of course, but I could not recall her ever talking to them. To be fair, she probably didn’t imagine they would understand a word she said. She was never unkind, but it made me uncomfortable, now, to think of how she referred to them as “her hives,” and “her bees.” I felt ashamed for all the times I’d run carelessly through the wildflowers, weaving and dodging, trying not to get stung – never once thinking of the cost to Fazitz, and his colony, should a stinging be called for. I bowed my head, thinking of all the times I’d enjoyed sweet, sticky honey on Nana’s hot, homemade biscuits, without once wondering how I might repay the bees we’d stolen it from.

We flew high over the open, sunny fields. Lush, green grass grew long, dotted by delicate, almost translucent pink and lavender primrose, bright orange and yellow firewheel, crimson-hued Indian paintbrush, and bluebonnets the color of the sky on a summer’s day. Along the western edge of the field there was a dry, cracked, parched patch of dirt that was once Mr. Greer’s farm. No one had lived there, or worked the land, in five or six years. Weeds were gradually filling in the cracks, but it looked scruffy and unwelcoming, unlike the field of wildflowers. A few curious birds, playfully surfing the breeze, joined us. Leiliaticia waved them off.

“What’s wrong?” I asked, alarmed at her unwelcoming frown.

“Fazizt and I aren’t ready to be someone’s breakfast,” she grumbled. “Are you?”

“I hadn’t thought about that. They seemed to be having fun.”

“Takes a big breakfast for them to fly like that,” she said.

We swooped and dropped from the sky, suddenly, to skim the carpet of flowers. Their scent, so delicate as to go almost unnoticed, was suddenly overwhelming. It was not sweet and cloying, like cut flowers on Mother’s Day. It was a rich, earthy mix of petrichor and sunshine. I could smell something else – warm bees. Their bodies vibrated as they moved from flower to flower, and they smelled a lot like a small child that has eaten too much candy, then run to the point of exhaustion, only to fall down laughing and rolling in newly cut grass. Delightful! I breathed deep, and suddenly my face was covered in powdery yellow pollen. Sneezing, I began to giggle. The colors swirled together in the sunlight as puffy yellow dots fell around me like snow. I stretched out my arms, turned my face to the sky, and opened my mouth to catch it on my tongue, like snowflakes.

“Fazitz!” cried Leiliaticia, “Get her out of here!”

Fazitz wove through the air. It was dizzying and exhilarating. Leiliaticia landed on the poor bee, behind me, and held onto me. “Whas going on?” I asked, my words sounding far-away and dreamy and slightly drunk. “Where we going now?”

“Hurry!” Leiliaticia urged. I leaned back against the fairy and passed out, with a big, goofy grin on my face.


A Fairy Tale for Writers: What Do You Want to Be When You Grow Up?

A Fairy Tale for Writers: What Do You Want to Be When You Grow Up?



Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing. — Benjamin Franklin

“Why do you want to be a great writer, Nyalee?”

“Doesn’t everyone, Nana?”

Nana scoffed as she hung the wet clothes on an old line, stretched taut between the gray farmhouse with its red roof and peeling siding, and the sweetgum tree that stood, casting shade and pointy little seed pods, like miniature mace balls, throughout the late summer. That tree never could seem to make up its mind whether it loved us and wanted to shield us from the unrelenting heat of the sun, or wanted to run us off its property with tiny medieval weapons. I loved to climb that tree — to read books among the branches — and to imagine that the falling seed pods were lobbed at us by angry fairies.

Nana had married a great writer, once. Grandfather was famous for three things: books, bees, and booze. Around town, it was the booze that cemented his fame, and brought the flow of words to an abrupt halt, instantly doubling the value of his books. “Nobody’s a great writer till they’re dead, Nyalee.” Nana let the clothes flap like flags in the wind, as she donned her netting and went to check the hives. “That’s how we earn our money, Honey,” she said, with a wink. She kept us fed and clothed with the sweet nectar, and she kept the bees housed and fed on a field of colorful wildflowers.

“Maybe I’ll be the first,” I said, quietly, thinking of all the definitions of “great,” and wondering if Nana and I understood it the same way.

Late in the afternoon, when all the chores were finished, I scrambled up the sweetgum tree with a copy of Mr. Smithfield’s Field Guide to Northeastern Fairies and Other Woodland Folk. My arms were dappled beige and brown and gold as the breeze wiggled the leaves around me; my skin seemed to shimmer with sunlight and shade. I dozed off in the heat, straddling a sturdy branch, resting my spine against rough bark and a thick, tall trunk.

“Why do you want to be a great writer, Nyalee?” chirped a bright and melodious little voice, startling me awake. The voice came from a tiny green fairy, no bigger than my hand from wrist to fingertips, perched atop the leather-bound spine of my Field Guide. She sat cross-legged on the edge of the book, resting her chin in the palm of her hand, her elbow propped on one knee.

“Who are you?” I asked. I longed to open the book and thumb quickly through its pages to figure out what sort of tiny creature this was, but I did not want to startle it. Her.

“I am Leiliaticia. Your book, here, says that I am a ‘Common Green Hardwood Fairy’ often found among sweetgums and maples, which sometimes uses seedlings for caps when working in the fields. In case you wanted to know,” she added. “I have been reading while you napped.”

“Is that — is that what you are, then?” I asked, stupidly.

“Not really, but I suppose if you are ‘Human’ than I can be a ‘Common Green Hardwood Fairy.’ Does that feel — adequate, to you?”

“Not really,” I said, frowning, thinking of all the sorts of Humans there were in the world. I was not sure which sort the fairy thought I might be, and it bothered me a little. “So what are you, really?” I asked.

The little fairy thought for a moment. “I suppose you might call me a ‘Guide,’” she answered.

“A guide to what?” I asked.

“What would you have me guide you to?” she asked, contrapuntally.

This was becoming a very circular conversation. I wanted her to guide me out of it. “How did you know that I wanted to be a great writer?” I asked.

“I heard you talking to your Nana, of course.”

“You were eavesdropping?” I asked.

“You were speaking very loudly,” said Leiliaticia, wrinkling her brow and covering her tiny ears with her hands. “You humans have very big mouths.”

“I suppose you have a point. But then, you must be shouting for me to hear you so well with your little bitty mouth!”

“Perhaps I am. Or maybe I just know how to project my voice, so that it carries on the breeze.” Leiliaticia looked around the yard. “If only you humans ever listened to any voices but your own,” she added.

She made a little clicking sound with her tongue, and began to grow swiftly larger, until she and I were of the same height. The tree, though, was now a giant thing — the branch I sat upon had swollen to the size of my grandmother’s rooftop; I could no longer straddle it at all! I scrambled to my feet as it grew larger and larger beneath me. Now, Leiliaticia sat on a pebbled crimson ledge looking down at me and laughing.

“Wait, what — ” It was no “ledge” she sat upon; it was my book! Suddenly, the world around me had grown vastly bigger.

Fluttering her delicate wings as softly as any butterfly, Leiliaticia hopped down and stood before me, holding out her hand. “You asked for a guide?”

“No, I asked you what you were a guide to!” I exclaimed. “What have you done?” I think that I had been extraordinarily calm, up to now — for a human, at least. “You’ve shrunk me,” I cried. “Put me back to normal size, right this insta — oh! Brownies to Beelzebub, what in creation what is that?” I shrieked, pointing at a giant black and brown, softly furred bird with gigantic black eyes that hovered next to us, as if awaiting something.

Leiliaticia laughed. “Don’t you recognize Fazitz? He’s a Gatherer — what you and your Nana call a ‘Forager bee.’”

Oh, no no no no no… I had my doubts about going into the family business, but giant bees that were almost as big as me? No. Hmm mm. I backed up and pressed my body into the bark of the sweetgum tree, trying to hide in its deep crevices. I stared at the bee. It stared back. I swear, if bees could laugh, it laughed. Sort of a cross between a buzz and a hiccup, with a little wiggle in its wobbly flutter-hover.

“Humans are so weird,” said Leiliaticia, rolling her eyes. Fazitz landed on the branch in front of us, and Leiliaticia instructed me to climb up on its back.

“NO.” I balked, shaking my head. “I am not riding a bee.”

“Why not? Think he’ll sting you?”

“Won’t he?”

“Well, if he does, he’ll die. Does he look stupid to you, Human?”

To be continued…

Anti-racists: Don’t Lose the Focus!

Enough is Enough: The Slacktivism Won’t Cut It

What Do You Stand For?

“Why can’t we all just get along?” sounds good in principle, but only works when we’re dealing with differences of opinion – like which football team is best, Pepsi or Coke?, or whether grunge is better than rock or classical music. Calls for “more love, less hate” sound wonderful – who doesn’t want that? But if we don’t rise up, stand up, speak out, and take action against the oppression of our fellow humans, if we don’t stand up against police brutality and the killing of innocent people (or at least people who are innocent of any capital crime), if we don’t stand up against authoritarianism, then who are we? Can we even call ourselves “Americans” anymore? Didn’t that used to stand for something? Didn’t that “something” used to include a proud, staunch opposition to fascism? I am glad that most of the Greatest Generation cannot see the futility of their courage in WWII in some of your faces, words, and inactions.

I Need a Good Answer to This

Why is it wrong to judge all police officers by “a few bad apples,” but okay to judge all Black people or all anti-fascist protesters by the few agitators who riot and loot and distract from the message that “Black Lives Matter” or that hopeful belief that we are opposed to authoritarian dictatorship and fascism in this country?

Consider this: No one but the fascists gain anything when violence and lawlessness break out. So – who’s provoking the violence?

Defending Rights & Dissent, a civil liberties group, cataloged known instances of First Amendment abuses and political surveillance by the FBI since 2010. The organization found that the feds devoted disproportionate resources to spy on peaceful left-leaning civil society groups, including Occupy Wall Street, economic justice advocates, racial justice movements, environmentalists, Abolish ICE, and various anti-war movements.[122][123] During the effort to violently target Occupy Wall Street, the FBI and the DHS conducted their operations against activists in coordination with banks, the local police, and the New York Stock Exchange.[124]

From https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/COINTELPRO

What Will It Take to Make You STAND for It?

If the meek inherit the earth, it will be a scorched and uninhabitable planet. A Pyrrhic victory, indeed. Don’t just stand on the sidelines. Pick something concrete and constructive – and preferably positive – that you can do to effect change. Feeling lost? Unsure of what you can do? Join the club. Do some digging. Here’s are some ideas: What to Know About Portland’s Crackdown on Protesters and How You Can Help.

Get Your News from Eyewitnesses, Experts

I’d like to believe we have a “failure of leadership” in government, today, but I think that the opposite is true – we have masterminds orchestrating this Chess game, hoping you won’t notice until they smile and whisper, as they slip the noose around your neck: “Checkmate.”

Please click through and read the links.

Immediately, there was a piling on of people trying to discredit and smear the victim. But eyewitnesses and video taken at the scene tell a different story. Don’t get all your news third-hand. Don’t even take just my word for it – this is why I say, “Click through. Read.” Just try to be sure your sources are presenting the FACTS accurately. They can have a different opinion, but beware when they start to alter facts.  Everyone has an agenda, here, and it’s time to figure out what yours is and who you stand with – but most importantly, why.

Sure, Garrett Foster was open-carrying an AK-47. He said some things about people who opposed the BLM protesters – called them “pussies.” He confronted the car driver who gunned him down – because that driver drove at high speed into a crowd, and Garrett was protecting his quadriplegic wife, who he’d been taking to the nightly protests for about 50 days. Now, these Trump supporters are saying, “Well, he deserved to die.”

But apparently, they had no problem with this:

What are they protesting? Public safety measures to slow a deadly pandemic. Not actual murder of citizens by the State. No, they want to go back to bars and restaurants. They can’t figure out how to cut their own hair. So they try to intimidate a woman Governor who is literally trying to save lives in the state she governs.

This thread (read the whole thread) from a man who’s very knowledgeable about guns, and proves there is such a thing as a responsible gun owner (we see far too few of them – it’s easy to forget they exist):

Even standing firm against nonsense on your favorite social media platforms helps, some – but don’t let it stop there. Make those posts public; share, so that others – inclined to be silent in order to keep the peace and not risk losing friends – may feel courageous, knowing they are not alone.

View at Medium.com

I cannot find it in me to be conciliatory about this, anymore. If we can’t push back, with facts and firmness, on family and friends, when they are drinking from the trough of nonsense, there’s no hope for change. I can only imagine how crushing it was, for Europeans and others who did nothing but wring their hands as Hitler and the Nazis rose to power in the 1930s. If you imagine you’d have handled things differently or better, now’s your chance.

And if you do nothing else, at least commit to voting against fascism in November. Make sure all your friends are registered to vote, too, and drive ’em to the polls if you can’t vote by mail. This goes for you Americans, and for those reading this from other countries where authoritarian rule is on the rise – vote like lives depend on it. Because they do.