In the stillness, in the moment our lips meet,
we turn to sunshine.
Our fingers, woven, are knitted with one another
like trees in ancient soil.
The rhythm of your heart drums a furious pace,
echoing inside me.
And I fall deeper.
You are wordless, but never quiet.
Like coals, heated in the nil space between our bodies,
we turn to fire, but never ash.
And then you climb, a hot wind upon the aching mountain
of my desire.
And I surrender.
In these places, no one knows our names.
No one sees our faces.
Our eyes are heavy-lidded, our breaths broken only
to kiss, and to kiss again.
We wander from dream to dream, a reverent carousel moved by the hurricane of our love.
I call to you, crying out your name.
You clutch, you pull me closer.
Like a starved fire, you catch and burn and consume me.
We turn to sunlight again, delivered through all darkness,
sent to this place as if born in the very same star.
And I surrender.
And I fall deeper.
J Edward Neill
For more poetry, go here.
Here’s the fourth entry in a series of blogs from writer, rider, and environmentalist explorer, Michael Kristensen. He’s a native Dane riding through South America, exploring opportunities and cultural challenges to sustainable environmental practices.
His Facebook page is here.
The original blog appears here.
Every week (possibly more often) Michael will be riding through South America, remarking on his experiences, and blogging at length. We at Tessera Guild will follow him every step of the way. This week marks the fourth leg of his journey. His third week is here.
Please note: these blog entries are direct from Michael. No editing. No proofing. As raw as any blog you’ll see.
“When you talk you only repeat what you already know, when you listen you might have a chance to learn something new”
The above is one of my favorite quotes, the truth in that is so simple, but yet so hard to live. Whom shall speak and who shall listen, which person is the messenger of truth, and truth from which perspective, which truth is being reflected and how is it communicated?
My meeting with people has shown me another way, I have been frustrated because my plan didn’t play out the way I had expected. I wanted to visit projects and write about them, about people’s initiatives, their great projects and how people can inspire each other to do better for this planet we live on. Let’s say the people I have met have opened a door to another dimension…hmmm maybe just another perspective. It’s about communication. If we only manage to communicate to our peers and repeat what we collectively already know, are we then communicating or just nodding heads? Does the message come through?
We the urban climate-change warriors, yes us Westerns. Look at us! We tell the rest of the world what they must do the change the path we have guided them toward, the path of consumerism. We tell the farmers in Asia that they must stop using pesticides (which we have sold them and promoted) we tell them to grow organic, we tell the fishermen in Brazil to stop overfishing and not to pollute the water with their fishing gear while we trawl our own waters with enormous fishing boats. We the Westerns communicate that from our over-electrified cozy homes filled with stuff, “hygge” and Christmas decorations, while we tend our newly constructed urban gardens and Instagram it. Who are we to tell them anything, maybe we should start to listen instead? Why on earth would they listen to us, when we talk from that perspective?
We have everything they are told to strive for, what’s the argument for them not to get the same as us , we are so overwhelmingly rich on materialistic goods it’s sickening, do we feel hollow and need to find purpose in something, find a battleground for our bad consciousness? Can we start to live like they do, with less?
It’s not that we don’t have some of the answers, because we do, but what does that matter if we can’t communicate it? And more importantly if we don’t want to live it! The fishermen and the farmers that LIVE with nature they might also have some of the answers, but we have been so busy alienate them and make them our enemies, they have become criminals in the public eye, the farmers are polluting the soils and streams, even the oceans, with their pesticides and fertilizers. The fishermen have overfished the oceans without respect for the very element they live off. We tell the Ranchers in Argentina that their cows fart to much and it is killing the planet! Why would they listen to us the urban climate-change warriors, when we are communicating from that perspective?
Then there’s the fight among the different fractions, vegetarians against meat-eaters, vegans against everybody, political left against right, deniers against science (sorry had to do that) the middle-aged gray men against Greta Thunberg, governments against indigenous people, feminists against men. When do we stop fighting each other and start working together toward sustainable solutions we all can agree upon?
I met Ashley and her Husband Pat, on their farm in Uruguay, the couple originally from Chicago has done what most people just talk about, they moved away from the urban gardeners to live a more sustainable life on a farm. A life much more tough but also much more giving. I interviewed them to get their perspective, and to understand what had made them move away from the “easy” life of urban Chicago, to a remote spot in the back hills of Uruguay.
It was actually very easy to make that decision was their reply, they wanted to present another set of values to their two young daughters, than it was possible in the US. The hard part was to get acceptance from the family, and to get them to understand that a simple life on a farm added more value to their life than being part of the rat race at “home”. Ashley with a PhD in environmental sustainability, is well aware that she must fit in and be humble, she tells me that she spend most of her time listening to the farmers in the region, than trying to teach them how to grow their crops or treat their lands. She has a huge deal of respect for the farmers and are well aware that they have most of the answers, not her.
We had a great talk about how to communicate with the stakeholders, how important it is that we communicate by looking at the problem-task-issue-challenge from outside in, meaning that we the stakeholders stand shoulder by shoulder on the perimeter looking in, trying to find solutions together and most importantly we start by finding common ground.
Ashley and Pat have started the https://www.facebook.com/RizomaFieldSchool/ here in their own words(mission) : we hope to educate a network of individuals who can hack, subvert, create, resist and share strategies across contexts. Join us in envisioning and creating a world that can be continually better for all its inhabitants.
They have students coming to study from all over the world, the studies at totally hands on sustainable farming. Ashley has a theory saying that you can only learn so much from books at the University, the real knowledge will be imprinted in the students consciousness by being there and actually do the work, get your hands dirty and see the results of your hard work.
My next encounter with great minds in Uruguay was when I met the wonderful people of the South American Institute for Resilience and Sustainability Studies (SARAS) http://saras-institute.org/ in their own words (mission) SARAS are designed to generate critical insights allowing South America to build sustainable futures. It seeks integration across a broad range of innovative approaches, combining disciplinary domains (social, natural and exact sciences), different sources of knowledge, and art-science interactions.
I was extremely privileged to be invited in, I came uninvited to a conference they held, I was welcomed in to participate in the conference which was about how to make the food industry in S.A more sustainable. there were scientists from all the South American countries and people from as far away as Sweden, Holland, Germany and the USA.
Interesting enough was one of the most important topics “communication” how to involve the stakeholders, farmers, fishermen, ranchers, manufacturers, scientists, producers ect. In a productive and constructive dialog across interests and try not to end up in a polarized political discussion, as they said their most important tribute was building bridges between the stakeholders, SARAS are trying hard to be the epicenter of knowledge sharing. I interviewed a small group of 7 persons, trying to get their opinion about the challenges we face regarding sustainable food in the future and how to deal with it.
The institute are planning a sustainable conference to be held in Uruguay2020, where every possible stakeholder from the food industry are invited and will have a voice. Hopefully some of the answers will be found at this at this event.
The good: All the amazing and super friendly people I have met, its been an amazing experience, even though I kind of know that meeting people with a smile and always communicate in eyelevel in a humble way, mostly result in a smile and compassion right back at you, it’s been overwhelming how welcoming people have been. I mostly stay in private homes found through Airbnb, and without exception have that been wonderful. I have had so many good experiences with people it will require a blog of its own to tell about it, but here is a few outstanding meetings. When I got robbed in La Plata a wonderful young teacher found some of my possessions laying on the street, among that my Green card, some other important documents and some of my clothes, he went through the trouble finding me writing me an email telling me he found the stuff and took time off work to come meet me and deliver it back to me, I tried to compensate him by offering him money, which he refused all he wanted was a picture of me and my bike and a big hug. In Rio we met some outstanding people as well my host Sergio what an amazing man, his outstanding hospitality he totally went beyond what can be expected, our friend Lily and their friends which gave us the most mesmerizing New years evening on the beach of Copacabana, with food drinks and they spend an hour at 3 in the morning finding us a ride back to the hotel, just wonderful people. I spend 5 days in Brazil without any cash because I was in the por part of the far south, people I met gave me credit for food late at night without a worry about me coming back to them the next day to pay up, I still couldn’t change money or find an ATM that would take my credit cards, so they found a guy that accepted my US $, the time I took a ferry and to my big surprise found out that they didn’t accept Visa cards, (we had already taken off) the ticket guy laughed told me to go to a bank when we arrived on the other bank, I did but they didn’t accept visa either, I waited 2 hours for the ferry to return, when they did I offered him US $ which he told me had no value to him , he told me it was a free trip from him smiled and went on with his business. They all did it with a smile and hugs not a bad word or any frustration, they wen out of their ways to help me out. As I wrote I can go on and on with these great encounters.
One more amazing thing is how the Brazilians are cleaning, everywhere I went, gas stations, Restaurants, homes even the beaches are spotless. Copacabana beach is the cleanest beach of that size I have ever been at. Good job guys 😊
The bad (Surprise) wauw the language barrier in Brazil has been far more extreme than I ever expected, hardly nobody speaks English at least not outside Sao Paulo and Rio D J. and they hardly ever speak Spanish either. I had trained my Spanish for a month hoping I could use it in Brazil but NO, and now after spending 5 weeks in Brazil returning to Spanish speaking countries, I have to relearn my Spanish once more very frustrating 😊 honestly it have been hard not to communicate with hardly anybody without google translate for 5 weeks, and my sustainability studies has suffered from that, that’s partly why I have been waiting to blog until I was back in Paraguay and Argentina. Another surprise has been how good the Brazilian drivers are, being on a motorcycle you really pay attention to other drivers, I must say that Brazilian drivers are very cautious and give room for MC¨s thanks guys for a wonderful road experience, I cant recall one bad incident in 5 weeks and traveling more than 3000 miles.
The Ugly hardly nobody has anything to say about sustainability, recycling is horrible, there is on obvious plan for climate change, and very few sustainability projects. The entire Florianopolis area is one of the most beautiful places on earth, but does not have a sewer system or use septic tanks, raw sewerage is being let in to the streams and out in the bay and ocean. I met with a professor that wrote her PhD about sustainability in the area, and it was horrific reading, not even the natives want to change and talk about sustainability, they want the short term benefits from selling parts of their lands to foreigners or expand their houses to be able to earn a few bucks by renting it out. The professor I talked to had given up, she tried to have the government listen to her and do something about the issues, but they had no interest in change, just looking for fast cash selling land to developers.
Beer prices are pretty good domestic beer 1,5 $ for a liter in the stores, 2,5 $ for a liter in bars , imports are 30% more expensive.
You didn’t even cry.
Just hunkered there in my arms
blinking with meek lids
as if to say,
‘Is this the right place?’
Maybe it isn’t.
Maybe it is.
But there we were, the newest of companions.
If nothing else,
you were swift to stake your claim.
That time you loosed your little bowels
in my hands.
The dinner you gave back
while in bed
on my face
When you loosed expletives
at the bedroom door
as if it were a bartender
denying you a beverage.
The time you leapt headlong
into the filthy water
and nearly died
but came out laughing.
Your odd disdain for corn.
Your completely understandable hatred
tiny yet formidable
When you asked me
whether bubble gum counts as dessert.
The way food touching
pretty much causes
the end of the world.
Eccentricities, some might say.
The building bricks
of a child
one day a man.
Not to me.
These are the foibles of a friend.
The wisest sage among
the world has ever known.
For more words, find me here.
J Edward Neill
I’m J Edward. I write books.
I try to please my readers. I really do. I want them ALL to have a great experience whenever they crack the cover.
We writers can’t please everyone. Not even close. Some readers will be indifferent, and others only mildly interested. And still others will be so non-entertained they’ll take to the internet to write a gut-busting negative review.
A lot of writers hate this part of the job. They’ll say they don’t mind a bad review or two, but then when it happens to them, they’ll be indignant, even angry. I’ve watched the cycle play out hundreds of times.
As for me, I cherish bad reviews.
“Wait, what?” you ask.
Let me explain.
First, a bad review gives me a glimpse of what I need to do better in my craft. If a reader puts together a thoughtful diatribe about how bad one of my characters sucked or how long-winded a chapter was, it’s an opportunity for me to improve.
Secondly, and 500% more awesome, is that I simply like reading bad reviews more than good ones. It’s fun for me in a way I’m not sure most writers understand. I savor the crappy reviews as much as I do the good ones. Even the ones written by vindictive trolls. (Yes, it happens.)
Hell…I’m considering writing something truly awful just to see how many bad reviews I can collect.
Here’s some of the most interesting bad reviews I’ve ever received. Each one is three stars or fewer. Each one appears on Amazon, Goodreads, or a similar site.
Oh, and these are verbatim. I didn’t edit or correct grammar or spelling mistakes. Oops.
Down the Dark Path
By Shirley on March 8, 2016
Format: Kindle Edition
*** Shirley’s right. It’s pretty bloody. Especially at the end. (Which means she read the whole thing. Cool.)
1.0 out of 5 stars
on December 17, 2015
“ok so far..cool thing is free.”
*** If this is the worst review I ever get on this book, I’m fine with it. It’s not like the reviewer paid for it. 🙂
Eugene rated it 2 out of 5 stars
“The only complaint I have for this book is that it’s too damn long. I actually got so frustrated that I skipped a few chapters just to get to the end. The author changes perspectives (by that I mean switching to events happening elsewhere) at the most inopportune moments. So that’s two complaints I suppose. Oh, well. At least it gets better in the second book.”
*** Now this is a constructive review. After reading it (and others like it) I actually went back and chopped tens of thousands of words out. I did a total rewrite. Took me a year to finish. Ouch, but worth it.
Reviewed by Martha in the United States on January 5, 2020
Reviewed by Lynguy in the United States on March 26, 2019
I received this book in a Goodreads Giveaway. This book takes place in the distant future and is relatively well-written despite a few editing errors. It deals with enhanced virtual reality, world building, how people with different priorities can become enemies, AIs, and high-tech war.
The main characters could have been better developed if the book was a little longer. However, the book was thought-provoking and had a different take on the subject matter than a lot of other sci-fi novels. I am glad I read it, but it did not blow me away.
*** This one is a thoughtful, well-written review. If all reviews were this insightful, I’d be one happy camper.
Reviewed in the United States on August 17, 2016
” Gerrard De Napoli, un-jacked himself…..”. Apart from some awkward terminology, I was sucked into the book. It’s dark, gritty and more terrifying than anything else, it’s a very believable concept!
Reviewed by Patryce in the United Kingdom on December 31, 2016
By Lieschen on July 28, 2015
Format: Kindle Edition (101 Questions for Women)
“The author claims to have put on his filter in order to save the book from becoming chauvinistic drivel. While I appreciate the gesture, the book still is fairly chauvinistic and not too enlightening philosophically. The questions show a clear bias (e.g Do readers think of feminism as: a) somewhat useful b) silly c) much too confrontational) with the moderate path being laughably mainstream. Critical thinking and philosophical content (dilemma, insights etc) are incredibly thin. In short, the book focuses on the otherness of women from a masculine perspective. While this might help one feel special and while men frankly discussing their worldview can be rather enlightening in itself, I wouldn’t recommend the book to any woman interested in philosophy.”
*** Boy the ladies are really killing this book. Anyway, I can’t disagree with her. (I’m assuming the reader is a woman.) This book is def biased based on my masculine point of view.
Reviewed in the United States on October 17, 2019
This story comes across flat; it is a galaxy-sized tale with a small, narrow, one person point of view. So much so that it takes away from the believability. There isn’t a lot of world building , and what is there doesn’t ring true according to the premise of the story. There is no depth to the characters, except maybe the MC. I also like to see more Science in a science fiction tale, and less magically produced technology that is all ultimate, unbeatable awesomeness, and is available even after long-term global war and collapse.
For the first quarter of the book, the MC doesn’t even leave the farm, and there is quite a bit of repetition of maudlin details throughout the book, as well as other filler.Kudos the editor! I found only one spelling error, which is extremely refreshing. Thank you! However, what is up with the line spacing at the beginning of the chapters?Spoiler Alert:
Vampires? Vampires?? I almost quit reading the first time this word was used! Why do we even have to refer to worn out, over-used urban myths when in deep space? How is it even believable for the excessively sheltered MC to know about them, considering the world he came from? Isn’t it possible for a fertile imagination to come up with something (anything) original to name a group of energy-suckers?
Reviewed in the United States on April 5, 2019
So, I won this as a GoodReads giveaway and decided to use this as a book for a reading challenge (category: giveaway). If I hadn’t had to finish the book to count it for the challenge, I probably wouldn’t have finished it.
Lords of the Black Sands is dystopian fiction, which I don’t mind in and of itself. But this is oppressively dark. It actually really reminds me of Orwell’s 1984, except 1984 was meant to be sociopolitical commentary, and Lords of the Black Sands is not. This might have been a decent story if not for the fact that reading it is a trial with pretty much no payoff. There were some better parts, but ultimately this is not a book that I would recommend and I’m happy not to have spent money on it.
2.0 out of 5 stars
By kmcmur02 on September 6, 2016
It’s fine for getting some new questions but it’s very heteronormative and the questions largely focus around your relationship to each other, but not necessarily about how you as a couple relate the the world at large.
It’s pretty repetitive.
It also assumes some traditional gender roles, which didn’t really work for us, so we ended up skipping a bunch.
*** I guess the guy and girl on the cover didn’t give the theme away. My bad.
Hollow Empire – Night of Knives
on December 15, 2015
“I did not like it–it did not hold my interest so I only read a few chapters.”
*** I blame my co-author, John R McGuire. Just kidding. Love ya, John!
Reviewed in the United States on August 20, 2019
This book has questions to ask your friends or dates to generate discussion and get to know them better. For example, “If you died tonight, could it be said that you lived a good, fulfilling, and satisfying life? If not, what actions will you take tomorrow to make it so?” What is the noblest profession? What is the most despicable profession? Assuming you have a job, is there anything noble about it?”
The book has only questions, no answers, no discussions. If you have trouble coming up with questions for discussion on your own this book might be helpful. Frankly, I was hoping for something deeper and more interesting.
And lastly…positively, absolutely my favorite bad review of all time…
Reviewed in the United States on April 1, 2019
Simplistic writing at it’s worst. The hook was horrid and that was the best part. I do not recommend this book or this writer.
His writing style is very much the same as a preteen emo boy without the depth. Save your money, time and imagination for something else… anything else.
It shouldn’t matter whether
your mirror is cracked
or a pile of coins peering up at you
from some dank, municipal gutter.
The face looking back
You earn nothing.
Good or bad,
you deserve less.
The only meaning in your vibrant
but astoundingly brief life
other than the roses you never gave
the trains you never took
and the amber liquor you left
sitting on the counter
is the meaning you make for yourself.
The expressions of your waitress,
the doctor who will one day
pronounce you dead,
they are dust,
and you’d do well
to let them float right through
the bulbous lump atop your neck.
If having a god suits you,
When prayer, the grand placebo,
seems to soothe you,
Whatever soul stirs
in the grey soup around your bones,
it isn’t meant for this place,
these sewer-pocked streets,
these placid suburban shacks,
the hum of your television
as it begs for your inaction.
You don’t belong here.
You never did.
You’ve always known as much.
But hell, you pretend just the same.
Don’t kid yourself.
The worth of your accomplishments,
the hill you slogged to climb
in your shiny new shoes,
in your robes
which made you look royal,
is to be the highest grain of rice
in a field soon to be harvested.
How does it feel
to be a crop?
It should be a wonder
to be so free.
To walk whichever street you want
humming a tune only you can hear
sowing the garden of your mind
with carrots, or pumpkins
or bales of black cigars
or with love
or with whatever idea, scrawled on a wad
rolls up with the wind
and hits your heel.
Those problems you have,
the debts, the wheels falling off,
the heart raked over the coals
of your last great error,
the faults placed in yourself
or with anyone but,
those aren’t real.
You and your soul,
and your broken mirror,
you don’t belong here.
You never did.
Read more J Edward Neill here.
Prior to 2018, I’d heard only faint glimmers of the term, ‘Twin Flames.’
It was a far-off concept, something I’d heard my Aunt Sue and her patrons banter of. It was an airy thing, difficult to catch, hard to hold onto, and nebulous.
I heard these glimmers and paid them no mind. A curiosity, it seemed. Nothing more. Nothing real. Certainly nothing I’d ever encounter.
It’s good to be wrong.
Today I know better.
If I had to describe twin flameage briefly, I’d use two words:
Gravity. And Inexorable.
Gravity, because it is an essential universal force.
Inexorable, because there’s nothing one can do to stop it.
Now, if I had to describe it at length, well…then…
Being one half of twin flame scenario is a life event without equal. It’s like winning the lottery and giving up half of one’s soul (willingly) all in the same five-minute span. It’s like being hit by a spiritual train, which, as it passes through one’s body, rearranges all things therein. You thought you knew your heart? You were wrong. You believed you were in total control of your life? Think again. You’ve been trucked by the universe, and now you are awake.
Twin flameage is the gravity between two souls, impossible to resist, which, with its power, can either create one complete (and possibly utterly joyous) entity, or two very much changed individuals. Actually, both are possible. To call it love is inaccurate, for even though love is a part of the inferno, there are other parts. A physical, sexual, intellectual, spiritual, emotional collision, not unlike two massive celestial bodies impacting each other with nuclear force…this is twin flameage. It promises nothing, changes everything.
Is it fate? No. Because although it may feel as if the two people involved in a twin flame collision are destined to be together, being half of the flame guarantees nothing beyond forceful change. The event tends to burn away most (if not all) of each person’s previous concepts of self. Personally, I find myself asking not ‘what have I become?’ or ‘how did I get here?’ but instead, ‘who was I before this?’ and ‘what do we do now?’
But there are no real answers. Like almost all genuine things in life, being part of a twin flame is not a question waiting to be answered or an objective at the end of some long road. It’s a force of nature. It’s a powerful, amazing, terrifying union of two people. It happens on what feels like an atomic level, as if both parties had once been born in the heart of the same star, and are just now remembering one another.
It’s likely all twin flame scenarios are subtly different, and yet equally unquenchable. Some flames might never recognize one another. Others might enfold each other in a spiraling, hot embrace which lasts their entire lives. Some might reject it. Some might flee. Some might dance around it, only to be slowly consumed. A thousand possibilities, all of which will change each person whether they like it or not.
If it happens to you, I won’t say to prepare yourself. You can’t. You’re not really in control anymore. All you can do is, when the gravity gets you and you catch fire with another, look it in the eyes and acknowledge it for what it is.
…a once in a lifetime chance.
Alex O’Riley has always tried not to fit in. In his simple life, at his tiny Savannah house, he paints quiet masterpieces while living as a hermit.
But with one phone call from a brash New York lawyer, Alex learns he’s inherited Castle Carrick, the grandest castle in all of Northern Ireland.
At Carrick, strange and dark events begin to swirl ever closer to him, turning his hoped-for quiet life inside out.
Now he must decide: flee from Ireland and give up his inheritance…or embrace the dark power which compels him to paint wondrous, yet terrifying things.
Poetry of the Night contains powerful, expressive poems, each diving deep into individual life experiences
In their first published poetry book, J Edward Neill and H.R. Reiter touch on these subjects and more.
Poetry of the Night is full of powerful, expressive poems, written in free verse, meaning no attachment to form, structure, or rhyme.
Get it now…right here.
At the dinner table.
On road trips.
On slow winter nights.
Put your kids’ minds in motion.
7 Fun Questions to Ask Your Kids
Tomorrow, when you wake up, there will be an object in your bedroom.
This object will be the thing you want most in life, the object of your dreams.
It can be anything you desire, so long as it really exists in the world.
What is it?
One Word Answers
For each of the following things, say one word to describe how you feel about that thing.
If you could pick one thing in the world to never, ever be able to hurt you…
What would it be?
You can pick anything—fire, water, falling, a broken heart, bees, spiders, the flu…
Anything you want, and it can never cause you any harm.
My Life as a Meteor
Pretend that all objects in the universe are alive. Rocks, water, wind, stars, comets, space dust, all of it.
And pretend you could become any one of these you choose. You’ll live as long as the object will exist and you’ll see whatever it experiences.
Name your choice.
The Newest Avenger
Pick one of the following superpowers you’d like to have:
Shoot Fireballs from your Fingertips
Now…pick your superhero name.
If you could pick one of the following places to explore, which would you choose?
The bottom of the ocean
The center of Earth
The inside of an atom.
An alien civilization.
Most than anything else in the entire world…
…what makes you feel loved?
Want enough questions to keep your kids’ brains busy for days?
A young woman approaching her 21st birthday…
A mysterious phone call from a foreigner who claims to be a relative…
Against her better judgement, Aurora follows her intuition, journeying beyond her familiar town in which she’s lived all her life…
Way down to the deep south…
An urban fantasy novel
From debut author N.L. Hurtic
In a drowned village, on a dark shore, in a city of white stones, an ancient evil stalks.
It has no name, no face, and no desire but to see the death of everything…
Down through the ages it exists, sleepless and void, a relic from the world before humanity.
One dead. Every night. Forever.
Until nothing remains.
Hecatomb – ‘heka’tom/ (noun) – An extensive loss of life for some cause.
The name of my terrifying new novella.
The Hecatomb includes 4 short stories, each connected, each taking place in the same world.
It’s up to readers to decide the order in which they take place.
Alex O’Riley has always tried not to fit in.
In his simple life, at his tiny house, he paints quiet masterpieces while living as a hermit.
But with one phone call from a brash New York lawyer, Alex learns he’s inherited Castle Carrick, the grandest fortress in Northern Ireland.
At Carrick, strange and dark events begin to swirl ever closer to Alex, turning his hoped-for quiet life inside out.
Now he must decide: flee from Ireland and give up his inheritance…or embrace the dark power which compels him to paint wondrous, yet terrifying things.
Challenges, not a day without challenges:
The purpose of my trip is to report about sustainability, which I haven’t been too successful with yet. Admittedly I have also been way too ambitious, my goal was to find 3-4 projects per week to report about. I must realize that it’s close to impossible, the daily tasks of finding projects, doing the necessary research, finding accommodation, planning my route, getting something to eat is way more than a full time job. I will in the future try to report about 2 projects per week. That seems a bit more realistic.
I am in Argentina now, and it has been a somewhat challenged marriage, I am in love with the bird, but damn this Latina woman makes me work hard every day, and I have little or no time to do the necessary research. Well I will tell more about my challenged marriage later in this blog.
The challenges I have experienced here reflect the challenges the great people of Argentina are going through daily. I have had the privilege to live close to a very big family for 5 days, a mother and her 10 children and all their family and friends coming and going, it has given me an of course limited insight in how an Argentinian family live and which challenges they are facing and fearing.
I interviewed some of the younger people I have met, to get their view of climate change and sustainability, it’s not a big surprise to me, that it’s not a topic they are hugely engaged in, its not to say they don’t care, because they do, they are just having other more basic stuff to deal with.
The economy here is not at its best. The pesos has been devalued 53% within a year. For the younger generation this fact has made it hard for them to get a place of their own, or for that matter to get a job, the youth unemployment rate is close to 26%, the interest rate is at an astonishing high of 62% initiated by the national bank to try to control the inflation, so no wonder that the youth has other priorities than sustainability and climate change.
The young women are also dealing with a more present problem “gender equality” (SDG goal 5) they feel discriminated and targeted, can’t walk alone after nightfall without being afraid of being assaulted, feeling a lack of opportunities and fighting for free abortion. Latin America is a very male-dominated region, with that in mind it’s very understandable that especially the young women have other priorities.
When talking to the older generation I get the feeling that they have given up, they don’t trust their politicians. Everyone I talk to say that corruption had taken hold of everybody including them self, corruption has become the norm, especially among the politicians. (SDG goal 16) one of the men I talked to said “we only live try not to think”. Most of them don’t feel represented politically, they don’t feel they have a voice, and when asking them what they think should be done regarding sustainability, they don’t know what they as individuals can do, they are well aware of the problems we all are facing, but find it hard to give me answers to what they can contribute with.
When I drive through the Argentinian landscape, it’s obvious that ranching is an extremely important part of the economy (third largest meat producer in the world), there are cattle and horses everywhere for miles and miles it’s what dominate the rural part of the countryside. Gladly the thousands I of livestock I saw were all free grazing. The sad story though is that huge areas of the famous pampas has given way for crops, Argentina is now one of the worlds largest soybean and corn producers which ironically mostly is exported to meet the demand of the rapidly growing Chinese cattle production. In short terms the cow production has gotten pushed out of the pampas and in to feedlot staples, subsidized by the government using corn as the main source of feed. Some estimates say that 80% of the production now is feedlot cattle. There are strong movements trying to move the beef back on grass, but it’s a hard battle between the crop farmers and the ranchers. One of the solutions could be having free grazing cattle on the fields, letting them fertilize the area for 5 to 7 years, them letting the farmers grow crops for a short 2-3-year period, in a way more sustainable circle.
On the positive side in regard to sustainability, I saw thousands of birds driving thorough the countryside, and plentiful of them were birds of prey, falcons, Eagles, hawks and much more, I have never seem that many birds of prey anywhere. And the cities are full of trees and have parks on abundance, Especially La Plata the capital were very green with a park each 6 blocks and trees everywhere. On the negative, As everywhere else I have been recently, the absence of insects is obvious.
The Good, the unbelievable friendly people of Argentina, I have met so many giving warm people, they have been absolutely fantastic. I am met with curiosity and open arms, I have been invited to dinner, beach volleyball, tango, doing my laundry, beer and friendly talks about all and nothing. I highly recommend visiting this great country just to meet and talk with the people. Mate, the special herbal tea of this region, is here there and everywhere, its cute how the carry their thermos and cubs of Mate around like small babies, young and old are sipping Mate on every street corner. The list of health benefits this tea is supposed to grant you is as long as the plains of Patagonia. I have gotten to like it in its raw bitter form, so well maybe I will arise as a new healthier version of myself.
And they really like motorcycles, they like to ride them and admire them, there are lots and lots of bikes here. I have gotten so many compliments on my bike and numerous pictures has been taken by all from Policemen to small kids. It’s been a great way to start a conversation.
The present exchange rate is not bad either, things here are very affordable. Beer prices one LITER (a quart) domestic beer cost 100 pesos (1.80 $) in the shops and 200 pesos in a bar an import 150 pesos and 250 (5,50$ equal 1.80 for a normal serving) in a bar. I like that they serve Liter beers without asking.
The Bad (surprise) wauw Buenos Aries rush hour traffic, that’s was kind of a surprise. I arrived late afternoon by ferry from Uruguay, to my luck I had met a local on the ferry and we got to talk about where I was heading. He told me to follow him through customs he was also driving a Florida reg. bike, so he had to go through the same process as I was including getting a TIP (temporary import permission) waiting to the customs to do their thing, which by the way was fast efficient and free it took less than 15 min. he asked me where I was going, he laughed you better follow me I will show you through rush hour traffic. Wow I am glad he offered that, I mean I have been driving in south east Asia, and its crazy there, but I tell you Buenos Aries beats Asia, mostly because of the speed they travel at, in Asia at least things are moving slowly and organically like one big organism. To be honest it was not the cars that was the worse, there was unbelievably many cars, but they mostly drive ok, it was the Motorcycles that swarmed around me as irritating mosquitos, small stinking MC’s coming from everywhere crisscrossing in and out of all lanes form left and right. To skiers, it was like having thousand snowboarders passing you from all angles not obeying any of the “rules” we skiers follow 😊. Well my new found friend he was a local and he drove as one, I suddenly found myself riding on the freeway shoulders passing the slow moving cars with 60 miles an hour, crossing in front of cars mingling in between them from left to right, I decided to stay on his tail because I wouldn’t have been able to find my way without him, looking at my GPS and navigating through the hell was not an option. I managed to stay close and only lost sight of him a few times, he didn’t wait LOL. But thanks, my friend for guiding me to my first accommodation in Argentina.
The Ugly, being robbed is never an experience you grace and wait for to happen. I was aware of the possibility of having things stolen, somewhere/sometime throughout my trip of 6 months, but being robbed only spending 3 days on the road was not what I had dreamed about.
I had carefully planned my next move on day 3, downloaded off line maps, booked a place to stay for the next couple of days, and was well un my way beating Buenos Aries traffic without problems before 12, it started out as planned but an hour into the drive I lost my phone, it was a stupid move by me driving 70 miles an hour trying to correct position of the phone in my gas tank bag I flew out of my hand, there was nothing I could do but swear at my self for being so idiotic, well the phone was gone and I had a spare. I found a place to stop and got my spare phone out, I only had one problem with that, I had no charger cable, it’s an iPhone and it won’t hold a charge for long. So I decided to make an unplanned stop in La Plata hoping that stores in the capital would be open on a Sunday, to my surprise was the city almost shut down, Not a single store open driving down the main avenue, once more swearing at myself I did another stupid thing, there was a bunch of street salesmen probably illegal since all their stuff was on blankets, easy to pull together and get out of there in seconds, I knew they would have cheap shit copy charger cables, so I stopped a bit desperately hoping to buy a cable, since I needed a charged phone to GPS my way to my accommodation. Sure, enough they had a shit copy charger cable, and shit as it was, I couldn’t let my phone charge on my USB outlet on the bike. I thought “let me find a café and charge the phone for an hour get some coffee and a bit to eat, and then back on the road” hey it was 2 o’clock midday in the capital of Argentina what could possible go wrong, as an answer to my prayers not even a block away from the street sales guys there was an OPEN café, I considered very carefully how I would park my bike on the sidewalk, right in front of the café in plain site not 5 meters away from where I could sit at a table that had e plugin for my charger, watch my bike and relax for an hour, I didn’t get to that, before I knew it my sissy bar bag was gone , I didn’t even see them taking it, it was tied with straps to the back seat and quite heavy, not an easy steal , but it was gone just like that I lost most of my belongings, computer, iPad, rain clothes, sleeping bag, hammock,700$ cash credit cards, my Green card and more than half of my clothes.
I was in a state of total disbelief, how that hell could that happen, me being so damn careful, I really didn’t think I had been reckless or naïve, I truly felt I had taken all necessary precautions, and yet here I stood like an idiot robbed blind in the middle of the day on a busy street in the Capital. I of course called the police and they wrote a report, well knowing that this was all they would ever do, they were very nice and pretty efficient, maybe because they couldn’t wait to get pictures taken with an on my Harley.
One thing is to loose a lot of stuff and having to deal with that heartache, another thing is to regain control of your life, seriously it took me 4 days, and I am not done with the insurance yet, I had to close cards, order new, offset all passwords and create new ones, buying a new computer and a phone isn’t easy because there are limits on how much one can charge on the one credit card that wasn’t stolen, then setting up phone and computer again, not to mention downloading all the damn app’s that we need these days, damn it I was near giving up on the whole thing and just go home where stuff wasn’t so complicated.
Nothing is so bad that’s its not good for something. I have had a wish to travel lighter, but couldn’t get my self to get rid of the stuff I had brought along, especially to many clothes, well now that was taken care of, and it was WAY easier to pack my bike when hitting the road. When things like this happen the most wonderful people enter your life, a couple og days later I got an email from a total stranger, writing me if I had lost a Green card, driver license and some clothes, I couldn’t believe that he had gone through the trouble to pick up my stuff he found on the road, finding my email on one of the flash drives that was part of the lost items, getting in touch with me and delivering it back to me with a big smile on his face, refusing to let me pay him a reward for his help, all he took was a picture of my Harley LOL.
I am back on the road, Argentina she didn’t turn out the way I had hoped for, I spent way to much time dealing with the robbery, making it impossible for me to do the research I had planned.
Here’s what’s up.
If you buy any one of the following four books, I’ll send you a free art print of your choice. No restrictions. Any art print from my catalog you like.
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J Edward Neill