Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Exit. Pt 5

Well the outcome in the end was simple. There was much baking and shopping and consulting with Baba Yaga. Invitations were issued. Offers of dishes were made, and accepted. Even more than a few of the boys, who had initially feigned disinterest, decided to join in, chiefly tempted by discussions of all the various dishes.

The day of the party arrived...fortuitously exams were over, and with holidays looming yet again! everyone would be in a relaxed mood.Steph and Damien and Chrissie looked with a sense of achievment and also pride, at the laden table. Herring Salad from Ellie in Sweden,Marinated Artichokes from Sandro, or perhaps Sandro's Nona. Grecian Baklava and Chian had brought Pork Dumplings. Shamilla had provided a generous platter of samosas. Alex had laboured long over over a bowl of Goulash. And of course, legs of Chicken Kiev from Olga. Pride of place in the centre was none other than the fabulous charlotte malakov. What anguish that had taken on everyone's part to produce exactly as the photo had depicted and Stephanie remembered. It had all been assembled under Baba Yaga's directions, and now she was standing in a corner listening to the chattering of many adolescent voices and many accents.

When Hilary and James touched down the next morning from their trip they were suprised noone was at the airport to greet them. To be honest, a trifle put out after all that shopping and a long tedious flight home. Hilary delved into her brain, trying to remember, unsuccessfully, if it was a cricket morning as they hailed a taxi.
All seemed quiet at home and the car was in the driveway as usual. Full of clothes and shoes which of course was usual when Hilary wasn't around to keep some semblance of order. At least, she mused, she could rely on Chrissie not to smoke or have any wild parties!
They opened the door on a room full of sleeping, straggling adolescents. Her eyes skimmed across sleeping bags and tousled heads and sagging balloons and a table which still had the remnants on some unfamiliar plates with a wafting of cinnamon and cardamon and other exotic flavours. In the corner, in a rocking chair with a balalaika on her lap, was an old old woman. Sleeping too.

Balalaika. Pt 4

Chrissie would have been whistling as she crossed the Harbour Bridge but a red light camera had flashed as she sped down the Highway. Fancy Damien asking to be dropped at the Library!
She was anticipating an hour or two to herself on Bondi Beach after dropping Steph at the Babalaika lesson. Balalaika! Now there was a new an unexpected twist. Although Hilary had asked Chrissie to try and get Steph to stop wearing her sox at half mast while she was away. Chrissie sighed and lit another cigarette.

She dropped Damien at the library, rewarding him with a Chuppa Chup for his diligence. Maybe he would stop spending so much time up that tree. Another of the formidable Hilary's admonitions as she left. The poor dog was looking a bit harassed too of late. And wet! A frown momentarily crossed her brow.It had taken a bit of diligence on her own part to find a balalaika teacher. They were thin on the ground and non existent in Avalon. Hilary had even wondered as to whether the Sydney Symphony had any need of babalaika players. Steph was struggling not to feel ill as she tried to read the road map and the car leaned into the corners.

Free at last of her charges, Chrissie dug her toes into the sand and stretched, relishing the sun on herback. It was only then that she pulled out the book Steph had thrust into her hands as she got out of the car. She was not sure whether to laugh or cry or just groan in anticipation of the title " Russian Cooking". This was going too far! Not the Russian. The "cooking"!> On the cover was pictured an old russian babushka gazing fondly at a frothy concoction that revealed itself to be a charlotte malakoff. Stephanie hadn't stopped talking about the wonderful and exotic meals she had had at Olga's place, and now she wanted a party! Wil ALL her classmates. Half of whom didn't even speak English. Just how much was a nanny expected to do!

Well, the parents were overseas. Again. Chrissie stared at the cake and flicked over to the recipe. Party balloons started to dance over her head.

Damien. Pt 3

Damien, Stephanie's older brother, was out watering the garden.Reluctantly.Defiantly and occasionally squirting the old lab who was trying to catch a small lizard scuttling across the path. Like Stephanie,Damien was in his mother's bad books. Not quite as bad-his only misdemenour had been to flick breadcrumbs across the table. Aimed at Stephanie, they had unfortunately landed in his grandfather's martini.

Pulling the hose after him, Damien scrambled up the tree, his favourite thinking spot for many years. He was feeling a bit lonely since Steph had become immersed in all that Russian stuff.Forever rattling on about some Baba Yaga. And that girl with the frizzy hair, Olga. He aimed the hose at the scampering dog again for good measure, flattening a few daisies in the process, gave up and went off to catch up on some overdue homework. He mused over some possible and some impossible excuses and as quickly dismissed them.

Back in his room, he emptied his pockets onto the desk. Not a lot. He wasn't the sort of boy with bits of string and bus tickets. Just a couple of phone numbers of girls he didn't fancy calling anyhow. What he did have was an old coin he had picked up in the sand while visiting the submarines at Neutral Bay. Many years ago. His father was in the Navy and occasionally Damien was able to go to the mess with him. The coin had always been his good luck charm and he always patted it before he went out to bat. It certainly worked because Damien was the star batter in his year.

He gazed at it again and gave it a rub. At the same time several years of High school History came to fruition. The thought occurred that probably this was a very old coin. His curiosity was awakened.

The following Monday was mid term break. His parents, Hilary and James, had left for overseas, leaving them in the care of Chrissie, who had lit up a Marlboro as soon as the Mercedes had left the driveway. Stephanie had taken it into her head to take lessons on the balalaika, necessitating a trip to the Eastern Suburbs so it was easy to convince Chrissie to drop him off at the State Library on the way. Hilary would be proud when she heard of this new initiative he thought.

The librarian was neither helpful nor very interested, and it seemed to Damien that she was taking the easy way out when she sent him next door to the Mitchell Library. Here he was taken seriously! Out came a pile of reference books, and the librarian, who looked as if he spent his entire life in the dark, tackled them with enthusiasm and persistence and endless chatter.

Damien was starting to wish he had stayed at home either tucked up under the doona or with the X Box or even ringing those girls! Suddenly the librarian pushed back his glasses."Look" he said, " Just look!" There was a picture of Damien's coin. "Russian. Circa 1800" continued the librarian. The old archivist explained how the Russians had reached Australia on 16/6/1807
and had come ashore in the vicinity of NEUTRAL BAY! where all the foreign ships docked. The captain, who spoke 6 languages, had been perspicacious enough to foretell Australia's strategic location to China and the posssibility of trade in the future.Maybe he had emptied his pockets on the beach, into the sand.

Damien pocketed his treasure and sauntered down Martin Place to catch a train home.Because he was the strong silent type, he was smiling to himself. His heart was full with his discovery and the pleasure and the achievement. The only question was...should he share this? or keep it to himself to relish. To pat each time he went into bat. To share might be to lose its power. Or perhaps it would give him an entree to Stephanie's new friends and interests? It was a decision he would have to make back up the gum tree.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Impress the Baba Yaga?

Surely one can't impress The Big B., but amuse...? Perhaps. Oh, but I am in full costume, Baba, just look at my face...there's a smile on it. I smile a wide, wilfull smile that makes invisible the ice pick in my right eye that plunges downward into a cheek thick and numb. I smile and my slintered neck appears whole. I'll try and muster a laugh sometime later to transform the look of my deflated, misshapen heart.

No, no...look again, Baba; I am in full costume. I come bearing smiles and gifts, true, but the gifts are offered by a youthfully smoothe hand dark gray and too stiff for the scarcity of the years of its owner.

Oh, yes...do be careful of the laundering details of your gift. The pink fluffy bits around the vagina are delicate, not recommended for the dryer.

Yes, Baba, still I think, but let me remove this crown of golden hair, the beautiful lid on the coffin of this living dead girl, and show you how the mind that still thinks has parts missing, others misshapen, others twisted, all of it black and always strangling itself.

Yes, Baba, still I eat these sweets you offer, but my teeth are as stupid as my desires and like rapacious creditors. So mad are they to devour everything they try ceaselessly to bite themselves, allowing nothing to be savoured and never nourishing the soulkeeper. You and I, Baba, understand the wrenching futility of stupid teeth.

Yes, Baba, still I can stand, but let me turn coyly away for a moment and let this rough covering slip to my waste and show you what little is left my spine, cracked and warped in places from too heavy a burden in youth, elsewhere rotted or gone from lack of use in recent years.

Yes, Baba, still I walk, but let me pull aside this burlap skirt, this winding sheet, let me show you the knees of gray, shredded flesh and shattered bone, yellowed in age, where again and again too often I have fallen.

My eyes? Yes...aren't they lovely? They're the perfect touch that pulls the whole costume together. Look again to my spine to know my eyes' unwillingness, and to my knees to know their ineffectiveness.

Yes, Baba, still I speak, soft words of love and harmony, but inside I'm a whore making scary sounds. There is no corner of this icy carapace I can lift and let fall aside to reveal that last truth. How ironic, don't you think, that my words are what I use most effectively to fool my audience, though they are not part of my costume, and yet they are the only things I can change?


At Baba Yaga's House. Pt 2

Monday came, along with Stephanie's eager anticipation at seeing Olga again. However Olga was absent from roll call for several days. Unrelenting Maths and a few late assignments were lightened only by a free Library period on Wednesday afternoon. This was turning into a punishing week in more ways than one.

Stephanie headed to the somewhat limited selection on Russia, choosing " Myths and Legends of Old Mother Russia" over "Post Kruschev Economic Reform". Settling into a corner away from snickering classmates, she became engrossed in an illustrated chronology of fairy tales, epic poems and songs, many originating in Kiev where Olga had come from. Especially intriguing was the ubiquitous presence of a Baba Yaga in many guises, presented in mediaeval sources as a nasty witch riding around in a mortar and pestle gradually becoming shown as protective woman even a Babushka Baba Yaga, a grandmotherly figure. The class bell rudely interrupted her. She glanced at the class teacher who was fortuitously involved with Maryanne Mayberry. Maryanne had the unfortunate habit of either asking too many questions or tying up the computer for undue lengths of time. Sometimes both at once which seemed to be happening now.

Quickly Stephanie stuffed the book up her jumper, trusting that the alarm system had been switched off by the exiting librarian and ran to catch up with her classmates. All except of course Maryanne Mayberry.

That night, having finally finished the chores her mother had decided were justified by her skipping lunch at the weekend, she was able to delve back into the book. Her only previous encounter with myths had finished with CS Lewis so this whole new world which was opening up to her beckoned irresistibly. There were similarities in these tales with the Baba Yaga she had met....a tribal elder looking after "her children" especially in their exile from their homeland. As here in a strange southern land of cloudless hot skies where tea from the samovar was replaced by a quick cappucino, although there were certain similatities between a charlotte malakoff and the pavlovas Steph loved. Not to mention all those mortar and pestles in Baba's kitchen she had used when helping to prepare lunch under Baba's direction!

Thursday saw Olga reappear at chool. She could not be drawn as to why she had missed school, shuffling her feet and looking somewhat confused. Her sox had slid even further, a bit of a better look, Steph thought. And excused herself to go to a music lesson.

After school , Steph found herself again heading off with Olga, in spite of the disaproving looks from her chattering friends. She was able to start quizzing Olga about Baba who apparently was expecting them for afternoon tea.

" Baba looks after us all" said Olga, in answer to Stephanie's bubbling questions. " In the old days Baba was wicked as the old legends say. And terrified everyone, everywhere, whizzing around in that mortar and pestle. Now she is kind and wise and a mother to us all. She appears where there is need and misunderstanding. There is always a Baba Yaga in our lives" she added mysteriously.

This time they entered from the back door, a mirror image of the front with two wild and profusely flowering roses framing the door. This time Baba did not acknowledge the girls' arrival. She was sitting in her favourite chair. Again the fire was alight. She was gently plucking the strings of a weathered balalaika with a far away look in her eyes. Occasionally she crooned what Steph surmised was a lullaby. After a while she stopped and noticed the girls hovering in the doorway.

The samovar was steaming in the corner and soon all three were sitting down to a bounteous afternoon tea of cold cuts and cheeses and cakes. No vodka this time. Stephanie rather wished that her mother, whose offerings rarely extended to home cooking, was present.

Stephanie told Baba what she had read of her namesake in the book. Of skeletons, houses that spun and their terrifying occupant. Baba was deep in thought.

" Back in the mists of time" she said " There was such a person. Everyone was in awe of her dark powers. Especially children who caused their parents concern." she said looking knowingly at Stephanie, who blushed.
" She lived for a very long time before passing to the underworld.When she reappeared she had changed." A far away look crossed Baba's face. " She realised her powers could be used in other ways. To be a Babushka, a caring grandmother. Using her experiences to give wise advice, tempered with love and promoting the understanding of those whom we do not understand. Their lives and customs and their beliefs. Because,"and here she gazed intently at Stephanie, "there will only be peace in this world when the differences are embraced with a willing love. We are really all the same you know."

Later that night Stephanie thought for a long time about the past week and the new experiences which had drawn her from her comfort zone. She knew the time had come to convince her circle of friends that some of these new kids with their strange accents and mismatched clothes came from lands of rich colour and traditions and wondrous stories. That it was possible , and desirable, to all be friends together.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Enter Unafraid

This withered crone is shaped by wisdom,
I am sure -- and the girls have nothing to fear.

It is a trade -- we can see the world a little differently
through the eyes of your girls --
and they can grow through the eyes of this 'wierd one'.

reposted from another Soul blog --


I hear a chime,
A distant, earthen chime.
It sings to me of
Loving hands,
In angel voice,
And peaceful days.

I hear a chime,
A whisper, stirring chime.
Of fire and stone and
Gleeful shapes,
In quiet breeze
It laughing plays.

I hear a chime,
A lonely, yearning chime.
In dark of night and
Thunderous storms,
Of fearful doubt
It endless prays.


I sense a song,
A heart-bound, ancient song,
It calls to me in
Words of crone,
Wizard touch,
And simple ways.

I sense a song,
A shouting, trumpet song,
Of seed and blood and
Honored quest,
In vigil born
It girds my loins.

I sense a song,
A plaintive, wistful song,
In brightest day and
Chuckling clouds,
With loving mirth
It endless prays.


I know a dream,
A resounding, echoed dream.
It calls to me from
Tears of stars,
And soul's joy
That are the same.

I know a dream,
A living, blessed dream,
From now and when as
In covenant
And simple gifts.

I am a dream,
A choice and loving trust;
A rebirth mem'ry of --
Of creation fire
And open hand
And trembling heart.


Monday, November 07, 2005

Slow Arrival

I'm not sure if the girls will be coming to the Baba Yaga house.
They aren't afraid and really like some of the drawings,
but as Jade said,

"Every day I meet people who aren't what they say."

and 'quoise,

"I think lots of people seem nice but are like
Baba Yaga inside."

They have never cared much for Grimm Fairy Tales either.

For now I am showing them the drawings without the words,
and letting them tell me stories.


Sunday, November 06, 2005

Masque Ball in the Boudoir

Baba has been thinking and when Baba thinks anything is likely to happen. She has been wary of all these artistic types who have descended upon her and has decided to test them a little. She is planning to have a Masque Ball in her Boudoir. Everyone is expected to come in full costume, make a grand entrance and amuse Baba with a short act. Is that a distant cackle I hear or that old rooster crowing joyfully?

the taste of living

Enough. Enough of this day. Her work was done enough, the cat was fed enough, the night was late enough and so it was time to close the door. Shutting her bedroom door with a soft click behind her, she stepped out of her shoes, let her feet sink into the soft carpet and, standing still, she savoured the nearness of the end. The painful pleasure of knowing it was over. There would soon be no turning back. Not once she made the decision to let it go.

Sloping across the room on her way to the en suite she glanced briefly out the window, casually flicked back the heavily brocaded pink silk curtains, touched her nose to the icy glass for half a breath, then closed her eyes as she turned away from the world. The wind howled against the glass, ever the determined and graceless bully. Enough. She had closed the door on the world and soon wouldn't be able to open it again regardless how long and hard it howled for her to care or to carry it.

She nudged the bowl of orange spice potpourri out of the way, leaned tiredly on her forearms, and gazed into the bathroom mirror. Touching her hair first, feeling the smoothe healthy hair and the rough wiry white ones, she drew one hand across her newly wrinkled forehead and delicately fingered the soft, sagging skin around her eyes. When? Gently, she pushed up and back the useless flesh slowly amassing under her chin, sighed, and let the hand drop back down on the faux marble counter. There was nothing more to explore or crave or reject or reach out to. Enough now.

She looked down at her well-used hands for a moment before she pulled herself up straight and lifted them to her mouth. It took her a couple of breaths before she could start, willingly but joylessly, to begin to taste them. The finger she had pointed at the child was bitter and still stank of accusation. The finger she flung up at the bus driver who turned the corner too sharply for her liking smelled of excrement and was both acidic and salty. The thumb she banged against the doorframe in the ladies room at Zeller's still felt hot against her tongue and tasted of metal. The side of the palm she scraped against the cheese grater when making dinner was salty with a hint of the lemon zest from dessert. Both palms were full of him: musky, maddeningly sweet, tasting deliciously of the thighs, the groin, the belly she caressed on her lunch hour. All the other lines and folds and fingers were the same: a common blend of disappointment, incompetence, and regret. Enough of that.

She reached under the counter and pulled up two thick, fluffy bath towels to catch any of the mess that didn't wash down the drain and prepared to let go entirely. Nudging open the levered hot water tap, she breathed, "Good enough," put her well-used hands under the scalding water, and forced herself to hold them still. As they began to melt, the layers separating and falling away, she watched the colours of the day reveal themselves...the purity, the passion, the resignation swirling white, red, black... Through the haze of steam she witnessed time present fall out of her grasp and drain down into the past. Seeing the mistakes and blunders and "I wish I dids" and "I wish I didn'ts" and "I didn't get enoughs" flow deep and fast into forever-ago, she cried, heartbroken. Then she gave thanks, relieved.

Finally, nudging the hot water tap closed with her wrist, she used the towels to gather whatever parts of the day and her part in it that weren't so easily washed away and tossed the whole mess in the trash with yesterday's leftover mess. Smiling, she shook her head to muss up her hair and laughed at the useless brush on the counter as she passed it on her way back to the window. Nose against the icy glass once more, she smiled at the stupid bully, luxuriating in the freedom from the folly of trying to hold back the forces of nature. Turning her back to the wind, she shuffled contentedly toward her warm and inviting bed. As always, she sighed a great heaving sigh of gratitude as she dropped blissfully down for a wholly unburdened rest. She looked to the left as the cat meowed at the door. "Too bad, Jack. I can't give any more and I can't take any more."

Rolling her head to the right, she looked wonderingly at the hands she had laid out for her tomorrow. She wondered what kind of life she would make with them. She wondered how they would feel. Were they hard? Cold? Kind? Strong? Capable? Clumbsy? How much could they hold? How mightily would those hands resist letting go when the time came? Every day her hands were so very different there was simply no knowing their unusual ways and unique worth until she put them to some use.

Stephanie K. Hansen

Life Drawings - Baba Yaga

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usA lovely way to spend a Sunday. In partial sun life drawing one of the more interesting subjects I have had of late. She stood with gentle timeless curves deep in thought. Perhaps it was those thoughts that transformed her in my eyes from one drawing to the next. The image was not of one woman but all the women she had been during various parts of her life. Not just the more elderly woman who stands before me here.

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usI saw in her also the young woman full of promise, not yet worn out by life's obstacles. She was soft and gentle and danced in moonbeams and in front of delighted audiences, the young gypsy dancer. In her own right she was a draw at any box office in the Northern towns where she toured. Not perhaps the first string of dancers, but assuredly the second. She worked hard and was given respect and an income. Who could want more.

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usShe had kept on dancing no doubt, past where she was really up to years of one night stands, at times mounting a production all by herself, making her opportunities where they did not just simply present themselves to Baba Yaga. To get a few extra gigs here and there she danced under various names and each of her performing persona took on solo performances. It is a wonder she could even keep her bookings straight. Then I could see slowly life wearing her down. It was no longer about dancing but in surviving what very often were some very unpleasant realities. Still she could muster a straight, strong back to face the next day, and the next.

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us
At other times of desperation made her so tired she could not even stand up. Life is hard for someone living by heir wits. Talent does not always happily meet up with opportunities to put them to use. That is the very sad thing that by now those days are gone, and the great talent has been betrayed by a body that just simply can no longer keep up with the demands of just talent. Never having reached the stature of "star" performer no allowances would be made to help her earn a living through dance anymore. so she was back, just a gypsy doing gypsy trades, as her mother and grandmother had also done before her.

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usLife is etched on our faces by the time we are fifty, our bodies are no different. Aside from the lines of time and trouble many women, and Baba among them, have a poetic elegance that though changed by time still is a thing of beauty. I could not help adding this portrait as she sat deep in thought. Not just the sum of her years, but the sum of every emotion, experience and inherited trait. Each of us are precisely so unique not just because of out DNA but the life we live.

This is a simple child like representation of the witch and the black cat. I was amused by it and wanted to add another version of our Baba Yaga

I remembered this picture that Valerie took in the Mid-East and this broom seems appropriate here as Baba Yaga's broom. Now it is put aside for the moment while she attends to other duties.

More Life Drawings

It was a busy day at Baba's life drawing class. Le Enchanteur couldn't resist taking her clothes off and who is this woman with her? Heather really should keep her clothes on.

To Baba Yaga's House. Pt1.

Stephanie, born lucky with long blonde hair, now unfortunately unlucky with braces on her teeth,was sitting at the end of the kerbside table, idly doodling on the paper table napkin. Her no-nonsense mother was at the other end deep in a political debate with her sister- in-law. Not that they really disagreed with each other. Just enjoyed the debate.Occasionally she paused to direct the little Japanese waitress who was flitting around vainly trying to take orders and please the restless and hungry family. Stephanie was about to have the biggest suprise of her life.

Apart from the appearance of a can of coke, nothing seemed to be happening. Steph glanced down the street to see her new classmate Olga wandering along the footpath. Now Olga, to Stephanie's eyes, was not lucky. By contrast her hair was unruly, thick and frizzy. Unmanageable.Annoyed her teachers. Her sox were at half mast...why she wore them at all was a mystery. Her clothes were mismatched giving the appearance of hand-me-downs or from St V de P. Stephanie shuddered.

As Olga drew near, Steph glanced at her mother, still deep in idealogical dispute which now included all the adults in the party. Her aunt nearby was catastrophising as usual, and the rest of her fidgety cousins were all ignoring her. Even her brother was more interested in flicking breadcrumbs at her unsuspecting grandfather. She looked back to Olga and the next thing had slipped away from the table and headed off with Olga, jingling some small change in her pocket.
Japanese was not her favourite food anyhow. Tofu.Yuk!

As Olga and Stephanie sat on a low wall, in sight of the restaurant, Steph learnt that Olga had come to Australia from Kiev, under Russian control. She had been in holding camps for refugees in Vienna and then Greece until the opportunity presented itself to come to Australia. Her mother was a doctor and studying to pass Australian exams while her father, a physicist, was working as a car park attendant to support them.

Stephanie was transfixed by the story of Olga's life, full of intrigue, danger and to her eyes, adventure. Her own existence seemed dull in comparison. She forgot about her family squirming with impatience waiting for lunch to appear from an over-worked chef. Olga's invitation to have lunch with her own family was irresistible, noone would miss her.

A few blocks up the street they turned into a lane and at the end was an old cottage Stephanie hadn't noticed before. Masses of unpruned cottage roses covered the verandah, branches springing at random to trap the unwary. Tarnished brass announced that it was the "House of Baba Yaga".

"We live here with Baba" , Olga explained. " Until we can afford a place of our own. Baba came from Russia too."

They entered into a large room at the back and Stephanie gazed at the rich miscellaney of scattered chairs piled with books, rugs on the floor and some wooden stringed instruments hanging on the wall.Something brewing in a brass urn in the corner. So different from her own minimalist existence. Such a profusion of dark, rich colours. A fire was crackling in the corner, a suprise as it was not an unduly cold day, and rising from it to greet them was a sprightly old lady with kindly features. She greeted Olga effusively with warm hugs and kisses. Stephanie's only other language being a smattering of schoolgirl French she could not understand their exchange. Nevertheless, she too was greeted with warmth and kissed on both cheeks, a new experience.

Without any warning both girls found themselves in the kitchen where, under Baba's direction, they chopped and fetched and boiled and strained, all the time Stephanie glancing at the growing pile of washing up nervously. Piles of dried and marinated fish, caviar,beetroot soup, pickles, meats. There seemed no end. And to top it off a towering concoction Olga announced as a charlotte malakoff!! The thought of desert made the thought of cold! marinated fish tolerable. Everything was piled on a huge table on the back deck with strategically placed ice containers with many bottles of vodka.

Soon the guests, and there were many, all as it seemed from Russia or nearby countries such as Estonia and Lithuania, started arriving. Olga's mother, with iron grey hair and a hook nose similar to Olga, her father still in his parking uniform. An old priest in black robes, his little grandaughter clinging to his hands. Several old ladies dressed in black.A few black-haired toddlers with theirparents. Unexpectedly another of her classmates who turned out to have come from Poland, Alex. And so on.

Soon they were all seated, the priest intoned a far too lengthy prayer and everyone tucked in with gusto and good appetites and increasing laughter fuelled by much climking of refilled vodka glasses. Suprisingly, Stepf found herself enjoying the beetroot soup although she did pass on the marinated fish. And the cake? Heavenly reward. The few furtive sips of Vodka left her glowing.

All the while, Baba had been orchestrating the proceedings. From the cooking to the seating arrangements. Mingling with the noisy and celebrating guests. Patting Steph on the head each time she passed and removing the vodka bottle from within the reach of the priest, who before long was starting to slur his words. Steph watched her closely wondering at her bounteous and effusive hospitality, the kindly way she stooped in close conversation occasionally. Wondering at her story which she guessed from Baba's demeanour and the lines on her face was one to match Olga's. Indeed they all had a story. Perhaps Baba was not as old as first appearances suggested. She wondered why the house was called so fittingly, The House of Baba Yaga. She grinned to herself, knowing that on Monday at school there would be plenty to chat about and questions to ask. Right now her only concern was to minimise the inevitable blow-up for leaving her mother's watchful eye without explanation.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

No Mind


I don't really mind …
that I was assigned to bake a layer cake
with a recipe long proved incomplete,
and tasteless for all of that.

I no longer care …
that others only see the swirled frosting
and ordered placement of dainty rosebuds,
made of plastic and poison dye.

I am no longer bothered …
with instruction to look in a candy store
for rusting nuts and bolts and baling wire,
to hold my brief life together.

But I do mind a bit …
when I am so quickly judged perverse
for ordering key lime pie or ice cream
not found on the offered menu.

And do frown a might …
when told my only choices (lucky at that)
are 'tween dancing with sheep 'round a cesspool
or trudging with cockhold lemmings.

But I can still laugh …
for being a poet grants immunity
from excessive ridicule and punishment,
since you know that I am crazy.

The Adventures of Marie Guzman

Follow One Of Baba's Yaga's Guests...if you dare! In
The Hunt for the Main de Glorie

Baba Yaga's House is at the end of a road that isn't really there.

Baba's House finds you, when it wants you and if you're very lucky (as I have not been in my life) it won't want you for long.

I went to Baba's House because she stole my heart, she stole my dreams and she locked them inside of a crude little doll with a small strand of my graying hair sewn into it's chest.

We've been friends ever since.

Me and Baba...not the doll. I hate the doll, sometimes for no reason at all it starts to laugh and laugh and then it sings and that can go on for days. I use to hide it in drawers and in my attic and once I even climbed my cherry tree and tied it to one of the top branches.

It didn't work.

So I just leave it above my fireplace and when I'm not accidentally knocking it near the open flames or letting my cat play with it I'm able to ignore it when it starts to go insane.

Back to Baba, we have an understanding now and sometimes I go down that weird little road that appears out of nowhere...I can be on my way to the store, walking down the hall in m house to my bathroom and there it is...

The road to Baba Yaga's House

I don't talk much to Baba's guests, they're under some sort of weird enchantment and they drink tea from broken cups and eat food that if you ask me deserves a chance to run and be free like the rest of us.

I think Baba enjoys watching her guests devour food that's either too dead or not dead enough.

Well, Baba's sense of humor and her agenda are her own.

I have my own.

Right now, I want to know who stole my Main de Glorie.

I want it back because it’s mine.

You’d never believe what I went through to get it…to earn it.

She was waiting for me on the top of the steps in her basement which is as far as I will go into Baba's House...no sense in tempting the old witch, I escaped her once. I won't be as foolish as to think I could pull a stunt like that on any sort of regular basis.

" You're wasting your time here Marie " she told me from the top of the stairs " but you know that. You know who stole your Main de Glorie. After all, how many of his Couriers heads did you take and stake on the road to his Crypts? Seven...Eight? "

" It was 10 ...Count them Baba Yaga it was 10. And you couldn't stop even one of them from finding this road whenever they felt like it...I nailed 10. "

" And I'm grateful..."

I snorted and went ahead and laughed out loud.

" I need to find the road they took...and I need your help and don't double deal me Baba you owe me for each of those heads. This is for the first. Show me the road. "

" And if I don't? "

" All I need is the hand from a hanged man and all things being equal nowadays it can be a hanged woman and all they have to be besides strung up is guilty of murder. Tell me Baba how many bodies have you created in your long, long life? "

I heard her shuffle her feet and try to make her way down the steps to the basement and my neck then I heard her stop...where do you think some of those bodies she created are my Dear Readers? I was down in Baba's Private Cemetery and don't think the Hand I could take down here wouldn't be powerful...very powerful.

She'd never dare to come down here and stand next to me and don't think I haven't lost sleep trying to figure out how to get her to do just that.

" While you're down there de Guzman look to the Corner, the east Corner of the basement. The shovel is hanging on the wall. You're looking for a man with his eyes and mouth sewn shut. Take his heart you're going to need it. "

Baba buried the Silent Man deep.

I guess it was her conscious, black as it must be, at work because he wasn't six feet under he was almost 12 feet under and he was covered with rocks.

Talk about overkill.

I found him and cracked his chest open with one of Baba's many gardening tools she keeps for such purposes and carefully wrapped his heart in a white linen cloth.

Then I walked out of the Basement and into the back room of my Sister's funeral home in Leaning Birches and when I passed her in the halls she saw what I was carrying and she rolled her eyes up and walked the other way.

And then I got to work.

Stay tuned for the further Adventures of Marie Guzman!

Baba's Biographer

Baba's Biographer is at the market providing some insight into this fascinating woman. She writes that "The story of Baba Yaga is prime among many images of the Black Goddess. The Black Goddess is at the heart of all creative processes and cannot be so easily viewed. Men and women rarely approach her, except in fear. Women are learning of her through the strength and boldness of elder women who are not afraid to unveil her many faces. Sofia as wisdom lies waiting to be discovered within the Black Goddess who is her mirror image. Knowing that, until we make that important recognition, we are going to have to face the hidden and rejected images of ourselves again and again.

Read about Baba Yaga
and let her be your guide during the coming weeks.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Baba's Life Drawing Class

Baba is modelling for life drawing classes. Consider:
"All that is left of her natural beauty.
Her skin is intact,
Her bones are as they are
No need of paint and powder
She is as she is no more, or less.
How marvellous."
Ikkyu (fifteenth century)