magnolia birds

Autumn Magnolia 9"x12" Oil

This painting was one of the first I created in oils this spring, and I think it was the moment I fell in love with the medium. I attempted to capture the fleeting moment I often experience when bird watching; a bit of movement in a shrub, the glimpse of a little bird, then it’s gone again! This little Magnolia Warbler (non-breeding plumage) peeked out of my lilac tree for but a moment on an overcast fall day, his plumage nearly the same yellow as some of the foliage.

Assassin’s Creed: Bonds #13

Here it is! I crammed so much knowledge I learned from Humanities 101 and put a music joke in because I simply could not resist. The Shakespeare thing…I also do not regret.

Chapter Thirteen: A Lady in the Sea of Red

If there ever was a perfect morning, this would be it.

Locked in a temple of warm covers and fortunate enough to find the perfect sleep position that she was sure she wanted to stay in forever, Lucy was home. The sun had yet to fully rise and invade her windows like harsh minions of sunny terror. This bliss was eternal, and Lucy loathed waking up too early. While her pillow was fluffed just right and every part of her bed was cloud heaven, Lucy tried to fall back asleep. How she would enjoy the honey-heavy dew of slumber.

There was a song that described this moment perfectly, an overture that her opera director, William Tell, had told her about.  What a chilly morning, with mist drifting the silent hills, not even the roosters have woken yet.

-and then her door burst open with the force of a cannon shot.

Startled out of that blissful state, Lucy tensed and watched with wide and awake eyes while every available handmaiden filed into the room with swift movements, tackling the chores with scary accuracy and hurry.

The woman barely had time to adjust before her warm covers were pulled back and two maids urged her to rise with insisting tugs at her arms. The urgency in their eyes kept Lucy in a suspended worry as she sat up from the mattress. Brown eyes were alert now, scanning each maid with critical surveillance and noting any oddities in the behavior.

So far, everything was odd. Margret looked gaunt, as if she had been woken during a cycle of restful sleep to be told that her favorite pet had been killed. Janelle also looked disturbed, but mostly worried and…fearful.

“What is happening?” the blonde slurred, her mouth and tongue not quite awake enough. Every maid but Margret ignored her, surprisingly, keeping to the daily tasks of dragging out clothes and accessories for whatever was planned. However, this usually occurred after the sun had risen and the day started.

The cow farmers outside of the city had not even woken!

“Lady Lucy, your father has requested you be fetched and dressed for…something. He would not specify beyond having you dressed and urgently. Now, please rise so we can dress you. Master Jude is in a very irritable mood with us this morning.” The older woman murmured with a strange tone of concern and acceptance. If Margret was anything, she was always collected.

This stranger could not have been the beloved maid that helped raise Lucy after Layla’s passing.

The moment the heiress stood, a mass of maids in pink pastel sleepwear moved to tug her to the dressing wall, stripping her shift as they moved. The handmaidens had been woken out of their quarters and given no time to dress themselves.

Everything was inverted, Lucy thought with a panic, this had to be a nightmare.

None made light conversation as they pulled and pushed her into a corset, the corset they knew she loathed the most. The horrible thing was cream colored and fitted by the finest seamstress from Bosco, only worn during the important balls and gatherings.

That fact alone hinted the darker side of this occurrence.

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But I’m trying hard to know what
is meant when we claim O silent night
a night like this, when blown out is all
the blaze of the sky but not heat, not
dampness either, not even that star, alone,
like a crack in the firmament (in the levees)
and what floods in, because only it can,
is a light to make light of until we can't—
then a breeze passes, with its humanlike
moan, since it’s human I can know it, I hear it,
as I do the magnolia-shudder, the bird
-scatter, as I do the river: can’t you hear it
singing far off—?
                             Then not as far—?
—  Rickey Laurentiis, “Crescendo,” jubilat (No. 18)