No More Time


I am the old Mother. You know me by many names: Gaia, Terra, Jord — something different from each tribe, and I answer to them all. I am the rememberer of all that is. My lips have breathed life into each living thing. I have been proud of what came from me. I am the creator and keeper of this earth.

For more ages than man can count in a lifetime, I have listened and shared my wealth and wisdom. All was of balance, and each part knew their place, taking and giving in equal measure. The men began to hunt and were grateful for the game they took. The women gather and learned to plant a bountiful harvest. My heart swelled as I watched them work to maintain a hard-won peace and harmony. It is the abundance that allowed them to grow and evolve.

My mates have been many, but their spirits were not as hearty. I alone have been chosen for this eternal journey. With love, I watch my children, the children of my children, and the children of my children’s children. They are of all species and walk, swim and fly on a variety of legs and bodies. I dearly love what came from me; they are mostly fair and take only what they need and pay what is owed. All learned respect and spoke to me through their chosen spirits. We danced together, learning the lessons to survive as part of many. They cared for the old, the young, and the land, gaining knowledge and celebrating diversity.

My life has been full. My offspring of every species lived in harmony until death. When they return to my bosom, their bodies feed the land. They pass on my seeds and gather together, and from this tribes and herds were born.

My hope is for lives to be fulfilled when they greet me at the hunting ground. Each season has usefulness, and all life could make homes by their physical demands of weather, water, and sun.

Now I must speak to one species who believes it stands alone. My balance has gone astray. You declared yourself master and have broken my rules to enforced greed. You destroy more than you eat. The killing has become a sport and convenience. You are angered when the original inhabitants feed on your lawn. Many of my beauties have disappeared from the earth at your hand. You have stripped other creatures of their places, making them trophies for misbegotten beliefs. I watch as your insatiable businesses strip away my trees and plunder the wealth beneath the grasslands. My gifts of minerals and ancient fossils have become fuel and sicken the air and soil. Your chemicals destroy plants and insects, which break the cycle of many lives. Anything you find to be a pest you murder. Each member of the earth had a part to play in the perfect cycle, and now most are gone, and others are in danger with their numbers dwindling daily.

You continue to overpopulate with the belief that you are kings – the gods of all. Then you chose to follow the few who ache beyond wealth. I see you ignore the way of the true Spirit. Singing to new deities from often told stories of myth and imagination. The beliefs you share must bow to the true obligation to me, the Mother. I gave all my life forms a door to abundance and beauty beyond measure. You have declared possession of the earth and expect all to bend to your arrogance.

Every moment there are more of you assuming that perfect balance doesn’t exist and you hold no responsibility. The declaration: “Everything isn’t enough!” Greed has taken over your souls. My forests are decimated, for misunderstood avarice. Once, not that long ago, you also fed the earth with labor and your bodies. Today the manufactured filth is dumped and flows to my waters. This garbage does not break down and return to the earth in twenty lifetimes. Lands have been paved or stripped, forever changed only for the thought of one day, ignoring eternity. Massive construction on grounds not for you, and yet when the buildings slide to the sea, you continue with the lesson unlearned. You risk all for a room with a view.

My memory is greater than you know, and there was a very long time you shared. Now you believe everything must bow to you. I watch the wastelands expand daily, and my beauty is sold for worthless sums. My body bears your footprint, on my mountains, my frozen perfections, and on my heart.

As a significant and bountiful Spirit, I have preached to deaf ears. I am tired, and if you take no action, this is the end of an amazing journey. I do not wish to stay longer; I am ready to lie on soft robes and dream for my remaining days, traveling to my slumber, but I choke on plastic debris. Everywhere I place my eyes is damaged and soiled by a single member of a once-diverse population. You rip the wealth from my bosom for chemicals, plastics, false adornment, and poisoned air.

I grant you have developed a few things I honor. It took thousands of years, but I give credit for kittens and puppies, but you have stripped them of their power to survive without you.

I will not bow to those who falsely believe they are the ruler of all. I am alone, and my blankets grow inviting. My essence is weary; I wish for it to be time to lie down. I want to walk in the other world and watch from the light as you carry on to the inevitable darkness. Though my soul spirit is exhausted, I refuse to quit with sadness on my face. I have but two choices, and I choose to stand up and take charge. I work to make things right, I am Pachamama, Mother of all Nature. I have the power, and it is now up to me to stop your insanity!

You humans will swear at me, but your actions activated the rains and storms, the winds, and fires that chase all from the hills and valleys. Mark my words, disease will rush through your crowded streets, as you have left no space untouched. Your mountains of debris will wash over you as the sea gags it back into your hand. The heat you have produced with your gluttony will accelerate and melt the ice, and with the water I will wash the land clean and try to awaken you back to balance.

You may blame god, the four horsemen of the apocalypse, or your neighbor. You can blame me, the Mother of all, but it was you that brought this planet to judgment. The secret is, I need your help, and I need it today–right now!



My day #7 action on I AM A WRITER – I’m Toni Kief a writer. I write OA (old adult) crime, humor, and just released a historical fiction. I never knew I would love writing, I often joke that I do it to stay away from taverns. I came to it in my 60s never considering it until I was dared. In my work, I celebrate the brilliance and power of we crones. This year I will finish my 5th book in the Mildred Unchained series and plan to do more on women’s lost history.

I have been called a multitude of names, spoken hopefully and, at times, angrily. My name is inspiration. I have visited everyone who has ever lived upon this earth. It is a constant surprise who heeds my messages. Today I took the form of a dragonfly, and you almost missed me so caught up in the daily mess of life. There are many who claim to love me most, and you beg and plead for an idea, a hint, a story. I am all around you in extraordinary forms. Stop begging and I will help. I know you want a book, but a story will do. All original stories live in your genius. Now it is time to shut up, turn off the news, the computer, and dance with the blank page. Waltz, tango, cha cha cha, until it spills from your fingers and surprises us all. I will continue to fly just above your head, out of reach, but I’m not to be clutched, I crush too easily.


Mary Mallon

    In 1884, fifteen-year-old Mary Mallon immigrated to the United States from Ireland. She grew to become a large, feisty woman known for a wicked temper and an extraordinary talent for cooking. Despite being uneducated, Mary was able to build a successful career as a cook for well-to-do families in New York City.  She was good at her job and remained steadily employed, always considered to be an essential employee. She often traveled with the families when they took trips or vacations. In the late 1800s, America was not the “drive-thru” nation we have now, and a darn good cook was essential luggage.

    In 1906 the family Mary worked for on Long Island became ill with Typhoid.  Mary moved on to a new job with a new family for employment, but soon the same thing happened. Then a third time, and then again.  After a few more moves, the authorities began investigating the homes of the wealthy and unlucky families. After a while, they discovered the one thing they had in common: A large, feisty, celebrated cook by the name of Mary.

    Mary must have been thinking of herself as the luckiest woman in New York, as she repeatedly evaded the illness that was ravaging those around her. It was 1907 when the Board of Health located her. In short order, Ms. Mallon was quarantined at the Riverside Hospital on North Borther Island. 

    In all fairness to Mary, this was a time when science was beginning to study and understand the transference of disease. Many new concepts of diseases sounded outrageous to the public, and most people didn’t relate to some of the discoveries coming forward.  Common knowledge of the day indicated that someone who did not have a disease could certainly not spread it.  In Mary’s mind, these outbreaks were pure coincidence. Remember, hand washing and other sanitation practices weren’t commonly practiced. The sanitizing wipe would not be invented for over eighty years. 

    In 1910 the health commissioner agreed with new scientific information suggesting that Mary could indeed be a typhoid carrier who was spreading the disease as she prepared food. He determined that her three-year imprisonment in the asylum was an unfair treatment to someone who was not an actual criminal.

    As a step toward rehabilitation, the commissioner found Mary a job in a laundry, and she was released back into the wild.  He was sure that she was a reasonable soul and had learned the nature of her condition. The commissioner was sure she would do the right thing and never work in food preparation again.

As it turned out, the laundry job barely produced enough income to sustain her, and her job satisfaction resided in her talent in the kitchen. Mary went to work in food preparation not long after her release but somehow forgot to tell the board of health about it. She may have accidentally started changing her name and moving around from kitchen to kitchen for a while.  In 1915, Mary was discovered to be cooking at the Sloane Hospital for Women in Manhattan.  The authorities were puzzled that she would continue to cook for others, knowing the danger she posed.  Mary could not (would not) understand how she could have Typhoid. She had neither been sick nor shown any symptoms herself.  She was quick to anger at the implication that she caused the outbreaks of such a deadly disease, and when Mary was mad -everyone paid heed.

    In hindsight, we now know that Mary Mallon was the first known asymptomatic carrier of Typhoid.  It seems like an easy concept now, but at the time, it was not so.  Because scientific research in the early 1900s was not nearly as advanced as it is today. Learning of Mary’s strong personality, we believe that Mary wasn’t bad, just badly mistaken.

    Historically, she most certainly was not the Grim Reaper cutting thru the population, killing thousands with her evil Typhoid finger.  But since she was so unlikable, the press labeled her “Typhoid Mary,” encouraging public outrage to blame her for much more than her fair share.  The truth goes more like this: Mary Mallon was just one of 50 known asymptomatic carriers of Typhoid.  The fact that the Board of Health’s manhunt to find her caught the attention of the press and the label Typhoid Mary caught on.  It did not help that when she was arrested, Mary went ballistic, kicking and screaming as they took her away. Even then, a lurid news story gathered attention and flooded through the public. Since she worked for the upper classes added to her notoriety.  The actual numbers were that she infected 30-50 people, but only three died.   During that same year, there were more than 3,000 other cases of Typhoid in New York and over 600 deaths.  

    Typhoid Mary Mallon was imprisoned at North Borther Island a second time. This is where she lived out the final 23 years of her life.  As a celebrity she still had journalist visit her, but they were reminded not to accept even a glass of water from her.  In 1938 she died of complications from a stroke that she had several years earlier. Mary Mallon was 69 years old, the autopsy indicated that her gall bladder was still shedding typhoid bacilli.

The moral of the story? Wash your hands and stay in school (even if it is virtual) , and wear your mask no matter what.

La Llorona – Wailing Lady


1502 – present  

There are many stories of La Llorona (the wailing lady).  The first mention was in 1502 when the goddess Cihuacoatl went out into the streets dressed in white, and crying and keening about the death of the Maya.  There is a belief that this was the first warning of the coming of the Conquistadors.  A meaner Central American specter without the good intentions of the Irish Banshee.

In the town of San Pedro on Ambergris Caye, Belize, there was a beautiful young woman.  She has long, straight black hair, and so alluring that she attracted the attention of many men.  On the downside, she is selfish and vowed she would only marry a wealthy, handsome man.  The legend goes that she did meet that man, and she played him by ignoring him and refusing his gifts.  Well, Darling, she is just a “Rules” kinda girl, and she won her man. Oblivious to the fact, he also had some negative tendencies.  It seemed to be a good marriage, and she became pregnant with their child. 

Here is the twist one legend says he left her for another woman.  The second story says that he rejects her, maybe for getting fat, and only then his mother made her life miserable and drove La Llorona to the forest.  She felt there were minimal options, either a support group at the women’s center and some community college classes, or the route less traveled. Misses La Llorona picked the second option and drowns her newborn child in the river. Then she killed herself in anger, pain, and humiliation.  

As a result, she was cursed to eternally search for her lost baby. From then on, she sits by the river, keening for compassion.  La Llorona haunts areas where children play and swim. As time passed, she became even more bitter and is known to lure children to the forest, never to return.  She specializes in the capture boys, but on a rare occasion, a few sassy girls have disappeared. 

A village usually knows when La Llorona is around by her loud wailing. Often, she is spotted in the trees on moonlit nights.  If she appears to you, she will stop crying and becomes sweet and gentle.  She opens her arms and welcomes men or troublesome boys to her caress. Only then are they trapped and taken to their demise.  Struggling doesn’t help; often, the victim will strangle in her long black hair. 

La Llorona is known to take the form of a mother, auntie, or whatever it takes to lure a man to his death.  She is also known to transform into a snake that wraps around the victim for the kill.  The few children have escaped but are often mute for the rest of their lives. 

There are three ways to protect against La Llorona. The surest one is to be home when you promised. Second if possible, the victim should pray, and she will move away. The third is to shine a light; our girl doesn’t like direct lighting.  So, if you are a man stumbling- er- wandering through the forest, near a river late at night, sincerely try to find your way home. If you should meet a lovely lady waiting and crying, remember you have a slim chance of escape. It is best to run to a clearing and shine that flashlight; hopefully, she will not follow. If you choose her open arms, there is a price to be paid. It may be even more expensive than the toll for staggering home so late in the night. 

Image by Karen Smits from Pixabay



SHARING DURING THE FORCED TIME OUT. MILDRED UNCHAINED, THE UNEXPECTED SERIESFiction-Crime-Humor first book in an Unexpected Series, Mildred Unchained. Mildred Petrie retired from a long career as a meter maid. Her husband died and his secrets changed everything. There is no stopping Mildred.



Short story just published by RAC Magazine.

It started two weeks ago; I bought Mastering the Art of French Cooking at the used bookstore for $3.  In my innocence, I flipped through the pages and scanned a couple recipes.  The book was beyond my palate, so I closed the cover and removed it to my collection. I am the kind of person who buys wine by the box, and seldom uses it for gravy. I pick and spit delicate truffles, with no regard for rarity or price; a mushroom is a mushroom. That evening I settled into my chair for television and an Aunt Jemima breakfast sandwich with a slice of reheated Red Baron pizza, microwaved for an impromptu feast.

Later in the night as I slept, there was a high-pitched trill emanating from the kitchen.  I convinced myself it was a passing train although I don’t live near any tracks. I roll with a shiver and search for dreams.  Hours later the pots began to rattle and tattle, the pans shifted and clanked.  I had a sudden urge to braise beef bones into a clear broth and to eat fishes and snails gathered from the seas far from home. I arose, and wrapped in false bravado I searched.  Finding nothing, I went back to bed for a fretful toss and turn until dawn, blaming the dynamic dinner whose crusts and wrappers still occupied my trash.

Each night since, I search for slumber with a pounding heart and ears probing a tentative silence. Once I find sleep, there is a noise in my kitchen, followed with an enticing aroma I can’t identify. After a fortnight of fear and anticipation, I gave up my search, accepting I can never catch the hazy alchemist who prowls my kitchen. 

At daybreak, the constant clanking stops and I nap.  When I finally struggle forth, I discover a sink full of dishes and a large metal spoon resting near the stove evidence of the nocturnal intrusions.  Julia Child haunts my kitchen. She quietly judges me during the day and prowls at night.  I accept responsibility for buying the book and dismissing her lessons.  Out of desperation, I remove it from the shelves and return it to the kitchen counter where it belongs.  I open to a page, dust off my ramekins and encounter herbed baked eggs with thyme infused baguettes.

Today I feast, tonight we rest.