The Shore of the Salish Sea

Salish Sea
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His tears flavor the salty sea as he stands silently on the shore, watching the clouds gather on the horizon.  A growing storm blocks out the sun, and he feels the electricity in the air.  A solitary man gazes out over the sea; his sobs blend with the distant thunder. 

John has worked since he was fifteen, driven by a need for recognition and approval.  He built a life on money and labor, defining his existence one success after another. Confidently, he believed there was plenty of time to meet a good woman and have 2.5 smart children.   He delayed his plans to see Paris and Egypt for one of the coming tomorrows, unaware that this day would be here so soon.  At this moment, shame rushes over him as he acknowledges he didn’t call his mother on her birthday.  Sure, his secretary sent a gift, but he was too busy to sign the card or take the minutes to talk to her. That is all she ever wanted.

Hope is gone, and John acknowledges that he is the real villain of his own life.  His whole existence has been putting success and money in front of the truly important things, waiting for enough time or more money.  The agony of regret is more intense than the pain that brought John to the salty shore of a billion tears.  The drive that made him famous so young was the same ambition that brought him here to this moment.  The tears dry with the recognition that it is too late, as he watches the small wooden boat approach in the distance.  Now he understands a donation to charity is an empty gesture when done for the press release. All that is left is a news announcement for a funeral, attended by people who never really knew him or cared.  A business will never miss him, and money doesn’t cry.  John feels a deep ache for a sincere emotion from someone who carries a ghost of resemblance.   Too late, everything is too late. He steps aboard the boat and pays the toll with the single coin found in his hand. His almost silent voice swears if he ever has a chance to return, time won’t be wasted on tomorrows.

One Unforgettable Kiss

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I’ve been kissed and more than once. I have been kissed timidly, passionately, aggressively, sloppy and carelessly. They have been good, bad and perfect, but as I look back at my stories of loves gone by the one I remember is the first.
Nearly sixteen and allowed to have my first date one week before the birthday. A young man came to pick me up at noon, and my father announced as we left. “She has to be home in an hour, and she better be fed.” Needless to say, hamburgers and cokes were consumed, and no kisses were shared.
On my birthday one week later, my dad and his firefighter friend had teased me over cake and ice cream about being sweet sixteen and never been kissed. I still blush at the memory and the embarrassment. It was all my dad’s fault, but he found it too funny to ignore.
Homecoming was soon after, and I had a date with one of the running backs of the high school team. I was dressed in one of my mom’s newest outfits. It was 1965, and the twist was starting to fade away, so I spent the afternoon learning to dance the jerk. The team won decidedly, and the players’ dates had to walk up the hill to the gymnasium to wait. Since I wasn’t popular, I tagged behind the group of excited girls. The bevy stayed together near the door, and I waited nearby on the bleachers. The lights were low, and the decorations were perfect. This was my first experience with live music and crowds of dancing teens.
It seemed like a week, but finally, we heard the shouts and stomping of the victorious football players as they stormed the auditorium. They were winners and ready to celebrate. There he was in the midst of the excited group, I watched him scan the crowd, and finally, his eyes met mine. I don’t remember much of the dance it was a blur.
At the end of the night, he drove me home arriving minutes before my curfew. He had shut off the Jeep and coasted to park at the curb in front of the house. The porch light was on waiting for me. We both were excited from the game, the dance and romantic possibilities. After awkward words, he jumped out of the car and held the door for me. He took my hand as we approached the fully lit porch and he asked if he could kiss me. I nodded yes, shyly. He took me in his arms, and his gentle kiss warmed my lips as the neighbor across the street hollered “Good job buddy, she won’t make sweet 17”. Then our porch light started to flash, on and off on and off. My brother had waited up, and would until I moved away. He lived to flip the porch light switch.
Dan was destined to be my first love, my first proposal and one of my last loves. We were together for over a year of stories, cars, fires, and passion. The break up still touches my heart as no other would.
PS We tried again 37 years later, and he did repeat a proposed. I tease him to this day that as an athlete and world champion powerlifter he never had the moxie to carry me over the threshold. In my last trip to my hometown a month ago, I stop by to visit. Being nervous about the address, I decided to double check it. Turns out he was marrying his fourth wife. Over the years, I have learned that sometimes a bad breakup is really an escape.

The Blood Countess We Should Remember

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AUGUST 21st 1614 the assumed last breath of Erzsebet (aka Elizabeth) Bathory 1560 -1614.
Countess Erzsébet Báthory was considered the most beautiful, intelligent and politically savvy woman in Europe. She was born at an estate near the Carpathian Mountains, Transylvania, into one of the most powerful families in Europe. She grew up living the privileged life of nobility. Her uncle Stephan was crowned king of Poland in 1575, and his brother Christopher was the prince of Transylvania. Another cousin was the Prime Minister of Hungary. She even had an ancestor that helped Vlad Dracula when he claimed the throne. Her ancestors and relatives included several cases of insanity and general cruel behaviors. It is clear that her “family” had been genetically polluted by incest, alcoholism, murderers, sadists, politicians, and Satanists. Erzsebet seems to have learned from them all.
Erzsébet was a difficult child, and there were reports that she may have suffered from “fits,” or seizures. She definitely had uncontrolled rages and a serious case of impulse control. She was referred to as promiscuous, maybe because her first baby was born when she was just 14. After the birth, The family immediately betrothed her to Count Ferencz Nadasdy de Nadasd of Fogarasfold, a great soldier, and politician known as the“Black Hero of Hungary.” It seems this was a match made in politics-both families had certified histories of madness and the bride and groom were both known for their cruelty. Erz had shown signs of her inclinations since childhood, and The Count’s influence seems to have fine-tuned the propensity. He movedhis bride to Castle Csejthe, in Hungary, where portions of the castle still stand. Ferencz was often gone for extended periods of war, leaving Erz to run the place.
After fathering four children with Erzsebet, the Count fell ill in 1601 and died in 1604, leaving her a widow at the age of 44. There is some suggestion that she poisoned him (poisoned, murdered, stabbed, put him in a dumpster, as gossip becomes history.) Of her children, some were “shipped off,” and one son was lucky enough to hang around the castle with mom. No assumptions can be made here, we haven’t found his memoir.
There is a story about a young servant girl brushing Erzebet’s hair, and in some disciplinary action by Erz the chambermaid began to bleed from her nose. When the blood landed on Erzsebet, she believed that it made her own skin look fresh, almost as peachy as the young bleeder. Her trusted employees were called, and they bled the young wench to death, filling a tub with her blood for Erz. This is what seems to have kicked off her full-blown perversion, and she developed a torture toolbox containing: needles, pins, branding irons, whips, pokers, scissors, freezing temperatures, starvation, water and cooperative employees to assist her. The surrounding community feared what could happen if they complained, but when she started bringing in the lower nobility, they gathered up rakes and torches. The King arranged for an intervention, lead by her cousin Count Thurso on Christmas in 1610.
The group of men crept into her castle to investigate the complaints about missing young women and children. It is hard to tell exactly what they found, as it was deemed too monstrous to be put on her permanent record. Wemust all remember that Erzsebet was part of the ruling family and personally very powerful. It is certain, however, that they found over fifty young women dead and dying, apparently tortured and drained of blood.
After further investigation, it was clear that this bloodlust had been going on for some time, maybe as long as 10 years. There was no report on how Erzsebet looked. The records of the court proceedings indicate she was charged with killing 80 people, but her own diary outlines around 650. The members of her staff practically knocked each other over to testify hoping for a plea agreement. They told tales of degradation and horror and made suggestions of devil worship, sorcery, and a rigorous beauty regime.
The servants alleged that she bathed in the blood of virgins to make her skin more beautiful. She had actually eliminated almost all of the “common” girls who had no rights, but when she overstepped into the young nobility promising etiquette lessons but no graduations, that forced the scales of justice. There was a trial, but Erz was never convicted of any crime. She was placed under house arrest and sealed into her suite in the castle. She was passed food through a small slot in the door, and when she quit taking it, they sealed the slot and called it good. Her employees did not fare as well, they were burned at the stake for the murders. If you have ever questioned if privilege had its benefits, remember this terrifying “lady,” – one of the few documented women of history to be associated with such monstrous actions. Her story changes the Dracula shadow on the drapes into something curvier and twice as scary.