I took along my new macro lens on my recent trip to Arizona and was overwhelmed by the number of flowers still blooming. Here’s a handful of some of the more than a dozen photos I took. The remainder can be found here: Macro Flowers
We’re out in Arizona visiting our daughter, and Saturday morning was spent making the short (just over a mile and a half) but very strenuous hike up to the Wave Cave in the Superstition Mountains. Temperatures near 90º and a bright sunny day made this hike a little more tricky. It was worth the effort, though. The views from the cave were outstanding, and it was fun watching everyone “riding” the wave of the rock formation.
As my June 1 deadline looms nearer, I have spent the past few weeks immersed in the much needed revisions of our Best of the Appalachian Trail books. First written in 1994, they were updated in 2004. Let’s just say a lot has changed in the past 13 years! Interstates have been built and trails relocated for one thing. In addition, thanks to the much appreciated help of Vic Hasler with the Tennessee Eastman Hiking and Canoeing Club, I’ve taken his advice and trashed one overnight hike and replaced it with another.
Honestly, I think the new hike is a much better addition. The only reason I can think we didn’t include it to begin with is because when we hiked that section of the Appalachian Trail, we were being chased by rain before being forced to shelter in the former barn–Overmountain Shelter–during an early April blizzard.
Simultaneously, while working on these revisions, I have also been transcribing my trail journals as 2018 will mark the 30th Anniversary of our through hike. Because life tends to work that way, the point I am at in transcribing is also the time we were caught in the snowstorm. Having quit my job as a staff writer for a daily newspaper to hike the A.T., I had fun (as we had hours to waste) describing the adventure in newspaper format. I can’t quite duplicate that here, but it went something like this (The Humps, by the way, are two balds on the Tennessee/North Carolina line that are more than a mile high in elevation.):
THE NOT-YET-OVER-THE-HUMPS NEWS
Yellow Creek Gap, N.C.
A Victoria Steele-Logue-Jones, Esq. Paper
April 7, 1988
Snowstorm traps 15: Boy Scouts, Through-hikers forced to shelter in barn.
Fifteen hikers were trapped at Yellow Creek Gap today when hit by the worst blizzard to strike the area in years. (She wrote the lead with less than 25 words, proving once again her innate sense of journalism.) The storm began early Wednesday with a sprinkle of rain and a wind that would make the willows weep. On the Hump mountains, Troop 357 struggled against the ripping gusts of air. It took several hours for the 13, including three leaders and ten youths, to make it to the Overmountain Shelter.
Through-hikers Frank and Victoria Logue arrived at the shelter slightly soaked just as the first downpour started shortly after 10:30 am. A little more than an hour later, the others began to arrive. Fortunately for the rain-soaked travelers, the barn had more than enough room to offer sanctuary to the entire group.
I won’t continue but suffice to say: because the barn had about an inch of space between its slats, it didn’t take long for snow to coat everyone’s sleeping bags. Also, the wind literally rocked the barn back and forth. It was a hellacious 48 hours. When we finally departed we had to trudge through more than two feet of snow, which, by the time we reached the valley at US 19E, had made the transition from snow to rain as the temperatures grew warmer.
But, having since seen and hiked that area in good weather, it’s truly beautiful and rich in both geologic history and the history of the people of the mountains. In the summer, the Cawtaba rhododendrons in the area are breathtaking.
I don’t know about other writers but I usually give a lot of thought to what I name my characters, particularly the main characters. Now that I’ve finished the Hallowed Treasures Saga, and the final book in the trilogy is off to my beta readers, I thought I would explain the rationale behind some of the names. And while there are probably around two hundred named characters in this book, most of whom were given names for a reason, these are some of the more important characters to the books:
The Princess had several names before I finally settled on Eluned (pronounced Eh-lee-ned). That happened when I realized the book had become a Quest for the Thirteen Hallowed Treasures, and I wanted the Princess to be named for one of them. That was easy. Naturally, she would take on the name of the Thirteenth Treasure: The Ring of Eluned or Eluned’s Ring and Stone: When it is placed on one’s finger, with the stone inside the hand and closed upon the stone, the wearer is invisible.
I decided that I wanted “the stone” to be a moonstone; I also decided I didn’t want the stone affixed to the ring as it gave me a little more latitude with its use.
Early in “The Path to Misery” Jabberwock explains his name to Eluned. He recites to her the poem, “Jabberwocky”, by Lewis Carroll, comparing himself to the Jabberwock in the poem:
“Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!”
He renames himself Jabberwock the Bandersnatch because the poem reminds him of the genocide of his breed. In actuality, his name is Hiurau the Janawar.
Bonpo explains his name in “Death’s Dark Shadows”, the final book in the Hallowed Treasures Saga. He takes on this new name after he is exiled from the Kingdom of Dziron by his people, the Yeti, for causing the death of a human (all of which is learned in “The Path to Misery”.
Bon is an older religion which exists alongside Tibetan Buddhism. Bonpos, as followers of Bon are known, go to Buddhist temples, but turn their prayer wheels in the opposite direction from Buddhists. I chose to call him Bonpo because my husband was reading “The Snow Leopard” by Peter Matthiesson while we were hiking the Appalachian Trail, and we used to joke that southbound through hikers were “bonpos”. That is, they hiked against the natural order, so to speak.
Because Bonpo could no longer live as a Yeti, I saw him as going against the natural order of his fellow Yetis. What his real name is and why he chose Bonpo will remain a secret until after the publication of “Death’s Dark Shadows”.
Gwrhyr (pronounced Goor-heer) also explains the meaning of his name in “Death’s Dark Shadows”. Basically, I chose it because means something along the lines of “translator” in Welsh, and for those who know Gwrhyr, you know that he speaks most of the languages of the Thirteen Kingdoms.
When I created the character of the gypsy, Chokhmah, I pictured her as the wiser, older woman, who helps Eluned begin the transition from girlhood to adulthood. Because I already had some Romanian Jewish gypsy music that I listen to and really like, I decided to make her character part of a more Hebrew-like Roma community—thus the name, Chokhmah, which means “wisdom” in Hebrew.
I don’t actually remember why I chose Yona because when I came up with her character, I was also creating eleven other characters that were attending a dinner party at King Arawn’s castle in Prythew. I actually came up with the character of King Hevel of Adamah first (see below) and since his name was Hebrew, I decided to let his fiancée have a Hebrew name as well. In this case, I chose Yona, which means “dove” because “The Dove” was my trail name while through hiking the Appalachian Trail, and I already liked the character at this point although I didn’t realize then how important she would become.
This character doesn’t appear until the second book, “In Lonely Exile.” Choosing his name was easy. It means “little wolf” in Irish. And, if you read the book you’ll understand the inside joke. Faolan is pronounced “fway-lahn”.
Queen Njima of Naphtali is mentioned in the first book because Eluned would really like Yona to meet her, but she doesn’t appear until the second book. The inside joke here is that Njima means “dove” in Swahili. And that’s all I’m giving away.
The Three Kings
King Arawn of Annewven:
King Arawn (pronounced aroun like in ‘around’) received his name because Arawn is the god of the underworld, terror, and war in Welsh mythology and resides in Annwn (Annewven in this case). As I was listening to King Crimson’s “In the Court of the Crimson King” while writing a large part of the first book, I decided to make him the “Crimson King” as well. Pretty much everything in his kingdom has ties to Welsh mythology.
King Hamartia of Simoon:
Arawn’s right hand man, so to speak. Hamartia is from the Greek and means to “miss the mark” or “to err”.
King Hevel of Adamah:
Hevel is also Hebrew and is difficult to define, but I was thinking of Ecclesiastes 1:2 when I chose it. It literally means “breath”, but in this case it means: meaningless, hollow, futile, useless, vain, which King Hevel clearly is.
Queen Fuchsia of Zion:
While she never actually appears in the book, Eluned’s great grandmother is important because of her books and because of her life. She hid her romance novels in the window seat in the room that becomes Eluned’s bedroom. It is both because of these novels that Eluned reads repeatedly, and the fact this woman ran away from her life as a queen to become an actress, that Eluned wants to experience adventure.
I gave her the name Fuchsia in homage to the Lady Fuchsia in the Gormenghast Trilogy by Mervyn Peake. Originally, Eluned had this name and her looks are somewhat based on Peake’s Fuchsia.
Is there a name you wonder about?