Hello …


“… the gap between compassion and surrender is love’s darkest, deepest region.”

–Orhan Pamuk, The Museum of Innocence

Once upon a time in the faraway land of my childhood, my mother held me on her lap in the rocking chair and read me nursery rhymes. When I got a little older she read me fairy tales. She gave me her childhood books, two I still have – Robert Louis Stevenson’s A Child’s Garden of Verses and The Arabian Nights. This latter is a big book, imaginatively illustrated in potent colors, bound in deep green, with a paste down illustration on the cover and smooth pages I love to run my hands over. She bought me the My Book House books, the 1937 edition — nursery rhymes, fairy tales and classics edited by Olive Beaupre Miller, a set of 12 books, graded for age and reading level, from Mother Goose to Shakespeare. Mother kept the books in their carton, buried in a closet, and periodically throughout the years she would give me one the next level up. When she wasn’t around, I excavated them and explored them on my own. I opened a book, rubbed my eyes and on the carpet of my imagination, I flew to distant lands and far-gone times, into the vivid pictures in the storytellers’ minds. I plugged dikes, lived in the Village of Cream Puffs, watched with James Watt the steam pressure raise the lid on his pot of boiling water and marveled at Paul Bunyon’s blue ox. I learned the mystery at the Moss-Covered Mansion and found out whom Mr. Rochester was keeping in his back room.

My father and his brother, my uncle, recounted funny anecdotes: When their parents went out for the evening, my father and their friend locked my uncle in the closet because he wouldn’t stop playing his saxophone; when their parents came home, my uncle, so angry, punched a notch in the door frame when they let him out. One year my father and uncle, teenagers, decided to keep the Christmas tree up until Washington’s birthday; then they put it in the fireplace. Flames shot halfway across the living room. “Tell us that story again,” we’d say, “about when … when you, Uncle Bob, took the family out for a Sunday drive in the black Packard, the one the chauffeur, because our grandfather didn’t drive, polished only the side facing the house when it was parked in the driveway, when you pulled up across the street from the drug store, said ‘I’ll be right back,’ went in, came out, and without saying a word, drove off. When later the family learned you had gone in and had an ice cream.”

What great fortune have I to come aground at this lifetime and encounter this treasure chest of stories, each story a precious gem.

Storytelling. Everybody has a story to tell. Storytelling is as old as humankind, handed down through generations. Historian and author Doris Kearns Goodwin said, “I am obsessed with the importance of story. The way we learn from parents and grandparents who pass stories on. Stories have a beginning, middle and an end. Something has meaning when you’re telling stories.”

I love telling stories. That’s why I write. I have been writing stories since I was very young. If I’m not writing, when I meet you I’ll tell you a story, anyway. I started this blog, then called “Salmon Salad and Mozart: A Dementia Caregiver’s Journal,” because I wanted to tell you the story of my mother Emma’s and my journey through her dementia. I wanted you to know you are not alone. I was Emma’s sole, unpaid, caregiver for a decade. Only in the end did we get the help we needed. Emma was finally released from her long suffering on April 11, 2012, at 97. Then, she flew away like one of the many beautiful butterflies she loved and painted in her watercolor images displayed in various forms, all over the house. Even her clothes had butterfly prints. If you are interested, you can read our story in my many blog posts here in the archives and in my two books, Begins the Night Music: A Dementia Caregiver’s Journal, Volume I and To What Green Altar: A Dementia Caregiver’s Journal, Volume II. You can buy my books by clicking on the icons in the sidebars. This will take you through to Amazon. If you do it this way, in addition to Amazon’s paying me a royalty on the sale, they pay me a small commission.

Five months into writing my blog I suspected that someone was visiting my blog, padding around in the alcoves, chambers, catwalks and labyrinths – in the latter, among whom Stephen King calls the boys in the basement – of my blog and I did not know you were here. You were here watching me. I could hear the floor creak, a muffled chuckle, smell nutmeg. You were here learning and knowing all about me while I knew nothing about you, because you did not leave your calling card, your comment. I knew then there was a Phantom of My Blog. Then one day I was up on the catwalk, getting an overview of the action when the Phantom of My Blog came up behind me and nudged me over the edge. I grabbed hold of a rope in the fly system. Not being much for rope climbing, I slid rapidly down to the knot at the end and got rope burn on the palms of my hands. At the end of my rope, I determined I had to let go and fall where I may….

Healthcare personnel for Emma were often unreliable and incommunicative. Often they left me stranded. When I let go of the end of my rope, I seemed to have landed amidst of a heap of backdrops. It was hard to know which scene I was in, what my role was; moreover, when I recited my lines, my audience did not comprehend. I thought I was speaking English to an English-speaking audience. I recognized the futility of becoming the director of my own play; I had made one hundred false starts, to quote F. Scott Fitzgerald, always interrupted by a change in scene.

Since then, the Phantom has appeared in various scenes in my blog; he hangs fresh headers, sweeps up spam, doesn’t dust, plays the banjo and has a black fluffy dog named Dickens. The Phantom’s name is Moriarty.

Over the months since Emma’s passing, I have transitioned this blog into “The Scheherazade Chronicles.” The Scheherazade Chronicles is dedicated to human interest and to the development and support of storytelling and to raising awareness of and promoting access to the humanities for the edification and elevation of the consciousness of humankind.

Please … come in, make yourself at home. Pour yourself a glass of wine, sit with Moriarty and me in the light of the candle at the round table, listen to the music in the right sidebar player, climb up the winding staircase to the cupola and from the windows survey our tall grass meadow down to the stream and the woods beyond. Maybe you’ll catch a glimpse of the blue deer; they have become a small herd now, an uncommon herd.

—Samantha Mozart

14 Responses to Hello …

  1. This is lovely and I look forward to dipping up and downstream here! I came over from Susan Scott’s site. I have nobody in the basement (living in the north we only have a crawl space) but there are beings who resides within the tall white spruce that guard this property. They are fierce and loving, impatient and gracious, salty and sweet. I’ve just started to meet them for they need me to prove my worth with my own discipline but they are visiting more and more.

    • Thank you so much for coming to visit, Jan. And I thank Susan for connecting us.

      A tall white spruce — how lovely. I’d love to meet those residents — how wonderful for you to have the comfort, protection and guidance of those special beings. That they are visiting more and more proves you are upholding your end, for they will meet you halfway. And, I’ll bet they have many stories to tell.

      So good to hear from you. I do hope you will return.

  2. My Dear Samantha,

    I was visiting your website this morning because I wanted to see your Liebster Blog award and decided to look through it. The poem by Thomas Wolfe is a very fitting poem for The Scheherzade Chronicles. It leaves a swift taste of the melancholy that causes us to think and reconsider our paths and what we are doing to fulfill our purpose in life.

    Your introductory greeting brought to memory my own childhood. I thought about the days when I visited the library and walked through the aisles grabbing books to read. I even smelled them to see if they had the aroma of the land or the subject they were addressing.

    And it reminded me of Mr. Jake. My first personal storytelling experience was written on my sub conscious my this man. He visited my grandparents on my mother’s side and whenever he showed up, I and my sisters and my one brother would sit at his feet and listened to him tell stories about what he had seen. I was fascinated by his art of storytelling and in some ways that is a part of my own delivery of a story.

    Your introductory is excellent. It drew me in and I couldn’t help but respond. Because you drew me in, I decided to subscribe to your blog articles per email. I am not able to log on to your thread because my priorities at the moment will not allow me, for lack of time, but I do love reading your articles and now am assured that they will come into my email box whenever there is a new one.

    Keep writing. You are telling your story in so many ways and there are so many people who need to hear it.

    I personally am happy to have met a fellow traveler on the journey.

    Shalom,
    Patricia

    • Dear Patricia,

      Thank you so much for coming by and your very kind compliments here. Coming from you, it means especially a lot to me. Re my introductory, isn’t it interesting that sometimes we go back to read something we’ve written a while ago, and are impressed, like, “Did I write that?” (emphasis on the “I”) At least I have these wonderful occasional experiences.

      I did answer some of your comments in private email, so I won’t repeat here, but, yes, I love this Thomas Wolfe poem. It is probably my favorite poem. Every time I read it, it opens new doors for me, gives me new thought perspectives. It is deep and melancholic. I had one of the peak experiences of my life about 30 years ago when I had just finished reading “Look Homeward, Angel,” about the marble angel, and thinking about how I wanted to be a professional writer but creating obstacles for myself. I went to Jerome, Ariz., and there met a guy all covered in white powder. He took me up the hill to his studio overlooking the open copper mining pit, and there, in the back of the studio, lay in a wooden box in a bed of straw, a white marble angel he had just sculpted. This was my sign to write, no matter what.

      So wonderful you had Jake, the storyteller, in your life. Definitely a sign there, I think. Kids need to be told stories. Clearly, your beautiful, flowing writing and deep thought show that you had many, many storytellers in your life — in person and in print.

      Thanks for signing up to receive my posts by email. You will find that the notification will give you the initial lines and then you have to click on “read more.” Will this be convenient for you? I like people to come to my site, but I could change that.

      And, yes, so special to connect with you, to meet a fellow traveler on the journey, a rarity, indeed.

      Shalom,
      Samantha

  3. I have opened comments again due to the arrival of sincere visitors who would like to respond to this story about storytelling. And, I absolutely love comments; I love knowing what you think, hearing your stories and exchanging ideas with you.

    Plus, I am encouraged that I have a reader or two, therefore a purpose to continue writing my blog.

    Thanks!

  4. I regret that I must close comments for this page due to an overwhelming amount of Japanese language spam.

    Samantha

  5. Reading your posting is such a treat. I love your detailed descriptions as I feel I have landed in your Wonderland. I’m so sorry that we no longer live at opposite ends of the same street so that I could come over and share that glass of wine with you and listen to your stories.

    • I smile, Gwynn. Yes, we could exchange many colorful stories. There on Camino de las Colinas, I did have the oak round table, the magic candle, the wine and the view of the ocean, the sound of the waves breaking on shore. Now you and I live at opposite ends of the country and these things live where Moriarty surfs in my mind.

      Thanks. :-)

  6. My dearest Sam,

    Incandescently interesting and illuminatingly imaginative. Entrenched with all you have written here, I will be pouring , drafting and climbing those stairs most often to enjoy your pleasing wordsmithing.

    For now I must brush past the peeling paint as I descend the spiral stairs to proceed to the yard to do some packing and shipping, or, I could borrow your magic carpet and deliver the items in person…

    Keep drawing keenly drawn portraits.

    Ever,

    R.

    • For one as imaginative as you, R, you may borrow my magic carpet anytime to fly wherever you wish.

      Thank you.

      S.

      • Out of the corner of my mind I noticed that you had added a few words to your first paragraph – luminous.

        When my license to apparate expires I’ll be over to borrow your magic carpet. Had the fireplaces in your home not been covered over I would use the silvery floo powder to come visit – wicked – my broom is in the shop.

        With deliberation,

        R.

        • Can you not just magically go through the fireplace wall covering, R? I’ll betcha there’s still some silvery flue powder behind that wall. Magic carpet operating licenses expire only if you imagine it so.

  7. Thank you for acknowledging me.

    M.

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