Inside My Great Walls, Page 3

It’s clear to me that these illustrations are mostly to help me visualize the details of the stories I write, and to help me edit and revise and edit and revise! What a learning process for me, both with writing and with my drawing/painting techniques! This little guy’s face has been drawn over and over! What a patchwork endeavor! I’m sure I’ll be redoing this page sometime soon! And perhaps I’ll be adding a calendar to his wall so he can mark the days til he can go back outside. Meanwhile, this poor little guy has hit his ‘flat’ feeling of the day!

Inside My Great Walls, Page 3
Inside My Great Walls written by Ann Gordon, read by John Gordon

Inside My Great Walls Page 2

Here we go! One more slow one and then the pages might go a little faster!

Inside My Great Walls, Page 2
Inside My Great Walls Page 2, written by Ann Gordon, audio by John Gordon

Inside My Great Walls pg. 1

We have been staying home in the country together with Will’s family! If this is officially called ‘social distancing’, we’re surely having fun! It has been a little more difficult to work on my writing and painting, though. I now have about 7 pages of sketched illustrations for this short story, yet not necessarily in sequential order. Nothing around here seems to be in ‘sequential order’. I’d call it more High End Chaos and Creativity! Today I had an hour or so to begin painting, starting with PAGE 1! Only to find as I reached for the last piece of watercolor paper, it was already taken. Hence, the walls of this little boy’s room are quite warped-looking! Perhaps that makes his whole room come from his mind’s eye? a little dreamy.

Inside My Great Walls” by Ann Gordon, read by John Gordon

Hillock Infrastructure: Roadways

In the beginning, at least the beginning of my relationship to The Hillock, which was about 14 years ago, there were no visible roads or dwellings. The Hillock looked like every other mounded island that had grown from piles of rocks, debris and dirt and then covered over and over with leaves, vines and grasses. Bits of moss were grasping for air and moisture at the top of smaller mounds around the larger mounds. For some reason on my walks with the dogs, Sadie and Sophie our two black labs that moved to Thunder Mountain with us, I was particularly drawn to this particular hillock. I began to clear debris off of the pieces of mounded moss and the moss began to spread. I weeded and pulled up any vines that had been hiding magical spaces underneath. Some of those vines stayed with me for weeks on my skin as reactions to poison ivy! This still did not stop me for wanting to dig down to the magic.

Surprisingly, two things appeared there that enhanced the magic of the occasional frog, salamander and turtle that would allow me to invade their private community. The first was a gleaming fairy hanging and gliding underneath the dogwood tree. The second was a mysterious stone door with a fairy carved on the front of it. The sculptured door nestled naturally in the crook and crack of the giant oak tree in the middle of the hillock, atop a magnificent and spreading mound of moss, surrounding the tree! That’s all it took for me to sense they were signs of the magic that was to begin to unfold exponenientally all around me!

What until a few weeks before had seemed to be a chaotic endeavor on my part, and very unclear focus of my energies of weeding mosses and clearing leaves and vines, instantly became strong intentions to create a space where mysteries could reveal themselves.

That’s when the individual mounds began to grown into ‘hills and dales’ throughout The Hillock . And of course, there needed to be clear pathways to get from place to place. On my walks I began to bring a rock or two create a ledge beside a pathway or support for a log. As more and more dwellings and areas began to define themselves throughout the Hillock, it became clear that there would be much more traffic and Pebblestone Way, the ‘magnificent pebblestone street’ as Martha Julia Agnes Adele called it, began to grow.

Pebblestone Way Underway! February 13, 2013

The year that it began to grow I also was going through added pain and fatigue while I was being intensely treated for Lyme disease and the shifty shrewd spirochetes that were wrecking havoc in my body. These had been hidden and undiagnosed for over twenty years and it was was time to weed them out of my system. Each day I would still trudge down to the meadow with the dogsbut would only make it as far as the hillock when I would need to sit and rest. What could I do that would be productive when I felt so tired. One day I grabbed a tiny bucket and began filling it with small pebbles and took them to the Hillock. I would plop down on one of the pathways and begin to press the pebbles into the mud from the rainwashes they day before. Step by step each day and pebble by pebble the Pebblestone Way was paved and along with it was pressed out all my pain and fatigue.

Pebblestone Way is First Underway! February 13, 2013
March 2013
September 2013

Over its first year, Pebblestone Way became well trafficked and loved by animals, children, slugs. On a beautiful September day, Martha Julia Agnes Adele came upon this little hillock and ‘tripped and fell’. Thus began her adventure all around The Hillock. Now that her adventure is over, in spring of 2020, and she has found her shoe, it’s time to replenish the pebbles and upgrade the road system. And WHERE did all the pebbles go over those 7 years? Many were covered with leaves, dirt and moss, and many were scuffed down the hills and out into the meadow. So once again, Mossy gets out her little buckets and begins to carry a new supply of pebbles down to the Hillock.

It’s almost like building a city on top of an ancient city! Marbles, fairies, and other artifacts are showing themselves, all eager to bring new life to The Hillock of 2020!

Refurbishing Pebblestone Way! March
Refurbishing Pebblestone Way! March 5, 2020

The most wonderful thing about this ever-changing and growing hillock are the happy helpers that come to renew the infrastructure and more grandly to renew the spirit that give The Hillock its magic!


If any of you are semi-self-quarintining, here’s how ours began today! One of our ‘action figure-families’ came to the country for the weekend! Will, Vika, Andrea, 6, and Nora, 3. This morning each of them created Stations for inside/outside activity. Presently, I have flopped into the folds of this chair, panting and sweating! Heart full of family fun, and body grateful to be told to sit and write!

Nora was present to demonstrate her station for each person, so we needed no written instructions. She let Mossy do just ONE and others, 5, 10, or 20! “Or you can just lie down, was also an option she gave.”

Andrea’s station was pretty strenuous! Especially the “lunge tea lunge” and the pushups!

And THEN there appeared on one wall, running around the house! I think our dog Atticus accompanied each person!

Will’s Stations was a country version of athletes ‘running the stadium steps’. Fortunately our deck steps are a much smaller number.

Vika’s station calls forth a different set of muscles for those of us who had them!

Mossy introduced Rumi’s ‘twirling’. Five one way. Five the other. And then bow.

Granddad’s station included, “play something on the piano” and “bounce the ball on the saggy net racket.”

Hmmm…so now I feel a dry cough, and shortness of breath! Should I top it off with a trip to urgent care? Or just a delicious lunch?

Inside My Great Walls III

“Inside My Great Walls” by Ann Gordon, read by John Gordon

In their Beijing apartment, Joe and Baby Alex have window seats that look out over the courtyard below. It’s actually 11 floors down to the courtyard. Haven’t learned how to draw that perspective of depth yet. At least from these windows they can soak in a little sun/daylight! Can’t wait til they can come roam the countryside and play in the creek!

Storytime II: Big Brother Bliss! Beijing & Beyond!

My Favorite Image from China!

I love all the memories that this image brings to the fore in my heart! Actually this photo is of our son John and his son Joe (4) walking in the city streets of HongKong. It is similar to many moments I recall as the two of them walked around Beijing, or on the Great Wall, and at the huge train station where we boarded an 11 hour high speed (300+mph) train to Zhuhai on the southern China coast where Catherine’s parents and sister’s family live.

THIS is the image of two Master Storytellers on the move! Joe was always saying to his dad, “Tell me a story, Daddya!” And John would begin………. but that was ALL he had to do! for Joe would quickly be right in step with him, taking the story to peaks way beyond even where his Daddya could conceive. John, for example, might say (I’m making this one up because I can’t remember their complicated stories!) something like…”and then, and then! Bruce Wayne met Peter Parker for the first time…” Joe would excitedly interrupt! “No! No! he went to see Clark Kent first, since, since Batman and Superman were best friends!” Thus a Collaborative Adventure along the streets of China would begin! They could walk for hours!!!! Joe never got bored or tired as long as he was in the middle of a Super Story!

Another Image Etched in My Heart

Even waiting at intersections to cross safely or for a double-decker bus taxi, provided moments to reflect, recharge, and ruminate on their thickening plots! Joe’s default waiting position was to sit on his Daddy’s foot. Joe and John are definitely Avid Adventure Architects and their tales are so much taller than any of China’s tallest buildings! And believe me, we experienced quite the tall ones!

Superman WORKS OUT on THESE Buildings!

Joe brings so many experiences and images to the stories I read to him each of my evenings! He starts his day saying, “Mossy! Granddad! Read me a story!…..Read aNOTHER story!…” and so we do!

For those of you who ‘really know me’ and my quirky ways! You KNOW that it’s hard for me to do the same thing over and over, to follow a schedule, to follow a discipline. Though I DO have a strong belief about keeping my word to others and especially to others who are children. There have been nights (now, with daylight savings time, 8pm our time and 8 am on the China side of the world) when Alex and I have shared the time, especially when I was having coughing fits. Thankfully, I married the most disciplined, consistent man in the world!

Storybook Skyscraper

So stories march on! Night by night! And the more we do it, the more Joe loves it! We keep a pile of the books we’ve read, some more than once! And it is approaching becoming a tall ‘book building’ itself! Don’t get me wrong, he’s not just sitting starry-eyed gazing on just the pages of the book! He does that in ADDITION to multi-tasking. His days are full and he has much to do even if it is all inside! He’s working on his lego characters, or perfecting his sword moves or scrunching his brow to not miss a single image from the story across time zones, miles and wires. Even if it seems like he’s busy with something else, he’s taking it all in….and incorporating all into his amazing network of neurons!

These ‘book buildings’ are cropping up all over the place as other cousins get into these story adventures with Joe! Andrea and Nora could have read fed me more books to read if my voice hadn’t given out! When we are in Charlotte, spending time with Oliver (7) and Finley (4), we still get our call from Joe! Storytime spans the miles!

HawkPonderings III

Time to give an update on our new ‘spirit animal friend’, HAWK. Many of you have asked how he or she is doing. After two days in a row of being ‘visited’ by our new bold friend, we have walked around that bend of the meadow, with great anticipation, searching eyes and soul. This area is near the creek bend and the ‘wannabe’ pond which has become more of Atticus Dog’s MudMessAboutMarsh! We have not have any earth floor visits by our HawkFriend, yet I’m always aware of two beautiful highflying ones in the blue sky nearby.

I was grateful to hear from my birding guru, Pam Diamond, who checked with her hawk gurus, facts about hawks that make me think it was ‘mantling’ when it lifted his wings like in the first picture. They apparently do this when they are ‘protecting a hunt’ or ‘territory’. Both of these things really fit what this beauty was doing. The first day it literally SWOOPED down and PLOPPED right in front of our two dogs and took its STANCE with shoulders lifted and wings fanned.

The other fact I learned through her from her friends, (Thank you Hawk Gurus!) is that for the other possibility of its being injured: If it were injured and left there, it wouldn’t survive for more than a few days. If that had been the case, I think we would have found some clues of decay smells, feathers or something. We really LOOKED. And better than that! our two dogs would have sniffed him out. So I’m relieved to go with the guru’s first scenario, along with OF COURSE, the spiritual symbolism of its visit! This brings me to what I wrote before about what I think this amazing creature is bringing up for me to learn in my life!

So here flows what I’m hearing from this bold bird’s whispers: • take your stance • listen to your pain in your shoulders, your spine, your neck • your pain is telling you that you need to ready your wings to fly (and maybe change where you do your writing!) • being ready includes this moment in time when you take your stands and grow roots that will sustain you even in the sky • then you can rise above the details, the stuff in your life that is holding you down • as you heal your own wings and all spine and muscle that hold them, you will fly beyond the small wonders that you love. • your vision will widen to include all you need to see next • from this point you will see all points and your heart will know and show you your focus • as you fly you will also see more intense pain and suffering in the world. • to keep focusing and flying over and through all this will take discipline, for you must keep your own creative core strong. • this is when you will need a strong gathering of support and encouragement, including some that is bold and blunt. • take this support and fly with it, always knowing that you have your nest to catch you and renew you. • for you are always held in the air and on the ground by breath of Life itself! • stay aware and concerned for all of Life and also know that It is Held, as am I, the hawk.

I went back to the meadow on day three at the same time to see if the hawk was present on the ground. I didn’t see it but did see on the periphery as I headed that way, a hawk flying in the sky. Within no time, it crossed the meadow sky until she was flying overhead. It continued circling and reappearing as long as I was on that corner of the meadow. Why, I don’t know for sure. What I DO know is that my inner response hasn’t gone but has grown instead.

Inside My Great Walls II

“Inside My Great Walls, by Ann Gordon, read by John Gordon

I’m still experimenting with ways to illustrate this brief story about a child being in quarantine. Our grandson’s Joe and baby Alex and his mom and dad are two of my heroes as they continue to self quarantine in Beijing, going on two months now. I think John took Joe out in their courtyard once or twice briefly for some fresh air. Catherine continues to make the most amazing meals for all of them from food they order and have delivered to the gate of their neighborhood. They have stayed much healthier than I have lately! The made themselves a family schedule that includes exercise time, window sun time, storylines, working, yoga, and so much more.

Regarding this illustration, as with all of them, I become more and more aware of how much more have to learn about perspective, scale, light, shadows, not to mention color and techniques. I may end up doing this drawing over and over. These children are supposed to be on a window seat looking down below from the 11th floor. Instead, my drawing makes it look like they are on the ground level and that these tiny bikes and scooters are merely little toys! Much to learn! Much to learn All matters and manners of things to learn! Loving it!

The Search…The Find

As I begin each day, I awaken with a body that house memories of all that has gone before and thankfully an openness to possibilities yet unknown. In the midst of this, is usually the presence of chronic pain, figments of fatigue and of course fabricated fears that want to cling and tag along on my journey. Yet the most exciting thing about ‘waking up’ that thankfully supersedes all others is the anticipation of the Unknown! The wonder of alluring Adventure! The trust in the Unseen. And the faith that accompanies meeting Challenge. I’m invited to discover the Treasures that are hidden in THIS DAY!

Today I’m grateful for the memories, that even Facebook helps bring to fore as it did today. This picture greeted me through the algorithmic mystery wires. It reminds me that even this little guy found what he was searching for, the answer to his question about what was making the “Jingle in My Pocket.”

And then flashed into my head that even the “Twigs at Twilight: In Search of Lacey Leaf” found their lost friend!

And now, though it took 7 years, “Martha Julia Agnes Adele” was helped by her newfound friends to not only find the shoe she lost when she tripped and fell at The Hillock! but also to discover that she had learned something that she hadn’t realized before.

And for all these characters, the elation experienced at the moment of ‘the Find” is only as intensely wonderful as the searching journey itself! So today, I’m grateful to be continuing on ‘the Search’ no matter what I find along the way! And, like Martha Julia Agnes Adele, sometimes the treasure I think might be the treasure, is only a goal that moves me forward so that I can discover the REAL TREASURES lurking in my shadows and linking also to the search along the way. Like Martha, I may actually LEARN or CONNECT with something to put in my trip bag of Intangibles that empowers my life long journey!!! Those are the Gifts of Gratitude, unsought-for and unexpected!

Here’s one learning that I must internalize over and over. For it fuels my faithfulness even in moments of Loss, Despair, Disillusionment, or DisEase. THIS is worth noting for any Creative using any medium, and that means ALL of US!:

Just after the moment that I accomplish ‘a Find,’ no matter how exciting and satisfying it is….I realize it is quickly followed by that feeling of loss…at least for that moment, I am ‘off the search train’…feeling LOST and bewildered…Now what? This is the time of soul searching, going within, listening, renewing my soul, feeling my pain and fear, building my trust in ‘not knowing what’s next’ and not knowing where my focus needs to lie. THIS is the series of moments where Life will lead me as I flounder, faithfully taking random steps, allowing for trips and falls, and finally realizing that without knowing I have stepped back onto the ‘search train’ or perhaps I never stepped off?

OH! How much I love the ongoing treasure hunt process of LIFE! Maybe this is my ultimate addiction? I don’t know. And even THAT is exciting!?!?!

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