My kitchen is a place where strange and wonderful things happen. Examples of the strange (they’ve only happened once): tuna manicotti, pumpkin soup. A sample of the wonderful: broccoli quiche, stuffed peppers. But I’m not just referring to recipes. My kitchen is a twilight zone of odd occurrences. Don’t take my word for it, judge for yourself!
I will admit to being somewhat skeptical, but I may have gotten a truthful explanation for this one. Someone claims this lemon rolled off a counter and when it was set it back upon the shelf the lemon rolled right into an errant onion peel!
The jury is still out on this one, but I’m thinking tiny elves were running around on my counter tops in the middle of the night with their arms full of M&Ms. One of them must have slipped in the butter, which surely alerted the dogs to their presence. The elves must have been forced to flee without collecting all of their candy. Note to self: train the dogs to be kind to visiting elves.
This one had some help from me. I walked by a counter and spotted one lone cheese puff sitting in a taco shell. I presumed a hasty snacker had accidentally dropped it there. I sacrificed a small bag of puffy cheesy snacks to satisfy my sense of humor, snapped this picture, and left my creation on the counter. Hopefully the elves had as good a laugh over this as I did!
Then there’s salmonella stew…but I’ll save that picture and story for another post.
The fireplace in the central room of any home is where Evlantian women gather to gossip, work on projects, tell stories, play games and sing songs. On cold or chilly days a fire is lit to spread warmth and light. Though separate from the kitchen, a savory stew or kettle of tea is often found simmering above the flames to welcome people around its sitting stones and comfy chairs.
Blood feuds often begin and end at home hearth. A woman who has been insulted in her own home, at her own hearth, may start a vendetta that sometimes stretches on for generations. When peace is made, whether by mediation or by illegal means, home hearth is where the peace contract is signed.
A woman and her daughters will fight and die to protect their home hearth. Since the city is contained by a wall and the population carefully controlled by the Quickening Committee, inheritance of homes is a hot topic of gossip and speculation. Woe to the woman whose status is so low that her home’s hearth is a puny excuse to burn kindling. Greatly exalted is the woman so royal and privileged that her hearth is vast and the fire burns continually and warms dozens.
I can’t remember the date, or even the year, when the idea for my series first occurred to me. I do remember exactly where I was and what I was doing when the inspiration struck. I was in my kitchen. I had my hands in hot, soapy water and I was washing the dishes. The radio was on. My daughters, both teenagers now, were very young. I have a vague impression that my youngest a toddler at the time.
The series started then, in my imagination at least, and it lived there, growing ever and ever bigger until after my father passed away. He haunted me until I sat down to write. The toddler was in elementary school by then. Thoughts of what a “girl world” would look like consumed me in that interim period.
Writing about it was a relief, as if I had finally reached a destination I had been longing for. As I wrote I would frequently scribble notes or sketches, like the one pictured, to keep myself firmly acclimated in this alternate world. Evlantis would intrude into my “real” life and sometimes I found myself saying, “I’m sorry, I have one foot in Evlantis today” to explain to my why my attention was elsewhere. Here is a brief overview of this fascinating girl world…
The city itself is on the coast of an ocean. The People’s Palace, where the High Queen resides, is the focal point of Evlantis. Six pie-shaped wedges shoot out from the center. Each wedge is known as a Sector, where women of somewhat similar temperament and vocation live. The population is tightly controlled by a committee. No more than one thousand women may live in a Sector. A wall, not pictured in the sketch above, surrounds the city and the members of the all-female army stand guard upon the wall to keep the citizens in.