Sunday, March 17, 2013

“Mercy Kill” follows up edgy mystery with more of same

 by Minnie Apolis

Mercy Gunderson keeps seeing dead people. In the first installment of this western mystery series (No Mercy), she found dead bodies on the family ranch, and on the porch. In the second in the series, Mercy Kill, she finds a dead man in the parking lot of the bar where she has been working full time since leaving special forces in the military. And we aren't even a hundred pages into the book yet.

A mysterious Native American tells her “About your bad luck in finding dead bodies. Major Hawley won't be the last one. . . You died, and your spirit is still drawn to death. Especially the newly dead. It's the price you pay for your own life.”

Ooh, does that sound creepy or what? Maybe the word for it is karmic, instead.

Mercy Gunderson is a former special services specialist, mustered out after a career-ending eye injury. She returns to her family ranch in South Dakota in the previous novel, and began a difficult transition back to civilian life.

The body, the former Major Jason Hawley, nicknamed J Hawk when they had served together in the military, is now back in the area working for Titan Oil, an outfit that plans to put a pipeline through the state. The area's ranchers are not happy at the prospect of a pipeline cutting up their ranches.

Mercy is not happy really with being in a dead-end job as a bartender at Clementine's, the bar I mentioned above. She's not happy at being virtually a hobby rancher, leaving the actual running of the ranch to the foreman, Jake Red Leaf. And she's really unhappy at what she sees as nonfeasance in office by the current sheriff, Mason Dawson.

So she signs on as a last-minute replacement on the opposing ballot to run for the office of sheriff, right, against the aforementioned Sheriff Dawson.

In between electioneering stops, she sneaks in some investigation of her own into the life and death of her late Army buddy. She feels she owes J Hawk that much for saving her life when she had died in a nightclub bomb attack.

Along the way J Hawk's onetime paramour, and Mercy's good Army buddy, Anna Rodriguez stops in after attending their late comrade's funeral in North Dakota. They're just like teenaged girls, having beers, checking out the local antique shop, making investigational visits that are disguised as electioneering stops.

So you can imagine that Mercy is pretty shocked when she realizes that BFF Anna has not been merely having a bit of R & R between assignments. Can't give away any spoilers here, that isn't my game. But I guarantee a few surprises along the way to unraveling the plot.

I can tell you that Mercy does finally break down and visit a VA shrink, and she finally gets a job offer that might be more suited to her talents and temperament than bartender or sheriff. More than that, I cannot divulge. Besides, Mercy might have to shoot me, and that could hurt.

MERCY KILL, by Lori Armstrong, Simon & Schuster, New York, 2011, 293 pages not including discussion. ISBN 9781416590972.  

“No Mercy” portrays woman Iraq vet going home to hornet's nest of complications

 by Minnie Apolis

On page 22, one paragraph pretty well sums up the whole plot without giving it all away.
“With my assorted injuries, the loss of my career, the grief and stress of losing my father, and my having to make a decision on the ranch, I doubted my life could get more complicated or out of my control.
“Famous last words.”
(Note the foreshadowing there.)

Fictional stories with an Iraq vet are pretty scarce, and those with a female military veteran are almost non-existent. So for Lori Armstrong to start a series of novels in 2010 with such a female protagonist was pretty gutsy and risky.

Main character Mercy is on leave from the armed forces with an eye injury that precludes continuing in her specialty. She returns home to a family ranch in western South Dakota after the death of her father (her mother had died accidentally years earlier, another family tragedy seen in flashbacks).

Sibling friction with sister Hope, who is viewed as something of a flake or non-achiever, provides another layer of plot, but secretly I hoped that sister Hope would be offed pretty quickly so we'd be done with all that sister cr*p.

No such luck.

While out on target practice, Mercy is waylaid by some sweet-talking realtor who opines that he'd like to see the ranch preserved for its historical import to the community – while she sees right through that. Mercy can see that when he talks about dividing it up into 500-acre starter ranches for young couples, that it ain't gonna work. Five hundred acres in dry country will not support a herd that will support a family.

So what he is really proposing is developing “hobby ranches” where wealthy folks can play cowboy and pretend to be roughing it while sitting air-conditioned half-million-dollar housing.

That deal was a no-go as far as Mercy was concerned. Lucky she's the one in charge of what the future of the ranch will be, and she is nobody's fool.

Hers is a family marked by tragedy. Her mother died when Mercy was a child, killed by a panicked Thoroughbred. Ever since, the trauma of finding her mother dead has prevented her from ever riding again – until forced to do so to deliver a ransom package in the final scenes of the novel.

The younger sister accidentally killed a playmate in a gun accident. She is forever after labeled crazy.
A family friend begs Mercy to solve the murder of her son, a friend of Mercy's nephew, Levi. The friend's trust is mainly based in the fact that Mercy's father had been the local sheriff. Her father had hand-picked his successor, Dawson, who had yet to win over the locals as far as convincing them of his effectiveness.

Mercy seems to spend a lot more time in bars getting hammered than in hammering away at the suspects till they crack and spill the beans. In one such incident, she winds up spending the night with a stranger, and another night with the sheriff. Woo-ha, this girl is cruising for an emotional bruising.

In only one incident of her threatening another resident, is she taken into custody – not at all realistic, dear readers.
Another sour note in the plot involves her dear sister going into the hospital with a concussion, yet Mercy does not visit her even once while she is in the hospital. This lapse is not addressed in the novel.

So anyway, while Mercy's skills as a markswoman are admittedly impressive, her chops as a would-be shamus leave something to be desired. She questions two young people involved in a local young warriors group, who supposedly work on reviving tribal rituals and traditions – but the two interviews are widely spaced in the novel, with lots of drinking and sorting out family secrets and fighting off land developers in between.

There are lots of threads in the novel's fabric: sibling history, family tragedies, war flashbacks that plague Mercy's dreams, the pressure from developers who would mean displacing whole communities as the land got too valuable to hold onto, unraveling family secrets, and overcoming a personal phobia about horses. A bit too much bitten off by the author to chew properly, in my humble opinion. But an interesting stew from which further novels draw upon.

The main character, Mercy, is a bit too troubled, cynical, sarcastic, and raw of nerve to want for your very own BFF, but I suppose she will do as a multi-layered protagonist.

NO MERCY, by Lori Armstrong, Simon & Schuster, New York, 2010, 305 pages. ISBN 9781416590958.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Summaries of Tales from Mammoth Book of Merlin

 by Minnie Apolis

The Horse Who Would Be King” a humorous take on Sword-in-the-Stone Tale
[stories from The Mammoth Book of Merlin (TMBOM)]
If you need a bit of a break from too-serious or too-doomed tales from the King Arthur oeuvre, may I recommend the above story from The Mammoth Book of Merlin (TMBOM)?
Horse-lovers will find it entirely fitting that Merlin's magical steed engineers a way to not only create a sword, but fix it so that our humble and hapless sap, I mean hero, is the one to pull out said sword from said stone.
The noble sword Excalibur is created from the broad blaze on Merlin's horse – which I find entirely fitting. Only a noble animal like a horse could possibly create a noble sword like Excalibur! A sword named after the horse, of course.
And needless to say, our Artie pulls out the sword and then hands it over Kay without letting anyone know a thing about it, and then Kay goes around claiming to be The Rightwise Born King of England, so that Merlin (and his horse) have to finagle a way to get the sword BACK in the dang stone and gather everyone around once more for another go at pulling it out. I mean, it must have been exasperating! Artie, listen up! You are the Rightwise Born King, so if you have any objections, you can just stuff it!
So by now you have gathered that this is a light-hearted take on the old fable of the Sword in the Stone thing. Arthuriana nuts of all ages can enjoy this one, but especially those of the female persuasion since many of us fall in love with horses as young girls, even if they've never ridden one.

Dream Reader” introduces readers to a young Merlin just learning his craft
[stories from The Mammoth Book of Merlin (TMBOM)]
One of my favorite tales from The Mammoth Book of Merlin (aka TMBOM) is this one by Jane Yolen called Dream Reader, which portrays a very young boy who falls in with a troupe of magicians and other entertainers who help him develop the skills he later became famous for.
Primary among them are the gift of dreams that come true. Young Merlin needs help in learning not only how to interpret the dreams that come to him in the night, but how much of that interpretation to pass on to The Powers That Be (TPTB).
The dream is the one about the two dragons who are fighting beneath where a duke tries to build his new tower. The dragons cause each day's building efforts to fall down.
The elder mage who interprets the dream for young Merlin offers the ruling family a logical explanation: “Most likely the Romans built their conduits for their baths there. With the construction, there has been a leakage underground. The natural outflow has been damaged further by armies fighting. And so there has been a pooling under the foundation. Open up the work, drain the pool, remove or reconstruct the Roman pipes, and the building will stand.”
The portraits of the dreamy and starving youth formerly known as Merrillin, of the mage Ambrosius, the singer Viviane, of the town where the newly-married duke is building a tower, are all well-drawn. It seems like a very credible introduction to the young Merlin that ties in smoothly with later tales.

The Temptations of Merlin” a fine tale of a young wizard trying to find himself and his destiny
[stories from The Mammoth Book of Merlin (TMBOM)]
One of the more satisfying tales from TMBOM is this one by Peter Tremayne, of a young Myrddin who departs from a ravaged abbey where he had taken shelter for the night. He is on a quest to discover the meaning of the curious knot woven into the scrap of cloth which is the only clue to his real parentage and clan.
While on this quest he meets several tests and temptations, most of which he flunks. Among other things, he fails to recognize a young Artio (bear) as the future king who will unite Britain.
I don't mean to make Merlin sound like a fumbler and bumbler. He does have several skills or talents. Among them are a high tolerance for pain and cold, fighting skills both with and without a sword, a working knowledge of the Druid arts including healing, horsemanship which includes fighting while on horseback, a mastery of riddles, gallantry, a kindness to the weak and injured.
However the poor befuddled wiz fails to listen to the sounds of nature when he gets lost in his own thoughts. You know what they say, Merlin, you mustn't let your mind wander, it's too little to be out on its own. And his adoration of women makes him too-easy prey for the duplicitous machinations of characters like Lowri, Centwine's sister.
This flawed character is entirely believable and sympathetic as he gropes his way through various encounters once he leaves the shelter of his Druidic brotherhood.

Merlin Dreams in the Mondream Wood” brings Merlin as Green Man within sight
[stories from The Mammoth Book of Merlin (TMBOM)]
Childhood friends look back on a time when in one's innocence, one could sit by a tree and actually hear the Green Man – a trapped Merlin – talking to you. What did he say?, Julie asks. Sara replies, I can't remember.
Sara was orphaned at a young age by her parents' death, and went to live with an uncle in a large, rambling house on a wooded lot. Frequently awaking in the night with panic attacks, Sara would sneak out the next day to nap under the oaks. In her dreams while she napped, she saw a red-haired boy who lived in the tree. He said his name was Merlin.
Her uncle encouraged her interest in Merlin by giving her copies of Le Morte d'Arthur and The Sword in the Stone.
Eventually, after some months of “tree therapy” Sara's night terrors grew less frequent and disappeared completely.
Also eventually she forgets all about her tree friend – until one day, years later, he again appears in her thoughts.
What if we befriended a tree, a nice elder gentlemanly tree, and talked to him (or her) in our dreams? What would we learn from nature in this unconventional way, that reading books could never tell us?  

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Explaining The Traditions Linking King Arthur, the Chalice, and the Holy Grail or Holy Blood

by Minnie Apolis

While the well-known book by Dan Brown and its predecessor Holy Blood, Holy Grail, would have us believe that Jesus the Christ married Mary Magdalene and left a sacred bloodline later symbolized by the Holy Grail, it may be that the line of descent is less direct than those authors believed.

For there is yet another tradition, or body of traditions, around Glastonbury, that would also explain the pun between San Graal (Holy Grail) and Sang Real (Royal Blood). The Grail may be real, too, and at one time located in the British Isles, a simple wooden cup, worn down by the ages and long use.

For the royal family was not just Jesus, his mother Mary, father Joseph, and possibly wife Mary Magdalene. Joseph of Arimathea was, British tradition has it, the uncle of Jesus, and he was related to Mary Magdalene as well. In fact, some believe that Jesus and Mary Magdalene were cousins who grew up together from childhood on.

The identity of King Arthur is lost in antiquity. Many papers and books have been written listing the merits of one candidate or other as the “real” King Arthur. Was he the hero of the Battle of Badon (probably fought about the year 512 AD), a site that still has not been located? But it is seldom if ever mentioned that Glastonbury has a tradition of the pedigree of King Arthur, one that ties in with the royal family of a minor Roman province called Judea.

A historian named John of Glastonbury provided history with the supposed genealogy of King Arthur. In a book titled “The Traditions of Glastonbury”, the pedigree is recited once again, as follows.

'The following pedigree is taken from John's manuscript, giving Arthur's descent from Joseph through Arthur's mother: “Helaius, Nepos Joseph, Genuit Josus, Josu Genuit Aminadab, Aminadab Genuit Filium, qui Genuit Ygernam, de qua Rex Pendragon, Genuit Nobilem et Famosum Regum Arthurum, per Quod Patet, Quod Rex Arthurus de Stirpe Joseph descendit.” [The Latin 'Nepos' means grandson, per White & Riddle's Latin dictionary 1880 AD.]'

Translated, it says that Joseph of Arimathea begot Josus, who begot Aminadab, who begot [son], who begot Igernam, who begot King Pendragon, who begot the famous King Arthur. While we cannot locate any official birth certificates for any of these people, I think you have to give a bit of leeway in that regard. We have no birth certificates, either, for lots of historical persons that we do know lived and died.

Further down in this source book, one is astonished to read that not only is King Arthur descended from Joseph of Arimathea, but so is Galahad and all the other knights of the Round Table.

And of course you cannot have a King Arthur without the Holy Grail somewhere nearby, and indeed it is convenient, maybe a bit too convenient, that the Grail cup is identified with the simple wooden bowl at Nanteos. But we will state the traditions of the cup and its record as a healing device further along in this article.
In one of the earliest pieces of literature about the Grail, it was stated that the Grail was given into the care of Alain, son of Brons and cousin of Josephus.

First we have to stand aside for a moment and clarify that two different vessels are often spoken of as if they were the same object. One is the Chalice, the cup used at the Last Supper. The other is the Grail, the vessel that was used to catch the blood of our Savior as he hung dying on the Cross, and which has a tradition of being a mysterious source of life, healing and prosperity.

So now, the tradition states that Joseph of Arimathea brought the Chalice with him when he came to the British Isles after the death of Jesus. So then what did he do with it? One story says that he first buried it in the earth of, where else? in Chalice Hill. Now we should state in support of this tradition that this belief that Joseph brought it to Britain and placed it in Chalice Hill has been in place for over a thousand years. It was old when Lord Tennyson immortalized it in verse.

So then we have another question: What did this Chalice look like? It was probably a simple wooden drinking cup, like millions of other such cups in the Middle East of that era. It was probably made of olive wood, a very nice, smooth wood preferred for cups, other vessels and utensils.

Britons believed that the Chalice was stored at the House of Nanteos in Wales. How did it get to Wales? Remember back when King Henry the Eighth broke from Catholicism? He then decommissioned the Catholic monasteries, abbeys and Priories. Included in the destruction was the venerable Glastonbury convent.
The last Abbott of Glastonbury entrusted the cup to some monks to carry to safety. They carried it with them over the border into Wales, and stayed for a time at a Cistercian Abbey there. But Henry's men came threateningly close, entering Wales, and the monks picked up and fled yet again, their priceless cup hidden in their effects.

After running another fifteen miles or so, they came to rest at Nanteos Manor, aka the House of Nanteos. The lord of the manor invited the monks to stay and make it their home.

From this time on, the cup – the Chalice from the Last Supper – became rather famous for being a healing device. Miraculous cures were claimed by those who drank from its shallow depths. The cup was shrinking because people would actually bite off a tiny piece of wood to eat, in the belief that it would ensure the efficacy of the vessel's healing properties. So eventually a glass bowl was cast around the reduced wooden bowl of the Chalice, making it a thing of beauty although small.

Records were kept of pledges given for the return of this cup when it was actually lent out to people too sick to travel to Nanteos; borrowers left watches, jewelry, a pound note, all of which were claimed back when the priceless cup was returned. Ailments supposedly cured by the Chalice included epilepsy, fevers, arthritis, rheumatism, etc.

This continued even into the twentieth century. A case dated from 1939 in which two children afflicted with epilepsy drank from the cup and were cured within weeks. A clergyman wrote up the case for the records. Father James Wharton, a clergyman who was assigned to Upton-upon-Severn in Worcestershire, drank from the Chalice in 1957 and was cured of a crippling arthritis that prevented him from bending his knees.

The Chalice, or what is left of it, bears little resemblance to the silver or gold cups of legend and poetry. The small wooden bowl is blackened and cracked, and rather resembles a dark coconut shell. Its original dimensions were believed to be about five inches in diameter and three inches deep.

That such a modest vessel has occupied the imaginations of millions of Britons, Christians, history buffs, Arthur nuts, and assorted other fans is rather remarkable. The Chalice (Britons believe) is the Nanteos Cup; the true king was the legendary King Arthur, and the Grail is the Holy Blood that lived on from Joseph of Arimathea to King Arthur and his knights, and from them, down to untold descendants. We will close with the lines written by Lord Tennyson:

The cup, the cup, itself, from which our Lord
Drank at the last sad supper with His own.
This, from the blessed land of Aromat-
After the day of darkness, when the dead
Went wandering oer Moriah --- the good saint,
Arimathean Joseph, journeying brought
To Glastonbury, where the winter thorn
Blossoms at Christmas, mindful of our Lord.
And there awhile it bode; and if a man
Could touch or see it, he was heal'd at once,
By faith, of all his ills. But then the times
Grew to such evil that the holy cup
Was caught away to Heaven, and disappear'd.
. . .
To whom the monk: From our old books I know
That Joseph came of old to Glastonbury,
And there the heathen Prince, Arviragus,
Gave him an isle of marsh whereon to build;
And there he built with wattles from the marsh
A little lonely church in days of yore,
For so they say, these books of ours, but seem
Mute of this miracle, far as I have read.
But who first saw the holy thing today?

Saturday, March 2, 2013

A List of 2012-2013 Movies for Grownups

by Minnie Apolis
Now that the hubbub of the Oscars is over with, maybe it would be a good time to list some movies that folks older than oh, 30 or so, can find interesting and worthwhile. If you haven't been following the Oscars or any of the hype, here is a chance to see if you might like to catch any of the following representatives of the current movie crop.
I will start off with some titles suggested by the Movies for Grownups article that ran in a recent magazine. With no further ado, here is that list.

THE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL- Stars Judi Dench and Maggie Smith and Tom Wilkinson. Recent widow Dench goes along with the others to a luxury hotel in India, where they are pretty well assaulted by culture shock.

SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK- Received some nominations on Oscar night, so you may have heard about it there. Stars Jacki Weaver, Robert de Niro. Retired hubby de Niro tries to make ends meet as a bookie, while his wife Weaver smiles bravely as she hopes for better times. Story is about a family in crisis, yet choosing to come closer to each other rather than run for the exits.

LINCOLN- Won best actor Oscar for star Daniel Day Lewis, and a nomination for actress Sally Field who played Mary Todd Lincoln. Directed by Spielberg, so you know it got tender loving care. A sharp political portrait of Lincoln but overlaid with a warmth like few other directors can deliver.

HITCHCOCK- A film about my fave director stars Anthony Hopkins as Hitch, and Helen Mirren as his devoted wife Alma.

BERNIE- A comedy starring Jack Black as a funeral director who moves in with the local matriarch, Shirley MacLaine. Black kills her accidentally-on-purpose, then hides her in the freezer – of course! Written and directed by Richard Linklater, who gleefully springs surprises along the way.

SEARCHING FOR SUGAR MAN- I thought this might be about our Lebowsky, but no. This is a documentary about two of the biggest fans of 1970s rocker Rodriguez, who come all the way from South Africa to search for their hero. Kind of a “Whatever happened to...?” movie. Directed by Malik Bendjelloul.

QUARTET- First-time directing effort from Dustin Hoffman about four retired opera singers who all live in a home for retired classical musicians. Stars Maggie Smith, Tom Courtenay, Billy Connolly and Pauline Collins. Many over-65 musicians play supporting roles and music, too.

AMOUR- An Austrian movie about an octogenarian couple's final months together avoids sentimental tripe but is emotionally loaded.

ROBOT & FRANK- Stars Frank Langella in a film where a little robot is his best friend, and also helps him get the girl. Directed by Jake Schreier. The robot is the perfect non-judgmental pal for loner Langella.

ARGO- A time capsule film back to the 1970s when one of the few feel-good stories to come out of the hostage crisis in Iran was when the Canadians helped smuggle out six Americans with faked passports. The plot involves a fake Hollywood movie supposedly being shot there. This one just won Best Picture of the year.

MOONRISE KINGDOM- A quirky film about pre-teen romance that was co-written and directed by that weirdo, Wes Anderson. The grownups don't understand, of course, and the kids go thru the chills and thrills of first love in high style.

ANY OTHER films that you would like to recommend to fellow Viners, please feel free to do so. This article is just to kick off discussion and recs and link-sharing and all that stuff. Also, Hulu is offering trailers and/or clips to most of the films mentioned.

Friday, March 1, 2013

How To Make a Simple Spring/Easter Wreath

 by Minnie Apolis

Making a simple Easter or spring wreath should not cost very much, and can be completed in a hour or so. 
This project was one that I had enough props and ribbon for two, so I gave one away and sold the other.

For this wreath you will need:
a grapevine or willow wreath as a base
(the grapevine will be dark brown, and the willow will be very light-colored)
a glue gun with glue sticks
at least two colors of suitable ribbon
a twig birds nest
two birds of felt, feather, or other materials
possibly a stapler

Many of the above items you could find at a nearby dollar store. I have small willow wreath shapes in a dollar store, which was an absolute steal. Many times ribbon that was intended for wrapping gifts is also suitable for craft work. And they almost always have silk flowers in assorted colors.

I am pretty sure I found the little twig nest and birds at the local chain garden n craft store. Many times the local craft supply shops run specials on seasonal decorations, so you might find a little cardinal or warbler on sale which you can stash away until March or April.

Traditionally the birds or nest would have been applied to the wreath with wire or wood picks -- a pointed wooden stick with a length of wire attached.

But now almost everybody uses the hot glue gun for a wide range of craft work.

The ribbon is applied first. Take two colors of ribbon and spiral-wrap them around the wreath in opposite directions, so that they cross each other. (see photo) They should end at the top or bottom -- whichever spot that you plan to place the large bow. You may pin the ends of the ribbon in place to check how it looks.

The bow is separate! This creates the most satisfactory results. But we will save that part of the job for last.
Temporarily place the nest and birds as you want to be. Play with the placement while you can, until you arrive at a pleasing final arrangement.

OK, now you have wrapped the ribbon as you wish, with the ends pinned. Take your glue gun and carefully apply glue to the ends of the ribbon and affix them in place. This is a key tip now: do not glue your fingers or hands!

Next affix the nest a little off-center near the bottom edge of the wreath. I say off-center because you may wish to place it closer to the mama bird.
The birds come next. Notice where exactly the back of the birds makes contact with the wreath surfaces, and place a gob of glue there.

The bow is made separately, as I said. Now sit down with your ribbon and either by hand or with one of those inexpensive bow-maker gadgets, create your bow. The secret of making a good bow is to not make it so large that it overwhelms the item to which it will be affixed.

Here I had two colors of ribbon that I thought looked well together. The one ribbon was narrower than the other. I laid one ribbon on top of the other so that the wider ribbon showed on either side of the narrow ribbon, and I kept them together as I made the loops of the bow. This is a bit tricky so if you have to use some waste ribbon on practice bows, go ahead and do that first.

Allow plenty of extra ribbon to extend from the end of the bow; you can use these to tie it onto the wreath, although you will clip the ends and use other pieces of ribbon to make the long decorative ends.

If not using a bow-maker, you can stabilize all the layers of ribbon in the bow with a stapler. To hide the staple, you make a little curl of ribbon inside the smallest loop, and place the staple inside the loop.

Cut separate lengths of ribbon, layer them as you did with the bow, and attach to the bottom of the bow's plastic base, if using the bow-maker gadget. If you are not using a bow-maker, attach the long pieces to the bottom of the bow with a stapler.

You can now glue the bow onto the wreath, or tie it on with the ends of the ribbon which I advised you to leave as long as possible. Obviously if you did not leave enough ribbon to tie it on, you will have to resort to the glue gun yet again. This shows the importance of reading through the directions before you start, hey?

So if the craftsy gods have favored you today, you now have a serviceable spring wreath that you can hang on the front door or in the living room or wherever you wish.

Alternative decorations for the wreath include little plastic or real eggshells that are hung from lengths of ribbon so that the egg is within the inner circle of the wreath. This usually takes from two to five such eggs, at different lengths, for a pleasing result.