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Last night I had one of those rare dreams that provides a fair number of seeds for a story, assuming some details were changed to avoid the wrath of the Tolkien estate.

Part I: I was (still unemployed) visiting a mall. At the entrance I was nearly run over by a man driving an ATV inside; I thought he was going to ram through the plate glass, but he maneuvered neatly through the doors and roared away. I thought to try to get his license plate number and ran out after him. The back of his vehicle had letters and some odd symbols spelling out a phrase, something about brighter teeth. I spoke to the police -- he was wanted for something he'd done inside, a theft I think, aside from riding vehicles indoors -- and met some people who turned up again later. It seemed we disagreed as to whether he was a big man (them) or a short one (me). I went to Marshalls and bought something, then left wondering why I had not bought shoes, since I needed those. Near the elevators I encountered my Workscape boss and her boss, the latter of whom exchanged a few polite words, the former of whom did not acknowledge me. It seems there were a few other people passing by too, from jobs I had had (some real, some not) before that one.

Part II: I was apparently staying at the farmhouse of one of the people from the mall. I was walking along a dirt road through fields, admiring the way they had peppers with fruit on them so early in the season. I was on my way to join the farmer and I think some other people at one of the more distant outbuildings for some reason. The sun was bright and everything was beautiful. I went down a very steep slope and encountered a bank of extremely thick fog. It came from a river at the bottom of the slope, I knew, and that if I ventured into it I would never find my way to my friends or back out. I turned at once and fought my way several more steps than I should have had to to get out of the fog; it was spreading. It was Old Man Willow. I ran all the way back to the farmhouse, pursued by fog. At the house, in our room, I looked for a book that might have a spell that I could use to ward off the evil, but all of my books on magic were packed in a box that was at the outbuilding I couldn't reach. I simply tried to hold the door shut, making up a rhyme about trees to no effect. There was a long struggle but eventually the fog gave up.

Part III: After the battle with the fog I went to find the other people in the house. I didn't think they would believe me about the willow. Among them were a very short, annoying woman who complained constantly about how her job didn't appreciate her (I had seen her at the mall, too); there was talk about antiques, and she produced a huge, bizarrely decorated silver coin. I told her that I couldn't purchase it myself but that she should have someone (I think the farmer) look at it. In passing she claimed to know something about witchcraft; I told her I did too. I thought she might be able to help me get to the books I needed, so I told her what had happened while we went to check on the children (apparently in the dream I had five?!), who had been left alone sleeping while all of this was going on. The littlest one (with the unlikely name Malawi) had been kidnapped (by the fog? I certainly thought so at the time).

Part IV: Short annoying woman and I were standing by the side of the road, waiting to meet with the police, who had arranged a meeting with the kidnappers. I had not tried to explain to them about the willow's influence on events. A large dark van pulled up and unseen figures arranged little hoops or something to show where the children (now it seemed they were all gone) were going to stand.

And then I woke up, rather unnerved.

P.S. The focaccia turned out fantastic. I will post the recipe tomorrow.

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