Category Archives: Fantasy

Fire and Steel

When my friend invited me to Bend, Oregon, over Presidents holiday I didn’t expect to find a Fire Pit Competition at their Winterfest. They seem to be made from steel salvaged from Bend’s old mill. People gathered around the art pieces at Old Mill Park along the Deschutes River to share the warmth of the outdoor sculptures with a purpose – they had to be interesting to look at and hold a blaze.

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Cabin Fever is no problem for these sculptors. They have a problem to solve and a product to craft. Mission accomplished.

This week’s photo challenge: The Road Taken

 

 

Delila state of mind

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They always said DeLila daydreamed too much; she needed to pay attention to her work.

They always said DeLila was rather spacey . . . drifty . . . flighty . . .

Some said DeLila’s imagination was too fantastic; she wasn’t grounded in reality.

One said DeLila would never amount to much.

Another said she was likely to one day just flit away and never come back.

You know what, that’s just what she did.

 

Weekly Photo Challenge:  State of Mind and reposted today for Magic. I wish more people would, if just for a portion of their day, use a state of mind more like DeLila, who I invented here. We could just pop ourselves into a bubble and let the breeze carry us somewhere else. I have no doubt many bloggers practice this way nonetheless. I used this photo recently in another post but it felt appropriate for this week’s challenge. I love the weekly challenges, I ponder them all week and look at my world through a different lens because of the themes.

By the way, after I composed this flash fiction I made a quick internet search for the name Delila which I chose for no good reason. I found this story and songs of Delila, a Kurdish song writer, drummer, protester, warrior woman who was killed by a Turkish soldier. She was not at all like the character I invented here. Her music is delightful and mesmerizing, though I don’t understand the lanuage of her lyrics. 

 

Keeper of the keys: Day 2

I’ve been advised to start stories not at the beginning but somewhere else, perhaps the middle or the end. I’ll share a few journal notes this week from my experiences as volunteer gatekeeper for a wildlife management area in Hells Canyon. Today is not the first.

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I’ve been squatting long enough my toe joints hurt but I don’t want to move. Turkeys following in line, spread to a V, marching knees high, advance quickly toward me as I crouch beneath an old black walnut tree. I want to become so much part of the environment they don’t fear me, they forget me and they move closer unaware. I can’t take it any longer. Before bracing my weight with my finger tips I check the ground  in case there is bear scat. Don’t touch ground here without looking. It’s everywhere. All around the house, in the gravel, up the banks beneath the thicket of wild ancient fruit trees. Shit. That’s what it is. Why do we call it scat? Bears shit in orchards. They shit anywhere they please and don’t much think about it. I think. Bearshit. It’s everywhere I look. Or step. Or kneel.

Day 1 – First day living at the ranch to check out keys to the gates. I arrived at 3:30, no staff at the house yet so I took out my camera. The sun was about to go behind the mountain. I love the sounds here, the creek and turkeys and then deep silence in the evening.

Day 2 – evening – Turkeys are somewhat scary the way they walk and peck at each other, wings spread wide and beating the air. When they roost in tall trees over the creek I feel like they might dive at me. But they don’t. But they might. I feel it. Sometimes I am typing this story, these notes, and I see a shadow cruise swiftly past the window out in the yard, the air space over the yard. It’s a turkey, but might it be something else? It’s dusk, what’s the science word for this time of day becoming night? It feels like when I am walking up my road at home and swallows are darting after insects and then for a brief time when it’s almost too dark to detect images as they truly are I sense bats the same size darting among the swallows, all of them feasting on flying insects. It’s a feeding frenzy. And soon the swallows are gone and it’s only the bats and mammoth moths devouring bugs all night. I need monsters flitting about doing the same thing. I need imaginary predators imitating my pets imitating predators, waiting so patiently, so alertly, so ready to snap up their prey.

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That sound? Has something with wings landed on my roof peak? Is it waiting for me to forget it’s presence, unwary, and go to the wood pile or to my truck for a bucket of paints? Will I forget it’s there, let it be part of the environment until cautionless I walk out into the dark of night, witless and mindless as a turkey, and it swoops down and snaps off my head leaving my neck spurting blood and my legs still walking as though they haven’t yet received the message they have no head managing their performance? It could happen.

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BTW I made it to the truck and back fetching a small jar of sourdough starter I had left behind the seat. Still I left the flashlight there. The moon is getting fairly full. No matter. I’m writing horror snippets and at this point something very big with wings is surely perched on the roof patiently waiting like any wise predator for its unwary prey to emerge mindlessly from the door. And I’ve learned that turkeys talking in the night sound something like wolves.

I’d better get back to writing now.

 

 

transmogrified

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Definition of transmogrify

transmogrified

transmogrifying

  1. transitive verb

  2. :  to change or alter greatly and often with grotesque or humorous effect

  3. intransitive verb

  4. :  to become transmogrified

I’ve been enchanted with the grotesque since I learned about gargoyles in my 7th grade French class. And I’ve always liked the humorous. Walking in Madrid in September I paused and clicked a few shots of this window decor while my friends advanced ahead of me, not noticing the window or that I was no longer keeping up. The skulls and rocks have been transformed to serve practical functions; they are no longer in their original forms. Go back and look closely and you will see what’s going on inside the room as well as reflections of street action. Let your mind feel the shifts in perception captured by the lens.

And if you like to feel the mysterious and horrifying I think you will like Transmogrify (Starring into the Abyss), the collection of dark and disturbing stories by Richard Thomas. He writes unique blends of horror and noir that dig into your psyche and leave  you cringing for more. The Kindle collection sells for only $0.99 on Amazon.

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I met Richard Thomas when he was instructor at the Horror Writers Workshop Transylvania, Edition 2015, in Bran. One day on our way to write in a haunted castle we had lunch in an ancient cemetery. Richard made the original photo of this group of grave markers and I messed with it a bit to create this transmogrified image.

This post is for the Weekly Photo Challenge:  Transmogrify.

You might like these related photos and posts:

haunted castles and morbid stories

piles of bones, transmogrified, in Washtucna

skull on a blood colored wall

Now, please excuse me. I have crates of bones to transmogrify, and a pair of pumpkins, too, before we ignite the Samhain bonfire this stormy evening.

 

How to be a street performer

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  1. Make yourself an appealing costume.
  2. Pose like a statue until someone puts cash in your box (which you have also decorated and set out in an obvious and inviting way).

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3. With cash secured in your money bucket do your best to pose with the payers.

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4. Stay in character and interact with your patrons. After all, they paid for a performance.

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5. Have a blast with the people you meet. It calls more attention to your performance and makes everyone’s day better.( Eduardo’s slide show has 5 photos; wait for them or click the arrows.)

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6. Perform in Madrid plazas. (Or you own street.)

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7. Or create an interesting sculpture with support so it looks like you are performing a magnificent feat when really you have built something to rest on.

I feel like I saw more street performers in Madrid than I photographed. I have encouraged my drama students to do street performances for fundraisers and I think with more confidence and rehearsals some might do it. Really, I should do this to raise funds for my next travel. Yeah, thinking about it.

Weekly Photo Challenge:  Local

Summer Solstice

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Watercolor printed on tiles by Lauren McCarter

Summer Solstice by Carrie Richards

This was when the whole world measured time
This is when the light would turn around

This is where the past would come undone
and the spinning earth will mark a new beginning
Let’s go back in time, to when it all began

To the breaking of new dawns
Where moments bright with fire, would light the chanting song
Where pagans worshipped sun, and danced among the trees Wore strange masks of covered straw, and blessed cold ash with awe Wreaths hung upon the door against all spirit’s, dire
and when the winter’s grasp let go, the sun reversed the pyre
This was when the whole world measured time
This is when the light would turn around So that spring arrives, and seeds will sprout and grow
Oh, radiant sun, stretch the day, shorten night
Return earth’s darkness into light
This is where the light will turn around
And this was where the past has comes undone

 

Lauren McCarter is a watercolor artist living in Boise, Idaho. She generously gifted this art piece to me at a time when I needed a boost. Thank you, Lauren!

 

It is fiction, right?

I’m back from 20 minutes timed  writing.  Things have been happening here, strange sounds from a grave sized hole we dug for a tree last fall, now filled with muddy water, lights in the sky, owls hooting, boulders I swear were not on the ridge last fall before the snow, a flash of my stepdad’s plaid shirt, his arm on the arm of my wicker love seat on the front deck, its back to the window. He died in 2008. I look away from the pane, realize what I have glimpsed and look back. Nothing  there. But it felt so real. I’m sure it was there. The old dog’s frequent nose bleeds. All that blood, it is from the dog, right? That sort of thing. No doubt all can be explained but it’s fun to let my imagination lead the way and get something on the page. Since I spent a lot of money and time in a horror writers workshop in Transylvania last summer, I might as well practice the writing craft, fiction that is. It is fiction, right?

Dragon Season

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Dragon Rock emerges from winter rest
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Dragon Kite created by me

It’s February, a season for dragons. We dug up this rock last summer when we planted the maple tree. I think it looks like a dragon’s face. I’ve watched it in summer, fall, and then lost it in winter. It gradually reveals itself as snow melts. Is it a coincidence the props manager for this season’s children’s theater  asked me to make 5 kites, and one must be a Chinese dragon? I don’t think so! I must need dragons this season. They’re here.

Chinese dragons are useful and powerful. Most live in water. Our creek has been running nearly all winter, so unusual. I can hear it from the house though it flows through the culvert beneath our drive with room to spare. Did a dragon bring this on? (I don’t think so.) Dragons bring rain, and probably snow, that’s needed for irrigation and they can prevent floods or stop them. “It is said that the dragon is a large-scaled reptile, which can become dark or bright, large or small, long or short, and fly into the sky in the spring and live underwater in the fall.” Perhaps my rock, which was buried all these years, has lived under snow all winter, a frozen form of water. Maybe it wants us to move it to the creek. We can do that. Fabulous Husband is just waiting for another tractor landscaping project, no doubt.

I welcome the strength of Chinese dragons this season as snow melts and spring appears. “The Chinese dragon symbolizes power and excellence, valiancy and boldness, heroism and perseverance, nobility and divinity. A dragon overcomes obstacles to achieve success. He is energetic, decisive, optimistic, intelligent and ambitious.

Unlike the evil energies associated with Western dragons, most Eastern dragons are beautiful, friendly and wise. They are the angels of the Orient. Instead of being hated, they are loved and worshipped.” Here is a fascinating site about Chinese dragons. For now, I’ll consider the dragons emerging in my life as donors of some powers I need now, or soon will.

 I will show the other 4 kites when I get their photos. I turned them into the props manager before I photographed them. One of the kites I painted after a Georgia O’Keeffe flower. It didn’t look like it fit with the rest. You can see that kite here before I painted over it.

I learned how to draw a dragon here and here. I cut a worn sheet and painted the kites with acrylics. I used wood dowels and string for the frame and then attached the kites to the frame with duct tape, the wonder tool. I found simple instructions for making a kite here. I hope they really will fly when I get them back after the play.

This is my response to the weekly photo challenge: seasons. Share an image evocative of the weather or represent the current “season of your life” in metaphor.

 

Georgia O’Keefe Kite

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Georgia O’Keeffe Kite

I am making kites for props for a children’s theater performance, magical tales of the Chinese Monkey King. After cutting an old sheet to the measurements, I reached for my acrylic paints. A calendar of Georgia O’Keeffe’s flower paintings lay on the container. I had saved it for inspiration. I liked the center of this black flower so I painted it on a kite. I was thinking of a sea star while I painted. My mind wandered. Oops! I made it with 6 points instead of 5. And I added more colors for fun. When the 4 kites were painted this one just didn’t seem to belong with the others. It’s darker and abstract. The others are bright and cheery like this dragon kite.  I took this photo of the dark kite, inspired by art, then painted over it attempting to create a kite that will look more the theme of the others.

Georgia O'Keefe image

Here is the flower center, painted by Georgia O’Keeffe that inspired me. When this project is finished I think I’ll make some kites for my family and friends that really are copies of favorite art. Wouldn’t that be fun to see in the sky?

It just happens that this week’s photo challenge is “Life imitates art.”. The idea is to find inspiration in a piece of art, and go further: imitate it. My painted kite is not quite what I think this theme asks for, but it was inspired by art so this is my entry for this week’s challenge. Oh, and when all the kites are secured on their frames and adorned with tails I’ll show you how they turn out. Please come back and look again.

My second post for this challenge is an imitation of a painting, the American Gothic.

Self Portrait: Time

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Self Portrait:  Time

Don’t expect Me to mark My place as your Days dawn and pass. I’m not responsible for keeping track of Hours and Minutes. I’m never on Time, except for Some Times. If Time means something to you, count on Me to arrive in My own good Time. I linger in Moments, suspending Myself to make perfect whatever it is I’m doing at the Time instead of rushing on to some Appointment that you’ve set for some certain Hour. I’m Time and I don’t make appointments. You note Instants of my coming and going in Hours on your coo coo clocks. Coo coo. Coo coo.

I’m never late. You are. Then you hurry to make up for losing Me. How can I be lost? Time doesn’t get lost. I’m here all along no matter what; it’s you who is Late or Early, not Time. I just be Myself right here, right Now, and you scuttle all around Me, trying to keep Me. Wherever you feel you need to be going, you’re certainly not going to get there on Me.

I’m not in control of anything. I don’t heal everyThing. What a trite meaningless phrase. “Time heals everything.” Oh, really? Who do you think I am? I can’t heal you, only you can heal yourself if you let Me help you.

I hold no one on a leash. I’m far too busy to stop everything for the Moment. Children and Old people trained Me to hold on, wait just a Minute, or several Moments for them to get ready for some event, to get in the mood, to get dressed, to cry or laugh, to hop or step to the open car door. The young and the old, they take so much of Me! I say give them more of Me! Spend more of Me with them. Act more like them and you’ll see that I’m hardly noticed at all. And to them I mean everything.

Lots of people are driven by Me. I steer the locomotive. If you’re not on My train and you get left Behind what loss? I only left you in the Moment. The Moment is a train depot. Stay right here and forget about Me. Look around you. Notice a bird nest or a puddle frozen over with a thin crust of ice.  Go ahead, stay with Me and study it. Touch it with your toe. Fracture that ice and see how it looks Then. I’m right here with you right Now. Get to know the place where you stand right here, right Now. I’ll stay with you.

I like to take little trips to Ancient civilizations. I like to see My ancestors who lived before Now and those who haven’t lived Yet. I like to see paintings that haven’t been painted and hear songs that haven’t been sung. Yet.

Stop blaming Me for changing things. I’m a scientist observing what Is, what Was, and hypothesizing what Might be. Not how things could be if I changed something in the Past or Present. I don’t change things, I just stay Present and Things move around Me.

I am a continuum. I am Infinite. I have no Beginning. I have no End. I sing and chime in many voices and never all on the same Beat. I’ve kept music and lives orderly. But wait. If I’m not here, what loss? Who cares? Let Disorder take My place!

About this post

This photo is for the Weekly Photo Challenge: Time. I wanted to capture the image of a clock taking its own picture, its self-portrait. Happy accident, the lense flare and dust particles showing the magicalness of daylight. Afterall, daylight is a way we mark time.

This writing is from a writers workshop I participated in. The assignment was to write a self-portrait of something immaterial. What could be less material than Time? I scraped this writing out of my archives. I don’t feel it’s complete Yet. Give it Time.

Take a stab at it

“There’s the idea of fiction as a safe laboratory for exploring ourselves in our world, for experimenting with a persona or character in social organization, for trying on costumes and running a social model until it breaks down. There is all that. One positive aspect is that maybe this awareness and recording will lead us to live more interesting lives. . . . We’ll develop the ability to imagine our lives in finer and finer detail. . . If nothing else, maybe learning to write will force us to take a closer look at everything, to really see it.

What if some writer comes up with a new way to tell a story, a new way to live?”

From Chuck Palahniuk in Stranger Than Fiction

Well, Chuck, I say more than one writer has done just that, found a new way to tell a story. I recently discovered Kevin Mowrer, a Steampunk world creator who tells stories on a variety of formats for print and elctronic media in which the reader or audience gets to interact with the story. He calls his new way to tell a story meta-story and defines it quite differently I did when discussing Neil Gaiman’s technique of talking about the story within in the story. Mowrer says 

“Meta-story is the craft of developing a story and/or narrative so that it treats many of the different media formats as one seamless storytelling canvas.

. . . Interestingly, we live in a rapidly changing age where the audience often seeks to expand their contact with a story that is meaningful to them by looking for it in multiple forms. They read the book and want to spend time every week with the characters they’ve fallen in love with on TV. With those stories that have deep and unique worlds, they want to explore them for themselves beyond the linear experience of a book, a movie or a TV show through deep online worlds and other forms of gaming and site-based experiences.”

Kevin’s intent is to create or expand stories “organically and authentically” to fulfill this new “contiguous story landscape”.

“The media narrative forms, in all their varied richness, are quite alive and evolving at the edges and audiences are redefining what it means to adopt and experience meaningful and deep stories.

Stories are different than direct conversation or debate in that the storyteller is making a contract with the audience to willingly suspend active exchange and profoundly immerse themselves within our narratives and worlds in the hope and belief that we, as creators, will move them with an unexpected and nuanced truth and narrative insight.”

As a reader and writer, I want to explore what Chuck and Kevin express here about the craft of creating fiction. I love reading Steampunk stories. Do I want to write one? Maybe. Do I want to craft a story for a game or web site or movie? Maybe. Chuck Palahnuik challeges each of us to write fiction.

“Instead of wasting more time or money on another crappy book or movie, how about you take a stab at the job? I mean, why not?”

 

I’ve been nominated by incahootswithmuddyboots for the 3 Day Quote Challenge. Check out her blog. Impressive photographs! My first 2 day’s quotes are also about writing or story telling, by Neil Gaiman and Susan Strauss and Chuck Palahnuik. See them here  and here, along with who I nominated yesterday.

The rules to this challenge are:

  • Post on 3 consecutive days
  • Post one to three quotes per day (They can be much shorter than mine!)
  • Challenge three different bloggers each day

Today I nominate these bloggers for the 3 Day Quote challenge. Check out their blogs!

https://lynnborton.wordpress.com/     She’s a reflector, showing us what’s in our lives.

https://amusing2writenc.wordpress.com/     He’s dedicated to writing, a thoughtful crafter.

https://lumar1298.wordpress.com/     Such stunning photographs! Quotes would be just perfect with some of these images.

Faces in mud

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I recently experienced the Pompeii Exhibit in Seattle.  This plaque relays the theater interests in that opulent city. I’m looking at the espressions of the men. I’m looking at the art style and wondering how it was crafted. I think I can do something like this. I’d probably go the long way around to get there. I have a plaster mold of my face, used for making theater masks. I’d fill the mold with plaster and then use the cast to apply clay and form the images. Then when dry or fired, depending on which type of clay I use, I would adhere it to the clay background. I wonder if all the faces and the background have to be wet to adhere? This might have been from an artist’s workshop because once this part is complete it can be used to cast duplicate, maybe even in bronze. Something to think about.

Another thing to consider is what story I can reveal from this art piece. It absorbs me. No women. Open mouths, different social classes. The lower one looks like he could be wearing a lumberjack cap.


About this post

I took a vacation away from my pretty-much-isolated home in the Rocky Mountains and ignored blogging for a couple of weeks. In that time on my travels I gathered photos and writing ideas. The day before my vacation Doug Warren invited me to join the Five Photos, Five Stories Challenge. I agreed to do it, but told Doug I wouldn’t get on it until I returned from my trip. Here is my second post in this challenge. I made the photos with my Canon digital point and shoot with no flash in low light in the exhibit, hand held with slow shutter. I like the effect. I like it even more when I see it in Adobe CS4 and I don’t need to do adjustments, though I can imagine ways I might play with the image.

About the Five Photos, Five Stories Challenge

Join the challenge! You don’t have to wait for an invitation.

You can read Doug Warren’s posts for the Five Photos, Five Stories Challenge https://dpw67.wordpress.com/2015/04/01/becker-vineyards-feb/. In Doug’s blog you can find links to read what other bloggers have posted for the challenge.

The Five Photos, Five Stories Challenge rules require you to post a photo each day for five consecutive days and attach a story to the photo. It can be fiction or non-fiction, a poem or simply a short paragraph – it’s entirely up to you.

Then each day, nominate another blogger to carry on this challenge. Don’t forget to tell the blogger you have nominated. Accepting the challenge is entirely up to the person nominated, it is not a command. And actually everyone can join in. So feel free to if you like the idea.

I nominated “GonnaBeAWriter” for my first day’s nomination. I think she’s a deep thinker and avid writer. I haven’t seen many photos with her writing but from what I see in her banner, no doubt she can do this. Here’s the link to her blog. Look her up for some good reads. https://xavanessa.wordpress.com/

I nominate Dune Mouse for my second nomination. She writes dark and fantasy and illustrates with her own photos, wonderously enhanced. You can find her blog https://cybeleshineblog.wordpress.com/.

The Glass Garden

red glass flowers framed with greeenery

A pop of red blossoms through the greenery! A tall stalk of clustered trumpets glowed like amber and rubies in the sunset. LaWrynn was mesmerized. Ah, to be a humming bird this evening. But she had come to this world without wings, and though her feet were enormous for her miniature stature, she was thankful for a small nose that she felt made her look quite adorable.  

glass flower buds against sky

She inhaled deeply while she stretched her arms up toward the pinnacle of crimson glass buds towering above the flower and even over the tree tops. Up, up, up to her tallest. A salute to the sun. She exhaled as she slowly stretched her torso down toward the florescent stems. Red stripes encircled them, warning her of the plant’s phantom poison. She wanted to climb a shiny trunk anyway. She wanted to balance on the bloom’s stigma and view the world from this so special place. LaWrynn continued her exhale, stretching down until she touched the soft moss covered ground. Spreading her fingers open alongside her toes she pushed one leg back and then the other extending her body into plank pose. Then she felt herself collapse to the ground and roll onto her back. She laid her arms straight out from her sides forming a T shape. Breathing rhythmically LaWrynn studied the clouds. She imagined ships and snails and faces in their strange shapes.

glass flowers against sky

Suddenly a giant bud sprang open. Its stem swayed in response to the abrupt disturbance. She jerked into the fetal position and then scrambled for safety behind an emerald bush. Had the blossom heard her thoughts? Had she spoke aloud her desire?

 glass garden with greenhouuse

Beyond the sheltering leaves she saw the sun sliding behind the green house roof. She felt an impulse to run inside before the doors locked for the night else she feared she would spend the damp chill darkness among giant insects whose homes she suspected were hidden within the enchanted glass garden. 


About this post

I took a vacation away from my pretty-much-isolated home in the Rocky Mountains and ignored blogging for a couple of weeks. In that time on my travels I gathered photos and writing ideas. The day before my vacation Doug Warren invited me to join the Five Photos, Five Stories Challenge. I agreed to do it, but told Doug I wouldn’t get on it until I returned from my trip. Here is my first post in this challenge. It’s an Ekphrastic writing. That means the writing is inspired by or related to an art piece, be it visual, music, performance, architecture or other art forms. This art inspired this vignette in the collection of stories I’ve started about a spirit who emerged from the other world through a badger hole on the first night of Samhain. She gets stuck in this world because she failed to get back through the portal on the third night. You can read more about LaWrynn, who is as small as a wren, https://skybluedaze.wordpress.com/lawrynn-stories-fantasy-and-celtic-lore/.

I made the photos of glass flowers at Chihuly’s Glass Garden. It’s a permanent exhibit at the Seattle Center. I was leaving the center after a day with family and didn’t have time to linger if I wanted to catch the ferry for the home trip to the Olympic Peninsula so I took some shots into the sun as we passed it. Chihuly is a fabulous glass artist and teacher. You can find out more about him and the Glass Garden http://www.chihulygardenandglass.com/

About the Five Photos, Five Stories Challenge

Join the challenge! You don’t have to wait for an invitation.

You can read Doug Warren’s posts for the Five Photos, Five Stories Challenge https://dpw67.wordpress.com/2015/04/01/becker-vineyards-feb/. In Doug’s blog you can find links to read what other bloggers have posted for the challenge.

The Five Photos, Five Stories Challenge rules require you to post a photo each day for five consecutive days and attach a story to the photo. It can be fiction or non-fiction, a poem or simply a short paragraph – it’s entirely up to you.

Then each day, nominate another blogger to carry on this challenge. Don’t forget to tell the blogger you have nominated. Accepting the challenge is entirely up to the person nominated, it is not a command. And actually everyone can join in. So feel free to if you like the idea.

I am nominating “GonnaBeAWriter” for my first day’s nomination. I think she’s a deep thinker and avid writer. I haven’t seen many photos with her writing but from what I see in her banner, no doubt she can do this. Here’s the link to her blog. Look her up for some good reads. https://xavanessa.wordpress.com/

Come closer

I find peace among granite boulders. It’s where I feel I belong. I travel in a four wheel drive pick up truck and the vibrations rattle my brain. Sitting in meditation by a stream brings me to Nirvahna. I’m never consulted about where we go or if we’re on a paved highway or a bumpy road to a jagged outcropping. I’m sure if the woman left me here, my relatives would find me. I’m not sure where I come from, but I sense I am part of the Seven Devils Mountains. No doubt the woman will haul some of these rocks into the back of the truck and put them somewhere in her yard. She doesn’t know that when she leaves the window down at night, I crawl out and visit my metamorphic relatives.

Observing and scaling objects in landscape drawing, some of my students get it right away. For some it takes a while. Working from a photo often helps. Today’s https://photo101march2015.wordpress.com/  assignment or challenge is Scale and Observation. On a huckleberry picking trip in August 2012 I found this huge bull and stopped to photograph him. He looked ever so gentle and seemed to be asking me to rub his nose or his back. I walked closer and closer, photographing the scale as I approached. I had a nice little visit with him and he moved nearer for my voice, but I chickened out on touching him. That barbed wire didn’t look strong enough to keep him on his side of the fence if he took the notion to get closer, for whatever reason. Besides, I was sure someone at the OX Ranch was watching me through a magnifier of some sort. After picking berries, I took my Czek Shepherd (a type of German Shepherd) to a stream to cool off. Click here to see a slide show of her in a https://skybluedaze.wordpress.com/2015/03/19/search-rescue-dog/. While cooling off at a stream I set my small dashboard Grotesque on a rock and made its portrait. The scale is not as obvious in those photos. And while I’m at it, why not compose a little internal dialogue for it?

Wall

Deer skull on red wall

Weekly Photo Challenge: Wall. See more photos by other bloggers or learn how to participate here https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_photo_challenge/wall/.

To see more photos of bones on my blog look at https://skybluedaze.wordpress.com/2014/09/18/solitude-together-hike/ and https://skybluedaze.wordpress.com/2014/10/17/washtucna/.

The Walrus and the Carpenter for Children’s Theatre

children laying on floor
Dead oysters on the beach
children mime rowing a boat
rowing a boat in chorus

I’m taking the WordPress poetry challenge but I’m not keeping up with assignments so well. I’m an Artist in Residence for performing arts in 4 rural schools, 5 classrooms. (The Robin Hood costumes I sewed are for a different program.) And I’m taking some art classes in the evenings. I’m a little distracted from my poetry assignments so I’ll share what I did with a famous poem instead of composing my own original one today.

Here’s a favorite poem I’ve adapted into a short play for 3rd graders. I left room in this first draft for kids to make changes if they think it will make the play more interesting. You can share this with teachers or youth leaders you know for education purposes. They can contact me for clarification or help, or to contract me to teach children’s theater. I love performing arts and writing plays!

The Walrus and the Carpenter by Lewis Carroll

script adapted by Kay Addington MacDonald, M. Ed.

Scene 1

On a sandy beach, clear sky, no birds or clouds, Sun shining with all its might, Moon sulking because the sun had no business being there in the middle of the night.

Props: large sun working hard to shine, large moon looking sulky (might be kids in costumes), 2 or more ocean colored long airy cloths for ocean billows

Stage hands: 2 kids gently waving blue cloth near the floor to represent smooth billows (more hands, kids, could wave a second cloth)

Characters:

Narrator

Sun

Moon’s off stage voice (can be one of the maids or Walrus or Carpenter)

Walrus

Carpenter

7 maids (chorus dancers)

Curtain up!

Tableau:  Sun stands boldly and begins mime when narrator tells its part, Moon stands sulking

Stage hands:  create smooth ocean billows with cloth by kneeling and gently waving it

Narrator (off stage voice): The Walrus and the Carpenter by Lewis Carroll

The sun was shining on the sea,

Shining with all his might:

He did his very best to make

The billows smooth and bright —

And this was odd, because it was

The middle of the night.

The moon was shining sulkily,

Because she thought the sun

Had got no business to be there

After the day was done —

Moon (in sulking pouting voice): It’s very rude of him to come and spoil the fun.

Narrator:  The sea was wet as wet could be,

The sands were dry as dry.

You could not see a cloud, because

No cloud was in the sky:

No birds were flying overhead —

There were no birds to fly.

Enter:  Walrus and Carpenter walking close together and weeping to DL. Walk slowly and at DL continue miming walking and weeping. Mime looking at all the sand.

Walrus and Carpenter in chorus:  If this were only cleared away,’ it would be grand!’

Walrus:  If seven maids with seven mops swept it for half a year, do you suppose that they could get it clear?

 

Carpenter:  I doubt it. (shed a bitter tear)

Walrus and Carpenter tableau:  crying and looking at beach and maids dancing

Enter:  7 maids in chorus dancing and miming mopping up the beach sand

Exit:  7 maids in chorus dancing and miming mopping up the beach sand

Note: include canon in movements if kids can use more challenge*

Curtain Down!

Scene 2:

 

Scene:  same as Scene 1, but add 1 large rock for Walrus and Carpenter to sit on

Characters:

Narrator

Walrus

Carpenter

Eldest Oyster

Groups of 4 oysters, all the kids are oysters, in groups of 4

Tableau:  All oysters sleeping in oyster bed downstage, the Eldest Oyster is downstage center and much larger than the rest; billowing waves are center stage behind Oysters. Walrus and Carpenter are upstage. It should look like oysters in the sea and Walrus and Carpenter on the beach.

Walrus:  (Sees oysters) O Oysters! Come and walk with us!

A pleasant walk, a pleasant talk,

Along the briny beach:

We cannot do with more than four,

To give a hand to each.

Eldest Oyster: (looking at Walrus, don’t turn your back to audience) Mime:  wink your eye, slowly shake your heavy head NO, meaning to say you do not choose to leave the oyster-bed

All  Oysters: Mime chorus movements in groups of 4:  brushing your coats, washing your faces, cleaning and shining your shoes

Note: include canon in movements if kids can use more challenge*

Tableau:  all Oysters except Eldest, in groups of 4 pose as if eager to get out of the water and go for a beach walk with the Walrus and Carpenter

Stage hands: kneeling, gently wave long airy white cloth to represent frothy waves at the shoreline

First 4 Oysters: eagerly move all hopping through the frothy waves and scrambling to the shore to the Walrus and Carpenter and take their hands. Mime walking on the beach with the Walrus and Carpenter.

Second 4 Oysters: repeat and get in position behind the first 4

Third 4 Oysters: repeat and get into position behind the second 4

More sets of 4 Oysters: repeat until all Oysters are on the beach, miming walking behind the Walrus and Carpenter, except the Eldest who stays in his bed

Walrus, Carpenter, and all Oysters except the Eldest: continue miming walking on the beach until Narrator tells Walrus and Carpenter to rest on a rock.

Narrator:  The Walrus and the Carpenter

Walked on a mile or so,

And then they rested on a rock

Conveniently low:

And all the little Oysters stood

And waited in a row.

Oysters: quickly line up in one row

Walrus:  The time has come

To talk of many things:

Of shoes — and ships — and sealing-wax —

Of cabbages — and kings —

And why the sea is boiling hot —

And whether pigs have wings.

All Oysters in chorus:  But wait a bit before we have our chat;

For some of us are out of breath,

And all of us are fat!

Carpenter:  No hurry!

All Oysters in chorus: Thank you so very very much!

Walrus:    A loaf of bread is what we chiefly need:

Pepper and vinegar besides

Are very good indeed.

(Looking at Oysters) Now if you’re ready, Oysters dear,

We can begin to feed.

All Oysters in chorus: But not on us! After such kindness, that would be

A dismal thing to do!

Walrus:  The night is fine. It was so kind of you to come!

And you are very nice!

Carpenter:    Cut us another slice:  I wish you were not quite so deaf —

I’ve had to ask you twice!

Walrus:  It seems a shame to play them such a trick,

After we’ve brought them out so far,

And made them trot so quick!

Carpenter:   The butter’s spread too thick!

Walrus:  I weep for you. I deeply sympathize.

Walrus: (With sobs and tears, holding his pocket-handkerchief before your streaming eyes, sort out the largest from the smallest, placing he largest closest to the rock. Be careful not to turn your back on the audience.)

 

Carpenter:   O Oysters, you’ve had a pleasant run!

Shall we be trotting home again?

Narrator:  But answer came there none —

And this was scarcely odd, because

They’d eaten every one.

All Oysters, except the Eldest:  Carefully and slowly collapse dead on the beach.

__________________________________________________________________________________________

*Creative movement ideas

Several underlying techniques are commonly used in choreography for two or more dancers:

  • Mirroring – facing each other and doing the same
  • Retrograde – performing a sequence of moves in reverse order
  • * Canon – people performing the same move one after the other
  • Levels – people higher and lower in a dance
  • Shadowing – standing one behind the other and performing the same moves
  • Unison – two or more people doing a range of moves at the same time

Movements may be characterized by dynamics, such as fast, slow, hard, soft, long, and short.

Movement space can be high, mid, low bodies and stage places, spins, leaps, lunges, use forward, side, back motions.

Twilight Symmetry

Hands in spotlight

Life

Edith Wharton

Life, like a marble block, is given to all,
A blank, inchoate mass of years and days,
Whence one with ardent chisel swift essays
Some shape of strength or symmetry to call;
One shatters it in bits to mend a wall;
One in a craftier hand the chisel lays,
And one, to wake the mirth in Lesbia’s gaze,
Carves it apace in toys fantastical.

But least is he who, with enchanted eyes
Filled with high visions of fair shapes to be,
Muses which god he shall immortalize
In the proud Parian’s perpetuity,
Till twilight warns him from the punctual skies
That the night cometh wherein none shall see.

Weekly photo challenge:  https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_photo_challenge/symmetry/

I made this photograph yesterday after my stream walk as I strolled up hill on my south acres. I used Adobe CS4 to adjust hue and saturation, then cropped it and used render>spotlight in the filter menu to give it an eery evening mood as if using a flashlight to look for twilght deer or spirits. The 2 stone chairs (plastic of some kind) provide resting and meditating seats behind 2 Grosso Lavender plants left from years ago when I started a small lavender farm. These two produced 8 small starts that are now in their nursery edging my new garden.

Write more of that

“You know that part of your writing that you question – that’s weird and doesn’t fit neatly into a genre or a mold? Write more of that. Please.” Richard Thomas

I needed to see this advice, or permission, today. I wouldn’t say I have writer’s block, more like writer’s ennui, boredom. Fear of starting or moving the story or poem further. Fear of critics?! Eeeee gads! My local writers group convenes monthly to share our writing and “give and get support, constructive feedback”. I’ve decided to take a break from the group precisely because I am exploring writing that is weird, that doesn’t fit the mold, and – they don’t get it. They coach me to stay in the mold, don’t stray outside the familiar. To me, when I am exploring, I don’t want “moldy” writing. I’m not submitting my exploratory drafts to a publisher, for Pete’s sake. I’m just “messing around” with ideas, words, voice, style, and yes – bending genres and molds. My local writing group doesn’t advise me or permit me to explore. Today I use Richard Thomas’ words to give myself permission to explore. Advice to explore, even.

I’m bored with most of the structured traditional forms and content in the writers group, maintaining tight formula beginning, middle, and end, explaining everything for the reader so he or she doesn’t have to, or doesn’t GET to, imagine any details. Teaching literature and structured writing forms perhaps has shown me too much formula in basal readers that students can analyze and use as models for their compostions. Creative writing classes have diminished dramatically in American schools in the last five years.

That local group of writers may be right when they remind me that most people don’t want to think very much about their reading, they don’t want to reread a paragraph or section, even a sentence, to get the meaning, or deepen the meaning. Readers, they say, don’t want to imagine what Harv looked like or how he dressed. They want the writer to tell, or show, them details, details, details. I believe it. ELABORATION is the key to getting higher scores in state standardized writing assessments. And layering ideas is a bonus, too. I am happy to see the Common Core state standards across the nation demanding that students read literature with more complexity and stretch themselves with their writing. Sure, we still use models to teach reading and writing, but now we encourage readers and writers again to try writing “that’s  weird, that doesn’t fit neatly into a genre or mold”, to find their voice. I taught verbally gifted or talented kids and I thought all kids should be taught to think about their reading and writing in more depth. To try out new ways of showing their ideas. All kids, all of them. All of us.

 The local writing group has no tolerance for my writing where I ask the reader, or listener in storytelling, to use his or her own imagination, where characters and settings, like in Harv, are not always elaborated with details. Another reader, not in the group, said everyone knows a Harv. Don’t describe him, let us imagine the one we know. That’s storytelling, the oral tradition genre, using stock characters liked Raven, Coyote, Hercules, and Harv. Everyone has their own image for stock characters, whatever their names. My local group is uncomfortable with my writing where forms are not fully formed like the spirits emerging through the portal, through the veil from their mystical world into our mortal material realm in the beginning of my LaWrynn Stories.

 Today is as good a time as any to write without questioning what’s weird and doesn’t fit a genre or mold. Edgar Allen Poe is known as the “Father of the Short Story” and Walt Whitman is known as the “Father of Free Verse or Blank Verse” poetry because they invented new literary forms, unfamiliar to their contemporary readers. Bram Stoker introduced the setting and  mood in “Dracula” by showing the reader unformed forms in his beginning pages. It takes courage to read unfamiliar literary forms and more courage to draft it.        tff

Invitation to Horror

I am thrilled to get to partcipate in the horror writers workshop in Transylvania this summer! I get to visit Bran’s castle and have a bite at Dracula’s house (lunch). I invite you to take up the challenge, too.

Horror is not my best writing genre, but then I don’t really know because I’ve only peered into it. This workshop will immerse me in the craft. The author teacher, Richard Thomas, is one of the best. (More about him in the link at the end of this.) I’ve been assured that exploratory writing will be just the ticket.

When I wondered if my writing is up to the challenge, the Program Director, an accomplished author herself, Tausha Johnson gave me this to think about. (She’s in the link below, too.)

“Writing a Horror Story

Every story is, in its tiny way, a horror story. Horror is about fear and tragedy, and whether or not one is capable of overcoming those things. It’s not all about severed heads or blood-glutton vampires. It’s an existential thing, a tragic thing, and somewhere in every story this dark heart beats.”

She said, “Yes, Kay, horror is very open and covers a lot of ground, such as dark fiction, dark fantasy, gothic, noir, psychological horror, weird, supernatural, surreal, grotesque, suspense & thriller, slipstream (crossing lines with sci-fi and fantasy), etc. Then there’s the horror I write which is more literary horror. Flannery O’Connor & Shirley Jackson often fall into this horror sub-genre. Whatever our style or genre of writing, there are elements to the genre that can help us create suspense and unique, original stories.”

Roots, photo from The Storyteller’s Abode at https://thestorytellersabode.files.wordpress.com/2014/11/roots.jpg

In my LaWrynn stories (in the menu at the top of this blog) there is much fantasy and darkness. She arrives in our world from the other world, the Celtic idea of where we are when we are dead or where the enchanted beings live. She enters our world through a portal on Samhain, the Celtic celebration when spirits can enter our world for 3 days, then go back to their world. It occurs at Halloween time and celebrates the end of the old year and beginning the new with festivities and community bonfires. Once in our world, she lives in the dark underground, Badger’s hole, and encounters life on this side, including dangers and horrors as well as light mischief and fun. She’s trapped here for a year because she didn’t get back through the portal at the end of 3 days. Her horror is having to live in this world. There’s magic and fantasy and lots of room to add darker elements. LaWrynn is mostly living in a real notebook with me for now. I need to prod myself to get more of her stories into this blog.  You can read the draft of her appearance here. https://skybluedaze.wordpress.com/lawrynn-stories-fantasy-and-celtic-lore/

And I have more ideas for dark stories. My new neighbor might be a pyromaniac and he’s obsessed with sealing wasps out of his house. For real! Wasps really scare me!They attack me every chance they get. I feel like their target. His house was abandoned for several years so wasps moved in and I don’t doubt ghosts abide there, too.

In my https://skybluedaze.wordpress.com/the-cat-rock-letters/, I plan to animate the stone formation, a cat that overlooks the river and section house where Frank lives. In Celtic lore rock formations have powers and can change and cause changes. But this set of stories is not so dark and maybe I’ll leave them as they are.

I have other ideas in my journal, too, so maybe horror writing is not that far off for me. My fiction writing is more like dark fantasy than gore. But the horror genre seems to be experimental and flexible these days, according to the instructor’s podcast. http://www.thisishorror.co.uk/tih-025-richard-thomas-on-the-dos-and-donts-of-short-story-writing/

Dracula’s Castle

I like the ravine in Ray Bradbury’s Dandelion Wine.  I long to produce a play adapted from Poe’s “Mask of the Red Death”. I love Stanley Kubrick’s directing in the suspenceful movie “The Shining”. Nicole Kidman’s performance in the ghost story “The Others” convinced me. And I could not put down Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk even when the snow outside was the best ever on my vacation. He wrote Haiku in the story! Poe also wrote poems in his stories like https://skybluedaze.wordpress.com/2014/10/23/haunted-palace/ in “The Fall of the House of Usher”. Shakespeare’s stories showed ghosts and seers and tragedies. Mythology is full of tragedies. I got this!

Farewell Bonfire

If I never wanted to write horror, and never contrived a place I’d like to be when I write it, and people I’d like to be with…well sometimes I just need to be spontaneous and go with the demon when it stretches its claw toward me. With a generous scholarship offer from the workshop director, Tausha Johnson, I am 93% sure I am going to be in in Transylvania in July for the horror writer’s workshop. I’m looking at travel costs before making 7% more commitment. I’m sure I can do it! Just do it for no good reason. Going!

Get me there…alive…

I’ve never traveled off the North American continent and I need a little guidance about making flight arrangements. If you can advise me, please reply! I can fly from Boise or SEATAC. Here’s where I need to go:

“We recommend that guests fly to Henri Coandă International Airport, Romania which is located 16.5km (10.3mi) northwest of the city of Bucharest. Once all travel arrival times have been confirmed, a shuttle will bring you from a designated meeting point directly to the hotel in Bran. Please be aware that travel time to Bran is approximately three hours.”

http://www.workshopwriters.com/

http://www.workshopwriters.com/us/

https://www.smore.com/y6es9-horror-writing-in-transylvania

The Snow Fairy

The Snow Fairy

by Claude McKay

rose quarts in snow
“Throughout the afternoon I watched them there, Snow-fairies falling, falling from the sky”

 I.

Throughout the afternoon I watched them there,
Snow-fairies falling, falling from the sky,
Whirling fantastic in the misty air,
Contending fierce for space supremacy.
And they flew down a mightier force at night,
As though in heaven there was revolt and riot,
And they, frail things had taken panic flight
Down to the calm earth seeking peace and quiet.
I went to bed and rose at early dawn
To see them huddled together in a heap,
Each merged into the other upon the lawn,
Worn out by the sharp struggle, fast asleep.
The sun shone brightly on them half the day,
By night they stealthily had stol’n away.

Rose quartz eye in snow
“When snow-sprites round my attic window flew, Your hair disheveled, eyes aglow with light.”

                                         II.

And suddenly my thoughts then turned to you
Who came to me upon a winter’s night,
When snow-sprites round my attic window flew,
Your hair disheveled, eyes aglow with light.
My heart was like the weather when you came,
The wanton winds were blowing loud and long;
But you, with joy and passion all aflame,
You danced and sang a lilting summer song.
I made room for you in my little bed,
Took covers from the closet fresh and warm,
A downfall pillow for your scented head,
And lay down with you resting in my arm.
You went with Dawn. You left me ere the day,
The lonely actor of a dreamy play.

About These Photos

This poem was in my e-mail today, so appropriate with last night’s new snow fall. The content inspired me to include the idea in one of https://skybluedaze.wordpress.com/lawrynn-stories-fantasy-and-celtic-lore/ .

I looked for a scene to illustrate the poem, a small hill that could be “frail” snow fairies “huddled together in a heap.” Three large chunks of Montana Rose Quartz, each about the size of a football, rest on my deck rail, sending love energy to our home and surroundings. They appealed to me as a nurturing place for the fairies heaped upon them and I wanted to see how the pink would show against white in the overcast sky. One photo looks like an eye peering through the heaped up snow fairies. I got as close as I could with my Olympus E-10 for some shots, and I practiced using my new macro for others. They all turned out good enough. I liked these two for the post.

About This Poem

This poem inspires me to illustrate it and to use it in children’s theater for kids to choreograph creative movement with music.

“The Snow Fairy” was published in McKay’s book Harlem Shadows (Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1922). Claude McKay was born in Jamaica, on September 15, 1889. His debut collection, Songs of Jamaica (Augener Ltd., 1912), was published when McKay was only twenty years old. He died on May 22, 1948.

You can get a poem a day sent to your e-mail from  http://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem-day?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Poem-a-Day++December+28+2014&utm_content=Poem-a-Day++December+28+2014+CID_3db5aadebcc44de8a6abdfe9f3b98bbe&utm_source=Email%20marketing%20software&utm_term=Poem-a-Day Poems in this site are in the public domain.