Category Archives: Literature

Old Pond

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Furuike ya
kawazu tobikomu
mizu no oto

— Basho

The old pond

frog jumps in

sound of water

                 Bashoo

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Literal Translation

Fu-ru (old) i-ke (pond) ya,
ka-wa-zu (frog) to-bi-ko-mu (jumping into)
mi-zu (water) no o-to (sound)

Translated by Fumiko Saisho

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An old silent pond…
A frog jumps into the pond,
splash! Silence again.

Translated by Harry Behn

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Antic pond–
frantic frog jumps in–
gigantic sound.

Translated by Bernard Lionel Einbond

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MAFIA HIT MAN POET: NOTE FOUND PINNED TO LAPEL
OF DROWNED VICTIM’S DOUBLE-BREASTED SUIT!!!

‘Dere wasa dis frogg
Gone jumpa offa da logg
Now he inna bogg.’

— Anonymous
Translated by George M. Young, Jr.

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The old pond, yes, and
A frog is jumping into
The water, and splash.

Translated by G.S. Fraser

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The old pond,
A frog jumps in:.
Plop!

Translated by Allan Watts

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Weekly Photo Challenge:  It IS easy being green!

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.

richards-grave-photo-1

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.

 

Welcome Vole Patrol

images

A narrow fellow in the grass
Occasionally rides;
You may have met him—did you not
His notice sudden is,
The grass divides as with a comb,
A spotted shaft is seen,
And then it closes at your feet,
And opens further on.
He likes a boggy acre,
A floor too cool for corn,
But when a boy and barefoot,
I more than once at noon
Have passed, I thought, a whip lash,
Unbraiding in the sun,
When stooping to secure it,
It wrinkled and was gone.
Several of nature’s people
I know, and they know me;
I feel for them a transport
Of cordiality.
But never met this fellow,
Attended or alone,
Without a tighter breathing,
And zero at the bone.
“A Narrow Fellow in the Grass”  by Emily Dickinson
This poem hangs on my bathroom wall honoring our resident snakes who defend our land from voles and mice. This morning our cat hunted insects along side our house where grass grows taller in a shallow gulley shaped by snow melt and rain dripping off our roof. I chanced to catch her studying a sleek Yellow Bellied Brown Racer, the first snake we’ve seen on our property this year. True to it’s name, all I saw at first was a whip lash as it sped to a safe corner and tried to hide behind tall catnip. Such a beautiful light brown skin and soft yellow belly. We looked each other over, then I walked away. We also have Blue Racers, generally bigger, and I bet I’ll see one soon.
I tell the truth, I did not make these images. I found them in an image search. I was more interested in mowing down long grass this morning, for good reason.
Hey, WordPress bloggers, have you had this problem where the draft looks spaced nicely with extra lines between stanzas of paragraphs but it posts with no spaces between each? I think it’s a WordPress thing just for now. I hope I can edit it later to put in white space where I intended. Any ideas, I’d appreciate them.

If I had godlike powers

“I want to make time stretchier. I would like much more rubbery days, and I just wish that you could lean on a week, and sort of push the walls out a bit, and suddenly about nineteen extra days would rush in to fill the vacuum.

There is not enough time, and I wind up just wanting to do things that I don’t have time for. There are so many things that I’d love to do, and I have to put off, or that it’s a matter of me choosing, when really I’d love to do both. And if only time were infinitley stretchy, I could.”     Neil Gaiman

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.

Real life beats imagination cold

“My pet theory about the success of Fight Club is that it provided a structure for people to be together. People want to find new ways for connecting. Look at American Quilt and The Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood and Joy Luck Club. These are all books that present a structure, making a quilt or playing Mahjong, providing a structure that allows people to be together and share their stories. All these books are short stories bound together by a shared activity.”

“The world is made of people telling stories. . . . Any long story, any novel, is just a combination of short stories.”

“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?”

From Chuck Palahniuk in Stranger Than Fiction, a collection of essays and journalistic pieces that prove that real life has imagination beaten cold in the strangeness and wonder departments.

 

I’ve been nominated by incahootswithmuddyboots for the 3 Day Quote Challenge. Check out her blog. Impressive photographs! My first day’s quotes are also about writing or story telling, by Neil Gaiman and Susan Strauss. See them 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
  • Challenge three different bloggers each day

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

https://thestorytellersabode.wordpress.com/     This blog is full of flash fiction and stories galore!

http://behindthewillows.com/     What an interesting look at things many of us do on any day, of family, of good books to read. Quotes are just perfect for her blog.

http://tishfarrell.com/     She calls herself a writer on the edge. Definitely a reflective writer and a careful photographer. Quotes are perfect for her blog, too.

Tug the web

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“Stories are webs, interconnected strand to strand, and you follow each story to the center, because the center is the end. Each person (character) is a strand of story.”       Neil Gaiman in Anansi Boys

Deep inside Neil’s novel, I realize he’s writing about story making, he employs meta story technique. Meta story is one story embedded within another or a story about stories themselves, among other definitions. Anansi Boys is a story about stories. Remember its’ been said that all stories are Anansi’s, even though Tiger claims they were his first. It’s one thing I love about Neil’s writing, he’s telling a story and talking about telling the story, too. I’ve practiced metapoetry in this post and now I’m liking the idea of writing with meta story and using it in a braided essay.

“There is an old saying that a giant web, like a spider’s web, connects everything in life. We humans tend to forget about it and act out of ignorance of it. Yet, when a true storyteller begins, it is as if the web has been tugged on and we feel its presence again.”        Susan Strauss in The Passionate Fact:  Storytelling in Natural History and Cultural Interpretation.

 

I’ve been challenged by incahootswithmuddyboots to the 3 Day Quote Challenge. Check out her blog. Impressive photographs! Her image of a spider on its web is much more impactful than mine! It’s in her slide show low on the post.

The rules to this challenge are:

  • Post on 3 consecutive days
  • Post one to three quotes per day
  • Challenge three different bloggers each day

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

https://brucekthiesen.wordpress.com/     This should be a snap for you, Bruce. I see quotes in so many of your posts.

https://cybeleshineblog.wordpress.com/     Dune Mouse is one heck of a story teller and a darned good photographer.

https://bythebriny.wordpress.com/     I just can’t get enough of Salal Studio’s Gulf Islands photography.

 

Children’s Theater

If you follow my blog, you’ve noticed I have not made many posts this fall. That’s because directing a children’s theater play took more of my time than I had anticipated. It’s all done now and I hope to get back to photography and writing daily and posting at least weekly on this blog.

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Charon finds Phaeton’s body.

But I have been blogging on a private blog I created for the cast and crew. I’ve made it a public blog now that performances are over and you can see it on the new page I started. Just look up in the menu bar for Children’s Theater or click that text in this sentence. I realized that children’s theater posts on this blog get a bit of interest so I gave the topic it’s own page.

If you have any interest in children’s theater or any performing art I’d like to hear from you. I designed the robe for Mother Earth in Phaeton and the Sun Chariot from a design sent in by a blogger who read my post seeking ideas.

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Mother Earth’s costume was suggested by someone who reads my blog. Thanks!

Next, I’ll be getting ready to go to classrooms in local schools to teach performing arts workshops. And in my studio, I’ll be designing masks and puppets, and writing scripts.

Go to the menu Children’s Theater.

 

The Wall

Bran Castle might be one of several structures that inspired Bram Stoker’s setting for his dark novel Dracula. Some of the photos I made here feel eerie. I messed with this image a little in Adobe Photoshop CS4 to see if how I could alter it for this week’s photo challenge, creepy. It’s the shaded north wall of the Transylvanian castle as I approached it. Which of these images creeps you out the most?

Creepy North Wall
Creepy North Wall

This is only slightly adjusted for tone and contrast, mostly the way the picture came out of the camera. I like the glowing light reflected in the windows.

Creepy North Wall 1
Creepy North Wall 1

A little more adjustment brings out some details and enhances the sky slightly. See more shadows in the stones and a brighter whiter wall.

Creep North Wall 2
Creep North Wall 2

A little more monotone look, or black and white.

creepy north wall 3
Creepy North Wall 3

Tinted, oldish look.

Creepy North Wall 4
Creepy North Wall 4

Tint is adjusted and the color range changes. Using the curves tool, now we see contrast between warm and cool tones.

Creepy North Wall 5
Creepy North Wall 5

I adjusted a previous version with the level or straighten tool (in crop menu) to see how it would look if the roofline or floorline were leveled, creating a 90 degree horizon line. With just a very slight adjustment, I can’t see the horizon line much more level, if any. But I like what happened to the cloud effect. From my position on the stone path when I captured the image I doubt if it would have been possible to get a 90 degree horizon. I would have had to climb out the rock wall to get that perspective. Not allowed, I’m sure. The approach perspective was likely an intention of the architect. Cameras were not handy when the fortress was erected atop the rock, but the image in the eye of guests or invaders would have subtly influenced the mood. Yikes!

So, does one of these images strike you as more creepy than the others?

Happy May Day!

trilium

To celebrate May Day I searched for early Morel mushrooms. Finding none, I pulled out my little digital point and shoot camera and photographed wild flowers. People still remember the fun of making a paper basket, filling it with flowers and hanging it on someone’s door, then run like the dickens and hope they don’t find you. If found, you owe them a kiss. It’s a fun way to welcome spring.

And Old Fashioned Living recalls that Louisa May Alcott wrote about May Basket Day in New England in her 1880 children’s book Jack and Jill.

From Alcott’s story: “Such a twanging of bells and rapping of knockers; such a scampering of feet in the dark; such droll collisions as boys came racing round corners, or girls ran into one another’s arms as they crept up and down steps on the sly; such laughing, whistling, flying about of flowers and friendly feeling—it was almost a pity that May-day did not come oftener.”

Read the history of May Basket Day http://www.npr.org/blogs/npr-history-dept/2015/04/30/402817821/a-forgotten-tradition-may-basket-day.

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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

Harv

man walking away on prairie

In the Depression Harv moved around. He didn’t have his own home. Harv stayed with different relatives. He’d stay on one ranch and help them out. Then he moved on to another kin’s place and helped them do chores and fix things. He tried to be handy, but he was more in the way than useful. He stayed a couple of months usually. He wasn’t always appreciated, but he was family, so folks let Harv live with them to help him out. For a while. Harv made the rounds living with one brother or sister, then the next, and that’s how he got by in those days. After several rounds of putting him up,  Fred had had enough of his mooching brother . You see, Harv drank a lot and wasn’t at all helpful.

Fred liked to get up early and get at the chores. There was a skating rink in the town and Harv would go there every night and drink himself blind. He came home, Fred and Letha’s home, when the joint closed and slept it off until late in the morning. Every day. One morning when the shadowed edges were beginning to darken into things we know, Fred took Harv’s knife while he lay sleeping. He walked to the chicken pen in dim lantern light and selected a young hen. He twisted her head until he felt her spinal cord snap and then he cut her throat with the blade. Then he plucked out her feathers , dressed her out, and sliced her in pieces. He dropped the pieces in a pail hanging on the side of the hen house. He tossed the slick innards into the hog pen. And then Fred carefully slipped back into Harv’s bedroom and put the bloody knife back where he found it. Letha came humming across the yard to the hen house swinging a basket for fresh eggs, the way she did every day. She folded up the bottom of her apron forming a pocket and held it tightly in one hand. Then she picked up the bloody chicken parts and dropped them into the fold. She carried the flesh into the kitchen, rinsed them in the sink, and put the pieces in a bowl in the ice box next to the new eggs. They’d have chicken dinner tonight.

When the sun was well up, Harv sat in a kitchen chair waiting for his breakfast the way he did every day. Fred poured a cup of weak coffee for each of them and looked down at his brother. “Harv”, said Fred as he set the cups on the embroidered table cloth, “Were you at the skating rink last night?” “Sure I was” said Harv. “Every night.” Fred looked at Harv for a long silence. “Harv, the Sherriff was here this morning. He wanted to talk to you. Said there was a fight at the skating rink last night and a fellow got stabbed. He didn’t think he’s gonna live. Sherriff wanted to ask you if you saw the fight, if you know anything about it.” Harv looked at his steaming cup for a long silence. He didn’t remember any fight the night before. He didn’t remember much at all from last night. Harv left Fred and Letha’s ranch that day and he never came back. That’s the way Aunt Jewel always tells it about Harv.

About this story: Duree Shiverick, Eagle, Idaho, told me this story in her shop January 22, 2015 while she replaced the string attachment cord on my antique violin. I was wandering the shop examining imaginatively carved fiddle heads while she spoke. And then I sat on a beautifully upholstered chair opposite her while she worked and gave me the tale. I asked her permission to embellish the story and use it in my storytelling bag. Harv’s name is real but I created the others. After telling the story several times it will change. When I am telling stories to an audience, that’s often when the language emerges by itself and makes a better fit. Repetition of words and phrases like “every night” is common in storytelling. I tried to keep the language simple and straight forward. I am putting more dark or magic or mythical elements in my story making since taking a writers workshop last year in a http://www.mccallarts.org/cabinfever program sponsored by the McCall Arts and Humanities Council, and in anticipation of the Horror Writers Workshop in Transylvania this summer.

About this photo: Someone took this photo of my nephew on either his family ranch near Sweet and Ola, Idaho, or in Wyoming. I adjusted curves and gave it a shape blur in Adobe CS4. I think it gives a ghostly image illustrating Harv leaving that day, although it’s a sunrise shot. Memories and stories retold have a blurry quality, rather dreamlike and that’s the mood I was trying to capture in this photo.

Serenity Lake

child in hammock

“If you have time to chatter,
Read books.

If you have time to read,
Walk into mountain, desert and ocean.

If you have time to walk,
Sing songs and dance.

If you have time to dance,
Sit quietly, you happy, lucky idiot.”
Nanao Sakaki

About the photo

This photo is my response to the .https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_photo_challenge/serenity/

It was ever so relaxing looking back on many serene photos in my collection. I chose this child reading at Lost Lake for its universal message, peace and contentment. He’s my first grandson, now 21 years old. He still likes to go to this lake, this spot, and meditate. So do I. It’s 10 – 15 minutes from my home. I scanned the printed photo and used several adjustments in Adobe Photoshop CS4 to remove some color saturation and muddy up the shot to make it look vintage. I wanted a timeless effect.

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.

Catrock Letters, Thanksgiving Day 1918

Here’s an excerpt from one of the Cat Rock letters in which Frank writes to Edith, who he is courting, about his Thanksgiving day.

section of letter
A piece of the letter Dec. 14, 1918.

Dec. 14, 1918

“You asked me how I spent Thanksgiving. Well, I worked on the track all day but we had a nice supper at Edith’s [his cousin] after the day’s work was over. We didn’t have Turkey but we had chicken, 3 of them, and cranberries, cakes and pies. We expect Oscar home for Christmas and will celebrate it at Mrs. Vaughn’s or the section house. They haven’t decided that yet. I hope you all [have] a happy Christmas and merry new  year, and many of them.”

This is out of sequence in the series of courtship letters, but it applies to this week’s Thanksgiving holiday in the U. S. when turkey, cranberries, and apple or pumpkin pie are traditional dishes. I’m sharing an excerpt from one of Frank’s letters to Edith. He writes her from the railroad section house at Cat Rock where he lives and works. His cousin, also named Edith, and her family have been living at the section house with Lewis (you’ll meet him in another letter). Frank said they “have been here for some time.” By now the section house has become home to quite a few workers and families, including Frank’s brother Tom and their mother. Oscar, another brother, is in the army in World War 1. I need to research the section house floor plan. Maybe there was more than one building where people lived.

The next piece I plan to write for this series goes back to the first letter written in July 1918 and continues from there. I will post the series as I go along in the Cat Rock Letters page here. https://skybluedaze.wordpress.com/the-cat-rock-letters/

Read about how I found the series of courtship letters here. https://skybluedaze.wordpress.com/2014/09/30/i-found-a-book-it-hasnt-yet-been-written/

Read the first vignette based on the first letter here. https://skybluedaze.wordpress.com/2014/09/30/cat-rock-the-first-dance/

In a Tree House

In a Tree House

from A Year with Hafiz

Light

will someday split you open

even if your life is now a cage,

For a divine seed, the crown of destiny,

is hidden and sown on an ancient, fertile plain

that you hold the title to.

Love will surely bust you wide open

into an unfettered, blooming new galaxy

A life-giving radiance will come,

O look again within yourself,

For I know you were once the elegant host

To all the marvels in creation. 

From a sacred crevice in your body,

a bow rises each night

and shoots your soul into God.

Behold the Beautiful One

from the vantage point of Love.

He is conducting the affairs

of the whole universe

in a tree house – on a limb

in your heart.

Tree houses fascinate me. Maybe because my aunt built several on my grandparents property and I played in them as a child. Maybe because of children’s literature like Winnie the Pooh. Maybe because the architecture is usually designed and constructed by children. It’s raw like my imagination and I feel free when I even think of a tree house.

I found this poem here. http://yearwithhafiz.blogspot.ca/2013/11/in-tree-house.html