What Are You Working On This Monday?

Okay. It’s Monday. Weekend over. Playtime suspended until you get home from work. Unless home IS work. And even if you’re retired, you’ve got things to do. Places to go. Responsibilities to carry out.

I believe keeping busy with mundane, practical, necessary tasks is important, even if you are retired. You still need to feel that need to “escape” the drudgery, even if that drudgery is filling the dishwasher or fixing a broken table. 

My work days are broken up into chunks. A chunk of computer checks and coffee, a chunk of folding laundry and cooking meals, a chunk of working outside. It beats sitting behind a desk, of course, but I often wonder how I got anything done when I worked 9-5. (Hint: I didn’t.)

This morning I tried to get back into writing. I still am holding on to this Senior-Goes-To-Paris-And-Sees-Hemingway kind of thing, and failing miserably. There is just too much research to do. I change my story line every other day. My locations every day. 

Nothing seems to “click”.

Do you have days and weeks where you find you’re trying to push that car-sized boulder up the hill? Do you have ideas for a creative endeavor that sound really cool on paper but are just overwhelming in one way or another?

I suppose that’s why I blog. To vent, to speculate. To take a break from the reality of getting my writing $hit together and do something that’s actually easy for me.

I used to sail into writing books and short stories and poetry. That was when I didn’t have time to spare. Now that the time gap has widened, I’m having a hard time settling down. I can’t tell if I have too much creativity waiting to explode or not enough that’s worth the effort.

Maybe it’s the “senior” version of the Monday Blues. You’re feeling good, the day is starting out good, but you wonder when your energy burst will come. So you busy yourself with little projects hoping your subconscious will work out that glitch in your graphic design or help you figure out the right shape for your sculpture or help you find a word that rhymes with “justice.”  

Or maybe you will give up rhyming all together. 

So as I go to make myself a sandwich and change the music station to something more “poppy”, tell me — what are you working on today?

 

 

 

Sunday Evening Art Gallery — Christine Van Sickle

Christine Van Sickle‘s creative journey started in the early 1990’s. In 1994 she had her first art piece published in the Green Bay Press Gazette, and from then on she was hooked.Van Sickle has always loved the creative process, and later in life it became a much needed escape from the daily stresses of life.Van Sickle’s work includes realism and surrealism pieces. They are often nature inspired,  and  usually start as a normal landscape or animal.She has worked with ink, watercolor, and other mediums, but prefers acrylic on canvas.The artist makes a point to listen and watch other artists. She also encourages others to pick up a brush and try it themselves.

More of Christine Van Sickle‘s artwork can be found at www.cvansicklestudios.com, or her Instagram page https://www.instagram.com/cvansicklestudios/. 

Send inquiries (custom, original art, or print requests) to cvansickle16@gmail.com.

Saturday Pretzel Thoughts

©Pretzel Logic – A Steely Dan Revue

Saturday Evening.

What are you up to? Going out dancing? To dinner? Going to try and catch a movie? Going over to your kid’s house?

Every other Saturday my husband works, so every other Saturday it’s a party on my computer.

Of course, I am online every day. I’m doing my best to organize, clarify, research, and other noble gestures that should make my future on the computer smoother and more simplified. 

Telling a pretzel logic person to become streamlined is like trying to change the flow of the river.

A friend of mine recently asked what a pretzel logic person — or pretzel person — is. She researched it online and found a lot of references to sex and sexual positions. 

I wouldn’t know about that.

As I explained to my friend,  a pretzel logic person gets to the same place a linear person does, but takes a lot of side roads and mountains and side trips to get there.

Sometimes I think I take the long way just to go to the bathroom.

I do lose patience with myself at times, especially when I’m on track to do something specific. But every room I walk through provides a half dozen distractions that need my attention as much as my final destination.

I hate being distracted all the time.

But then again, I know that’s who I am so I am never surprised if I start cleaning out my jewelry box and wind up making split pea soup. 

Hats off to you that are fairly logical. I married a logical man. He takes care of the important things. Paying bills, driving, saving money. He is an alpha male in a world of alpha males, and does his best to keep me going in the right direction. I am thankful for that.

But when he is gone three or four evenings a week, I feel like a teenager who has the house to themselves while the parents are out for the night. I do the things he thinks are …. different … like switching between slasher movies and Chinese movies with English subtitles, looking for artists for the Gallery, putting tags on posts I posted with out them, peeking at Downton Abbey, making pea soup at the same time as blueberry bread, texting family, petting the cat, eating orange sherbet from the container — you know. Normal pretzelly things.

Thank you for following my blog where it may take you. Thanks for sharing my Art Gallery artists — they are all so marvelous in their own way. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and writing YOUR way on your blog. 

The world is richer for all of us — pretzel and straight alike.

 

Silent Voices of the Night

Beautiful imagery in poetry for your Thursday…..

Purplerays

Silent Voices of the Night

When the shades of evening gather,
And night’s curtain’s dropping low,
And the stars they dot the heavens
With their candles, all aglow;—

Then to me there come the voices
On each cool and fragrant breeze,
Stealing in from every quarter,
Creeping through among the trees.

And these voices, ever silent,
Scarcely heard, their steps so light;
Yet, to me are ever welcome;
Silent voices of the night.

When within the noisy city,
With its surging, busy crowd,
The voices keep a-calling,
And they seem to call so loud.

I can hear them pleading, coaxing,
And to me they call so plain,
And they have the self-same message,
“Yes, we want you back again.”

Voices of my little camp-fire,
Voices of the woods and hills,
Voices from the snow-capped mountains,
Voices from the crystal-rills;

And I ever hear them calling,
‘Till I feel like taking…

View original post 81 more words

Retired Is Just a Word

I am having a hard time being retired.

First off, I don’t care for the old-timer word. Retired is for old doctors and ancient teachers. Active, fun, pretzel women (and men) don’t “retire.” We merely switch gears.

It’s funny how certain words stick with us all our lives. Good ones, like awesome and bama-lam. But other words, negative words, follow us all our lives, too. Retired. Old. Fat. Stupid. Words that have no business being in the English language at all.

We are taught to believe what others say. Not to listen to our inner selves, our inner clock. That somehow what someone else thinks is more important than what we think.

Human beings believe in themselves until they are taught not to.

Some outside opinions make sense. Eat three meals a day. Get some exercise. Put on a heavy coat when the temperatures drop. You don’t look well.

And we need to grow. We need to expand our memory, our capacity for learning. We always can use a little more polishing as we turn from child to adult. But while progress is an important part of life, we can move forward without the negative words.

We don’t need to downgrade someone else to make ourselves feel better.

I don’t understand why the world can’t be filled with positive words all the time. Smart. Healthy. Inquisitive. Simpleton notation, I realize. But it sure beats putting a shadow before every step.

Back to the point of this blog. Being retired.

Merriam-Webster defines retired as, “withdrawn from one’s position or occupation: having concluded one’s working or professional career.”

Does one ever stop working? Does anyone ever stop trying to be “professional” in their creativity or social life?  Professional is described as “characterized by or conforming to the technical or ethical standards of a profession.” 

I conform to the ethical standards of being a granny, a writer, a blogger, a cook, and a dozen other careers every day. I aim for the highest standards in writing when I choose the right word to write, or in manners when I teach my grandbaby to say thank you.

I also work every day. Perhaps not behind a desk or counter, but life IS work.

So don’t call me retired. That’s a word that I’m crossing off my list, along with fat, stupid, mental, lazy, and others I have yet to write down.

Cross those words off your list, too.

Be who you are and appreciate who you are. Strive to improve every day, but understand and appreciate where you are today. 

Use one positive word a day to describe yourself and others. See how it makes you feel.

I see that little smile…..

 

 

Sunday Evening Art Gallery — Sally England

Sally England is a fiber artist living and working in Ojai, California.

During her time in graduate school in 2011 she was inspired to further her work in soft sculpture and explore a new form of macramé (knot-based textile construction) for who we are today.

Her ensuing large-scale modern macramé work using thick cotton rope became a catalyst for the recent revival of the craft, inspiring many to learn or relearn the art of knotting.

According to England, “My art is an exploration of texture, dimension, and scale, in which I use traditional hand techniques such as knotting, basketry, twining, and weaving, to create expressive and fluid forms.”

“Not confining my work to a set outcome, I let the material evolve organically as it will.”

“Through a process of working from muscle memory in a meditative state, I see patterns of time travel and architecture, tapping into ancient skills and archetypal symbols while dwelling in the intimacy of fibers and skin.”

More of Sally England‘s amazing macramé can be found at http://www.sallyengland.com/

What Do You Really Know?

There are always so many thoughts tied to getting older. Besides the obvious ones of usefulness, energy, experience and discovery, are the suppositions of what you would do if you had gone a different way.

I don’t mean the maudlin ones like if you should have done “A” instead of “B”. You’ve chosen what you’ve chosen. Blah blah.

What I enjoy listening to are the career and emotional highs and lows of the next generation. How they’ve changed their world — and ours. How they do what they do. How they know what they know.

A family member is in management, something as far away from my career choices as Tibet. But I love listening to his stories. How he moves up the ladder, how he encourages those that work under him. How he works as a team member yet keeps his individuality.

I love another’s stories about how they work around and through setbacks. Illnesses, family crises, healthcare and paperwork. How they work with others to get them on their feet again. How to work with bureaucracy and the steps to keeping one aspect of one’s life while letting go of another.

These days I am more of an observer than a participant. I can take care of myself and help support those going through changes. But I can’t really guide someone else up the corporate ladder or through the intricacies of Medicaid.

I do love listening to those who can, though.

You probably know more than you admit. More than you think. And there is always someone out there who could use your encouragement. Your stories.

I don’t mean you have to give away free legal advice or pull strings to move someone ahead.

But sharing stories of how you worked through things or turned adversity into a positive experience encourages others to take charge of their lives too.

Many of us can’t see the forest for the trees.  All we need is for someone to show us the path. We can find the way around and out ourselves.

I enjoy listening to these people because there is heart with their brains. They know what they want and how to get there. And their stories include the emotional beliefs behind their logic.

I have lots of heart but not as much brains. Not in the pragmatic sense. But I do believe in offering guidance when and where I can.

You can’t take your knowledge with you. So why not share it now?

You will be amazed at those who enjoy listening to you.

Your Special Place

Do you have a place that you can retreat to when the day is done? A place that offers sanctuary, protection, relaxation, regeneration?

I don’t know if it’s an age thing or a winter thing, but every time I come home from a busy day or weekend I can’t wait to get into my pj’s, grab a blanket, and curl up on the corner of my well-worn sofa.

Sometimes I heave a heavy sigh as I snuggle deep into the corner. Sometimes I put the foot rest up and stretch out under the blanket as far as I can stretch. Sometimes I sit in perfect silence. Other times I turn on music or pull out my computer.

When Dorothy says “there’s no place like home,” I know what she means.

Some people claim a favorite rocking chair or a chair on the deck. Some crawl all the way into their bed. Others claim that same sofa but cover themselves in kitty cats or throw pillows or chocolate chip cookies.

But it’s all the same.

Back to safety. To security. To a place where you can let it all hang out. A place where you don’t have to be anyone or do anything, where time ceases to exist. At least for a few minutes.

We all need a safe place to cry, to remember, or to have a drink. Or dinner. A familiar place, a comfortable place. A place to end a stressful day. A special spot where you can sit and write or read or thumb through a magazine.

We all need a place where we can pull our blanket up to our chin or just around our ankles and ignore the rest of the world for a while. A place we can fall asleep or call our friends and talk for an hour or sit and write a blog.

Everyone needs that special place.

Where is yours?

 

 

The Contrast of Life

Good Evening Friends!

An escape for the weekend with family and friends was just the fresh start I needed. But what good is a blog if there’s not a bit of something to talk about? To contemplate?

On one hand….

I had the best time on my escape ski weekend with family and friends. I don’t ski, but I am out there with my kids and grandkids helping them to learn, sitting around the fire drinking wine and talking and telling stories, playing card games, and competing in our annual cooking competition. All in all it’s lots of love and lots of memories and lots of good feelings.

On the other hand…

Last night I watched the movie “A Bridge Too Far” about Operation Market Garden in the Netherlands during World War II. It wasn’t my choice, as I am not a fan of war movies, but my significant other had never seen it and so it went.

On the one hand….

Over the weekend I helped my grandson learn to ski a little, then watched him go tubing for the first time. The look of joy and anticipation and fear all mingled to make him overly adorable and huggable.

On the other hand…

The movie was about the failed attempt of Allied Forces to secure several bridges in the Netherlands to prevent the Germans from overtaking the country.

On the one hand….

My weekend was filled with laughter, love, and a sense of togetherness we have shared at the same event for over 15 years. It was great.

On the other hand….

I had never heard of this failed attempt to secure these bridges until this movie. Not so great.

On the one hand….

It was a weekend of renewal, of camaraderie, and of watching our children and grandchildren grow closer.

On the other hand….

According to Wikipedia, there were approximately 500 Dutch civilian causalities, 11,800-13,200 Second Army and I Airborne Corps casualties, 3,500-3,900 XVIII Airborne Corps casualties, and 15,000-17,200 German casualties from this siege. 30,000+ to 34,800 lives lost in one attempt.

On the other hand….

The biggest conflict we had this weekend is when “bad grandma Claudia” stopped the two-year-old’s chip supply to make her wait until dinner. Said grandchild flopped on the floor and cried.

On the other hand….

Two groups of human beings shot and bombed and maimed each other so that one person could have extreme power over others.

How do you reconcile one with the other?

I know my dad suffered from PSTD from World War II. He never talked about it to us kids, but you could just see in his reminiscences, in his eyes and his nightmares. There are others who to this day can only say they did what they had to do for their country.

In that one attempt alone thirty thousand people lost their lives, their futures.

How can you compare that to reading a book to a grandchild? To feeding each other chips or a heart-felt hug from your grown up kids?

How can you compare the beauty of life to the tragedy of war and death?

I didn’t write this blog to debate the merits of war and peace, nor the cosmic meaning of life and death.

But like tornadoes, how can such terrible situations hit one family and skip over the next two and land on the fourth? How can people follow mindless – or should I say mindFUL – leaders who insist on the annihilation of entire civilizations? Entire nationalities or religions or classes of people?

After all is said and done, how can the inhabitants of Earth not stop the mindless repetitive destruction of civilizations over and over again for the mere thrill of domination?

Ha… look at me. I should have taken a humanities course or something.

I guess that once in a while I feel guilty being so happy when others were never given that chance.

 

 

We Could Have All Been Hillbillies

Tonight I watched a couple episodes of a TV series called The Outsiders. It’s a story about  “a family of outsiders who’ve lived off the land in the Appalachian Mountains in Kentucky for as long as anyone can remember.” (per IMDB). It’s about mountain men and mountain women and fighting for the land and each other.

I know it’s made for TV and all, but it gave me a glimpse of yet another group outside of society that make their own rules and laws. Almost as if they live on another planet. In another galaxy.

It makes me realize how sheltered a life I’ve led. Not only are there all kinds of societies and tribes and ways of life so different from my own, but thousands of stories in the history of the world behind me.

We learn about the Civil War in school; we learn about Napoleon Bonaparte and Julius Caesar and the World Wars. Which we should.

But what about all the rest of the world and their ways and their styles? What do people outside of modern society do with their time? Their days and nights? What are their beliefs, their rituals?

These “hillbillies” on this show are only a few steps removed from everyday life. They come to town to get supplies, steal things like guns and beer, and get notices from the government to vacate their land.

But what do they do that’s totally different from what we we are familiar with? How do they court and dance and work the land? What do they believe?

The library, the internet, provides all the information you need to take a trip in time to other worlds right here on your own planet.

Explore other cultures, other beliefs, other societies. Read books and articles from people who have either experienced or inherited this lore. Think of the insight they could provide.

Learning about other cultures, other histories, other ways can open your mind in ways you never thought. And that kind of knowledge is powerful.

It is fun to wonder where we could have gone if we had taken the left path instead of the right. Climbed down the mountain instead of walked around it. Our lives could have been so different.

We could all have been hillbillies.

And that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

A Fantastic Fellow Blogger Artist

Back on November 16, 2019, Laura Kate had an inspirational moment visiting the Gateway Arch in St. Louis:

Inspiration, Gestation, Implementation

INSPIRATION: The idea for creating a fiber object based on the Gateway Arch has been rattling around in my brain for some time. It really started way back in 2012, after my husband and I visited the Gateway to the West museum in St. Louis. At that time, he took a series of photographs showing every possible angle of the Arch at ground level. They are rather remarkable, taken as a group………

https://dailyfiberfun.wordpress.com/2019/11/16/inspiration-gestation-implementation/

Yesterday, February 3, 2019, she posted her finished quilt.

Gateway Arch: Nine Views

A culmination of six months spent thinking about and working on it, here is the Gateway Arch quilt. I finishing sewing on the binding while watching the Super Bowl (Yay KC Chiefs!) I feel an odd combination of elation, satisfaction and relief. The finished object is largely what I had envisioned………

https://dailyfiberfun.wordpress.com/2020/02/03/gateway-arch-nine-views/

You have to go take a look at her post, her ideas, her progress, and her finished product. It is amazing. I am always in awe of those who create marvelous artwork.

Laura Kate is one of those. Check out her website and see for yourself.

Daily Fiber
A year of projects featuring fiber materials

dailyfiberfun.wordpress.com/

Moments

There are moments when everything in  life becomes crystal clear. Quiet moments, moments of perfect connections; moments of peace and moments of exhilaration.

Not everyone connects with their soul in peace and quiet.  Not everyone can meditate, or go to church, or walk through the woods.

But we all find a way.

Sometimes we find our place in the cosmos reading a story to a child. Or cuddling and snuggling. Sometimes it’s found in sitting quietly and petting a purring cat. Some connect with their inner magic reading poetry or writing it.

I sometimes wonder why we don’t have that cosmic moment more often. Why it’s so hard to hold onto that feeling of total satisfaction, total acceptance, along with the positive anticipation of tomorrow’s dreams.

At this particular moment I am sitting with the computer on my lap, looking out the window at the morning sunshine, listening to a playlist called Book Club on Spotify. Everyone is still sleeping. The shadows created by the trees around the house play with the sunshine on the deck railings, reflecting the breeze that’s come out to play.

This particular moment is perfect. I know and accept who I am. I’m not competing with anyone else for attention, affection, or acknowledgement. The music takes me to dreams beyond the distant clouds, showing me unlimited possibilities.

But I know this moment of clarity won’t last.

Soon everyone will wake and the bubble will pop. Things like laundry and football games and fetching the dog and paying bills will take over my Sunday, pushing me in other directions.

I will miss this moment of clarity.

Perhaps it’s better we get moments like this only now and then. Perhaps if we lived in perfect acceptance and understanding there would be no growth. No more ah-ha moments.

No more cuddling moments.

Find your moments and let them connect to your deepest self. Know that more moments will come, often when you least expect it. Learn to acknowledge them, to grow with them, and to love them. Then learn to let them go.

That’s what being human is all about.

Sunday Evening Art Gallery — Giovanni Paolo Panini

Giovanni Paolo Panini (1691-1765), a Piacenza-born artist, was a celebrated painter of views of modern and ancient Rome and a prolific architect and draftsman during the eighteenth century.As both painter and teacher, Panini was versatile in his craft and, accordingly, was highly respected for his contribution to the art scene in Italy.

 

Although Panini worked as an architect, designing Cardinal Valenti’s villa and the chapel in Santa Maria della Scala (1728), and produced fireworks, festival apparatuses, and other ephemeral architectural decorations (and painted magnificent records of them), in the last thirty years of his life he specialized in painting the views of Rome that secured his lasting reputation.These were of two main types, vedute prese da i luoghi (carefully and accurately rendered views of actual places) and vedute ideate (imaginary views and combinations of particular buildings and monuments).His views of ancient and modern Rome encompassed practically everything worth noting in the eighteenth-century guidebooks to the Eternal City.

These paintings were not idealized or symbolic representations of Rome’s past and present grandeur, but accurate and objective portrayals of the most famous, most picturesque, or most memorable sights of the city.

More of Giovanni Paolo Panini‘s amazing paintings can be found at museums and websites around the Internet.

Beware of the Personals

I have an interesting tale to share about the state of the world — and of the soul — this evening.

Through the many years I have been online I have made very few new friends — friends in the sense that I share my name and address with. I learned early in the active life of the Internet that people are not always who they seemed. 

Why they weren’t I couldn’t understand. Talk about being a simpleton. I trusted what others shared. You are a 24 year old college student? Okay. You are a lonely man looking for friendship? Sure. You were a mom with two kids? I believe you.

How did I know that behind that 24 year old stammer could be a 50 year old pedophile? How would I know that that lonely man was really a psycho from prison?

None of my tales wound up that drastic. But I was so easily fooled. And then, of course, the Internet matured, and, fortunately, so did I. I ran around alot for a while under an assumed name. But I didn’t like that, because it wasn’t truthful.

And I always found myself wanting to tell the truth.

I started my Humoring the Goddess blog April 18, 2011 under my own name. I didn’t — and still don’t — offer many personal details in my comings and goings here. I pay attention to the stories of crazies trying to pick up young girls and schemers taking advantage of older people. I believe in the goodness of everyone but am smart enough to know that now and then that goodness is buried beneath stacks of evil.

So yesterday I get an email from a fellow blogger, someone whose blog I love and comment on and she on mine. She wanted to send me something in the mail.

Instantly I slammed that gate and locked it, peeking through the steel bars that pretend to protect me. I explained my fears, and she understood. 

Then she told me what she wanted to send me.

It was not the kind of explanation a gorilla would send so they could come over to my house and rob me and take my money and life. It was a little gift that connected instantly with my dreams and thoughts. 

And I thought again about sharing something so dreadfully personal as my address.

I know you have to trust somebody in this world. There are so many good, wonderful somebodies around — you can’t be afraid of all of them. You have to use your common sense, and even your sixth sense, and once in a while take a chance with your truth. 

Today’s generation is probably much more open to meeting up with online connections. They take precautions not even thought of in my time.  Most of those connections pan out, too. I just don’t know if I would have the same luck.

So I took a chance and shared my address. If a gorilla shows up one bright day looking for my unicorn stash it wasn’t as if I didn’t warn myself.  

I will still keep the gate locked, though, and watch the world race around madly through the bars at a safe distance.

Do you share your personal personals with others online?

 

 

Sunday Evening Art Gallery — Kazuhito Takadoi

Artist Kazuhito Takadoi uses natural materials combined with traditional Japanese art supplies like sumi ink and washi paper to make delicate sculptural works that tread between two and three dimensions.

Inspired by the rich woodland surrounding his birthplace of Nagoya, Japan, nature is both Takadoi’s inspiration and the source of him material. There are no added colors: everything is natural, simply dried then woven, stitched, or tied.Takadoi cultivates and then gathers grass, leaves, and twigs from his garden to form the meticulous structures that comprise his dimensional creations.He has also developed the embroidery process to include pure white Japanese book binding threads as a material.

Though these organic findings are secured in place through weaving and stitching, they continue to evolve as they dry and mature, changing in flexibility and color.

More of Kazuhito Takadoi’s marvelous creations can be found at http://www.kazuhitotakadoi.com.

Saturday Stroll Through The Gallery

Snow Snow Snow! Wonderful to look at, fun to ski or toboggan in, yet hell to drive through. Alas, you in the southern part of the country/continent/Earth ball — yours will come. Right now for me it makes for a wonderful meditation background.

I have some great Sunday Evening Art Galleries coming up. If you have favorite artists and styles, be sure to let me know. But here’s a peek at a few up-and-comers:

 

Matthias Jung

 

Alexandra Spyratos

 

Masks

 

I have been behind in adding galleries to my actual gallery, Sunday Evening Art Gallery. Here are a few recent additions:

 

Mary Cassatt   

 

Jeremy May

 

Johnson Tang 

 

No matter if it’s snow or sand, come take a stroll through the Gallery. I hope you enjoy looking at their work as much as I enjoy bringing it to you!

 

 

Make My Day

I just have to tell you that I received a lot of positive comments to my last blog about commenting. Thank you thank you.

It seems we all have the best intentions, but ultimately run out of time to do all the things we want/need to do.

Want/need is relative, of course.

Choice has a lot to do with how we spend every 24 hours. Under the umbrella of choice falls necessities, wishlists, responsibilities, unexpected opportunities, and more.

Life is all about choice. We can always choose not to pay our mortgage or not to go grocery shopping. But the consequences to those choices are brutal.

So let’s go to the less serious choices we make in life. Do we go to the soccer game or stay home and work on the car? Do we call the doctor or stop at the store for cold medicine?

As you can see, writing and commenting on blogs are not high on most priority lists. We/I have more important things to worry about. They fall more under an umbrella called “personal gratifications.”

But those are important too.

Life cannot always be all about physical survival. I mean, it is, but it’s not. It’s also about soul building. Finding time to do the things that give our heart and soul satisfaction.

It’s the little things that make the bigger things easier to handle. And it’s the little things we need to make time for. Even when the world is passing us by, cutting our feet out from under us.

It was harder to cut out pieces of time just for myself when I was younger. I’d like to think that was because there were more responsibilities back then. 

I’ve come to realize there weren’t more responsibilities — just different ones. 

Now I fall under the umbrella of “life’s too short” and I try and get personally involved with satisfying my own heart’s song. I find myself closing that umbrella and letting everything I want to do fall around me like rain, soaking me until I can’t move. Too many pleasurable things to do, too little time.

So take a break today and pick a new book off the shelf and start reading. Start a new quilt or text someone you haven’t seen in a while. Take the long way home and watch the sunset.

Make somebody’s day. Make my day. Make YOUR day.

Put your umbrella away.

Did You Comment Today?

Here in the states it is indeed again Monday. Bright sun, cold temperatures, dogs hanging around me and my sofa in case there’s any stray food to be had.

I spent some time this morning going through blogs I follow (and even a couple that I don’t) reading and commenting and enjoying their written words. And it made me think of our Monday Morning Discussions:

How many blogs do you follow? Do you read everyone you follow? Do you make comments on those you follow? Or is the purpose of your blog more for you to talk than to read?

This is not a scolding or a real survey. It’s just curiosity.

Face it. Almost all of us are here to talk. To share. Whether it’s our poetry, our painting skills, our pottery skills, or our outlook on life, WordPress is the one outlet where we can find like souls to share our passions with.

There are those who just love to read and learn and don’t have websites of their own. But most of WP’s makeup is made of those sharing and wanting to be shared. We have a passion, a gift, a thought, and feel others can benefit from what we have learned.

But do you take time to comment on someone else’s sharing?

Whether or not we agree, understand, or like, we always walk away from another’s blog with an impression. Do you ever share that impression?

Feedback feels good both ways. I know I love interacting with those who take time to share their thoughts. That’s why I try and share something as often as I can when I read other’s offerings.

 I don’t always comment daily on some blogs,such as anthonygrootelaar’s colorful designs blog MYMonkeyMIND,  or purpleraysblog which is full of inspriation, or Ann Koplow’s daily blog-with-lots-of-pictures The Year(s) of Living Non-Judgmentally, or Catherine Arcolio’s very inspirational blog Leaf and Twig because they contribute a lot every day and I don’t always catch their latest offerings. But I do try and read and comment on those who share their thoughts and creativity at least once a week.

Their writings make my own writings better.

Even if you consider yourself merely an observer, it helps both you and the blog you’re connected to to share your thoughts or reactions now and then. It helps you sort and articulate, and it makes the creators of other blogs feel that they’re connected to you in ways not always seen by others.

Know that not every blog you follow is going to follow you back. It’s just human nature. If you followed every blog you’ve “liked” a post on you’d be reading 24/7 and not working on your own creativity. I don’t expect everyone who comments on my blogs to follow me. And sometimes I check out those who have shared their thoughts and found their path to be quite different from mine.

But that doesn’t mean they didn’t make me feel better about myself.

Comment more. Share more. Even if it’s something short and sweet like “Oh! Nice!” Or “Truth.” 

Be an active part of this world. It will make you feel better, too.

Sunday Evening Art Gallery — Pierre Sterlé

Pierre Sterlé (1905–1978) was a French jeweler, known as the ‘couturier of jewelry’.

Sterlé may be one of the most important jewelry designers you’ve never heard of.

His lyrical, highly-engineered creations are some of the most distinctive designs of the 20th Century—and some of the most collectible.

But because his business was so exclusive and his clientele so elite, his name isn’t as widely known as some of his contemporaries.

Considered during his lifetime to have been an inspired innovator, he reached his apogee in the 1940’s and 50’s.

His work with precious stones and metal – often inspired by nature – still commands strong interest at auction.

 His well-crafted jewelry often used motifs from nature; birds, flowers, leaves and feathers.

 Coupled with personal tragedy which plagued him throughout the 1960’s, he ultimately was forced to declare bankruptcy in 1976 and liquidate his stock.

Most of the stock was acquired by Chaumet, who retained Sterlé as a ‘technical consultant’ until his death in 1978.

 

 

 

Sunday Evening Art Gallery on Friday — Wendy Mould

Wendy Mould studied at both Ipswich and Norwich Art Schools, specializing in sculpture, along with painting and illustration.

In turn, this has led to a number of related projects including both writing and illustrating the children’s book ‘Ants in my Pants’.More recently, Wendy has been working upon an ongoing series of oil on canvas paintings that draw their inspiration from some of her favorite pieces of music.Furthermore, they have also been chosen to represent a musical year, the months and seasons.The suite of twelve works will include interpretations of ‘The Rite of Spring’ (Stravinsky), ‘The Snow Maiden’ (Tchaikovsky) and ‘The Lark Ascending’ (Vaughn Williams).

Each work has a touch of magic in it, hidden in the beauty of the painting itself.

More of Wendy Mould‘s works can be found at http://www.thereddotgallery.com/Artists/wendy-mould/.

Music is what feelings sound like ~Author Unknown

One of my favorite evening past times is listening to music while writing on the computer. Whether it’s editing a book, writing a story, cleaning up my SEAG gallery, looking for pictures, or just hanging on Facebook, music is the muse that takes me off this sofa and wandering through the nighttime skies.

As I look back at my computer writing life, I see different sound tracks guiding my thoughts and emotions as I continually refine my craft. In writing my first 3 novels I listened to a lot of mystical, smooth jazz (recently called ‘study music’ on Spotify).  My art gallery music is definitely Beegie Adair on Spotify, a female pianist who is marvelous — she plays all the old Gershwin, Fred Astaire, Frank Sinatra, cocktail lounge tunes.

When I work on research or actually write on my current book, I put on French Café  music. It eases me into the pretend world of Paris, connecting me with spirits of its past and future.

I have house cleaning music, H.P. Lovecraft or Edgar Alan Poe reading music,  historical fiction reading music, exercise music (don’t hear that too often, unfortunately), and drawing music. I find music enhances every task I undertake, every dream I explore.

I occasionally fall for British Invasion oldies if I want to travel back to my youth, or polkas when I think of my dad. I try not to go back in time too often, of course, as no one wants to be melancholy all the time.

I’m not saying I listen to music 24/7. Often silence accompanies my creativity too, or a nonsensical movie in the background.

But just sitting and listening to the ending of a Tchaikovsky ballet or Edith Piaf singing “La Vie en rose” does something to the soul. Something that mere words cannot accomplish. 

Do you have music that accompanies the different parts your life? Come on and share a theme or title or two. See if we all can connect.

 

 

Sunday Evening Art Gallery — Duro Olowu

Duro Olowu is a Nigerian-born, London-based fashion designer. He is best known for his innovative combinations of patterns and textiles that draw inspiration from his international background.He grew up living in both Nigeria and London and spent summers in Geneva, immersing him in multiple cultures.From an early age, his enthusiasm for fashion was inspired by the unexpected mix of fabrics, textures and draping techniques of the clothing worn by the women that surrounded him.He is best known for his innovative combinations of patterns and textiles that draw inspiration from his international background.

His first collection in 2006 was an instant hit with fashion editors and buyers worldwide and an international sell out in its worldwide stockists at the time.Alluring silhouettes, sharp tailoring, original prints juxtaposed with luxurious vintage fabrics in “off beat” yet harmonious combinations are Olowu’s signature.His colors are bright, mismatched, yet coordinated, reflecting the brightness of life and of being a woman.Olowu says, “My idea [was] to create a beautiful feast for the eyes reminiscent of a warm and joyful season filled with international treasures and signature fabrics.”

More of Duro Olowu’s designs can be found at https://duroolowu.com.

 

Don’t Be Afraid To Ask

I usually make a point not to talk about personal things in my blog. I want this  to be a place that supports what you all are feeling or struggling to feel. Occasionally I throw in life-event info (like cancer or termination), but I try to keep it fun and magical.

Lately, though, I have been struggling with a family matter that makes me want to scream out to the world, “take CARE of yourself, damnit!” 

It’s a topic that is a sensitive one, for some people will say, “you don’t know what it’s like to be chronically depressed/diabetic/incapacitated”. True enough. But I also know people who are/have been depressed/diabetic/incapacitated and have taken good care of themselves despite  their setback.

I have a family member who stayed in one state while my family (and others)  moved to others throughout the years. He/she insisted on staying alone in the home where they grew up.

I understand that.

But this same family member does not take care of themself, and I am in the process of cleaning out a second hoarder, mouse-infested house. After a stint in the hospital he/she is now in a nursing home, with hopes of getting better and eventually moving up by us.

I understand that, too.

I also understand that I’m 67 years old, too old to be a babysitter for someone who is 58. I am recently retired, working on my own health issues, and living on a reduced budget.

What I don’t understand is  — how does someone get in such a depressing, messy, confused state over and over again? 

Do we fall over the fence and keep tumbling down the hill until we hit rock bottom? Do we even know we are tumbling? Or hitting bottom? 

People who are alone with their miseries tend to not believe half of what is happening to them. It’s peripheral vision, and it happens to all of us. Have a trait that someone complains about? A house condition that is always questioned? Don’t think about it. Tell yourself it’s not as bad as everyone around you says it is. And cut them off if they don’t stop nagging you.

This is why I believe everyone should have a support system. And not be afraid to use that support system. 

God/Zeus/the creator did not create man to be the do-all, be-all being we strive to become. We all need help. I look back in my life and see spots where someone took time to pick me up and help me turn my life around. And it worked. 

Sometimes all we need is a little help. A little support. Sometimes it’s family and friends, other times we rely on the system. Unfortunately, most come up short to the real problem.

Loneliness.

This family member insisted he/she was busy, doing fine, going out with friends, visiting the library.  We are 100 miles north from them, so we  got together on birthdays and holidays and the occasional fishing trip. Others contacted  by phone, kept in touch. This family member showed no interest in living closer to those who kept asking them. 

I can do it myself. I don’t need anyone. Or anyone’s help.

He/she wound up in the hospital with a diabetes level of almost 1,000 (normal is 100). He/she had salmonella and has wounds from passing out and laying on the bathroom floor for two days before anyone found them.

I’m not sharing this story to make you feel sorry for us. I’m sharing this story to ask you to check up on those you know, even if they insist everything is okay. Go have coffee at their house or invite yourself for lunch. You don’t have to hang you with them every week, but get involved in their lives.

It will save both of you a lot of guilt and bad feelings and shoulda/coulda moments for the rest of your lives. I know I wouldn’t be living in a swirl of angst if both sides had worked together more.

And don’t be afraid to accept help. Or ask for help. If the shoe were on the other foot, you know you’d help in a heartbeat and not think twice about it. Those who care about you feel the same way.

No one has to go through this crazy mess called life alone.

 

 

Better a witty fool than a foolish wit — Shakespeare

The Lauging Jester, painter Unknown

Sometimes I don’t mind being fooled.

Mother nature has a great way of pulling my leg. Sitting on the sofa, looking out the window, it’s bright and sunny outside. The birds are visiting the feeder, the wind is gently blowing the naked tree branches — it looks so inviting. So I go put a hoodie and some jeans on and go outside, only to be frozen to death because it’s only 30 degrees outside.

Or my cat meowing that she’s starving, walking around the house, meowing pitifully in the furthest of places. I look at the clock; perhaps I did forget to feed her at our pre-arranged time. Feeling guilty, I get up from writing to give her dinner, only to find half the bowl still there, merely a center circle having been eaten in the past few hours.

Those kinds of getting fooled I can handle.

What really bothers me is being fooled by professionals, like those in advertising or politics or human relations.

“Oh sure! We have exactly what you need!” or “We definitely can find you the perfect job!” or “Buy this and your life will be so much easier!”

You would think most people in the world would have a head’s up on sheisters pitching their goods around the globe.  Old people are perfect targets for the by the bait and switch tactic, although the rest of the age line is are perfect targets, too.

 If something is too good to be true, it’s not true. Plain and simple. What are the other sayings? Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

I’m not saying that we shouldn’t take a chance on bettering our future. A gadget that makes cooking or prep work or walking across the room easier is often worth the investment. But what about tactics that make bigger promises, like instant weight loss, double your investment, or a cure for whatever ails you? 

Is this something we all need to experience to get? Or can we learn from other’s mistakes? Should we try and stop others making those same mistakes?

Of course I want to live longer. Feel better. Invest wiser. Everyone does. But I don’t believe that this pill or that treatment or running to church every time you get a new ache or pain is going to miraculously make you better.

The only one who can make you better is YOU.

Read. Research. Talk to people. Know there are no shortcuts in life and live it accordingly. If you want to take a chance, know full well that you are taking a chance. Don’t risk everything on promises that once you do this or buy that that all will be better. 

Don’t be the fool’s fool.

Just yesterday my hubby fed the dogs a little early then left for work. I came home a little later and they did the I’m-starving doggie dance for me. I looked at the clock and wondered. Fool me once? Should this be a shame on you or me thing? 

Until I could get to the truth I — we — compromised. I gave them a few extra dog cookies. They got exactly what they wanted.

Shame on me.

Sunday Evening Art Gallery — Nolan Preece

A photographer for over forty years, Nolan Preece has devoted his career to understanding and mastering the challenging techniques of early photography by creating chemigrams.Preece been working with these chemically derived images since 1981.A chemigram combines the physics of painting (varnish, wax, oil) and the chemistry of photography (photosensitive emulsion, developer, fixer) without the use of a camera, an enlarger, and in full light.Experimentation with chemistry and photographic paper to produce various visual effects and themes describes the direction of this work. 
These photographs are a combination of cameraless photography and the manipulation of photographic materials by using them as painting media.
The printmaking aspect is the resistance he puts on the paper. He uses  chemistry to create the final product.

It is also important to state that this method of working often produces several levels of meanings brought together to create a sense of connection which is intuitive, unconscious and abstract. The images are more accurately felt than observed.

More of Nolan Preece’s amazing work can be found at http://www.nolanpreece.com/

 

 

Could You Live in the NOW?

Are you done wishing everyone a Happy New Year yet? Are your Christmas decorations still up? Or are you finished with that part of the season and planning for Spring that is 59 days away?

Seems us humans have a hard time living in the “now”. Even though that’s the phrase of the millennium, it’s really hard to live right now. And now. And now. And now. Which is now the past. 

So here is my Philosophy 101 question for the New Year. 

If you were totally isolated from others, would time flow differently for you?

I know our ancestors had to deal with no watches, no cell phones, no TVs to check morning, noon, and night. But I’m not talking about them. I’m talking about us modernists.

Say you lived 30 miles, 50 miles from town (you can drive to Sams Club once a month if you want for supplies, but no other luxuries.) No computers, no radios. No movies. All that isolation stuff. You live comfortably, but without technology. (No guilt trips about not being with your grandkids and all — that’s a different game.)

My QUESTION is… how long could us modernites live in the “now”? No hanging out with friends, no phone. You can write letters but that’s about all.

All you would hear would be the songs of the birds and the wind blowing through the trees morning, noon, and night. Thunderstorms and windstorms and coyotes in the distance moving across the plains. The longer you lived with nature, the more in-tune you would be with the sounds around you. 

But that’s all you’d hear.

Knowing your lifestyle of today, how long would you be able to stay away from civilization? How long would the songs of the birds or the chatter of squirrels be entertainment? How long would you be able to live in the NOW?  A month? A year? 10 years? Would the NOW turn into one long blur?

I love these philosophical questions that have no exceptions. There are no “but what if I talk to the store clerk once a month? Is that isolation?” Or “what if the neighbor stops by?” Isolation is isolation.

For me, I think if I were forced to let go of technology, I could fairly adjust. Notice I italicized forced and fairly. Could I live with the sounds of nature 24/7? I live a lot with them these days, but let’s be truthful — only when I sit outside or go for a walk. I always have music or the TV going on for sound when I’m alone. But I have the option to connect with friends and the nonsense of the outside world.

Would my my adult-onset A.D.D. handle the eternal nature-only sounds of dawn, midday, and dusk? Would my senses become sharper the longer I stayed away from technology?

For me, I guess I’d eventually get used to silence day in and day out. I’d probably sing a lot more in the beginning, but I wonder if even that would fade away the more I got used to the silence. 

I’d definitely need to have a cat or two to hold conversations with, though…(if you knew how yakky my cat was you’d know what I mean…)

How about you?

 

 

Research Overload

  • I think I am suffering from research overload. I fear my ambitions have been to high, too broad, too much for one simpleton to take.

If I could have an anxiety attack based on a book not yet written, I would be having one now. Have I taken on too much already? Is my ambition way too big for my size 6W shoes?

I am the one who tells you to dream big. To take chances. To write what you want to write. Yet I find my thoughts, my task, overwhelming. And I’ve barely started.

Writing about visiting a place you’ve never been and probably never will be takes more discipline than making up a world. When you make up a place where elves live or Merry ‘ol England in the 15th century your mind can play with what it wants.

But when you want to visit a real place in real time, it’s not as easy. You must be accurate, you must be realistic, even if your intention for a story is fiction.

Plus it is so easy to be led astray by a thousand places you wish to visit.  Do you base your character’s visit on where you would like to go? Or where destiny takes them? Do you go big? Do you go small? Do you have encounters in gardens or museums? Libraries or churches? If your character (in my case, me) wants to visit the haunts of famous people, which restaurant do you visit? Which cabaret? Which art museum?

Do you search the Internet and find articles like The ten Paris streets you just have to walk down or  A Walk Around Paris? Or do you just pick a starting place and figure out where you’re going from there?

I am so easily influenced by Paris. Any foreign place, really. Places I’ve never been, places I’ve dreamed of, places where my dreams start and end. I ask myself where do I really want to go, what do I really want to see? What do I want my book’s character to learn from her adventure?

On top of that, I find it hard to separate what I as a 67-year-old woman who will never visit Paris would want to see versus the 67-year-old woman I’m sending there through my book. A thousand answers come to mind. I can’t seem to sort through all of them.

This is the problem of a pretzelly mind. A creative mind touched with a bit of A.D.D. and old age.

Maybe I would be better off writing a simple love story that takes place in my own back yard or some make-believe town. That way I don’t have to guess what the streets look like; what the people sound like, what the local bakery or bistro smells like.

I’m not giving up yet, though. While I cannot say I love a challenge, it’s too early in the game to give up. For I know the payoff with be a big one. The biggest challenge of my writing career.

Tell me — do you go through any  madness like this before you start a new project? Do you fight to keep a hold of your crazy dream, or do you merely divert your energy to finding another project?

Sunday Evening Art Gallery — Barcodes

Barcodes are an everyday item in our lives. Insignificant little vertical lines corresponding to numbers 0-9 in a particular order dictate whether you are purchasing a dozen eggs or a color TV. Boring little barcodes. Simple little barcodes.

But the world of art touches us all. Don’t settle for simple — go for the bling!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Take Note of your Promises

The rush between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Day makes fools of us all.
~Claudia the Unicorn

 

This is the first time I’ve used my own wit as a quote. Witless, I say …

But it’s true. Starting with Christmas Eve and ending New Year’s Day, it seems we shove a month’s worth of emotions into one week. The sadness, the renewal, the promises of New Year’s resolutions and the resolve of keeping in touch with Christmas acquaintances.

Come February (or even the middle of January) we have forgotten the promises we made to ourselves when our emotions were high and out of control. We don’t mean to forget — it’s just that life gets in the way.

But is life a life of it’s own? Or do we make what we do every day more important than what we do in the long term?

I see a lot of pretzel logic coming through. I know what I want to say but the meaning gets side tracked all the time.

Are the promises of days gone by any more important than the promises we make today? Should we even make promises/vows/resolutions at all?

Promises/vows/resolutions usually come from guilt. We didn’t visit this person or that person as much as we wanted and now that person has moved on. We try on a pair of pants we wore last year or three years ago and they barely move up our legs, so we promise to lose 15 pounds. 

These promises made through the emotional music of the “holidays” barely ever stick. We are truly remorse, sorry, honest as we hear strains of Merry Christmas Darling by Karen Carpenter or read affirmations on Facebook or Instagram promising truth and commitment and new beginnings in the new year.

But none of those promises or affirmations will stick past your emotional moments if you don’t believe in them. If you don’t do something more than say the words. 

And that’s the hard thing — making emotional promises a reality. For we all really truly do feel those things at the moment. We really do want to lose weight or take the trip we promised ourselves years ago.  It’s just the application of those vows that’s hard to work into our every day busy life.

So my suggestion is: Make those promises/vows/resolutions with a full heart and soul, letting the moment stand out in your mind. But be aware of what you are promising yourself, and take the next step and work through those promises one at a time.

You don’t have to call everyone you’ve ever left behind. Start with one person you haven’t talked to that you really miss. If talking on the phone bothers you, start with an email. Friend them on Facebook. Start small. Start with one at a time. One. You really want those old pants to fit? Lose one pound at a time. One. Cut out dessert of soda or walk around the block once. Just once.

Start paying off your emotions one transaction at a time. That way your heart and soul will be able to mesh the promise with your actual outcome. Your promise will become clearer as time goes on, separating the over-the-top emotional impossibilities from what you can really accomplish.

See? That pretzel logic finally made its way back to center!

Now … where were we going?

Faerie Paths — Frost

 

Frost grows on the window glass,
forming whorl patterns of lovely translucent geometry.
Breathe on the glass, and you give frost more ammunition.
Now it can build castles and cities
and whole ice continents with your breath’s vapor.
In a few blinks you can almost see the winter fairies moving in . . .
But first, you hear the crackle of their wings.

― Vera Nazarian, The Perpetual Calendar of Inspiration

 

 

The Art of Christmas

Christmas is not a time nor a season, but a state of mind. To cherish peace and goodwill, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas.
~ Calvin Coolidge

 

Adoration of the Magi, Sandro Botticelli

 

Be Home for Christmas, Thomas Kinkade

 

Christmas Card, Salvador Dali

 

Adoration of the Magi, Albrecht Dürer

 

Merry Christmas Grandma, Norman Rockwell

 

Snow Scene at Aargenteuil, Claude Monet

 

Christmas Card, Andy Warhol

 

Christmas Morning, Thomas Falcon-Marshall

 

We Three Kings, James Christiansen

 

Adoration of the Magi, Peter Paul Rubens

 

Charlie Brown Christmas, Charles Schultz

 

Sunday Evening Art Gallery — Rob Mulholland

Rob Mulholland is a sculptor and environmental artist based in the United Kingdom who exhibits throughout the U.K and world-wide.Mullholland explores the complex relationship between humans and the natural world.Utilizing a wide variety of forms and materials, his sculpture installations interact with their surroundings.He incorporates mirrored surfaces in his sculptures to reflect the given environment and alter the viewers perception of the space.The reflection is purposely distorted inviting the viewer to question their individual relationship with their surroundings.As leaves change colors and fall, clouds and storms pass by, daylight waxes and wanes, and people walk by, these stationary figures shimmer and change, creating a reflection of the mood around them.They can be eerie, ghostly, magical, and whimsical by turns.More of Rob Mulholland‘s remarkable visions can be found at http://robmulholland.org/.

Illusions: What IS Reality?

Theres an artcle going around the intrnet that pointz outthat wrds don’t have two be speled corectly n order too be understud. With txtng and instant masssaging, much ov the world bekoms en illusion.

Bad grammar and sloppy typing aside, there is something to be said about illusions. They make us think — they make us reason. Best of all illusions get the synapses in our brains firing. According to Medical News Today, a sharp mind and strong memory depend on the vitality of our brain’s network of interconnecting neurons, and especially on junctions between these neurons called synapses. Synapses are the points of communication between one neuron and a neighboring neuron, muscle cell, or gland cell. When synapses encounter illusions, there are happy flashes for all. Kind of like friends in the neighborhood keeping the gossip going.

Here are a couple of examples that can drive you nuts:

Cafe wall illusion

Café wall illusion – Despite what your eyes are telling you, the lines are parallel. It is due to the high contrast in the two different “bricks.” Our brains tend to “spread” dark zones into light zones, a function known as irradiation. This “movement” is what causes a false warping effect.

 

Blivet illusion – a blivet is an undecipherable figure, an optical illusion and an impossible object. It appears to have three cylindrical prongs at one end which then mysteriously transform into two rectangular prongs at the other end.

 

Bezold effect – a color seems different due to its adjacent colors. The red is the same color on both sides of the picture.

 

Ebbinghaus

Ebbinghaus illusion – an illusion related to relative size perception. Both center circles are the same size.

 

Hermann Grid

Hermann Grid illusion – ghost-like grey dots appear in the middle of the black squares on a white background. They really are not part of the image.

 

Necker cube –a simple wire-frame drawing of a cube with no visual cues as to its orientation, so it can be interpreted to have either the lower-left or the upper-right square as its front side.

 

Peripheral drift illusion – Occurs because of the slight differences in time it takes to process different luminances (how intense the light is from a particular area). This picture is not moving nor wavy.

 

 Ponzo illusion – This illusion  takes advantage of the human brain’s use of background to judge an object’s size. The lines are the same size.

 

Watercolor illusion – A dark chromatic color outlines a figure flanked in the brighter chromatic color. The brighter color spreads into all the enclosed area, thus the use of the phrase “melting colors,” as you see the color fill up the enclosed shape. The center is the same color as the outside.

 

Fraser spiral illusion – Run your finger around one spin. Despite what your eyes tell you, the spiral is actually a series of concentric circles. The background pattern makes the picture so confusing that your brain just fills in information that isn’t really there.

 

Floating leaves – the “leaves” appear to move around in waves as you look at the image. If you stop and stare at the image, you should get the leaves to stay still. The illusion of movement comes from the heavy contrast in the colors.

 

I’m sure there are dozens of other examples of our brain outrunning the truth. While this could lead to hours worth of debate, discussion, and speculation, just know not to always believe what you see. 

Life sometimes is an illusion.  And sometimes there’s nothing wrong with that. 

Faerie Paths — Look

Fingal’s Cave, Scotland

 

The Road Less Traveled

When does Imagination turn into Magic?
Who lives across the water
Down that path
In those woods
Who lives under that tree
Beyond that field
Among those clouds
The whispers of the Otherworld
Ask that question all the time
Their existence
Turns Magic into Imagination
Their world lies
right beneath our feet
just out of sight
All we need to do
is look … and feel

~Claudia~

Revel in the Arts

Svenja Jödicke

I have said many times before that inspiration is everywhere around us…. that all we need to do is OPEN OUR EYES.

This evening I was trying to catch up on reading individual blogs I follow and came across two that really made me proud of the creativeness around me. 

Laura Kate is the energy behind Daily Fiber, a blog about projects featuring fiber material. Not only is this woman into creating beautiful quilts, including designing her own, but she crochets, paints, and sews. What made her stand out in my mind was one of her opening blog: I’m taking a break from knitting and painting to do a little sewing. 

I love it.

To  me, she is a person who hears the song of creativity and follows it gladly. Her spirit is most likely drawn in ten directions at one time, yet wisely she listens to one song at a time while she keeps an ear open for the other melodies.

The Textile Ranger has devoted two blogs to her make-believe mall called TextileTopia and TextileTopia Part Two, filled with real-life artists and websites for readers to click through and enjoy. Her creativity is electric — it makes you want to quilt and sew and make small pieces of artwork and huge murals and garden and stitch and — you get my drift.

I am so turned on by others who are turned on by the Arts. Whether it’s a single pursuit or a confusing cornucopia of ideas and methods that have no direction, letting that creative Muse of yours out into the world does something wonderful to and for your soul.

I’ve been in a rut lately, taking care of some stressful family business, along with the darkness of winter and the adjustment to retirement. I know the best way out of the blues is to play with the rainbow of light and imagination and let my mind (and talent) go where it will.

I’ve got some great ideas for the new year such as making Angel Tears (a hanging cord that sparkles in the breeze), along with photographing some beautiful, falling down barns in my countryside. I hope I can share my adventures with you.

In the meantime, don’t fight the spirit that longs to be set free. Go with it! What have you got to lose?

Tell me about YOUR future creative plans!

 

Sunday Evening Art Gallery — Jacob Lawrence

The most widely acclaimed African American artist of this century, and one of only several whose works are included in standard survey books on American art, Jacob Armstead Lawrence has enjoyed a successful career for more than fifty years.Lawrence was born in Atlantic City, New Jersey, in 1917. The son of Southern migrants, he moved with his mother and sister to Harlem in 1930 at age 13.Lawrence’s paintings portray the lives and struggles of African Americans, and have found wide audiences due to their abstract, colorful style and universality of subject matter.He create paintings drawn from the African American experience as well as historical and contemporary themes, such as war, religion, and civil rights.

In 1940, he received a grant from the Rosenwald Foundation to create a 60-panel epic, The Migration of the Negro (now known as The Migration Series).

The panels portray the migration of over a million African Americans from the South to industrial cities in the North between 1910 and 1940. 

He was credited with developing a unique aesthetic known as Dynamic Cubism, which would be attributed, not to European influences, but to “hard, bright, brittle” Harlem.

More of Jacob Lawrence‘s artwork can be found around the Internet including MOMA Lawrence and  Artnet Lawrence.

Faerie Paths — Believe

 

Science seeks to explain everything — but maybe we don’t want everything explained. We don’t want all the magic to go out of life. We want to remain connected to the secret parts of our inner beings, to the ancient mysteries, and to the most distant outposts of the universe. We want to believe. And as long as we do, the fairies will remain.

~ Skye Alexander

 

 

A Quiet Evening in the Gallery

A quiet evening. Been wandering through some of my older Sunday Evening Art Galleries. Such talent, such imagination. Let me share some of the highlights with you. Then click on the blue name and take a look yourself at the magical creativity of our fellow artists.

 

Donatello

 

 

Spencer Biles

 

 

Tina Lane

 

 

Ellie Davies

 

 

Frida Kahlo

 

 

Jose Vergara

 

Snowflakes

 

 

George Rodrigue

 

 

Elizabeth Berrien

 

 

Svetlana Bobrova 

Sunday Evening Art Gallery on Friday — Tresor Mukonkole

The goal of Tresor Mukonkole’s artistic vision is to illustrate certain complexities, including his artistic point of view, of the world.Mukonkole comes from the Congo, an unstable country on all fronts,  underground rich in minerals, yet full of numerous conflicts between different political and economic factors.From the soil of the Congo, his homeland, his work as an artist is about the analysis of the presence of man on earth, and his impact on everything, especially the environment and the future of nature.Mukonkole says he produces a narrative from his paintings with butterflies in order to express himself on the beauty and the fragility embodied by nature and the earth.His artistic work aims to illustrate his perspective as an artist on the threats to our environment by presenting a glimmer of positivity to replace the darkness.Despite the complexities of his world and his artistic calling, his butterfly paintings are bright and full of life and hope.

More of Tresor Mukonkole‘s beautiful work can be found at http://mukonkole.com/lipekapeka/.

 

 

Manipulation

It’s that time of year again. That time of year that brings more emotional conflict than which kind of ice cream I want for dinner.

The time of year that makes me an unwilling curmudgeon in a season of love and peace.

It’s the Christmas Season. The season of love, of giving, of a baby being born in Bethlehem. The season of helping those less fortunate than you, the season of old traditions and new beginnings.

The TV shows. The TV commercials. Online postings. Social media. The hints, the innuendos, the facts. My poor old heart is having a harder and harder time sifting through the sentimental stuff. 

Perhaps it’s just my age showing. But I am inclined to think it is more the advertising industry taking advantage of my sentimental, over-emotional heart. 

And I don’t like it.

I’ve already seen TV commercials about kids making video books for grandpa about his life with their (obviously deceased) grandma. I’ve seen poor, starving dogs united with fosters and adoptees who will give them a better life. I’ve seen lonely people make friends and the solo star of Bethlehem sparkle above a cold Earth, all to the tune of slow, sad music.

I’m sure you know I’m the last person in the world to be anti-Christmas. Last to be anti-emotional. I love my kids and grandkids and my friends and family to the moon and back. There’s nothing I wouldn’t do to make their lives better.

But I’m also tired of getting teary-eyed and having my emotions flicked every time I turn around.

In my own defense, I am a sentimental crybaby. I admit that. Always have been. Get all teared up listing to others share their crying jags on this movie or that movie. Crying when the dog dies, the mother dies, when the tree dies.

Advertisers know how to manipulate our emotional strings with visions of old people and young people and just the right music and sentiment, throwing in the product as almost a side-step maneuver.

And I resent being manipulated.

I know there is a percentage of the population that is cold hearted about Christmas and any other thing having to do with humanity. That’s their problem. We don’t need people like that in our lives anyway.

There are far more people who help others EVERY day — not just during jingle bell season. We don’t need to be told to do so at any particular time of year. We help all the time in all sorts of situations. 

A little encouragement to love each other never hurts, of course. But to sentimentalize every thought and passing we have is a little cruel to those of us who tear up at thoughts of our lost family members or days gone by or the days of Christmas past. 

I guess the best solution is to cut out TV and social media for the next 22 days. Which isn’t such a bad idea at all. In fact, I should shun the entertainment world for the next 22 months. I should also skip any puppy/baby/grandparents scenario with a Christmas tree in the background on Facebook.

But awww…. those cute little faces…… sniff……

Sunday Evening Art Gallery — Peter Jansen

Peter Jansen (1956) studied Physics and Philosophy at the university.For a number of years he worked as a guide, accompanying groups on survival and canoe trips, after which he dedicated his live entirely to the arts.Based on his ideas on transposition and movement the artist uses shapes of the human body to create energetic spaces.In his earlier works he focused on open spaces, created almost free of matter and weight.In his recent sculptures he captures sequences of human movements in space and time, in a single frame.

More of Peter Jansen‘s amazing sculptures can be found across the Internet.

 

Give the Gift of Creativity

It’s getting to be that time of year…. wanting to show those you care about how much you are about them. Have no idea of what to give a good friend or favorite sister-in-law for Christmas?

Just in time for the Holiday Season, I’d like to share just a couple of the many unique products I’ve found on some of the blog sites I follow. Please visit these sites. Read about the artists, check out their amazing work, and see if there is a perfect gift waiting for you or those you love.

 

The Alchemist’s Studio – Jay Jasper                         

www.rakupottery.ca

Jay Jasper’s unique studio creates raku pottery vases, home décor, statues, jewelry, and more. I love the colors, shapes, quality, and uniqueness of every piece. His studio offers the book “A Potter’s Dream: Myths & Legends” that pairs his pottery creations with myths and legends from around the world, retold with his own quirky spin. It makes for a great coffee table book, bedtime reading, bathroom book or gift for the art lover.

 

        Brushpark-Watercolors — Carsten Wieland

https://brushparkwatercolors.wordpress.com/

I have featured Carsten both on my Humoring the Goddess blog and my Sunday Evening Art Gallery blog.  He has just published a limited edition book “Ireland in Sketches & Watercolors – Limited Edition” based on his first visit to scenic Ireland. Perfect for lovers of the Emerald Isle. A watercolor painter from Essen, Germany, his watercolors are bright and expressive of the world around him.

 

Roth Poetry

https://rothpoetry.wordpress.com/

Dwight Roth taught elementary school in Eastern North Carolina before retiring after 29 years. His poetry reflects the passions of his life. He has self-published several books that just might fit your Christmas list. He has written a book of poems called Ebb and Flow, available in hard copy from his website, and a children’s book on Alzheimer’s called Grandpa Has Holes in His Head. Ebb and Flow is only available in hard copy from the author; the Grandpa book is available on Amazon.

 

Darlene Foster’s Blog

https://darlenefoster.wordpress.com/

I have followed Darlene Foster for a while now, and her books are a delight, especially for young adults. She has six published books in a series about a spunky young girl, Amanda, who loves to travel. Amanda’s adventures have taken her to Spain, England, Holland, Alberta, the Danube, and New Mexico. Her adventures are perfect for the young adult in your life.

 

Craig L. Haupt

https://craiglhaupt.com/

Craig has been one of my favorite artists for quite some time. I have highlighted his work both on the Goddess and Sunday Evening Art blog. His art is whimsical, bright, and expressive. His book, “The Journey to Ukazo,” contains 37 stories and images, each story having its own unique whimsical flavor set to the image and location visited. It is the perfect gift for the whimsical people in your life.

 

Katzenworld

https://katzenworld.co.uk/

Katzenworld is a group of artists and writers who have gotten together to write about everything cats. Their team is all about sharing the latest cat news which includes visiting popular pet events, cat cafes and more. On top of their fun website and blog, they offer the latest and greatest in cat product accessories, foods and toys. If you’re a cat lover you’ve gotta check their products out.

 

Not Quite Old – Nancy Rowan

https://notquiteold.com/

I have followed Nancy’s blog for almost as long as I’ve been writing my own. Her every day common sense and humor makes her blog come alive. She has written two novels that are perfect for your reading friends, both available on Amazon: Lucinda’s Solution, a love story about the changing role of women post World War I, and Just What I Always Wanted, a story about a middle-aged woman, a failing boutique, a new man, and a tough, defiant, pregnant casualty of the foster care system.

Leaf and Twig — Catherine Arcolio

https://leafandtwig.wordpress.com/

Leaf and Twig is one of my favorite blogs. Her photography is amazing. Matched with her poetry, her blog is one of the most refreshing highlights of my day. Her unique images are for sale at her gallery, https://catherine-arcolio.pixels.com/.  You must stop by her blog and her art gallery and see for yourself if one of her prints would make the perfect Christmas gift.

 

Gwenniesgardenworld — Rita Fae

https://gwenniesgardenworld.wordpress.com/

https://tinyurl.com/vlfn5sr

Rita Fae, aka Gwenniesgardenworld, is my favorite photographer, period. I have been a fan of her and her nature photography from day one, and have featured her work in both my Goddess and Sunday Evening Art Gallery blog. Her individual pictures are available on Shutterstock (https://tinyurl.com/vlfn5sr), and would be the perfect gift to frame and give to your nature-loving family and friends.

 

Give the gift of art this holiday system. Show those around you that you really are a part of the creative world. Check out an art gallery, a craft fair. Make your best friend and favorite sister-in-law smile this year!

Leftover Stuffing and Gravy

Yesterday was a day of thanks.

Hopefully all of us were thankful for whatever we have, wherever we were, whatever we were doing. Lots of Happy Thanksgiving turkeys on my FB feed.

Many of us are off work the following day too. The madness of Black Friday, the sleepiness of day-after turkey and fixings, the peace and quiet after spending two days with  three wild and adorable grand kids.

So now what?

Do you feel any more thankful today than yesterday?

Find any more blessings under your pillow or at your doorway?

Hopefully the thank yous never stop.  For Thanksgiving is just another day in the cosmic wheel spinaroonie of life.

I am all for holidays. It’s the time of year to take a break from the every day grind and wasted hours and unfulfilled promises we all go through. Advertising assures us that we all have something to be thankful for, including three football games in one day and leftover turkey for the next week.

But I also believe that every morning you open your eyes, every morning you can snuggle in your covers for an extra five minutes is cause for thanksgiving. 

There always has been, always will be, someone who has it worse, and someone who has it better than you. It’s just how life is. The key to happiness is to not judge yourself by everyone else’s standards.

Of course, everyone has been saying that since Og found out his neighbor’s cave was bigger than his and included a hot spring in the back.

It’s easy to  say thank you when someone gives you a big gift for Christmas or takes you out to dinner at a really nice restaurant. But it’s just as easy to say thank you when a friend throws in a frozen pizza for dinner or offers to give you a ride to work because your car is in the shop.  

Giving thanks is not just a one-day affair. Giving thanks is a year-long project. 

Give thanks for the sun in the morning and moon at night. Give thanks you have the ability to read, draw, to form your hands around a potter’s wheel. That every day you get another chance to encourage someone else’s dream while you work on your own.

You can do it. Day after day. For in helping someone else, you help yourself.

And, if you are lucky, you can help yourself to yesterday’s stuffing and gravy as well!

Research is what I’m doing …

… when I don’t know what I’m doing.          ~Wernher von Braun

My blog series, Let’s Write That Book, is finished. Hope you enjoyed the basics — hope you learned a little something, too.

Do you ever find that when you anticipate doing something, it turns into a runaway train? 

Runaway train is sometimes my maiden name.

I have had this idea for a new novel for a few months now. It’s going to take a lot of research; more than I’ve done in the past. Every time I look at the plot it seems doable, yet there is a lot of research to do to make it flow the way it’s supposed to.

Is this what they mean by biting off more than you can chew?

Is this what they mean by putting the cart before the horse?

Is this what they mean by you don’t know your idioms?

Seriously. I feel like I’m standing at the bottom of the hill looking up. Like once upon a time I had a great idea and now that I’ve got to get organized and do the work the idea doesn’t seem so great.

Is it the upcoming holidays that’s putting a damper on my enthusiasm?

Is it the fact that I’m suddenly retired and forgot how to concentrate?

Or is it the fact that my original blow out blast off idea is a bomb?

No matter how great your writing ideas are, there will always be some impediment to moving forward. I don’t have enough time. I didn’t take enough notes. I took too many notes and now I’m confused.

Preparation can be enjoyable — until it’s not. But you have to do it.

Preparation for any event is stressful. But if you want to do it — want to do it right — you have to do your research.

I suppose writing is no different than other creative endeavors. You want to do it right, you have to find the right materials, the right atmosphere. You can’t settle for second best — you want what you want, you know what you need to take your project to the next level. And you know in your heart if you settle for less you will never be happy.

I want to write about visiting Paris, yet I have never been to Paris. I want to write about famous figures from Paris but I don’t know a whole lot about these people. I want to write about doing something I’ve never done knowing I’ll never do it.

All of these challenges can really make that hill you are looking up look more like a mountain.

The best way to tackle this rocky road is to take one step at a time. To have a good time with every step you take, even if it takes you longer than you anticipated. The painting, the writing, the collage will start when it’s time. You cannot rush destiny.

I know that sounds like Zen 101, but doing it quickly is a lot different from doing it right. Shortcuts are okay when driving or using your keyboard, but not when it comes to flushing out a character or describing where someone lives. 

The proof will be in the pudding.

The end is in the means.

And I stuck when it comes to writing idioms.

 

Let’s Write That Book! — Epilogue

Your novel is finished. You have cleaned it up, corrected your mistakes, and made sure it flows from beginning to end. You love this book. You love this story. It’s the best thing you’ve ever written.

What are you going to do with it?

Decide what you want to do with what you’ve written. Do you want to share it with the world? Keep it just for yourself? Share it with friends and family? Enter it in a contest?

If publication is your ultimate goal, have someone else read your story first for consistency and grammar. It can be anyone, but try and share with someone with grammatical knowledge or who has done a fair amount of reading. An outside reader will be a good gauge if others will read it. Listen to their feedback and adjust accordingly. Don’t let a bruised ego get in the way of putting out the best book possible.

I can’t really guide you on finding a publisher, but there are plenty of articles, books, and websites that will help you find one who will fit you perfectly.  Do the research yourself. Don’t pay exorbitant fees for someone to represent you. Decent publishers and agents don’t make money off of you. They make it off your sales.

You can also use an online service like Amazon to put together an e-book. E-books are one of the fastest growing reading markets today. You can’t charge as much as you would a hard cover book, but you can get your book out there to the mass reading market quickly and easily.

Maybe you’ve already tried a bit of the publisher route, yet still have it sitting in your computer. Don’t let your baby lie alone and forgotten. Print it out and give it to your family and friends. Show them what you’ve been working on. What consumes you. What motivates you. Others show you the fish they’ve caught or the quilt they’ve made or the sweater they’ve knitted. Your book is just as important as their accomplishments.

Talk about your book. You will be surprised how many of your co-workers, exercise buddies, and football fantasy team members write. Share your frustrations, ask them questions. What worked, what doesn’t work. If you get stuck, ask someone for help. You’re not an expert on everything. Acknowledge that fact and ask someone who does know.

Reflect on your writing journey. Did you enjoy it? Was the editing a pain in the whatever? Did you learn something? Are you ready for more?

Keep a notebook, journal, or pad of paper by your side at all times. You never know when you will get an idea for a story. Ideas for twists and turns can hit you at any time. I wanted one of my characters to spend time with someone famous for just a couple of hours. But it couldn’t just be anybody. But I kept coming up blank. Until one evening the name came to me. While I was driving. I wound up pulling over to the side of the road and sending myself an email with the name so I wouldn’t forget.

Inspiration is fun. It’s wild, adventurous, and unpredictable. You can write anything about anybody  (no real names and tweak your character; liability issues, you know), any place, any time period.

Remember why you write. Don’t give up just because your first book didn’t get picked up by a publisher or your first article didn’t get published in a magazine. As the song says, “We’ve only just begun.”

Writing is a job just like sales or marketing or accounting. You have to put time into it, and have to be willing to change and improve with every story. Make it a part of your everyday life. Join a writer’s group. Go to writing conferences. Read. Research. Keep honing those writing skills. They are so much a part of who you are.

Writing is a wonderful combination of everything you have always been and everything you are yet to be. Enjoy the addiction. Enjoy the ride.

Or should I say Enjoy the Write ….

 

 

 

Let’s Write That Book! — ReEdit and Feedback

You thought you could get away with one blog on editing. That once you heard my speech you could move on. But here we are.

Never send your piece off to a publication after your first edit. Nothing is ever perfect, even if it seems to be. Let it rest. Come back later. Hours, days. Even a week or two if that’s what your schedule dictates. Make sure what you write is reflecting your best effort.

Maybe you did a second edit. Changed a paragraph or two. For some of you, there won’t be a need past the third one. But for others, it’s not until your third or fifth read that you finally notice awkward dialogue, actions that are not in line with your character, turns in the story that you really didn’t mean to take but you took anyway.

This is where the real editing starts.

Now, we are talking about full length stories. Novels. Not a short story, although you can take missteps with those as well. It’s much easier to miss something that has 200+ single-spaced pages than a 1,500 word contest entry.   

What do you check for this time around?

More grammatical errors. That’s a given. There’s usually one too many semi-colons somewhere.

Tense. Did I move from first person to second person? Did I say, “She couldn’t stand the suspense anymore!” then “Your friend showed up at three.”

Is the story moving forward? You may have thought it was moving forward when you first started, but sometimes you wind up talking about your character’s friendships from childhood and the time he went to the store and stole a candy bar and today there was a candy bar on his co-worker’s desk that looked just like the one he stole. Great prose, great insight, but it has nothing to do with his daughter bringing her fiancé to dinner.

Did you explain motivations, reasonings clear enough? Not everything has to be explained. Sometimes it’s better if the reader is left wondering. But eventually give the reader a hint, a nudge, or a full-blown explanation so they can decide for themselves the reason your story goes the way it does.

Does the dialogue flow between speakers? Are your characters reacting to the other’s conversation? Do they always have to respond in words? Can a gesture, a thought, a groan, be enough of a response? Mix it up. Are your characters listening to each other? Nothing is worse than two people talking about two totally different things.

Make sure every sentence moves the story along. You can linger with a sentence or two when your characters are musing this or that, wondering, looking back, planning for the future. You can even spend a whole chapter looking back or wondering. But don’t let your character babble endlessly about … nothing.

Am I consistent with information? I have written September in Chapter 2 and October in Chapter 11. I have changed the name of my character’s best friend. I have silver riding saucers in one part and made them blue later on. See what I mean? It’s so easy to make a little slip here and there. You think no one will notice. But they will.

Flash back only if it will mean something in the future. Fantasize about the future only if it affects the character. I’m not telling you to skip the backgrounds and side movements – we all love to see how the characters develop through the years. But we don’t want to read about side trips that, in the end, have nothing to do with the main story.

Is the storyline believable? This still holds true in your final readthrough. It doesn’t matter if you’re talking about blue trees or Victorian morals that are out of place in today’s society or today’s high school student. It doesn’t matter what you write, except you have to make it believable. If someone levitates let them levitate. If you are confident of the storyline, the levitation will seem a real possibility. Don’t go faster than the speed of light during the Renaissance; keep it in the future where all things are possible. Ride horses to and from town; don’t let a car pass you unless it’s 1916 or later. It makes no difference if your book is historical, science fiction, romance, or mystery. People want to read stories that are consistent with the times.

People’s names. Last check. Making up names is just fine; try to make sure they are easy to read and/or pronounce. Especially for your first book. Having your main character named Denaytrison is impossible to both read and pronounce, which will definitely mess with the flow. When talking to each other, it’s alright to say the other’s name in conversation. But once maybe. Not every other sentence. Write as you speak.

Do I need all these chapters? When you first start writing you add everything you can think of. Your first edit you drop paragraphs and chapters that really don’t move the story forward. Make a final check to see if all your chapters are needed. It will be important towards your final word count.

Maybe you won’t make as many slips as I have. But no matter if you are new to the game or a seasoned pro, you need clean copy.

Let’s Write That Book! — Editing

Every book, every story, every poem, needs to be edited. Edited, proofread, reread, and edited again. There’s no way around it. When you are writing from the heart, the story pumping through your veins comes out faster than you can type, and you’re bound to make mistakes. You should make mistakes. Everything can be corrected at a later date. Getting the story out is the most important part.

Editing is the most tedious part. The most stressful part.

And every book needs a hard edit.

Spelling. Did you spell everything right? Spellcheck does a great job of finding “theer” instead of “their.” But it could care less if you used “their,” “there,” or “they’re.” Pay attention to your sentences.  Double check people’s names, cities, restaurants. It’s so easy to type a street name in Chapter 2 and be typing so fast that you spell it differently in Chapter 8.

Sentence Structure. Are they full sentences? Some writers try to do the fragment treatment to their sentences. I tried that style in some of my writings. But you have to be sure of what you’re doing. If in doubt, always write in full sentences. Every sentence.

Punctuation. You’ve read my blog rants. Too many semi-colons, hyphens, and ellipses. Too many commas in one sentence.  I make myself crazy. Use the “find” button on your computer and type in  ;  or “as if” or a name and see how many times you’ve actually used the same word/symbol. You’ll be amazed.

Writing/speaking habits. Remember that words in books are different than words in conversation. In writing we tend to slip and start (or end) a paragraph with the same phrases. As if, if only, and then, she said, it seemed, it seemed as if. There are undoubtedly more. Those were my mistakes.  Pay attention to how you start and end your sentences.

Run on sentences. If your sentence has a half dozen commas and lots of ands and ifs, it’s too long. Readers need to read as they speak. They need to take a breath. So do you.

Paragraphs. This can be a tricky one. I just finished reading Lost Horizons by James Hilton. Most of his paragraphs are very long. They are usually descriptions of the same thought or location. Nothing wrong with that. But readers these days get mentally tired if they don’t hit a break in reading sooner than later. You can describe a place in three paragraphs as just as well as keeping everything in one.

Same is true for dialogue. Unless someone is giving a speech, break up their oration with paragraphs. Try and make your breaks every time you change thoughts or make a new point. You do know how to make new paragraphs in dialogue, don’t you? (no quote marks at end of paragraph; quotes at the beginning of the next.)

To Chapter or Not to Chapter.  I find this more of a personal preference based on how you write. Many people read in spurts; at lunch time, before bed, or on the subway to work. Readers enjoy chapters that can be finished in three to thirteen minutes. Some books  have dozens of short chapters, some have a few huge chapters (usually referred to as sections), and some have no chapters at all.

No-chapter books usually just flow from beginning to end. There are ups and downs, highs and lows, but the scenes blend into each other. Chapters are usually written as different segments of the same story; one “relates” to the next, but they are single stories unto themselves. One chapter is boy meets girl. Next chapter is girl at home thinking about boy. Next chapter is boy getting in trouble with parents. Next chapter are memories of a bad relationship cropping up. Next chapter is the boy and girl meeting and having coffee. You know what I mean. The most important thing is that the reader crave reading the next chapter, and if they don’t/can’t, they can pick up the story later.

Non-fiction needs chapters. Each point you want to make, each stage of instruction, needs its own chapter. Even biographies need a break between “happenings” so that the reader can see the progression.

Spelling. I know I sound like a broken record. But how many times are you reading an article or book or newspaper clipping and right there in the middle of everything is a SPELLING ERROR? It makes you shiver. So make sure your streets and towns and people and exotic foods are spelled correctly. It sounds so mundane, but finding a spelling error in the middle of the book sounds more like a scream than a whisper. Trust me.

Once you do your first edit, let your book sit.

I know that’s hard. Very hard. You want to reread Chapter 5 and Chapter 23, tweak and delete and add and ebb and flow. But you will be surprised what you will find if you let it sit a day or two. Week or two. I know I was.

Grammar and punctuation can make or break a great story. Make sure you have caught your faux pas. You also will be able to catch sections that don’t quite fit, find characters that didn’t quite act the way you wanted them to, even be able to drop in an additional chapter to connect A to B better.

Remember. You want this presentation to be the best of you. Editors, publishers, proofreaders don’t want to read a piece that really needs work. You know it, they know it, and they won’t give you the time of day if you don’t polish your story with as much enthusiasm as you put into writing it.

 

 

Let’s Write That Book! — Writing

Finally the time has come! Hallelujah and do the Snoopy Dance! You’ve done your research, got your computer or notebook ready, put some writing music on in the background, and you are ready to go for it!

Here is my list of to-do’s and an explanation of each.

Where do you start?  Okay, for most writers, you start at the beginning. Set the stage. Set the mood. Share where your character is, what they are doing. Start walking down that path that leads to that big turning point in Chapter 14.

But sometimes a writer’s ideas come in a different order. I once wrote a book where I wrote the last chapter first. I knew exactly how I wanted the story to end; I knew the ending before I even knew how they would get there. So I wrote the final chapter first. Another time an idea struck me about a particular love scene I hadn’t gotten to yet. I had a moment’s inspiration, so I wrote that part before my character even gotten into that situation.

It’s okay to write out of order. But for most of us, we start at the beginning. Introduce the cast of characters. You don’t have to introduce the main character(s) in the first chapter. Just make the people you DO introduce are interesting in one way or another.

Prologue? Epilogue?  There are a lot of “how-to” books that tell you not to have a prologue or epilogue. That they distract from the main story. My how-to says that, if you feel a prologue sets a general feel or a premonition to the story, as long as it’s not too confusing or too exact, go for it. An epilogue sometimes works if you want to show how things turned out after the end of the main story. I have a prologue and an epilogue only in my first book; I have a prologue in the third book, which is nothing more than a paragraph from the second book.

But remember — sometimes people don’t necessarily want to know what happens once the “story” is finished. The story you told is finished. Leave their future to the fates. Or another book.

Do not filter your thoughts. I can’t emphasize this enough. If you feel you need to explain settings, surroundings, set up, go ahead and write. You will find yourself cutting sentences and paragraphs and even chapters later. When the magic hits, go for it. Whether it’s the romantic part, the murder part, or the flashback part, just get into what you’re writing. Don’t worry what comes out. You’ll fix it later.

Set a writing schedule for yourself. I know sometimes that’s easier said than done, but if you bring your determination to write into this dimension you will find time. Stephen King locked himself up in a room for eight hours a day. Other writers wrote when they got home from work or when their babies took a nap. It doesn’t matter when you write, only THAT you write.

Often setting a routine is a good way to get into writing on a daily basis. Set up your writing area with things that bring you inspiration. Coffee, glass of wine, notebooks, other books, reference books, music, snacks – it doesn’t matter what you bring to the table. You’ll forget half of the stuff around you once you get going anyway.

Tell others that’s what you’re doing, and do it. Don’t let others’ opinions sway you one way or the other.

Try not to edit as you go. We all do it, but it slows you down mid-thought. If you must reread your work for coherency, write a few chapters at a time. Know that you will reread, edit, and reread your story a thousand times after you finish writing it. Trust yourself and go with the flow.

Don’t use words that are too big for your character. Ever come across a big word in something you’re reading and find you really have no idea what it means? We often write more spectacularly than we speak, but make sure your characters are speaking within their upbringing and influences. If you want your characters to have an accent, if they come from a different time period, read books from that area, catch movies, and research their forms of speech. Don’t use words that are too big for your audience. The reader will eventually get tired of trying to figure them out. Don’t fake your knowledge. Oh – and a P.S. on this point – make sure you know what the word means.

Dialogue. This is one of the hardest parts of any novel to write. Do your characters speak like normal people? Do they think more than speak? Keep their tone the same speaking and thinking. If one character jabbers, make sure they always jabber. If speaking in half sentences is their style, make sure all their sentences sound the same. Think of how you speak with your family and friends. Your boss. The man from the IRS. You have a different tone with different people. Keep that thought in mind as your characters interact.

Also remember your time period. They spoke differently in Colonial times or Roman times than they do in the 2000’s. Don’t use today’s slang to express yesterday’s emotions. There is nothing worse than reading about days gone by and suddenly a character shouts “groovy!”

Make sure your ending makes sense. Have it conclude the journey your characters have been on. It doesn’t need to be a happy ending, but it should be a satisfactory ending. Tie up all loose ends (that is why you write an outline so you don’t have someone dangling out and left to dry). No open endings unless you are positive you are writing a second book. And even then have some sort of conclusion to the adventure they were just on. Let your reader catch their breath. Put yourself in the reader’s seat — no one wants to be left hanging.

Have every book you write be able to stand on its own.

 

NEXT: Editing

Let’s Write That Book! — PreWriting Considerations Part II

More basics. Come on – you can do it!

Synopsis

Many people feel a synopsis is a waste of time. They just want to be let loose to write. I understand that. I really do. But there’s really so much you need to do first if you want a well-written, coherent book.

One thing I believe in is writing a synopsis. You need to keep your story on track. As I mentioned before, it’s one thing for you to be writing and for your thoughts to take you in a different direction later on. But you have to have your direction set out before you start writing. Nothing is worse than forgetting by Chapter 17 what happened in Chapter 6.

And, believe me, you will forget.

You will forget names, dates, even days of the week. You will get so wrapped up in writing the story that you will forget that she met her friend by the apple tree, not on a busy corner in town.

Character Background

Start with your main character(s). Male? Female? Is it one person’s story or a two-sided relationship? Write a short bio on your main characters. From fighting on the playground to taking drugs or moving to California. These main points in their life will most likely never see the light of day in your story, but they will give you an idea of why your characters are who they are. This is especially important if it is one character’s story.

A good plot always has an antagonist. Usually it’s a person with their own evil agenda. It also could be a corporation, association or a group of people. If it is a group of some sort, give them their own personality. Somebody has to pay for the bad deeds. Make it them.

Supporting characters. It’s good to have some, not to fill your story with them. Give them a purpose to be there. There’s no problem peppering your story with people who come and go to move the story forward. You don’t necessarily have to have backgrounds on all these people, but have a general idea if they’re married, widowed, rich, poor, or mentally unstable, for their presence can enrich a story. Have each additional person add to the story in some way – a servant who is afraid, a cousin who knows it all, a taxi driver that gives advice.

As you write your story, your character’s direction might change. This is what many writers refer to as the character taking the story in their own direction. If this happens, go with it. Stay as true to your storyline as you can, but if an idea hits you from left field, listen to it. See if it fits into your story. If it moves your story forward, great. If it takes the story into a completely different direction, make sure that direction makes sense. No one turns left without a reason. Especially if their destination is straight ahead.

Research

Your story can take place at any time, in any place. Don’t let convention keep you tied to modern times.

For my first book that took place in 1880, I had a folder on my computer with different topics: fashion, food, Victorian homes, Victorian life, 1800 inventions, backroad directions, jobs, vernacular. It was important when I was writing what the house looked like or what jobs the neighbors had.

The book I’m writing now is going to take a lot of research, for I am unfamiliar with the geography. I also want to add some info on famous people, so I need to research them as well. I need to check out local food, customs, and climate. So I have quite a lot to do before I start writing.

It’s important to set the stage for your play. How people looked, how they were brought up, the morals of the day, the jobs they held and what they did for entertainment. Make your references as accurate as possible. That way the reader will really get lost in the story’s atmosphere. It’s going to take some time, but it is so worth it for the voice of the story.

The same is true for non-fiction. Get as much of your information collected before you start writing. Year-to-year information. Give your subject an atmosphere every chapter. Collect it all. Write it all down. You may not need all of it, but it will help you get a feel for the bigger picture.

If you are writing is a self-help book, write down all the steps before you start embellishing them in creative copy. Think of this type of book as a tarot card spread — past, present, future. What the market/the person was, where they are today, and how they can get where they want to go in the future.

One other piece of advice before you start writing.

Don’t be afraid of your characters.

You are always your character, yet you are not. Your characters can be a murderer, a whore, an abused victim, be mentally deranged, or a super hero. They can be aliens, starship captains, or Egyptian slaves. Don’t think that just because your main character stabbed an innocent person that you will go out and stab some innocent person. Don’t be afraid to take liberties with these make-believe people. For they are only make believe. 

The challenge for a writer is to make the character’s personality believable.

 

Next:  Writing

 

Let’s Write That Book! — PreWriting Considerations Part I

Alrightie, writers. Let’s take a look at some outside basics.

Length of your book.

Now, I’m not an editor. Publisher. E-Book guru. But this is Basic Writing 101. Things you should know up front. This information is important as you get lost in the world of writing.

According to a combination of several websites, here are some average book lengths:

  • Children’s picture book: 5 – 1,000 words.
  • Children’s chapter book: 4,000 –10,000 words.
  • Middle grade: 30,000 – 50,000 words.
  • Young Adult (YA): 40,000 – 70,000 words.
  • Flash fiction: 500 words or less. Depending on contest/publication, can be as few as 100 words or as many as 1,000 words.
  • Micro-Fiction: 100 words or less.
  • Short Story: 1,000 – 10,000 words.
  • Novella: 10,000 – 40,000 words.
  • Novel: 50,000 -110,000 words.
  • Epics and Sequels: 110,000 words or more.
  • Adult literary and commercial fiction: 80,000 – 100,000 words.
  • Memoirs, Biography, and Autobiography: 80,000 words.

Then there are average genre lengths:

  • Sci-fi/Fantasy: 90,000 – 120,000 words. Anything over 150,000 words might be testing for your readers.
  • Historical: 90,000 – 120,000 words.
  • Romance: 50,000 – 100,000 words. The wide range for this genre is because of the number of sub-genres available: supernatural, erotica, historical, ‘chick-lit’, etc.
  • Crime/Mystery/Thriller/Horror: 70,000 – 90,000 words.

These “averages” are based on a page with 1-inch margins, 12 point Times New Roman font, and minimal spacing elements. A good rule of thumb is 500 words for a single spaced page and 250 words for a double spaced page.

The “cosmic” way of thinking is that your book will be as long as it needs to be. Period. While that is true, it’s always smart to keep some general guidelines in the back of your mind.

Now, the guidelines about are just that. Guidelines. Estimates. These are usually based on how long a reader is willing to spend on reading. On their attention span. A children’s book that goes on close to 10,000 words would put most children to sleep. A murder mystery will make a reader shake their head if it comes in under 40,000 words. Stephen King’s Carrie is about 42,385 words. His book It comes in at about 444,414 words. Length can make or break a book. It’s hard to keep a reader’s interesting with anything past 100,000 words (unless you ARE King).

Then there is the book’s time frame.

Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf take place in one day. The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman by Ernest J. Gaines takes place over 110 years. Both books are more or less 200 pages long.

Just remember the original purpose of your story. Tell what you want to tell, no more, no less. Don’t worry about what happens before the first chapter, nor after “the end.”

Decide your point of view.

There are four primary POV types in fiction:

First person point of view. First person is when “I” am telling the story. The character is in the story, relating his or her experiences directly.

Second person point of view. The story is told to “you.” It includes pronouns you, your, and yours to address readers or listeners directly. This POV is not common in fiction, but it’s still good to know (it is more common in nonfiction).

Third person point of view. The story is about “he” or “she.” This is the most common point of view in commercial fiction. The narrator is outside of the story and relating the experiences of a specific character.

*One note on third person point of view: If you are writing from one person’s point of view, your character cannot know what the other characters are actually thinking. There are ways to bring other character’s motivations and thoughts into the main character’s story. Your character can guess, surmise, suppose, infer, but can never say “she thought” or “he thought.” You can indicate other’s intentions by gestures or direct quotation, but you cannot write what you do not know directly.

Third person point of view, omniscient. The story is still about “he” or “she,” but the narrator has full access to the thoughts and experiences of all characters in the story.

*Note on third person omniscient: Be sure if you go down this path that you show the thoughts and conversations of all your characters, not just the main one. This version gives you the freedom to say, “She thought he was a cad. He thought she was domineering.” But be sure to continue their thought threads through the whole book so we follow their reasonings from beginning to end.

For non-fiction, The Pen and the Pad says: A non-fiction story can also be told from the points of view present in literary fiction. A memoir or autobiography, for example, is a first-person account of personal events, while a standard biography is written by a third-person narrator who has investigated or interviewed subjects before writing from a more distanced perspective. Non-fiction may be written in second-person, using “you” as the subject, especially if it is in the form of a how-to guide or instructional manual.

There are other points of view floating around, but a beginner writer usually u is concerned only with the first or third person.  

The point is: Pick a point of view and stick with it. One of the biggest mistakes a writer can make is saying “he went/she went” then five chapters later saying, “I went.”

Basic Premise

If you are writing a fiction piece, you need a beginning, a middle, and an end. An introduction, turning point, and conclusion. Your character(s) needs to change the world – or at least themselves. The main character(s) needs to learn something so that the reader learns something.

We laugh when we hear about “the moral of the story,” yet that’s what readers want. They want gold at the end of the rainbow. Payback for evil deeds. A hard heart that has softened. A soft heart that has learned to toughen up. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a happy ending, but it should be a satisfying one. One that makes sense.

Non-fiction books such as biographies, family histories, self-help, and therapy books should stay in chronological order. The story should ebb and flow with beginnings and endings as the character(s) life evolves. You should put heart into those stories, too. Make us feel what the person was feeling. Avoid flashbacks, at least with your first book. Writing it step-by-step is hard enough.

This is where a handy dandy notebook comes it. I have one for every book I’ve written. Be sure to write down the order of events. The ups, the downs, the turning points in their lives. It’s so easy to forget this point or that point. And nothing is more distracting that crisscross information.

 

Next: Pre-Writing Considerations Part II

Let’s Write That Book! — Prologue

If you are lucky enough to say to yourself, “I’ve always wanted to write a book,” then this is the blog series for you.

The website Worldometers says there are 2,336,295 books published so far this year worldwide (as of November 16), and their meter is ticking upwards as we speak/read. And the site Bowker stated  that more than one million books were self-published in 2017.

That’s a lot of books.

Don’t let the numbers discourage you, though. There is plenty of room out in the universe for your book. Trust me.

Not everyone writes books to get published and make money, although that’s the most popular scenario. Some people write to preserve the past, to tell a story, to make a point, or to share advice. Some want to put their series of short stories into an anthology, and others want to write a how-to book to help others.

No matter what your reason is, there should be only one reason to write your book. You write a book because you enjoy writing.

I love writing. I love bringing ideas to life. That is why I blog. I truly believe that we all have stories to tell. Lessons to learn. Adventures to share. And if we feel the urge to write, that we should do so.

I am a writer, proofreader, and occasionally an editor, but like many writers, I have been writing for years. Diaries. Journals. Contest entries. Blogs. There is not a day or month or year that goes by that I don’t think about some part of writing.

This series of blogs referred to as Let’s Write That Book! are reflections of what I’ve learned through years of writing. Things I look for as a proofreader or an editor. What I tell people when they ask me how to start writing. What I’ve read and heard from other writers and things that just make sense.

These blogs will be running longer than my regular blogs. There’s a lot of information out there, and I’ll try to jam it all in under 1,000 words every day. But you know me – I’m quite windy at times. But this is the place for all that wind.

Your first decision is to come up with a story line.

I’ve been asked where I get my ideas. My friends, ideas are everywhere.

One story line of mine came from my role playing days years ago. One idea came from going to writer conferences. One story was a thinly disguised revenge homage to a sales manager who drove me crazy. One story was based on wondering how a modern-day woman would survive in a parallel alien world.

That’s just me.

Most likely you already have an idea. Let’s develop it. Work on it. You can make up worlds, streets, and encounters, or it can be based on real people, real events, and real history.

Whatever you have decided to write, you will need to make it sound real. Have it make sense from the beginning to the end. Sounds simple. But you’d be surprised how hard that can be.

Preplanning is the easy part. Working through the mechanics is the tough part. But it is so worth it.

So before we start, I’d like to make something clear.

I am just one of many who has ideas and suggestions on how to get started. There are hundreds of books and websites and blogs out there that will give you pointers on how to start writing your book. All have good information; all are full of practical ideas and ways to open the mind and get something done. Some people charge you for the info, others give it to you for free. It’s all part of the big circle of writing.

I suggest you start the simple way. The Free Way. It doesn’t matter if your final goal is to get published or to Xerox copies and hand them out to friends and family. The basics should be free and available to everyone.

And that’s what I hope to share with you. My ideas and suggestions are nothing you haven’t heard before. No magic pill, no secret instructions. Just have a good story line, good grammar, and a good time writing it.

Writing is good for the soul. So let’s get going.

 

 

Next:  Pre-Writing Considerations Part One.

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday Evening Art Gallery (on Saturday) — Carol Milne

Carol Milne is known worldwide for her unique knitted glass work, for which she won the Silver Award at the 2010 International Exhibition of Glass in Kanazawa, Japan.

Milne received a degree in Landscape Architecture from the University of Guelph, Canada in 1985, but realized in her senior year that she was more interested in sculpture than landscape.  She has been working as a sculptor ever since.  Carol is the lone pioneer in the field of knitted glass.  Determined to combine her passion for knitting with her love for cast glass sculpture, she developed a variation of the lost wax casting process to cast knitted work in glass.“I see my knitted work as metaphor for social structure.  Individual strands are weak and brittle on their own, but deceptively strong when bound together.”“You can crack or break single threads without the whole structure falling apart.  And even when the structure is broken, pieces remain bound together.  The connections are what bring strength and integrity to the whole and what keep it intact.”Her glasswork is wonderfully unique and creative, reflecting a mind and ability that pushes the limits of the material through persistent and relentless experimentation.

More of Carol Milne‘s unique glasswork can be found at https://www.carolmilne.com.

Random Thoughts and Flat Apple Pie

~ The ‘Let’s Write That Book!’ blog series is starting Sunday, November 17th — not 16th — as this editor realized. And I’m the one heading the series …. sheeh….

 

~ Second wonderful day of retirement and I’m feeling sick and worn out. I wonder if that’s a psychological letdown or a medical paradox? I still feel like I’m on vacation and have to report to duty next Monday. That always made me feel sick…

 

~ Don’t teach your dog to bark at squirrels in the bird feeder if you don’t let them bark 24-7. My husband taught (as a joke) and we’ve been joking at 6 a.m. for the past few months. Now that I can sleep in it’s not so funny.

 

~ We dropped our Dish TV subscription and have been living through Amazon Prime and a pretty decent TV antenna. I have to watch my favorite TV shows through my computer hooked up to the TV now, which I don’t mind, but I’m finding I am caring less and less about all those TV shows that I had  to keep up with when I had DISH. I’d rather listen to music or watch Chinese TV series with English subtitles now. Strange turn.

 

~ The further I get from actually going to Paris, the further I am getting from writing book about going. I am hoping this is a temporary pause due to real life circumstances, but all the research and daydreams and twists in the story just make me tired.

 

~ Writing is making me tired.

 

~ I have to learn to cook all over again. With hubby on night shift and me coming home before he leaves, either he’s cooked and left it for me or I was on my own for dinner. Cans of ravioli aside, I haven’t tried to be Julia Child in quite a while.

 

~ Do you go through ebbs and flows like this too? Does time bring you back where you want to be? 

 

~ Think I’ll go make a Flat Apple Pie. Dessert is good for the soul.

 

Movin’ On

Life is always turning, turning, turning.

Yesterday at 7 a.m. I was struggling to get my act together to get to work on time. Snow and cold had put their marks on the Midwest, always making the trip to work a slow go.

Yesterday at 2:30 p.m. I was carrying out one lone box of ‘stuff’ to show for 18 years of employment.

Due to company restructuring, they had decided to let a number of us go. 

I understand the decision; I just never thought I’d be on the receiving end of the down side of it. 

Don’t feel bad for me — I was planning on retiring December 20th anyway. I am near the end of getting my ducks in a row and planning for the busy second part of my life. I feel bad for those who are 15, 20 years younger than me. They most likely are still looking for their ducks.

The world sends conflicting messages all the time. Plan for the future. Live in the now. Worry about retirement at age 30. Don’t retire until you’re 70. The economy is booming. Unemployment rates are low. Yet companies are downsizing. Profits are quirky.

Where does one fit in all this confusion? After all, there are conflicting messages there, too.

Everything passes. Life goes on in waves. Ride the high ones, hold on in the low ones. Don’t take anything for granted. Find a reason to be happy outside your job. Be your job.

I know how lucky I am to be on the up side of the down side of restructuring. It is nothing more than timing. This could have happened ten years ago, too. It just so happened it didn’t.

I wanted to be a writer for my company, and I did a fairly good job of it.

Now it’s time to pursue that career in the next half of my life. But on more of my schedule than the man’s. 

So do I have a solution for yet another chapter of grief and redemption in this world?

No — except to pay attention to where you are, look around you now and then for future endeavors, and still live each day like it was your last. Live in the moment, realizing each moment is merely a drop in the big pool of the future, which quickly turns into the past.

And you can’t change the past.