Brain Silence

AboveTheClouds1Strip_web2016reSave

“The brain never sleeps.” That’s what one neurologist said to me during a break at an event I attended several years ago. I listened, nodding and smiling when appropriate, but, all the while, I was thinking, “This is news?”

It’s too obvious to me that my brain never sleeps. But it does go silent on occasion. I’m having one of those ‘occasions’, right now–brain silence.

It may be because I finally am going to get a verdict on something that’s been hanging over my head since December, something that could completely change my life. It could be that it’s just a ‘time-out’ after months upon months of often frenetically-paced ‘doing’.

It could be that I’m fed up, too–fed up with fellow-citizens, national and global, who seem bent on self-destruction, a self-destruction that was completely foreseeable as a consequence since I was in high school.

I’m not sure why my brain has gone silent, but it’s an interesting experience. I’ve had this happen a few times, mostly just before I’ve had huge perception shifts, not when some life-changing event occurred. During those times in the past, I was more robot than human, I think…just doing by rote the day-to-day ‘have-to’s, not-thinking. And I’m good–very good–at not-thinking. But this feels different. Not ominous. Rather, it feels like what is to follow is inevitable…immutable.

It’s strange.

AboveTheClouds1_web2016reSave


Forrest's Night Out

ForrestsNightOut_CStrip_web

Someone screaming in anguish, their guts being ripped from their body. Someone laughing, the sound maniacal. The audience members munch popcorn and sip their favored beverages, unmoved, almost bored. I leave my seat, climbing the spilled-pop-sticky carpet to the entrance/exit. I don’t want to see those kinds of “Coming Attractions,” thanks.  We’re here for a newly released blockbuster Forrest wants to see on the ‘big screen’, not to see unmitigated gore and celebrated cruelty.

My husband catches up with me out in the lobby. “Are you going out to the car?”

I turn. Smile. “No. I’m going to the bathroom. I’ll be right back. No worries,” I assure him.

His eyes plead.

I smile, again.  “Be right back.”

He nods and, relaxing, turns to head back down the dark entry to Theater #3. He knows why I left. I don’t like graphic violence. I see no need for it, except in the rarest of circumstances, and, even then, it can be done in a way that has astonishing impact without resorting to real-to-life depictions. I know. Because I write it, have written it, have made voice actors audio recording my stories choke up, unable to get a clean take time after time–professional voice artists.

In the bathroom, a little girl is waving her hands underneath the faucet, but she’s too short to get it to come on. I wonder where her mother is. I wonder at the architects and engineers who didn’t think about the needs of children and others of small stature. I wave my hand over her faucet, and it turns on. She smiles, mumbles ‘thanks’, and puts her hands under the running water, then manages the electronic eye on the paper towel dispenser by herself, though it’s a stretch.

I check my make-up–rarely wear it. My clothes–black–lay impeccably. My five-inch heels give me an illusion of elegance and grace, despite my petite frame and calloused hands.  My hair, freshly styled, is suitably mussed and tousled. I look like I just stepped out of a magazine instead of rural North Idaho. On purpose. I’ve dressed up especially for my husband. I want his evening to be the best, because these chances happen so rarely for us with his job.

I wash my hands. Think. Head back out to stand near the dark opening that leads down to where Forrest is saving my seat. The “Coming Attractions” are still playing. Sound says that they’re still cruel, mean, and gory. Oddly, the movie we’ve come all the way to the big city to see isn’t that kind of movie, so why are they showing horror and violence trailers is my wonder.

Some tall, teen girls walk by, heading for Theater #4. They sneer, make some comment I don’t understand in some alien-sounding jargon, then spit in my direction. Their efforts fall short. I don’t ‘see’ them, don’t react. The cop standing near the concession stand starts walking over, and the girls vanish down the dark hole that’s Theater #4. He asks if I’m okay. I assure him, “Yes.”

Finally, I hear the opening theme for the movie we came to see. I head back to my seat, Forrest grasping my hand as I settle in…offering me his popcorn.

It’s a rare treat–a night out in the big city a hundred-plus miles from home. The special effects alone will make worthwhile suffering the soles of my shoes sticking to the carpet, the crude “Coming Attractions”, the teens with their hatred. But that’s not why I’m here. I’m here to be with my best friend and soulmate. It’s Forrest’s night out.

ForrestsNightOut_Cweb


Surprise! The One-Liner Five.

ToInheritAMurderer_AmazonCrunchI blinked. Double blinked. Sipped coffee. Blinked again.  Decided to check….  Really?!  REALLY?!

“Yep,” said Amazon.com.

Blinked.

My sleeper…well, one of my sleepers, but I don’t much count the SF…actually garnered interest … and a five-star, one-liner review that says a LOT, coming from a pleased reader. YESTERDAY.

I’m still blinking.  And I haven’t even released this lengthy ‘thing’ I’m doing on the novel–a thing that takes a lot of work and a lot of painstaking attention to ‘where was my intent’.

To Inherit a Murderer, (Book 1: The Ward) actually garnered a five-star review. And it’s been selling copies.  Wow!  Totally WOW.

Makes me happy.  Because the book’s been sleeping for a good long time with only the most occasional of reader. The last review before yesterday’s was in the summer of 2015.

Now, I don’t get a lot of reviews from my readers. Not for OHL (Old HIckory Lane) and not for my C. J. “Country” James novels. They sell well, but their readers don’t review. To have To Inherit a Murderer garner a review, though, well, that’s like a MAJOR DEAL.  To me.

Wow.  Made my day yesterday. Unfortunately, I was so busy patching databases due to a plugin update fault that I couldn’t spend the time to gloat.  So I’m gloating today.

HAPPY!!!!


Popular Misconconceptions Purposely Contrived and Cultivated

Evening2_Strip_3-16-2012

I can be a controversial irritant. I know this. Still, I have a lot of people who, while afraid to admit it out loud, totally agree with me. And, privately, they applaud me for saying what they feel they can’t. That they won’t publicly support my saying it isn’t necessarily a sign of cowardice. It is a sign of fear–fear of crowd scorning, of cyber bullying, and of ruining their smiling, online, positive images purposely designed to try to gain market traction.

Yes, I do get groans from some of them, too, even the ones who agree with me. I get outright disfriending and snarling responses, private and public, from those who don’t. But you know what? The groaners and the muck slingers don’t bother me and don’t deter me. That I irritate them tells me that I cracked the plastic veneer.

Occasionally, I get a response that bears attending. One such came from my old publicist, who still, it seems, keeps tabs on me. Lately, he sent me applause with one hand while lecturing me about inadvisability with the other hand, admittedly typing with his thumb from his Smartphone, “so I’ll make this brief.”  Since I’m “in business” to sell my books, he suggests, “Wouldn’t it be prudent to rein in posting [my] opinions,” opinions that are, as he puts it, “often counter to popular misconceptions purposefully contrived and cultivated?”

That one made me blink. I immediately noticed the lack of qualifiers and quantifiers–normal. But for him to outright say what he did was astounding to me. This is a man who is, at all times, cautious in his every action, deed, and word.

‘Popular misconceptions purposely contrived and cultivated’–yes, exactly.

And why are misconceptions purposely contrived and cultivated in the public at large? Profit and power.

Sad, isn’t it? The public, the people, are being purposely fed artfully contrived misconceptions, and they swallow them whole. It’s ‘whole cloth’, completely fabricated and false, completely contrary to their best interests, proliferated by the blind who have been sold on the process. And I ain’t talking about U.S. or world politics, here, though the same applies. I’m talking self-promotion, the selling-my-book business, the World Wide Web, social media. and effective marketing strategies.

The sighted blinding the credulous.

Evening2_3_3-6-2012web


On Dolts Offering Writing Advice

DigMarkQUOTETH: “50-75% of blog posts with ‘Tips’ for writing are really marketing posts. They have nothing to do with writing at all.”

I have a friend, who shall remain anonymous, who shared this with me. It’s totally right on. And, yet, this friend refuses to say this publicly…because of all the flack that comes back to bombard him/her/it.

Yet, it’s completely true, and one of the HUGE irritants that I find with authors, indie and trad pubbed, alike.

Most of these posers–yes, I said posers–ain’t gotta clue what makes good writing and good novels, and have absolutely NO business trying to share their under-educated, all but illiterate advisements with anyone. And the only reason they do is to try to game up their own books and ‘brand’.

There. I said it right out loud, because it’s true.

Want to know what’s sad? The real experts who DO have valid and valuable insights on writing now mostly stay mum. That’s because what they have to say isn’t going to be swallowed well by the striving ‘wanna-be’s–that writing well means years of learning how to do it right by reading, by doing, by being harshly critiqued by in-the-know, usually caustic-as-hell editors.


Inevitability

DLKeur2-23-2016_Bweb

They float on surface tides, siphoning whatever they can harvest for free, never sharing, never giving back, never caring of those who they, in their lustful greed, are starving.  I watch them, safely protected from their undying appetites, and I marvel at their ignorance of the vortex soon to swallow them into extinction.

 

Canyon Forbes watched his streams, aware that, at any moment, he’d be told to shut them off, his duty station shifted to security.  Glad that he was ‘inside’, glad he wouldn’t be among those stranded, he wondered at the ignorance that had, decades past, permitted this kind of exploitation, and decided that he wasn’t smart enough to figure out that answer.

It didn’t really bother him that millions, even billions, would perish.  It was inevitable.  Leadership had known the consequences for a century…longer, if one believed interpretations of the organization’s founders’ writings.  And, logically, there could be no other outcome.

(To be continued…or not. I think this one is too dystopian for my liking.)

DLKeur2-23-2016_1140web


Top Ten Novels get Nine 'No's from Me

No

There was a shared around link in varied posts on G+ about readers’ habits that got some comments–some snide, some honest, some haphazard. In other words, normal levels and types of replies.  As the conversation moved forward on several of the iterations of the link share, I said this in response to one gentleman who said that he reads any book he buys all the way through, regardless, because he paid for it.  He also said that he’s very forgiving of editing errors.  This was my reply:

Hey, I’ll read books that have atrocious editing…and do, because the story is good.  Very good.  But I won’t sit through, even a well-edited, well-presented book that bores me.  Once my eyeballs roll up in my head three times, through boredom or disgust, I’m done.

And, now, because I think it’s pertinent, I’m going to take the top 10 best sellers from over on Amazon, and I’ll tell you why I either won’t even crack the cover or, having read all or part of the excerpt, why I would or would not read on.

Let’s start: (Numerical order of the top ten best sellers on Amazon was stable throughout the day and a lot of these books have been on the first page for awhile, now…but, by the time you check they could have since changed.)  RED and strike-through means NO WAY! White (normal text color to this interface) means, not interested, but I could recommend it to readers in search of that type of story. Green means “yes.”

1. The Next Always: Inn BoonsBoro Trilogy (The Inn Boonsboro Trilogy Book 1) by Nora Roberts — Nora Roberts is a good writer, always has been. I don’t read her, though I did manage two of her books during my time belonging to a book club. I cracked the excerpt on Amazon on this one and the novel starts out very well.  Then we get to the boring stuff — leading man and leading lady, with all the modern day trappings that so do not intrigue me.  So, nope.  But, were someone looking for a nice contemporary romance, yes, I might suggest it.  Nora Roberts can be counted on to deliver a good read for those who enjoy that kind and style of story.

2. Ghost Gifts by Laura Spinella — “The sky cartwheeled overhead.” <– first strike.  “Black spaghetti” <– second strike.  Read on…and, by the end of the second page in the Kindle version, my eyes dried up, which is my way of saying ‘my eyes glazed over because I was completely bored’.

3. The Last Girl by Joe Hart — Read the description. That sent off warning bells. So, I checked the reviews. First up on the page was the one star review by F. carillo, posted on February 2, 2016. Then came the 4 star review by Bill Anderson (TOP 1000 REVIEWER) on February 1, 2016. (That was a four star review? Read more like another one star review to me. And it went on that way. So I didn’t even crack the cover to read the excerpt. Auto-nope, mostly because it’s yet another dystopian-horror book that features the completely unrealistic.

4. Roomhate by Penelope Ward — NOPE. Won’t even look at the excerpt.  Here’s why: ” Due to …sexual content, this book is not intended for readers under the age of 18.” I’m over 18, but, sorry, not into explicit sexual content, and the reviews suggest that this book is more about heating up readers’ crotches than about delivering an actual story.

5. Some Sort of Love: A Happy Crazy Love Novel by Melanie Harlow — An excuse to deliver explicit, graphic sex. The whole focus seems to be the guy’s large penis. Nope.

6. A Shade of Vampire (New & Lengthened 2015 Edition) by Bella Forrest — I’m not a fan of teen fantasies or vampires, neither one. For this exercise, I did check out a bit of the excerpt and the story delivery seems smooth and well-written through the first few pages of the prologue and chapter one. But, no. Not into vampires and teenage love fantasies.

7. Winter Men by Jesper Bugge Kold — No, no, and no for several reasons — sex, historical fallacy about the SS and culpability, and dwelling in the horror of an era that makes me shudder, similar reasons of which you can find from readers in the one-star reviews.

8. Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances by Neil Gaiman — It’s Neil Gaiman. Of course it’s a ‘yes’.

9. Guarding His Obsession by Alexa Riley — Blatant erotica. Nope.

10. The Lie by Karina Halle — Nope. More erotica, this one with a warning: This book contains sexually explicit scenes…. Reader discretion is strongly advised.

What is most disturbing to me is the number of sexually explicit or erotic books that are top ten. And then there’s the dystopian, teen vampire romance, and Nazis-as-victims books, some also with graphic sex. Does NOT say good things about American tastes in novels. Not good things, at all.

No


Sorry, Charlie. People Want Tuna That Flips Their Switch.

2-17-2016_Guess1140Strip

Had a discussion tonight that wound up with an author I support and admire pulling his post. I blinked, and it was gone, just that fast. So, I private messaged the gentleman, asking where our discussion had gone. He told me he’d deleted it…because, he said, his opening statement needed to be edited…and he didn’t want to make other writers mad.

Really? You don’t want to make…other writers mad.  I’m another writer, and I wasn’t mad.   I actually THOUGHT we were pursuing a lively, intellectual discourse.

Wrong. His post wasn’t meant for discussion. It was a ‘call-out’, a change-order.

But it was a good discussion. And I made good counter arguments to his points. (Unfortunately, I didn’t keep a copy of my replies, so I can’t replicate them when he replicates his…if he does.)

In the private messaging, I came to understand his underlying motive.  it’s the basis for a common misery I recognize exhibited by a LOT of writers/authors–depression and a sense of overwhelming futility, coupled with dogged determination to continue, despite all odds stacked against one.  Namely: there are so many books being published (now that independent publishing is coming of age), that getting any book noticed by masses of people is nigh on impossible.

Well, yep. That’s too true.

  1. It requires a LOT of lucky breaks (also called serendipity);
  2. it requires one to be an extrovert, when writers–good writers–are, by overwhelming numbers, introverts; and
  3. it requires an army of “connector” friends and fans who are willing and capable of effectively spreading the word about your book being the greatest thing since [enter your favorite title] to other readers of whichever genre you write.

But here’s the problem, even if you have all those things. People who read books, especially those who read novels, are a less than overwhelming percentage of the population. About a quarter of Americans don’t even read one book a year.1 Instead, they:

  1. play video games,
  2. hang out online,
  3. watch sports,
  4. watch the news cycle/talking heads, high drama, vitriol-driven world of politics,
  5. watch movies, TV series, game shows, reality shows, and,
  6. generally, do everything and anything exCEPT read…books.

Reading for them is Twitter or Facebook, not cracking open some made-of-paper or made-of-bytes tome filled with tens of thousands of alpha-numeric characters. I mean, really. 144 characters is about their upper limit. Of those who do read fiction (as opposed to non-fiction), the numbers are even less. …And, of course, of those who read a specific genre of fiction, you guessed it, even less than that–a lot less.

Interestingly, young people are reading MORE.2 Which is good. But I’m afraid the kind of reading that holds the Millennials are books they can personally connect with…which doesn’t include what a lot of writers shopping their books are writing. That limits certain genre novelists to an even smaller pool of potential readers, and that pool of potential readers tends to avoid spending money on books, so if it isn’t found at their library, isn’t free, isn’t available and at hand for cheap–very cheap–somewhere, you’ve got a hefty job convincing them to spare their dollars for your book. They’d rather spend their money on their grandkids. Or on their next vacation. And, yes, in fact, unless they’re an avid reader of more than eleven books a year, up into the book a week category, chances are the books they buy won’t be those you’ve written. And, in fact, even those who read a book a week won’t be buying your book. Why should they? They can sift through the thousands upon thousands of free books out there to find their next read and not spend one thin dime.

So, how do you get your book to the point that a whole bunch of somebodies crave to read it so much that, yes, they’ll shell out their cash to actually buy a copy? Well, you either write what sells–gore, sex, perversion–or write what sells–romance–or write what sells–your book promoted well and appropriately, marketed at just the right moment to just the right people when those people happen to be looking for just that kind of book.

And an aside (something mentioned in the above-noted ‘disappeared’ post): Does your book have to be well-written and well-edited?

Let’s look at the stats on that: Fifty Shades of Grey.  Nope. Does NOT need to be well-written or well-edited. Nope. Not, at all.

2-17-2016_Guess1140

 

 


Be Still My Brain

Smoke&BrimstonewebVarious writer’s book excerpts daily fall into and out of my awareness. I give the first few paragraphs a glance, usually moving on. Today, several happened past that made old habits twitch. I moved on, anyway.

There’s a very unique problem, now, with writing. Only a non-writer may critique. Or, sometimes, maybe, if they’re very brave, the masters of the commercial writing world might venture their opinion and survive. Might. Stephen King and Neil Gaiman could, perhaps, but even they might feel the bite when truth rattles tender sensibilities and their ‘victim’s’ loyal hounds are loosed and set upon them.

When I began to write, I had editors blue pencil the hell out of my manuscripts. Sometimes they would leave acerbic remarks in margins. Some of these remarks were devastating, knocking me out of my chair and away from my keyboard for weeks, even months. Then, I’d pick myself up, examine my wounds, and adjust. In plain-speak, I learned. Those editors weren’t doing me harm. They were doing me huge, and, yes, I mean HUGE, favors just to take the time to show me how to improve my craft. I’ll never be able to repay them their kindness. But for them…(that’s ‘but’ used as ‘except’, if you are unfamiliar with the construct), I would not be the writer that I am.

Today, it’s best just to move on, saying nothing, or, if forced to, simply nod, applaud, and smile.

Smoke&BrimstoneFullweb


Monsters Fighting Monsters

DragonAbstractStrip_web

Angeline Trevena posted a link on G+ this evening. A paying market is open to submissions for stories of monsters fighting monsters. Immediately, my writer’s brain spawns a scenario–a perfectly legitimate one. A creature wakens to find his home overrun with vermin, those vermin destroying the entire habitat his kind…all kind depend upon for survival. In his three thousand year sleep, what were seemingly insignificant irritants have grown from pesky to pestilence, and the damage wrought is all but irreversible. The world as he and his depend upon is in terminal throes.

What creature? Oh, I don’t know. Some stone mountain that wakes up to reveal itself a sleeping dragon, maybe, though I’ve used the dragon motif before.

The monster pestilence? Why, man, of course.

Will I write it?

No. No point.

LungMoonScreenCaptureweb


"A Great, Raging Bloodbath"

DLKeurMacabre_InflamedBrainSnip

“…A great, raging bloodbath….”–that’s what a reader gloated about in a review they publicly posted. Those were the first words of their review.

I blinked, a crinkle furrowing my brow. My brain did a cross between a ? and an !, not so much in surprise at the fact of it, (I know graphically depicted sex and gore sell very well, thanks.), but because it was a gloat–an adamant one. And not just by one reader. Many readers of the same book and the same series of books expressed those exact sentiments…just not quite as concisely.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Back to that one review that brought me pause.

The reader/reviewer only gave the book four out of five stars. Why? Because of “unbelievable scenes” and “too convenient” plot answers. Plus, the reader admitted that the end was a “cheat.” In other words, the story was poorly written, but that didn’t matter much–one star subtracted–because of the visceral satisfaction the writing delivered to that reader.

Reading other reviews of this highly popular book, both the positive and the negative, I found similar sentiments among those ranking the book three stars and above. The positive reviews outweighed the negative by far, and all of the positive ones had one common thread: the one element that drove readers’ ecstasy was what that one reviewer succinctly summed up as one “great, raging bloodbath” of a book.

Checking the rest of the novels in the series, I discovered that, yes, that one element drove all the books in that series to crest the best sellers lists, and the reasons given were that the books all satisfied readers’ tastes for pain and misery vividly and viscerally portrayed, fulfilling their fascination with the depraved, their obsession, even craving, to witness hate mercilessly enacted in the worst kind of viciousness and violence, all very graphically rendered.

The genre was Science Fiction, a genre I like to read a lot, but now find myself either avoiding or, at least, exercising extreme caution and care when choosing a next novel for reading.  …Because the genre is filled, first, with Sword & Sorcery dressed up like SF, and, second, because it is now laden with what I call ‘gruel’–gore and cruelty–and, of course, right with it, perverse sexual depredation.

These are not the kind of books I read. They are not the kind of books I write, either. But what makes my brow furrow isn’t that my preferred reading, that my own writing and published novels, can’t draw that same level of popularity among readers. (I’m not writing for those kind of readers.) No. What bothers me is what this signifies about where the prime time tastes of the culture of which I am a part has taken itself. I wonder about my fellow humans and my fellow citizens, a large majority of whom embrace this kind of ‘entertainment’ as preferred.

DLKeurMacabre_InflamedBrain_webLrg


It's the Possibilities

DLKeur_Contour2000_960_96dpi_web_1140Strip

One of the questions I’ve asked most in my life, from the time I could first form the word, is ‘why’? Drove my mom nuts. Drove my bad teachers nuts. Gave my good teachers a thrill, and they delighted in spurring on my curiosity. I was reading adult newspapers at three years of age…and comprehending them. I was doing algebra before third grade, quadratic equations and calculus by fourth. I read the Encyclopedia Britannica from Vol 1 through the addenda the company sent each and every year. I explored…and I’m still exploring. I’m still asking ‘why’.

For me, it’s not the answer that’s most important. It’s the question and where that question leads…to other questions. It’s the potential possibilities inherent in those questions that most intrigue me.

DLKeur_Contour2000_960_96dpi_web


How Not to Sell Me on Your Novel

book_NotAuthors, really.notimpressed Do I care that you’re having a “huge sale”?

No. I’m not a bargain basement book shopper, willing to spend my time on anything that comes my way because it’s cheap or free.

I also don’t care if you’ve won some award or contest with your book. I know how contests and awards work from the inside, so I know that, chances are, the only reason the book won is for reasons that have nothing at all to do with its actual quality and value as good reading. Likewise with professional reviews.

Next on my list of “I don’t give a damn” is whether or not you made some best seller’s list or, worse than that, some “pop” list voted on by Joe and Josepha Public. BS lists are just that–bullshit lists–manipulated by skill and subterfuge, and “pop” lists rank even lower, being manipulated by cliques and back-scratchers.

What will convince me to buy your book? Good hook, good writing, and a riveting story I can’t put down, written in a genre I like…which is most anything that, A, doesn’t dwell in the dreary, disheartening, perverse, stupid, insipid, banal, and/or trite and, B, which lacks any descent into gratuitous sex, gore, and/or violence.

How do you catch me? First off, a good slag-line. Second, a good description. Third, a first page that makes me want to read on…and that continues to pull me along all the way through the excerpt provided by Amazon. Then, yes, you’ve just made a real sale, and, despite being a KU member, I will actually pay you your full asking price…because I believe GOOD writers should be paid.



Image by D. L. Keur with base image By Raúl Ruano RuizOwn work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=22768706

Experiential Distortion

by D. L. Keur writing as herself and/or one of her numerous pen names

02142016ExDistortSqStepping into the shower, she listens to the giggling in the walls, watches light refracting in the streaming spray, smells the fragrance of freshness. Tastes it, too. She closes eyes, lessening visual stimulation. While spatially disorienting, this decreases distraction.

Narrowing focus, she concentrates upon sensation. Sound and odors fade; touch, the lesser skill, can now dominate attention. She revels in sensation: tingling, stinging, punctuated hot; dripping, streaming flow sweeping all around, swirling at her feet. Immersed in movement of the stream, her mind explores vectors and trajectories.

“Raynie, did you take the garbage out?”

The sound explodes around her. The world spins, threatening to topple her.

She extends a hand, but can’t find ‘solid’.

Concentrating, she manages to still herself enough to hold stability, despite the violent buffeting of tidal swirls that threaten to upend her. She trues to that hold, but the effort is immense. Still, she knows it’s necessary. Doing less will bring unending queries and more violent disturbances.

With a will, she splits attending from single- to multi-dedicated focus. She seeks and finds ‘speech’, the least of her capabilities, but the one most critical to maintaining comfort levels within those with whom she shares experience.

The effort makes her breathless. She coheres the necessary communication from conceptual instance into distributed linear stream, making sure the energy within that stream congeals into: meaningful, simple, concise.

Once sure, she finds, then engages mouth and tongue, that finding and engagement also requiring of her immense concentration.

“Raynie?”

“No, Mom. I’ll do it when I’m finished showering.”

“Well, hurry up. The bus will be here.”

Dedicated concentration fractured, she struggles to stabilize herself as every sense goes overload. She struggles and, with a breath, just manages appropriate response—“Okay”—then she hopes that Mom will go away so she can regain control.

Silence answers, and, as the metasphere around her calms, the skirls and buffeting exponentially diminish until they become mere ripples dissolving into echoes as they fade off down the here-now’s timeline.


A New Poem

Snow Fog

 

Branch, twig, and needle etched with rime,
Each tree white lace against cold sky,
The snow fog waits, a ghost upon horizon,
For noonday sun to turn its ice to liquid diamonds.

                    D. L. Keur, January 18, 2013


Dragonfly Rain, a Video by undertheturnpike


A Quarter Inch of Joy

I was out watering my ever-bearing strawberries, and, in the process, knocked a tiny black creature — a quarter inch long little black wasp — into the rain cistern. Reaching down with a gentle finger, I scooped her out and put her on my t-shirt sleeve before finishing my task while keeping an occasional eye on her revival progress.

It took her about two minutes of rubbing herself on the soft cotton material of my shirt sleeve, then another three or so of “tidying” before she considered herself “presentable” to the world again.  Watching, I was captivated by the meticulous attention she paid to every part of herself — her antenna, her thorax, her legs, her head, her wings.  She was not hasty; she attended every detail in a thorough, methodical, and almost leisurely, never panicked fashion.  Her lack of fear, her sense of “safe”, brought me a great measure of joy — that the small creatures around me know that I will never intentionally swat, hit, squash, or harm them.  It brings me a greater measure of joy to watch these wonderful living things go about their daily business in peace and harmony with every other creature who shares their life journey.

Be kind. The life you save could very well brighten your own well-being.


This morning’s practice was bitter in bare feet.

It’s twenty-four degrees outside, and my bare feet suffered this morning during practice.  It was good for me, but it definitely made me appreciate putting shoes on to work against an opponent in the second half of my morning regime.  Wow.  Good thing I didn’t look at the temperature before I started.  I would have whimpered and probably chickened out and donned shoes at the onset.  Good for me, though, that I did it, and had a very impeccable (in my triple dragon sash husband’s opinion) session.

Of other interest, we came upon another video of a Tai Chi practitioner who does some very fluid and excellent work.  My only complaint is that he tends to jerk his head aside when an attack enters.  I think he must have been hit hard somewhere young in his training, and the body memory is affecting that reaction.  He also seems to work too hard several places against an opponent. Otherwise, he’s very, very good.  See it here if the embedded video doesn’t work for you: http://youtube.com/watch?v=93wy9FBFP24&feature=related

Meanwhile, here is the video itself:


The Power to Help.

I have two ants safely harbored in a peanut butter jar, a piece of screen keeping them inside.  They came here inside my husband’s lunchbox from the construction site.  Of course, they didn’t come on purpose.  They weren’t particularly interested in visiting places far, far away.  They were after goodies and got hijacked by the lid being closed and zippered shut.  So home they came…surviving what had to be a very dangerous and uncomfortable trip, jostled between empty lunch containers, locked inside a plastic and nylon environment in 100 degree heat. 

So hubs opens lunch box to dump his containers into the sink and does the old, “Ants! Oh, great.”

Now, I have a “thing” about ants.  It’s the one creature…en masse…which will send me screaming off in a frothing panic. (I was bitten by red ants when I was a child and have never quite recovered from the experience.)  But I also have a “thing” about life and its being precious.  I have a “thing” which demands me respect all life…and non-life.  And, me, a human, has the power to help.  And that’s what it comes down to, doesn’t it?  If I have the power to help, doesn’t that obligate me to help where I can, when I can?  I think so.  Caring matters.  If one doesn’t care, if things don’t matter, what’s the point?

So back to the story.

So, lid open, one of the two ants trapped inside started perambulating around in a bit of a frenzy.  One got outside the box and disappeared.  The other was just doing laps inside. 

I see all manner of containers, but everything is plastic or styrofoam — death to insects put inside because they are saturated with things like pesticides or made using formaldehyde. (Nice to think that our food comes in these things, right?) Quickly, I grab the clean, empty, glass peanut butter jar, wondering where the “outside” ant went off to, and how I would be able to find her to get her safely inside the jar for the return trip home tomorrow.  Ah!  There she is!  I manage to get her to walk inside the jar.  Now for the other one.  She’s not so easy, but, with the help of a piece of paper towel, she’s induced to take a ride inside safety.

Screen lid anchored in place, and they are ready to roll, no longer “lost ants,” but simply on an adventure and ready for the return trip home.

I used my power to help. 

BELATED ANT UPDATE:

Yes, they made it safely back to their ant homes.  Hubs was very conscientious about getting them back to exactly where he ate lunch the day before.  And he watched them as they made tracks out of the jar and onto “familiar ground.”  They immediately ran into more ants, did the “feeler thing,” as he called it, then made tracks, following other ants headed to a “known ant home.” 

I really like the construction crew.  They are very conscientious.  All of them.  And that’s as it should be since the two owners, Hubs and partner, are both eco-minded.  If the crew wasn’t, I guess they wouldn’t be crew very long, right?

Oh, and, I failed to mention, I put a bit of water on aforementioned paper towel the morning of transport back home, and both ants made quite an elaborate show of drinking.  Those were some thirsty ants.  They must have snacked on some of hubby’s favorite Triscuits!