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Archive for the ‘Questions to Ponder’ Category

June 19, 2012 7 comments
A Calliope Hummingbird (Stellula calliope)

A Calliope Hummingbird (Stellula calliope) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One of my other blogs got lonely today. In order to keep it from gathering dust, I wrote a piece that talks of obligation, creation, writing, and put it all in a package that takes its inspiration from the manual on poetry.

Calliope is one of my several personalities. I figure if you’re going to go to all the trouble of having more than one persona, you might as well give each one room to spread out.

So, if you’re bored, have time on your hands and just want to see something different that you get over here, pop over to Calliope. The fare over there has a different flavor than Claudsy’s Blog; at least, most of the time.

Enjoy yourselves. Comment if you desire.

A bientot,

Claudsy

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Waving the White Flag

May 23, 2012 30 comments
Age like a fine wine

Age like a fine wine (Photo credit: derekGavey)

Strike at the heart of the beast! Show no mercy!

Why do people feel compelled to do battle with all things related to aging? Hair gets colored, as if having gray hair is shameful. Young, nubile women begin getting Botox before the age of 30; begin using anti-wrinkle creams in their 20’s.

Have we come to despise these signs of having lived past our teen years?

My hair gleams with gray sprinkled throughout from years lived and loved.  Hard work went into the making of those signature hairs. Why should shame be associated with them?

Small lines have taken up residence around my mouth. Are they caused by laughing too much? If so, my favorite past-time will continue to occupy me. Laugh lines are far better in my estimation than facial stress fractures.

The reasoning behind this abhorrence of aging escapes me. My entire experience here on Planet Earth was lived at the same moment—the one in which I am aware. Age has rarely meant anything to me.

At age twelve, people treated me as 19-20. When nineteen came along, people assumed I was in my mid-20’s. By the time my 30’s arrived, most of my friends were in their early 20’s. Even now, I have few real friends my own age. I know plenty of people in their 50’s and 60’s, but those whom I call true friends are of all ages, from the very young to those in their late seventies and older.

It’s always been my contention that age is only a marker for statistical purpose. The body may have tell-tale signs of wear and tear. But the me operating this body has no age, except the one I inside my head.

The question which needs to be posed to a person is: If you’re so unhappy to reach your current age that you need to reconstruct your body to hide your experience, is reconstruction likely to erase your unhappiness?

Does one’s happiness depend on the physical representation of the person inside? After all, our bodies are only the vessels, which carry us around on this planet. Is our preoccupation with conforming to culture’s definition of beauty the only path to self-satisfaction and acceptance? Must we all be life-sized, unrealistic Barbie’s and Ken’s in order to be accepted as vital, beautiful, and worthwhile? If so, aren’t we all waving a white flag; surrendering our individuality and uniqueness in favor of a cultural impossibility?

Writers deal with this issue each time they develop a character, put together narrative description, or poetry. We devote much time and page space to beauty in one form or another. Have you ever wondered just how deeply our brains’ hard-wiring goes, if all cultures, races, and ages consider this one aspect of life as this important?

What do you think about our demand for physical perfection and beauty? I’m looking for opinions on this topic. Are we the total of our body parts, or do we have an innate value and beauty than has nothing to do with our outer shells?

You tell me. Leave a comment. Take a stand.

A bientot,

Claudsy

 

Meena Rose On the Air

May 17, 2012 53 comments

Once upon a time I met a young, shy woman named Meena Rose. She’d come onto the Institute of Children’s Literature’s Writer’s Retreat to join our merry band of word workers. It took less than a half dozen visits for her to become a favorite attendee. Her wisdom belied her youth. Her perception and insight startled many of us who’d lived twice as long. And her gentleness melted our hearts.

I give you Meena Rose, who will surprise those who don’t as yet know her and who will bring smiles to those who already love her. Take it away, Meena.

 

Have you ever slowed down your train of thought?

Meena–A Desert Rose

By: Meena Rose

It just so happened that I was asking myself that very question a few days ago. I was curious what my thoughts would be on a topic if it was delivered in freeze frame segments to my mind. Would I reach the same reaction in the end or would it be different for having slowed down the input and the reaction to it?

There really was only one way to find out. It was to put the idea to the test and have a voice recorder on standby to record my immediate impressions before they faded. Since I normally neither watch nor listen to the news, I decided to select the first full story that I would tune into. Without further ado, here are the results. I will relay the segments and then reconstruct the story at the end.

Newscaster: This is about a little boy

Meena: Ummm, and, so?

 Newscaster: Who ran

Meena: Really, where?

 Newscaster: Into the street

Meena: Irresponsible parents, silly boy, will they ever learn. <I am feeling very agitated and angry>

 Newscaster: In front of oncoming traffic

Meena: This does not bode well. <My gut actually heaved and I felt myself tense up>

 Newscaster: Escaping from

Meena: Oh no, I am so sorry little boy. I hope you are safe. I am sorry for judging your parents too. <My arms get goosebumps>

 Newscaster: His father who was

Meena: I knew it. You were just like all the little kids who escape the grips of their parents. <I am feeling flushed and angry again>

 Newscaster: Chasing him with a knife.

Meena: Oh, no! Dear God, no! I am SO SO sorry kid. You should never have had to deal with that. Your dad is a monster you did not deserve. Please be alright kid, please be alright. .

 Newscaster: A bystander

Meena: The story is not over? Please let it end well

 Newscaster: Tackled the father

Meena: Yes! Yes! Oh wait, what about the boy? What about the boy? Don’t keep me waiting. 

 Newscaster: While another bystander

Meena: Please help the boy! Please!

 Newscaster: Pulled the boy

Meena: And?!? Hurry up!!

 Newscaster: To safety.

Meena: Yes! Yes! Kid, I am glad you are safe! <My knees feel like jello and I am breathing fast>

To be honest, my mind shut down after that. It did not want to hear any more. I had had enough. Promptly, I turned off the TV set and sat in a broody silence. For once, I understood why I can’t bear to hear the news. Being jerked around emotionally from the extreme heights of expectation to deep valleys of despair within the blink of an eye is really not my cup of tea.

However, I am this way when I read fiction as well. My mind will parse, process, analyze and react to the story in segments which I am certain the author had not anticipated. They do not obey the basic rules of punctuation. I am so riveted to the book and the adrenalin rush reading  generates that I lose myself in time.

One time I had read for 5 hours straight. The sun had set and I was famished. I went to the bathroom instead and settled in for another 5 hour burst. That book just had to be finished in one day. I literally “wear” the POV character as a cape around my shoulders and walk a chapter in their shoes. It adds to the experiential rewards I receive from reading.

There are times when I have been so angered by a story that I have flung the book clear across the room and relished in hearing the “crack” resulting from the spine hitting the wall. Once, I have cooled down, I would get up and pick the book up, apologize to it and start reading it again as though no violence had transpired.

There are other times when I have been so moved to tears that I cried openly without bothering for a tissue to dab at my eyes. Those books have tear stains upon their pages, marring the perfect finish of the page.

There are other times when I had been so terrified that I would hide the book away from sight and make a pact to only read it during the daylight with many hours separating the reading and sleep. Let us not forget about laughter, joy, peace and love; all equally powerful.

I developed a term for this reaction. I call it Enhanced Experiential Engagement (EEE).

There is something to be said for allowing the train of thought to cruise at its normal pace. I wonder if it mercifully collects large enough nuggets of information to spare us the highs and lows in our unending assessment of the world around us.

Or, do we still go through the highs and lows without dwelling on them for too long, thereby nullifying the effect? Are we better off perceiving the world in an EEE way? Or, are we better off without the notion of EEE?

Here is the story I heard:

“This is about a little boy who ran into the street in front of oncoming traffic, escaping from his father who was chasing him with a knife. A bystander tackled the father while another bystander pulled the boy to safety.”

How did you react? Did you slow down your train of thought? Did you have an EEE? Describe your reactions upon reading the story.

Bio

Meena Rose is a multi-lingual world traveler and transplanted Oregonian; a mother of three children (one boy and two girls) who works as an analyst by day, promoting creativity through writing, storytelling, and role playing wherever she goes.

Catch a glimpse of this lovely lady each day on her website, “Through the Eyes of Meena Rose” at: http://meenarose.wordpress.com/

With each day’s offering, you’ll discover more depth than you might imagine.

You’ve Got to be Kidding

May 16, 2012 11 comments
Yaks!

Yaks! (Photo credit: bdearth)

Yes, we are having a heat wave here in NW Montana. It hit 87° F. here today while we were out on photo safari. That’s rare for mid-May up here.

Today’s safari took us to places we don’t frequent often, to see what was available for the lens and the Muse. We visited The Garden of the Thousand Buddha’s down in Arlee before moving west. It’s a Buddhist temple area sitting on the Flathead Indian Reservation. The Garden is coming along, though inclement weather isn’t doing it any favors in exposed areas around the central huge Buddha.

A bison roaming about at the National Bison Ra...

A bison roaming about at the National Bison Range in Montana (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Most people suspect that we have bison ranches. In fact, we have the National Bison Range just southwest of the town of Charlo. Did you know that we have ranches running musk oxen and yak? Yep. We scouted out one such ranch down in the Camas Prairie area of Sanders County.

Along the way, we picnicked along the Flathead River and watched kayakers braving deep spring run-off waters. Osprey fished along those same turquoise waters, daring bald eagles to infringe on nesting territories.

Squirrels warned off those who came too close and pileated woodpeckers took their time with smaller trees a few yards from the car. Young quaking aspens waved at us, not having aged enough to rustle in the breeze. Smoke from a suspected new wild fire in the mountain range south of Highway 200 filled the valley with tension; not uncommon, merely early in the season.

Overall, it was a good day.

A bighorn ram following a juvenile ewe.

A bighorn ram following a juvenile ewe. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The hours of our journey didn’t allow for seeing deer or elk. It was too hot for the bighorn sheep to be down out of the hills. Everywhere people were taking advantage of the day’s warmth. Storms are forecast for the next several days.

You’re asking yourself, “What does this weather report have to do with anything?”

Honestly, it has little to do with writing or the state of today’s world. It isn’t an opinion or earthshattering news. It is a snippet of prospective background material.

Think about this. One of the basic tenets of good writing is that the background setting, activities, characters, etc. must be, at the very least, plausible. But, what happens when a writer uses facts that don’t fit “plausible”?

Montana is known for bison, eagles, osprey, bighorn sheep, and the rest. What about Yak or Musk Oxen? Oddly enough we have lots of exotics around here.

Title: Nunivak Musk Oxen in Defensive Formatio...

One rancher runs only Yak.

What for? Meat and textile material. The hair works up nearly as well as sheep’s wool and makes marvelous felt with fabulous insulation quality. The same can be said for Musk Oxen. These may not be the most attractive animals, but they have great value to the right people. According to one local, Yak meat is one of the most healthy, lean red meats available.

The question that arises is “What reader is going to believe a story set on a Yak ranch in cattle country, surrounded by mountains full of bighorn sheep, with a large river running through it, and situated on the Camas Prairie where herds of wild horses used to roam?”

And yet, all of that is true. The entire statement is fact, but few who’ve never been here would believe for one minute that anyone is raising Yak or Musk Oxen in the U.S. So, what’s the writer to do in order to use this material?

One thing I can think of off the top of my head is to write the story as a diary, a journal, from the main character’s perspective. It could be a romance, a mystery, adult or children’s, creative non-fiction, or poetry. The deciding factor is in how to approach the reader with reality and create the plausibility needed for it to be believed.

Ask yourself “What are the most implausible facts you’ve witnessed capable of creating a fabulous foundation for a rollicking good story”?

Now, share them here for all to see.

I’m  also proud to announce a special treat. Tomorrow I have a guest blogger here to entertain you all. Meena Rose Muro is a writer, poet, and business analyst, who will fill your time here with images and questions about your own take on the world. Be sure to stop by to see what she has for you.

You won’t regret it. You might even learn more about yourself in the process. She will answer questions and comments for those who take the time to pose them here.

I’ll see you all soon. A bientot,

Claudsy

PAD Finish Line Reached

April 30, 2012 6 comments
poem

poem (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I reached the finish line today of this year’s annual Poem-A-Day Challenge, hosted by Robert Lee Brewer of Writer’s Digest’s Poetic Asides.

Three days spent out in the wilds of the north country near the Canadian border has advantages. The wilds had a cook shack with great food, live entertainment, plenty of friendly folk to keep a body moving and interacting, learning and taking away new experiences and perspectives. It also had nighttime freezing temps, daily sunshine, sprinkles when relaxation was needed, and a small-town parade with all the usual trimmings.

While out there on the high plateau, I kept thinking about poetry and what I’d take away from the Rendezvous that I could use later for either verse or prose. I’d met unique people with otherwise long-lost talents, children who could defend themselves without anger or cook over an open fire without complaint. I’d seen crafts that rivaled any in a museum anywhere. And best of all, I came home knowing that I will go back next year for a repeat.

The PAD challenge continued without me, but I’ve managed to put together something for each of the days missed. I hope you enjoy these small offerings and that you’ll continue to return to this blog after this challenge ends. I have a new, improved blog for the end of the week, with new pages to visit and things to see. Until then, daily posts will continue.

Now, on to poetry.

Day 27 Prompt: “The Trouble is (blank)” Fill in blank, make it the title, and write poem.

The Trouble is Time Bending

 

Arbitrary limits,

On something non-existent,

Takes no talent, no finess.

Limiting nothing takes

More than care,

Requiring belief

That increments from

One mind equal

Production possibilities.

How can seconds become

Minutes or hours, when

Only days/nights exist in time?

Does breathing count

As a measuring stick, or pulse,

When clocks don’t function?

© Claudette J. Young 2012

 

Day 28 Prompt: Write a problem poem.

What Price Time

 

Forcing life into minutes and hours,

Taking life from the living,

Becoming machines, wound up

For the pleasure of someone else.

Can we not function except to

Sweep hands and crystal faces?

Are we mindless with this labyrinth,

Marking existence with clicks and clangs?

© Claudette J. Young 2012

 

Day 29 Prompt: Take a favorite line from an earlier poem this month, and rework it into a new poem.

Prayers Danced in Circles

 

Call forth with drum and song

Answers from Creator’s hand.

Step lively in obedience,

Sing with heart’s voice to

Weave supplication upward

Toward Creator’s ear.

Circles with unending,

Beginning, revolving in circuit,

To define all life as one,

Connected and connecting.

Such is Earth, Water, Fire, and Air—

Each touching each, depending,

Giving, moving forward as willed,

Calling singers, dancers to moving circles,

Calling forth prayers to the heavens.

© Claudette J. Young 2012

 

Day 30 Prompt: Write a take-away poem. Open interpretation.

Too Long, Too Short

 

Thirty days hath April,

Poems coming still,

A challenge for all.

Nothing too small

To contribute in word

Thoughts, noun or verb.

Is thirty days too long, too short,

For birthing poems for sport?

Should we make this habit,

A daily ritual, or run as rabbit?

© Claudette J. Young 2012

 

 

Poetry’s Microscope: PAD Challenge 21

April 21, 2012 4 comments
Price Gun

Price Gun (Photo credit: Magic Robot)

Participants were handed an interesting writing challenge this morning. We were asked to write an “under the microscope” poem; either literal or metaphorical.

I doubt many of us can leap into our labs, scan a few slides and take up the scientific poetic slant, but you never know. I may try one later today; I do have a couple of ideas that travel that path.

My first attempt to satisfy this challenge is below. I’m not sure why Muse took me on this tangent, but it was the first thought to jump up and demand my attention.

I hope you enjoy the resulting fare.

What Price Celebrity

 

What price paid for fame

That we seek this scrutiny?

What price extracted in a game

Of hide and seek and infamy?

What price do innocents pay

For camera shots at school,

Where others are brought to bay

And thrill-makers stand to drool?

What price for bodies abused

For weight, highs, lows, or sleep?

What price to be so pursued,

In the name of love, admiration deep?

What price paid for a moment’s peace

Within the fish bowl of personal making?

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April 12, 2012 Leave a comment

 

The Grand Canyon is a steep-sided gorge carved...

The Grand Canyon is a steep-sided gorge carved by the Colorado River in the U.S. state of Arizona. It is largely contained within the Grand Canyon National Park ? one of the first national parks in the United States. President Theodore Roosevelt was a major proponent of preservation of the Grand Canyon area, and visited on numerous occasions to hunt and enjoy the scenery. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When Robert Brewer posted his poem prompt for today, it led me on a short mental journey, as prompts are wont to do. His instructions read something like this. Day 12 Prompt: Take phrase “Something (blank), fill-in blank with another phrase or word, use as title, and write poem.

My mind is one, perhaps like yours, that will begin in Poughkeepsie, then hop the mental freeway, and before I know it, I’m looking down the throat of the Grand Canyon. That’s what happened this morning.

I saw the word “Something…” and immediately hit on the wedding tradition, “Something Borrowed.” That led me to things we’re likely to borrow from one another, returned and unreturned, cared for while in our possession or treated badly, with little or no respect for their value. That took me to some of the things that we worry about now.

And the following poem is the result of that mental drive I took in the 30 seconds or less from the time I saw the prompt.

 

Something Borrowed

 

Dawn brought its light,

Moon brought darkness,

We brought ourselves,

Grasping, clinging to life.

 

Our days began when

Dawn brought its light,

Showing us the work

Awaiting our hands, minds.

 

We rested at day’s end when

Moon brought darkness.

We labored throughout

An off-chance of success.

 

Time flowed as time does.

We brought ourselves

To this, our future,

Where alarms sound loud.

 

Our future now seems stark,

Grasping, clinging to life,

Watching our destruction

Return to show its legacy.

 

I hope you enjoyed today’s effort. Drop a comment here, if the spirit moved you. Come back later for the rest of Robert Brewer’s manic poetry gauntlet in a separate Poem Form Challenge.