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2012 in review

December 30, 2012 Leave a comment

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 5,000 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 8 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

 

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Touching Base

August 23, 2012 Leave a comment

It’s been several days since my last appearance here. I’ve had a friend and colleague visiting for the past several days. Meena Rose graced us with her loveliness and brilliance.

Today has been one of cleansing websites, blogs, and general upkeep on the net. It’s amazing how much crud accumulates on a daily basis and then has to be swept out of the corners during housekeeping. During the process of this upkeep, we’ve been moving our personal blogs over to Two Voices, One Song.

This is an attempt to reduce our continued workload.  Each of us have other projects we’d really like to get back to. Having everything in one place will make that easier for us.

My blog Claudsy’s Calliope is being moved and reorganized as I write this. Claudsy’s Blog will be the next in line for the transfer.

Tomorrow I will post a new URL for this blog so that all of  its followers can decide whether they want to remain loyal and move with it or to cut ties and run. I’m hoping that everyone stays with Claudsy’s Blog and Calliope. I have plenty more to say and things I’d like to work on within the blogs.

There you have it, folks. I’ve so enjoyed having everyone coming here, and I admit a sense of guilt this past month or so for having been absent so much. I should be able to write more frequently on the blogs once all is together. That’s my current plan.

Remember–it will be one-stop-shopping at Two Voices, One Song at http://www.2voices1one.com/

Hope to see you there soon. A bientot,

Claudsy

 

The Zoo Within

June 25, 2012 2 comments

This post stems from the Thought Ripples over on Two Voices, One Song. Sometimes when you change a process for one thing, it sticks and bleeds over into other work, as well. That’s what happened here. I hope you enjoy it.

Once in a while, I take a trip through a zoo or sanctuary. While I gaze upon the residents within the confines of the area, taking note of mundane considerations, my mind focuses on the what-might-have-beens. Those are the natural landscapes and living conditions of whatever animal I’m viewing.

Take this guy, for instance. He was brought into man’s arena very early in his life. He worked for a living, hence his missing horn. And when his work was done, he was fortunate enough to find sanctuary on the Olympic Peninsula with other animal actors that had been retired.

He’s a sweetheart, who likes treats and people’s voices. He’s enclosed to keep him safe from those who would taunt and tease and stress him unduly. I think it’s sad that we have lock up the wild things to keep them safe from us, the civilized ones.

Because he’d not been allowed to be wild, he will never know his ancestors’ natural habitat. Then again, at least here he can live a peaceful existence without fear of someone taking his life, as well as his horn. And without his horn, he could have never survived in his natural habitat anyway.

Herds of elk and fallow deer have free run of many more acres of this wild animal park. The bison keep them company as they watch cars go by, occupants snapping and whirring with their cameras. Thankfully, no one can get out of their cars to aggravate the ones trying to eat or rest.

Peacocks keep order. Rabbits watch from the sidelines. Those in the petting zoo take little hands in stride. And everywhere are the sounds of human voices, rather than those of the residents.

Within the shadows cast by trees lurk yaks and zebras, not usual neighbors, though they seem to get along quite well.

The occasional small scene gives an idyllic glimpse of how life in the wild could be if allowed.

Throughout this day of animal watching and speculation of natural wild habitats ruined in the name of progress, I rediscovered something about myself that I hadn’t visited in a long while. My acceptance of zoos hasn’t increased any as I got older. I loved them when I was in my early twenties. That’s no longer the case.

Yet, while I can’t appreciate them as I once did, I no longer condemn them as I would have ten years ago. I’ve reached a compromise of sorts within myself. In an ideal world man and animal would live in harmony, each to his natural habitat, without concern that one would threaten or become a nuisance to the other.

Sanctuaries and zoos have their place now in our world, whether we want it that way or not. These providers of safety and species continuation may be the only hope wildlife has against the destruction of their homelands. I can’t guess at the future of Earth’s wildlife. I can only work to appreciate it at each opportunity, without stressing it any further or helping to wipe it out by my own life process.

I appreciate those who dedicate their lives to safeguarding species other than humans. I applaud their efforts, knowing that life could have been mine. Many years ago at the San Diego Zoo, I was given that opportunity. My reason for rejecting the offer was spurious to say the least; giving up a lucrative job was out of the question right then.

The truth was that such a change at that time in my life scared me silly. My life was still being ruled by other people. That didn’t change until recently. Would I reconsider if given that same offer again? Probably not, but not for the same reason.

Living the life meant for me now, there is no reason to go back. The last major thought to zip through my mind while thinking of zoos and sanctuaries is this. Do humans not do for and to themselves what they’ve done to those creatures of the wild?

In building our civilizations, our cities, our doctrines, have we not built ourselves into a planet-wide zoo in an attempt to preserve our species for something greater; and in doing so, trapped ourselves within, locking the doors against all but the best of locksmiths?

A bientot,

Claudsy

Note:** All photos Courtesy of BJ Jones Photography

Some of the Easiest Characters Around

June 15, 2012 9 comments
Jack Russell Terrier with ball.

Jack Russell Terrier with ball. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Have you ever struggled to come up that character to add comic relief to a story? What about the little kid who holds the hearts of everyone in a five mile radius with the look on his face and the expression in his eyes? Or, the old lady down the street who is always there with a kind word and an understanding presence?

These are all common characters, so common they’ve become near stereotypes. But how do you create freshness to a stereotype without removing what makes them appealing and affective?

Use a different model for your character. Let’s say you’ve chosen to have an old lady for your story. She’s going to live next door to the family you’re writing about. Let’s also assume that that’s all you know about this character.

One way to get a fresh perspective on this character is to change your own perspective. The only thing you know for certain is that this character is old and lives nearby. With this in mind think of others that could be old and live nearby.

  1. An aged golden retriever that’s been faithful and gentle all her life. Her slightly coppery locks have grayed. Her step is more measured now. Her ability to rush is curtailed with age. She is always available for a hug, and she thinks nothing of spending an afternoon with anyone who needs a companion, to sooth and ease a hurt.
  2. An older Scot Terrier that doesn’t take guff from anyone for any reason. Female she might be, but tough, and knows her own mind. Short legs don’t keep her from taking long walks each day; even if they tire easily, she’ll push through to the end.
  3. An older mare that’s birthed her last foal and been put to graze and grow complacent in her last years. She stands at the fence looking to the west, her eyes seeing the wild herds that used to roam the plains and mountains, whose king stallion stands guard at the edge of his circled harem.

You choice of character models are endless, when you realize that all creatures as they age share common traits. By removing the “animal” from the model and concentrating on the behavior, the visible traits, your own story character takes on a new dimension. You could find these characters in your own home.

Remember that comic relief character? Can you think of models to give you a handle on such a role in your story? Here are three that might work.

  1. A Jack Russell Terrier. That’s the hyper pup on springs. If you don’t laugh at the antics of one of these little clowns, there’s no hope for your character.
  2. Chickens are comic creatures, often overlooked for their relief value. Watch a small flock during evening feeding of veggie scraps. Or, watch them tussle over the use of the swing or perch. They also have personalities.
  3. Wild birds during nesting season. They are a hoot; stealing each other’s nesting materials, poking each other, squabbling, all while trying to attract a mate.

Writers must look outside their usual views in order to keep their perspectives out of stereotype territory. One of the surest ways of doing that is to create different criteria for developing characters. Substituting aspects and traits of animals is one of the easiest methods for ensuing uniqueness.

Give yourself time in the park to watch those creatures that frequent it; ducks and geese on the pond, squirrels racing from tree to tree, or birds arguing back and forth. Go to a quiet wooded area and sit down next to a small stream. Wait in silence. You’ll find more inspiration that you know what to do with if you’re patient.

Come back and tell me of your adventures. Let me know how this process works for you. We can always discuss what you learn along the way.

Until then, a bientot,

Claudsy

 

 

 

 

New Posting on Two Voices, One Song

June 15, 2012 Leave a comment
English: Musical score example of two voices i...

English: Musical score example of two voices in parallel motion (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ll be back later today with a posting for Claudsy’s Blog, but in the meantime, why don’t you pop over to Two Voices, One Song to see a piece on traveling your personal road, to whichever destination you have in mind.

You’ll also find there a group of excellent links to other informative and thoughtful offerings around the ether. A new profile is offered behind the Red Door as well.

Enjoy yourselves. Until I see you here later,

A bientot,

Claudsy

 

 

http://2voices1song.com/category/garden/

Mystery, Maudie, and South African Sunsets–A Review

August 10, 2011 7 comments

Author Pierre Van Rooyen ensures that when this tantalizing period story begins, the reader is transported to the suburbs of Johannesburg, South Africa. The narrator is the middle child of a widowed father. Frog–Victor, aged 10–is the oldest, and Maudie—aged 6–is the youngest.

Written in memoir-style, the story looks back at a life lived amidst personal mysteries. Maudie had witnessed her mother’s and uncle’s deaths. The event left her mute, suffering from frequent nightmares. The book’s title derives from the fact that Maudie felt herself to be a different color each day. On Saturdays she was gold.

The story’s memories flow like a southern river on a summer day; persistent and revealing all the dirt scraped from banks on its way past. The dirt, in this case, is a rich setting filled with those details that give a place flavor and substance.

The characters, with their unique speech patterns, begin to feel like the quirky kids down the street; those with secrets held from strangers and knowledge gained from life’s hurdles and speculation.

The mystery that surrounds Maudie and the fears that drive her nightmares and superstitions also drive the story. Promises of native sorcery creep into the story often enough to keep pages turning until the end when all is revealed. The use of the narrator’s small asides to the reader makes effective use of backstory to keep clarity in order.

This 325 page book appeals to younger readers as easily as to adults. The characters hold court for all and deliver a well-seasoned performance. Pierre Van Rooyen has created a place where readers can go looking for foreign adventure, chilling speculation, and come away with deeper thoughts to ponder.

Endaxipress has a winner on its hands with Saturdays Are Gold. This reviewer can recommend this as a page turner of the best kind.