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Taking a Step Back

August 4, 2012 Leave a comment

Courtesy of BJ Jones Photography

Ever wonder why we use this expression this way? I know, you’re asking “What way?”

I say, “Every way.”

Think about it. What is a “step back”? Something leaps onto the path we’re walking. We step back; from startlement, fright, consternation, you-name-it.

We make use of this step to re-evaluate, to make a split-second decision whether to fight or flee. We need to know what we’re facing before making a leap of our own. This may be our only chance consciously to decide.

This stepping-back behavior for decision making permeates nearly every corner of our lives. We may or may not realize it at the time. On some occasions we don’t have the leisure to recognize the process or the maneuver.

“Let’s take a step back and look at this situation.” How many business meetings have paused after a similar statement while those in charge review options, repercussions of those options, or the people, places, and procedures involved in those options?

I dare say that few meetings get to an end without some variant of these words, especially interdepartmental meetings. “Shall we table this and regroup after everyone’s had a chance to take a good long look at it?”

See what I mean?

The question of pausing to consider plays a role in individual lives as well. It can be as minor as “cantaloupe or honey dew” while in the produce aisle of the grocery store or as monumental as “chemo or radiation.” Each decision event has impact; large or small.

“Shall we make it illegal for citizens to grow some of their own food?”

This pause has happened–is happening in Washington–at least according to the media. I don’t bring this up as a political statement, but rather as a demonstration of how vast an impact such a question—such a pause for consideration—can make. One question can force an entire country’s population to reconsider many things impacting their lives.

You might ask why this is on my mind right now. That’s a valid question.

I’m in pause mode because I made a major shift in my mindset throughout this summer. What and how I write has shifted; not because I didn’t like what I was writing before, but because I like writing in this new way much better. My approach to both life and writing was in need of an evaluation.

With the shift in my writing, my attitude about life and how I was living also shifted. That change warranted a continued attitude adjustment in my writing. I got to that old “chicken and the egg” portion of life.

Priorities became more pronounced. Life paths suddenly had the full light of purpose shined upon them. How could I not stop to consider or ponder my direction?

The Step became necessary to fully appreciate where I’ve come from and where I’m going. More importantly, I discovered some of the why’s in my life, and those always necessitate a pause. Hence, I arrived at this doorstep.

I have no clue where I’ll travel on this new path. I’m only sure that the ride will be memorable. I’m looking forward to new discoveries.

With Two Voices, One Song I expand horizons and understandings. With my poetry I explore new audiences while enjoying those who’ve willingly been here all along. With my newly acquired thrill of flash fiction I can grow faster along channels of fantasy.

Claudsy’s Blog and Claudsy’s Calliope remain corner stones which anchor my new forays into the writing experience. I’m so grateful for all of those who’ve encouraged me to explore, whether through poetry and photos, flash fiction, or other genres. And I’m grateful for the opportunity to grow as a writer.

As far as I know, I’m not moving out of these digs here. I’m merely refining the edges, smoothing out the throw rugs, and adding the occasional knick-knack.

Until we meet here again in a few days, a bientot,

Claudsy

More Flash Fiction

July 7, 2012 3 comments

Flashy Fiction Prompt Photo

The Gleaning

Soon the pickers will come; their baskets covered and darkly empty. Who will survive this season’s harvest? How many can we get to safety in the caverns below? And how many will survive the terror of remaining below until the sky homes are again safe?

Our new leader perches, grasping his branch of authority so tightly his talons have sunken into the bark, almost heartwood deep. Families gather to hear his plans for leaving our sky homes for burrowed havens during this time of The Gleaning. Not even sky’s soft breath disturbs the silence holding our attention.

“This night will see us gone from these homes. Each parent pair holds responsibility for their young ones.”

Fledglings tuck up against parents’ sides, beneath sheltering wing power. Feet shuffle and scrape bark with restless talons. The scouts must have reported the pickers on their way to the forest.

Leader spreads wings to call order and flips them again to his back.

“Our fasting will begin at full dawn. The hardship of the season is upon us. Feed well before entering the burrows. It will be the last for a foot of moon rises.”

The sound of his last instruction faded. Leader departed to get his own charges on the ground and fed before dawn. Each small group moves forward to launch.

Fledglings balk, hesitating. They are shoved off for their first flight. For them the dark unknown rushes to meet them, not caring that this is new and frightening for these small feathered bodies. Moss hummocks and short leaf blades cushion their landings and bounces. One parent accompanies each new flyer and examines for injuries at the landing spot.

As soon as able-bodied fledglings are grounded, parents roam the sky homes looking for stragglers. Here and there weak calls come from homes, where those too weak or ill have been left behind. Their sacrifice will ensure that the fit will survive The Gleaning.

As the sun begins to streak the forest with its rays, the people begin to stuff last meals down their gullets. Many will be too weak and malnourished to hunt after The Gleaning. Designated caretakers go through the crowds before each burrow, marking the ones to watch for when the safety call comes from the watch patrol.

Thank the Great Winged One, the watch patrol will be gathering larger meals for that unearthing time. Calls from overhead alert those who need to hide. Young ones are pushed into burrow entrances, followed closely by adults. In moments only the patrol remains; covering entrances with harvested mosses to disguise the havens from the pickers.

Task complete, they leap into the air, flapping for altitude into the high reaches, where pickers never climb. The wait begins; the wait for sky’s freedom for the people. With full light, the pickers arrive, their baskets covered, darkly empty. Soon those sacrificed will have given their glorious feathers to occupy those baskets.

Flash Fiction Day

July 5, 2012 12 comments

Flash Fiction Prompt

Each day a lovely little website referred to as Flashy Fiction offers a writing prompt to a photo. Today’s prompt was a two-fer because it’s been combined with Friday’s prompt.

I had to do one for today. The opportunity was too good and the prompt too right-up-my-alley. So, this is what I wrote for the photo above. I hope you enjoy it. And please, stop by to see all the offerings on Flashy Fiction. You’ll be glad you did.

The Light of Meaning

Within me grows a tension I cannot place. What could cause this sensation of impending destiny, which perches like a vulture just out of visual range? Does my breath come short and quick because of unexpected claustrophobia at the looks of this canyon before me?

My friends don’t seem to notice how silence surrounds this place, how the scent of dust carries with it a hint of the ancient. Their shouts fall short of my space, leaving me in a personal bell jar inside these striped red walls.

Illusions of undulating Dune’s Shai-Hulud flash across my mind. I wonder if this was how Paul felt the first time he waited for that beast to rise from the desert floor. Would there be such a ritual for me to perform for the coming secret to reveal itself? And how do I know there is a secret?

Footsteps echo. Shock sweeps through me. I recognize them as my own, though I don’t recall moving into the inner recesses of a side chamber. Dim illumination draws me forward, faster as hesitation drops away. I must know this thing that would be.

Twists and turns, dried water channels of exquisite sandstone, bring me, at last, to the chamber. I burst forth from the passage, panting in excitement and terror. Finally, I see what has haunted my vague dreams for longer than memory reaches. It waits; one glorious beam of pure light.

Within that circle of illumination is the future I’ve tried to escape from and now run to in a sprint of desperation. Could my heart beat any harder and remain caged within my body? Could my responding body contain so much light?

A jerk, like that of a tether drawn forward suddenly, pulls me into the beam of sunlight that squeezes through a tiny overhead opening. My head arches back. My chest swells and rises, as if I’m a mere marionette and someone has yanked my string upward. My mind is filled with music, sweet and gentle, as it ebbs and surges through the channels of my soul.

Home comes calling. I have been away longer than I can imagine right now. My mind registers the knowledge of a previous, though, different life elsewhere; a knowledge that explains so much that has confused me during this life.

The music and light fill me with the purpose I’ve been seeking. All is clear now. I have come this far to learn that only one act of mine is necessary for my life to have meaning for this world; to learn that with that act, I have completed my purpose here and can go home again.

Is there any better bliss than such sure knowledge?

Flash Fiction is Everywhere

June 25, 2012 2 comments

If you’re looking for a lunchtime break with a little fiction of a different type, head over to Two Voices, One Song. I’ve posted a new bit of Flash Fiction there this morning titled “Choices.”

Later today, I’ll have a new, regular post here with pics, but I thought I’d give you all a heads-up about a quick read. Hope you enjoy it. While you’re there, and if you have time, take a look around. There’s plenty to see.

Here’s the link.

http://2voices1song.com/2012/06/25/886/

See you all in a bit. Have a great afternoon, peeps.

Claudsy

Want a Good Time?

June 12, 2012 Leave a comment

Yesterday two new postings were placed on display at Two Voices, One Song. I should apologize here for having neglected to keep everyone posted as to new offerings over there at the house.

You’ll find new poetry, new essays and profiles, discussions on philosophy and brainstorming sessions as Meena Rose and I work through a book that she’s writing.

Please take the time to explore the many rooms of Two Voices. You’ll find plenty of new Flash Fiction to keep you reading for a while. Enjoy yourselves, Please. We like drop-ins over there, too.

You’ll find everything you could want there for the asking. Look into all the rooms.

I hope you go that often. It’s an exciting place, all things considered.

Go to: http://2voices1song.com/

You’ll notice it’s now a freestanding website. Those who like Flash Fiction will have a great time. I posted a new one in the middle of the night that’s first up on the roll–a fantasy piece that leans toward the dark side. Have fun.

Cooking, Karaoke, and Crisp Prose

May 11, 2012 Leave a comment

Courtesy of BJ Jones Photography

SAD is in full-swing this month. That’s my MNINB group’s May challenge: Submit a piece A Day. So far I’m batting a thousand.

I’d just finished sending off a piece of Flash Fiction to Ether Books this morning when I became time conscious. What’s that? It means I got a closer look at the time and realized I still had zucchini bread to make before going into anything further.

You knew about the cookbook I’m writing, didn’t you? I’m just now getting around to putting together the recipes I’m responsible for in the book. We need to have all of the modified and personally designed recipes finished in a couple of weeks so that I can get them plugged into the manuscript. Anyone who thinks writing a cookbook is easy should watch Julie and Julia. It has nightmare potential.

I’m fortunate. I only have responsibility for a few of the recipes, aside from doing the editing. My two partners have borne the brunt of the cooking endeavors, and one of those—sister of mine—is doing all the photos. Can’t beat that with a stick, to quote grandpa.

I was using a newly developed recipe for my Zucchini-Oatmeal Nut Bread and it turned out beautifully. The whole-ground wheat flour kept it a deep golden brown as it rose in the oven. The apple sauce replacing the oil in our healthy version sent its aroma wafting across the kitchen seeking nostrils for appreciation. That nuttiness of crushed walnuts lent its own aspect to the bread’s prospective deliciousness.

Back to the point: the bread was doing its thing in the oven along with a tray of tiny Bundt pans of bread batter. While they baked, I rode the recumbent bike, listened to the radio playing in the background, and thought about those items still on my editorial calendar for the day.

Karaoke thoughts entered the picture when the radio came on. We don’t have such a machine. We do it the old-fashioned way, personal memory and raw voice. We choose not to use a microphone. No one in his right mind would want to hear us sing anyway.

Which brings me back to the bike. I try to do three plus miles a day on the bike. When I’m pedaling, I use the time to plan out stories, read writer’s magazines, or plot schedules. Getting organized will bring about such aberrations of thought.

And what I was considering today was how much like cooking writing really is. A recipe is nothing more than a plot, with a beginning, middle, and ending.

The ingredients list represents all of those necessary characters, each with dimensional measurements and traits. The setting and plot twists appear in the directions for combining all of those ingredients. Bowls are involved. Mixers take precedence over the future of the ingredients, all the while a specific order of action must be followed, so that the plot is satisfied, and the outcome is assured.

Great care comes in how hot to have the oven and how long to let the bread bake.  Specific directions ensure that nothing unforeseen can ruin the baking. And when the loaf is pulled from the oven, the cook must carefully judge when to take the loaf from the pan and how long to allow it to cool before cutting and consumption can begin.

I’d baked a loaf of bread. I’d changed half of the ingredients from a basic quick bread recipe because we don’t use sugar, white flour, or oil. I’d change measurements of some of those ingredients; three-quarters the amount of wheat flour and one quarter amaranth flour. I’d made adjustments to create a personal loaf of bread.

In the same way, writers put prose together, whether fiction or non-fiction. They learn how to cook with myriad ingredients and how to manipulate and combine those ingredients to get different outcomes. They learn how to bake, not with precision of time or temperature, but with intuition and experience. That’s what good cooks do most of the time.

Now, let me ask you. How do you cook your stories, poems, or essays? Do you use a recipe or wing it? Share your method of assemblage here. I haven’t yet met a cook who doesn’t enjoy a good chat over a cup of tea or coffee. Pull up a chair, and get comfortable.

So, tell me, how do you…?

 

Zucchini Oatmeal Nut Bread (from “Get REAL in the Kitchen—coming out in 2012)

3 eggs

1 ½ C. Stevia

1 C. unsweetened applesauce

1 Tbsp. vanilla

1 C. quick oats

1 ½ whole-ground wheat flour

½ C. amaranth flour

1 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. baking soda

½ tsp. sea salt

¼ tsp. baking powder

2 C. unpeeled, raw, grated zucchini

1 C. chopped pecans (optional with walnuts or hazelnuts)

1 C. chopped raisins (optional with other chopped dried fruits)

Beat together eggs and Stevia. Mix in applesauce and vanilla. Combine dry ingredients into egg mixture and mix thoroughly. Add zucchini, nuts, and fruit (if desired.)

Pour into 2 greased and floured 4-8-inch loaf pans or split between one loaf pan and muffin tins.

Bake at 350° F. for 1 hour. Muffin tins will be ready to remove in 25-30 minutes.

Note: 5 small foil pans will work for individual loaves instead of larger loaf pans.

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I hope you’ll drool well over this recipe. It’s going to become a favorite around our house. It will freeze wonderfully, too. Enjoy your cooking lesson.

Claudsy

Flash Fiction Makes a Statement

May 5, 2012 6 comments
Multicolored nylon lattice delta kite Français...

Multicolored nylon lattice delta kite Français : Cerf-volant triangulaire (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Once in a while I write a bit of flash fiction. The exercise isn’t the easiest for someone who’s in love with word volume, but it’s terrific for honing skills used to tighten a story, make it crisper, and give it a memorable delivery.

Now that I’ve found a new outlet for flash, I can indulge each day, if I choose, to write short short stories to great visual prompts. This is one story I wrote this morning. If you’d like to check out the site and the prompt, I’ve left the trail of breadcrumbs at the bottom of this post. Enjoy the read, and let me know if I did deliver.

 

One Last Flyer

Visitors jostled each other, shoving forward to Seaport’s Punta de los Muertos. The village overflowed with contestants and spectators for the first annual “Kite Fly on the Point.” Thousands of feet of light kite cable hung from flyer’s belts throughout the park.

Amelia flexed her already aching hand around the looped cable at her waist. Beside it, dikes rested in their holster if she needed to cut the cable during the extravaganza. It wouldn’t do to get dragged into San Diego Bay during her event.

Too soon, Amelia heard her name. One hand filled with jewel-toned fabric, the other gripping her cable, she stepped to barrier at the edge of the sea. She waited for the nod to let out her kite.

With long practice she played out the ruby pennant sock and its cable, waiting for the next errant breeze. One after another, her jewels fled to the sky; pulling, towing, always reaching for the heavens, her pennants few straight and true on the stiffening breeze. It seemed so long since she’d danced this way.

Twice her flags attempted escape. Twice she pulled them back into line, her control cables requiring all her concentration, all of her strength. She’d only added the one flag, the one for Rachel. And yet, it screamed for release, just as her baby girl had near the end.

Amelia’s right hand dropped that control line, slid her hand to the holster, and pulled out the dikes. A hundred feet of cable or a thousand, it didn’t matter. Some things needed to be let go of, and Rachel’s kite was one of them. Her baby could fly it in Heaven.

After all, wasn’t that really why she’d come here today; to let go of all the struggle and the pain?

She felt someone pull at her arm. They weren’t stronger than her resolve. Cutters met cable, a quick crimp, and the kite leaped toward the stratosphere. It bucked, flapped in exuberance, and flew as an arrow on the long flight.

Now they were all free.

 

Find more excellent fiction and prompts as: http://flashyfiction.blogspot.com/2012/04/strung-still-but-free-to-fly.html#comment-form