Crumbles in the Kitchen

The Ragtag Daily Prompt yesterday was CHAMBER. I had a few thoughts lined up on that subject, but didn’t get them down. Today’s prompt is CRUMBLE; maybe I can combine the two.

Pixabay image

Chambre is the French word for room, which is where we got it. According to my book on word etymology CHAMBRE + CHAMBER are derived from the Greek word kamara, which meant something with an arched cover or a room with a vaulted roof. This entered Latin as camara, which in turn slipped into English as CAMERA and brought its cousin COMRADE, which originally referred to someone sharing a room.
The Germans did their part, too, in contributing to the diversity of English. The Greek kamara became the Frankish word kamerling, which hopped across the Channel, morphing into chamberlain en route and, in England, reshaped itself into a chimney.

Though the ancient Greek and Roman worlds have crumbled over time, linguistic bricks have been scattered far and wide, gathered up, and cemented into many other languages.

The word CHAMBER immediately reminded me of that old nursery rhyme, Goosey Goosey Gander. According to Wikipedia, the earliest recorded version of this rhyme was published in a London nursery rhyme book in 1784 and there have been several additions through the years. In keeping with today’s prompt, I’ll add a new verse to the story myself:

Goosey goosey gander
wither shall I wander
upstairs and downstairs
and in my lady’s chamber.


And did you check the kitchen, too
my pretty roaming goosey?
Oh yes! I found the pastry cook,
where lovely little Lucy
was in the midst of mixing up
a dish of apple crumble
and when I tipped it on the floor
you should have heard her grumble!

Image by Gerrit Horstman — Pixabay

Travel By The Book

I subscribe to BookBub so this morning I received my daily list of suggestions for possibilities that might interest me. Frank Zappa once said, “So many books; so little time!” I can definitely identify.

The book suggestions completely crossed the planet, going from Fatal North by Bruce Henderson–about the 1871 Polaris expedition–clear down to Antarctica by Gabrielle Walker. Everything you ever wanted to know about the South Pole explorations. Then we have The Art of the Compliment by Christie Matheson. probably something everyone should read. 🙂 And Peter Singer writes about The Most Good You Can Do.

The Unfinished Odyssey of Robert Kennedy by David Halberstam would be a book for US political history buffs. The blurb says: “An in-depth examination of the political career, personal life, and untimely demise of Robert Kennedy.” Like most everyone during those years, I heard & read about the Kennedy family tragedies but now it’s “water under the bridge” and not high priority reading for me.

One writer has decided to time-travel, literally, to Victorian England. The Victorian Life by Sarah A Chrisman. Blurb: “Fascinated by the 19th century, one couple decided to fully commit to a Victorian way of life. From tending oil lamps to wrestling with corset laces, this charming and insightful read chronicles a modern exploration of a bygone era.”

Have these folks chosen an upper class lifestyle or do they give glimpses of life for the rest of society in that era? I have a book of written records made by various people back in Victorian England, describing the living conditions they observed among the working class and the destitute. The average George Brown, victim of the Industrial revolution, who had only a cup of tea yesterday, nothing today. Homeless men spending nights in a poor-house. Women doing men’s jobs–cheaper labour costs, you know–working hard in a factory for twelve hours a day, with a nursing baby strapped to their chest and a toddler or two beside them. Or a family in London’s East end in a slum where landlords rented by the day and if you couldn’t pay, your belongings–what few you had–were thrown out in the street so your apartment could be rented to someone who could. Corset laces were the least of their worries.

I’ve noticed that people who claim to be reincarnated weren’t, in their former life, an average Joe, Pedro the galley slave, Lizzy the overworked scullery maid, or Piers the crippled soldier. History is full of unknowns barely surviving, but the folks who claim to remember a past life were usually a famous/notorious SOMEONE. Biblical character, prophet, Rajah, Prince or Princess, doctor or scientist. I don’t know as anyone’s ever claimed a past life as a writer. 🙂

Time travel books work the same. The traveler’s dropped into an intriguing time in history and accepted by the locals. These from-the-future visitors always have the means to keep from fatal accident, starvation, or execution as a heretic or witch, until they head home again. Well, I suppose that’s fiction for you: writers have complete control of their character’s fate.

I believe that now and then we all need an accurate picture of life as it was way back when. Last night I was listening to the audio-book about Nicholas Nickleby and his life at Dotheboys Hall. Kudos to Charles Dickens, an author who gives us a realistic view of life for the lower classes of his day — and through his novels actually managed to change society’s attitude toward the poor. If we only knew it, we still benefit very much from what he accomplished.

BookBub, Book Cave, Reading Deals and various other outlets are ways for writers to advertise and get their books out to readers. There are lots more book deals but I have a very restricted list of interest. Subscribers can tailor their selections to their own interests when they sign up.

Micro-poetry

What’s MICRO POETRY? Anything short, I suppose. 🙂

Background image: Pixabay

A lot of the old nursery rhymes were micro-poetry, as are haiku & senryu. I hear of Twitter verses now, which must be 140 characters or less. Here’s my effort, using 139 characters:

Snatched an egg from our hen,
the egg was good; I tried it again.
What a thief! the angry hen squawked.
Now I have one hand with chicken pox.

🙂

Another type of micro-poetry is the limerick like this one — I think it’s quite well known — by an unknown author:

I raised a great hullabaloo
 when I found a large mouse in my stew.
Said the waiter, "Don't shout and wave it about
 or the rest will be wanting one, too!"


Some years back I found the book PIPING DOWN THE VALLEYS WILD — “A merry mix of verses for all ages.” Edited and © 1968 by Nancy Larrick Crosby, published by Bantam Doubleday Dell Books. So many fun examples of long and short verses, old and new.

Here are a couple of my own micro-poems — the first one mainly for lovers of big words:

FLETCHERIZE

What is this new word fletcherize?
It brings no vision to my eyes;
its purpose I can’t crystalize;
all sense of rhythm it defies.

A word that is so obdurate,
with sounds that cannot resonate
a poet true will obviate
for fear it would obfuscate.

(Fletcherize, a word given as a writing prompt one day, means to reduce (food) to tiny particles, especially by prolonged chewing.)

FRIENDS

The real jewels in this world
Aren't found midst piles of gold;
They're found in friendship's sparkling eyes
Where love and warmth enfold.

What’s A Short Story?

One writing site I follow recently held a contest: “Write a short story in 500 words or less.” As I read through the various submissions this morning, part of the problem for me was thinking a story is always fiction. However, this contest called for a non-fiction story. So I read brief memoirs, rambling musings about life, possible devotional articles, but few submissions that I’d consider a real STORY.

Am I off-base in my understanding of STORY? There are a number of weekly writing challenges I do participate in that call for writing a story in xxx words, so it’s good to get a handle on the concept, even if I didn’t enter this contest.

Image from Pixabay

According to GRAMMARLY’s website, “Short stories are a form of narrative writing that has all the same elements as novels—plot, character development, point of view, story structure, theme—but are delivered in fewer words. … A short story is a short, self-contained work of fiction…”

And I see the ubiquitously quoted “Baby shoes for sale, never worn.”

Writer L Ron Hubbard gives good pointers on how to critique a short story: You need to judge the originality, the scene-setting, characterization, conflict and plot, a theme. It should be engaging and deliver some emotional payoff.

The Ragtag Daily Prompt for today is BRIDGE and I think it fits in today’s musing.

A short story should create a BRIDGE between a writer and a reader. Whether fiction or non-fiction, I need to reach out through my own – or my character’s – experience and touch your heart. It may be only a little chuckle, a small example of the human nature we all share, or a bit of sorrow.

Image by Josch13 — Pixabay

If I write about the time our family went to the zoo, saw the polar bears, watched the antics of the monkeys, had a great time, and came home, will that touch your heart?

If our beloved Jr disappeared at the zoo and we searched frantically to find him, that experience could easily be crafted into a story and would resonate with all parents. If I had to tell it in 100 words or less, that would take a lot of whittling! There wouldn’t be a lot of room to develop scene or theme, but it could be done.

Stories, especially short ones, need to start with a bang. No “Our family was at the zoo one sunny morning in mid-July. We were watching the polar bears splashing around in their pool when our I noticed that our son had disappeared in the crowd.”

Rather…
We watched the polar bears splashing so comically in their pool. I turned to lift my six-year-old so he could see more of their antics…and he’d disappeared!
“Frank,” I screamed over the noise of the other tourists, “Where’s Junior?”
Frank whirled around. “Junior! Where are you,” he shouted as we both scanned the crowd frantically.

Most readers would easily get the picture and feel some connection to this couple.

Anyway, enough of my musings. What do you see as the elements of an engaging short story? Do you like upbeat, happy endings? Or are you one who likes being left with a haunting melancholy when you’re done?

Gifties

The Ragtag Daily Prompt this morning is EGGS. So I’ll post this little collection:

Eggs image by Alexas_Fotos at Pixabay.
Quote from the poem “To a Louse” by Robert Burns

For those of you not familiar with “To a Louse,” Bobby Burns was sitting in church one Sunday morning taking note of the fine Jeanie sitting ahead of him. She was dressed to the nines, with fancy gown and lovely Sunday-best hat and putting on airs like quite the elegant lady. But then Bobby noticed a tiny louse crawling along the edge of her hat brim. Wouldn’t she be mortified to know that, for all her pride in dressing to the nines, folks behind her could see she had lice in her hair? If she only knew what others were seeing! And how dare this ugly little beast reveal the flaw! So the poet concludes in his last line, “If we could see ourselves as others see us, it would from many a blunder free us, and foolish notion.”

So do others see me as a good egg, hard-boiled, usually scrambled, or even seriously cracked? Hmm…maybe I’d best not know? What do you think: would it be “a gift” to get a glimpse of ourselves through others’ eyes now and then? Or would we be apt to think, “Well, that’s just their opinion/attitude.”