Of Bugs & Bucket Lists

I’ve been thinking LOTS but writing little, owing to feeling down in the dumps lately. It’s a type of writer’s block: you know that lingering line: “Why should I bother who cares anyway?”

This started a few days ago as I was reading and admiring a number of online haiku verses. Such talent! A wave of blue (green?) swept over me. I’ll never be able to write meaningful haiku with clever twists of phrase. Here’s a sample of mine:

grasshopper munching
the eye of my daisy
instant mashed

(Historical note: I’ve observed that grasshoppers just love to munch the tender eyes of coneflowers like rudbekia. Justice is dispensed speedily.)

I read a quote by fellow writer “Biff” that made me smile; I think his words will resonate with writers everywhere:

The only item on my bucket list is to someday be satisfied with something I write.

While this quote is part of his reply in the comments, the article itself is something all writers can relate to. Do take a moment to pop over and read his post: A Writer’s Lament.

On the cover of the latest issue of FellowScript Christian writers magazine I read the question, “Should You Write For Free?” And my obvious answer is, “Of course not! I should be getting thousands of dollars for what I write.” Okay, hundreds. I’d even welcome tens.

Do what you love and the money will follow.

Ha!

I’m somewhat cheered today, seeing the haiku I submitted to Troutswirl, the Haiku Foundation’s blog, has been published. Also, I accept that, even though I don’t ever earn a penny, I have the complete freedom to write and post on my blog.

But now that I’ve shared my ups and downs with you, I’d best get back to digging my flower bed in preparation for some pretty blooms.

ducky digging in the flowerbed
trying to win it back
nary a feather to be seen
but sure no lack of quack
🙂

The Fly On My Nose

The following poem is my response to Crispina’s Creative Challenge #27.  The poem is based on a too-true experience. 😉 I do hope you will pardon me, Crispina, for adding this unsavory detail to your lovely photo.

Green field-in-may

The Fly on My Nose

My eyes on the far distant green,
and the purest white blossoms between,
toward the bright scene I incline
admiring the tones opaline.

Closer goes my nose to that pane
my eyes sweeping over terrain…
When some blip urges me to glance down
to a dot by my nose — and I frown.

Ick! Almost my nose touched that fly
that fuzzy black dot, ’til my eye
could focus and signal my brain
to jerk swiftly back on the rein.
Oh, gross! To think I almost mashed
my nose against that bit of trash.

But how many times can it be said—
our focus on far field is spread,
not seeing the end of our nose—
we often bring on ourselves woes?

Capturing Their Feelings

I recently purchased and have been reading a book titled Write Like Issa: A Haiku How To, by David Lanoue.

The writer talks about the compassion Issa often showed for the creatures he saw. He seemed to  look through their eyes for a moment and express, in an understanding way, how they were reacting to heat, cold, pain, etc. Be it the fly in a hot stuffy room, the toad on a chilly morning, the chicken dragging a damaged wing, he could display through his verse, without actually stating, their physical feelings.

The sparrows we see in winter puff up when it’s cold and they must feel an icy wind ruffling their feathers. Or we may see a baby bird hopping after its harried mother, crying for more food. Issa wrote a famous verse identifying himself with the hungry chick, by throwing in the words “step-child bird.” Knowing that the poet was a step-child neglected and harshly treated by his father’s second wife, we get the picture of his own hunger and longing for affection.

One of the exercises Mr Lanoue gives readers is to recall a experience shared with a some creature and then capture that in a haiku. I think we can all recall instances when a creature, especially a pet, shows some “feeling” we can identify with. One day as I was walking to the mall, I saw a salamander alongside the curb, twisting his head this way and that in obvious distress as cars swished past not far away. The traffic wasn’t steady; but every so often another car would pass and frighten him, yet the poor creature couldn’t go up the curb to escape that way. Just observing him a moment, I caught his fear and bewilderment. I could easily imagine the desperate cry of, “Which way shall I go?”

I’m not sure I could condense that scene enough for a haiku — if you want to give it a try, go for it, and leave your verse as a comment. But here’s a quick and easy scene for a verse. I don’t know if it’s a great haiku or not, but have you ever noticed how a fly is attracted to a dish or jar that once held something sweet?

fruit fly explores
the just-washed jam jar
something tells him

Ads and Fried Termites

Word of the Day prompt this morning: IMAGINATION
Merriam-Webster’s word of the day: AUDACIOUS
Fandango’s One-word-challenge: TRAP

I posted this article years ago, but will post it again this morning, as it fits the above prompt words.

As you all know, a writer’s mind is a constantly swirling inkwell. I see, hear, read, experience things – and my mind traps this new info, wanting to turn it into stories or articles. It’s in my genes; I come from a long line of storytellers. After all these years I’m still trying to decide if this swirling process is pearl or peril. Is God sending these inspirations, wishing to speak through me – or is it that “muse” some people speak of that’s made chaos of what could have been my well ordered life? 🙂

I have dear friends whose minds seem to turn in orderly rotations around the fulcrum of “clean and neat.” It’s deep in their genes and I admire the results they achieve in their homes. Many times I’ve decided to give up writing in favour of having a sparkling house like some others. I may spend hours editing, trying to achieve “clean, neat, and in order” in the articles I write but this doesn’t leave me time to give my physical surrounding that same care. ☹

Some women look at the world with their eyes, where I tend to see the world with my mind or imagination. For example, if I walk through my house and see light shining in the windows, I might think about doing an article on light versus darkness; my friends will see that the window needs cleaning and get to it. Or they make a mental note to do it later–and remember.

I make notes, too, but they get lost somewhere. (The fate of many of my literal lists as well.) Then there are times when some really brilliant or audacious idea pops into my head, but I can’t drop what I’m doing. I try to snatch a moment to rush to the computer and type in a title –and maybe a few lines– before I forget it. When I’ve finished what I’m doing, I’ll get back to that file and let the creative juices flow. If I remember.

A few weeks ago I noticed a file in my hard drive entitled “Ads, ads, and termites.” I stared at the screen for a minute. What kind of ads was I thinking of? Kijiji, perhaps? But why the repeat? And how do termites fit with ads? I was mystified and didn’t bother to open the file.

Yesterday I saw it again and the fog started clearing. “Ads, ads” wasn’t advertisements; this stood for adjectives and adverbs. I was thinking about adverbs and adjectives, then read something about termites, and somehow a comparison popped into my head. I’d been reading a missionaries’ letter –they are working in Cameroon– and they wrote something about termites. But what? Sigh…

I opened the file; here’s what I’d typed in:
Adjectives, adverbs, and fried termites. (Fried termites?)
The almost-pure-white butterflies flipped and flopped in lazy circles over the crisply sun-burned lawn, searching for a choice bit of vegetation on which to lay their tiny greenish-yellow eggs.

I know adjectives and adverbs have fallen into disfavour these days. You’re supposed to cut back on them and rather choose strong nouns and verbs. Like “The ivory-coloured butterflies winged figure eights over what once was lawn, searching for some living green on which to lay their eggs.”

But what does that all have to do with fried termites? Whatever the case may be, I fear they will be forever trapped in some crazy mental link-up now! Whenever I hear termites, I’ll think of ads.

Much like the incident my mother-in law told me about. One day while she was still a girl at home her brother Jake asked her a question: “When you see a falling star, do you ever think of onions?”

“Onions! No, never,” she answered.

“You will from now on,” Jake said with a laugh.

Oh, brother! she thought, but she told me his words have proved true: after that day, every time she saw a falling star she was reminded of that dumb joke. And since she told me, I’ve thought of that silly “onions” joke, too, every time I see a falling star.

So be warned. It’s possible that, from now on, every time someone mentions adjectives and adverbs you may find yourself thinking “fried termites.”

Perhaps I’d better find that letter, read it again, find out what my comparison was and tell you, too. Right now the letter is buried somewhere in a pile of correspondence we received, but if I’d clean my house once…

Strange New Critters

As the week, I feel, so the summer. How can it be almost gone? Nevertheless it’s Saturday —and yesterday’s weather was a good taste of things to come. The weatherman has predicted rain for today, but rain in harvest is odious, so none of us will mind at all if it doesn’t come.

There are still a few hummingbirds with us; I saw two, possibly three, off and on yesterday. Last night I actually brought the juice inside so it wouldn’t be so cold for the tiny creatures if they came — spoiling them, I guess.

I waited until after dark to take down the feeder, but while I was still on the deck, two steps up from the ground, I noticed — a hummingbird?? — gathering nectar from the flowers in the three tubs just below me. I watched it zip from flower to flower, coming within a few feet of where I stood. I was rather dumbfounded to see a hummer foraging in the dark. Poor thing must be starving to be so bold!

The tiny bird, not much bigger than a dragonfly, whizzed among the petunia blossoms quite unmindful of my presence so I stepped down and took a better look. I’ve never before seen a hummingbird this small — nor noticed the cross-wise stripes on its back. Almost like a wasp. Wait a minute! This just can’t be a hummer!

So I called my husband to come see this odd creature, which zipped around us a few times as we stood there, then went back to the flower pots. Our cats were outside now, too, and it zipped almost by their noses. I had to chase Pookie away or he would have caught the clueless thing! Bob got a fair look, too, as it slurped nectar from the petunias and said it must be a moth of some kind.

So I Googled, “moth that looks like a hummingbird” and there really is such a thing: a hummingbird hawk moth. This photo from a Bug Guide post shows the exact creature.Hummingbird Moth, black and white, British Columbia, Canada - Sphinx perelegans

Learn something new every day! Here’s another article about it.

This morning I put out the juice again and an adult female hummer was at the feeder at 6am. I think the little guys have been gone for a few days already. How much longer until they’re all gone?

I wonder how you all will be spending your day, and this weekend? Not weekend-at-the-lake weather here; rather, this would be a good day to bake and warm up the house with oven scents. I’m still keying in my misc scribblings and other clipped-out items I’ve saved over the years. I’ve finally decided there’s nothing intrinsically sacred about the words, though; I can toss the poems that aren’t that great. Ditto with my own writing. I’ve been telling myself, “One of these days I’m going to polish all these writings.” Time to face the music.

Here’s one little “thought” I wrote a few years back, in the midst of another decluttering effort.

ACCUMULATION

A lifetime of knickknacks:
souvenirs, gifts from friends,
inherited from elderly aunts.
The accumulation filled
her space. There was barely room
for the stretcher when she died
while rearranging her stuff.

Have a nice weekend, everyone!