Shoot the Things!

The Ragtag Daily Prompt for today:  ENOUGH!
The Word of the Day Challenge:  USUAL
Sue’s Jibber Jabber prompt word: HISTORY
Fandango’s One-Word ChallengeBABY
And here’s my response — an oft-beaten drum of mine:

Down with Imports!

I’d like to meet the fellow who thought we needed English sparrows here in Canada. I’d like him to know just what havoc he has wrought, how badly these aggressively invasive pests have decimated the native population. Already at risk because man has taken over their native land, our local birds also have to contend with these invasive imports. Add starlings to this list, too.

Some of my current grief is our own fault, I will admit. Last winter we thought we’d put out a feeder for chickadees, woodpeckers, nuthatches — all those cute birds that do linger here over winter. And what did we get? Oodles of English sparrows. Unlike the native birds, they have no idea of migrating, no native southern winter region.

This spring when my tree swallows returned, the sparrows were still hanging around even though we’d quit putting out feed a month before. One pair claimed one of the nest boxes we’ve set up for swallows. Another pair took over the swallow house on the north side of our house. One pair of swallows looked like they’d hang onto the south-side nest. But no. The sparrows drove them out, too. I only hope they didn’t kill the swallows as they are wont to do. I was furious when I found a dead swallow in the nest two years ago; the sparrows just built on top of their victim.

Enough! It’s too late to provide nests for the swallows and I don’t want a bunch of starving baby birds around our yard, so I’ll leave things as they are until summer’s over. But once our usual birds have left I’m inviting my grandsons over with their rifles and we can have a Sparrow Liquidation.

Invasive Species Still Coming

This is my personal grief, but others in this area have had grief because some light-bulbs thought they could import wild boars for sport hunting. The creatures thrived; with no natural enemies they soon took over woodlands. Now to get rid of them! A few years back our menfolk had a giant boar hunt and killed as many as they could. But the creatures have great instincts for survival.

History is full of examples of species brought over from “the old country” to become a horrible nuisance in a new world. Rabbits in Australia, for one. And Canada geese. Fine here, but they aren’t wanted in Australia. Anacondas in the Everglades are the product of exotic pet sales. Ditto with the piranhas dumped in the Southern lakes and rivers.

Some people have no comprehension as to what they’ll do when the reptile or fish they wanted as a “novelty pet” gets too big — or the owner has to move — or whatever. But our governments should be able to learn from history and ban the import of exotic creatures.

And they have, to some extent. But if some teenager wants a Komodo dragon because it’s “rare and unique,” somebody else will find a way to capture one and smuggle it in. And this is really sad, because how many little ones will die in risky transit methods?

I read an interesting new item one time: a woman coming in by plane was stopped at US customs and it was discovered she had fourteen rare baby lizards — illegal to import — stuffed in her blouse. Destined for sale as rare pets. Two stars for SANGFROID; five stars for INANITY.

Save the native flora and fauna from extinction!
Ban the import of exotic species.

reptile-3110174_640
Imagae by Schwoaze  —  Pixabay

One thing I’m grateful for…

This morning, after replying to the Ragtag Daily Prompt, I decided to look around and check out other writing prompts on the Internet. Which brings me to one of my peeves and its flip side, something I’m very grateful for.

The Discovery prompt for today was GRATEFUL. There are so many things for which I should be grateful, and here I am griping about one small oil slick in the sea of life.

WordPress may not thank me for this, but I dislike ads, especially those flashing ones, and even worse are the pop up ads that totally clutter up a site. Conversely, I’m so grateful for blogs with no ads.

Back to my wanderings this morning. Writing Generators, the one site I checked out had a rally good prompt generator in the center of their blog screen. You hit a button and two to four words surface. For example, I was given the words ANGUISHED and FLOWERS. Alas, there were so many pop-out ads and regular ads in the sidebars; thankfully you can click them and they’ll disappear.

Another site,  ArtJournalist, had a promising list of words a person could use for art &/or writing prompts — interspersed with various ads. At the site Become a Writer Today, you’ll find a download-able list of short-sentence prompts — and read ads tailor-made for your area. At least mine flashed ads for well known Saskatchewan auctioneers. Sigh…

I learned an interesting fact reading an online article yesterday: the person who invented the pop-up ad wishes they hadn’t. I do, too!

Perhaps you also saw this list of things the inventors thereof regret, like the atom bomb and the AK47. And coffee pods, of all things! Although that inventor seemed rather ambivalent; it’s not that he really regretted developing his idea, but wasn’t impressed in the long run with the instant-ness of coffee pods. (Sad all the way to the bank?)

Now that April is over I suppose the Discovery prompts will cease, but when I googled “one word writing prompts” dozens of pages of lists showed up. No lack, fellow writers! But I’ve wandered enough for one day.

Words. Narciso1
Image by narciso1 –Pixabay

Party’s Over

I often get inspired to write a haiku for the Troutswirl weekly feature, What’s at Hand, but I seldom get my verse ready and sent off by Saturday afternoon. So I’ll just share my ideas here.

beach party over
empty bottles settle
into the sand

beer cans
in the cave – signs of
intelligent life

Don’t you just hate garbage left lying around?
Bottle + gull

From the Heart Award

Blogger Kristian Fogarty bestowed this award on me. apparently there are NO requirements, but I’d like to pass it on, so will take this opportunity to mention some other bloggers I find interesting and you might, too.

WHAT IS IT?

This award goes to bloggers who primarily focus on personal writing. These posts are often from the writer to the world at large, or from the writer to the writer themselves and they just allow us access to their mind.

RULES:

There are no rules, no questions, no participation requirements for this award. It is given from bloggers to other bloggers. It was designed by the Haunted Wordsmith and is given to other bloggers as a gesture of thanks and appreciation for their work.

I won’t do this all in one session — I know quite a few bloggers who write really interesting posts — but will start with a few.

Alistair at dralimanonlife, tells us a bit more about himself every weekend, doing Cee’s Share Your World Writing challenge. He also likes doing Flash Fiction with a neat little twist at the end. Here’s one of his stories.

Keith at keithsramblings.net is another devotee of flash fiction with a bit of humor woven in, like this tale of a poor Cassidy missing his leg.

Rochelle Wisoff-Fields at rochellewisoff.com is the lady who hosts Friday Fictioneers and sends out the photos for writers to concoct stories about. she herself is a history buff. She likes presenting neat biographical background info about well-known people.

By now this post is full of links and my coffee’s getting cold, so I’d better quit. Wishing you all a great weekend.

On Writing Less

Agreeing With Steven King

Last week I finished Steven King’s book On Writing. I won’t rave about it, since his advice is like we writers hear continuously. Should you decide to launch into it anyway, note that that he firmly espouses the vocabulary of the common man. Personally I could do without the graphics, though he does use four-letter words sparingly. But I cheerfully admit that he does have many good tips on writing clearly — and the sales to prove that he isn’t just whistling Dixie tunelessly.

While he and I are playing in an altogether different ballpark — I’ve never even cracked open a novel he’s written and don’t intend to — we do meet companionably in the stands when it comes to good writing skills. One point being Adverbs. In most cases they should be struck out.

Yes, when it comes to adverbs, King is pointedly blunt. He states emphatically* that writers should snip the adverbs, especially flowery ones, and I heartily second this advice. Adverbs, he maintains uncompromisingly, slow the reader down. (One might add that if they are six syllable ones, they categorically do slow the reader down.)

Reading late one evening, I related sleepily to my husband that Steven King and his friends very wittily played a party game using dialogue tags + adverbs, like “We’re having a great time,” the plumber said flushingly. (I may not be quoting SK exactly, but you get the point. They got rather off-colour at times.)

Mind you, a person could have some fun with that:
“We’ll get him yet,” the dogcatcher growled doggedly.
“Here. I’ll finish that off,” Blimpy said expansively.
“Hold still, will you! This will only take a moment,” the surgeon said sharply.
“Caught any fish yet?” the newcomer asked fishingly. “No. They just aren’t biting,” the old angler snapped bitterly.
“I’ve killed five people this morning,” Steven King said horrifyingly.

If you’re reading a book on a lazy Saturday afternoon at the beach and you’re up for some chuckles, you may not mind wading through a slew of adverbs. But how much humor does one want to mix into horror? Very little. Mysteries, thrillers and their ilk are meant to move breathtakingly along, not amble meanderingly.

I’m writing this for a reason — besides satisfying the demands of the *daily prompt word over at Word of the Day. I’ve just finished a mystery novel and, while the story was interesting and well plotted, it definitely could have benefited from an editor skillfully wielding a red pen. I plan to do a book report shortly. 🙂

Rebel Gray and Union Blue

Part B

My poem started as haiku;
from there it grew, as thoughts will do—
expanded to a broader view
of rebel gray and union blue.
And now I’ll share my thoughts with you.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Warning: Unqualified Political Views Ahead

Not so long ago I read one blogger’s lengthy and convincing article urging Southern cities and towns to take down all those Confederate memorials. Her argument: the Confederate army were fighting to protect and perpetuate a system that held people in bondage. Why should Americans honor their position and keep these memorials to their struggle? A question I won’t touch, not being black nor living in the South. My grandparents came up to Sask. from Minnesota.

Have you ever noticed, though, when it comes to war, how “causes” often aren’t causes? “Religious wars”, for example. How often are they really about religion? Yes, there’s always convincing rhetoric, but how often don’t money, land grabbing, and power lurk somewhere back there, feeding the flames?

This blogger’s take on the Civil War was limited (at least the angle of her article) to the issue of slavery. Ridding America of “the blot of slavery” was the face put on the declaration of war, but I’ve read a few historians who suggest other factors, too. Northerners may have opposed the idea of slavery but breaking the economic advantage of the prosperous South may have colored the picture as much as the issue of black and white, according to some analysts.

Southerners had accustomed themselves to the idea and practice of slavery, but when the Union army swept down on them, Southerners were fighting as much for their economic and physical survival. I’m not sure how much, if any, negotiation took place before hand, or whether the North simply issued an ultimatum Southern leaders rejected. But, as is usually the case in conflicts, the guys at the top make the decisions and the average Joe & Johnny have to pay the price.

Union General Sheridan, regarding the state of Virginia as the breadbasket of the South, was quoted as saying his army was going to strip Virginia so thoroughly that if a crow flew over it would have to bring its own lunch. If the leader of an opposing army about to unleash his troops on your area or country would make a statement like that, would you be thinking ideology — or would you be desperate to save your home and family? It’s only in looking back that we paint stories in their most popular colours.

One book I read describes the experience of Mennonites in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. Believers in peace, not wishing to take sides in this conflict, they saw their farms fall into the hands both armies, their livestock slaughtered, their young men arrested by one or the other side. They were hard-pressed to survive those bleak years.

The Civil War, we know, was a long and bloody conflict. And one thing quickly showed up when it was over: a better life for black folks was never the goal. After crushing the Confederacy, the Union army marched off and left Southern blacks to the mercy of some quite bitter white neighbours. Read the history; it’s not pretty. Black families that moved North soon learned that they’d face as much, if more subtle, discrimination there.

A great book on this topic: The Little Professor of Piney Woods: The story of Professor Laurence Jones, written by Beth Day Romulo, © 1955. It’s incredible what one man can do when he puts his heart into overcoming prejudice with gentleness and making life better for his people. He fought a tough battle against poverty and prejudice — and won.

Thankfully a lot of healing has taken place; I trust a lot more will yet. Unity and equality are worth fighting for, but these battles are best fought in people’s hearts. As Jesus once explained: all our actions, loving or hateful, spring from what we believe and desire in our hearts. Think of Charlie Brown’s “I love mankind; it’s people I can’t stand!” That’s a heart issue.

David, who blogs at Hokku, pointed out in a recent post that some folks are preaching love, acceptance, and tolerance, yet trying so hard to silence those who don’t hold the same opinions as themselves. It takes an honest heart to recognize that “It’s me, oh, Lord, standing in the need of prayer.”

Enough musing. It’s Monday morning and I have work to do.