Out of my Mind With Grief

My head feels lost,
My body weak,
I want to grab normal,
But it slips through my fingers,
And I know,
I’m not there,
I’m in that other place,
Out of the flow,
Not in sync with the rest,
Bobbing along,
In a stream of pain,
That can’t be glued back together
With words,
Or thoughts,
Or even prayers,
Because the pieces,
Are not meant to be,
A picture any more,
And that throws my mind,
To another plain,
Don’t bring me back,
I don’t want normal,
I want to be forever outside,
Forever hanging onto,
What was,
What cannot be,
Except within my heart.

Do It Again

Every day we start our way and face,
the grind, grind, grind, grind,
ground up joy, can’t lie, can’t say, it’s okay,
doesn’t matter anyway,
We’ll make it work, put in the time,
doesn’t even have to rhyme.
Look away, pages say, life gone by,
bye, bye, bye, bye,
bought the lie, felt the pain, put our faces to the rain,
and feel it all wash away.
Lay down, take a rest,
put hope,
to the test,
chase it down with love now,
Don’t hide it.
Makes each breath alive and,
breath, breath, breath, breath,
gasp for air, no time to spare,
then say it’s done,
we have won,
another day.

Just For The Hack of It! – Tips on Breakfast

So ‘hacks’ are a hot topic and why not? They’re fun. I’m going to start with my breakfast hacks and a few I’ve picked up on the way. Maybe by the end of this post, I’ll find a segue to writing. Disclaimer: not all these hacks will be in alignment with your health goals. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

1. Don’t ever throw away cold, premium take out fries (Five Guys comes to mind). Put them in the fridge, trust me, you won’t be sorry. The next morning chop those fries up and put them in a medium heat fry pan. Toss in some green pepper, onion or whatever vege you like or none at all. The potatoes have enough oil in them to fry up nicely and they’re already seasoned. If there’s only a few fries leftover, still worth it. Crisp them up and toss them in scrambled eggs, a little goes a long way.
So this hack sounds unhealthy but if it makes you eat less fries in a dinner serving so you can have some at breakfast, then maybe not so bad, right?

2. For most people, limiting cholesterol is a challenge that robs fluffy full scrambled eggs from the menu. There are still egg whites but they’re so…white. The only food that looks wonderful in white is dairy; whipped cream, ice cream, cheese, you get the idea. The transition to egg white only, can leave a person grieving over the injustice of aging (I could go on about that but I’m trying to grow old ‘gracefully’; no complaining please). But the mind is a fickle thing that can be easily tricked, so hack away and add some paprika and/or turmeric to those pale egg whites. They’ll look just about as delicisioso as the yoked eggs and while you’re at it put hack 3 into play.

3. Chop up baby spinach, arugula, kale or bok choy and put it in everything, especially those egg whites. Deep greens suggest fresh (cause they are) and give texture. A friend of mine goes to a dietician to manage her digestive issues. When we spent a weekend away at a writer’s retreat, she brought out leafy green vegetables with every meal, breakfast included. In my brain, leaves are eaten as salad or to give crunch in a good sandwich. For some reason though, I couldn’t get it out of my head that it’s good to eat fresh vegetables with every meal. Hence, I started adding baby spinach and salad greens to whatever I made. Okay, so greens did not end up in the French toast, though maybe I’ll try it some day. But chopping leaves into bits renders them easily added to anything; on top of a hamburger, in a quesadilla, in mashed potatoes, mixed with corn. So many places to add in fresh greens and feel good without being overwhelmed with green tasting stuff.

4. Peeling boiled eggs. This is a big issue for humanity. Just check the internet and find out how many sites deal with this very skill. I’m just going to share my technique that works ninety percent of the time. Boil the egg. Remove from water. Hold in a towel and smash the shell gently all the way around. Take a spoon, slide it under the cracked shell and then use the spoon to follow the curve of the egg. The shell typically comes off in one or two crackly pieces. On occasion, if the spoon does not slide under the inner membrane, this technique can fail. If that happens I just start with the spoon in a different place. If you don’t like that idea, I saw a post that said to use a serrated knife and cut the egg, shell and all, in half then the two halves can be easily scooped out. Haven’t tried this yet. If you have, let me know.

5. Waffle Iron not for waffles. Two ideas I need to put to the test. Store bought refrigerated cinnamon rolls burn easily in the oven. So don’t cook them in the oven. Use a waffle iron. Butter it and pop those babies in. They’ll have a cool shape and nooks and crannies for the icing to pool in. Yum! Second idea, take shredded potatoes, season as you like. Spray the waffle iron with oil and put gobs of potatoes in each quadrant. Potatoes will crisp on both sides and you don’t have to worry about flipping them. Nice!

Well I’ve come to the end of my hacks list and still no connection to writing except, writers need to eat a good breakfast so we can go the distance and forget about sustenance while in the grip of writing passion. Plus, let’s face it. I just wrote stuff, so there’s that.

Write on! Eat breakfast!

StormWeaver 9 – Frozen Deluge

Her blonde hair is shocked with electric blue streaks.
Her grey eyes are on her mother,
With pity and pain.
She wears baggy cotton overalls with a lacy tank top underneath.
“Excuse my mother,” she says. She comes over and takes the older woman’s hand.
“No trouble,” I say.
“It’s Adam. He has magic stones.”
“Of course he does.”
I squeeze the pouch in my hand and out pops the grey stone.
It falls to the ground.
Rain and hail blasts upon us.
“What is happening?”
The women cling to each other.
“We’re going to die!”
It may be true.

This is a continuing story in 100 word increments. Read the StormWeaver series from the start – Choose StormWeaver category from the home page.

Color My World

“We all live in a yellow submarine.” How many of you are singing that song in your head now? How many see a bright yellow submarine of sorts? Words to music, especially whimsical, stay in our minds but I want to point out how the use of color in writing, brings out a vivid picture.
Writing effective description that doesn’t scream, “I can write a lot of flowy words because I’m a literary writer” or “clichés are best because everyone gets it”, is a skill. My first pass of writing a novel, I’m usually lean on description, though I’m improving on that. Part of that problem is needing to gush out the story that is unfolding in my head. I’ve learned to write with less urgency (not meaning I can’t keep a schedule – NaNoWriMo 2020 proved that is not an issue). Even so, there’s nothing wrong with employing the second draft to work on translating the imagery that is in your mind into words. Where it’s appropriate it will add depth without being one long, yawning break from the plot. Third draft can weed that out again!

Back to our yellow submarine. Here’s an example from my WIP where I think a dash of color adds a fuller picture:
As soon as we enter the windowless room, it’s clear this is serious business. A long computer desk stretches across the back wall with multiple monitors and swivel chairs. There’s a coffee bar where an urn silently wafts steam. White ceramic mugs and spoons are lined up next to a pitcher of cream, a bowl of sugar and a platter of packaged muffins. Off to the side is a small table and two chairs under a blue glass pendant light.

I’m offering this example because when I read it after having put it aside for several weeks, the last sentence immediately created a picture for me. The ‘blue’ glass pendant light was like the ‘yellow’ submarine sans the song. It reminded me of how a little smattering of color can create a tone for a scene. In the example above there is also “white” used to describe ceramic mugs. This use of color is less impactful, because ceramic mugs being white are not uncommon. I could cut the ‘white’ and just say ‘ceramic mugs’ and chances are it would create the same picture as ‘white ceramic’. But just saying “under a pendant light”, feels like a flat photo as opposed to 3D. While my mind runs through all the possibilities of how that light actually looks, I’ve lost my way and distanced myself from the intended atmosphere of the room. Add back the blue, and there’s a glow of cool blue, pleasing but not warm.
What do you think? Am I right?
Color your writing like an artist, purposeful; bold where bold makes a difference and subtle where less produces the emotion and feels best.
My hope is that this post brings the tool of color to your attention or back to your attention.
Write on!

Intimate Solidarity

Hardship and trouble,
Crumble walls built by,
Boredom, disappointment,
Ridiculous expectations,
Self protection,
Laid down like scum,
Layer upon layer,
So skin does not touch skin,
With electrifying connection,
but dull and shallow reflex.
All this swept away,
In the storm of tribulation,
That holding a hand,
That holds back,
Answers the need,
Declares that the cement,
Is good,
Worthy of deep gratitude.

Who is Ed? – Lessons from the Comics

It matters how something is said. We all know that. But it also matters how something is thought to be said. Our lesson from the Comics today is from “Pickles”by Brian Crane. The cartoon is of retired couple Opal and Earl. A recent episode featured Earl jealous of a text he sees on her phone which he believes is a reminder to call “Ed”. Opal explains that it doesn’t say, “call Ed”. It simply says, “called”.
It’s funny in a cartoon but if confusion is in a novel or short story, not so much.

What am I talking about? Not simple reading errors but word placement that causes confusion or maybe a whole different meaning.
For example, “You can hop on the tube and eat lunch at Harrow’s Grill for three dollars.” Someone might think it only costs three dollars for lunch at Harrows when it really costs twelve bucks for the cheapest dish. Should say, “For three dollars you can catch the tube to Harrows Grill and get some lunch.” Whole different point.
Here’s another, “After eating my bird whistles.” Hmm, does that mean someone is eating a bird?
How about, “My favorite foods are fried chicken, peanut butter and jelly and pizza covered with anchovies.” Is that peanut butter and jelly with anchovies?
These are just simple examples of poor word order and missing commas, but you get the idea. I’ve heard the best way to catch these types of mistakes is to read what you write aloud. When you read your writing, if you stumble at speaking it, chances are a reader will stumble at reading it.
In the cartoon, the momentary confusion almost led to a serious issue between Opal and Earl. Hopefully we can avoid even near misses. When my novel gets before an agent or publisher the last thing I want is for even one sentence to leave her scratching her head saying, “What?”
I’m fairly certain that would be followed by a, “Thanks but no thanks.”
Write on but take the time to read aloud!

5 Things I Saw Today – April 30, 2021

  1. Thousands of seeds raining down in the sunshine from within the bright green of our maple tree. The tree opened her arms wide and set her children free. They danced and twirled and spread their wings in the joy of life. With every breath from the sky, a new handful released. The wind and tree together setting them off on their life’s journey. I stood under the tree feeling like a child in midst of it. These moments need to be captured. They are gifts.
  2. A thin, long, millipede with long antennae, looking otherworldly, fascinating and creepy at the same time.
  3. My ‘grand puppy’ chewing on a bone. Got to love that cute face. No really we have to love that face because we’ll be babysitting her for a week. If you think babyproofing a house for a two year old is hard, try doing it for a big puppy that vacuums tissues up until no one knows for sure, was that box full or empty?
  4. A disrespectful email to one of my team members. Made me see red. It shouldn’t surprise me but it does, that people can be so immature to think that being a leader means being assertive and being assertive means grabbing what you want from the negotiation table when no one is looking. I didn’t let that one slide by without calling her out. People need to realize in real life a nasty person is not revered like they are on television. Let’s make sure it doesn’t happen in our writing too.
  5. Unmade bed. My husband is OCD. His morning routine is maddeningly predictable except this morning. He’s retired and took on making the bed weekday mornings. So when I came in from my morning run and the bed was unmade, it was cause to check on him. He was at his usual point, making a bowl of oatmeal. I didn’t say anything, didn’t ask, but I made the bed. It could have been for any number of reasons. He didn’t feel like it, which he’s entitled to however out of character. He decided to switch up the routine, also strange but change can be good. He may have just forgot, the most concerning possibility so I’m not going to ask; “let sleeping dogs lie” until they get in the way.

That’s it. Just random observations on a random day. Maybe one of them will knock a few ideas loose in your mind and get you writing a short story, a chapter or an email to someone who needs to hear, you’ve got their back.

Say it Again – A Poem

Lies, lies, lies,
Whisper at every side,
Truth, truth, truth,
No where to abide.
Noise, noise, noise,
The melody is dead,
Silent, silent, silent,
No words of hope are said.
Strife, strife, strife,
Fight to live a life,
Rest, rest, rest,
On the edge of a knife.
Close, close, close,
Eyes to present dark,
Open, open, open,
To a view vast and stark,
Search, search, search,
Until all thoughts suspend,
Find, find, find,
The light at tunnel’s end.