The road ends, but the journey continues...

Tag: writing (Page 1 of 3)

Ray's Zen

One hot, humid evening, late last summer, I scrounged the few books I had left on my bookshelves (in my passive-packing,* some of the first items to be packed were ‘books I can do without for now’). I spied my paperback copy of Ray Bradbury’s, Zen in the Art of Writing, and promptly plucked it from the shelf. Thumbing through the pages, I realized its time had come for a re-read.
A compilation of essays Mr. Bradbury wrote at various times about creativity and the act of creating, this is a book I picked up in the late 90’s and wrote on the title page “…deciding to write notes in the margins of this book…3/2000.” How cool to do a re-read with my own ‘notes’ alongside this book as well.
Before beginning my re-read, I skimmed through the various essays and noticed those handwritten notes ended after the essay titled, Just This Side of Byzantium: Dandelion Wine. I don’t remember why I stopped there but I do know that those ‘notes’ were written during a very dynamic time in my life. Perhaps quitting there was more an indication of satisfaction in what I had already read, or maybe just that I had reached the essay which discussed my favorite novel of his, Dandelion Wine.
No matter.
I do know that I whenever I read such essays I substitute any specific genre of the arts reference with my catch-all word, (he)art. In this case from Ray’s point of view, writer is replaced in my reading mind with, (he)artist.
Here’s a quote from the first few pages of this compilation of essays with my replacement word inserted after the slash.

 “…if you are a writer/(he)artist without zest, without gusto, without love, without fun, you are only half a writer/(he)artist.…How long has it been since you wrote a story where your real love or your real hatred somehow got onto the paper? When was the last time you dared release a cherished prejudice so it slammed the page like a lightning bolt? What are the best things and the worst things in your life, and when are you going to get around to whispering or shouting them?”
~Ray Bradbury, Zen in the Art of Writing

Life seems more complicated now with social media spouting out meanness in the name of ‘passion’, but (he)art is (he)art – a very different thing altogether.
Ray’s admonition must not be ignored by us creationists (interesting use of that word,no?)
…regardless of what the twitterers are twittering about!

Use your gift, (he)artists!

*update forthcoming on hold until after COVID-19 plays out?

Snips, Snaps and Soggy Bottom Pie

Catchy title, eh? It’s been rolling around in my head as a title for a poem since 2015.
The alliteration, associated visuals, meanings and rhythmic feel just lends itself to something more creative than yet another blog post. I mean, speak this out loud: snips, snaps and soggy bottom pie.
Like I said, the perfect set-up for something more to follow than just another blog post. I think four years of this title sitting in a Word file of ideas for poems is long enough. It needs to see the light of day.
Which brings us to this day.
Notice that what follows is not a poem – more like a framework of thoughts prompted by said title. Which is handy as I’ve come against a brick wall lately trying to sort through the myriad current events and life events crowding my mind all screaming for first place in being presented in ‘yet another blog post’.
I’m sure most bloggers squash up against that brick wall every once and awhile. It’s one of the commonalities we bloggers share.
I therefore choose to start with Soggy Bottom Pie as the first smack down of that formidable barricade.

Soggy Bottom Pie

My current favorite PBS series, The Great British Baking Show aka The Great British Bake Off in the UK, is rich in such ‘show stopping’ images. (Yep, pun intended, for those of you familiar with the show).
Can’t you just hear Mary Berry intone, “It mustn’t have a soggy bottom,” as she pokes and prods a contestant’s pastry crust in the pie baking ‘Technical Challenge’?

cherry pie a la mode

I like mine with 2 scoops of the creamiest French Vanilla Bean ice cream available!


Truth be told, I am partial to a good homemade pie with, yes, a slightly soggy bottom. Sensuously luscious when the à la mode melts deep underneath the crust, bathing the jammy juices within.
My favorite pie is cherry. My extra favorite is a cherry pie made with Montmorency cherries picked from our own backyard tree*…seems like centuries ago when our kids and the neighborhood kids all helped pick once the harvest was in full swing.

What’s your favorite soggy bottom pie?
What’s your favorite reason why?

Snaps

“Contrary to popular belief, I am a snapdragon…” snapdragonsThus began a post I wrote in 2014. Based upon a now defunct ‘What Kind of Flower Are You?’ internet quiz, it was a fun foray into matching flower personalities with us humans. Or should that be human personalities with flowers?
I came out a snapdragon 8 takes in a row – even though I’m more partial to giant purple irises, deep red orange poppies, daisies and milkweed blossoms. I learned that my cousin Marybeth and blogger friend Deborah (christened ‘flower-sister’) both came up snaps in the quiz. We three are also October babies. Connection?

Snappy, flappy, flower laughing lips.
Caring, sharing, dreamy dew-drop drips.

Snips

Come a Stranger by Cynthia Voigt coverI do relish reading books and finding passages float up from the page past my eyes and into my (he)art. When that happens, I often mark it with a sticky note, reread it later, then if it still resonates, hand copy it into my book of quotes – or snip(pet)s if you will.
I often find lovely prose in young adult novels. Here’s one from Come a Stranger I jotted down 4/15/07.

“Even after everyone had gone home, the house was filled with the good time they’d had, as if it could linger in the air like the voices and music lingered in memory. Mina wrapped the memory up and put it in her heart; there was a quiet gladness, deep like a tree and tall in her.” Cynthia Voigt

 

 A tisket, a snip(pet)
A green and yellow kismet.
~~~

 Snips, Snaps and Soggy Bottom Pie

What comes to your mind as this phrase echoes about?

*we’ve since moved from our ‘growing-a-family-and-garden’ home…sigh.

Insights into the creative life…Quotes

Couldn’t have said it  better myself…the following quotes by J. Michael Dolan

Uptight, Worked Up & Edgy!

Every single day, a plan, a plot, a project, a scheme or a great idea screams to be on the front burner: A song that needs to be recorded. A video that needs to be shot. A business deal that needs a push. A website that needs to be built or updated. A relationship that needs to be dealt with.

Important because sometimes our best-laid plans work out, far beyond our expectations. Other times they fall apart and fade away. That’s the nature of a creative, independent lifestyle. However, truth be told, it’s all those big plans, worthy projects and bright ideas that we’re NOT doing that continue to keep us uptight, worked up and edgy.

Two Fisted Advantage
(italics mine)

If you’re a regular reader of my blogs & stories you already know that I’m a huge advocate for artists & entrepreneurs. That’s because I’ve been both all my life and in my world there’s no difference between the two. They both dwell in the land of uncertainty and risk and they both have to use creativity and innovation to negotiate their way through it. That’s not all…

A songwriter (composer) composes the music he hears in his head.
An entrepreneur creates a vision for the future that she sees in her mind’s eye.

A painter prepares a canvas for her next artistic expression.
An entrepreneur prepares a Powerpoint presentation for his next keynote.

A writer processes words that stimulate and entertain.
An entrepreneur processes words that motivate and inspire.

A singer (instrumentalist) nervously stands in front of his audience and shares his soul.
An entrepreneur nervously stands in front of her shareholders and shares her vision.

Neither one would last long in a regular 9-5 job because both have a relentless muse and an untamable creative spirit which they simply MUST follow. And unlike others, A&E’s have an advantage: the unique ability to devise, create, invent, fabricate, formulate, manifest and cook-up ways to make a buck.

Important because if our world ever crashes, it will be the crazy, genius artists and risk-taking entrepreneurs who will survive to inspire us and point the way out of the rubble and into the light.

ToDoTuesdayTwo

Even though I feel like there’s not much to report, I’m chiming in on this week’s linky-party for the sake of continuity. And, remember, Roseanne at Home Sewn by Us who sponsors this says it’s okay however I decide to participate!

~~~

My creativity trinity* is as follows: fiber art – MUSIC – writing. Each is intertwined with the other, offering needful respites between projects which in turn aid in the completion of various Works-In-Progress as new perspectives appear from such respites. Ultimately, it’s all about the music but tracking fiber art Works-In-Progress is lots easier to communicate in such a setting as this and hence the linky-party connection.

My goals for the week from August 20th through August 26th:

  • Continue edits on various NOTION scores  – “Christmas Medley” almost finished and soon to move onto another score-edit
  • Finish PFWHK Ø – decidedly not finished!
  • Maybe have something to post on next week’s ToDo Tuesday linky party  – today’s posting is evidence of this!

Yes, I worked on NOTION score edits for the “Christmas Medley” piece and realized I needed to de-clutter the score by 80% of previously inserted information. There is a delicate balance in music scoring between suggested fingerings and performance directions and OCD control of the performers every interpretation of the musical score. The fact that I de-cluttered a slew of fingerings shows I am closer to completion than before. In fact, with this particular piece, I have only to recheck for notation mistakes (think of this as being like ‘spell-checking’ the score) and add the fun stuff like title, arranger/name, date, copyright and dedication (if so choose to do). Then it is done and onto another piece to score-edit.
The PFWHK is not finished. Duh. In fact, as I continued with the vertical machine quilting, I found myself making dumb mistakes. So, I wisely decided to quit while I was ahead. Meaning: I did a few lines of reverse-sewing and set the PFWHK aside for another day/week. The interesting thing of note here is that the reverse-sewing (okay, seam-stitch ripping out!) went smoothly and left absolutely no small holes in the fabric top or back. I think that is due to two things: 1- the quality of the fabric itself and 2- the use of fine 60 wt thread in the bobbin.

~~~~

ToDo for the week of August 27th through September 3rd:

  • Finish “Christmas Medley” and start another NOTION score-edit piece
  • Finish PFWHK vertical quilting, start 3-D portion of project, figure out something special to add to PF’s eye (button, sequins?)
  • Enjoy a time to snuggle down and read newest novel(s)
  • If it’s cool enough (big IF), share some porch-time with hubby and a glass of Chardonnay (me), Beaujolais (him)
’Home

 
* a term I invented recently

Poetry Shoutout: “In Brigantia” by Andrew James Murray

In Brigantia by Andrew James MurrayGood poetry meets you wherever you are then draws you into its world. Seamlessly weaving place, perception; revelation, inspiration. Touching both the mind and soul.

The poetry of Andrew James Murray does just that and his second published poetry collection, In Brigantia does not disappoint.

~~~

I prefer reading poetry in the deep of night, the early recesses of morning. I like to take my time and linger, savoring each line and nuanced word choice within the context of the whole of the poem.
Yes, I flip through a new volume upon first receipt, even skim a few lines, but ultimately, the hunkering down with a new collection of poetry is an anticipated event – date – I make with myself for some dark day, quiet evening or womb-like twilight.

~~ Phrases to savor ~~

“From this soil,
seeded with the dead,
beautiful things will grow” (from: In Brigantia)

“Our country is too small
for road trips.

There is nothing epic
about these squeezed shores.
Where are we to go
to find ourselves?” (from: Motorway)

“A dog barks itself
into tomorrow,
clawing back the shade.” (from: Nocturnes)

~~Regarding process~~

“Some lines come to me when travelling, such as with Railway Platform.
We passed through a station (without stopping) which, due to rain sweeping in, appeared abandoned, except for a guitar case no doubt left by its owner who was seeking shelter while waiting for his/her train.
I was thinking about how platforms are normally busy places of greetings and farewells, and maybe some of those could, somehow, be held in the atmosphere and tapped into to work as inspiration to creative people. Like the owner of that guitar case.
Like seeds growing in darkness.
That’s how my mind works! And that’s how that poem was born before we’d reached the next station.” – Andrew James Murray

~~~

In Brigantia can be found at Amazon and Amazon UK

~~~

Andrew James Murray, Manchester UKAndrew James Murray is a writer and poet who is still firmly rooted in his childhood town in Manchester, England.
He has a wife who keeps him grounded, and four children who keep him young.
Among other things, he loves history and roots, books and writing, spirituality, landscape, music and the outdoors-all of which he can become a tad obsessive about.
He also tracks Great White sharks throughout the world over the internet, much to his wife’s consternation.
He can be found writing about anything and nothing over at City Jackdaw and at Coronets for Ghosts for all things poetry related.
Andrew is currently working on his first novel.

Reaching the Finish Line and Zeno’s Paradox

I have always been intrigued with Zeno’s paradoxes. Specifically, his Dichotomy paradox. As a mathematical concept it offers a glimpse into the world of infinity – an abstract concept of boundlessness – and by way of my own extrapolation: eternity – a reality outside of time, with no beginning and no end.

Yep, math is very cool*. People just don’t give it a chance.
We (I) tend to think of infinity as uncontained largeness, which it is, but Zeno’s paradox reveals another slice of that same infinity. Infinity as uncontained minuteness.
Mr. Zeno’s Dichotomy paradox simply stated says, Before an object can travel a given distance, it must travel half that distance then in order to travel that half distance, it must travel a quarter of that distance, etc. Since this sequence goes on forever, it therefore appears that the given distance cannot be traveled.
The way it was demonstrated to me back in the day was to stand a set distance from a wall, then take a step halfway towards that wall, then from that halfway point take another step halfway, and again until your nose is against that wall, but still some half of a half of an infinite half distance from that wall!
In this 21st century, I am a living example of Zeno’s paradox.
It seems I’m in a constant state of being ‘almost finished’ with various projects.
To be clear, I am not talking about confusing perfectionism with professionalism in the (he)artistic creation process. There is a time when something is truly done and learning to know when to stop ‘futzing’ with a project is part of that process.
What I am talking about is how my projects get ‘done, except for…’. Which then get ‘done except for’ something else then on and on until my nose is up against that wall and I’m staring down an infinite number of ‘except fors’.
Oh, I know that’s not truly a real-life application of Zeno’s paradox, but it sure feels like it. The infinity aspect of it certainly, but the frustration of projects never getting to the finish line – achingly acute.
Most of the time the ‘except fors’ are dependent upon some other factors that I cannot control which only adds discouragement to frustration.
Case in point, Mr. Zeno came to remembrance a couple months ago while I was ‘futzing’ with the liner notes for my upcoming Swimming with Swans: Goat Suite (Saga) cd (who knows anymore when it will be released :-().
I had all my ducks in a row – the artwork, layout, format chosen, and wav. files ready for replication, but there were just too many other obstacles asserting themselves, blocking the finish line. All ‘done, except for’ factors beyond my control – thus, hindering completion of the actual cd packaging and its release anytime soon.
But those liner notes, hey man, let me nit-pick/futz with those because I can control all of that.
In general, once I realize I’m in a Zeno’s infinite loop of frustration, I search for some other unfinished bits that can be readily completed if I take the time to focus on them. In my small multipurpose studio, such projects are easily seen and found.

Three different blocks

l-r: experiment in color & design limited to neutrals found in on-sale jellyroll pack; my take using the tiny flying geese border on ‘Red Rocks’ block; study in yellows using scraps in my usual free form piecing style


In this instance, my eyes strayed away from the practice stool and computer screen to the three quilt blocks laid out on my flannel design wall. They are each from three different projects and have been on the periphery of my quilting focus. I decided long ago to sew them the way they were arranged, but just wasn’t motivated to finish them.
In the name of surviving yet another cycle of Zeno’s dichotomy, I took to completing them and packing them away for later use in their respective projects.
That felt good.
And then that positive completion experience refueled my determination to work on a different slice of the overall SwS project while the aforementioned slice(s) are on hold. I opened my NOTION score files of related Swimming with Swans music and resumed editing several of those music scores in preparation for future inclusion in the project’s accompanying Music Folio.
That feels even better! 🙂

~~~~~~~~~

*Just for fun:

The dichotomy paradox leads to the following mathematical joke. A mathematician, a physicist and an engineer were asked to answer the following question. A group of boys are lined up on one wall of a dance hall, and an equal number of girls are lined up on the opposite wall. Both groups are then instructed to advance toward each other by one quarter the distance separating them every ten seconds. When do they meet at the center of the dance hall? The mathematician said they would never actually meet because the series is infinite. The physicist said they would meet when time equals infinity. The engineer said that within one minute they would be close enough for all practical purposes.

All in a Lady's Life

My cousin Dennis taking us for a boat ride on Lake Waco, TX

My cousin Dennis taking us for a boat ride on Lake Waco, TX


 
As hubby alluded to in the last post, we went to Colorado via the ‘long way’ earlier this May. First driving for 17 hours straight through to Waco, TX to visit my baby cousin and his family (and to do some business with a colleague in Houston).
Then off to Las Cruces, NM (a breezy 10 hour drive) – land of hubby’s adolescence, our newlywed life and ‘the compound’.
 
A favorite spot to wander the desert in Las Cruces, NM

A favorite spot to wander the desert in Las Cruces, NM

LCNM revisited (thoughts)

Sometimes ya gotta be away before ya can come back…or at the very least appreciate what ya left (for whatever reason).

I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with this place known as Las Cruces, New Mexico.  Town where we moved for hubby to finish his degree at NMSU after we first got married; place filled with his side of the family or in other words: my in-laws.  Not inherently a bad thing, just harder to make one’s mark on a new marriage when there are lots of others hovering overhead.  Plus life in married student housing was fun except for the crash course in the myriad varieties of roaches and ants harbored and lurking within the requisite 300 square foot cinderblock walls…

Our first-born was indeed born there, in fact, she was the first baby born for the New Year that year (1982). Cool. We couldn’t wait for all the diapers and other baby items everyone said the city would be bestowing upon us because of that incident of nature; we really needed the help with that kind of stuff being poor students and all…except the year before, the city made such a big deal over Baby New Year that it backfired on them since there were some shady relatives, legal circumstances and secrets now publicly revealed surrounding the family that innocent baby was born into.

So, no freebies for us, though we did get a great write up in the local newspaper and enthusiastic announcements on several of the local radio stations.

Oh well, didn’t matter much since we left for the Bay area soon after hubby graduated – within the first month of our Havilah’s life – to pursue his new job at HP (Hewlett/Packard) as a little family without either side of our families too near. And that’s when we grew the most as a three-some; and when our hearts yearned to be closer to both our families…go figure!

After a few days we were back on the road. The familiar I-25 trail took us to Colorado in the usual 9-10 hour time frame. Also, since we know that route by heart, it is less stressful in terms of placement of rest stops and timing on the one gas fill-up necessary to complete the journey.

Bruno's Purple Giants - Irises in the family and transplanted in our various gardens for almost 50 years

Bruno’s Purple Giants – Irises in the family and transplanted in our various gardens for almost 50 years (last vestiges shown here in a corner of Ma&Dad’s neglected garden)


Once at Ma & Dad’s place, the dominoes aligned into classic form, readying for that one touch to start the tumbling of items needed to get their estate settled.
For good.
Now that most of the sorting and sifting of the stuff of lives has been completed, I still have much to do to get the house ready for listing, but as a professional real estate agent told me: “You’re on the right path…almost there.”
After a mere 10 days back here in SC for already-on-the-calendar doctor’s appointments/tests and other commitments, we’ll be heading out again to Colorado, land of my (he)art, gearing up and plowing through to the finish line to ‘git ‘er done*’ with all things related to selling the house.
The housing market is rich with possibilities, wish us luck.
* thank you Anna for lending me this phrase
On the day before this year’s Summer Solstice, I’m leaving you with a bit of Manc Music in honor of the turning of seasons. Here are Mancunian native sons, the Courteeners, with Summer.

On Doing Final Drafts

Silly me.

I thought the final drafts and final rewrites of pieces critiqued by two different writers groups in two different states, edited, reworked and rewritten over a time span of close to four years would be the easy part of finishing my Goat Suite Saga set of 7 vignettes. Never mind the larger project of Swimming with Swans: vignettes of our three year journey between homes set of at least 2xs that amount.

Silly me.

While I’ve stamped four of the seven vignettes as final, it’s this fifth one that’s got me up against the wall as mentioned in a previous post. It’s a good thing I took that quilt break as it helped refresh my writerly juices to get back in the game.

However, it seemed like I just wasn’t making any progress. So, the other day I decided to passively gather data on how long it’s taking to actually do specific rewrites.  The numbers were kind of scary.

Let me explain.

There’s this one musically technical paragraph that I was told was confusing to non-musicians. However, I insist upon it staying as it’s important to the totality of that particular vignette. One paragraph, out of one vignette with an approximate word count of 2000 words took me over 12 hours to rework, reword, rewrite and stamp as final.

One paragraph.

Waiting on the final studio mix of my lone recorded piece (out of four total) left to be mixed before sending all to the mastering lab has been frustrating. Yet, it gives me an excuse to focus on the written part of the GSS of which an abbreviated form will be featured in the cd insert booklet.

Never did I ever figure on spending so much time on one paragraph.

Silly me.

Belated Blogiversary: the fourth

 

South Carolina Tulip Tree Leaves

South Carolina Tulip Tree Leaves


Sometime around the end of August, beginning of September, my 4th blogiversary made an uneventful appearance.
It came and went.
Meh, life goes on.
(Evidenced by these few fall photos)
Colorado Aspens Rainbow Lakes

Colorado Aspens, Rainbow Lakes


 
I’m noticing many blogger-buddies are entering into their own 4th and 5th years of regular posting; with plenty of re-decorating, re-purposing and de-cluttering of earlier website/blog incarnations. I say: Good for you, guys!
Me? I still can’t figure out how to update my 3.6 WP to 4.8.2 WP without losing precious data that’s supposed to be ‘forever’ on this ole internet superhighway. Case in point: just using that terminology shows how long I’ve been on-line. You know, back when it was only universities and ‘professionals’ that truly surfed the net along with doing all that research, networking and exchange of ideas/ideals. (remember the LuteList, anyone?) Continue reading

Jill Weatherholt - writer, author

Jill Weatherholt – writer, author


A few months ago, Jill Weatherholt asked if I would like to be a part of her Summer Spotlight series, so of course, I said “Yes”.
Please go here for that special article and while you’re there, maybe have a look around her blog. Enjoy!
 
 
 

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