Aug 31, 2009

Meandering Monday

Yes, I’m posting this in the middle of the morning. For the next two weeks my classes are in the afternoon, which sucks big time but there’s not much I can do about it. I did not get off to a good start at being efficient this morning - I stayed up a little later than I should have last night, which meant I slept in this morning, and then the husband gave himself a mild case of food poisoning by drinking orange juice that wasn’t expired, but had been open in the fridge for at least two weeks so I had to take Panda to the vet. The vet’s office was backed up so we had to wait for 45 minutes. Panda was not a happy camper!

I will definitely be getting to bed earlier tonight so I can get up at my usual time tomorrow and have a more productive morning!


Last week’s goals were chapter three for the Space Opera, new poem for Thursday, work on database, and start letter to my sister.

Not only did I get the chapter done for the Space Opera, I also got it posted on Friday. Okay, so it got posted at quarter to midnight, it was still Friday!

Poetry wise I finished two poems for my poetry group - the first was finishing the poem from last month where the prompt was to compare yourself to a landscape, animal, or insect, and the second was the poem from this month’s prompt which was to write about a conversation between two people (or creatures or whatever). I also introduced the poetry form of Ghazal on Thursday’s Passion for Poetry and even managed to write one.

I did work on a database, but not the one to keep track of my books. This database was to keep track of my writing and where I’ve been sending it. Technically, it was for a project for school, but I figured I might as well make it a useful project.

Did not start the letter to my sister, although I did send her links to my blogs via e-mail. :-)

Goals For This Week:

Chapter four of the Space Opera. I keep refining the plot in my head so I know where this is headed and pretty much how it ends, but I’m still not too clear on how they’re going to get there. There is also the potential for sequels and I need to decide whether or not I’m going to take advantage of that aspect. That in itself will determine what direction this story takes.

Poetry. I’m thinking of tackling the Sonnet this week, but don’t hold me to it ‘cause I’ve tried a couple of times before to write them and failed miserably. Sonnets are hard!

Probably won’t get around to working on the database nor the letter to my sister. But I do have to get the baby quilt I’ve been working on finished for the weekend. The daughter had me start a baby quilt for a friend of hers and I really need to focus some attention on it to get it done in time. It’s a Winnie-the-Pooh theme, but using the classic pictures not the Disney ones. It’s not as colourful as my quilts usually are, and I’m having a hard time finding the colours for some of the things like Christopher Robin’s clothes and Piglet’s striped shirt. I will try to get a picture of it to post when I am done.

So, that takes care of my week. How about yours?

Aug 27, 2009


Today's Passion for Poetry is the Ghazal.

Ghazal (pronounced "ghuzzle") is an Arabic word that means "talking to women."

The Ghazal was developed in Persia in the 10th century AD from the Arabic verse form qasida. It was brought to India with the Mogul invasion in the 12th century. The Ghazal tradition is currently practiced in Iran (Farsi), Pakistan (Urdu) and India (Urdu and Hindi). In India and Pakistan, Ghazals are set to music and have achieved commercial popularity as recordings and in movies. A number of American poets, including Adrienne Rich and W.S. Merwin, have written Ghazals, usually without the strict pattern of the traditional form.

A traditional Ghazal is a collection of Shers which follow the rules of Matla, Beher, Kaafiyaa and Radif, so to know what a Ghazal is, it's necessary to know what these terms mean.

A Sher is a poem of two lines. A Sher does not need anything around it to convey the message, it is a poem in itself.

Beher can be considered the meter, or length, of the Sher. Both lines of the Sher must be of the same Beher, and all the Shers in one Ghazal must be of the same Beher.

The second line of all the Shers must end with the same word or words. This repetition is called the Radif.

Kaafiyaa is the rhyming pattern which all the words before Radif must have.

The first Sher in the Ghazal must have Radif in its both lines. This Sher is called Matla of the Ghazal.

The poet may use the final Sher as a signature Sher, using his or her name in first, second or third person. This is called a Maqta.

Each couplet should be a poem in itself, like a pearl in a necklace. There should not be continuous development of a subject from one couplet to the next through the poem. The Radif provides a link among the Shers.

In summary:
A Ghazal consists of five to fifteen couplets, typically seven. A refrain (a repeated word or phrase) appears at the end of both lines of the first couplet and at the end of the second line in each succeeding couplet. In addition, one or more words before the refrain are rhymes or partial rhymes. The lines should be of approximately the same length and meter. The poet may use the final couplet as a signature couplet.

My example:

Wind whispers softly in the trees,
listen, hear the sighing trees.

Autumn changes all the leaves
a forest filled with crying trees.

A slender birch is bent to dance
a wood nymph glorifying trees.

A secret is not safe at all
when told beneath the spying trees.

I see a thousand shades of green
when I look upon the sighing trees.

A sunset paints the mountainside
liming rocks and dyeing trees.

The loggers come and cut their swath
and all around are dying trees.

Note: this Ghazal does not contain a Maqta. :-)

Aug 26, 2009

Whimsical Wednesday

I couldn't find the joke I wanted to post today but the BFF was kind enough to send me this yesterday, so I thought I'd share. :-)

* * * * * * * * * *


Even if you’re not old enough to remember Abbott and Costello, you’re probably aware of their timeless “Who’s on First?” baseball sketch. But imagine what that same skit would be like in the 21st century?

Based on the classic Who’s on First? Skit; if Bud Abbott and Lou Costello were alive today…it might sound something like this…

ABBOTT: Super Duper computer store. Can I help you?

COSTELLO: Thanks I’m setting up an office in my den and I’m thinking about buying a computer.


COSTELLO: No, the name’s Lou.

ABBOTT: Your computer?

COSTELLO: I don’t own a computer. I want to buy one.


COSTELLO: I told you, my name’s Lou.

ABBOTT: What about Windows?

COSTELLO: Why? Will it get stuffy in here?

ABBOTT: Do you want a computer with Windows?

COSTELLO: I don’t know.. What will I see when I look at the windows?

ABBOTT: Wallpaper.

COSTELLO: Never mind the windows. I need a computer and software.

ABBOTT: Software for Windows?

COSTELLO: No. On the computer! I need something I can use to write proposals, track expenses and run my business. What do you have?

ABBOTT: Office.

COSTELLO: Yeah, for my office. Can you recommend anything?

ABBOTT: I just did.

COSTELLO: You just did what?

ABBOTT: Recommend something.

COSTELLO: You recommended something?


COSTELLO: For my office?


COSTELLO: OK, what did you recommend for my office?

ABBOTT: Office.

COSTELLO: Yes, for my office!

ABBOTT: I recommend Office with Windows.

COSTELLO: I already have an office with windows! OK, let’s just say I’m sitting at my computer and I want to type a proposal. What do I need?


COSTELLO: What word?

ABBOTT: Word in Office.

COSTELLO: The only word in office is office.

ABBOTT: The Word in Office for Windows.

COSTELLO: Which word in office for windows?

ABBOTT: The Word you get when you click the blue ‘W’.

COSTELLO: I’m going to click your blue ‘w’ if you don’t start with some straight answers. What about financial bookkeeping? You have anything I can track my money with?

ABBOTT: Money.

COSTELLO: That’s right. What do you have?

ABBOTT: Money.

COSTELLO: I need money to track my money?

ABBOTT: It comes bundled with your computer.

COSTELLO: What’s bundled with my computer?

ABBOTT: Money.

COSTELLO: Money comes with my computer?

ABBOTT: Yes. No extra charge.

COSTELLO: I get a bundle of money with my computer? How much?

ABBOTT: One copy.

COSTELLO: Isn’t it illegal to copy money?

ABBOTT: Microsoft gave us a license to copy Money.

COSTELLO: They can give you a license to copy money?


(A few days later)

ABBOTT: Super Duper computer store. Can I help you?

COSTELLO: How do I turn my computer off?

ABBOTT: Click on ‘START’………….

Aug 25, 2009

Random Tuesday

When I die, I do not want “visitations” and a funeral. Just throw me on the bonfire and let my ashes preside over a wake. Then do something interesting with my ashes. Like, divide them up into those snack sized zip lock bags and then pass them out as party favours.

I’m not implying that the funeral I went to yesterday was bad, in fact there were so many people it had to be held in a church instead of the funeral home. Take note, anyone who wants a super big turn out at their funeral, join lots of service clubs.

* * * * * * * *

Here’s an interesting random fact. Anyone out there know where chintz fabric came from?

More than 5,000 years ago, the Chinese discovered how to make silk from silkworm cocoons. For about 3,000 years, the Chinese kept this discovery a secret. Because poor people could not afford real silk, they tried to make other cloth look silky. Women would beat on cotton with sticks to soften the fibers. Then they rubbed it against a big stone to make it shiny. The shiny cotton was called "chintz." Because chintz was a cheaper copy of silk, calling something "chintzy" means it is cheap and not of good quality.

* * * * * * * * * *

Only about 1.6 percent of the water on Earth is fresh. Most of it is locked -- unusable for living things -- in snow and the ice at the poles and on the peaks of the highest mountains.

The Statue of Liberty's index finger is 8 feet long, and it displays a fingernail measuring 13 by 10 inches.

Here’s one of special interest to writers. The average lead pencil will draw a line 35 miles long or write approximately 50,000 English words. More than 2 billion pencils are manufactured in the U.S. annually. If these were laid end to end, they would circle the earth nine times.

The brain reaches its maximum weight at age 20 - about 3 pounds. Over the next 60 years, as billions of nerve cells die within the brain, it loses about 3 ounces. The brain begins to lose cells at a rate of 50,000 per day by the age of 30.

And just to keep the continuity of this post, I’m going to end as I began, with death. :-)

Here’s something fun to check out: the Death Clock . Try playing around with the mode setting, if you're a pessimist change it to an optimist, etc. If I was a smoking pessimist I'd already be dead for three years!

My personal day of death is Friday, March 14, 2036. Looks like I’ve got a few good years left in me yet. :-)

Aug 24, 2009

Monday . . .um . . . Stuff

I need a name for my Monday posts. It’s not the weekly wrap-up, so that’s out. Weekly start seems kinda lame. . . What about Monday Meanderings? That seems to have a nice ring to it. And I do seem to meander quite a bit, although that seems to be a natural state for me. :-)

Okay, now that that’s settled, let’s get on with it.


My goals for last week were: next chapter in the serial, something new for poetry group, fence sitting about One Word, and create a book database.

I did get my chapter up, eventually. The husband of a close friend of mine died at the end of last week so Saturday I was giving her some moral support which is why I didn’t get the chapter up until Sunday.

I got not one, but two poems written for my Passion for Poetry, plus I did the “poemwork” poem for my poetry group which meets tomorrow night. The theme for the poem was a conversation so I did a conversation with myself. :-)

I created a new blog for my One Word attempts and another timed prompt called Write Every Day. You can check the blog out HERE (or just click on the link on the upper left) and add your efforts to the comments. It’s surprising how much those comments will hold.

Did start a database but it needs modification.

Goals for this week:

Third chapter in the Space Opera serial. It might be a good idea to start this earlier in the week and then if extenuating circumstances pop up I’ll be prepared. Jamie, how on earth do you manage two chapters a week with everything else you do??

New poem for Passion for Poetry - maybe I should start picking the next week’s topic as soon as I finish the previous week’s post. That way Wednesday night won’t roll around and find me going: “Oh crap, what am I going to do for the poetry post tomorrow?”

Work on Database. This is my last week of Access so I’d like to get this database finished before we go on to the next subject and I lose interest.

Write a letter to my sister. Yes, this is a legitimate goal. I write to my sister maybe three times a year but they’re always nice, big, letters. I’ve owed her this letter for at least a month.

Any other writing that happens to take my fancy - maybe a new poem, work on something old or something new . . . time and circumstance permitting of course.

And now I have to go get ready for a funeral. Let's just hope the rain holds off.

Have a good week everyone.

Aug 21, 2009


Because I was the link in the blog chain yesterday, I moved the Passion for Poetry to today and the next installment of the serial will be tomorrow.

* * * * * * * * * *

Five hundred years ago, poetic forms tended to be tests of raw skill. A poet needed as many as thirty-six rhyme words for some of the more monstrous concoctions. Compounding the difficulties were the riddles, puns, and acrostics that were supposed to be imbedded in the verses.

Fortunately, most of these poetic forms are mercifully only museum pieces now, but a few of those old, French forms survived to the modern age. One of the oldest and simplest of them all is the triolet.

Going back to at least the thirteenth century, triolets are short, usually witty poems, just perfect for tucking into a box of candy or some flowers. Of the triolet's eight lines, the first line is used three times (the French “tri” meaning three, which gives the triolet its name) and the second line is repeated once. So the requirement for rhyme words is easy, and the eight lines really come down to only five different ones--easier than it seems at first.

a - Rhymes with 1st line.
A - Identical to 1st line.
a - Rhymes with 1st line.
b - Rhymes with 2nd line.
A - Identical to 1st line.
B - Identical to 2nd line.

Here’s my example:

I look into your eyes
and you show me the truth
but can this be wise?
I look into your eyes
and search for the lies
though you’ve given me proof.
I look into your eyes
and you show me the truth.

And just because I used the blog chain to duck my poetry post yesterday, I did a second triolet, which I think actually turned out better.

A love must be pure to live for forever
such as the one between you and I,
a love incorrupt that nothing can sever
a love must be pure to live for forever,
a goal to be sought, life’s greatest endeavor
a challenge to pass, the gods to defy.
A love must be pure to live for forever
such as the one between you and I.

For some other examples, click on one of these links:

How Great My Grief by Thomas Hardy

The Art In Being Ignored by Chris Baker

Valentine by Wendy Cope

Aug 20, 2009

Thursday Changing For the Chain

If you’ve drop by looking for my Passion for Poetry post, you’ll have to be patient. It’s that time of the month again. No, not that time of the month, time for the AW blog chain. This one is speeding right along so today’s post is my link in the chain and I’ll do the poetry on Friday and the serial installment on Saturday. Why yes, it does mean I’ll have an extra day to work on them both. :-)

Today’s question is brought to me by Errantruth, who asks: When you look at the world, what do you see as the key motivating forces behind people’s actions, and when you look at your writing, do your characters’ motivations match these? If no, why do you feel there’s a difference––is there a question you’re resolving through your work, or is it the specifics of those particular motivations which calls you more?

Maybe I’m just being cynical, but when I look at the world around me I see greed and the pursuit of the almighty dollar as the key motivating forces behind people. No matter how much people have, they never seem satisfied - they always want more.

As for my characters . . . I don’t think there’s ever escaping greed as a motivating factor, at least as far as the villains go. But let’s not forget jealously and revenge either. I like to think that my heros are motivated more by love and honour, with a little bit of justice thrown in, but let’s face it, a perfect hero is a boring hero, so a little bit of the darker motivations sneak in there as well.

Why do I feel there’s a difference? Mainly it’s the difference between fantasy and reality. I’m in total control of the worlds I create. I can give my characters noble reasons for doing the things they do, or not, as the mood strikes me. And if I don’t like the way things are going, I can change it. Unfortunately there’s no rewrites in real life. Maybe we’d be better off if there were.

My stories tend to be character-driven, so my characters motivations play a big part in where the story goes. If they didn't have strong motivation to do the things they do, the story itself would would be weak and, ultimately, fail.

Thanks for the intriguing question, Errantruth! Check out the rest of the blog chain here:

Claire Crossdale
Lady Cat
Forbidden Snowflake

Next in line is Proach and my question to her is:
If you hadn’t received a Bachelor’s degree in History, do you think you’d still write historical fiction? Why or why not? And how do you reconcile working as a freelancer in today’s world with writing historical fiction?

Aug 19, 2009

Whimsical Wednesday

Yes, I'm early today. How about that?

Truth is, I broke a tooth last night and I don't feel like having breakfast so I've got some time to kill before school. :-)

Okay, on to the whimsy!

* * * * * * * * * *

Pecans In The Cemetery

On the outskirts of a small town, there was a big, old pecan tree just inside the cemetery fence. One day, two boys filled up a bucketful of nuts and sat down by the tree, out of sight,and began dividing the nuts.

"One for you, one for me. One for you, one for me," said one boy. Several dropped and rolled down toward the fence.

Another boy came riding along the road on his bicycle. As he passed, he thought he heard voices from inside the cemetery. He slowed down to investigate. Sure enough, he heard, "One for you, one for me. One for you, one for me."

He just knew what it was. He jumped back on his bike and rode off. Just around the bend he met an old man with a cane, hobbling along.

"Come here quick," said the boy, "you won't believe what I heard! Satan and the Lord are down at the cemetery dividing up the souls."

The man said, "Beat it kid, can't you see it's hard for me to walk."

When the boy insisted though, the man hobbled to the cemetery. Standing by the fence they heard, "One for you, one for me. One for you, one for me..."

The old man whispered, "Boy, you've been tellin' the truth. Let's see if we can see the Lord." Shaking with fear, they peered through the fence, yet were still unable to see anything.

The old man and the boy gripped the wrought iron bars of the fence tighter and tighter as they tried to get a glimpse of the Lord.

At last they heard, "One for you, one for me. That's all. Now let's go get those nuts by the fence and we'll be done."

They say the old man made it back to town a full 5 minutes ahead of the boy on the bicycle.

Aug 18, 2009

A Plethora of Randomness

First of all, please take not of the new link to your left under my About Me heading. It’s for Random Writings, where I’m going to post my creative efforts from a couple of timed writing prompts I found. It’s just for kicks and I invite everyone to join in the fun.

* * * * * * * * * *

When I was driving home from school yesterday, I passed a couple of cop cars parked on the sides of the road and the cops were talking to three people in front of an apartment building. When I was bringing Panda home from the vet two and a half hours later, they were still there. It makes me wonder what was going on.

* * * * * * * * * *

When in so much of a hurry to get to school that you’re running amber lights, it will catch up to you eventually. Just sayin’. :-)

* * * * * * * * * *

Have you ever noticed the interesting words you sometimes encounter when you go to leave a comment on someone’s blog and they have the word verification gizmo active? I found a use for these words - not all of them, just the really interesting ones.

One of the problems I have when writing about aliens, is coming up with interesting, yet pronounceable names for them. Some of the word verifications make really cool names! I’m starting a list of them.

* * * * * * * * * *

I like to doodle. Doodling is relaxing as well as entertaining, and I tend to do a lot of it when I’m writing long hand, especially when I’m writing poetry. There’s just something about a clean white page that bugs the crap out of me.

I was thinking about this the other day when I was typing away and got the urge to doodle. So rather than waste even more paper than I already do, I opened up the Paint program in windows. You know, I think Paint is a really under rated (and under used) program. I started with flowers, then branched out into vines and three dimensional boxes, and ended up using a slanted paint brush effect to write my name in calligraphy.

Oh, will the ways to procrastinate never end? At least I wasn’t playing games! :-)

Aug 17, 2009

Ticking Off The List

Nothing gives you a better feeling than being able to tick items off a list. Ticking off, as in done, completed, finished. :-)

After all, what’s the point in making a list in the first place if you can’t tick things off of it? I was thinking about this on Friday while I was trying to come up with a two-paragraph bio for a submission. I kept telling myself that as soon as I finish these two measly paragraphs I can tick this off my list.

Who’d have thought two little paragraphs would be so hard to write? I swear I spent more time sweating over those two paragraphs (that ended up being one paragraph) than I did over the whole submission.

I also started something new and fun just to get me writing. It’s called One Word, So Little Time and you can find it HERE This gives you a one word prompt and 60 seconds to write about it. Every day there’s a new word and I urge everyone to join the fun!


My goals for last week were pretty sad: post something for Friday and finish the new sestina.

What I actually accomplished was: finished the sestina in time for a lengthy post about that poetry form on Thursday, finished and sent my submission to the AW poetry anthology, and started my first ever blog serial on Saturday (I would’ve posted Friday but I didn’t know at that point what I was doing).

I also started a database to keep track of my poetry (and fiction) because I’ve got so much of it out there right now.

Goals for this week:

I guess now that I’ve started the serial I pretty much have to keep it up, so top of the list is chapter 2 in my Space Opera.

I’m pretty sure my poetry group meets this week, which means I’d better get something new written for them.

I’d like to include my daily One Word, but I’m not sure where to put it. Should it go on the side bar? Link to a new blog so other’s can post theirs in a comment? I’ll have to think about it some more but hopefully make a decision by the end of the week.

Create a database to keep track of my books and maybe even start imputing into it.

How's everybody doing with their goals?

Aug 13, 2009


This week’s Passion for Poetry is all about the Sestina. The first time I ever heard of this form was during the PAD Challenge back in April and anyone who was reading my blog back then will remember how much I loved it(not!). It’s not really as bad as it looks, in fact the form is kind of growing on me. :-)

The sestina was invented by a French troubadour named Arnaut Daniel. The troubadours first appeared in southern France in the twelfth century. Their name is extracted from the verb trobar, meaning "to invent or compose verse." They were famous, celebrated, much in fashion, and eventually very influential on the European poetry of the next few centuries. They sang - their poems were always accompanied by music - for French nobles such as the Duke of Aquitaine and the Count of Poitiers, and competed with one another to produce the wittiest, most elaborate, most difficult styles.

The Sestina was one of several forms in the complex, elaborate, and difficult closed style called trobar clus (as opposed to the easier more open trobar leu). It consists of 39 lines divided into 6 sestets and one triplet, called the envoi. It is normally unrhymed - instead, the six end-words of the first stanza are picked up and reused as the end-words of the following stanzas in a specific order. In the envoi, one end-word is buried in each line, and one is at the end of each line.

Lines may be of any length, although their length is usually consistent in a single poem. The six words that end each of the lines of the first stanza are repeated in a different order at the end of lines in each of the subsequent five stanzas. The particular pattern is given below. (This kind of recurrent pattern is "lexical repetition".)

The pattern of word-repetition is as follows, where the words that end the lines of the first sestet are represented by the numbers "1 2 3 4 5 6":

1 2 3 4 5 6 - End words of lines in first sestet.
6 1 5 2 4 3 - End words of lines in second sestet.
3 6 4 1 2 5 - End words of lines in third sestet.
5 3 2 6 1 4 - End words of lines in fourth sestet.
4 5 1 3 6 2 - End words of lines in fifth sestet.
2 4 6 5 3 1 - End words of lines in sixth sestet.
2 end words - Middle and end words of lines in envoi

Possible formats for the envoi are: 1-2, 3-4, 5-6; 1-4, 2-5, 3-6; 6-2, 1-4, 5-3; and 6-5, 2-4, 3-1

It might be easier to figure out with an example. The six words I used were:

1 truth, 2 grave, 3 life, 4 night, 5 death, 6 stone.

Night Dweller’s Truth

In every breath there is a truth
that overshadows every grave,
a truth not found within a life
that shines its beacon into night,
a knowledge brought about by death
and graven into hardest stone.

A thought that’s carved in precious stone
contains what we perceive as truth,
unsuppressed by certain death,
as cold and alien as the grave,
deep and dark as empty night
just before it bursts to life.

If I’d but know how sweet is life,
not just a pathway strewn with stone,
perhaps I’d not embraced the night
that fills me with its awful truth
and takes me far beyond the grave
out of reach of even death.

And what is that which we call death?
Perhaps another way of life,
the end is more than just the grave,
a fresh turned mound that’s capped with stone.
Perhaps we’ll never know the truth
before we pass into the night.

Come and share this sweetest night
where we can stand abreast of death,
and we will seek the perfect truth
of what is that which we call life
that gathers round us like a stone
and leads us blindly to the grave.

You look at me with visage grave -
accept my words, accept the night,
accept that fate’s not carved in stone.
Turn away from Lady Death,
her promise of the after life,
and know what’s in my heart is truth.

We’ll find our truth without the grave
and make our life within the night,
then vanquish death with shattered stone.

Aug 12, 2009

Whimsical Wednesday

The credit for this one goes to my BFF, who sent it to me via e-mail. Enjoy!

* * * * * * * * * *

Bob Hill and his new wife Betty were vacationing in Europe, as it happens, near Transylvania. They were driving in a rental car along a rather deserted highway. It was late and raining very hard. Bob could barely see the road in front of the car. Suddenly the car skids out of control! Bob attempts to control the car, but to no avail! The car swerves and smashes into a tree.

Moments later, Bob shakes his head to clear the fog. Dazed, he looks over at the passenger seat and sees his wife unconscious with her head bleeding! Despite the rain and unfamiliar countryside, Bob knows he has to get her medical assistance. Bob carefully picks his wife up and begins trudging down the road. After a short while, he sees a light. He heads towards the light which is coming from a large old house. He approaches the door and knocks. A minute passes. A small hunched man opens the door. Bob immediately blurts, "Hello, my name is Bob Hill and this is my wife Betty. We've been in a terrible accident and my wife has been seriously hurt. Can I please use your phone?"

"I'm sorry," replied the hunchback, "but we don't have a phone. My master is a doctor; come in and I will get him!"

Bob brings his wife in.

An older man comes down the stairs. "I'm afraid my assistant may have misled you. I am not a medical doctor; I am a scientist. However, it is many miles to the nearest clinic, and I have had basic medical training. I will see what I can do. Igor, bring them down to the laboratory."

With that, Igor picks up Betty and carries her downstairs with Bob following closely. Igor places Betty on a table in the lab. Bob collapses from exhaustion and his own injuries so Igor places Bob on an adjoining table.

After a brief examination, Igor's master looks worried. "Things are serious, Igor. Prepare a transfusion. " Igor and his master work feverishly, but to no avail. Bob and Betty Hill are no more.

The Hills' deaths upset Igor's master greatly. Wearily he climbs the steps to his conservatory which houses his grand piano, for it is here that he has always found solace. He begins to play and a stirring, almost haunting melody fills the house.

Meanwhile, Igor is still in the lab tidying up. His eyes catch movement and he notices the fingers on Betty's hand twitch keeping time to the haunting piano music. Stunned he watches as Bob's arm begins to rise marking the beat! He is further amazed as Betty and Bob both sit up straight!

Unable to contain himself, he dashes up the stairs to the conservatory. He bursts in and shouts to his master:

"Master, Master! The Hills are alive with the sound of music!"

(I am soooooo sorry...... but you really should've seen that coming.)

Aug 11, 2009

Stealing Thunder

We had another evening of thunder storms last night, so once again it was the perfect night to work on that sestina. My big problem with it now is choosing an ending for it. The last stanza of a sestina is only three lines, but I’ve found two different formats for it. I’ll have to do a little more research to figure out which is the more traditional of the two, but in the meantime I did it both ways and now I can’t decide which ending reads better.

Did you ever wonder where the expression: Stealing thunder ( or steal one’s thunder) came from? It’s actually kind of interesting. We all know that someone ‘steals your thunder’ when they use or appropriate your ideas or inventions, especially to their own advantage, but not many of us know how the phrase originated. So I did me some reasearch. :-)

Devices that produce the sound of thunder have been called on in theatrical productions for centuries. The methods used include - rolling metal balls down troughs, grinding lead shot in bowls, shaking sheets of thin metal. The latter device, called a thunder sheet, is still in use today. The bowl method was referred to in Alexander Pope's literary satire The Dunciad, published in 1728:

With Shakespear's nature, or with Johnson's art,
Let others aim: 'Tis yours to shake the soul
With Thunder rumbling from the mustard bowl.

The story that lies behind 'stealing someone's thunder' is that of the literary critic and largely unsuccessful playwright, John Dennis. In 1704, Dennis's play Appius and Virginia was produced at the Drury Lane Theatre, London and he invented a new method of creating the sound of thunder for the production. We don't know now what this method was (some texts say it was a refinement of the mustard bowl referred to by Pope, in which metal balls were rolled around in a wooden bowl), but it is reported that after Appius and Virginia failed and was closed, the method was soon afterwards used in a production of Macbeth. Dennis was less than pleased at having his idea purloined and this account of his response was recorded by the literary scholar Joseph Spence (1699–1768) and later quoted in W. S. Walsh's Literary Curiosities, 1893:

"Damn them! They will not let my play run, but they steal my thunder."

The actual words are in doubt and are also reported as "That is my thunder, by God; the villains will play my thunder but not my play!". What is clear is that Dennis's experience was the source of this attractive little phrase.

So now you know. Don't you feel better? I know I do!

Aug 10, 2009

Muggy Monday

The weather’s turned muggy on us, which means I’ve got the fan going in my office and the air conditioner everywhere else. It also means lots of rain and dismal weather. Yuck!

I bet right about now you’re wondering what excuse I’ll use for missing Friday’s post, aren’t you? Well, don’t hold your breath, you’re not getting one.

Friday I started working on a story I thought would be flash, but it ran long. I don’t like posting anything much over 1000 words and this one was just over twice that. I did look around at some of the flash prompts, but none of them appealed to me.

Mostly I worked on poetry over the weekend, which feels like a cop out because I can spend longer on a poem than a flash piece or even a story, even though it ends up being just a handful of lines.

I had snips and snatches of ideas, but nothing concrete enough to develop. And of course the day I got the urge to start developing them was Sunday, and anyone living in Southern Ontario can vouch for the fact that most of Sunday was a write-off computer-wise because of the thunder storms ripping through here. Good weather for writing poetry though.


So, last week I again missed Creative Friday. No excuses, no apologies, and maybe just a little promise that I’ll try harder this week. I’m actually toying with the idea of starting a serial of my own (I read several on-line serials) and I even have the idea picked out for one, but I’ll need to plot it out first. Which means, if I go ahead with it, it probably won’t be this week. :-)

I didn’t quite manage to kick the gaming habit, but I did manage to reduce it by about 75%.

I did use an original poem to illustrate last week’s Passion for Poetry, and I wrote two haiku that are posted over on AW (poetry forum, “chain, chain, chain, haiku of fools” thread). I also worked on a poem that is being persistent, but elusive, AND I started workingonanothersestina. Yes, I know after the first one I swore I’d never do one again, but once you get the hang of them, the sestina isn’t that bad. I’m more than halfway finished this one and I really like the way it’s turning out.

The reward system for writing didn’t really pan out because as I said before, I can spend just as much time working on a poem as a story and have less to show for it, even though the work is just as hard (if not harder). So after working on a poem for an hour, I didn’t really feel justified in rewarding myself.

Goals For This Week:

Try working on a flash piece for Friday earlier in the week. Like as soon as I post this.

Think more about doing a serial and if I’m going that route, work on the outline.

Reduce the gaming habit further.

Finish the sestina in time to use it for this week’s Passion for Poetry. Work on elusive poem as well, and the new poem I started to jot down this morning.

Yeah, that’s pretty much it. Let’s see how I do with these goals before I start increasing them. :-)

Aug 6, 2009


When I first decided on the cinquain for this week’s Passion For Poetry, I thought I’d be getting off easy. Five lines . . . just two more than a haiku, how easy is that? But even the haiku turned out to be more complicated than I realized it was - it’s not just about the right number of syllables.

The invention of the cinquain is credited to the American Poet, Adelaide Crapsey, who was inspired to create it after reading A Hundred Verses From Old Japan, a translation of haiku. The form is little known outside the hardcore poet world and consists of twenty-two syllables set in a single, unrhymed, five line stanza in the following format:

Line 1: Two syllables
Line 2: Four syllables
Line 3: Six syllables
Line 4: Eight syllables
Line 5: Two syllables

Other accepted formats of the cinquain are:

Line 1: 1 word title (noun)
Line 2: 2 descriptive words (adjectives)
Line 3: 3 words that express action
Line 4: 4 words that express feeling
Line 5: 1 word (synonym or reference to title in line 1)


Line 1: One word
Line 2: Two words
Line 3: Three words
Line 4: Four words
Line 5: One word

And if you really want to do it right, you need to combine all three:

Line 1: One, two syllable word, preferably a noun
Line 2: Two words, total of four syllables, preferably adjectives
Line 3: Three words, total of six syllables, expressing action
Line 4: Four words, total of eight syllables, expressing a feeling
Line 5: One word, two syllables, referencing back to the first word

And now, my example, such as it is. :-)

darkly shining
perfumed breezes wafting
anticipation fills me up . . .

And this one is by Adelaide Crapsey:

With faint dry sound,
Like steps of passing ghosts,
The leaves, frost-crisp'd, break from the trees
And fall.

Now, go thou and do thee likewise! :-)

Aug 5, 2009

Whimsical Wednesday

A frog goes into a bank and approaches the teller. He can see from her nameplate that her name is Patricia Whack.

"Miss Whack, I'd like to get a $30,000 loan to take a holiday."

Patty looks at the frog in disbelief and asks his name. The frog says his name is Kermit Jagger, his dad is Mick Jagger, and that it's okay, he knows the bank manager.

Patty explains that he will need to secure the loan with some collateral.

The frog says, "Sure. I have this," and produces a tiny porcelain elephant, about an inch tall, bright pink and perfectly formed.

Very confused, Patty explains that she'll have to consult with the bank manager and disappears into a back office.

She finds the manager and says, "There's a frog called Kermit Jagger out there who claims to know you and wants to borrow $30,000, and he wants to use this as collateral."

She holds up the tiny pink elephant. "I mean, what in the world is this?"

(you're gonna love this)

(a masterpiece)

(wait for it)

The bank manager looks back at her and says...

"It's a knickknack, Patty Whack. Give the frog a loan. His old man's a Rolling Stone."

(You're singing it, aren't you? Yeah, I know you are........)

Never take life too seriously! Come on now, you grinned, I know you did!!!

Aug 4, 2009

It’s The Most Wonderful Time . . .

. . . . of the year!

Yes, it’s back to school time. And you know what that means - it means keep me away from the stores! I have a hard time resisting those bright packages of pens and papers, the smell of plastic binders, and stick notes! Let’s not forget the stick notes.

Never mind that I have stacks of folders and binders in my supply cabinet at home. Forget the pile of stick notes (in various sizes and colours) sitting on my book case. Pay no attention to the unopened packages of mechanical pencils from two years ago. You never know when I might run out of something.

Take paper, for instance. You know that lined paper with the holes punched in it so you can use it in binders? Every year when it went on sale I’d scoop some up. My daughter can attest to the fact that I had such a stock pile when she started high school that she never had to buy paper - not through 4 years of highschool nor most of her 7 years of university.

I don’t know what it is about the back to school sales and me. But you should know, I also have to be watched carefully in Staples and the dollar store as well. Those stores have back to school the whole year round!

* * * * * * * * * *

Any astronomy buffs out there? Did you know that Aphelion, the point in Earth’s elliptical orbit when it is farthest from the sun, fell on July 4th this year? Just thought I’d throw that out there for you.

But speaking of the stars, I came across something really cool over the weekend. The Dunhuang Star Atlas. This ancient Chinese document is the oldest complete star atlas known, it dates to the years 649 to 684 and was discovered in 1907. The star positions in the hand drawn atlas were found to be accurate to within a few degrees.

Pretty amazing, eh?

You can find out more about it HERE.

* * * * * * * * * *

The air conditioning in our classroom wasn’t working today so they let us go early. Not the whole school, just our classroom. It was like a sauna in there. Even the ones usually complaining about how cold it is were stripping down as low as they dared go. Trust me, it wasn’t pretty.

Now, excuse me while I go hunt up some bleach for my eyes. :-)

Aug 3, 2009

Another Monday

Another start to a new week. I kinda fell of the face of the earth by the end of last week, didn’t I? I’d like to say it was due to extenuating circumstances, but that would be a lie and I promised myself I would never lie in this blog, even if it meant making myself look bad.

Last week the writing started to dwindle and finally petered right out. It was frustrating, because although I can blame the amount of school work for the early part of the week, by Thursday the school pressure was off and I had a four day weekend. A four day weekend where I accomplished nada.

Yesterday I started to get a little more motivation going, and I even printed off a couple of old stories to have a look at. The first one I’d been having a lot of trouble with the plot - it’s set in the not so distant future. After reading the latest version I have to wonder why I abandoned it. I appear to have overcome the plot problem and with some judicious editing I could call it done.

The second story was based on a poem I wrote in highschool, which itself was based on a newspaper clipping about a little boy lost in the snow. When I started it, it was actually four stories intertwined, but it just wasn’t working that way. There was the old man’s story, the creature’s story, the child’s story, and the father’s story. If it had worked the way I’d envisioned it, it would have been a really great story. Only I couldn’t get the four stories to weave together. They each wanted to wander off and do their own thing. I tried to write each of the stories separately and that was an even bigger disaster. This one needs to be stripped down to its basic plot - what is the story really about.

Okay, on to the goals.

Like last week, I missed Creative Friday again. I found a really cool story I’d started at one point called Comfort Zone but it was only half done and I have no idea where I was going with it, other than the point the main character is making was that her motivation for doing what she did was because anything else would have taken her out of her comfort zone. Then I was going to follow the link Benjamin gave me for Fiction Friday, but I just couldn’t come up with a reason for Santa Claus to be showing up in the middle of summer. :-)

So no Creative Friday, and no flash fiction last week.

Wrote one replacement poem for the AW anthology and lots of fragments.

Wrote three more assignments for my Human Resources course (and I’d better remember that I have the last one due tomorrow - something about unions and Wal-Mart).

Read many, many books. :-)

Goals for this week:

Absolutely no more gaming. Not even solitaire or spider solitaire. I’m going to make a list of other stuff that needs done around the house and if I don’t feel like writing I have to pick something off the list instead. (A sure way to get me back writing - I hate housework!)

Two new poems, one of which should be something to illustrate whatever poetry form I choose for Thursday’s Passion for Poetry. It was pointed out to me that I should put my money where my mouth is and if I’m going to talk about these different forms I should at least attempt them myself. :-)

No skipping Friday’s post. If I can do a 500 - 1000 word assignment in under an hour, there’s no reason I can’t be posting a flash fiction piece on Friday. If the prompt from Fiction Friday doesn’t turn my crank, I can always find a new prompt.

Pretty skimpy on the goals, but at least I’m not setting myself up to fail. And I have a huge pile of books waiting to be read so I think I’ll set up a reward system for myself. One hour of writing = ½ hour of reading . . .

If that doesn’t motivate my writing, nothing will!