May 31, 2010

Multivoltine Monday

multivoltine ~ having several broods in one season (although I’m sure this applies to chickens, I’m defining brood as a brooding mood)

Last week was pretty darn good. Okay, so it was a four day week because of the holiday (here in Canada), and my poetry post went up 12 hours later than it was supposed to, but I got all my posts done ahead of time and it really took the pressure off.

I picked up my new glasses on Thursday, but they don’t seem as bifocally as my old ones were. For one thing, they really don’t help when I’m working on the computer, and I can’t use them for reading. I’m going to give them till the end of the week and if I’m still not happy with them I’ll have to do something about it.

Then came the weekend. One disaster after another - a roller coaster ride of almost good luck followed by really bad luck. I ended up feeling so beaten down by life I just didn’t have the energy to spare for any writing. Instead, I took my friend’s book out onto the deck and finished editing it in one fell swoop. So at least one good thing came out of the weekend. :-)

This Week’s Goals:

Tuesday: Part IV of my fairy tale series investigates the beginnings of one I’m sure everyone is familiar with – Snow White.

Wednesday: Will feature a new Hump Day Hunk for your viewing pleasure. If you have any preferences, let me know. I’m always willing to do a little research. ;-)

Thursday: This week’s Passion for Poetry form is an Irish form, the Cro Cumaisc Etir Casbairnde Ocus Lethrannaigecht. Please don’t ask me what it means or how to pronounce it ‘cause I have no idea. But to make up for the tongue-twister form, I also have a quiz for you, so be sure to check it out.

Friday: Chapter 41 of the Space Opera. What is E.Z. doing in Chaney’s head? And will Nakeisha come out of the experience with her mind intact?

Elsewhere in my week:

Tonight there’s a Scribe’s meeting, and since I missed the last one I have no idea what the prompt was so I’ll be going empty-handed. And while I’m at my meeting, my wonderful daughter and her equally wonderful husband are going to my friend’s house to dismantle a lawn swing to bring it over here.

Now that I have the editing done on my friend’s book it’s back to the edits on my own work. Maybe even some new words.

The CPW (my poetry group) is putting out another anthology and I have until June 15 to submit my poems. I get three pages this time, plus I have to do a bio and include a photo. I guess the first step will be to organize my poetry, again!

And that’s what I’ve been/will be up to, how about you? What are you going to be up to this week?

May 27, 2010


Oops! This is what happens when you schedule a post without your glasses. I had it set for PM instead of AM and when I checked it after work it wouldn't let me change it. Silly blogger!

When I promise a short form, I really mean it! :-)

The English word quinzaine come from the French word qunize, meaning fifteen. A quinzaine is an unrhymed verse of fifteen syllables.

These syllables are distributed among three lines so that there are seven syllables in the first line, five in the second line and three in the third line (7/5/3). The first line makes a statement. The next two lines ask a question relating to that statement.

Here's the pattern:

Line 1: Statement of 7 syllables

Line 2: Beginning of question with 5 syllables

Line 3: End of question with 3 syllables

As you will probably be able to tell, I had a lot of fun with these:

I love the changing seasons
Is it summer yet?
Who can tell?

The koi swim in lazy rings
What are they thinking?
Do they think?

The gardens look amazing
Is it the flowers?
Or colours?

Ducks landing in our pool
Have you eaten yet?
Want some bread?

A new adventure looming
Am I brave enough?
Will I dare?

May 25, 2010

Fairytale Origins - Part III
Sleeping Beauty

The beloved story of a young woman who goes into a comatose state after getting a splinter in her finger and then being revived by a handsome prince, has its basic elements in both Nordic mythology and 16th century French literature. From these beginnings, the story was developed by Giambattista Basile and revised by Charles Perrault, and the Brothers Grimm. The Walt Disney Sleeping Beauty story is only half the tale and is sanitized.

In the 12th century Norse saga, Volsunga, the god Odin, upset with the valkyrie, Brunhilda, cursed her to sleep on a couch surrounded by fire until any man would rescue and marry her. Eventually, she is rescued when Siegfried enters her domain and awakens her by cutting off her armor.

Four centuries after Volsunga, a story called Perceforest was printed in Paris. Based on oral stories from the 1300s, the work included a section titled “Histoire de Troylus et de Zellandine,” (published in 1528), in which a princess named Zellandine falls in love with a man named Troylus. Her father sends him to perform tasks to prove himself worthy of her. While he is gone, Zellandine is cursed by a deity into an enchanted sleep.

Troylus finds her and impregnates her in her sleep. When their child is born, he draws the poison dart that caused her sleep from her finger. She realizes from the ring that was left with her that the father was Troylus; he returns after his adventures to marry her.

In the early 1600s, Giambattista Basile, published a collection of folk and fairy tales which included one called “Sun, Moon and Talia.” This Sleeping Beauty is the story of a young girl who is pricked by a poisonous thorn and falls asleep. Her father, the king, takes the body of his young daughter and sets it to rest upon a velvet cloth in the woods, locking the gates to his kingdom behind her. A married prince finds her and, not caring that she’s in an enchanted sleep, rapes her.

He returns to his family and nine months later Talia gives birth to twins, named Sun and Moon. Fairies look after the twins until one day the little boy sucks on his dead mother's finger, sucking the poisonous splinter from her finger, restoring her to life.

After a few months, the prince gets the urge to revisit the site of his pleasure, only to find that the girl he'd ravaged is now awake. An affair ensues after he admits to being the father of Sun and Moon. Then he leaves her, neglecting to inform her that he is married.

His wife, however, soon learns of her husband's indiscretions and sends her minions out to capture Sun and Moon. Her cook is ordered to kill them and grind their flesh into hash. Later that night as her husband is eating the hash she cries out that he is, indeed, eating that which sprang from his loins. Mortified, the prince throws her into the fire. Later, he discovers that the kind-hearted cook had substituted a goat for the children. The prince then marries Talia.

"Sleeping Beauty in the Wood" was published by Charles Perrault in 1697 and is essentially the same as Basile’s with a few added features. A mischievous fairy is the source of the curse placed on the young woman; the children are named Aurora and Jour; the prince’s vengeful wife is replaced by his ogre mother; and an attempt is also made to serve Beauty as a meal. Instead of a fire, the mother is thrown into a boiling cauldron.

In the early 1800s, the German folklorists, Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, modified the fairy tale in their story of “Dornroschen (Little Briar Rose)." The story has none of the macabre features of earlier tales, has only half the plot, and has a true “fairy tale ending.” The story reaches its denouement when the prince awakens Rose with a kiss. Shortly afterwards, they marry and “live happily ever after.”

It is this version that Disney adapted for his Sleeping Beauty movie, although he did pay some homage to Perrault’s story. Despite being called Briar Rose by the good fairies who protect her, the princess’s real name is Aurora, the same name as one of the illegitimate children in the Perrault‘s tale.

Surlalune Fairytales, annotated version
Sun, Moon, and Talia
Sleeping Beauty in the Wood
Little Briar Rose
Sleeping Beauty, by Midori Snyder (Non-fiction)

May 24, 2010

Messed-Up Monday

Messed-up ~ forgot this was Monday because it's the first long weekend of the summer. Happy Victoria Day!

So, I'm sitting here last night, typing a post for my Random Writings blog, and I completely forgot that it was Sunday night and I should be doing the goals post for here. I blame the fact that it was a holiday weekend. Normally I do this post while watching True Blood on Sunday night, but because of the holiday they had a bunch of movies on instead. That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it! :-)

Last week I managed to get all my writing goals accomplished, and on time. This despite the fact I went through a whole bottle of Advil (which tend to make me sleeping) - sometimes the pain was in my neck, sometimes in my shoulders, and then, just to add to the fun, I picked up a sinus infection which triggered a couple of migraines. *sigh*.

I worked from home last Monday, which was a good thing because I spent a lot of time on the phone talking to insurance adjusters. They approved a rental for me so I’m currently driving a 2010 Ford Fusion. It’s a sweet little car, but a bit cramped after being used to an SUV.

I managed to snag a morning appointment with the optometrist so I got my eyes checked before work and then the prescription filled after work (since my glasses were toasted in the accident). And then I got the sad new that my Santa Fe was a write-off, so now I have to start looking for a new vehicle. It certainly won’t be brand new, but there are a lot of decent used cars out there.

This Week’s Goals:

Tuesday: Part III of my fairy tale series investigates the truth behind Sleeping Beauty.

Wednesday: Will feature a new Hump Day Hunk for your viewing pleasure. If you have any preferences, let me know. I’m always willing to do a little research. ;-)

Thursday: This week’s Passion for Poetry form is the Quinzaine, another short, unrhymed syllabic poetry form.

Friday: Chapter 40 of the Space Opera. What are the Illezie going to have to say to Nakeisha? And just how dangerous is it to contact them?

Elsewhere in my week:

I have a poetry group meeting Tuesday night, which I’m looking forward to. I missed both a Scribes meeting and the poetry reading last week, so I need the infusion of creativity.

Want to finish up the edits on my friend’s book so she can get it finished, then it’s back to the edits on my own work. Of the two, I much prefer editing someone else’s work. :-)

I read a few e-books last week . . . One of the nice things about e-books is you can read them while doing other stuff on the computer. I also finished reading a print book, Master of Fire, by Angela Knight. I can’t wait until the next one in the series comes out!

And that’s what I’ve been/will be up to, how about you? How did you spend your long weekend?

May 20, 2010


Before I get to the poetry, I'd like to mention that Tuesday was the Let's Talk Blogfest. If anyone wants to see my offering, you can find it HERE. There's also a link so you can check out the rest of the participants - all 112 of them!

This week's Passion For Poetry is the poetry form of Pleiades.

The Pleiades is a cluster of seven stars visible in the night time sky. The Greeks saw this cluster and named the stars after the seven daughters of Atlas and Pleione. According to myth, Orion the hunter was in love with the sisters and chased after them until the gods took them to safety, transforming them first into swans, and then into stars.

The Pleiades poem is has seven lines and each line starts with the first letter of the poem’s title. This form was created by Craig Tigerman, Lead Editor of Sol Magazine, in 1999.

Although Hortensia Anderson, a popular haiku and tanka poet, added her
own requirement of restricting the line length to six syllables, there is no set syllable count or rhyme scheme for the pleiades poetic format.

This was an interesting form to write in. It looks deceptively simple, but I confess I had a dictionary close at hand to look up words that started with the appropriate letter.

Whiskey coloured sunrise
Warping the landscape;
White mist snakes along the ground,
Writhing among the trees.
Wolves howl in the East,
Woeful in their song;
Weeping fills the silence.

Quarreling voices shatter the calm,
Quibbling over trivialities.
Quixotic impulses,
Quaint in origin,
Quelled by habit,
Quicken with impulse -
Quota fulfilled.

May 19, 2010

Hump Day Hunk

Isn't he pretty?

It's such a chore having to hunt up hot men to post here. Really! ;-)

May 18, 2010

Fairy Tale Origins – Part II
Hansel and Gretel

As in Little Red Riding Hood, this is a tale of children who are alone in a wood, away from parental influence, and must, through their wits, find a way to navigate the forest and avoid danger.

The story of Hansel and Gretel and its many variations are considered to be simple childrens fairy tales, but many contemporary folk scholars, such as Jack Zipes and Maria Tatar, believe that these tales of poverty, child abandonment, starvation and cannibalism can be traced back to the Middle Ages when people were actually experiencing these problems.

As with most folklore, these early stories were passed down orally. It was not until the 17th century that they were collected and published. The earliest version of Hansel and Gretel was written by Italian folklorist Giambattista Basile, whose Nennillo and Nennella was published posthumously in The Tale of Tales, or Entertainment for Little Ones (1634). In this story a selfish stepmother and her weak husband abandon his two children in order to conserve food. There is no evil witch however. Instead, a pirate kidnaps Nennella and a large fish saves her.

Other early versions involved French writers. Charles Perrault's Le petit Poucet (Little Thumb - 1697) involves seven brothers who stumble upon an ogre’s house after being abandoned by their parents. A year later, Madame Marie-Catherine d'Aulnoy wrote Finette Cendron, a similar story of three princesses who are abandoned by their parents in the woods and find their way to a giant's house.

The most well known of these tales is, of course, the story of Hansel and Gretel as told by the German scholars Jakob and Wilhelm Grimm, first in 1812 and then in revised versions in 1819 and 1857. In the earliest versions of the story, it was Hansel and Gretel’s mother who suggests that they abandon the children not a stepmother, and in fact both parents participated in the decision.

During the Middle Ages, there were many disasters such as famine, war, and plague, which would cause parents to abandon their children. However, while creating a story based on familiar stereotypes, the brothers Grimm were also writing for middle class patrons during the nineteenth century. As a result, some of the original themes were converted to something less unpleasant for children of that era.

For instance, the mother and father’s collaboration in abandoning the children becomes something less sinister but also more morally ambiguous. The mother was turned into a wicked stepmother, so that there was no longer the conflict between mother and child. The father became a weak pawn in the hands of this witch.

Both the witch’s and the stepmother’s relationship with the children and their threat to the children is based on an overwhelming desire for food. The stepmother does not want competition for what little food is available and the witch wishes to consume the children as a delicacy.

In the end, the witch is burned to death in her own oven. Death by fire is a fitting ending that works not only for the genre but also fits with the mode of punishment for those accused of witch-craft.

The ending of the story is particularly difficult. The Grimms attempted to modify the story to fit into the satisfactory ‘happily ever after’ mode, but Hansel and Gretel doesn’t really reach a moral high note. It takes wealth to change them into a happy family and there is no resolution for the father’s lack of character in allowing the children to be abandoned in the first place.

The major change effected by the Grimms during the revision process from the 1810 manuscript edition to the final product lies in the reshaping of the parental figures. In an early version of the tale, both (natural) parents can be seen as "evil" in that they each contribute to the abandonment of their children actively. In subsequent editions, the roles begin to subtly shift so that the father slowly emerges as reluctant victim to the step -mother's evil designs-the "witching" of the female begins.

The mother becomes increasingly sinister in the first edition of the tale, but she is not the only female character to be presented as clearly evil; in this edition, the "old woman" becomes a wicked witch who lay in wait for children and had built her house to tempt them. Whenever one of them got into her power, she killed it, cooked it, and ate it.

The duplicitous nature of the woman/witch is illustrated by her behavior. Before she reveals her evil nature, she first gives the children a good meal of and then puts them into bed. The next morning she puts Hansel in a stable and puts Gretel to work. The story progresses as the manuscript draft does, but when Gretel is asked to enter the oven it is "God" who inspires her to shove the witch in instead.

The second edition (1819) follows the first almost identically until the death of the witch, after which the children take her jewels and then try to return home but can only do so with the aid of a white duck who ferries them across a river.

In the fifth edition (1843), the mother becomes "the wife" and thus a step- mother. She has gained even more zeal to rid herself and her husband of his children, and perhaps to soften the maternal threat to the children, she loses her status as a biological parent. When they return home, the wife blames the children for falling asleep in the wood and being left behind. Again the duplicity of the evil female character is shown, this time in reference to the wife. Much as the wife pretends the children are at fault and pretends that she is happy for their return, so does the witch "pretend to be so kind" in order to fool the children into entering her home. The tale, with some added details, follows the previous editions to its end. This double nature of the female character is corresponds to the split of the child's perception of its mother into good and bad elements.

Grimm’s version of the story
The story the operatic version is based on
Yet another version of the story
The History of Hansel and Gretel

May 17, 2010

Monopolylogue Monday

monopolylogue ~ dramatic work in which one actor plays many roles

Last week . . . well, I’ll tell you. The good news is, I met all my writing goals, and quite easily I might add. I even got my serial chapter posted on time on Friday, which was all the more surprising because I was in a car accident Thursday night. My car slid through a stop sign and got hit from both sides. All things considered, I came out of it in pretty good shape – mild concussion, mild whiplash, major assorted bumps and bruises – which is more than I can say for my poor Sante Fe.

Needless to say I didn’t get much accomplished over the weekend, except for a lot of reading. Yesterday I had the great good fortune to win a copy of Adam Slade’s just released book A Reaper’s Tale. It reminds me of that show, Dead Like Me, only it’s better. It also puts me in mind of Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files, only better. Oh, for crying out loud. Just click on the link and go buy a copy! You won’t be sorry.

This Week’s Goals:

Tuesday: Part II of my fairy tale series will deal with Hansel and Gretel, a tale that deals with both poverty and abandonment.

Wednesday: Will feature a new Hump Day Hunk for your viewing pleasure.

Thursday: This week’s Passion for Poetry form is . . . um . . . uh . . . a surprise. To me as well as you. Normally I pick out the form on Sunday night, but I just didn’t get around to it. I have a feeling that whatever form I choose, it’s likely to be a short one. ;-)

Friday: Chapter 39 of the Space Opera. What’s going to happen to Nakeisha and Chaney so far from the city? Will Nakeisha be able to contact the Illezie?

Elsewhere in my week:

This week, my friend and I are going to see the new Robin Hood movie. But only if she drives. :-) Iron Man II was great, in case anyone was wondering. Robert Downy Jr. is perfect for the role. And if you stay through the bitter end of the credits, just like in the first Iron Man movie, then you get a glimpse of what’s going to happen next. And let me tell you, I can’t wait!

My own edits are going to have to wait this week because I really have to get working on the edits of my friend’s book. I’d meant to get it done over the weekend, but it didn’t happen.

I read three books during the enforced “taking it easy” after my accident, and I’m ready to start the Mammoth Book of Time Travel Romance this week.

Don’t forget about the Let’s Talk Blogfest tomorrow. My offering will be up HERE .

I'm ready for a nice, quiet week this week. How about you? What are you up to?

May 13, 2010


There are those who claim the Huitain is Spanish in origin, and others who swear it’s French. What everyone can agree on, is that it’s a simple form revolving around the number eight.

The true Huitain is a single verse, eight line poem with eight syllables per line. The rhyme scheme is:


The French form began as the Spanish with eight lines of eight syllables, but it also allowed for the continuation of the poem in additional eight line stanzas. It was even accepted as a form of collaborative poetry with several poets each contributing their own eight line stanza.

The English, with their fondness for iambic pentameter, also accepted ten syllable lines, but to me this strays too far from the original intent of the form. Myself, I stuck to the original, Spanish rules. My example is eight lines of eight syllables each. :-)


She stands alone, wind in her hair,
upon the cliff, above the sea;
for hours she’s done naught but stare,
I wonder, is she even free?
Her prison is not one you see
it has no bars, nor doors that seal,
it’s made of all her mind’s debris
and all the things she used to feel.

May 12, 2010

Happy Hump Day

As I mentioned in my goals post on Monday, I'm changing things up a bit. So if you've come here looking for something funny, I'm sorry to disappoint. The truth is, I was running shockingly low on humour. I've pretty much depleted my files and exhausted my e-mail.

So, instead I've decided to do something a little different for Wednesdays. I figure the middle of the week deserves a bit of a treat, so starting today I give you, the Hump Day Hunk:

May 11, 2010

Fairy Tale Origins, Part I
Little Red Riding Hood

Little Red Riding Hood started life in stories told orally of a girl who outsmarts a wolf – all by herself without any help. A few hundred later, she’s given a red cap, which seems to reduce her IQ, and she gets eaten by a wolf that likes to dress up like a woman. In another hundred years, the cap becomes a hood, which appears to reduce her IQ even further, she gets eaten by the wolf, but then is rescued by a big, strong man. It’s unfortunate that this is the story most of us are familiar with.

Traditional versions of Little Red Riding Hood were oral tales about a young girl’s initiation into womanhood. In an Italian version, the wolf is an ogress and Little Red is a girl on the cusp of growing up. A better known version comes from France and is known as “The Path of Needles or Pins”, named so because when she meets the wolf she must choose one of two paths, the path of needles or the path of pins.

Yvonne Verdier, who studied numerous variations of the Little Red Riding Hood tale, believed the paths were symbolic of two periods of growth in a young girl’s life. When a girl was sent off to be apprenticed to a seamstress, this was the path of pins (learning a trade as part of growing up) and is regarded by Verdier as the path of maidenhood, the path of change from child to young woman. The path of needles was the next stage and implied sexual maturity, the needle being emblematic of sexual penetration.

Angela Carter’s Little Red (“The Company of Wolves”) is brave and independent, fearless and ready to protect herself. She can and will look after herself. She is confident and when she meets the wolf/huntsman on the path to Granny’s house she is in no way intimidated.

They make a wager with a kiss the prize, and she happily dawdles so he may reach Granny’s house first. When she arrives, Granny is a rattling bundle of bones wrapped in a napkin under the bed, and the wolf makes no real attempt to pretend to be the grandmother. Their exchange, informed by knowledge rather than fear, breaks the traditional pattern. She undresses quite willingly. There is no fear of sex, or of male desire, or even a hint of shame about her own desires.

Carter’s heroine is fearless on many levels: she has sex outside the bounds of the approved space of marriage, she chooses it for herself (it is not imposed upon her as a marriage duty or as an act of rape), she acts without deference to anyone, and with no thought for society’s sanctions. And there are no consequences for her actions, no societal enforced punishment for being a “loose” woman.

Jack Zipes refers to the original tales as depicting the way a young girl must learn to cope with the world around her. The girl meets the wolf on the way to Granny’s house and discloses where she’s going. The wolf kills and eats the grandmother, takes her place in bed, and induces the girl to eat and drink Granny’s flesh and blood before climbing into bed with him. Recognising her danger, and with no one else to turn to, the girl uses her wits to save herself.

Gruesome though it is, the eating of the grandmother’s flesh and drinking of her blood can also be seen as representing the life-cycle. The young replace the old, the girl is coming into the fullness of her womanhood. The grandmother is at the end of the cycle, she is no longer fertile, no longer desired, no longer agile and active. Although the young girl has a traumatic experience, she has been independent and saved herself with no help from either a prince or woodsman, nor any other male figure.

Enter Charles Perrault and the Brothers Grimm.

Perrault’s tale became a moral tale, warning women and children that if they did not conform there would be consequences. Perrault introduces the red cap/hood and the element of a wager between the wolf and Little Red Riding Hood. He also implies that she is somehow careless in taking her time to get to Granny’s house – that she is complicit in Granny’s death because she wants to lose the bet, and thus invites the wolf’s sexual advances. When she arrives at Granny’s house she is raped and eaten. Perrault lays the blame very squarely on her shoulders (just in case anyone should miss the point).

A century or so later, the Brothers Grimm gave the story a happy ending and removed the sexual bawdiness and overt violence. Little Red is shown as a foolish little girl who gets herself and her Granny into trouble by disobeying her mother, dawdling, and talking to strangers. The wolf once again wins the race to Granny’s house, where he eats the old woman and then her granddaughter. Luckily, there is a woodsman, a big strong man, to rescue them by disemboweling the wolf. The huntsman then sews rocks back into the wolf's stomach for punishment.

If you’re interested in learning more about Little Red Riding Hood, here’s some links for you:

The Path of Needles or Pins by Terri Windling

The Grandmother (Needles or Pins) by Achille Millien

Little Red Riding Hood, by Charles Perrault

Little Red Cap, by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm

Politically correct Little Red Riding Hood

May 10, 2010

Morosis Monday

morosis pathological feeble-mindedness

You know, I might have better luck catching up on writing stuff and getting a jump start on my blog posts on the weekend if I actually had a weekend where I didn’t have to go anywhere. Okay, so maybe I didn’t have to go to Ikea with my BFF on Saturday, but it’s been way too long since we we’ve had a chance to get together. And Sunday, the Mother’s Day brunch was nice, but if I’d known I was going to get suckered into showing my mother-in-law how to use Facebook afterwards, I would have known enough to stay in the car and just send the hubby in to drop off her present.

Speaking of Facebook, as a few of you have already discovered, I’m back on Facebook. I wasn’t able to reactivate my old account, so I created a new one. You can find me through my e-mail: eyegiveup2(at)hotmail(dot)com. Please be my friend!

There’s still time to sign up for the Let’s Talk Blogfest. Find all the details HERE

This Week’s Goals:

Tuesday: Here’s something you may not know about me. I love fairy tales. More to the point, I love the original fairy tales, which were not meant for children. This week I’m starting a series that explores the roots of some of the more well-known fairy tales. The series kicks off with the origins of Little Red Riding Hood.

Wednesday: I’m thinking it’s time to shake things up a bit, so Wednesdays will no longer be whimsical. Instead . . . well, you’ll have to check it out Wednesday to see what’s going on instead. :-)

Thursday: This week’s Passion for Poetry form is the Huitain, which is either Spanish or French, depending on what source of information you choose to believe.

Friday: Chapter 38 of the Space Opera. What will the crew find on Anchyre? Will Nakeisha be able to contact the Illezie?

Elsewhere in my week:

Be still my heart I might actually get some serious writing/editing done this week. I have NO meetings. I will, however, probably take a couple of hours off on Tuesday to go see Iron Man II (it’s cheap night at the movies).

I really want to get serious on the editing of DIF this week, maybe even some new words on Magic. And I certainly don’t want to forget the friend’s book I’m editing.

Reading-wise, I’m about halfway through two different books and I’d really like to get them finished. I need to start making time to read again, my to-be-read stack pile shelf bookcase is getting obscenely full. If you’d like an idea of just how full, check over on my Random Writings blog later this evening. ;-)

So that’s my week. How about you? What are you up to this week?

May 6, 2010


Tanka is is an ancient form of syllabic Japanese poetry, popular in Japan since the 7th century (C.E.) or earlier. Its name is generally translated as "short poem" or "short song."

This classic form of poetry is related to the haiku with five unrhymed lines of five, seven, five, seven, and seven syllables. (5, 7, 5, 7, 7)

Like the Sonnet of English and Italian courtiers during the European Renaissance, the Tanka served as a vehicle for love poetry for Japanese lovers during the five centuries of the Nara and Heian Periods (roughly 600 to 1200 AD).

During this period Tanka became notes exchanged by lovers. On returning home from a tryst the man would immediately sit down and compose a Tanka of gratitude, perhaps commenting upon some specific event that had occurred.

Poem sent by Prince Otsu to Lady Ishikawa

Gentle foothills, and
in the dew drops of the mountains,
soaked, I waited for you--
grew wet from standing there
in the dew drops of the mountains.

The note would then be immediately dispatched to his lover by messenger or servant and his lover would be expected to instantly compose and return a suitable Tanka response, even if that meant arising from sleep. This form of poetry took on the name of Somonka.

Poem by Lady Ishikawa in response (7th C. CE)

Waiting for me,
you grew wet there
in gentle foothills,
in the dew drops of the mountains--
I wish I'd been such drops of dew.

Later Tankas were also written expressing desire for another person. Eventually, Tanka were written in praise of nature and began to employ natural imagery to express human emotions. All of these strands may still be found in present day Japanese Tanka and certainly in English language Tanka.

Each line (or sound group) of a tanka can be a different image or idea, with the resulting five lines flowing together as a greater whole. Modern tanka express many emotions including heartache, longing, and loss.

The Tanka was harder to write than I expected - it’s only five lines and none of them rhyme, I thought it would be easy. HA! It was difficult to come up with five lines that felt finished to me, I wanted to keep going. However, once I got a couple done I started to really enjoy this form, much more than I thought I would.


The heat from your hand
anchors me to this table
of strangers, while I
disassociate myself
from what goes on around me.


I long for your touch
but you have moved beyond me.
Do you think of me
in the deepest black of night
when the cold stars shine alone?


I watch from afar,
too scared of reality
to reach for my dream -
and you, my deepest desire,
unknowing and unaware.

May 5, 2010

Whimsical Wednesday

How to photograph your puppy....

1. Remove film from box and load camera.
2. Remove film box from puppy's mouth and throw in trash.
3. Remove puppy from trash and brush coffee grounds from muzzle.
4. Choose a suitable background for photo.
5. Mount camera on tripod and focus.
6. Find puppy and take dirty sock from mouth.
7. Place puppy in pre-focused spot and return to camera.
8. Forget about spot and crawl after puppy on knees.
9. Focus with one hand and fend off puppy with other hand.
10. Get tissue and clean nose print from lens.
11. Put cat outside and put peroxide on the scratch on puppy's nose.
12. Put magazines back on coffee table.
13. Try to get puppy's attention by squeaking toy over your head.
14. Replace your glasses and check camera for damage.
15. Jump up in time to grab puppy by scruff of neck and say, "No, outside! No, outside!"
16. Clean up mess.
17. Sit back in chair with lemonade and resolve to teach puppy "sit" and "stay" the first thing in the morning.


The End of the Raven -- by Edgar Allen Poe's Cat

On a night quite unenchanting,
when the rain was downward slanting,
I awakened to the ranting of the man I catch mice for.
Tipsy and a bit unshaven,
in a tone I found quite craven,
Poe was talking to a Raven perched above the chamber door.

"Raven's very tasty," thought I, as I tiptoed o'er the floor,
"There is nothing I like more"
Soft upon the rug I treaded,
calm and careful as I headed
Towards his roost atop that dreaded bust of Pallas I deplore.

While the bard and birdie chattered,
I made sure that nothing clattered,
Creaked, or snapped, or fell, or shattered, as I crossed the corridor;
For his house is crammed with trinkets, curios and weird decor -
Bric-a-brac and junk galore.

Still the Raven never fluttered, standing stock-still as he uttered,
In a voice that shrieked and sputtered, his two cents' worth -

While this dirge the birdbrain kept up, oh, so silently I crept up,
Then I crouched and quickly lept up, pouncing on the feathered bore.
Soon he was a heap of plumage, and a little blood and gore -
Only this and not much more.

"Oooo!" my pickled poet cried out,
"Pussycat, it's time I dried out!
Never sat I in my hideout talking to a bird before;
How I've wallowed in self-pity,
while my gallant, valiant kitty
Put and end to that damned ditty" - then I heard him start to snore.
Back atop the door I clambered, eyed that statue I abhor,
Jumped - and smashed it on the floor.
~by Henry Beard

May 4, 2010

Random Writerly Facts

One out of every eight letters you read is the letter ‘e’. In 1939 an author named Ernest Vincent wrote a 50,000 word novel called Gadsby. The only thing unusual about the novel is that there is not a single letter ‘e’ in the whole thing.

In the book, Les Miserables by Victor Hugo, is a sentence that is 823 words long. When Victor wrote to his editor inquiring about their opinion of the manuscript, he wrote, "?" They answered, "!"

If you stretched out all the shelves in the New York Public Library, they would extend eighty miles. The books most often requested at this library are about drugs, witchcraft, astrology and Shakespeare.

Emily Dickenson developed a case of agoraphobia and was reluctant to leave her own property, sometimes even her own room.

More than two and a half billion Bibles have been made. If you put them on a long bookshelf and started driving along the shelf at 55 mph, you would have to drive 40 hours per week for over four months to get to the end. All these Bibles would fill the New York public library 467 and one-half times. The Bible contains 3,566,480 letters, or 810,697 words.

The first published book ever written on a typewriter was The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. Mark Twain used a Remington in 1875.

It took Noah Webster 36 years to write his first dictionary.


Random Facts About Dr. Seuss

Theodor Seuss Geisel did not have any children of his own and admitted to being slightly afraid of them. In an interview, his widow Audrey claimed the unpredictability of children often unnerved him. "What might they do next? What might they ask next?" he would exclaim.

It is widely known that Dr Seuss was a pseudonym. What is lesser known, however, is the story behind Geisel's need for a pseudonym. Purportedly, while a student at Dartmouth, Geisel was caught drinking with several other boys in his dorm. Usually this wouldn't be a very big deal, college boys drinking, but this occurred during prohibition. Consequently, Dartmouth prohibited Geisel from engaging in anymore extracurricular activities, including his work for the college's humor magazine Jack O Lantern. In order to get around the administration's orders, he adopted the pen name "Dr Seuss" and used it for all magazine content from that point on.


Charles Dickens was preoccupied with looking in the mirror and combing his hair - he did it hundreds of times a day. He rearranged furniture in his home - if it wasn't in the exact "correct" position, he couldn't concentrate. Obsessed with magnetic fields, Dickens made sure that every bed he slept in was aligned north-south. He had to touch certain objects three times for luck. He was obsessed with the need for tidiness, often cleaning other homes as well as his own.

Dickens suffered from epilepsy and made some of his characters - like Oliver Twist's brother - epileptics. Modern doctors are amazed at the medical accuracy of his descriptions of this malady.

His study had a secret door designed to look like a bookcase. The shelves were full of fake books with witty titles, such as Noah's Arkitecture and a nine-volume set titled Cat's Lives. One of his favorites was a multi-volume series called The Wisdom of Our Ancestors, dealing with subjects like ignorance, superstition, disease, and instruments of torture, and a companion book titled The Virtues of Our Ancestors, which was so narrow that the title had to be printed vertically.

Dickens was a devotee of mesmerism, a system of healing through hypnotism. He practiced it on his hypochondriac wife and his children, and claimed to have healed several friends and associates.


When British poet and novelist Thomas Hardy died on January 11, 1928, his literary contemporaries decided he was too important to be buried in his hometown's simple churchyard. The good people of Dorset, where Hardy had spent nearly all of his 88 years, vehemently disagreed. The two groups reached a grisly compromise.

The author's body was cremated, and his ashes were interred in the Poet's Corner of Westminster Abbey. Hardy's heart, on the other hand, was placed inside a small casket and buried beside the grave of his first wife in a Dorset churchyard.

To this day, a rumor persists that the author's heart was accidentally devoured by his housekeeper's cat, and that the heart of a pig was buried in its place.


O. Henry (born William Sydney Porter) may have been the master of the popular short story form, but he was far less skilled when it came to money. While working as a bank teller in Houston, the fledgling author was accused of embezzling a few thousand dollars, prompting his rather sudden move to Honduras.

A few years later, when he came back to visit his dying wife, he was arrested and sentenced to five years in prison. It was here that convict Porter assumed the pen name O. Henry. His incarceration offered him the time to write as well as a chance to mix with a slew of seedy characters, perfect fodder for his fiction.

A model inmate, Porter was released in 1901, after serving just three years. He passed away in 1910 with 600 stories, but reportedly only 33 cents, to his name.

May 3, 2010

Mulligrubs Monday

mulligrubs - a despondent or ill-tempered mood

The jury’s still out on the new colours for this blog, but I didn’t have any time to work on it last week or over the weekend. If you haven’t checked it out already, there’s a new blogfest that starts May 18. This is the Let’s Talk Blogfest and you can either read the original post HERE or pop over to my Random Writings blog HERE to get a look at the rules for it.

Last week was pretty busy at work. One of the girls messed up big time ‘causing the boss to miss an important deadline. She was let go, which meant the rest of us had to work all that much harder. I brought work home twice for the overtime, which meant I didn’t get any extra writing done.

I did, however, manage to get all my posts up, although I did cheat a bit by not writing an original example for the weekly poetry form. I got Chapter 36 of the Space Opera done on time, even though it meant a late night. For some reason I had a lot of late nights last week.

This weekend, there was another bowling tournament, which meant another weekend spent out of town. (Hubby placed fifth in the Pins Over Average) I didn’t bring my lap top with me, but I did get some constructive writing done. I finished reading a novella a friend wants me to edit, and then I did some edits on my own work. I also managed to squeeze in time to write a couple of poems.

This Week’s Goals:

Tuesday: I’m not sure if I’ll be starting the new series this week or not. We’ll see how much time I have tonight. If not, I’ll see if I can scare up some other random facts for your perusal.

Wednesday: I think it might be time for a little more pet humour.

Thursday: This week’s Passion for Poetry form is the Tanka, a Japanese form much like the haiku (in that it’s a syllabic form) only it’s longer.

Friday: Chapter 37 of the Space Opera. What will the captain tell the rest of the crew? Just how will Nakeisha contact the Illezie?

Elsewhere in my week:

I have a meeting of the Northumberland Scribes tonight – yes, again! We’re supposed to meet the first and third Monday of each month, but last month got screwed up because of activities in the library where the group meets.

Other than my friend’s novella, I didn’t’ get much reading done last week (though I did manage to buy three more books), so I’d like to squeeze some time in for that, if possible. I guess it’ll depend on whether or not I bring any work home with me. It’s not that I have to bring work home, it’s just that I get paid the same wage for working at home as I do for working at the office. VISA and Mastercard insist on being paid on a regular basis, so I need all the money I can earn.

So that’s what’s in my near future. How about you? What are you up to this week?