Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Writerly Wednesday: I am the Camera

Exercise from Method and Madness class studying Alice LePlante's The Making of A Story.  The goal - to notice what you notice without trying to explain or interpret it. 

Morning time, enjoying sitting out on my back patio, sipping Earl Grey and trying to write, but as usual nature distracts me.  Peppermint and lavender waft past in the cool summer breeze, blending with the fragrant steam from my tea. I’m surrounded by the chatter of squirrels and birds, leaves rustling and the hum of traffic off in the distance. A plane passes overhead, leaving a white contrail in the clear, cloudless blue sky.  

 A hummingbird zips by, comes back and hovers in the air a few feet away from me, chirps good morning.  So tiny, she watches me, talks some more before heading over to investigate one of my tabby cats sitting under the laurel bushes.  Wings buzzing, she dips up and weaves down, moves ten feet, five feet closer, then more until she is no more than jumping distance from Gracie.  She flits back up to the top of the laurels to eat from one of the purple morning glory flowers that winding over the top of my bushes, across the back yard. Hunger satisfied for the moment, she comes back down again to talk to the cat and poops barely missing her. Oh, this one is feisty.  

Gracie’s tail swishes, her ears rotate, head following the bird to keep an eye on it.  She’s caught them before.  Perhaps this is the one I saved a few years back. She’s  actually managed to get one. I saw her playing with something on the patio, realized it was a bird. I ran out, grabbed her and made her drop the bird, a hummingbird.  I  scoop her up and she sits quiet in my hand, trusting that I won’t hurt her.Tiny, iridescent green head, sparkly breast feathers, long thin beak almost as long as her body; miraculously not injured, nothing broken, just stunned. 

So delicate and small, yet not so fragile after all.  I stroke her, light and gentle and she chirps.  She sits quietly in my hand, allows my son to run his finger over her body, talk to her.  His face is precious, the awe in his eyes, the fascination in his smile, the joy in his voice as he talks to her.  Soon, her little body begins to vibrate, then she tries to fly and lands on the patio table.  She rests a few moments, then she’s up and zipping off over the trees – gone.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Writerly Wednesday: Match Heminway's 418 word sentence

See if you can match Earnest Hemingway's 418-word sentence quoted in this weeks lecture. Here's the hard part: it has to make sense. Word count should be between 300 and 500 words. You can use any combination of phrases you'd like, in any order, and any topic.

“That something I cannot yet define completely but the feeling comes when you write well and truly of something and know impersonally you have written in that way and those who are paid to read it and report on it do not like the subject so they say it is all a fake, yet you know its value absolutely; or when you do something which people do not consider a serious occupation and yet you know, truly, that it is as important and has always been as important as all the things that, are in fashion, and when, on the sea, you are alone with it and know that this Gulf Stream you are living with, knowing, learning about, and loving, has moved, as it moves, since before man, and that it has gone by the shoreline of that long, beautiful, unhappy island since before Columbus sighted it and that the things you find out about it, and those that have always lived in it are permanent and of value because that stream will flow, as it has flowed, after the Indians, after the Spaniards, after the British, after the Americans and after all the Cubans and all the systems of governments, the richness, the poverty, the martyrdom, the sacrifice and the venality and the cruelty are all gone as the high- piled scow of garbage, bright-colored, white-flecked, ill- smelling, now tilted on its side, spills off its load into the blue water, turning it a pale green to a depth of four or five fathoms as the load spreads across the surface, the sinkable part going down and the flotsam of palm fronds, corks, bottles, and used electric light globes, seasoned with an occasional condom or a deep floating corset, the torn leaves of a student's exercise book, a well-inflated dog, the occasional rat, the no-longer-distinguished cat; all this well shepherded by the boats of the garbage pickers who pluck their prizes with long poles, as interested, as intelligent, and as accurate as historians; they have the viewpoint; the stream, with no visible flow, takes five loads of this a day when things are going well in La Habana and in ten miles along the coast it is as dear and blue and unimpressed as it was ever before the tug hauled out the scow; and the palm fronds of our victories, the worn light bulbs of our discoveries and the empty condoms of our great loves float with no significance against one single, lasting thing—the stream.”

Here we go: 

Once, a very long time ago, there was a man, Henry Durrett with the sculptured body, black wavy long hair, emerald green eyed, who thought he had it all, with the money, the looks, the Mediterranean style house, the trophy wife – Sophia - so blond with those dewy blue eyes that would drag you in just looking at you, who in three year’s time though she had managed to steal it all away from him by investing in her lover’s scheme to sell bonds to a group of Russian businessmen who weren’t known for their intelligence; but little did she know these same men were involved with a cartel that was being sucked dry by a criminally insane lawyer who had not only the chief of police, but also the Governor, in their pocket, as well as her husband who somehow found out, in a round about way, that his wife was cheating on him with his best friend, Richard; so he set them all up making it seem easy enough to rob him blind and all the while, he had a secret bank account and a secret love --- much more beautiful and a whole lot smarter than the trophy wife, but who really cares about looks --- as this woman just happened to be an accountant as well as an expert in computer hacking, and at the end of the poor wife’s life, not only was she bankrupt, she’d driven her poor lover insane, the governor had been impeached and indicted, the chief of police fired, but not before he mysteriously disappeared under suspicious circumstances, the lawyer disbarred from every state in the union, while the Russian business men were driven into exile somewhere in Siberia and instead of him being in the poor house, he was sitting pretty as the governor of Barbados, millions of dollars richer and happier than he’d ever been with the lovely, intelligent, very witty, darling female who had neglected to tell him she had just completed her sex change operation, just months before they met and had three children who were now of college age and by three different very rich woman who were all dumb as turnips and she had managed to bilk every one of them for everything they were worth, so instead of living happily ever after, Gloria, so recently having changed her name from Roberto, smiled happily into her drink, pondering how long she’d keep this one on the hook.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Writerly Wednesday: Z to A alphabet Story

Write a 26 word sentence and each sentence has to start with the letter of the alphabet. Start backwards with Z


Zanzibar hopped into the car and headed up the coast.  Yesterday he’d been fired, for nothing really, he told himself.  X’rays revealed a tumor so he used it as an excuse for his behavior.  Winding down the lonely road, he smiled and thought of Clover, the dunderheaded dog behind the factory.  Very stupid, but oh so brave.  Undoubtedly he should have taken the dog, but they kicked him out so fast, only giving him time to clear his locker.  Trash talk, that was all, nothing serious.  So why had Blakely looked so appalled.  

Really, who takes jokes literately? Quite the moron and he hadn’t been the only one.  Proud of his little ditties and songs, Zan had made a poster and hung it in the break room.  Oops!  No way he could have known Blakely or Singleton had minorities in their families.  Maybe he should have kept his mouth shut, but he’d never been too good with that.  Lazy, his dad said, too lazy to think, to stop and think about other folks.  Kendall had torn down the poster, ripped it into tiny pieces and shoved it in his face.  Jackass! 

If they had only asked, he would have explained about the tumor and he wasn’t responsible.  Huffing out a breath, he tapped his fingers on the steering wheel, thoughts all jumbled.  Granted, they were all a bunch of idiots and he’d hated the job, so why should he care.  Free now to roam, to drive and explore and be himself.  Even though his dad was mad now too.  Driving around the next bend, the ocean came into view, vast, blue and gorgeous. Craving fish now, he checked gps for the nearest sea food restaurant.  Battered fried shrimp and maybe some lobsters rolls would be good.  All thoughts ceased when he drove off the cliff, distracted by a bodacious babe in a bikini. 

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Writerly Wednesday: The Rose in the Rubble

I'm currently taking some writing classes through Writers Village University and having fun with the exercises: 

The object of this lesson:  To find the rose in the rubble. 

Picture a vacant city lot, discarded rubble, broken bottles, clumps of weeds, perhaps a body or two, and a single rose in bloom on a fine sunny day. Now imagine someone perceived as evil -- it could be an historical figure, a fictional character, the school bully, a serial killer. Find the rose.

Write a 400-500 word scene that exposes something of beauty in the character of an otherwise evil man, woman or monster. Your scene should represent the contrast between the character's negative and positive features.

Jacob knelt in the rubble from the dilapidated building, a big bruiser of a man with arms like tree stumps, his bald head shiny with sweat. He grasped the two by four again, his knuckles torn and bloody, slammed it against the old safe. The board splintered, pieces flew everywhere, stung his cheek. He huffed out a breath, glared at the dirty, metal, gray box with small rusted out holes. He shined the flashlight through one and and saw bundles, green bundles.

He stumbled into the joint last night. The building had creaked and groaned as he wandered through the vacant, dusty rooms. He had burrowed beneath the remains of a desk and fallen asleep. He woke with the sun shining through the wrecked ceiling, warm on his face. Then he saw it as sunlight reflected off a bit of metal, beneath a cracked floorboard. He yanked the wood apart and found a small, heavy safe. For the moment, he forgot about Daniels and his thugs coming after him once they discovered the body. He lugged it outside, then pressed a hand against his side. It came away wet with blood; his stitches had torn again.

He rocked back on his heels and looked out across a vacant lot towards the harbor. He would get out of the city, maybe head to Mexico. He’d start new. Wiping sweat from his brow, he figured it to be about noon. The sun high above baked the city in heat. Broken glass glinted and hurt his eyes. He rubbed the metal, tugged again at the handle, and twisted the dial in a fruitless effort to open the door. Paper bundles, had to be money. Maybe. Could be anything. He pushed it over in disgust and there, duct taped to the bottom, a note. Printed in small block letters, it said “Property of St. Peter’s orphanage” and several numbers.

He turned the dial left, then right, then back ago. He took a deep breath and pressed down on the handle. He chuckled, raw with disbelief, as the door opened. Inside, 20 bundles of $100 dollar bills and pictures of kids – snot nosed brats, tiny girls with flowery dresses, the sisters. He dropped his head, rested his chin against his chest as memories chased memories. Sister Agatha, she’d never been mean to him, no matter how snarly he had been back then. Despite that, he’d run away, never turned back, nor given her or the place a second thought. If he didn’t think about it, he couldn’t feel guilty, could he?

He pocketed one of the bundles, closed the safe door, wrestled it back into the room, and shoved the thing underneath the desk. He made his way to the harbor and just before he sneaked on board the cargo ship to Africa, he used Daniel’s cell phone to make a call, then tossed it into the water.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Celebrating my mom!

James and Mom

5 months ago today mom left us. She didn't want us to mourn but celebrate her life. One of my favorite things about mom was that she loved to sing and dance around the house. Abba was a big favorite and the song Mamma Mia is forever etched into my brain. Later on it was the soundtrack to Grease. Then there was Sentimental Journey. I don't remember who sang it - Frank Sinatra or Doris Day or Ella Fitzgerald. But mom used to always sing it a little off key which is how we all learned to sing it as well. I think she did it to make us laugh when we were just a touch too cranky or whiny. 

And she never swore. The only way you knew she was mad was 'The Look' or the slam of one of the kitchen cabinet doors. I found out later it actually felt good to slam a cabinet door, vent a little frustration. Just make sure it isn't the door to the china. *grin* Mom was always a very upbeat, very positive lady and she taught us love is unconditional. She was there no matter what and she still is and will always be in our hearts. 

Friday we had her memorial at their old church, St. Joseph's, in Clarksburg and it was beautiful. Father Dan made the mass personal and casual and a wonderful celebration of mom's life which is what she would have wanted. We had one hitch at the national cemetery when discovered we didn't have a special California permit, which no one had told us about. However, the folks there pulled out all the stops and things turned out for the better. Instead of going to one of the committal shelters for the ceremony, we got to go directly to the columbarium. Dad placed mom's urn in their niche which made him happy. I was happy because it was the section in front of the lake with the beautiful fountain. When James and I had previously gone to check out the cemetery, we drove around and stopped at the section in front of the lake.  "This is the spot" I said and guess I must have sent up a quiet prayer because that's where she ended up.  


Afterwards we gathered at my niece's house and celebrated with our family and friends.  Mom is in her new home and I imagine her up in  heaven, happily playing bridge with my mother in law and exchanging stories about all their children.

In the night of death, hope sees a star, and listening love can hear the rustle of a wing.  ~Robert Ingersoll