"What do you plan to do with your one, wild, precious life?" -Mary Oliver

Friday, February 26, 2010

Flash 55 Friday

THE DETOUR

Signs led us off the road we knew
and pot holes sprang up like curious prairie dogs.
Shacks and crooked trailers dotted the road
and the car quieted.
Our children in the back were suddenly paying attention.
We’d crossed a border without guards
and entered a country where people sit on porches
and don’t wave.


If you can tell a story in 55 words let the G-Man know. He's the F-55 moderator, and you can check out the history of Flash 55 from his website and challenge yourself.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Vancouver, Rejuvenate Me!


I wanted to take a few minutes to say how much I’m enjoying the Olympics. By every measure, the Vancouver games have so far been a success. Everyone I know is watching. I think Vancouver has done an outstanding job, from the opening ceremony, to dealing with a record warm February. Speaking from an American viewpoint, it is so refreshing to watch skating and hockey in beautiful arenas minus the obnoxious advertising banners that litter the walls of ours. It’s so refreshing to watch sports without being subjected to an advertising backdrop that covers every available surface on which the eye might light. Commercialization comes at us here in America from 360 degrees. And in sports, it feels like 380. It has even infiltrated our college venues. We’ve become desensitized to the point where we don’t really see it anymore. This past week has made me realize just how pervasive it is.

This is the reason soccer will never be big here in the States. They would have to interrupt the game every ten minutes for a TV timeout. They already do that in football, which changes the pace and flow of the game. But enough of that.

A note on the symbol used to depict the Vancouver Olympics, a colorful humanoid with arms spread wide (or, a pile of rocks). For centuries the Inuit have stacked rocks—sometimes into human forms—to create inukshuk, which act as guideposts for people traversing the vast tundra. The inukshuk now represents friendship.
Notice the mouth in this image, open in a smile of welcome. I love that little detail the artists added. Well done!


The beauty of Vancouver and Whistler is breathtaking and when they take us inside the artfully decorated skating arenas, I think I speak for many when I say I feel like singing along to Oh Canada. Speaking of that, has anyone else noticed how the Canadians belt out the words to their national anthem with gusto and enthusiasm? Not just the athletics, but those in the crowd? The Americans chew gum and grin, some mouth a few of the words but none full-out sing. Is it that they don’t know the words? Can't reach the high notes? I know our anthem is difficult to sing, but no one is holding a microphone to their lips so it doesn’t matter if they don’t reach the high notes in stride. At the same time,however, I loved Bode Miller’s big smile when he won the gold.

I know what we’re doing tonight, watching the Russians play the Canadians in hockey. I won't say who I'm rooting for, but the kitchen will be clean and the lights will be off at puck time. To all my Canadian friends, this is a heartfelt congratulations for what I know will be a resoundingly successful Olympics. Not only do you have health care, but you know how to put on a show.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Flash Fiction Friday

REGRETS

The road to the lake is as flat as an ironing board. We rode his motorcycle to a ramshackle bar on the water. On the ride home the asphalt shimmered and I used the backrest. He left me on the bike to take a leak behind an abandoned farmhouse and then never called me again.

Now . . . this is what might have happened, and what I wish I’d written:

The road to the lake is as flat as an ironing board. We rode his motorcycle to the sand’s edge and drank beer from his saddlebag. On the ride home bugs caught in my hair and summer rushed past. He pulled off the highway to pee in the ditch and grasshoppers jumped over his boots.

I won't post the history of Flash-55 because I did that last week but if you can say it in 55 words please let the G-Man know.

Happy TGIF to y'all!!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Query Critique Contest

Elana Johnson is running a contest this week for a query critique. If your query is ready and your ms. is shiny as a new quarter enter her contest. Yes....you really can win a query critique from a top literay agent.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Plugs and Bloopers, Dancing with Myself

Some of the worst mistakes of my life have been haircuts. - Jim Morrison


Because I've been accused of being self-deprecating, I'll throw modesty to the wind and tell you I have a short piece up at the Bloody Bridge Review. I'm pretty happy to share the company of the writers they've featured thus far.

While at it, I'd like to plug LBJ, a literary journal from the University of Nevada that encourages environmental literature. They're currently considering poems, fiction and creative nonfiction on an avian theme for upcoming issues.

Another one of my favorites is the New Ohio Review Follow the link for Stephen Dunn's A Discreet Charm and you won't be sorry.

let’s drink to an evening as solemn
as Eugene Debs demanding fair wages—
his smile the bent arrow only the best men
can point at themselves.


Their reading period is September through May and they're running an awesome contest.

Inspired by Monkeybicycle, I've been experimenting with the one-sentence story. For every one I write, I throw one away.

While the teacher was at the beer garden they tied her in her chair and when he returned smelling of his lunch, she was punished for being lazy.

Should I throw it away? Should I write of funny things or of what the full moon suggested to me? Should I write of his flat stomach or her naked back, bent by disease for which there is no cure? What would your rather read about?

I have a suggested lyric for the albino Muslim rapper:
no . . . I don't
. . . changed my mind


I'm taking President's Day off to write and I'm not telling anyone. A day for writing, browsing my blogger friends and literary journals, corn chowder, music and dancing with myself.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Flash Friday Photograph

Because Friday is the day for other things, like Happy Hour, it's a good day for shorts. I was inspired to participate in Flash 55 Photograph by C.M. Jackson. This particular Flash Friday idea was started several years ago by Susie the Boss. Check out her link for the reasons behind why and to read the most amazing flash ever by Ernest Hemingway.

Finally, if you can say it in 55 words, let the G-Man know.

My 55-word photograph:


MAKING ROOM AT THE BEDSIDE

We'd gone home for sleep when the phone rang, calling us back. The monitor was turned off, and the machine that had heaved oxygen into her lungs lifting her shoulders and chest off the mattress was gone. The sheet was tucked under her chin, and her mouth was closed. She’d waited until we were gone.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Fred Bear

How do I describe the big lake to you in the face of a hard north wind that waters my eyes and takes my breath away? How can I even begin to show you what I see? OK, I’ll try, because it’s worth trying. And please forgive me if my efforts fall short, for even a picture doesn't capture the feel of a place-the magnetic pull, for instance, at a certain location by the Dead Sea called Jericho, or the aura of the Grand Canyon at sunset. I can look at pictures in the National Geographic where the best are published, but will I feel the depth of the gorge in the pit of my stomach?

Lake Huron is a shimmering mirage, a frozen landscape of jagged ridges and valleys—waves caught in the freeze-frame of February. At first glance it appears solid, like a snow-covered field, but then the undulating movement of the surface in sync with the swells below it, captures the eye. Like the sands of Dune, the whole thing is heaving with the power of what lies beneath. It mesmerizes like the head of a cobra. I cup my mittened hands around my eyes to block the wind and stare. Further out, in open water, jagged ice floes peak the horizon like sailboats. This monster of a lake with the reach of an ocean has always amazed me.

One lone ice fisherman walks the bank with his backpack and his pail and walking stick. He tramps carefully in cleated boots. He is prepared, bundled up like a Sherpa guide. I am not. I don’t have my camera (so you’ll never believe this), I don’t have my long underwear, and I don’t have my boots. What I am is crazy, and what I have is a new haircut with caramel highlights still damp from the salon, hidden by the scarf wound tight around my head for this impromptu walk on the breakwater. When I realized I was only three miles from the lake, I knew I would keep going. How does anyone turn their back on this water? I’ve never been able to figure that out. I’ve never been able to do it.

I wrap my scarf over my mouth and walk along the railing of the breakwater to where the sand turns to ice, afraid to go further, afraid I’ll slip or my scarf will blow away and I’ll be tempted to chase it, afraid I’ll fall off the edge onto the shifting ice.

He is Fred Bear. It says so on the back window of the pickup truck I parked alongside. Just drill that hole his bumper sticker encourages his fellow fishermen. With the bad economy, ice fishing is on the uprise. It doesn’t cost anything and you can bring dinner home. I like a man bullish on winter, one who can bring dinner home. There are only the two of us out here. If I get in trouble, will he save me? If I get frostbit, will he unthaw me?

I start back for the car. I can’t keep up with him. I walk past park benches and frozen fountains. I walk past the restaurant that used to be the summer hot spot. The view was destroyed when they built the marina and extended the breakwater and now it’s shuttered, like the dancehall and the roller rink. Only the lake is still the same.

I walk past his truck with the bumper stick innuendo and hop in my little Ford and turn on the heat. I shake out my hair and laugh. The damp tendrils on my neck are frozen stiff. Oh, Fred, if I had my long underwear on I’d go out with you and help drill that hole.