Sunday, August 29, 2010

Navigating Destiny

Traveling the sea of experience, I am lashed and tossed by waves of desire and the winds of dream. Who’s desire and who’s dreams? I wonder. Do I control my journey?

Philosophers argue about the reality of fate, destiny’s navigator. Yet, for all that, the inexplicable urges I’ve felt throughout my life often struck me as signal buoys detailed on someone else’s maritime chart; buoys proclaiming treacherous rock and reef, guarding life’s shores.

 I pass my time trimming sail and ensuring the even keel of the day-to-day exigencies of living. Frequently I try jobs or pastimes hitherto unfamiliar, adding nutrients to this Sargasso Sea of nature’s devising. The reason for this deviation from my plotted course originates with a deep, uncontrollable urge to go or to move to a particular place or to perform a certain task. The gratification of these urges brings about some unique and interesting diversions, like the discovery of a new bird soaring on trade winds of pleasure.

Such purposeful movement developed only after adulthood settled firmly on my shoulders. Then, urges started taking me all over the country to work at various occupations. Variety soothed storms of indecision; knowledge gained became Neptune’s trident. Oftentimes, however, the urgent need found fulfillment only after meeting a certain person, arriving at the scene of an accident to assist the injured, or save a drowning victim. Sometimes it proved as simple as discovering something hiding in forgotten coves along the shore of my spirit.

The compulsion remained unchanged for each adventure. A sense of urgency to follow an unseen course to an unknown destination pushed me forward. If I fought the urge with obstinacy, or a desire for control, the sensation grew until holding back the gale-force winds of need became an impossibility. If I acknowledged the feeling but mentally announced the inability to follow the call, the sensation withdrew, as the sun will do behind high-flying clouds until a more appropriate occasion presented itself.

Twenty years ago I relocated to the south end of Flathead Lake in Montana. I’d almost made the stop seven years prior, but conditions made sailing impossible. I ignored it then. Finally, the urge reclaimed my attention in a more frantic, yet persuasive, manner. The course set, I could not deny the deep-seeded need to drop anchor in western Montana.

Upon arrival I discovered why. I needed to place myself in the rising tide of my true heritage. Yet another chapter in my firstmate’s logbook opened to capture my soul and send it wandering the waters of the past and the future. My life became the water’s flotsam. The current of whatever necessity rolled onto the beach at the edge of my destiny’s shore, carrying my life with it.

Many times unexpected pretties litter the sand to bring joy and beauty to the day’s seaside journey. At other times only the broken remains of life’s seafarers greet me as I walk the surf of solitude. Either gift creates its own peculiar meaning at the end of the day, though the result continues unplanned in sunset colors of personal growth and understanding across sometime’s future sky. Would that I could sail the chart I choose. The pilot of my ship, however, chants to a briny rhythm, using desire’s ebb and flow of dream’s gently cooling breezes as the dolphin escort for destiny.

Now, I’ve returned. My latest port-o-call is the north shore of the Flathead. In so many ways my life’s journey has circumnavigated the western U.S., either with “permanent berths” or fascinating ports. Even now, I’m not allowed to get comfortable in my new berth.

The call is winding up to a scream. Soon new ports will gather on my horizon, awaiting a course change. These don’t call for permanence but rather a long look-see; a few days in port--long enough to capture the scene and flavor for use in a written piece. Then my ship will slip anchor and ride the tide to another glimmering new possibility.

Until next time,


*NOTE: As always the photos are courtesy of BJ Jones Photographry at: bjjoneseyes (at) shutterbugstorefront (dot) com

Monday, August 23, 2010

When Sarfaris Come Calling

When a writer has a sister who’s decided to become a professional fine art photographer, life changes drastically. Especially when said photographer and writer live in the same household.

Welcome to my world. 

I, as the writer, have entered into a new and mostly exciting chapter of a new writing career. You see, I tend to go with my sister on photo safari each time that camera comes out of its tidy black carrying case.

Yes, that’s right! I’ve become the photographer’s sidekick. And it’s a position at which I’m very good. I know you’re going to ask, “What’s wrong with that?” accompanied by a puzzled expression and thoughts of stupidity on my part.

Heavens, please get those thoughts out of your head. I have absolutely no problem with that scenario. I thoroughly enjoy being that sidekick. As a writer it opens up all types of new genres for me from travel writing to nature pieces to commercial work. It allows us to work on pieces together with me doing text and her doing photos.   

Anything which broadens a writer’s scope and experience base is usually a good thing. I have no complaints on that score at all.

The only complaints I have are directed squarely at myself. The problem is that I tend to get lots of ideas for stories and articles on any given day and there simply aren’t enough hours in a day to write them all down, much less work on any one of them. Add new ones generated by photo shoots and I have mayhem of the brain and then some.

Now, I can’t read, type, or research fast enough. I thought I had a problem with that before this. Yet, I can’t keep my mind from wandering onto other threads of ideas while trying desperately to work out what I’m working on that moment. I can’t keep any kind of schedule taut enough to get done everything I really would like to do. Flashes of scenes recently viewed while out on the shoot overshadow those projects I’m revising, outlining, or devising.

You see the dilemma. I either have to get very creative with scheduling or get very fast with thinking, writing, and subbing those pieces I’ve written. Which shall I choose?

Should I give up those little adventures into the outside world, which--with the exception of trips to the grocery--are the only semi-regular outings I have. After all, writers do live a mostly solitary life, even when in a house full of people. Okay, one sister doesn’t constitute a houseful, but you understand my meaning.

Part of the problem stems from the fact that I’m one of the individuals who thinks that I should be able to get anything done to perfection on that first try and do it faster than anyone else. Having grown up under the watchful eyes of perfectionists, I learned early that doing things thusly made for a calmer life all around.

I’ve taken the time to decide which arenas of writing I want to spend most of my time in, whether as the gladiator or the spectator. That was a major step since I like working in so many arenas each day. It just isn’t practical, though. It’s like trying to split an orange into 25 segments when only 8-10 came in that convenient skin package.

On top of everything else, I have difficulty just saying “NO” to all of those marvelously attractive opportunities for contests--even drawings for free books, learning new techniques for working with your blog(s), or having a new free newsletter sent to your inbox every week/month, etc. How can any writer say “NO” to all that?

I know that I have to prioritize my reading selections for each week so that most of my time is used for writing, but… (sigh) there’s so much good stuff out there to read.

Oh, well, back to the priority lists. Priority Reading list--sites/blogs/mags/… Priority writing projects--projects for submission, daily AC article for submission/book manuscripts final work to go to agents, creative nf pieces (kids) final revision, creative nf final revision(adults), short stories (kids) final revisions, poetry for online sites, etc.

There you have it. My week in condensed form. If you look closely, I haven’t scheduled any meals or sleep. Food makes me fat and I hallucinate much more effectively without sleep, which is better for story writing. Potty breaks happen when necessary and don’t get scheduled.

The photo shoots? Sis is gone on one this week with someone else. I get to work this week. I couldn’t go out to play. Too many commitments. I wasn’t even asked to go. She knows what kind of projects are sitting on my desk.

I’m trying hard not to whine. Can't you tell? I’m actually looking forward to getting some writing done today. Sometime. If I could just get my printer to cooperate, things could go much more smoothly. I just know that my phone’s speed dial will be necessary for the Geek Squad before the afternoon’s over. I have two programs that fight over defaults. Another priority has come to the foreground.

Until later, dear friend, duck when you need to, roll over and play dead when the monsters attack, and don’t stop to ask permission if you get a chance to run.

In case anyone wants to see what sis does with that camera of hers, visit: Her galleries are there with companion pics like the ones here..

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Rotate, Repurpose, and Reclaim

I'm deviating from my normal fair today. I was thinking back to before my last move and what my sister and I had to do to ready ourselves for it. We recognized that we desperately needed to be rid of at least half of what we'd been carrying around for half our lives or nore.

While I was thinking about that I thought about all those DIY shows out there that tend to complicate things and cost the viewer money in the long run. I'm sorry, but what TV thinks is inexpensive and what I know to be in that category are two different things. That's why I decided to write this little piece about how to get what you enjoy for nothing or close to it and help a person declutter at the same time.


If you’ve lived as an independent adult woman for several years, you’ve probably come to a point of declaring war on knick-knacks. This war may have started because a visitor broke one of your favorite pieces. So, what do you do to declutter and still retain your favorite décor pieces?


It can be as easy as a spin on the decorating lazy susan. If you’ve decided that you simply have too much in the way of knick-knacks and mementoes, begin organizing them into themes. Create lots by pooling all those sports items into one group, old world items into another, retro into yet another and so on.

Are there pieces which don’t really work and you don’t have great attachment to? Find them a new home. For all those pieces you just can’t live without, decide which theme you wish to use right now. Put everything else into secure, labeled storage bins and put them in the basement, attic, garage or storage closet.


At this stage you might want to look at your décor’s color scheme to see if that still satisfies you. If not, simple inexpensive changes can solve the dilemma. If you don’t already have unused fabric lying around--and many modern working women don’t--despair is premature.

Go to your closet. Open it up. You’ve needed to go through it anyway. Sort out all of those clothing items you still like but never wear. It’s too old, too young, too whatever. Take a good look at it. If you just can’t part with that wonderful pattern or fabric--after all, that’s why you bought it in the first place--make use of that fabric.

Take the item apart. Now you have pieces that can be used for other things. Don’t know how to sew? No problem That’s why someone developed Hem Tape. Strike down that enemy called Fear and grab the iron. You, too, can be a fashionista.

Those decorator pillows that have seen better days can be recovered without difficulty with any fabric used in a multitude of ways. Large scarves can wrap those pillow packages for a new look. Buttons and bows can be used to secure a pillow inside a new covering. Those wonderful, but unworn skirts and blouses from the closet can become new fashion statements for your décor.

Some of those closet treasures can be used as accents on draperies or curtains. Scarves can be real treasures here, too. Don’t have enough to go around but like the idea. Thrift stores can be a girl’s best friends.

The same can be said about finding cheap flat fabric in the form of bed linens, drapes, and tablecloths. For a few dollars you can have choices galore for usable fabric or new décor items for pennies. Think of it as raiding someone else’s closet.


Reclaim your home’s personality by highlighting those features that you most enjoy with your possessions. You can always frame a beautiful piece of silk--or any other fabric--and use it as art on the wall. Designers do it all the time.

Keep those thoughts on themes. For the next six months or so, would you like to live at the beach? How about a country house? Or perhaps, a small loft in Paris. You can have it all with some thought and imagination.

You can cluster a group of baskets or houseplants in front of the fireplace during the summer to accent that focal point. Or place varied level candle holders with various-sized candles inside the cleaned fireplace to add both light and life to it during summer. Drape that small afghan that your grandmother made for you years ago across the arm of couch or chair to go with the cottage or country theme.

Use your favorite pieces for this highlighting and allow yourself the joy of showing your visitors who you are now, today. By using select knick-knacks and mementoes, you force the visitor to examine your home, and you, in a new way.

No longer will he/she worry about breaking something. Instead, your uniqueness can be seen. Your personality will no longer compete with your dwelling for a person’s attention. You will become the star of your own presentation.

Now you can sit back and enjoy the entertainment prospects without concerning yourself with having to discard all of your possessions. If you’ve kept the best and show them a few at a time, you’ll be amazed at the difference in the feel of your home. It’s now more spacious, more relaxed, more focused. And you will be, too.

I hope I've given you some ideas for your own stashes. Next time I may actually write about writing.

A bientot,


Monday, August 16, 2010

Stalking An Aurora Borealis

A couple of weeks ago alerts went out informing the public of an impending experience for those in the upper tier of the U.S. An aurora borealis would slide across the sky at low enough latitude for those on the northern edges of the country to experience.

Such an occurrence is rare in summer and not to be missed. For those fortunate enough to see the red/green light show count yourselves among the privileged. For many fortune did not hold sway.

In northwestern Montana, heavy cloud banks to the north discouraged any possible viewing of the event horizon. Sitting at the top of a mountain with a clear view of the sky didn’t help, either.

We sat, my sister and I, on top of a mountain and came away with only a few pictures of a great sunset. Not a bad catch of the day, but not what we were looking for. The previous night we'd had a great view of the sky overhead, but still missed it because the lights were right on the horizon line--not a good position for us.

So, we wait.We want to see the lights in summer. We know that few Americans ever get lucky enough to experience the thrills of such wonders.

Fortune may take another swipe at the sky, however. Astronomers releasing alerts have couched them in possibilities. Our sun, they say, seems to be firing up for more flares in the near future after a long quiescent period. This news will trip the hearts of many a sky watcher.

Future possible aurora events will undoubtedly litter the news services in the coming weeks. Stay tuned for further developments. If you catch the next event alert before I do, be sure to give a shout my way.

'Til next time,


Saturday, August 14, 2010

A New Day Dawning

This is my new, more varied, blog arena. Not that my other one is bad or not being used, but this is one for more purposes, more review than my blog on Wordpress.

I intend to do book reviews, interviews with writers, editors, publishers--if possible--and all types of people on the street. I'm going to do travel pieces and opinions. Who knows what I'll end up with. I'm eclectic to the max with interests in too many areas to contain on a single page.

Every few weeks I want to try adding a new page where something different can appear. So, for those who visit there will always be something new to see, read, and hopefully, appreciate.

For this moment, though, I'm just announcing my entrance into this space, my new study where words flow and pictures litter the walls with color and adventure.