Thursday, April 29, 2010

Simple in Spring

Ten thousand flowers in spring, the moon in autumn,

a cool breeze in summer, snow in winter.
If your mind isn’t clouded by unnecessary things,
this is the best season of your life.
                                -Wu Wen 1183-1260

Spring becomes the time of year to think about renewal in life as well as writing. Writers need an opportunity to consider how to prepare for writing rejuvenation.

Keep it SIMPLE:

S:   Savor the growth around you in daisies, daffodils, crocuses, and tulips. Take time to watch nature’s daily progress. See the birds and insects prepare for spring.

I:    Invest in your imagination. Forget the Stock market and the world’s concerns. Imaginate each moment. Make discoveries, connections and write. write. write.

M:   Meditate in your own way. Observing your breath creates awareness and relaxation. Focus on it for one or two intervals during the day. Sit comfortably, breathe in six times and out six times. Gradually extend your exhalations. Try for a fifteen minute period where you erase the jumble from your mind. Let thoughts flow by like clouds.

P:    PLAY. Distract yourself with fun and frolic.

L:    Let go. Enjoy humor and spread it around.

E:    Eat healthy foods and Exercise.

Celebrate YOU!    Believe in yourself and your writing. It will grow stronger when you add your own spring fervor.

Creative Write: Find a word (sycamore, pelican, dandelion, salmon) and create your spring renewal with suggestions for each letter. Have FUN!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Collage of Illusive

For years, Eudora Welty nurtured a photographic career. She said, “Life doesn’t hold still. A good snapshot stops a moment from running away.” Later she translated her creativity into writing. She decided words conveyed more of life than photography. Her legacy encompasses all aspects of the imagination in stories, novels, essays and reviews.

During morning runs, I relish moments of sights, sounds and scents even though they interrupt my forward progress. Thanks to my cell phone’s photo capability, I chase the illusive.

Nature won't hold still or pose for my whim.  I moved the ladybug from a lower leaf to assist with the photograph above.

Will I ever capture a close up of this Great Blue Heron?  It's patient for only one or two clicks.


I wonder
how squirrel
translates by tail
the metronome of trees.

Peonies will always pose.

Creative Write: As spring blooms with opportunities, take a walk with a digital camera.
See if the illusive aspects of nature inspire words.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Bench on the Petal Trail

Benches seek relationships. Arrivals or departures fuel stories or poems. Emotions rise and fall. Ask a few questions, then design scenarios to probe. Search for surprises and the unpredictable.

Consider the possibilities of this scene:

What happens right before or after arrival? Who walks in? Who rises to leave?

What dialogue follows if she dropped her words in haste? Should he retrieve them?

Who holds a breath or hums a tune?

Would a dog add to the scene? What breed and what behavior adds or distracts?

Let a father and daughter share a secret here.

Show a mother’s struggle with an adult son.

Who has a beginning or stages an abrupt ending?

How does the light affect them?

What happens in the empty spaces if love fell through?

Creative Write:Delve into this scene along the petal trail to inspire ideas for a story or poem. Follow one of the questions or create your own to reveal a relationship in progress. Try for a story in every season.


A recent visit to the Wooden Shoe Tulip Festival in Woodburn, Oregon stirred my curiosity about the incident of tulip mania in the 17th century.

It began with Semper Augustus. This tulip with midnight-blue petals topped by a band of  white and accented with crimson flares created a craze. In 1624, an Amsterdam man owned the only dozen specimens. He received an offer of 3,000 guilders for one bulb, roughly equal to the annual income of a wealthy merchant. The bulb's owner, whose name is now lost to history, rejected the offer.

Tulipmania: The Story of the World's Most Coveted Flower and the Extraordinary Passions It Aroused by British journalist Mike Dash explains how tulipmania began. In 1558,  before the first tulip bloomed in Bavaria, the flower had intrigued the Persians and rulers of the Ottoman Empire.

In the 17th century, Amsterdam merchants became the center of the East Indies trade, where a single voyage could yield profits of 400%. They displayed success with grand estates surrounded by flower gardens.

''It is impossible to comprehend the tulip mania without understanding just how different tulips were from every other flower known to horticulturists in the 17th century,'' says Dash. ''The colors they exhibited were more intense and concentrated than those of ordinary plants.''   Despite the outlandish prices commanded by rare bulbs, ordinary tulips were sold by the pound. Around 1630,  professional tulip traders sought out flower lovers and speculators. The supply of tulip buyers grew quickly but the supply of bulbs did not. It takes seven years to grow one from seed.  Bulbs can produce two or three clones annually, but the mother bulb only lasts a few years.

Bulb prices rose steadily throughout the 1630s, as ever more speculators wedged into the market. Weavers and farmers mortgaged whatever they could to raise cash to begin trading. In 1633, a farmhouse in Hoorn changed hands for three rare bulbs. By 1636 any tulip would sell for hundreds of guilders.

Tulip mania reached its peak during the winter of 1636-37, when some bulbs changed hands ten times in a day. The zenith came early that winter, at an auction to benefit seven orphans whose only asset was 70 fine tulips left by their father. One, a rare Violetten Admirael van Enkhuizen bulb, about to split in two, sold for 5,200 guilders, the all-time record. The flowers brought in nearly 53,000 guilders.

Then the tulip market crashed. At a routine bulb auction, for the first time people refused to show up and pay. Within days, the panic had spread across the country. Despite the efforts of traders to prop up demand, the market for tulips evaporated.

The Amsterdam Stock Exchange, well-established in 1630, wouldn't touch tulips. ''The speculation in tulip bulbs always existed at the margins of Dutch economic life,'' Dash writes. After the market crashed, a compromise was brokered that let most traders settle their debts for a fraction of their liability. The overall fallout on the Dutch economy was negligible.

We don't see crazed spending for tulips these days.  The Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm, currently celebrating the 25th Anniversary of  their annual Tulip Festival. Visit their catalogue at for reasonably priced tulips.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Find Your Funny Bone

Born with linked funny bones,  I have the good fortune of observing or discovering humor in all situations.  Others might feel frustration where I search for hilarity.  Grasping for silly makes my day!

Because I have a terrible memory, I live in the moment.

Sprinkling writing with humor entertains an audience. It beguiles through the presentation of ideas with the spirit of fun.  The ability to perceive the comical, absurd or ludicrous aspects in human life helps everyone relieve tension.

Life can appear ridiculous at times.  Meet it head on with a guffaw!

The attitude of humor involves a sudden change. The writer reveals a contrast: the reversing of the normal and abnormal, expected and unexpected. 

Developing a sense of humor comes from examining what's funny in yourself.  Examine your quirks, habits, biases and outlooks as sources of material.  People laugh at surprise and misfortune. Two things that don't fit together also provide chuckles.

Surprise humor leads in one direction and takes a turn.

Make it funny, keep it funny and don't pass up opportunities to make it funnier.  You will discover humor is self-generating.

Become patient as you exercise your funny bones.  Don't worry if what makes you laugh rolls right off of someone else.  Go for it anyway. Tickle yourself even if no one else responds. Laugh in the mirror to change a dark mood.

Try rolling down the window and laughing at a stop light or while waiting in line at the supermarket. Laughter's contagious. Infect everyone you know!

Creative Write:  Spend the next 24 hours creating a complaint-free world around you. Instead of voicing a complaint, use your energy to create a positive solution. Let humor conquer all!

If anyone asks why you aren't serious, just laugh.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Weeds into Wildflowers

Today, notice what some people call  "weeds."
Observe  how they sneak into and consume cracks in the man-made world.  They show us how to deal with unfriendly circumstances.

Most of life's daily challenges create tiny fissures of irritation where we need flowers to bloom.  Frustrations include: stepping in chewing gum, losing and misplacing items, gravity's tug on grocery bags and spilling liquids - to name a few.  Rarely do the major life occurrences propel us to agony the way these incidentals take over our moments with ferocity.

How can we turn these aspects of our lives into productive use?  Humor solves most of these infringements upon our delicate balance in life.  We need to work on becoming indefatigable as weeds.  Then move on to shine up our funny bones to view the process! 

Identifying ourselves with wildflowers will brighten our days.

All varieties of flowers started with the hardiness of "weeds."   Bloom each day with tenacity!  Perceive all your weeds as wildflowers. Take a ten minute laugh to energize your funny bones.

Creative Write:  Make a daily list of frustrations that arrive in incidentals. Respond to the list of frustrations with humor.  Turn your weeds into wildflowers.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Stories in Flowers

Imagine stories in flowers. Begin with the feeling each photo evokes. Do you see sadness, anger, frustration or jubilant faces?


Look into the photos for creative interactions. What personalities do they reveal?

Notice like a caterpillar that might crawl deep into the cave of rose.  What does it feel, taste and smell like to move your fuzzy body into a rose's chamber?

A party of birds of paradise. What's the conversation?

Chocolate kimona

Think about the sounds of colors, their tastes and how fragrance defines the silken petals.
                                                                  Don't fence me in!

Two bees or not two bees?

Race Horses and Roses

Word play in titles and names has always fascinated me.  "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,"  "Steel Magnolias" and "Atlas Shrugged" lead their audience into discovery. 

I've wondered why anyone would name streets: Main, Broadway, or by numbers when creative combinations would delight everyone. 

License plates provide opportunities to combine numbers and letters to amuse those driving behind you. I once had a plate with LV2KRE8  and ElkK9s when we showed Norwegian Elkhounds.  I watched in my rear view mirror as drivers tried to determine the meaning by mouthing the letters and numbers.

Race horses have inspiring and fun names but the restrictions list goes on and on. Sea Biscuit, War Admiral,  Native Dancer appeal to me. Many try to get around “suggestive names” with creative spellings like Peony’s Envy and Hoof Hearted.

When it comes to roses, you can name a rose for someone special for a price starting at $4,000 and going to $15,000 or more. 

J.Benjamin Williams and Associates, breeders of many of the world's prize-winning roses, offer new and unusual roses for exclusive introduction to the Nursery Industry. They will provide a rose in color, form, or habit of growth, all based around your personal preference.

Williams started hybridizing roses back in the 1950s. He wanted novel roses - especially striped ones. He had a series named from the Dutch Master painters.
A Tangerine's Dream

Rose names include famous people and creative titles like Knockout or Midas Touch . You could hand-pollinate your own roses, collect the seeds and grow them to develop distinct colors, shapes and growing patterns. It might take ten years but you could name them.

 Tongue in Cheek?

During a visit to Balboa Park’s rose gardens, I noticed: Rock’N Roll, Double Delight, Gemini, Apricot, Burgundy Iceberg, Wing Ding, Love Struck, Brigadoon and Teeny Bomper, to name a few.  Sounds like race horses to me.

I had fun naming the orchids with smiling faces.

Smiley Purple Beards

Mr. Brown Mustache
                                                                             Magenta Hat with Teeth

My favorite - Clown Dancer

Creative Write:   Have fun today and rename streets in your neighborhood. Think up titles for plants and flowers.  Bounce a variety of words for their sounds and textures.

Friday, April 9, 2010

The Color White and Thought Diving


Is it that by its indefiniteness it shadows forth the heartless voids and immensities of the universe, and thus stabs us from behind with the thought of annihilation, when beholding the white depths of the milky way? Or, is it , that absence of color, and at the same time the concrete of all colors; is it for these reasons that there is such a dumb blankness, full of meaning, in a wide landscape of snows – a colorless, an all-color of atheism from which we shrink? And when we consider that other theory of the natural philosophers, that all other earthly hues – every stately or lovely emblazoning – the sweet tinges of sunset skies and woods; yea, and the gilded velvets of butterflies and the butterfly cheeks of young girls; all these are but subtle deceits, not actually inherent in substances, but only laid on from without…”

…and consider that the mystical cosmetic which produces every one of her hues, the great principle of light , forever remains white or colorless in itself, and if operating without medium upon matter, would touch all objects, even tulips and roses, with its own blank tinge.

And of all these things the Albino Whale was the symbol. Wonder ye then at the fiery hunt?   from Moby-Dick by Herman Melville.

I'm reading Moby-Dick for the first time. Herman Melville wrote his masterpiece in 1851. He believed writers did "thought diving" to get their stories. In his belief that writing became the "great Art of Telling the Truth," he described writers as,  "The whole corps of thought-divers that have been diving and coming up again with blood-shot eyes since the world began."

White has never held my fascination until now.

Like Ahab's determination for the white whale, I feel a strange attraction these days.  White shines out to me from every corner and path.

My mother tried to dress me in white outfits.  She maintained patience as they turned into a palate of green grass, boysenberry juice and bark stains. Eventually, she relented and purchased colors for me to wear.  Instead of making up a story of "an event in a white room," or ways to torment my mother, I just admit to a love of colors.

Now, thanks to Melville and his pages of white descriptions, I'm tracking white..  He even gets into silver which I can appreciate more because I love sparkle.


I have become curious for white in all its revelations.

Creative Write: Write about your notion of white, or tell a story about a color or what attracts you.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Awareness and Responsibilities

Today, during my run up the final hill to my house, I watched a teenager ahead moving up the hill texting. She missed the mockingbird's trill, an Anna's hummingbird that buzzed near her head and the scents of spring blooming around her. As her feet shuffled past lizards in charcoal coats doing pushups in the sun, she turned and walked down the hill.  When we passed,  I extended a smile but her gaze returned to texting.

I wanted to stop her and point out the details of a world of nature she missed.

The day before a young man walked toward me in the same spot and flicked his cigarette into the dry grass.  He moved on. By the time I reached the cigarette he had returned to retrieve it.  

"Fires start easily," I said, not wanting to turn it into a "you idiot" situation.  He took a deep inhale and kept on moving.

I notice trash growing from bushes and wonder at the reason so many think the sidewalk is their disposal unit. What will it take to convince young people we shave a need for the benefits of nature?

We share a planet that deserves our awareness and nurture.  Why do so many miss nature's show?
Creative Write:  How would you teach nature awareness to a young person?