Friday, January 31, 2014

Jan 31 - Celebrate Lunar New Year

The Year of the Horse trots in to begin the Lunar New Year. The Chinese year 4712 starts on Jan. 31, 2014 and continues until the fifteenth, with the brightest moon.

According to Chinese lore, Buddha asked all the animals to meet him on the Lunar New Year. When twelve arrived Buddha named a year after each one. He said that the people born in each animal's year would share some of that animal's personality. 

Individuals born in horse years sport cheerfulness, talent with money and perceptivity. They also reveal wit and talent with their hands. 

For fireworks, people in China used to light bamboo stalks, believing that the crackling flames would frighten evil spirits. Now they have fireworks along the Hong Kong waterfront.

Legend claims, "Nian," a half-dragon, half-lion monster, comes out of hiding and attacks people (especially children) during the Lunar New Year. 
Using firecrackers and wearing red robes will intimidate him because of his sensitive ears and fear of red. 

During the celebration everyone decorates with poems on red paper. Children receive "lucky money" in red envelopes. 

The dragon, made of silk, paper, and bamboo, might stretch a hundred feet long. Held high by young men, the beast moves with them as they dance and guide it through the streets. 

The lantern festival, held on the fifteenth day, features lanterns painted with birds, animals, flowers, zodiac signs, and scenes from legend and history. Individuals hang lanterns in temples, and carry lanterns to an evening parade under the full moon.

Sugary snacks prevail during the festivals. Nian gao (ride pudding), babaofan (eight treasure rice) jau goks (crispy dumplings) and candied fruits and seeds abound.

Take time to celebrate and write about the Year of the Horse.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Write into Vegetables

The Artichoke by Pablo Neruda

The artichoke
With a tender heart
Dressed up like a warrior,
Standing at attention, it built
a helmet.

It remained
By its side
The crazy vegetables
Their tendrills and leaf-crowns,
Throbbing bulbs,
In the sub-soil
The carrot
With its red mustaches
Was sleeping,
The grapevine
Hung out to dry its branches
Through which the wine will rise,
The cabbage
Dedicated itself
To trying on skirts,
The oregano
To perfuming the world,
And the sweet
There in the garden,
Dressed like a warrior,
Like a proud
And one day
Side by side
In big wicker baskets
Walking through the market
To realize their dream
The artichoke army
In formation.
Never was it so military
Like on parade.
The men
In their white shirts
Among the vegetables
The Marshals
Of the artichokes
Lines in close order
Command voices,
And the bang
Of a falling box.

With her basket
She chooses
An artichoke,
She's not afraid of it.
She examines it, she observes it
Up against the light like it was an egg,
She buys it,
She mixes it up
In her handbag
With a pair of shoes
With a cabbage head and a
Of vinegar
She enters the kitchen
And submerges it in a pot.

Thus ends
In peace
This career
Of the armed vegetable
Which is called an artichoke,
Scale by scale,
We strip off
The delicacy
And eat
The peaceful mush
Of its green heart.

Take a stroll through a market's produce section. Think about an artichoke from Neruda's view. Add your perspective. 

Discover a vegetable you've never tried. Name it.

How might you address it in an ode?  Would it respond?

Bring in the colors, flavors and comments of other vegetables near it.  

Write about ways you use vegetables in a recipe. 

Add a dash of mystery and fun after writing about shapes, textures and succulence.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Enhance Your Writing!

Add spice and imagery to your writing by avoiding worn out modifiers and phrases.When you write an overused image like blue sky consider what else you could use in sound, scent, taste or texture to pique the reader's curiosity and gain attention.

Notice the difference in imagery:

a broken tool          half a pair of scissors

a rusted car              Cadillac dappled with rust

beautiful woman     woman with a piano player's fingers

quiet day                  even the birds overslept

good friend              tasty as triple chocolate cake

Try these:  summer day, hot morning, wet dress, cheeping bird, frustration, anger, anxiety.

Creative Write:  Where will you go with sensory metaphors today?

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Write to Combine the Unlikely

"Behind the cotton wool of daily life is hidden a pattern; all human beings are connected with this.  The whole world is a work of art."    - Virginia Woolf

Try three unlikely combinations and see where they lead in your writing.

Use an automobile, a force of nature, and a cookbook   Let a telephone,  turtle, and emerald collaborate.  

What will you do with a radio, a chess piece, and pumpkin pie?  

Combine a tuba, fish pond, and Snoopy.

Choose three other items that might trigger unlikely reactions.  

Let a story or poem emerge.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Nature's Moments Moved into Words

When a moment of awe arouses a reverence for nature, the next level requires an expression in words.

Discover life's thrills in sensory details. When you observe, squint and refocus. Look up and around. Listen to drizzle and wind. Pay attention to textures when using fingertips on surfaces.

Use your nose like a Bloodhound and breathe in to tickle the nostrils with scents. Let your arms feel changes in temperature.

Notice what surrounds the object you’re viewing.

Ask questions in the abstract and answer them in imagery.

Life astonishes (in what ways?).  In the flash of reflections blurred in blue and purple feathers.

Nature stimulates curiosity (reveal it).  A bee invites an adventure. Search inside the labyrinth of petals.

How would you communicate admiration and respect without using those words?

Find reverence in a moment that takes your breath away or makes 
you stop and ponder.

Revel and write about life's mysteries. 

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Aloha āhui hou

How does one leave a location?                
A vacation          

where the mind
has sorted,
and soothed itself
on an island
of pikake and plumeria

that float
on trade winds
where waves rustled past lava
and green turtles ambled
to shore.

Where the texture
of coral and sand
collated with colors,
flashed at each turn
during a beach stroll.

The mind
hummed a
long forgotten
retrieved in wonder.

Ukeleles strummed while black bees on lilies tinted the air.

Chants of the ancients
                        slanted from the palms
                                        released into the sea.

To pass the time at ease in the ocean spray:  E nanea i ka 'etukai 

A celebrated place of awakening and growth:   A 'o kēia ka wahi pana e ho'āla a ho'oulu iā 'oe

The heart rested
in a nest
of serenity.

One felt no
recall of distress
or a worried

A blast of rain
tasted magenta.

Time removed its
       racing shoes
  without a rush
          to finish
Hali’a Aloha
         Fond recall

                                  The sun relented to twilight.

Stars expanded in flower and sky.

Memories dwell 
           of firelight.

Only relaxation remains.

Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles

The sea turtles swam, over 180 million years ago, before the Hawaiian Islands formed. When Christopher Columbus adventured through the Caribbean in 1503, he named three islands Las Tortugas because of the prevalence of green sea turtles

The Hawaiian green sea turtle (chelonia mydas) feeds on marine plants in coastal waters throughout the Islands. The turtles eat algae growing underwater on coral reefs and on rocks in shallow waters. The upper shell (carapace) of the adult turtle shines with olive or gold flecks. 

The green turtles, called honu, received their name from the color of body fat. The honu grows to 200 pounds or more. Every two to five years, the adult honu migrates hundreds of miles to mate and nest in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands at isolated French Frigate Shoals.

Early Hawaiians used green turtles for food, tools, and decoration. After western cultural contact, the level of turtle exploitation increased. In 1978, the Hawaiian green turtle found a place on the list of threatened species.

Turtle fables abound in all cultures. A turtle represents creation, endurance, strength, cunning, longevity, and stability. Turtles provide happiness, protection and good fortune.

The turtle’s shell figures in many tales. Zeus invited a turtle to a party. When she declined the invitation and said, "There's no place like home," he put her house on her back. 

In China a turtle shell formed the vault of the heavens. Vishnu, the Hindu god, changed into a turtle's shape to carry the world on his back. 

For Native Americans the world rides on the back of a giant sea turtle.

An African legend tells of the leopard who built a drum that everyone can hear. He will not permit anyone to try the drum, not even the Sky-God. Angered at this behavior, the Sky-God announces that anyone who can bring leopard's drum to him will receive a reward for teaching the leopard a lesson about his greedy, disrespectful ways. Then the Sky-God waits.

The elephant, monkey and tiger try to get the drum but the leopard scares them away. Finally, the tortoise steps up. The animals laugh and tease her because of her size and soft shell.

She proceeds anyway and tricks leopard by telling him his drum looks only middle-sized, but nice. She says that the Sky-God can climb inside his drum and not be seen at all.

The leopard brags that he can climb into his drum and not be seen, too. When he squeezes himself completely into the drum, the tortoise seals it with a cooking pot. She drags the drum to the place where the Sky-God waits. He laughs at the lesson that the little tortoise has taught a big, bragging leopard.

As a reward the Sky-God presents her with the strong, hard shell that the tortoise wears to this day.

Sea turtles have poor eyesight and cannot use visual clues to find their way. Experiments have shown some turtles can detect differences in the angle and intensity of the earth’s magnetic fields. 

Scientists theorize that turtles follow each region’s magnetic pull to find their way back to birth beaches. They have a built-in global positioning system.

Celebrate a turtle in words today!

Creative Write:  Write a fable or poem about a turtle and its qualities. 

Friday, January 24, 2014

Hawaiian Petroglyphs and Folklore

Petroglyphs on the Kohala Coast of Hawaii reveal the oldest forms of living expression. Etched into the pohoehoe lava, the drawings depict the life and history of the islands up though Captain Cook’s arrival in 1778.

The ancient Hawaiians referred to petroglyphs as ki‘i pōhaku (ki‘i means “image,” and pōhaku means “stone”). They date from the earliest Polynesian voyages. 

Today petroglyphs have become the only prehistoric art of the Hawaiian Islands not in museums, private collections, or hidden away in caves. 

Deciphering petroglyphs requires speculation. Some figures are simple stick drawings, others triangular torsos or anthropomorphic images.
Stick figures, legs straddled and figures with rounded bellies adorn the rocks. Others show a squatting position. Circular carvings, surrounded by concentric circles may represent family groups.

The artists pound and pecked the surface to make the imprints. Or, they used a hammer stone on the black lava (pahoehoe) that resembled elephant skin.

How did they travel over miles of lava and through a dense forest to carve images in such remote places?

The Kona Village site has 100 canoe-sail petroglyphs, as well as etchings of fishermen and turtles. Possibly the area served as a port?
Stories and folklore lurk around the site.
Apparitions known as Night Marchers or Hukai-po move to the beat of a drum. Some carry torches, some beat drums. Islanders say the Marchers roam through locations between the seashore and the mountains.
Speculation spurs creativity. Some believe the warriors march to or from battles. Others indicate they are high-ranking alii (rulers). Spirits guided the alii to new locations or welcomed warriors to battle. They still search for a way into the next world. 

Night Marchers float a few inches off the ground but manage to leave footprints in their paths. They bring heavy winds. Some foster game playing or revelry, mist or fog, and rain or high surf. 

Alleged marching sites include: Oahu's Pali Highway, The Kamehameha Schools campus and La Perouse Bay.

Locals say you should always show these warriors respect and never interrupt the procession.  If you happen upon them, you must crouch low to the ground, play dead and avoid eye contact. any sound or movement will attract their deadly glance. 

Night Marchers stay in their destination and don't deviate to haunt humans. Some say if you place leaves of ti around your home, it will keep them away from the area. 

Creative Write: Write to expand your the ideas of the petroglyths and folklore.