Keep the Peeps      

by Deborah Epperson  

Unlike my older brother, Gary, who can grow anything anywhere, I knew from an early age that my ability to nurture and grow any sort of flower, vegetable, or anything else that had to be planted was severely limited. So growing up, it seemed natural for our family of four to be divided into two separate but equal camps. Mom and Gary were the gardening duo, while my father and I were caretakers of all critters with paws, claws, and hooves.

There was some crossover. Gary loved feeding the chickens and gathering the eggs, and although I never gave a second thought to climbing on the bare back of a 1000 pound quarter horse, I knew his two-pound Bantam rooster was a demon chicken waiting to peck me to pieces. (I readily admit that in my youth, I was traumatized by the Hitchcock movie, The Birds)

Even those colorful Peeps, which are everywhere this time of the year, creepPeeps Easter candy me out. Chocolate bunnies are fine. It is chocolate after all. But marshmallow chicks? No thanks. Who wants a little yellow or pink chick’s head bobbing up and down in their hot chocolate? Yuck!

Over the years, I’ve had horses, cats, cows, rabbits, dogs, more dogs, and more dogs. I raised a baby armadillo whose mother had been run over by a car. Once, I rescued a snake before a guy who didn’t care that it was a harmless grass snake could chop it into pieces. Hubby and I even adopted three wild ducks who decided to homestead our four-year-old daughter’s blow up swimming pool. Sorry, Tara.

As a lover of omelets, I am grateful to all who do raise chickens and gather the eggs. Every species of animal, reptile, fish, and fowl must have its champions. Still, I have never had the urge to raise chickens. Come to think of it, Tara doesn’t have a great fondness for ducks either.

Thanks for stopping by,

Deborah

MWW blog post originally published:  03/24/2015 

 

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When Change Comes is it Man that Counts? The Wild? Or Both?

by Mary Frances Erler

Today I ran across a book of poetry and quotes about wilderness that I made in response to a canoe trek I took in Minnesota’s Boundary Waters back in 1970.  mn boundary watersNearly 50 years ago–hard to believe so much time has passed in my life since then.  It was a very formative time in my life, influencing much of what I have become.  As I was reading the quotes I chose from Thoreau, Aldo Leopold, Theodore Roosevelt, and others, I was surprised to find one unsigned poem.  I have a feeling I wrote it–otherwise it would be identified with the author’s name. It was a long time ago, 1970, but as I re-read it, I could tell the words had originally come from within me. And I was surprised to find that my 18-year-old mind had thought such deep things.  But then, maybe not so surprising, for I was a very philosophical person back then.  Maybe still am.  So here it is.

Its original title was “Is It Man That Counts?”

‘How can you be so no-caring?’ a boy demanded,
Staring into the old man’s eyes;
‘Do you want all our life to die
And leave nothing to show our lives ranged?’

‘Every animal dies,’ the old chief would say
And gaze with deep-seeing silent eyes
About the village around them.
‘Timeless is not changeless,’ he would repeat.

But a boy’s heart-strength is different
And his restless feet thus wandered,
Searching over forest-depth and countryside,
His mind straining with searches just as deep.

He drank in the wildness ’round him,
Knowing in his animal-part
It had no time, no beginning,
And no end?  Their village

Already was shrinking, the forest depths
Pricked by hard, cold disruption,
A steeling chill so unlike winter–
More senseless–as rape or pillage.

And as the Wild spread its winter
Blanket, with its natural death,
He prayed that this might be
The end–to die as wild things died.

Then as the cold and steel creeping in
On them increased its breath to a roar,
He knew it wasn’t death that was coming–
Just as the old man had tried

To tell.  It was what the Wild was really
Made of; so though their villages–
And all men–passed; the Wild would
Sustain itself–timeless because it changed.

WHAT EVERY WRITER NEEDS TO KNOW

 

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by Catherine Browning

Writing novels didn’t start for me until after my teaching career came to a successful close. That’s when I purchased a Kindle and started reading everything I could find of interest. In judging the merit of novels, one of the major criteria is grammar. It was a shock to find that many modern day writers didn’t know the rules of English grammar or word usage. Here are some recent examples:

. . . or whomever he was.

He indicated she was to proceed him into the room.

What were you thinking of?

My brother came between Carlos and I.

You may be thinking, what is wrong with those quotes? Allow me to explain. The verb to be is a grammatical equal sign. Subject and object are the same, so the first example should read:  

. . . or whoever he was.

The second example is confusing the two verbs proceed and precede. Proceed means to continue or move forward. Precede means to go before. So, that example should read:

He indicated she was to precede him into the room.

In the next example, the basic rule is to never end a sentence with a preposition. There are multiple ways to fix this example.

  1. What were you thinking?
  2. Of what were you thinking?
  3. What were you contemplating?
  4. What were you considering?

In the last example between is a preposition and requires the object form of the pronoun I.

The example should read:

My brother came between Carlos and me.

Numerous books on grammatical usage are available. Chicago Manual of Style is one that many editors use. Another that I have found helpful is Essentials of English by Hopper, Gale, Foote, and Griffith. Or go to your local Community College and take a basic class. No matter what your answer is, using good grammar can only enhance your writing.

Thanks for reading my thoughts . . . and may your next novel be a bestseller!

 

 

 

 

Tally the Writing Dog

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By Kathy Dunnehoff

I have a writing friend who calls his muse Becky. Sure, it made us all smile when he said it, but whatever works for a writer is nothing but good!

I thought what worked for me was silence. It was in very short supply when I began writing novels. My daughters were young and fun and noisy. I would set a timer when I needed to go into my home office, and when it was about to go off, I would hear them breathing at the door. Needless to say, I did my most productive writing away from the house. On Saturday mornings, for years, my husband Thom would shoo me out the door to a nearby café, and I would get several productive hours in.

When our girls were older, there was less need for leaving the house to write and wonderful silence during the day to get my work done. So, when the idea of getting a puppy was raised, I was reluctant, to say the least. Sure, I wanted one, but I was afraid the “company” during the day would slow me down.

What I found when that little Yorkie came into my life, was a muse, a writing companion. Tally would sit at my feet when I wrote, and her warmth and quiet sleep made me feel like I had just the right kind of company for the lone work of writing.

Five years later, we’ve gotten into the habit of writing first thing in the morning in bed. As soon as Thom leaves for work, I fire up the laptop, and Tally moves from my lap to curl up beside the computer screen.

My muse isn’t named Becky, but I have been thinking about getting another puppy…

 

A Journey through Chaos

my kingdom

By Janice McCaffrey

Where do creative ideas come from? I didn’t know so, of course, executed a Google search. One of the sites I found suggested that a person write down a word and follow that word with another that begins with the last letter of the previous word. And so on, and so on. The idea being that while your left-brain is busy thinking up words your right-brain will be inspired. H-m-m-m. I gave it a try.

Since I needed ideas for a Montana Women Writers blog entry, I started with the word “writers,” And this is how it went:

words for blog

How many creative ideas did I have at the end of this exercise? NONE!

Weeks later while working on another project I found an interesting article on creativity (of course, through a Google search). Nancy C. Andreason, M.D., Ph.D. directs research at the University of Iowa using brain scans and wrote a paper entitled: A Journey into Chaos: Creativity and the Unconscious.

The paper first describes four steps that her team established after interviews with creative people. 1). Preparation-when basic information and/or skills are gathered. 2). Incubation-a relaxed time during which the person does not work consciously to solve the problem. 3). Inspiration-what she calls the “eureka experience” when suddenly ideas come to mind and 4). Production-when the ideas are put into action.

Her group then ran brain scans on people while they were in a relaxed state. Their minds wandered freely without censorship. She reported that while the participants experienced a relaxed state, their neural level association cortices were working actively. She explains that while we’re relaxed our brains throw out feelers for concrete associations of colors, images, and concepts. These ideas collide until pairs interlock and make stable combinations. Then the brain’s self-organizing system spontaneously and frequently changes the pairs to produce something new. Her Take home message: The creative process is characterized by flashes of insight that arise from unconscious reservoirs of the mind and brain.

Oh, that’s why the good ideas come when in the shower, in bed but awake, or taking a walk alone.

So, need to enhance your creativity? Think about what you need…ideas for a blog, description of a setting, a character’s name, plot points, best color to paint your living room? Whatever. Find a quiet spot and relax, meditate or just sit in quiet (without falling asleep) and without thinking about what you need. Just float for 20-30 minutes. Inspiration will come to your mind either right then or some time later.

The journey takes our thoughts from chaos to creativity. Enjoy the ride!