October, already, can you believe it? (blurted by every news host across the land)

Yes, incredible as it seems, seasons do come and go in a repeated annual cycle; we know this, why are we always so surprised? It’s fall y’all.

It means for me that I had let some lengthy time lapse over the summer since I visited my blog. The truth is, my summer hasn’t been all too productive in the way of pottery- a little bit, painting/drawing- nil, or music- months ago I wrote two songs, since then; well, I had to wipe the layer of dust off of my guitar yesterday. I can’t blame my slackness on the VID- 19. What, stay home, away from people and keep busy ? Those instructions are an artist’s/writers dream scenario.

But I did do some writing. A neighbour, new to the little island community I live in, had heard there were many artists living here and thought it would be fun to call upon those of us who are inclined to write, to contribute a short story, up to 2500 words of fiction or non, for a book to be titled Protection Island Writes. The finished book would then be sold to raise money for the continuing renovations on our community hall, which now needs a kitchen makeover. The caveat: the story must mention or relate to Protection Island in some way.

So I got busy putting some edits in one fiction piece I had previously written titled Seafarer, a story about a girl setting sail to New Zealand and the lover who has to let her go, and then I set to work on another creative non fiction piece about the Coal Mine that once worked here on Protection Island in 1918. The story takes place on the day the elevator cage cable snapped and sent 16 miners 550 feet to their death. A horrific accident for this little island. I built the story around a pocket watch; the only item that came from the wreckage intact, and the miner who owned it, Robert McArthur. The watch remains, frozen at the time of the accident of 7:10, in our local museum.

I submitted both stories for the deadline of July 19th and then waited to hear if they would be selected among the other eighteen stories submitted, and be included in the book. All the stories were given over for consideration and critique to a long running reading group in another city. Toronto in fact. The neighbour I mentioned earlier who is putting this all together had moved from there to here, and so was calling upon her reading group to help out and make the final selections.

During this time I managed in June and July to visit my daughter and her family in Salmon Arm and coveted time with my granddaughters. And another few days spent in Vancouver with my son and his family, and more grand baby love. British Columbia’s “Curve” had sufficiently flattened, and travel restrictions had relaxed allowing us to roam our home provinces, but for how long? We couldn’t know when or if another clamp down would come again in the coming months. So I got those visits in while I had the chance!

By August I was notified that both of my stories were chosen. Better still, although I am happy to have either story accepted at all let alone two, both stories made the top ten list, and “Pocket watch” won first place out of the top ten. Sweet!

A zoom meeting was then organized for all the top ten authors to read an excerpt from their story, and the rest of the island community was invited to listen. So I did that. Uncomfortable with Zoom meetings. With “presenting” in general. Anyway, the book is said to be ready by Christmas. I think I get one for free, as a prize, – not sure. Kind of excited.

I still have a bunch of pottery that has been bisque fired ( some of the greenware pictured here) and needs to be finished with clear glaze and fired again. I will get that done in the next couple of days before another trip to salmon Arm to celebrate my granddaughters third birthday next week, and will also be the last visit of the season before the snow flies and… can you believe it, it will be winter!

Man, I just have to say, grandkids are one of the coolest parts of being old….er.

And then with November brings the writing marathon NaNoWriMo. (National November Writing Month ) The attempt (some would say a laughable attempt) is to write a novel in one month. It means 50 thousand words in 30 days, it means roughly 1.666 words per day. I’ve attempted twice in the past. Three times the charm?

I’ll be busy. But, ( index finger raised ) I have realized that complacency has been settling in on me over these months, and has slyly stymied my intentions of doing the exercise of creative artistic work each day; whether it’s writing, painting, drawing, music and lyric writing, photography or pottery. Doing a creative exercise/project daily, much like doing yoga daily, should set the intention to ingrain these practices, to make them second nature and habitual through repetitious action. To become a LIFESTYLE, a way of being.

I’ve decided to set up my own deadline to push me along, and keep me motivated and focused until it does become habitual. To help with this, I’m enlisting my blog as a tool and vow to myself, from this day forward, to post on my creative work and practice on a weekly basis, rather than a whenever I get around to it.

My blog will act as a kind of personal Sergeant Major, staring me down, impelling me to get to work in the studio, NOW!…. and then write a report on it and post it.

Hey, whatever works to start and keep the juices flowing.

Stay well, stay kind ~

Sunflower in my garden 2020

 

writing through the pandemic, and other calamities

Songwriting, I have been doing a bit of that. I, along with most of humanity one could correctly assume, feel tossed and battered in a hurricane of emotional turmoil at this time. I don’t know about you but some days I feel on the cusp of tears. With not only the pandemic, but now the violence and hate that is dominating over people’s efforts to do the right things. Specifically south of the border. So, I try to distill all that into brief lyrics.

RIP, George Floyd, if peace can even be found anymore, and the too many others who innocently fell under a needlessly aggressive, violent end.

 

Oh Mama

 

Oh mama, you picked a good time to go

You packed your things and floated out the door

We never saw this coming, what laid us down so low

Did I hear you say it’s the wicked seeds we sow

 

Oh mama seems the sky’s cracked open

Hearts are torn, there’s only darkness showing

The -light- has- left- our- eyes

Seems too late for redemption

But shouldn’t we try?

 

Can it ever be sweet again

Looking down from those high places

You’ve nothing left to defend

But I’ll take any love you send, down on me

 

Oh mama you don’t worry anymore

It’s not like this hasn’t happened before

Take the blows, bite back the pain

Mend the wounds, wipe the stain, do it all over again

 

Oh mama will you hold a place for me

When it comes the time my soul’s set free

By then I think I’ll have had enough

Of this crazy world that’s left me worn and scuffed

 

Will it ever be sweet again

Looking down from those high places

You’ve  nothing left to defend

But I’ll take any love you send, down on me

And it will be sweet again

When we’re looking down from those high places

We’ve nothing left to defend

There’s only love, there’s only to send

 

 

 

 

Spring Push

March is here and I’m happy about it! Time to start thinking about the veggie garden and other gardening activities, time for being out doors more than indoors, and soon time for swimming in the river and ocean.

Half of the month of February was taken up by a minor injury that required five stitches and two weeks to heal. I was pushing down on a large bag of my recycling bag to make room for yet a little more, and a can sliced into the fleshy part at the base of my right hand thumb. A nice fillet of palm.

I buy hardly any canned products, but that little can of evaporated milk got me. I clean all my recycling, because I’m an obedient citizen (insert sarcasm ), but it was still a can, and a deep slice. Off to the walk-in clinic and stitches, and a tetanus shot for good measure.

A note about the young resident doctor at the clinic. I chatted with him about where and how long he has trained, etc. He says UBC and  eight years, then the residency. He put his rubber gloves on, got the tray of sewing gear ready, then he reached in his pocket and pulled out his cell phone- had a look, swiped it to read something, then slipped it back in his pocket. I said, “Would you mind changing your gloves.” (it wasn’t a question) which he promptly did; I think he realized his slip. I thought, Didn’t they teach you hygiene in med school? Cell phones are petri dishes!

The cut kept my right hand in limited use. I managed to get some more pottery under-glazed, but throwing on the wheel was out of the question, or hand building.

I got some writing done too, class work, but also concentrated on a non-fiction short story to submit for the CBC competition that ended yesterday, the 29th. I had changed my submission story three times. I started with a story from my childhood and a grade five bully. Wrote 2000 words on it, then thought who wants to read about an old woman’s little bullying  episode from 1967?

So I started another story based on the life of a good friend of mine, someone I am close to and love like a brother, and who has overcome real hardship. 2000 words. Then thought- is this my story to tell? Then I started the third -and last story, because I was running out of time! I chose an event from a 1997 sailing trip from San Diego to Cabo San Lucas I was crew on. Some interesting things had happened on that voyage, so with one week left till deadline I wrote another 2000 word story and got it in last night.

Writing non-fiction is harder than writing fiction. More fun to create a world. Writing fiction is far more entertaining than trying to unearth anything interesting from my own mundane middle-aged life to write about!

I’ve submitted to this competition three other times in the past. Spoiler alert- I’ve never won, or was ever short listed. Never expected either, and still don’t. Right now I’m just working at getting comfortable with submitting! Of course my writing is garbage, that’s ok. Maybe it’ll improve, it’s why I’m taking a writing class. Each time I polish something for submission it’s good practice, working with a deadline, all that.  I know I get better by increments. And that’s quite enough for the time being.

Happy March !

Imma Wrimo

I have been immersed this past month having jumped in, although nine days late, into the NaNoWriMo challenge. I had a particular story I had begun, oh, 1993 or so and felt taking the challenge would give a push to if not finish a first draft, at least be further ahead. The story had stayed with me all this time and I had over the years returned to it periodically adding on to it, then just ran out of motivation combined with just the ongoing daily life that needs to be tended to.

I will not finish with a 50,000 word count, and I’m ok with that, obviously because I’m blogging right now instead of upstairs at my desk getting in my 1500 words for the day. More accurately I need to get 30,000 words in two days to finish. Or maybe I’m blogging right now because I’m stalling.

Writing is a solitary occupation, and it is a juggle to be available to ones family, not neglecting friends, cooking meals, cleaning house, buying groceries; all the bits that living entails. The pleasant distractions that keep me from eschewing it all and closing myself away into my story world. It’s a work in progress.

The challenge has given me the incentive I needed though to continue on with daily writing until I reach my 50,000 WC none-the-less. I want this first draft completed! I was able to break through some fuzzy areas of the story and clarify many of the scenes. And doing this thing in a virtual group setting, knowing there are other writers out there grinding it out at the same time, supporting and cheering each other on to finish over the group FB page and sharing in their victories has been enriching.

All in all it has been a great experience. Can’t wait till next November.