Monthly Archives: September 2013

Dose of Dickinson

Tell all the Truth but tell it slant–
Success in Circuit lies
Too bright for our infirm Delight
The Truth’s superb surprise
.
As Lightning to the Children eased
With explanation kind
The Truth must dazzle gradually
.
Or every man be blind —
.
-Emily Dickinson
.
I’ve been thinking about this poem a lot lately, especially in terms of storytelling. Most of the time, I think, truth is best served straight, but I also think that Emily is right. Sometimes “the Truth must dazzle gradually or every man be blind.” It raises interesting questions.

Liebster Award!?

lieber-award

My friend David, of The Warden’s Walk, has given me permission to steal the introductory paragraph from his Liebster Acceptance Post. He puts it better than I can:

I’ve been given the prestigiously obscure Liebster Award, in which one blogger with fewer than 200 followers writes trivia and answers to random questions about themselves, and then tags a bunch of other bloggers with fewer than 200 followers to write more trivia and more random questions. My eternal thanks to Lady Blue Whimsy for sharing the fun with me!

As far as I can tell, this serves 2 purposes. It spreads the word about obscure blogs to enjoy, and it is entertaining. Thank you for my nomination,

The rules, according to Lady Blue Whimsy are these:

1) Expose my readers to the randomness of my soul.

2) Supply my nominator with answers to her queries.

3) Impose this honor and task upon others deemed worthy.

4) Notify said worthies.

5) Demand said worthies to expose the randomness of their souls.

6) Give thanks.

Being the contrarian that I am, I shall undertake these tasks in reverse order. Therefore:

Thank you, Lady Blue Whimsy, for nominating me and providing such an entertaining post in the process! I am glad and flattered that you enjoy my blog enough to have thought of me.

As for making demands of my nominees, I cannot. Instead, I merely thank them for creating blogs that I enjoy, point others towards them, and give them the opportunity to have fun with this award if they so wish! If they do so, here are my questions for them (and for any other friends or fellow bloggers who like the questions and want to answer them):

5 Questions for the worthies!

1. If you could walk into a book and make a home there, where would that home be, what would it be like, and what sort of people/creatures would you try to befriend? Specifics would be fun and you can give more than one answer if you like.

2. Name a food you have read about, but never eaten, that you have since wanted to try. It doesn’t have to actually exist. What, in the reading, piqued your interest?

3. Do you have a favorite plant? If so, what is it and why do you like it so much?

4. What fictional character is your favorite hero (male or female), and what villain really scares you and why?

5. There is a crossroad at your feet. Behind you lies the path back to home and hearth (wherever that might be). The road directly ahead leads to a city, blue in the distance, settled among hills and on the edge of a bright inland sea. To your right lies a steep climb into old, low mountains clothed in forest and fern. To your left is rolling farmland that eventually flattens out into broad plains dappled by the clouds overhead. You can go as far as you like on any of the roads (even farther than you can see), including back home. There’s no wrong answer, only the where and why.

Consider them notified, as of your reading this (though not as of my typing it. What an odd idea that is to me!)

Now we come to it. Many whom I would love to link have already received this “prestigiously obscure” award from others. I’m not sure what the rules are on re-awarding, therefore I will stick to ones who, as far as I know/remember, have not received this one yet.

So without further ado, my nominees are (in reverse alphabetical order)*:

Technicolorlilypond – Photographer, scientist, crafter, writer and avid reader. And I do mean “avid.” This Renaissance Woman puts me to shame with the number of books (many of them dense and difficult) that she consumes.

StrangeFigures – I suspect this lady has more than 200 followers, but my feed only says 163, so here she is. Sharon is bold, witty and not afraid of a good debate. In fact, she seems to know very well that no one can grow or learn unless they are challenged. She certainly challenges me.

SoughingofPines – She does not post often in this venue, but perhaps some day she will. At any rate, she is a dear friend, an excellent writer, a kind heart and she plays the cello. Also, martial arts. You have been warned.

TheOldBookJunkie – He is a junkie for old books! In his posts on literature, culture, and society he often  challenges me, which is something we all need, and I enjoy our discussions and debates. I think and hope he does too.

Grimmella – A contrarian, like myself. Entertaining and sometimes acerbic reviews as well as other Fantasy-themed posts. She is not afraid to say what she thinks, and I have spent many a happy hour exploring her library of posts. I bet you will, too.

DreamingofOtherRealms – A wonderful dreamer, indeed, and a writer. She is also an inhabitant of New Zealand, which is exciting to me because I have yet to visit any place in the Southeastern Hemisphere. I am always fascinated by the impact location has on an author’s work.

BekindRewrite – And here, I cheat (you knew I would). Bekind definitely has more than 200 followers, but her blog and our discussions have been great inspirations to me, so I must include her anyway. At the least, I want her answers to my questions. If you are a writer, in any stage of the process, Bekind’s blog has useful resources, researched advice, writing exercises and inspiration-fodder. She’s also usually up for a good discussion or debate. Go there!

*If you are not on my list but I read your blog, know that either you have too many followers (and I didn’t want to cheat too much), you have already received this award (that I am aware of) or I was unsure whether or not you would appreciate the attention (the latter applies to family and a few non-internet friends).

Now to what you all have been… or rather what one or two of you might possibly have been waiting for. The questions!

LadyBlueWhimsy asked these questions eight!

1. If you could date a fictional character, whom would it be?

Hmm. Do Hobbits date? If so, Sam Gamgee, though only if Rosie did not exist. Also, I would prefer to be a Hobbit in this scenario.

2. If you could travel either forwards or backwards in time, which one, and why?

Backwards, if only because Forwards would take the fun out of the fun parts and make me wince in anticipation of the rough stuff to come. I’m a worrier by nature, and it is a lot harder to be worried about the past. I’d prefer to be an observer, also, rather than active in this scenario.

3. Vanilla, chocolate, or Superman ice cream?

What is Superman ice cream? Um… Chocolate. And Vanilla. In that order. *holds out hands expectantly*

4. If you had to name your children after your family and relatives, which five names would you pick?

Colleen, Harry, Austin, Wynn and Jenny would be my top picks, I think.

5. What one type of food or dish could you eat every day for the rest of your life?

Fresh Blueberries.

6. If you could be a fictional character, whom would you be?

Who am I most like, or who would I most like to be? I shudder to answer the first possible question, but as for the latter… I want to be Bilbo Baggins. I had to answer either a Hobbit or a Dwarf (yes, I know, my single-mindedness can be tiresome) and Bilbo has the best mix of adventure and happy ending of any of them. What a lucky chap.

7. If you could only write one story in your entire writing life, which would it be?

I suppose I will know if I write it. Right now there are three very close to my heart. One that I plan to finish but not publish is a picaresque following the sometimes-intertwining stories of a thief, several monks, a couple of dragons, a wizard and a deceased were-jackal. Competing for this place is also an epic-length quasi-epistolary story about a vampire. This is partially my rebellion against all things Anne-Rice-to-Stephenie-Meyer, and partially a way to deal with the fact that this particular character is very talky in my head. If I ever manage to write the thing (it intimidates me greatly) it ought to be a different kind of vampire story. And then there is my current focus, which is about three people who have lost their homes and with it their identities, and their adventures in a ghost-story world.

8. If you could change the ending to a favorite story, which would it be?

Well, stories with endings I do not like are usually not my favorites. Endings really can make or break any story. That said, I rather enjoyed the Harry Potter series, but the ending bothers me, A LOT. The one thing I was waiting for the entire series, the revelation that the main characters’ opinions of  Slytherin House were not justified, never came. Oh, some people will argue with me on this point, and even J. K. Rowling seems to have a higher opinion of her Slytherins than she communicated in her stories, but my opinion remains. They were painted with a wide brush, and the end left them with much the same image as the beginning.

And now, apparently, I am supposed to expose you all to eleven random things about myself. Consider yourself warned.

1. I was very excited when I learned that I have Welsh ancestors in my very mixed pedigree.

2. I name my cars, usually according to their make. My first car was Mononoke, my second was Kagura, and my third and current one breaks from tradition. Though it is of Japanese make, its name is Fred. This is mostly because my friend’s new car is named Ginger.

3. While I love Spring ephemerals, my favorite time for flowers to bloom is Autumn. Fall-blooming flowers give the air of being tough as well as bright, and they remind me of someone singing at the close of day.

4. My favorite smell is a tie between woodsmoke and partially-broken-down leaf-litter. You know, that dark stuff that looks like dirt, but doesn’t to stick to your hand and smells earthy and sweet?

5. I am immune to Poison Ivy and allergic to Juniper. Nevertheless, Juniper is one of my favorite trees and I planted several in my yard.

6. I am scared of camel crickets. They aren’t dangerous, but I can’t quite convince my instincts.

7. Despite their being usually full of the above-mentioned crickets, I love caves. I am also fond of elevators and closets. I am not a big fan of the Great Plains or deserts, though I am theoretically glad they exist.

8. I have learned to love reading my Bible. It used to be a chore (and one I would frequently skip), but now it seems to read me as much as I read it, and the interplay makes it truly fascinating.

9. I hate getting my hands dirty, but I love clay, gardening, cooking and various other crafts, like papier mâché. This causes a lot of internal conflict.

10. I hate being pigeon-holed. Every time someone tries to categorize me, my first instinct is to fight their assumptions.  On the flip side, I try never to assume I know the whole of any person. Mystery and uncertainty give birth to doubt, and doubt keeps us active, inquisitive and humble.

11. I love words, but perhaps my favorite one is “gloaming.”  …”Parsnip” is pretty fantastic, too, as is “mountebank.” I had better stop now.

And I believe that is it! I hope you found this massive post entertaining, especially you, LadyBlueWhimsy!

P.S. I meant the part about anyone who wants to try their hand at the five questions I supplied! I would love to hear your thoughts on them, even if you are not among my nominees.


Lord of the Dance (which has nothing to do with pseudo-Irish dancing)

The question we want to ask about Man’s ‘central’ position in this drama is really on a level with the disciples’ question, ‘Which of them was the greatest?’ It is the sort of question which God does not answer.

If from Man’s point of view the re-creation of non-human and even inanimate Nature appears a mere by-product of his own redemption, then equally from some remote, non-human point of view Man’s redemption may seem merely the preliminary to this more widely diffused springtime, and the very permission of Man’s fall may be supposed to have had that larger end in view.

Both attitudes will be right if they will consent to drop the words mere and merely. Nothing is ‘merely a by-product’ of anything else. All results are intended from the first.

What is subservient from one point of view is the main purpose from another. No thing or event is first or highest in a sense which forbids it to be also last and lowest. The partner who bows to Man in one movement of the dance receives Man’s reverences in another.

To be high or central means to abdicate continually: to be low means to be raised: all good masters are servants: God washes the feet of men. The concepts we usually bring to the consideration of such matters are miserably political and prosaic.

We think of flat repetitive equality and arbitrary privilege as the only two alternatives- thus missing all the overtones, the counterpoint, the vibrant sensitiveness, the inter-inanimations of reality.

From Miracles, by C. S. Lewis

Firstly, I am not sure “inter-inanimations” make sense in this quote, but I can find no evidence of it being a typo. There are days when it would be so convenient to send a deceased person a letter and get an answering one, but I guess Lewis deserves a break from correspondence for a while.

Third and lastly, there is a lot in here to unwind before I figure out how much I agree or disagree. Miracles is, by far, the most dense and difficult of Lewis’s works that I have encountered. I am acutely aware that I am not a scholar on his level, which seems to be the target audience. Still, I appreciate the challenge.


New Blood

And as promised, I will now post some pictures of my more recent masks. These range from around 7 years old, to a few weeks. Most of my work lately has been in clay, but I am contemplating some more mixed-media creations, especially a new shell-mask a friend has commissioned me to make for her house.

Bandit1

I wanted something with horns. The picture is a little tilted. I may try to correct that when I have time.

I wanted something with horns. The picture is a little tilted. I may try to correct that when I have time.

My newest shell mask. The starfish is a metal broach.

My newest shell mask. The starfish is a metal broach.

One of my favorite of my newest masks. I may have to keep her. Clay, glass and copper leaf.

One of my favorite of my newest masks. I may have to keep her. Clay, glass and copper leaf.

I had square glass beads.

I had square glass beads.

The second shell mask I ever made, intended to be more masculine than the first one.

The second shell mask I ever made, intended to be more masculine than the first one.

this one is wearable, and I once scared some trick-or-treaters with it. The one who didn't run got the most candy.

this one is wearable, and I once scared some trick-or-treaters with it. The one who didn’t run got the most candy.

Papier mâché, grass, persimmon caps, moss and glass.

Papier mâché, grass, persimmon caps, moss and glass.

One of my mother's favorites, though I have never quite been satisfied with it.

One of my mother’s favorites, though I have never quite been satisfied with it.

This one is a memorial to a tree of mine that had to be cut down.

This one is a memorial to a tree of mine that had to be cut down.

An early mask, though obviously not one of the original set.

An early mask, though obviously not one of the original set.

My parents brought me home a horseshoe crab shell. It makes a fragile but impressive mask.

My parents brought me home a horseshoe crab shell. It makes a fragile but impressive mask.

Lattice clay work, nail-polish and Siberian Iris leaves.

Lattice clay work, nail-polish and Siberian Iris leaves.

This present for a friend was a long time in coming. Sometimes it takes me a while to find a mask that I think will really please someone.

This present for a friend was a long time in coming. Sometimes it takes me a while to find a mask that I think will really please someone.

Ah, blue oni. I made this one out of clay, all for the fangs.

Ah, blue oni. I made this one out of clay, all for the fangs.

One of my more creepy creations, made from papier mâché, lily leaves, gold paper and a lion pendant.

One of my more creepy creations, made from papier mâché, lily leaves, gold paper and a lion pendant.

Created to celebrate the wedding of a friend.

Created to celebrate the wedding of a friend.


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