The world is charged with the grandeur of God.It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oilCrushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;And wears man’s smudge and shares man’s smell: the soilIs bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod..And for all this, nature is never spent;There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;And though the last lights off the black West wentOh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs —Because the Holy Ghost over the bentWorld broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings..-Gerard Manley Hopkins…
Tag Archives: nature
I am not sure where I am going with this post, but then I figure this blog is mostly here for me, so I am allowed to let my mind wander sometimes.
As usual, I am thinking about the craft of writing, the thread of stories, of characters and places and worlds (Earth, and the worlds of imagination). My WIP takes up a lot of thought and a lot of time, but I am making more progress on it than I ever have before. Not only the actual writing and editing process, but the world-building questions that underpin everything.
Astronomy and calendars have been one focus lately. Did you know that the Mayans (and some other Pre-Columbian Mesoamerican cultures) had two to three calendars in order to map time? All the hoopla about 2012 being the end of the world seems to have evolved from the fact that the “Long Count” cycle ticked over to the same length of time believed, by the Mayans, to have preceded the creation of mankind (a more in-depth scholar of these things than I may correct me, but that is how I understood it).
Anyway, I am fascinated by the different ways humanity has found to keep track of the passage of time. Did you know that the Romans changed the length of an hour throughout the year in order to account for what we call “daylight savings?”
In order to stoke my creative furnace, I have some questions I would like you to answer, if you are willing. I won’t steal your ideas (unless you want me to), I just want to get my sluggish brain thinking about these things again. Consider it an idea-bouncing contest. I will answer them, myself, in my next post.
1. Make up a constellation and a brief story for it.
2. What is your favorite holiday (excluding Christmas, Halloween, Thanksgiving and Easter) and why?
3. Name an object you would like to see featured in a story
4. make up a name for a spell and tell me what it does
5. Choose a plant and make up a symbolic meaning for it
6. What is your favorite ghost/folk/scary story (can be humorous or not)
Characters are rummy. So are people outside written stories, though, so I suppose that is as it should be. I like my protagonists and antagonists all to be people I can empathize, and even sympathize with. In that sense, I suppose, I don’t write fairy-tales. There are behaviors that bring destruction or redemption, choices made that could have been different, but the paths are those of people, not symbols. I speak no word against fairy-tales or allegory. I love both, they just serve a different purpose.
One of my favorite characters from Tolkien’s mythos is Smeagol/Gollum. He ain’t pretty, and he’s rarely nice, but he feels very real. He could go either way at his crossroads, and the paths he chooses are understandable, if disastrous for him. His is a very human story, one that is easily recognizable in others, but hard to see in ourselves. I hope readers will see characters in my work that they do not want to emulate, but to whom they can relate nonetheless.
Aaand it is probably time to bring this ramble to a close. I need to go see if the little inch worms that have camouflaged themselves in yarrow petals are still about. My garden sorely needs some care, but at least it is alive, aye?
Well, I have been asked to take a dose of my own medicine. In accepting her nomination for the Liebster Award, BeKindRewrite requested that I answer my own five questions. Considering her thoughtful answers, this request is perfectly fair. She didn’t even tack on any new questions of her own! Yet. Maybe I shouldn’t give her ideas.
For the purpose of answering these questions, I am going to exclude anything Tolkien. This should make my answers less predictable.
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.
I would love to live in Brockhall, from Brian Jacques’s Redwall series (I have not read them all). First off, it is in a tree and partly underground. I’ve always wanted to live in a tree and underground. It is located in a woodland, it sounds quite comfortable, and contains delicious food and talking badgers. Sure, one has to face the occasional violent hoard passing through the woods, but that’s life. The world contains squirrel militia, friendly moles and hedgehogs, and playful otters.
I would also like to see P. G. Wodehouse’s stylized 1920’s, but I am on the fence as to whether or not I would like to live there. It might be just a bit too silly.
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?
Deeper’n’Ever pie. A savory pie made of veggies. It’s fairly mundane, as far as food from a book goes (it is from the above-mentioned Redwall series), but it always sounds so homey, comforting and satisfying.
3. Do you have a favorite plant? If so, what is it and why do you like it so much?
I do. I have several, in fact.
My favorite tree is the Eastern Hemlock. No, it did not kill Socrates. That was a different Hemlock. The Eastern Hemlock is not poisonous. In any case, it is shapely, feathery, smells like spicy, piney heaven, and has pinecones the size of a penny that open or close depending on the humidity. Magnolia Grandiflora and Juniperus Virginiana come in at close seconds.
It is hard to decide my favorite flower, but I will go with the old fashion daffodil. Early, bright yellow with a long, narrow trumpet and a smell unlike any of its compatriots. Sweet, but with just enough bitterness to avoid being sickening. This particular flower, whose cultivar I do not know, is tough as nails and it opens just when I really need some brightness and sweetness after the winter gray.
My favorite non-flower, non-tree, is the Venus Fly Trap. It is kind of creepy, but awesome. I wish #@$#$%#s would stop harvesting them from the wild, else we might lose them all together. If you ever think of buying an insectivorous plant (fly-trap, sundew, pitcher plant) make sure you know where it comes from. Buy only from dealers who make it clear that they propagate their own stock.
4. What fictional character is your favorite hero (male or female), and what villain really scares you and why?
Barring anyone from the works of J. R. R. Tolkien, I would have to say Scout, from To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. She may not do much that is “heroic” in the story, but she is telling the story, and that is a kind of heroism. I probably love Scout because I can relate to her. I was a similar mix of tom-boy, thinker and impulsive foot-in-the-mouther as a child.
Another hero of mine would be Henry V from William Shakespeare’s play of the same name. I know little about the real man, but the way he is portrayed by the Bard has oft caught my imagination. In his titular play, he shows a wide range of character, sensitive, thoughtful, courageous and stern. He makes decisions that are personally painful to him, because he believes them to be right.
As for a villain who truly frightens me, I would say Jack, from Lord of the Flies, by William Golding. It is telling that I read the book so long ago that I had forgotten his name, and the name of the protagonist. What I have not forgotten is the manipulative, violent, and vicious nature of this boy, that grows worse and worse as he deteriorates, carrying most of the other boys with him into murderous barbarism. Yes, he is only a child. In that sense, he may not be much of a threat, but the inhumanity within humanity that he represents is not to be taken lightly.
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.
Ah yes. I know a little more about this theoretical place than the poor people I inflicted it on. It matters little, though, because ignorant or informed, I would go to my right. Mountains you say? Low, old, and covered in fern and tree? That is the road for me. I bet there are even hemlocks higher up, and staghorn lichen and moss.
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.
Well, I know it took longer than I expected, but I am back now!
Two days ago, I experienced the craziest day of my life. For one thing, I went into surgery to remove what remained of my cancer. That would have been a big day by itself.
However, I woke up after my surgery to learn that I had become an aunt. I won’t go into great detail, but my sister-in-law had to have an emergency c-section. She and baby are fine, though the latter will be in intensive care for a while. Wonderful, bizarre, crazy day.
And now, I promised you all masks when I returned to this blog. I will keep my promise with two whole posts. Here I will give you the rest (some are in my first mask post) of the original set of fourteen I made in college. In the next post, I will display my more recent creations.
The skull-mask above comes with a story. I made it as a release for anger, and as a statement. Shortly before creating the Muri Kai, I learned that cosmetics companies had been (and presumably still are) going into impoverished places all over the world and convincing people to buy their products. Forget having enough money for shoes, you need lipstick!
And there you have the old guard. Tomorrow, I hope, I will post pictures of my more recent creations.
Glad to be back! I look forward to catching up on your blogs!
I really was intending that to be my last post for a while, but the in light of the news I got from the doctor today, I felt that I owed it to my blog-friends to pass on some good news. Whether you have been praying or sending good thoughts, thank you.
The tumor has shrunk so significantly that they were unable to do a biopsy on it today. It is less than a quarter of its original size and did not show up on an ultrasound. My doctor and nurses were so happy that some of them cried a little.
I am grateful to God for His mercy, for my physicians, and for the progress of medical science!
For now, treatment will continue as it is. Surgery, chemotherapy and radiation are still in my immediate future, but this is a great triumph, and I wanted to share it with all of you and thank you, again, for your thoughts and prayers.
Love and blessings!
Ok, my break starts now, for reals.
It has certainly taken me long enough to post this. It has been months since my successful flight in a hot air balloon, but I have been dragging my feet in sorting through the pictures. Anyway, I wanted to give you guys some beautiful shots before I take an internet break (for those of you who talk to me through e-mail, I will still check it. I just may be slow in replying).
Every time I say I am going to take a hiatus, people seem to worry, so in advance, let me assure you that everything is fine. The coming month is going to be a busy one, and I need time to read, write, and do odds and ends around the house and with my family. I will probably be gone a month, maybe two.
When I come back, I promise to post pictures of more masks including the ones I am currently working on.
On to ballooning!
For those who missed out on the first failed ballooning attempt, there are details here. We had one more failed attempt (making, I think, three for my dear friend) but finally, luck was with us! The basket was very large, made to hold at least eight normal-sized people.
Here is the balloon which was called, if I remember rightly, Spirit of Africa. The first stage of inflation is done with a fan.
Once the fan has blown up the balloon enough to where the flames won’t burn it, the spurting fire thing is used.
I found the colors quite beautiful.
My fear of heights made takeoff a bit nerve-wracking. There was someone on board with a worse fear of heights than I have, though, and that helped calm me down.
Once I was over how high we were, I found the flight soothing and I enjoyed the patterns I began to see below. Balloon flight is very smooth.
This is some of the countryside relatively near where I live. There are some farms left, though not many, some large estates owned by people whose wealth is beyond my comprehension, some forest, and encroaching subdivisions.
On the whole, it is pretty, though it makes me a little sad to see how it is changing.
One of the real farms! Those red-ant things are cattle. We flew over horses and deer (who really did not like the roar of the balloon’s blowtorch thingy) and a blue heron in flight, but my shots of them did not come out well.
Looking up into the balloon!
And my best shot of that lovely flame. It is loud, and close, but really beautiful. I would not recommend a balloon flight in hot weather, though. It was cold when we flew, and that was the only reason I could bear the heat above me.
We had some beautiful clouds that day.
Every time we went over water, we saw the balloon’s reflection.
Even with the blur, I find this shot lovely.
Sycamores are as dramatic from above as below.
I think the trees below look almost like moss and lichen. Beautiful.
Even the horrible subdivisions with their monster houses and boring yards look nice from this height. Great patterns. Notice the interrupted sidewalk.
The skyline, of course, was gorgeous. All those tree-covered hills fading in the distance to meet the sky, and echoed from above by the clouds.
And so, in failing light, we landed. We landed in enemy territory (people who are hostile to balloons) out of necessity, but fortunately no one was home. The team and our pilot broke down the balloon quickly, and we called it a night.
I am very glad my friend gave me the opportunity to do this. I hope you enjoy the pictures!
Farewell for now. I’ll be back soon.
Be-kind-rewrite’s Inspiration Monday nudged my muse in a terribly melodramatic way. Apologies in advance for the levels of angst, but the prompt was “can’t stop crying” so it was bound to be either angsty or filled with onions.
In the Center is a thing that weeps. In the darkness surrounding her now, her feathers and her tears are light. Her children return when their fires burn out. It’s over their corpses she weeps, folding them beneath her wings like eggs.And there, against the mother flame, their life returns only for them to leave again; flying off into the void, bringing heat and light, but leaving her in the Center with her tears.We have light and life because she can’t stop crying. Yet I have to wonder if one day we will learn the meaning of life without pain.
“Say your prayers in a garden early, ignoring steadfastly the dew, the birds and the flowers, and you will come away overwhelmed by its freshness and joy; go there in order to be overwhelmed and, after a certain age, nine times out of ten nothing will happen to you.”
– The Four Loves by C. S. Lewis
I’ve been busy, and I will probably be taking an internet hiatus soon. I recently finished The Four Loves, by C. S. Lewis. As always, when I read him, I was overwhelmed by his ability to express himself. Over all, I found the book fascinating and enlightening. I also wish I could get in touch with the man and debate some things with him, but ah well.
The above quote is something that struck me, when I read it, for I’ve had just the experience he is talking about. My relationship with God effects every single aspect of my life, even the ones that, on the surface, would seem to have nothing at all to do with spirituality, religion or faith. Prayer effects the taste of an apple and the sound of my cats’ asking for breakfast.
There’s another quote I will share, soon, but I figured I would go ahead and post this one.