Wednesday, May 4, 2022

IWSG: Wednesday, May 4, 2022 ~ The Best and the Worst

 





It's the first Wednesday of the month,
the day that members of the
Insecure Writer's Support Group
share their writing struggles
and writing successes
and offer their encouragement
and support to fellow writers.






To visit the IWSG website, click here.

To become a member of the IWSG, click here.

Our wonderful co-hosts who are volunteering today,
along with IWSG Founder Alex J. Cavanaugh are Kim ElliotMelissa Maygrove, Chemist Ken,  Lee Lowery, and, Nancy Gideon!

I hope you have a chance to visit today's hosts and thank them for co-hosting.
I'm sure they would appreciate a visit and an encouraging comment.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Every month the IWSG announces a question that members can answer
with advice, insight, a personal experience, or a story in their IWSG posts.

Or, the question can inspire members
if they aren't sure what to write about on IWSG Day.

Remember the question is optional.
This month's featured question is: 
It's the best of times; it's the worst of times. What are your writer highs (the good times)? And what are your writer lows (the crappy times)?
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Happy May, Everyone!
I hope everyone is healthy and doing well, maybe feeling little optimism.

This month's question really resonated with me, 
not so much with writing, but with reading.
It catapulted me back to grade seven when I read 
the opening paragraph of Charles Dickens' A tale of Two Cities

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, 
it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, 
it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, 
it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, 
it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, 
we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, 
we were all going direct to Heaven, 
we were all going direct the other way--in short, 
the period was so far like the present period that some of its noisiest authorities 
insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, 
in the superlative degree of comparison only." 

Charles Dickens: A Tale of Two Cities. With Illustrations by H. K. Browne. 
London: Chapman and Hall, 1859. First edition


What a perfect description of the times we have been in 
since the beginning the pandemic, and the times we are facing
with the increasingly dangerous Ukraine-Russian war.

The passage gives me hope, because it reminds me 
that humanity has faced terrible challenges before,
and somehow we've always stumbled through to a better place.

A Tale of Two Cities is the only book I've ever read 
that I remember the opening and closing lines.
As much as I remember the opening, I remember the gut-wrenching closing more:
 "It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done,
it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known."

I am terrified whenever I think of having my head chopped off by a guillotine.
And to think that Sydney Carton went to the guillotine willingly in the name of love!
Carton takes the place of Charles Darnay who is being executed
for treason against the Kingdom of Great Britain.

Estampe d'une double guillotine, musée de la Révolution française

Carton physically resembles Darney who is married to Carton's love Lucie Manette.
Carton loves Lucie unconditionally and is willing to give his life for her to be happy:
“For you, and for any dear to you, I would do anything…think now and then 
that there is a man who would give his life, to keep a life you love beside you!” 

If I could write something like Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities, 
one of the best selling novels of all time, 
it would be the best of times for me.
That would be the highest of writer highs.

However I recognize that that is highly unlikely to happen,
and I am stumbling along with no book published at the age of 72.
Surely that is the worst of times for me as a writer.

Have I given up?  No. 
If I can publish my memoir, that will make my life worth living.
I will get there!
I really need to read this favorite novel again! 
 
Have I had someone who truly loved me?  
Yes, more than once.
John was the first.

Someone Who Truly Loved Me
Lac Seul, Ontario Canada
Summer, 1961
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue  
All Rights Reserved


And in a complete change of subject:
Let me share a review of a book that touches on someone else who loved me
(for a while).

C. Lee McKenzie’s recently published contemporary novel ‘Shattered’
is an uplifting story about a young woman 
whose life is shattered by a devastating accident.  
The novel is written for young adults, but it can be enjoyed by people of all ages.  
It is a timeless story about overcoming despair and rebuilding your life, 
not the life you imagined for yourself, but a good and rewarding life nonetheless. 

I have enjoyed reading a number of Lee’s books, so I was anticipating a good read.  
I was particularly interested in reading this book 
because I was married to a former paratrooper who was paralyzed
in an accident just as he was shipping out to Vietnam.  

I met my husband on a blind date in Madrid after he was paralyzed, 
so I know what it’s like to unexpectedly fall in love with someone who is disabled.  
As his wife I learned about the impact such an injury has on someone’s life. 
I also got to know other people with spinal cord injuries,
and to meet the people in their lives, those who stayed and those who couldn’t.

C. Lee McKenzie didn’t disappoint me.  
She deftly wove Libby Brown’s painful story of injury and recovery
with a compelling mystery, a sensitive love story, and a surprise twist at the end.
Most important to me the novel felt authentic.  

Libby wasn’t very likable at the beginning of the book.  
She came from a privileged background and single-mindedly focused
on becoming an elite skier and winning Olympic gold.  
When everything is stripped from her, she discovers who the truly important people 
in her life are and who are not worthy to be part of her new reality.

Who was the mysterious snowboarder 
who slammed into Libby and destroyed her dreams?  
Was the collision an unfortunate accident or cruelly deliberate?  
Is her life worth living after she is paralyzed, or would she have been better off dead?  
Will any man ever desire her and love her again?  
If you read Libby’s story, you won’t forget it! 
  
I am inspired by the books written by IWSG members,
like C. Lee McKenzie's Shattered which I reviewed above.
I think it's important to read books written by members of the IWSG community.
Every author appreciates the validation and encouragement that comes  
from having their books published, reviewed, and discussed by fellow members.

That's why I really enjoy the Insecure Writer's Support Group Book Club on Goodreads.
It spotlights books written by talented and creative IWSG members. 

Each month two books are featured, from craft books to books in a range of genres.
The book club is a place for writers to learn, discuss, and enjoy 
the art of crafting stories and publishing books. 
I love how the book club supports IWSG members by sharing great reads, 
because we insecure writers are readers too.

This month's selections are:



The Or'in of Tane: Book One: The Chronicles of Aden Weaver
by Yvette Carol

This is the first book in Yvette Carol's debut middle grade fantasy series. 





Up on the Roof and Other Stories: Revised with Bonus Short Story 
by Judy Ann Davis

Judy Ann Davis's collection of humorous and serious short stories explores the relationships among people and families, young and old.



I invite you to check out the IWSG Book Club! Click Here 


Happy writing in May!




Till next time ~
Fundy Blue

https://selkiegrey4.blogspot.com

My next post will be on Friday, April 15, 2022.

Friday, April 29, 2022

Just a Little Rain

Today I walked down into the park and meandered along Piney Creek,
even though the sky threatened rain, the wind was rising, and the temperature falling.
It had been so long since I visited my favorite trees and parts of the creek ~ 
not since October 20th last fall, surely a record absence for me.

The City Park Beckons  
Aurora, Colorado, USA
April 27, 2022
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue  
All Rights Reserved





"My" Middle Pond  
Aurora, Colorado, USA
April 27, 2022
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue  
All Rights Reserved


The landscape is slowly waking from its winter sleep, 
still drowsy in its dormant shades of taupe.
Blades of young grass and the occasional brave and perky dandelion clump
poke through, a promise vibrancy to come.

Blades of Green Grass 
Aurora, Colorado, USA
April 27, 2022
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue  
All Rights Reserved





Perky Dandelions 
Aurora, Colorado, USA
April 27, 2022
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue  
All Rights Reserved


Some find the landscape dreary and drab in this lingering pause
between winter and spring, but to me it is a riot of forms and textures and quiet surprises.

Pause Between Winter and Spring ~ #1 
Aurora, Colorado, USA
April 27, 2022
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue  
All Rights Reserved





A Quiet Surprise, One Curly Eyebrow of Blue Grama Grass,
Bouteloua gracilis, among Dead, Dried Flowers
Aurora, Colorado, USA
April 27, 2022
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue  
All Rights Reserved





Ready for Occupancy ~ Corrugated Architecture
Aurora, Colorado, USA
April 27, 2022
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue  
All Rights Reserved





Purpose Fulfilled
Aurora, Colorado, USA
April 27, 2022
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue  
All Rights Reserved






Pause Between Winter and Spring ~ #2
Aurora, Colorado, USA
April 27, 2022
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue  
All Rights Reserved
 

Walking along Piney Creek Creek today filled me with peace and hope,
two feelings I need to sustain myself when the world feels increasingly dark and dangerous.
When Covid first struck over two years ago we were lifted up
by selfless heroes and a sense of togetherness.
Those feelings seem naive now.

But I stumbled across a reminder of that time of encouragement 
when we  tried to buoy each other:  a painted rock now tossed from the path.
And I remembered that hope and peace can appear suddenly and in unexpected places.

Peace Be with You!
Aurora, Colorado, USA
April 27, 2022
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue  
All Rights Reserved
 
I wanted to walk longer and revisit more favorite places in the park,
but the wind turned squally and cold and rain began to sprinkle.
Time to dash for my car, fingers crossed that the dark skies wouldn't release a downpour.

Somber Skies
Aurora, Colorado, USA
April 27, 2022
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue  
All Rights Reserved





Nature's Palette Reflected in a Manmade Palette 
Aurora, Colorado, USA
April 27, 2022
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue  
All Rights Reserved





Stipples of Rain Mean It's Time to Run! 
Aurora, Colorado, USA
April 27, 2022
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue  
All Rights Reserved


As I walked along Piney Creek, one of the gentlest protest songs
from almost a half century ago was running through my mind:
What Have They Done to the Rain?
Gentle in melody, plaintive in lyrics, smoke referencing Strontium-90 in the air,
Malvina Reynolds' song pops up in my memories at unexpected times.

It's severely dry here.  Climate change is likely to blame.
And I can't help thinking What have we done to our rain?

Originally the song was a protest against above ground nuclear testing.
I hope we can retreat from the brink of our current and unlooked for nuclear threat.
The environment is struggling enough without having to worry about radioactive rain again.
Yes, struggling and worrying, because the environment may be intrinsically conscious.


What Have They Done to the Rain ~ The Searchers


A Burst of Hope Near My Front Door
as I Arrived Home 
Aurora, Colorado, USA
April 27, 2022
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue  
All Rights Reserved


Wishing you peace and hope and rain to make spring bloom.

*********

Months ago I was participating in my friend Rain's Thursday Art Date,
but circumstances forced me to put that aside.
Today I'm joining in again for her theme Leaves and Branches.
Here are three photos for the prompt:

Leaves (Dead and Baby-new) and Branches #1
Aurora, Colorado, USA
April 27, 2022
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue  
All Rights Reserved





Leaves (Dead and Duckweed) and Branches (Reeds) #2
Aurora, Colorado, USA
April 27, 2022
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue  
All Rights Reserved





Leaves and Branches (and Blossoms) #3
Aurora, Colorado, USA
April 27, 2022
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue  
All Rights Reserved


I'll be back on Wednesday, May 4th for Insecure Writer's Support Day.
If you haven't visited this critically-recognized site for writers, I invite you to do so.

Its purpose is to share and to encourage. 
Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. 
Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. 
It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!
(The home page for the IWSG:  https://www.insecurewriterssupportgroup.com )

This Wednesday members have the option of answering this question in their posts:
It's the best of times; it's the worst of times. What are your writer highs (the good times)? And what are your writer lows (the crappy times)?

(The sign-up page for the IWSG Blog with a list of blogging members:

Stay hopeful and creative!





Till next time ~
Fundy Blue



On the Bay of Fundy
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved








Friday, April 22, 2022

A Little Comic Relief

I've spent a lot of time puzzling over philosophy recently.
My friend, Baili (at Baili and I), sent me down this rabbit hole
when she shared a book she had read, Galileo's Error by Philip Goff.
On a whim, I decided to buy it and read it.

Highly unusual for me, because I've avoided philosophy since I finished
my final philosophy exam at Acadia University a long time ago.
I was done with philosophy, amen, full stop, period!
Philosophy made my brain hurt. 

Well, thanks to Baili, I'm not done.  
Now I find philosophy much more interesting, and I plan to read more in the future.
But today my brain is hurting from reading philosophy,
so I decided I needed some comic relief, a whole other rabbit hole!




































































If a man is in the forest, and he says something, and there’s no woman around to hear him - is he still wrong?















IF THIS POST IS PUBLISHED AND NOBODY READS IT, IS IT REALLY A POST?





Till next time ~
Fundy Blue



On the Bay of Fundy
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved









 

IF THIS POST IS PUBLISHED AND NOBODY READS IT, IS IT REALLY A POST?

Friday, April 15, 2022

Rabbit Holes

It's good to be home after being away so long, even if away meant O‘ahu, Hawaii.
And it's good to have my computer, iPhone, and other technology items working.
Thankfully, I made it out of technology hell in time for me to co-host
the Insecure Writer's Support Group on the first Wednesday of April.

I struggle with time management, and I know one of the main reasons why.
I can't resist a good rabbit hole,
one that immerses me in an engrossing and time-consuming topic.
Every first Wednesday of the month, I plunge into a number of enticing rabbit holes
dug by the talented and creative members of the IWSG.
Consequently, it takes me a long time to visit around with fellow IWSG members.

One IWSG member's post in particular dropped me into a rabbit warren of tunnels.
I've been stuck underground since April 6th, 
racing around and exploring all sorts of topics
as a result of visiting PJ Colando's (aka Talk Lady)
interesting and funny post on exclamation points.
Me being me, I somehow found myself in a previous post of hers Somebody vs. Someone  and falling into that damn rabbit warren.

Now you might think that exclamation points and the subtleties of
using somebody vs. someone would not make for interesting and funny posts,
let alone inspire rabbit holes, but you would be wrong.
PJ can make just about any topic she tackles in a post worth your time reading.

The exclamation point is one of her favorite punctuation marks,
and she describes herself as a walking exclamation point 
on the home page of her author's website.
At the upper right of my blog, I state that I live my life in exclamation marks!
Points?  Marks?  Just American and Canadian subtleties.
Talk Lady and I are simpatico!!!

Author Lewis Carroll's Alice
She fell into the original rabbit hole in his children' novel Alice in Wonderland 
Tom Simpson:  flickr ~ license


PJ chose to illustrate her Somebody vs. Someone post with videos
of Queen's Somebody to Love and the Beatles' If I Needed Someone.
I have listened to this Beatles' song hundreds of times during my life,
but I had never heard or seen this video version of Queen's song.
I was spellbound!!!

Freddie Mercury's video of Somebody to Love, recorded at the Montreal Forum 
in 1985, instantly became one of my favorite live performances ever,
and I was tumbling down a rabbit hole, a branching warren filled with everything Queen.

(If you'd like to hear the song, click here:  Somebody to Love.) 

The Rock Group Queen
(with Brian May, Freddie Mercury, John Deacon, and Roger Taylor)
kentarotakizawa:  flickr ~ license


I don't know how many times I've watched this video in the days since IWSG Wednesday.
Mercury is a strutting exclamation mark,
a powerful and intense performer, musician, and singer.
I've been mesmerized watching Queen in multiple videos, 
in documentaries, in the movie Bohemian Rhapsody, and in the 1985 Live Aid concert.
Queen's performance at this concert is considered among the greatest in rock history.

Terry and I were among the estimated 40% of the world's population 
that tuned in to watch Live Aid on television on July 13, 1985.
Not yet a year into our marriage, Terry and I had spent the day working on our yard,
mowing grass, trimming bushes, weeding the garden, and dividing irises
that had run amok along a fence that bordered one side of our property.

We had collapsed, exhausted and hot, to tune into the show
that I described in my diary as an "incredible concert
and an incredible concept" (raising money for famine relief in Ethiopia).

Sadly, imho, Somebody to Love was not included in the Live Aid setlist.
But, what are you gonna do when you only have 20 minutes to perform,
and the most beautiful song Freddie Mercury ever wrote is seven minutes long?
And you have so many rousing hits to rock Wembley with?

Freddie Mercury Backstage at the Live Aid Concert
July 13, 1985, Wembley Stadium, London, UK
NicestGuyEver:  flickr ~ license


I won't take you down all the tunnels I've wandered through since I last posted:
~ Freddie Mercury's extra incisors and the fossil hunters seeking 
   the origins of the human lineage in the Afar region of Ethiopia...
~ The bottle of Heineken beer on Freddie Mercury's piano,
   and how a bottle of Heineken changed my life forever...
~ Brian May's earned PhD in Astrophysics from Imperial College London 
   in 2007, Philip Goff's book Galileo's Error, and metaphysics...
~ And, of course, listening to other intense performances 
   that never fail to lift my spirits... Okay, maybe I'll go here...

I have also been listening to these seven songs over and over all week:
  
1.  Radiohead, 15 Step - live with the USC Trojan Marching Band
     at the 2009 Grammys...
     This never fails to give me the shivers.
     Thom York's moves are as intense and iconic as Jagger's and Mercury's.  
     I can lose myself in this song for a long time.  
        (You may have to turn up the volume in the lower right of the video.)

2.  Lady Gaga, Edge of Glory - live on American Idol, May 25, 2011...
     Literally an over-the-top performance by Lady Gaga.
     This was saxophonist Clarence Clemons' last public performance
     before his death a few weeks later.

3.  Bruce Springsteen, Dancing in the Dark - official video, 1984...
     Springsteen looks impossibly young and cute now and so does Clarence Clemons.    
 
4.  Rolling Stones, Gimme Shelter - live with Lisa Fischer...
     Who outdoes whom, Fischer or Jagger?
     "I tell you love, sister.  It's just a kiss away.  It's just a kiss away."  

5.  K.D. Lang, Hallelujah - live at the 2005 Juno Awards in Winnipeg... 
     How can you not get shivers listening to the incomparable K.D.
     singing Leonard Cohen's classic song?  

6.  Van Morrison & The Band, Caravan - live in 1976 - The Last Waltz...
     I always smile when I see Morrison cutting loose.
     "Turn it up!  Turn it up!  Little bit higher!  Radio!"

7.  Some people might be offended by this next video, so be forewarned
     (sexually suggestive moves, cross-dressing, semi-nudity).
     But its exuberant, over-the-top performance by Steven Tyler never fails
     to make me laugh and buoys me up when I'm down.
     Aerosmith, Dude Looks Like a Lady - official music video, 1987.

Needless to say, I didn't get much of what I should have been doing done recently.
Good thing Terry is in Vegas with his buds.  

It's all good, though.  
Somebody to Love and other songs can take me right out of
our troubled world and all my Gotta Dos,
and plunk me into an immediate and timeless present where I can lose myself.
Where would I be without music?

Can you resist rabbit holes, or do you tumble into them a lot?
Are you a longtime Queen fan like me?
Are there songs that compel you to listen to them over and over again?
I'd love to hear your thoughts.

See you next week!  Stay happy and safe!




Till next time ~
Fundy Blue



On the Bay of Fundy
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved