Friday, June 14, 2019

The Birds and the Trees

Thought for the day:  ♪♫Let me tell ya 'bout the birds and the bees, and the flowers and the trees, and the moon up above, and a thing called lo-o-o-o-ove...♫♪ [from the song The Birds and the Bees by Jewel Akens]

There's one thing I can tell you most authoritatively about birds. They poop. A lot.

We'll get back to poop in a minute. (I bet you can hardly wait!) In the meantime, it's time to tell you about our awesome 50th anniversary trip. I wanted to go to the water... any water, but preferably, the ocean, somewhere we'd never been before, and someplace with lots of things we'd like to see. Oh, and not too terribly far away.

So we went to... (ta-DA)... Charleston, South Carolina. We actually stayed on Folley Island, and our room looked out over the ocean. It was absolutely perfect!

Except for those... birds.

Now, I love birds. They're beautiful, but as I mentioned before, they poop. A lot.

Some years ago, I wrote a post about how birds had mysteriously selected my poor little red car as their facility of choice for an entire summer. It was ridiculous.

I mean, we had the audacity to drive their potty away for a couple days, and when we got back home, there was a whole bunch of ticked-off birds waiting for us... lined up all across the yard with tiny bird newspapers tucked under their wings, while glaring at us and shifting their weight from foot to foot. Then, as always, they took turns sitting atop the passenger side mirror and bombing away to their heart's content.

But it was just that one summer. I dunno why, but I was very grateful when the birds moved on to some other hapless target. We don't have that little red car anymore, but I thought maybe its bright fire engine red color was the attraction.

But maybe not.

The car we took to Charleston was Smarticus' spiffy silver Challenger. It's definitely not red, but it was most definitely a target. I mean, a targeted target.

The morning after we checked into the hotel, when we went to the parking lot, there were cars, lots of cars, parked out there. But OURS was the only one speckled with copious circles of poop. All over it, like an abstract painting comprised of polka dots. The cars to the left of us? Nothing. To the right of us? Nothing. Just ours.

So either the birds love us... or they hate us. Funny thing was, we did see one another car targeted while we were there. It also happened to be a silver Dodge, and it was parked right next to us. Out of the entire parking lot, as far as we could see, just our TWO cars were bombed. Go figure. (Maybe our feathered friends are Chevy fans...?)
It's kinda hard to tell in this picture, but these are four of the brown pelicans that were pulling security duty for our hotel. Around and around the perimeter they'd fly, ever vigilant, as though checking out the grounds. Their approach would be forewarned by their ominous shadows, and then there they'd be, floating overhead.

To me, they look like distant cousins of the pterodactyls. Very cool. And they reeeeally look cool when they swoop down into the ocean to snatch a fish from the water.

Here's a better picture of them, courtesy of unsplash. Don't they look cool?

One verrrry peculiar thing about shore birds, though. They squawk. All the time, as though they're complaining non-stop. Not a single sweet song to be heard from the bunch. I ask you, living in such a gorgeous area, what in the world are they complaining about???

Enough about the birds. Now I wanta tell you about a tree. An absolutely fantastically gorgeous tree. Before we even went to our hotel to check in, Smarticus indulged me by making a small detour so we could see the Angel Oak, the largest tree east of the Mississippi. It's a live oak, and even though it's only 66.5 feet tall, it spreads out in every direction like no tree I've ever seen. Oh, I'd seen pictures of it, but they're nothing compared to seeing the real thing. Nonetheless, I'm gonna show you... what else?...some pictures of it.



There are lots of live oaks in and around the Charleston area, but the Angel Oak is the granddaddy of 'em all. The oldest... nearly 500 years old... and the biggest. Its trunk is 28 feet in circumference, its shade covers 17,200 square feet, and its longest branch is an astonishing 187 feet long. We did lots of fun things while we were in Charleston, but visiting this amazing tree was one of my favorite things. (And not a single bird pooped on our heads while we were there!)

I've got nothing to say about the flowers, but let me tell ya about the moon up above. 

This was the view from our balcony. (One of these days, maybe I'll figure out how to make the darned zoom function on my camera work...) The moon was full or near-full the entire time we were there. On this particular night, it was bright orange. (sigh) Just beautiful. (That string of lights is on the fishing pier.)

And finally...  a thing called love. Well, it was our fiftieth anniversary trip. (duh!) As strange as it may sound, it kinda felt like a honeymoon. So yeah, lots of warm fuzzy feelings. Life is good.

Next time, I'll tell you about some of the places we visited. The Charleston area has lots of stuff for history nerds.

By the way, in case you aren't familiar with the old song The Birds and the Bees, just for you...

                                    Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Putting Thoughts into Words

Thought for the day:    It takes an awful lot of time to not write a book. [Douglas Adams]

As you can probably tell by that nifty badge on the left, it's that time again.Time for our monthly IWSG posts. As always, thanks to our fearless leader, Alex Cavanaugh, for founding this fine group, and
 thanks to all the other nurturing guys and gals who've helped turn it into the thriving community it is today. To join this super supportive group of writers and to see links to other participating blogs, please go HERE

Okay, I'm back home and it looks like I'm gonna be sticking around for a while, so theoretically, I should be settling down to do some writing... any second now...


Maybe not.

I'm not experiencing a writer's block.

Nope. I just don't particularly feel like writing.

So sue me. I'll get back to it... any day now.

Yes sirree...

Lately, I've just been having too darned much fun. No apologies for that. We only go around once.

Since I don't have much to report on the progress of my WIP, let's just move along and consider this month's question, shall we?

Of all the genres you read and write, which is your favorite to write in and why?

Good question. Although I know the term turns some people off, the pigeonhole that takes the least amount of hammering to fit my writing into is Literary Fiction. Yeah, I know, that sounds pretentious as all get-out, doesn't it? Like I'm insinuating the stuff I write is somehow more meaningful or has more merit than Genre Fiction. Far from it! It's simply the closest fit, as described by the industry.

[image courtesy of unsplash]
In a nutshell, literary fiction places a higher priority on characters over plot. Kinda like the TV show Seinfeld. (Which, ironically, I never much liked...)

People, and what makes them tick, is absolutely fascinating to me.To begin with shadowy images of characters, and then slowly develop them until they are clearly defined in my mind... and in readers' minds... gives me great pleasure.

Unlike Charles Schultz' Linus in this old 1959 Peanuts cartoon, I genuinely like people and honestly believe that even those who aren't particularly admirable deserve to be fleshed out and presented in such a way that instills some level of empathy. Readers may hate Archie, the main character in Explosive Beginnings, but at least, they (hopefully) come to understand why he is the way he is.

Stories not only give us a much needed practice on figuring out what makes people tick, they give us insight into how we tick. [Lisa Cron]

Which, of course, doesn't mean that writers of Genre Fiction don't create awesome characters. It just isn't their main focus.

Being classified as Literary Fiction doesn't necessarily mean a book is snooty, high-brow and full of la-di-dah words and phrases... like some of the books forced upon us when we were in school... but some admittedly are. Not MY stuff, mind you, but some. However, I think it's fair to say that most literary writers have an inordinate love for the sound and rhythm of words. Not just what they say... but how they sound.

The best thing about writing literary fiction? No template. There are no expectations of a certain kind of story arc, character type, resolution, or a guaranteed happily-ever-after ending. Anything goes. There are no road maps, which suits me perfectly. (Those things are a real pain in the patootie to fold...)

The best explanation I've seen regarding the difference between Genre Fiction and Literary Fiction came from freelance writer Steven Petite in a 2014 Huffpost article: In essence, the best Genre Fiction contains great writing, with the goal of telling a 'captivating story' to escape from reality. Literary Fiction is comprised of the heart and soul of a writer's being, and is experienced as an 'emotional journey' thru the symphony of words, leading to a stronger grasp of the universe and of ourselves.

Yeah... well, that still sounds a little lofty, and I doubt if I've ever risen to those levels.  Bottom line?  I write stories that I'd like to read. Period. Not my fault the industry gurus categorize my hybrid stuff as literary. After all, in the end, what we all write is... words.

                          Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.

Friday, May 31, 2019

I'll Drink to That!

Thought for the day: Unlike a hangover, some things are worth repeating.
[source: unsplash]

Funny, but when I looked for an image to show hangover, the pics were all of men. Gee, I wonder why that is...

Anyhow, no I don't have a hangover. The truth is, I've never been much of a drinker, unless you count tea and water. Even so, I do enjoy a nice glass of wine or sip of bourbon from time to time.

But, um, yeah... this is gonna be a re-run. This post originally ran in June of 2013 with the title Cheers' Y'All! and it got a lot of comments back then, so some of you may remember it. Then again, maybe you won't. That wonderful dude Geo recently re-read and re-commented on that old post, so I figured, if he still got a kick out of it, maybe you would, too. (Heck, I'd even forgotten some of it...)

So here goes. I hope you enjoy! I'll be back with a brand new post for next Wednesday's IWSG Day. (The week after THAT, I'll show you some pictures of where we did our adventuring to celebrate our anniversary... I should be recuperated by then...)

P.S. Thank you guys so much for the anniversary wishes. (Yes, you WERE all brilliant.)


Thought for the day:  Whiskey is, by far, the most popular of all remedies that won't cure a cold. [Jerry Vale]

In 1952, Armon M. Sweat, Jr., a member of the Texas House of Representatives, was asked for his opinion of whiskey. Being the true politician that he was, this was his response, as recorded in the Political Archives of Texas:

"If you mean whiskey, the devil's brew, the poison scourge, the bloody monster that defiles innocence, dethrones reason, destroys the home, creates misery and poverty, yea, literally takes the bread from the mouths of little children; if you mean that evil drink that topples Christian men and women from the pinnacles of righteous and gracious living into the bottomless pit of degradation, shame, despair, helplessness, and hopelessness, then, my friend, I am opposed to it with every fiber of my being.

"However, if by whiskey you mean the lubricant of conversation, the philosophic juice, the elixir of life, the liquid that is consumed when good fellows get together, that puts a song in their hearts and the warm glow of contentment in their eyes; if you mean Christmas cheer, the stimulating sip that puts a little spring in the step of an elderly gentleman on a frosty morning; if you mean that drink that enables man to magnify his joy, and to forget life's great tragedies and heartbreaks and sorrow; if you mean that drink the sale of which pours into Texas treasuries untold millions of dollars each year, that provides tender care for our little crippled children, our blind, our deaf, our dumb, our pitifully aged and infirm, to build the finest highways, hospitals, universities, and community colleges in this nation, then my friend, I am absolutely, unequivocally in favor of it.

"This is my position, and as always, I refuse to compromise on matters of principle."

You've gotta love a politician who can speak so articulately out of both sides of his mouth, but he's right, ya know. The abuse of alcohol can lead to all kinds of horrors, but as a social lubricant, it can also be quite... delightful.

Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy. [Ben Franklin]

Whoever drinks beer, he is quick to sleep;
Whoever sleeps long, does not sin;
Whoever does not sin, enters Heaven!
Thus, let us drink beer!   [Martin Luther]

While Smarticus and I were in Dahlonega, we went to a wine tasting... in broad daylight even. How decadent! I must admit, I'm a lightweight when it comes to alcohol, so those little bitty glasses of delight put a giddy little giddy-up in my step and made the world look even rosier.

Here's to alcohol, the rose-colored glasses of life. [F.Scott Fitzgerald]

While in that wine-tasting shop, I took pictures of some stuff that tickled my funny bone. So this post is gonna take a look at the funny side of drinking. Yeah, like the good politician Sweat from Texas, I know alcohol has a nasty underbelly, but who wants to write... or read... about a nasty underbelly? Far better to share a smile or two.

A cute bar towel, huh? Not that it's at all applicable to any women I know.

I cook with wine; sometimes I even add it to the food.  [W.C. Fields]

I should've bought some of these napkins, darn it.

I like to have a martini,
Two at the very most.
After three, I'm under the table,
After four, I'm under the host.
[Dorothy Parker]

Another bar towel.

I knew I was drunk. I felt sophisticated and couldn't pronounce it. [anonymous]

Yet another towel.

In wine there is wisdom, in beer there is Freedom, in water there is bacteria.  [Ben Franklin]

My personal favorite. This sign was next to the cash register.

Always do sober what you said you'd do drunk. That will teach you to keep your mouth shut. [Ernest Hemingway]

This sign was at an antique shop we visited after the wine tasting. It cracked me up. Of course, after three teensy weensy glasses of wine, everything cracked me up.

Not all chemicals are bad. Without chemicals such as hydrogen and oxygen, for example, there would be no way to make water, a vital ingredient in beer.  [Dave Barry]

Here's one of those fun make-believe billboards from the fine folks at dribbleglass (Which reminds me, we're overdue for one of those road trip posts, aren't we?)

Actually, it only takes one drink to get me loaded. Trouble is, I can't remember if it's the thirteenth or fourteenth.  [George Burns]

One must always respect one's beverage.

When I read about the evils of drinking, I gave up reading.  [Henny Youngman]

I drink too much. The last time I gave a urine sample, it had an olive in it.  [Rodney Dangerfield]

Don't try to join the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms. It turns out they're apparently against all three.  [Wiley Post]

Wine is sunlight, held together by water. [Galileo]

The mouth of a perfectly happy man is filled with beer. [Ancient Egyptian proverb, circa 2200 B.C.!!!]

The following video is just over nine minutes long, which may be longer than you want to hang around. No problem. But if you have time, I think you'll get a kick out of Bill Cosby's 30+ year-old take on drinking...

And one final clip. A short one, which I could hardly believe I found. This is one of the folk songs my cousin Phyllis and I used to sing when we were teenagers. Anybody else ever hear of it before?

Okay, that's it for now. Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.