The sounds of words

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From Pixabay

My first love is sound.

My second love is poetry.

If I sit in the square of any city in any world and allow my ears to unfocus I can hear rhythms and music. I have done this in Johannesburg and Misawa. I have listened to the sounds of Ramstein. Each have their own rhythms and sounds.

So to me language is just sound. When I have to put sound to meaning then there can be a problem, especially when I have to be attentive. That takes energy.

To me, poetry is one step from sound. My English professor would tell me that poetry was the essence of meaning and that every word should be distilled for maximum impact. It is true that poetry must be pared down until the meaning is clear, but it is not poetry if the sound is not right.

I have written formal poetry with formal rhythms and I have also written free verse. In my experience, even free verse has its own consistent internal rhythm. So poetry needs sound and rhythm.

If it sounds like a music, then you would be right. In my small world every poem is a small sound. It might be why I like to write sonnets, which means a little poem or if you go to the Latin root it means a little sound.

When I switched to stories, I had to learn how to write again. Those little pieces of poetry that I loved so much sometimes had to be cut because they were not a part of the story. I had to learn characters and how those characters interacted with others.

Other people would sit in the squares and make up stories about the people around them. I was listening to sound. I had to switch my thinking. I admit that I told stories to my brothers at bedtime. They were stories I had read and sometimes I would change the story just a bit so that young boys would enjoy them. But until fifteen years ago, I had not written stories. I had written poetry, memoirs, and essays.

It has been a challenge. Sometimes I wonder if I am writing interesting stories. Then I talk to other writers and authors and find out that deep dark secret. Most of us think we are frauds.

We don’t know if we are writing well. In my case, I write and hope someone else will enjoy my books. If not, I would write anyway because even though I believe I can quit anytime like an addict, I can’t. If I didn’t write stories, I would write poetry. If I didn’t write, I would dream.

This is my manifesto. I have lived adventure. I have explored Northern Japan, Panama, and Germany. If I could still travel, then I would. I would probably not write though and would feel emptiness and restlessness.

I was born to be a poet. I have made myself a writer.

Living in the high desert

Willow Creek Cyn 1975

Shot by Stan Anderson in 1975. I’m on the mustang and I was 14 that year.

This weekend my nephew and my brother were cooking buffalo meat and I was invited for Sunday dinner. My nephew is half-Ute so he has connections with the Ute Tribe in northeastern Utah. It was a surprise when he told me that the area I lived in in the mid 70s was where they had seeded a herd of mountain buffalo.

Even more interesting, that dirt road you see in the picture is now paved. When I lived there we were sixty miles from the nearest town. We grew all of our vegetables and fought the raccoons and coyotes from our plants and animals.

We brought our drinking water in because the wells in the area bubbled up sulfur and smelled like rotten eggs. The place had been hunted so much that the only predators were black bears. We even had hunters come in several times a year to clear the place from bears too. There hadn’t been a wolf seen in decades by that time.

Now they have buffalo, mountain goats, and wolves. They even have wild turkeys. We brought in the turkeys when we moved there. When we left, we left them there.

The reason we were there is that my father had gotten a job as a foreman to run the ranch for the Ute Tribe. We left when they decided to hire one of their own. So yes, I have lived on the reservation even though I am a white woman.

At the time I was there, we washed our clothes in ditches. We boiled our water to take bathes in tubs. We didn’t have electricity although we did haul in propane for our stoves. When the summer days got to hot we would go into the basement to cool off. We slept down there. We didn’t have AC or a lot of the modern conveniences of our neighbors.

I do remember those days with some fondness. Still I won’t do that again. It was too much work and too hard. I had a lot of responsibility for the care and tending of my brothers and sisters. I wanted to be free and run wild.

Still I am quite amused that someone decided to turn that place into a buffalo refuge. Then they paved the road. I can’t get my mind around how someplace so isolated has a paved road. Every spring the road still washes out even with the pavement. I remember times in the spring where I could collect 4-6 inches of mud on my boots when I went out to do the chores.

So I know the reason why farm families have so many kids. I also know why many farm kids want to escape this life. It is tough–tougher than you can imagine.

When I write about the “high desert” I am writing of what I know. The people who come from that environment are hardy and able because they can’t depend on anyone else to save them. It is an unforgiving environment. It is a deadly beauty.

Up for air

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I can watch the clouds float along the skyline. The clouds kiss and bump into each other. Instead of the wispy clouds I usually see that cross the skyline quickly, I am seeing the thunderclouds that build higher. So far the clouds are still a bright white. When they turn various shades of black and blue, then I will get more nervous.

The last two days I saw two doctors. Both of them are concerned about my immune system issues–pneumonia last month and a bout of shingles this week. Unfortunately if my medications are reduced, my kidneys may decide to go on vacation. They tried to do that during the pneumonia experience. So I walk a tight line between feeling good and being ill.

I’m writing again. I’m back to “Dark Moon Rising,” second book in the EJ Hunter series. I have taken the first EJ Hunter off the market because the new and improved version is so much better. You might want to look for it come November.

I’m also back on “Unlicensed Sorceress,” which is the third book in the Hilda’s Inn series. I think I’ve said this before– or maybe I said it in FB.

As a reader, I went back to Karen Chance and read her dhampir books. There are only three of them. I’m into the second book. It is a shame there are no more books with this character– I mean she is running around Manhattan with a headless vampire. Even with the fighting and violence, there is a deep sense of humor in that book. I am laughing and forgetting the nerve pain that accompanies the shingles.

So today, I am back on track. After the doctors’ visits, I was so tired that I had to nap. I know I need to write in the morning. I need to write a little bit every day.

Once again, I am so grateful for Foxy. She cuddles against me during the worst of the pain and the emotions that follow the pain. She has definitely earned a place in dog heaven.

What is courage?

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From Pixabay

There was a color personality test on FB this morning that said it could pinpoint my most dominant characteristic. I’m always intrigued with personality tests, so I took it. My dominant characteristic is courage. A friend who took the same test and is dealing with the same disease got kindness.

It made me stop and think about courage. It makes me rethink the story of the hero. In my personal life, the person who isn’t scared is usually the foolish one. He is the one that walks in a bad area at night with the mistaken idea that he is the baddest one around. He is the foolish one who is addicted to the adrenaline rush. This is the one who dies first.

In my experience courage is always mixed with a dose of healthy fear. When I feel the adrenaline rush through my body, I also know that what I am rushing towards is going to hurt. Yes, I will stand for my friend or in front of the rushing animal. I am also the one who will be sliced to bits whether physically or verbally. I know I will lose something.

But courage is also the narrative I tell about myself. When I was a child, I was considered stubborn. I felt that the world should be fair. If I whined “it’s not fair,” my parents would always say the same thing. “Life is not fair.”

I won’t go into my childhood and teenhood. It was not fun or fair for many years. It was those experiences that made me face what is unfair.

I don’t always fight for myself. I have fought for others to have a place to smoke in their living quarters. Yes, the Navy made a decision to ban smoking halfway through my enlistment. I was not a smoker, but I didn’t think it was fair that others were penalized for this habit. If they couldn’t smoke in their private rooms, then they needed someplace else. I am not a smoker by the way.

Because I supported an unpopular decision, I was prepared to lose everything that I had worked for (I made E-5 in two years). The person that stands up gets noticed and not always in a good way. There is always a penalty for courage.

I have been told that being able to survive and thrive with a chronic illness is courage. If endurance is courage, I might agree. I really don’t know. I do know that even when I have the days I want to stay in bed and sleep, I will get up and dress. I will take the dog for a walk. I will put one step in front of another and start each day new.

I’m not a hero. I haven’t pulled people from burning buildings. When I was in the Navy, I repaired equipment for others. I didn’t go on combat missions. I fear.

When someone tells me they admire my courage, I ask them about what is happening in their own life. Then I give them the words that help me to get up in the morning– “This too will pass. Each day is better than the last.”

So I have no excuse

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Pixabay Amber Avalona (Public Domain) https://pixabay.com/en/users/AmberAvalona-1512238/

What has been missing is fun.

So with all of the singing, and listening to Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Billie Holliday, and others, I’m learning to enjoy while I create.

Time to sit down at the writing table with a smile on my face and the dog at my feet.

More coffee… and then write.

Those jazz and big band singers from my grandparent’s generation knew how to have fun and to swing it. I have been somber for far too long.

Let’s dance.

 

Revelations and music

8c96e-cynearly20 I hardly remember this period in my life. I was nearly twenty in this picture and I am holding my nephew. His sister wants to see the baby.

Nowadays when I see the two of them, they are full adults. I am the senior now, even though I still feel that uncertain new-adult feeling. It’s like a new car smell. It may go away, but you remember it forever. In this picture I was embarking on a new life–shoulder pads and all. In the old-fashioned hero’s journey, I was determined to leave Whiterocks and seek my fortune in music. I had no idea.

Sweet lord, I was so young and naive.

No boring allowed here so I won’t drone on about how it takes money and contacts to get into the music field. Plus I wanted to go to college too. That goal also takes money. Plus my family was not supportive. My dad came out and told me that I had a sweet voice as a child, but my voice was nothing special and some people made music and some people appreciated music. He made it a point to tell me that I was of the second kind.

As you can probably guess, the competition for the music spots in college were fierce. I wasn’t the best voice or even trained. I did have at least one opportunity to train with one of the professors during a summer term. If I could have pulled the finances together, I would have continued with this professor. At the time I was doing a full course load and working two part time jobs. I burned out.

It didn’t help that my father’s words rang in my head. I finally gave in and locked my music into a little box so that I wouldn’t feel the pain. I left college and started looking for a job. Eventually I went into the Navy.

So now it is more than thirty years later.IMG_0431

Recently I decided to go to a community event in my apartment complex. A resident was singing songs from the 50s and 60s. I kept getting invited. It’s rare to see the senior crowd so excited. The style of music, mostly country, wasn’t my thing, but it had been a long time since I had heard someone perform. I admit I was curious.

It was everything advertised. Chuck had been a performer before his stroke. He had fought back so that he could sing again. Plus it was fun. I named one of the fan grandmothers, the “Woo-woo girl” because she screamed, whooped, and hollered louder than a teenager.

Plus Chuck was letting the residents have a chance at the microphone. Only one lady took up the offer and she was loud, proud, and off-key. We didn’t care.

Then I asked Chuck if he did any Frank Sinatra. He put up the music and I started to hum. To my surprise, he handed me the microphone. “Keep it close to your mouth,” he said when I held it like the mike was going to bite me.

Then I sang, “I’ve got you under my skin.”

So now when I go over there to hear the music, I am told that all the singers “that includes you, Cynthia” are going to sing this afternoon.

I’m hoarse from the surgery, but thank you–whoever is listening to me–I can still sing. My voice is not pedestrian. I do have talent.

 

So it is April 1st

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I’m not a jokester.

My genes come from mostly Norway, Denmark and England where the skies are gloomy most of the year and where it is cold and the women are blue-eyed.

I’ve learned to laugh– but underneath the Northern temperament and the earnest attitude that was given to me by my ancestors, I find most jokes silly. I do have a weakness for puns.

The most I’ll do to you is say “your zipper is undone” and then say “made you look.”

I might even tell the punch line of a joke before the setup. I just don’t have the knack for telling jokes. So if you want a joke from me or a prank, look elsewhere. I am too busy writing.