The Definition of “Useless”

useless-object-design-the-unusable-katerina-kamprani-5

It’s not a word which requires a definition. And nor does it usually call for an example for explanation, being sufficiently self-explanatory, ya’ know? Still, if you think about it, could you actually define ‘useless’, without looking it up in your Funk & Wagnell’s?

See that picture up there? That’s pretty much what I feel like at this stage of recovery from this damnable stroke. Useless.

“A picture is worth a thousand words.”

Just sayin’.

(wonder if i could incorporate this into my novel Waking Up Dead! – that is, if i ever stop being so USELESS!!!)

Betrayed by Eyeballs 😵

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Eyeballs are pretty much a necessity to me…especially for their ability to see. Don’t get me wrong – I am well aware that there are many people whose eyeballs do not function and not a day goes by anymore that I don’t pray that I will be able to develop their skills if my eyeballs continue to degrade and betray me.

Backtrack.

About a year ago I started seeing ‘chains’ at the outer circle of my vision. From there I’ve developed ‘leopard spots’ and intermittent grey, blank spots, mostly when my eyeballs are hit directly with light. Sun, sitting under a lamp where the bare bulb is not hidden by the shade…a bright internet page – it makes no difference what lumens, my eyeballs rebel.

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That’s why I’ve not been online lately, except after days of protecting my eyeballs, and then for only a few minutes. Still unsure the exact cause because I’ve not sorted medical insurance yet – so I ask for a few good thoughts and prayers for my poor eyeballs, if you would be so kind, that they won’t completely betray me – well, at least til I’m finished with Folded Dreams. After that, I’ll be happy to start practicing alternative methods of writing and finishing my other books!

Novel Update: Folded Dreams

...and then...and then???

…and then…and then???

Things are dragging a bit with Folded Dreams – not because the ideas aren’t there, but because I can’t seem to find the places the notions belong! Writing a novel can be, at best, tricky and at worst, discouraging. My experience at this stage of the game includes both – and every emotional thing in between.

I’ve received an awful lot of encouragement from so many people, both readers and writers alike, and wonderful ideas on how to get back on track. There’s timelines, rough notes, “just write” (which actually works, by the way!) and the advice of saving editing until last. That’s the one that I have trouble with – that’s the one that takes up the time and puts me into a deep, blue funk.

But I plod along, hoping to catch a bit of inspiration here and there – something that will replace that 15W bulb in my brain with a bright, strobing 150W, 1 million candle power lantern which will flare into life over my grey matter and kick start me into a flurry of productivity.

Folded Dreams will still not likely be finished before Christmas, but a novel takes time, doesn’t it? especially if  you want it to be good. Which I do. Maybe I’ll have something else ready by then, though. Who knows? Stranger things have happened!

(By the way, I’ve finished with my review on M Press of Ire, by Roger Moore. This book is the original to “The Empress of Ireland“, which is now available on Amazon both in print and on Kindle. Read the review. Get the book!!

“The scholar and his cat, Pangur Bán” by Robin Flower (or: “Pearl and Rain”)

The scholar and his cat, Pangur Bán

(from the Irish by Robin Flower)

Illustration from "Medieval Cats" by Kathleen Walker-Meikle ( it's on Amazon - click! )

Illustration from the book “Medieval Cats” by Kathleen Walker-Meikle ( it’s on Amazon – click! )

I and Pangur Bán my cat,
‘Tis a like task we are at:
Hunting mice is his delight,
Hunting words I sit all night.

Better far than praise of men
‘Tis to sit with book and pen;
Pangur bears me no ill-will,
He too plies his simple skill.

‘Tis a merry task to see
At our tasks how glad are we,
When at home we sit and find
Entertainment to our mind.

Pearl's kitty, "Rain". NOT available on Amazon!

Pearl’s kitty, “Rain”. NOT available on Amazon!

Oftentimes a mouse will stray
In the hero Pangur’s way;
Oftentimes my keen thought set
Takes a meaning in its net.

‘Gainst the wall he sets his eye
Full and fierce and sharp and sly;
‘Gainst the wall of knowledge I
All my little wisdom try.

For the cat person in your life! ( Amazon - "Click!" )

For the cat person (or cat loving writer) in your life! ( Amazon – “Click!” )

When a mouse darts from its den,
O how glad is Pangur then!
O what gladness do I prove
When I solve the doubts I love!

So in peace our task we ply,
Pangur Bán, my cat, and I;
In our arts we find our bliss,
I have mine and he has his.

Practice every day has made
Pangur perfect in his trade;
I get wisdom day and night
Turning darkness into light.

From Magnolia Trees to Things That Go ‘Bump’ in the Night

Magnolia Grandiflora - Clearwater FL

Magnolia Grandiflora – Clearwater FL (Amazon has them, too – click!)

Research for Folded Dreams – it’s not all about things that go bump in the night!

As I was reading over my manuscript for the novel, I noticed that there might be a discrepancy between the season portrayed – autumn – and the presence of ‘massive flower buds’ on the character’s magnolia tree. Being a Florida resident where everything grows all year ’round, it had never occurred to me until now that it might be an issue.

‘Ava paused, pen still poised over the paper, to stare out of the livingroom window. There were angry black clouds on the horizon, roiling across the sky in her direction, and a cruel wind was whipping her beautiful magnolia tree all around, as if it was being beaten by a giant hand. She watched as massive flower buds went flying from the branches in every direction and jumped when one hit her plate glass window with a sharp “thwap!” ‘

For the most part, the Southern Magnolia – m. grandiflora – (typically a more tropical flowering tree) will bud in late winter in preparation for a showy array of huge, beautifully fragranced, creamy white flowers in early spring. But I had forgotten that even Florida experiences fairly cold weather and that the magnolia does go dormant at those times…gasp!

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…of course, some dwarf magnolia trees can be grown in pots (Amazon has those, too – click! 🙂 )

In Folded Dreams, this particular autumn is relatively mild, with balmy breezes and only the scent of fall in the air, but plant life – like humans – can follow Nature’s clock, regardless of how she’s acting. It stands to reason that there is a possibility that my magnolia shouldn’t oughtta have buds or even “fruits”, those leftover pods after the tree has flowered.

For all that I try to make sure the majority of science, history, technologies and terminologies are believable in Folded Dreams, it would be a heck of a note that I screwed up something as simple as whether or not this tree has ever been known to set, bloom or fruit in November, even if the temperatures cooperated!

” ‘M. grandiflora’ is a large, rounded evergreen shrub or tree with glossy dark green, leathery, oblong-elliptic leaves, often rusty-brown beneath, and highly fragrant, cup-shaped, cream flowers to 25cm across in late summer and autumn. In warm summers, these can be followed by striking, knobbly seed pods, from which bright red seeds emerge in early to late autumn. “

Whew! I don’t have to change those two chapters. Folded Dreams is safe – and the magnolia tree can go on thrashing about in the angry winds and throw all the buds at Ava that it cares to!

“To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time” by Robert Herrick – or – “Gather ye’ rosebuds”

Even in poetry, do I find inspiration. Case in point: the poem, To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time, was a 17th century work by English poet Robert Herrick which has had the power to gently urge me to write now, before my own words fade. From this poem we understand Herrick’s belief that life is very short, that the world is beautiful and love is splendid. Above all else, we must use the very short time that we are here to make the most of that life, leaving negative tendencies by the wayside and not to rely on fate to dictate the terms of life to us.

The older I get, the more I feel the same. Negativity has been banished from my vocabulary, for the most part, as has the word ‘can’t’. Even though I must live in this world with eyes wide open, seeing the harshness of reality, fortunately I’m able to dream…and write. I can think of no better inspirational quote than that by Tom Schulman, the screenwriter: “But only in their dreams can men be truly free. ‘Twas always thus, and always thus will be.”

carpe-diem

    ~ To the Virgins, Make Much of Time ~

Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,
Old Time is still a-flying;
And this same flower that smiles today
To-morrow will be dying.
The glorious lamp of heaven, the sun,
The higher he’s a-getting,
The sooner will his race be run,
And nearer he’s to setting.
That age is best which is the first,
When youth and blood are warmer;
But being spent, the worse, and worst
Times still succeed the former.
Then be not coy, but use your time,
And, while ye may, go marry:
For having lost but once your prime,
You may forever tarry.

Writing is my way of ‘gathering rosebuds’, I suppose, even if the tendency is to go cautiously – so cautiously, sometimes, that I cease to make the effort. I may not be the virginal maiden to whom he speaks, but Herrick’s poem is certainly an inspiration for me to make much more of my time.