Posts Tagged 'Nature'

Baby Steps

Penguin Painting

Got home from work yesterday and holed myself up in my bedroom because I had a ninja headache.  You know.  The kind where you’re fine one moment and then the next WOW! you kind of wish somebody would shoot you just to end the pain.  So.  After a night of acquainting myself very intimately with the white porcelain bowl in my bathroom, it’s finally starting to fade away.  Still a little nagging in my neck and around my jaw, but I’m no longer tempted to take a jackhammer to my brain.  Bryan was wicked sweet, though.  Came and stayed with me for a couple hours.  Wish I could say the same of the rest of my family, who were blasting the television, playing music, and practicing the ukelele.

Okay, the ukelele wasn’t that bad.  It was just the third factor of a noisy triumvirate.  Gah.  Pain.  For no reason, you know?  I’m not on my period, and I wasn’t straining my eyes, I’m not particularly stressed.  It was like the Pain Gods looked at me and said, “By George, dear fellow, this lass is due for a spot of misery.  Shall we indulge?” “Oh yes, dear fellow, quite so, quite so.”

All physical discomfort aside, I have other things to write about!  Ahem.

Oh goose, I feel like Umbridge.  Remind me never to say “ahem” again.

Okay.  So.  My landlord put out a new hummingbird feeder and every time I go to the window, there is a hummingbird.  Only I haven’t managed to snap a photo yet.  Yay hummingbirds!

At work yesterday there was a little  blonde girl who was incredibly upset about something and her mother was ignoring her.  After a while her older brother went up to her and started saying something, and pretty soon, she was laughing.  This is relevant, because it reminded me like Lucy and Timothy Brown in ‘Tweens.  Like… really reminded me of them.  The boy looked like Timmy.  It was uncanny.  And awesome.  This was before my headache, for those of you keeping a timeline.

I just logged into my email and one of the headlines on Yahoo was “Great Atlantic Garbage Heap”.  … I clicked on it thinking What is this madness about Atlantis?!?! and it was just about plastic in the Atlantic Ocean.  I guess that’s a big deal too, n’all… but it’s not Atlantis.  … I’mageek.

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I’m not really sure what the title of this blog entry has to do with the content.  Or the image, actually.  But hey!  It’s penguins!  And I painted that.  All by myself.  And gave it to Bryan’s sister for her birthday a couple years ago.

What a Wonderful World

The world is a great big beautiful place.  For those of you who have been running around all week, here are some pretties for you.  My brain is mostly fried from work so the thing with the words on the screen isn’t working too well.  I provide pictures.  I took these a few days ago about town.

After all.  A picture is worth a thousand words.

White Flowers in Ashuelot

Black-Eyed Susans

Old Cola Signs

Beauty is the the Eye of the Beholder

Autumn just past the NY-VT border.

I am doing a Photo-of-the-Day project that I started mid-May. Some days, I’m lazy, and just snap a shot to be sure I have something.  Other days, I look for something artful.  Today, I was driving home and I noticed the rays of the sun absolutely bleeding down between the clouds.  It was almost supernatural.  I pulled into the first parking lot I found and pulled out my camera, thinking I found a prize.  When I looked at the playback of the picture, the rays weren’t visible at all; just a plain old sky.  I’ve come across this frustration a lot – as an artist, a writer, and as an actress.

The world around us is a fantastic and wonderful place.  Every day is different, and no person can be completely recreated.  The things that we see and original in every sense, and sometimes, even humans, the top-of-the-food-chain-we-are-powerful-hear-us-roar, we can’t reproduce that.

I hope that I never find the day when I’ve forgotten the sound of children’s laughter, the smell of springtime, the taste of strawberries, the feel of an autumn wind, and the sight of a sunset.  There are some things in the world that cannot be replaced, recreated, or forgotten.

The World Around Us

As a writer, I am terrible (terrible) at setting.  I know in my head what I want, and I see it all very clearly, but I often forget to actually relay it to my readers through the written word.  For example, in ‘Tweens, Timothy has a recurring dream where he starts standing at the top of a spiral staircase that descends deep into the earth.  I know for a fact that I have relayed that the staircase is wooden, rickety, and painted white.  The white paint is chipping and peeling off, and it leaves little flakes like dandruff on the creaky steps.  That’s what I tell the reader.  But there is so much to setting that I don’t tell.

I don’t tell that there are pine trees and elm trees in the distance, and the sky is a dull, grayed twilight.  There is a gentle wind, but barely enough to move the stagnant air.  The air itself is warm and heavy with humidity, but the breeze, when it does come by, is cool and refreshing.  The abyss itself is an anomaly.  It’s a hole in the earth with crumbling dirt walls that harden to rock the deeper into the earth one travels.  The air smells like rotting meat and honey from a buzzing bee-nest that is buried in the ground a few feet away from the hole.  The land all around the hole, until it stretches out of the trees and to the distant mountains, is grassy plains.  In some places, there are dandelions, and in some areas the grass is much taller.

All those things are beautiful and they paint the image in my own head.  Where, in writing setting, should we draw the line?  I’ve learned through photography that no matter how good the camera, how good the photographer, we cannot grasp the true image as our eyes see it.  What is enough?  What is too much?  Great writers, such as C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien spent pages devoted to the setting.  How much does it take for The Modern Reader to get bored?  That, in the end, is where the line is.  If The Lord of the Rings had been written in 2010 exactly the way it was when Tolkien first published it, I don’t think it would get the same response, because The Modern Reader doesn’t have the same patience as he used to.  Two pages into the twelve (twenty?  fifty?) at the Council of Elrond would be enough to make the reader put the book down.

How much time do you spend devoted to setting?  How important is setting to your work(s)-in-progress?  How many details are too many details?

It’s The End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine).

Oil-covered sea-turtle

“Save yourself, serve yourself. World serves its own needs, listen to your heart bleed. Tell me with the rapture and the reverent in the right – right. You vitriolic, patriotic, slam, fight, bright light, feeling pretty psyched.” ~ from It’s the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine) by R.E.M.

I’ve noticed a not-so-surprising correlation in my statistics here on WordPress.  The less I post, the fewer views I get.  Remedy?  Post more.

I actually didn’t know what I was going to post until I wrote in the title.  The title inspires me to write about two things – the oil spill, and Facebook.  Two such different, unrelated things.  And they are going to stay different and unrelated (I have no conspiracy theories about how Facebook may have been an indirect cause of the oil spill in the Gulf).

Oil in one of the waves.The first- the oil spill.  Wow.  Everyone’s been talking about it.  Of course they have been- it’s big news!  It has even come up in our improv group (in a light-hearted, respectful manner).  Serious news almost never comes up there, unless it’s directly related to our lives.  Since it’s a group of teenagers in New England who aren’t going to the Carribbean or anywhere else adjacent to the Gulf of Mexico any time soon… you know that it’s pretty big news.  But what do we do?  Do we boycott BP, do we just scold them?  In the end, was it really their fault or was it a disaster waiting to happen?  I think everyone has to make their own decisions on the matter.  It’s a question of environmentalism, of ethics, and of rationality.  In the end, nobody will truly have a correct answer.  I think the real answer to the question of the oil spill isn’t finding a place to point fingers (Obama, BP, none of this is productive).  I think it is in finding a solution.

Everybody and their mom is mad at someone for this tragedy.  In the end, it’s hard not to be.  We’re human beings- we need to find someone to point fingers at because once we have someone to blame, we can lift the responsibility off our shoulders and on to theirs.  If we need someone to blame, there’s no one person we should be blaming- it is all of us.  Why are we drilling so much oil anyway?  Because the public demands it.  We use oil in plastic, and we use plastic in, well, everything.  So if you’re concerned about the oil spill, why are still getting plastic bags when you’re shopping?  In Washing ashore in Louisianathe end, that’s made of oil.  BP and other companies wouldn’t be drilling it if they didn’t think they could make money off of it.  Food for thought.

But anyways.  I mentioned a solution.  Every since attempt to completely stop the flow of oil has failed.  I think a lot of the pictures I’m using speak for themselves as to the tragedy of this event.  All the pictures of the spill, by the way, are from Huffington Post, and there are hundreds of them, just in Louisiana.  If you feel like getting your heart broken, go take a peek at them.  I digress (again).  I’ve found that a lot of people out there who are enraged at the oil spill have no idea about Kevin Costner.  Pshaw, Kevin Costner, he’s that actor, right?  Who did Dances with Wolves?  Yeah, that guy.  And I didn’t like that movie, but I do appreciate what he has been doing to help out with the oil spill.  Yeah, so he’s profiting from it, but the point is, he’s doing something.

What is he doing?  Excellent question!  There are news articles all over the web to this effect, from NY Daily News to this CNN video to, of all things, StumbleUpon.com!  In short, if you’re too lazy to click those links, Kevin Costner has been working on a machine for upwards of Oil-covered birdsfifteen years that will separate oil from water.  He was inspired by the last huge oil spill, and this time, his machine may be essential to saving our environment.  As you can see from the pictures embedded into this entry (and elsewhere on the web), the oil is devastating the ecosystem in and around the Gulf of Mexico.  BP has purchased 32 machines from Costner and is planning to use them to remove the oil from the Gulf and all surrounding areas.  It’s not going to be an overnight process, that is for certain, but it’s a start, and that’s better than nothing.  Now we can see why we idolise movie stars!  Every once and awhile, we find one who’s a real hero.

For those who live in areas that are currently being affected by the oil spill, or close enough to get to them… stop pointing fingers at Obama and BP and find out what you can do to help clean up this mess!  We can point fingers later.  Since I live in New Hampshire, a good while away from where the spill is (for now; we’ll see what hurricane season brings) and I have no means to travel to Florida and Louisiana, my goal is to stop buying plastic products and to absolutely stop using plastic bags.  I know that I’m only one person, but heck, if a quarter of the United States started doing it, maybe it will catch on.

And now, on a completely different subject- Facebook.  It is entirely irrelevant, but it makes me a little worried about Judgment Day, for those Facebookwho have had the (mis)fortune of being acquainted with the Terminator series.  Facebook has this kind of evil voodoo that attracts every computer saavy and some not person with an internet connection in the entire world to it.  I am such a victim.  Chances are, you are too.

I think almost everybody knows about the privacy issues that have been going around on Facebook.  While Facebook itself may not actually be snagging users information to use it in the great big wide world of spam, it allows other things to do so.  Yes, ladies and gentlemen, that does mean that when you buy Island Cash on Treasure Isle, you’re not only allowing Zynga Games to know your information and spam your email account, you’re also giving them the 16-digits to steal your soul.

And yet… not a lot of people are acting up, despite all the claims.  I’m one of those guilty people.  See, I don’t think I give Facebook enough information to steal my soul (i.e. I do not spend real money on that social networking site, kthx).  Only, despite my self-assurance, I probably do.  See, I have over fifty photo albums, and it’s hooked up to three email addresses (one doesn’t even exist anymore) and I regularly play Bejewled Blitz and Treasure Isle and FrontierVille and use the Bumper Stickers application.  All these things learn a little bit about me as a human being.  Ever since I “liked” Disney/Pixar, I’ve been getting offers from advertisements to go see Toy Story 3.  Um, more information than you need, A.I.!

Treasure Isle Loading ScreenBut the information that Facebook gets from me isn’t all I feel I need to be concerned about.  I feel like I have a pretty good feeling of what does and does not need to appear online.  There are things that you do not tell people face-to-face and they don’t want to know about it online, either.  Things like stalking and oh-my-gosh cyberbullying have become huge, huge issues, thanks to Facebook.  The internet creates a place where there are no boundaries and you don’t have to be yourself.  Inhibitions?  Totally gone.  Not always a good thing.

Annother huge issue I have with Facebook is a similar issue that comes up with blogging, or with chatrooms, or with LiveJournal or any other online system- there is no more personal contact.  You see your friend in real life and they go to tell you a story, but BAM!  Not so much, I read your Facebook status.  Oop, fail.  Suddenly you don’t need real friends, because you have Facebook friends, and being plugged in is so much more interesting than real life, because you can chat with your friends and play Farmville at the same time.

Yikes.  What is this world coming to?

Mankind’s Legacy

Chopped down trees, man's legacy begun.

“Thank God men cannot fly, and lay waste the sky as well as the earth.” ~ Henry David Thoreau.

There are two things I notice immediately about my title.  One is that it isn’t politically correct.  Oh well.  The second is that today is Memorial Day, and hey, shouldn’t I be talking about wars or veterans in my family?  I suppose to be following procedure, I should be.  But I’m not from a military family.  In fact, I don’t think anyone in my family has been in the military since, I dunno, the Civil War or something.  I guess technically that’s not true.  My aunt Maureen was an army nurse, but naturally, it’s not the same thing as being a soldier.  So given my lack of ties to the military, I’m going to write about rape instead.

No.  Not sexual rape.  Land-rape.

I was out taking a walk this morning, which I never do.  I’m a lazy bum and I like to sit in front of my computer and be useless.  So the last time I Birch tree amidst destruction.took a walk around my neighborhood was probably one of those uncannily warm days in March.  Today, I was walking around looking for something interesting and new-ish to take a picture of for my Photo of the Day.  I took a route I don’t generally take and WHOMP!  I found the image to the left here.  A beautiful old birch tree (N’Amshir state tree, don’tchaknow?) absolutely surrounded by piles of dirt.  Not like… Oh look, a pile of dirt magically appeared due to flooding and erosion!  Like, “Me big landowner, om nom ground.”  It made me incredibly… disappointed, I guess I would say, for a couple of reasons.  One, I love birch trees, but you know, that one’s gonna go, too.  As I was technically trespassing, I didn’t get close enough to see if it’s marked, but chances are, it is.  And the second reason of course is that do we really need more houses and things?

Where I used to live, we were practically in a hole in the woods.  Since we didn’t have a mailbox, almost everyone missed the driveway.  It was like we were invisible.  I loved it.  Even people dropped me off at eleven at night and I had to walk the eighth of a mile or whatever it was down the pitch-black driveway, I loved it.  On the far side of the driveway, there was this great big overgrown field.  Since we were just renting, we never really bothered with it.  But my brother and I used to wander around in there when we were kids, because lets face it- to children, all the world’s a stage.  There were a couple of saplings in there, and wild rose bushes.  Things like that.  the other side of the driveway was the same, but separated  from us with a line of trees, since it wasn’t our property.  Since we moved, both those fields have been torn apart to look like the typical American clean-cut front lawn.  Nothing special, nothing pretty, but the grass is all 1 3/4 inches tall.  On the land that wasn’t ours, a house was erected.  Well.  Isn’t that just divine?  A house in the front yard.  I preferred the fields, but maybe I’m just old fashioned.Tractor marks.

People from the city will never understand the beauty of the land out here.  A lot of people leave New Hampshire because it’s boring and there’s nothing here but trees.  These people want the busy ways of the city, the running and rambling streams of businessmen instead of the cool, sweet water streams.  People who have been born and raised in the city see beauty in the steel-lining of skyscrapers, appreciate artistic landscaping, but not the land.  I am a child of the country.  When I was a kid, I didn’t want to admit that, because quite frankly, everyone wanted to be somewhere else, so I did too!  But now I’m older, I don’t give a darn about my peers, and I have no desire to leave the northeast.  For me, the magic is in the mountains and the trees.  Seeing them plowed through like play-dough makes me sad.  Like a part of my childhood is being murdered.

There are three movies that I can think of that warn people, in one way or another, that we should take what we need from the world, but no more and we should be grateful for it.  Two of these, ironically, are Disney movies.  The first is Pocahontas.  Yes.  I know it’s not historically correct (I’m a history major- I’ve been over the story of Jamestown a couple times, thanks).  But there’s one song in the middle called “Colors of the Wind“.  Most people know it.  With lyrics like “You think you own whatever land you land on/the Earth is just a dead thing you can claimOm nom, land.” and “How high will the sycamore grow?/If you cut it down, then you’ll never know” it’s difficult to ignore the facts- human beings are slowly destroying the Earth.  We don’t have to be.  But everything needs to be bigger, taller, shiner, stronger, until there’s no more space.  We are obsessed with the idea of ownership, and isn’t land with a house on it more valuable than just land?

That kind of leads into the second movie, also Disney, the movie Wall-E.  Even in the theatrical trailer, you get a glimpse of what the world has become in this image of the future.  As the movie continues off the now uninhabitable (because lets face it- trees and other plants create oxygen, which is essential to our breathing) planet earth, you see what has become of the human race- fat and lazy.  The first time you see humans in Wall-E, you see two riding side by side in these huge chairs, talking to each other on a view-screen because they’re too lazy to turn their heads and talk to one another.  Really.  Why should they have to do anything, though?  They’ve built a world that allows them to be lazy.  Can’t help but to wonder, is that what we’re moving toward?

The third movie is, of course, Avatar.  I tried to find clips of the damage that the humans did to Pandora on YouTube, but because the moDirt-filled deer field.vie is so new and highly protected, I couldn’t find anything useful.  However, when I searched “Avatar mining” I found a true story similar to that of Pandora.  And in the thinking of Avatar, I remember Fern Gully, which is a direct relation to destruction of the rainforest.

My point, ladies and gentlemen, is that we’re too obsessed with the creation and acquisition of things, and in the meanwhile, we are, to quote a sentiment in the movie avatar “destroying our mother”.  Is it really worth it?  I walked past a field earlier today filled with piles of dirt (clearly preparing for some sort of construction) that was once a place where deer grazed (seriously.  I’ve seen them).  I’ve been woken up every morning for the last few weeks promptly at 7:30am by the sound of drills and hammering and power saws from next door.  I’m pretty sure they’re putting an addition on their house (but I can’t be sure, this is one of those neighbors that lives in a hole-in-the-forest and has angry dogs and tall gates, way in.  And he’d probably shoot me if I trespassed.  Even though his kids trespass over here all the time and leave toys and sleds and junk in the woods to rot).

Is this ever going to stop?  Um.  The Earth-raping, I mean.  Although the obnoxious neighbor is okay to stop, too.

A Day Like Today.

Lovely pink flowers growing outside my house.

“Dream as if you’ll live forever.  Live as if you’ll die today.”  ~  James Dean.

Nature does so many peculiar things.

While I love and appreciate the beauty that is the world around me, I maintain there are three kinds of days.  There are perfect days, “day” days, and not-so-days.  Today is not a perfect day.  The wind is stagnant and warm.  It sits on the ground, lying on its lazy belly, yawning under the sun.  Clouds half-heartedly shake tiny teardrops over the land and the plant drink up the gifts of the sky before reclining back into the ground, curling up together and napping.

It’s that kind of August-afternoon-sitting-on-my-porch-thinking-about-the-world-but-not-too-hard kind of day.  When the bumblebees busy themselves in he flowers and families sit out in lawn chair, sipping sweet lemonade.  Only, the flowers have hardly woken and the bumblebees haven’t left their hives yet.

You can tell the world is changing when in the month of April, you see snow and relentless, hot sunshine.  Ranging from the coldest of colds to the warmest of warms, I’m worried that some parts of the world will hibernate all summer for fear of being nipped by Jack Frost.  This late in the month, the flowers should be stretching their petals and smiling up at the stunning azure sky.  But they aren’t, not yet.


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something to think about

"You know, I don't know if you'll understand this or not, but sometimes, even when I'm feeling very low, I'll see some little thing that will somehow renew my faith. Something like that leaf, for instance - clinging to its tree despite wind and storm. You know, that makes me think that courage and tenacity are about the greatest values a man can have. Suddenly my old confidence is back and I know things aren't half as bad as I make them out to be. Suddenly I know that with the strength of his convictions a man can move mountains, and I can proceed with full confidence in the basic goodness of my fellow man. I know that now. I know it." ~ End of Act I in the musical You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown.

competing for the house cup

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