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Tag Archives: History

Story Mines: Dreams and Family Lore

Story Mines: Dreams and Family Lore

Dreams and family history are two rich story mines. Below are a couple examples from my life:

This morning, shortly before waking, I had a long and detailed dream about my old job. There were new faces and new ideas, and none of the rookies seemed unsettled to see me, but started telling me what was going on, whose idea was whose, what worked, what didn’t, and why.

However, before I could meet the new employees or reach the new workspace (a shiny new and bright concession stand, one of many places I oversaw in the old job), I had to pass people with whom I used to work. They didn’t greet me or smile, but immediately began complaining about my absence. They were sarcastic, passive-aggressive, unhappy.

When I tried to leave that little conclave of depression and blame, they followed me, still complaining, still muttering. None of them, however, set foot into the bright, new workspace.

I turned around from admiring the new setup and speaking with the smart, young assistant manager, and looked out the open door to where the conclave gathered in the dark. They shot ugly looks, quieted but never stopped muttering.

That’s when I woke.

That’s also when I was reminded that 1) those burdens are no longer mine to bear, and 2) vision and gratitude turn on the lights.

(originally written March 1, 2014)

———-

Most of my social media connections know what I think about racism, the pernicious, persistent misnomer that’s not about race — we’re all the human race, there is no other — and all about skin color and ethnicity: Racism ends when we let it end. When skin color and ethnic origins are simply allowed to be, without the assumption or the weight of something ugly attached.

I don’t tend to make ethnicity a big deal in my stories. People are who they are, who they decide to be, who their actions lead them to become, and sometimes their origins have an impact on that.

The Deer Place“, however, directly addresses racism, and mixes elements from family lore and my father’s childhood. He recalls being called a “dirty Indian” and other names when he was young. He also had a special place on the mountain where he met the deer, and one day he discovered where they went.

(originally written February 28, 2015)

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Poetry Giveaway

poetry-anthology-coversalt-flats-and-moon

It’s a short volume — less than seventy pages — but it spans two or three decades’ worth of poems inspired by the author’s life, relationships, troubles, daydreams, and family.

And she’s giving away signed paperback copies to five winners of a Goodreads giveaway:

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Laughing at the Moon by Elizabeth Easter

Laughing at the Moon

by Elizabeth Easter

Giveaway ends March 31, 2016.

 

 

UPDATE (April 5, 2016):
The giveaway is ended, and the winners are chosen! They are from Italy, Ireland, England, and the United States. Congratulations to all!

 

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Granite

Granite

Ideas from unexpected places? Happens all the time.

This week, while writing story notes in a spiral-bound notebook, I was listening to episodes of “Ancient Impossible” on the History Channel.* When I’d hear a historical detail I wanted to remember, I’d jot it on a separate page from the story notes.

In Dragon’s Rook, I wrote about a mountain city carved from granite.** However, I didn’t reveal how it was carved. Granite is serious stone. It doesn’t like to be cut.

However, there are examples of granite cut in ancient times, and they were the subject of a couple segments on “Ancient Impossible”: How did the ancients cut a large core of granite — a cylinder with evenly-spaced narrow grooves spiraling down its length — and how did they cut a slab that is marked as if by a circular saw, a piece of technology that no one expected to have existed then?

And that reminded me of something that should be incorporated into the next book, Dragon’s Bane: How was the city of Elycia carved into a mountainside composed mainly of granite?

Not gonna tell you. Yet. 😉

But it makes sense inside the story, and it explains one detail mentioned in Dragon’s Rook — the grooves left in the stone cliffs.

I want to go write that material right now, but I’m still finishing Thieves’ Honor, a space opera novel, which I hope to have complete by the end of the month. And then it’s back to Dragon’s Bane. And, after that, The Unmakers, a novel of paranormal suspense.

Anyone else listen to TV rather than watch it? Must come from all my years of having a radio but no television — listening is now a habit.

** The Mount Rushmore carvings are granite.

 
 

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Images and Words

c2015, KB

c2015, KB

The photo above is of the old Fred Jones plant in downtown Oklahoma City. Now empty and surrounded by fencing, the building is apparently undergoing renovations. The distance and angle created by the fence, the short range of my lense, and the shortness of my stature all combine to make the building seem a veritable tower. A fraction of reflected city skyline is caught in the windows, lower right. (c2015, KB)

As I read the four issues of Popular Photography that have been awaiting my perusal, I am struck with a longing for this lens and that camera, this tripod and that backpack, and a wish for a much bigger bank account.

However, I also recall a piece of advice drilled into me over the years by older, much better, more knowledgeable photographers than I:

A good photographer doesn’t need expensive equipment.

The problem there is the word “good”.

Sigh.

I want that new $849 Sigma 24mm f/1.4 lens, but there’s the nagging little problem of no money, and I’m nowhere near the photographer I want to be.

A story has been rattling around in my head for over twenty years. It features a journalist who becomes a soldier during WW1. He’s a photographer, as well. Someday, I’d like to use an antique camera. The physicality of setting up the equipment, and then the light and the stillness required for the shots, seems the equivalent of writing with quill and inkwell: There’s a meditative creativity that is inspired by the delayed gratification of capturing a scene on film or in words.

It’s different from the instant-ness of digital cameras or computer keyboards, the laying down of images or words without necessarily the weight of thought to anchor them.

But I digress.

We’re experiencing rainy weather here in Oklahoma, punctuated by days of sunshine, never long enough to dry out the ground. As soon as mud and moisture are no longer impediments, the Canon and I shall venture forth once more.

c2015, KB

c2015, KB

 

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The Wind Rises

The Wind Rises DVD coverDirected by Hayao Miyazaki for Studio Ghibli, The Wind Rises is a fictionalized account of the life of Jiro Horikoshi, the aeronautics engineer who designed the infamous Zero fighters used to attack Pearl Harbor during World War II.

Some viewers dislike the film for its fiction (Jiro’s wife did not die of tuberculosis, for instance), some for its pacing, some for its glossing-over of the death and destruction his planes caused. There was offense at the way his wife was portrayed, and offense at the way he treated her. Some viewers were either offended on Jiro’s behalf, thinking the added fictions dishonored him, and some were offended that the creator of the Zero was the focus of an animated film.

Regardless of detractors, the hand-drawn animation and the beautiful colors are beyond excellent. There’s a night scene in Germany where the elongated and distorted shadows of men running through the streets are stunning in their realism, and the clouds throughout the film are nigh photo-realistic.

The story — which borrowed heavily from an unrelated novel, The Wind Has Risen, by Tatsuo Hori — is interesting, and the dialogue is often sharp and funny.

It’s an homage to love and dreamers, and is a film well worth seeing.

 

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What Is It To Be Human?

What Is It To Be Human?

What is it to be human?

What is staying alive? To possess
A great hall inside of a cell.
What is it to know? The same root
Underneath the branches.

What is it to believe? Being a carer
Until relief takes over.
And to forgive? On fours through thorns
To keep company to an old enemy.

What is it to sing? To receive breath
From the genius of creation.
What’s work but humming a song
From wood and wheat.

What are state affairs? A craft
That’s still only crawling?
And armaments? Thrust a knife
In a baby’s fist.

Being a nation? What can it be? A gift
In the swell of the heart.
And to love a country? Keeping house
In a cloud of witnesses.

What’s the world to the all powerful?
A circle spinning.
And to the children of the earth?
A cradle rocking.

Waldo Williams (translated from the Welsh by Menna Elfyn)

According to the article about him on Wikipedia,

Waldo (GoronwyWilliams (30 September 1904 – 20 May 1971) was one of the leading Welsh languagepoets of the twentieth century. He was also a notable pacifist, anti-war campaigner, and Welsh nationalist.

The fourth and fifth stanzas of the poem above reveal his political views. The translator states,

One must remember that “nationhood” in Wales was very often synonymous with anti-militaristic campaigns. Very many prominent poets in Wales have been known as pacifists, seeing their patriotism as embedded in total regard for human life and rejecting notions of “imperialism” and “colonization.” Many would argue that Wales was the very first acquisition of the English state when Wales was conquered in the thirteenth century, its princes killed, and the Welsh language disallowed. (Poetry, April 2008)

This poem reminds me of the spoken intro to the song “Higher Education and the Book of Love” by Rich Mullins:

What does it mean to be human?
What does it mean to be human?

I cannot help but suspect that, at one time in the history of thinking,
people believed that it meant that we were spiritual,
and that we could make choices,
and were capable of aspiring to higher ideals…
like maybe loyalty or maybe faith…
Or maybe even love.

But now we are told by people who think they know
that we vary from amoeba only in the complexity of our makeup
and not in what we essentially are.

They would have us think,
as Dysart said,
that we are forever bound up in certain genetic reins —
that we are merely products of the way things are
and not free —
not free to be the people who make them that way.

They would have us see ourselves as products so that
we could believe that we were something to be made,
something to be used,
and then something to be disposed of.
Used in their wars —
Used for their gains —
and then set aside when we get in their way.

Well, who are they?
They are the few who sit at the top of the heap —
dung heap though it is —
and who say it is better to reign in Hell than to serve in Heaven.

Well, I do not know that we can have a Heaven here on earth,
but I am sure we need not have a Hell here either.

What does it mean to be human?
I cannot help but believe that it means we are spiritual,
that we are responsible, and that we are free —
that we are responsible to be free.

Influenced greatly by St. Francis of Assisi, Rich Mullins endeavored to live what he believed. He died at age 41 in an auto accident in autumn 1997.

Of possible further interest:
1) Fan site for the late Rich Mullins: Calling Out Your Name
2) Lyrics with the intro to “Higher Education”: Lyrics Mode
3) Poetry Foundation
4) Rich Mullins on YouTube
4) Waldo Williams official website
5) Menna Elfyn’s website — in Welsh!

 

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Silence

Silence

In honor of Poetry Month, a short piece by Paul Laurence Dunbar that speaks perfectly to friendship:

Silence

‘T is better to sit here beside the sea,
Here on the spray-kissed beach,
In silence, that between such friends as we
Is full of deepest speech.

A prolific black writer from Dayton, Ohio, Dunbar died at the age of 33 from tuberculosis. Read more about Dunbar at The Poetry Foundation, at Biography, and at Wright State University.

The above poem was taken from my copy of Selected Poems, purchased at one of the National Park Service visitor centers in the Dayton area.

 

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