A Smile for your Day: Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards

Go HERE for the finalists.

My favourite…

Smilers gonna smile! Photo: Artyom Krivosheev

Smilers gonna smile! Photo: Artyom Krivosheev

Bon Voyage Leonard Cohen

He will be missed.

My favourite song, of many favourites, sung by my favourite chanteuse.

The Neapolitan Novels

What can I say about these four books that hasn’t already been said?

Not much as it turns out.

Well, a certain amount of much-ness. They’re brilliant. They’re frustrating.

I read the first two voraciously, cover-to-cover, immersed in the texture of Elena Ferrante’s prose.  The last two I skimmed.

I waited for the structure of the story to emerge … then I remembered why I don’t read books in this genre very often.

With a certain amount of frustration, I uncharitably concluded at the end of the four books, that the story could’ve been done in two. Traditional ‘literature’ just isn’t my thing.

So why did I persevere?

I wanted to know how the story ended, which it didn’t, have an ending, I mean. And I wanted to know what all the fuss was about. Now I know.

If this genre is your thing, you’ll love the Neapolitan Novels, if not? Maybe like me you’ll appreciate them for what they are.

****

More Toni Childs …

Samhain – The Dead are Dancing

The veil between the worlds grows thinner with each passing moment …

 

… did you think They wouldn’t notice?

 

Bon Voyage, Sherri S. Tepper

I didn’t realize she’d left us until today. Her stories challenged me to think outside the box … and I did.

“Nothing limits intelligence more than ignorance; nothing fosters ignorance more than one’s own opinions; nothing strengthens opinions more than refusing to look at reality.”Sherri S Tepper

Whatever Happened To Mortal Instinct

Well, I’ve finally finished the first draft rewrite, and to everyone who read the original, and said nice things about it, I thank you. You were very kind.

Truth is, what the publisher released was no better than a first draft, a worst NaNoWriMo first draft than could ever be imagined. Well, OK, not the worst, but you get my drift. I tried, politely, to get things changed, but all too soon the publisher stopped answering my emails.

Funny thing is, I could never read it through once it was published. I’d come to the first bunch of typos, or the paragraphs that made no sense, and I’d cringe and put it down. I thought this was just me being ‘precious’.

I half-heartedly promoted it, as you are supposed to do, but I always felt like I had to apologise first. I thought this was me being a shy Libran.

But I was neither of those things. I was certainly naive, but we all are at the beginning. In the intervening six-ish years I learned my craft, the business and the art of it, and waited out my contract.

And here we are, at the second beginning of my writing career. This time I’m doing it for myself!

****

Remember this?

 

Tales from Otter Lake IV

Herewith be Part I,   Part II,   Part III

These tales are sad. It was a sadness that was part of the truth the forest around us. So much is written about the beauty and grandeur of the woods, but there’s so little that reflects the great losses the trees suffer, which I suppose is why these stories came to me.

****

Her name was Kerpy and she started life many long years ago as a tiny threadling, a mere wisp of lichen, attached to the topmost twig of the tallest pine tree in the little glade. Of course, back then her tree wasn’t the tallest. As it grew, so did she. When her tree reached it’s prime and really was the tallest in the glade, she was as plump and green as a lichen could get.

Many seasons passed and she and her tree shared many stories and laughed with the chittering squirrels that came up every summer to harvest the pine cones.

One fine blustery day, the wind brought news of a plague coming across the mountains and up the valleys from the south. Her tree prepared as best it could, and Kerpy sent as much energy and thoughts as she could spare through her branch to help in the fight.

Perhaps her efforts helped, because it seemed like the plague passed through the valley, leaving the glade, and her tree, untouched. Then one day she noticed one of the low branches, so long that it almost brushed the ground, had lost its needles. They were scattered across the forest floor, all dry and empty of life.

She twisted around and saw that other branches low down were looking ill as well.

She sent her thoughts to the tree and asked what was happening. The tree sadly swayed in the breeze, and in her heart, she knew.

At first she ranted and raged at the tree, telling it to fight, to push the invaders from its body, to stem the flow of its lifeblood from the wounds the beetles left behind. It was battling the invader the best it knew how, so she hung from her branch and sent more energy, but one day, a bright summers day, she felt her tree succumb.

Her grief tore at her, but what could she do? She was only one piece of lichen at the top of a dying tree.

Winter came and Kerpy closed her mind and her senses. Perhaps the cold would kill the invader.

Winter passed and the next summer too, a cool one, and she wondered if her tree might be one of the lucky few to survive.

The plague was halfway up the trunk when that first branch to lose its needles, the lowest one, cracked and fell away.

Dead.

Lichens live for a very long time, and Kerpy knew she’d survive a fall from her tree and then spread her threadings across the ground until they reached another tree, but it didn’t seem right somehow, to leave her friend. So she stayed with her tree as the plague beetles rose up, up its trunk, sucking the life out of it.

Kerpy and her tree had long conversations that lasted for months at a time. They told each other stories of old things, and green growing things, and rocks and rain, and snow. Her tree was glad of the company, but there came a time when it withdrew, and faded away.

She was alone.

Death crept along the topmost branch, her branch, but it wasn’t going to get her, not yet.

She wafted back and forth in the breeze, loosening her anchor to the branch.

A beetle crept closer, its nasty clacking mandibles snipping at the dead bark seeking a soft spot to burrow in and lay its eggs.

Kerpy broke free and floated down to the branch below her. It too was dead, but she hung there, pirouetting in the wind, Celebrating the long, long life of her tree.

From branch to branch she went, around and around, closer to the ground with each branch, remembering every moment of her life, of her tree’s life.

She danced and she laughed, and put every bit of her spirit into her stories. The wind blew her about and carried her stories away to the other trees and animals and plants of the forest.

It took her many long weeks to finally reach the lowest branch on the tree. She was tired and withered, but she was satisfied.

It was time to fall.

The wind gently shook her free, for she was fragile and dried out. It dropped her to the forest floor among the rustling needles that had fallen from her tree. She snuggled down into them and sent out tiny tendrils of her essence into the soft cool earth.

The last thing she felt as she surrendered her Self to the Cycle of Life was a giant crash that shook the whole glade.

Her tree had fallen.

Kerpy's last branch

Kerpy’s last branch