Carpe Diem Haiku: Inner Beauty

in what mirror can

I see that which may escape

a world looking out

*

a world looking out

for itself with senses

dimmed from all concealed

*

no more dimmed than me

who cannot fully see who

stares from inside out

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Chances are…it’s a Facetious Crack

My Dearest Professor,

What do I say to the man whose name has been in the forefront of my brain and sliding off my lips every evening for the past few months…as I painstakingly worked, reworked, and analyzed one statistics problem after another? Surely verbal murmurings could venture not to – likely should never – express such fixated thoughts and feelings.

In truth, you brought me to a level of satisfaction I never knew existed. You flung wide the door to that place of mystery where I only dared glance through its crack before. You made statistics exciting, useful and alive; and you now have me believing that I am an unadulterated researcher, daily inputting and critically analyzing mounds of otherwise desolate data.

I only hope you don’t forget my wistful daydream that I once shared with you – among the confines of a frustrated classroom of doctoral students. I’m still besotted by my little fantasy of serving as your assistant for at least one final semester (lest I drive everyone else around me mad, attempting to run data they probably didn’t want or truly never needed).

With all my heartfelt gratitude,

jody

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Yes, I truly loved our Stats Professor, now retired. (I think our class wore him down, though we all did adore him.) Amazing how I took a year of Stats as an undergrad (working every single problem in our textbooks), and more statistics in grad school (plugging lots of information into SPSS); but it wasn’t until I was in my doctoral program that the concepts finally came to life, became practical, had meaning – and everything I learned came together to serve the purpose they were meant to serve. So, yes…that part was exciting (for at least 5.7 minutes).

With that being said, my facetious little letter above is a humorous blend of different types of frustration, if you will (the sensual humor being purely fictional). We must all eventually acknowledge that there statistically exists a plenitude of liars in both categories. And for the record, in no way do I lust after anything statistics-related…professors included.   😉

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Trifecta’s challenge word this week for creative writing is the 3rd definition of:

CRACK

3a : a narrow break : fissure <a crack in the ice>  
b : a narrow opening <leave the door open a crack><cracks between floorboards> —used figuratively in phrases like fall through the cracks to describe one that has been improperly or inadvertently ignored or left out <a player who fell through the cracks in the college draft> <children slipping through the cracks of available youth services>

Weekly Photo Challenge: The Golden Hour

The Daily Post Weekly Challenge was to capture “the golden hour” – either the first or last hour of sunlight of the day.

It just so happens that I’ve noticed some exceptional hours like this, just after coming in from bike rides in the evenings as of late. Therefore, both of these were taken with my iPhone camera, as I didn’t have anything better available. No matter. I wouldn’t have wanted to miss snapping these shots, as they both left me feeling golden.

The first I posted recently when explaining those serendipitous moments that sneak up on you, where setting out to capture something through photography was never the plan. (Note the bird framing itself perfectly. Of course, I told everyone it was an angel descending from heaven.)

Jokingly, I said, "And the heavens opened up & the angels sang! Or maybe I'm just delirious."

Jokingly, I said, “And the heavens opened up & the angels sang! Or maybe I’m just delirious.”

This one is from a few days ago, and was both curious and glorious! This cloud was electrified and continued on, for the next hour or so after daylight, emitting heat lightening.

glorious_cloud

I’m editing my post to add this last one from just last night (again, with my iPhone). I’m amazed at how different the sky has presented itself in the golden evening hour during this past week, though beautiful in every way.

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Carpe Diem Haiku: (Instruction in) Tribulation

stop your wish, child, for

through trials and tribulations

patience only comes

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Somewhere between teenage- and woman-hood, I once sat at my grandmother’s dining room table, impatiently pulling out poorly directed stitches. She leaned over my shoulder, adjusting her glasses for a better look at what the fuss was all about.

“I know, I know, ” I grumbled beneath my breath. “I just need to learn more patience.” It seemed reasonable to me to be the first to get the reprimand out in the open. Maybe it would have less sting that way.

My granny walked around the table and looked at me circumspectly. “If you thought I was going to say that, you’d be greatly mistaken. Whatever you do, don’t ever pray for patience, Jody.”

Old book from 1879 detailShe reached on the little cubby shelf behind her to retrieve her bible, again adjusting her glasses to help her flip to the appropriate page. She turned the Good Book as she laid it out in front of me, and tapped her finger a couple of times to direct my attention.

I began reading Romans 5:3, quickly arriving at: “…knowing that tribulation worketh patience…”

My grandmother had already walked away by the time the implication was sinking in. Looking back, I’m sure she had a smirk tucked across her lips.

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For more haiku (or to submit your own), join me at Carpe Diem.

Ligo Haibun: How to Contend with She Who Holds the Reign

“Gracious,” the Ivory King sighed. “We’re being forced into battle against the Ebony Kingdom once more. Senseless…so senseless.”

His words played out yet again, as he regally stood his ground amidst an army trying their best to defend him. He knew he’d grown old and weary. He knew that, even before that, he’d never truly been of much use. He’d never led his army into battle, after all – repeatedly willing to sacrifice his peasantry of pawns early to the cause. His knights weren’t always that valiant either, pulling their steeds sharply to the right or left to barely escape being in harm’s way. And what good was his pair of rookies, who teetered from their flanked tunnel vision only when they’d had too much to consume? His bishops were just as devious, pretending to protect his interests while politically circumventing any line of attack.

There was only one who was faithful to the cause. But she frightened the beejesus out of him. She was ruthless in all her dealings, less interested in prisoners than wiping the slate clean – of all standing in her way. But as frightened as he, himself, was of her, he acknowledged that her worth was greater than all the ivory in the kingdom.

Reckon with his queen?

Battle or no, do not cross

she who holds the reign

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ligo-challenge2The Ligo Haibun Challenge is one of my favorite writing challenges – first because of my fascination with the form of the haiku as part of the story (that I find myself interjecting now even when I’m not in this challenge) and, secondly, because of my wonderful blogging friend, Managua Gunn (a.k.a. “Pirate”, a seaworthy mate to any & all), who introduced me to this particular writing style.

Try to join us for the challenge – as there exists a lovely group of expressionists here – and surely stop in to browse Pirate’s wonderful designs – both in writing & copper.

Fly-By-Pieing: The Memoir

There was an important question that was certain to fly across all the children’s lips as they entered the church for their final night of Vacation Bible School. Which of them had won? Was it the boys or the girls? They wasted no time taunting one another about it, but – more importantly – taunting the two adults who had been volunteered as the sacrificial lambs for this messy event.

An announcement was made at the beginning of the assembly that the official count had been registered and was enclosed on the tiny piece of folded paper, gloriously raised for everyone’s inspection. Who could’ve guessed that these hundred or so kids who had been able to rumble the meditation rooms of heaven all week long had the ability to sit so breathlessly silent even for 10 seconds or so? They obviously wanted to assure there was no mistaking the outcome when it was finally pronounced.

After all, they’d brought their meager treasures all week long, dropping their cans in the appropriately designated box, whether it be the one marked “Boys” or “Girls.” They had carefully selected their mission project before the week had begun, deciding upon restocking our town’s food bank, so those less fortunate than themselves wouldn’t go hungry.

But their little eyes showed the hunger of savages, as if they were planning to take their roles in Lord of the Flies. The pastor and I stood by, exchanging nervous grins, knowing one of us was soon to be selected for – no, make that as – the sacrifice. The other, of course, would get the honor of disbursing the sentence. I felt akin to a gladiator, of sorts, come to think of it.

A slow rumble, then a chant, began from one side, then the other, as the little paper was unfolded. The official raised her hand for silence and order to be reestablished before she’d pronounce the final verdict.

Ferocious screams of triumph went up as air flew from my chest. This time…victor!

fly by pieing1

See how helpful I was being (in the competitive spirit that I hadn’t been the “winner”, per se!)

fly by pieing

Perhaps I got a little carried away in my pie administrative duties…

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Thought I’d share this little event in story form as part of the Trifecta challenge this week:

This week we are asking for a 33- to 333-word response using the word:

 

 FLY (intransitive verb)  (3rd definition)

 

 

 

 

 Please note that the above examples of the third definition use various tenses of the verb.  For Trifecta, remember, you must not change the tense.  We need fly, not flying or flew.

 

 Remember:
  • Your response must be between 33 and 333 words.
  • You must use the 3rd definition of the given word in your post.
  • The word itself needs to be included in your response.
  • You may not use a variation of the word; it needs to be exactly as stated above.
  • Only one entry per writer.
  • If your post doesn’t meet our requirements, please leave your link in the comments section, not in the linkz.
  • Trifecta is open to everyone. Please join us.

– See more at: http://www.trifectawritingchallenge.com/#sthash.Z6jTjq6A.dpuf

Weekly Photo Challenge: Nostalgia

This week’s Daily Post Photo Challenge asked us to describe something personally nostalgic.

For me, there’s nothing more nostalgic (whether it was from 7 years of age to a couple of years ago) than rushing onto the field on opening season night to the sound of “Play Ball!” It doesn’t matter how many years I’ve thrown that ball around, swung that bat, jumped out of the way of an oncoming runner while turning a double, or hearing the swooshing sound of dirt rubbing the pants leg beneath my thigh as my cleats rested against the bag and my torso rested beneath a ball-filled glove – I’ve never tired of it. I’ve anticipated that wonderful moment every year I’ve played as much as the moments I’ve lain beneath that glove in anticipation of the umpire’s call (which would determine if I got to hang out for at least another play or not).

I’ve lost track of the number of years that I’ve popped fat bubbles while sliding into bases, been dragged by teammates victoriously through the mud, acted like a tee-baller rushing to beat a teammate to a fly ball during practices, or lost my voice yelling encouragement from the dug-out. For the in-between years that I had to miss due to work or family/life commitments, I know I lost a small part of myself.

ballteam

A team photo taken years ago on the night we won our league championship that year. Do you think you can find me in it?

butterflies aflight

bat meets ball on the sweet spot

young lovers’ first kiss

Moments of Perfection Can’t Be Perfectly Planned

I’m a planner. What can I say? I keep a daily task list not just at work, but one for my personal life too. Then I combine the two on both a weekly task list and on my digital calendar. I check off those items I accomplish throughout the day, religiously reviewing and revising my list each evening. This is how I keep my busy life on track. I schedule kids’ events, work events, church events, recreational events, appointments, blog posts, and even medicinal/vitamin dosing as they should occur throughout the day.

It’s not a perfect system, by any means. Nor is it always appreciated by others.

Once a professor divided our class into groups, asking us to describe how we would each be beneficial to our team. Excitedly, I stepped up, sure I knew my answer. Light-heartedly, I introduced myself as an efficient Task Master. Before I could explain how proficient I was at planning timelines to keep a project on task, a gentleman (I use that term loosely) in the group piped up with, “You’re delirious if you think you’re going to waltz in here and boss the rest of us around!” (His name was John, by the way, in case he ever spontaneously reads this post and has cause to wonder if I’m referring to him. Yes, John, it’s you.) It was then I realized a) task master wasn’t a humorously-recognized term in all cultures (such as the culture of miserable jerks seeking company); b) humor does not have the power to break down personal issue barriers (probably not the sound barrier either); c) groups don’t always wish to operate within the realm of organization (why bother when chaos can rule?); and d) when another group position becomes available, I’m an immediate bail-out..more than happy to spontaneously say adios to a hostile teammate (who, incidentally, ended the semester with only one other teammate who made him carry the entire load).

You’d better believe I made a bee-line out – oh, and a black line through all forthcoming scheduled Group A activities. Long live Group B!

Playing within the realm of photography has best taught me that spontaneous captures are, surprisingly, my favorite life moments. That’s not to say I can’t interject a little planning along the way…but I so enjoy being surprised by that which had never originally been planned. (Pause: I don’t even rate as an amateur photographer – – I’m a picture-taker who loves to share my thoughts by creating an image of my surroundings – fiction or non.)

Sometimes the “picture” (idea) sneaks up on me when I’m not even contemplating  it. Just this week, for instance, I finished a moderately difficult bike course of 25 miles, where I had worked some tough hills and maintained my target rate. As I cruised the parking lot, regaining my land legs before I unclipped, I glimpsed at the sky and noticed a glorious site. I thought, I wish I had my camera with me. Then it dawned on me that my iPhone was tucked in my back jersey pocket. I climbed off and, with some measure of shakiness, snapped this photo:

I pronounced, “The heavens opened up & the angels sang! Oh wait. I’m just delirious.”

I knew it wasn’t going to have the resolution of my Nikon, but I was pleased with the sun ray effect I’d been able to capture. It wasn’t until I later saw it on the computer that I realized I couldn’t have timed a bird release that well if I’d tried – one I hadn’t even noticed when I took the shot! (Or was that an angel descending from heaven?!) What a great spontaneous addition!

Without sounding conceited, I also have a favorite photo of myself, though of very poor resolution – taken during a spontaneously silly moment. I love it so well because it’s 100% “me” of enjoyment. No posing, no business-like stiffness, no look-directly-into-the-camera cheesy smile. It manages to capture an unadulterated, gut-busting moment I was having.

laughter

Admittedly, sometimes I’m planning for a photo when something better than I could’ve imagined comes along. I had recently been parked at the end of a private drive, patiently waiting to capture our malaria cyclists in route with a beautiful mountainous backdrop when I heard a shot discharged into the air from the “holler” behind me and heard a man “holler” for me to get on down the road. I at least got a mountain view photo first (just for spite).

DSC_0547

Oops. Looks like I also got the unplanned inclusion of the road sign (just in case anybody’s interested.)

Mr. “I’m not running a meth lab or a moonshine still down here” did me a huge favor, actually. I got down the road in time not only to be met by a magnificent surprise field of vibrant wildflowers, but had time to get out and frame my upcoming shot. Spontaneity in planning. I couldn’t have been more pleased. (If you follow my blog, you’ll easily recognize this recent photo as a favorite of mine.)

Riding through the Wildflowers

Riding through the Wildflowers

I’m learning to try to keep my “good camera” with me more often these days, in hopes of grabbing more spontaneous captures. Where that planning fails, however, my little iPhone buddy is always ready and willing to help. In either case, photography (okay, picture taking, if you have to get all “John-snooty” about it) is inviting me to interact with my surroundings more closely and more often, feeling the freedom to stop and smell the…geese.

photo (42)

No zoom lens here. Luckily, Mama Goose didn’t call a “fowl” on my close-encounter intrusion.

Now I ask you…how much more perfection could I possibly plan than that?!

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