A picture can prompt a thousand words.

My first thought, when I saw this week’s prompt, was to share a few of the photographs I’ve taken which have either inspired stories and story elements, or served as reference for scenes I’ve written.

And I will do that, in just a sec.

First, though, I must share my all-time favorite story-in-one-picture shot:

I call it: “I do NOT like celery, Mom.”

It’s not the best photo, but it perfectly captures my dog’s sense of betrayal. In my defense, he likes almost everything people eat, so I had no idea he’d hate it so.

And, as promised, here are a just a few of the shots that have prompted some of my writing:

~***~

Here are some of my favorite STORY responses from others:

(I’ll add more as I have time to browse, so feel free to check back.)

winter noir –  love storycanvas tool kitbeginners chessfrogs are backmatchbox cars in Georgia (the country)this makes me miss the beach so muchforsakena Raleigh ghost storywitch house visitors –  cemetery guardian  – where did he go? –  some party last night, eh?careful!St. Louis Cemetery 1october 2, 2017simba, king of the neighborhood

Click her to view the photo challenge.

Find all my photographic projects at Haunting Photos (there’s also a link in the blog header.)

Fair warning: I’m returning to regular blogging after a long hiatus. I haven’t quite got the hang of it yet. My posting schedule is off, and things might be a little messy if you wander around long enough. 


Relaxed in an endless autumn.

I’ve been spending a lot of time on the keyboard lately, working on my carnival novel. (It’s still going well!)  Today, though, I took a break so that I could spend the afternoon with my (adult) kids. We had a tasty lunch in a retro diner, did some Christmas shopping, and finished up with a walk at a local park.

I hadn’t yet found a good image for this week’s photo challenge prompt, so I was going to skip it (again.) Then I saw this swing, in this light, on this brisk but lovely afternoon. Just before the sun dropped below the treeline, I snapped the following picture … I had my response to the prompt: RELAX.

2016-12-08-relax

I’m pretty sure I’ve never before been this relaxed on the eighth of December.

In my former life, as a Minnesota woman, I would already be anxious about the weather by now.  Even in those rare years when winter conditions were delayed by a long, mild autumn, my delight in the season was muted by my dread of the coming snow and cold and ice. By December, I was almost always deep in the season of  treacherous paths and chilled bones … which meant I was also deep in the season  of regular anxiety attacks, though I didn’t recognize them as such at the time.

I didn’t realize, until I experienced the unfolding of my first North Carolina autumn, just how much that winter-dread was affecting my life.

What I can tell you so far is this, in North Carolina:

  • December feels likes late October.
  • November felt like late September.
  • October felt like … September too, just the earlier part of it.
  • September felt like late August.
  • (And August wasn’t any worse that a normal Minnesota August.)

I’ll let you know when “winter” arrives.

EDIT: December 9th

My Facebook told me I had a “memory” today. (That means it wanted to show me something I’d written on this day in a past year.) My memory was from 2009, and it’s connected to this 2016 post. (Caution, there’s a dark turn ahead.)

My dad didn’t have a lot of time to leave me things before he died. A record player, a bike, a little money that I used to buy my first car – all gone now. What lingers are the other bequests. A self-imposed identity as a writer, an unslakeable thirst, and a terror of winter driving.

It is a ridiculous fear. His death wasn’t caused by a car accident. Drunk beyond understanding, he drove along a deserted road until he neatly pulled over, then he wandered into a featureless field where he either got lost or tired. He laid down and he died.

How does such an event translate to my paralyzing phobia about driving, especially after dark, in the winter? I figured it out today, I think. Or I figured out another layer of it. My dad died because he made a foolish mistake. He was not in control of what he was doing.

That happens to me all the time. I might drive angry or sad. I might be in a hurry. I might take that slippery curve just a little too quickly. Or I might drive too slowly, too cautiously, and another driver might get impatient with me and make a foolish mistake of his own.

All of that is true year round, of course. So why do winter roads make me panic? Because winter is a cruel, merciless bitch. Roads are more treacherous. Lane markings and signs disappear. (Erasing the clues that tell me that I’m not screwing up.) The consequences of a mistake, even a tiny error in judgement, can too easily become lethal.

Had it not been the coldest night of 1977, he would have survived that night’s mistake. Had he laid down in a field of grass rather than in snow drifts, his loss of self-control would have been pathetic, but not fatal. And I wouldn’t hate this vicious season quite so much.

~***~

Find all my photographic projects at Haunting Photos (there’s also a link in the blog header.)

Click to visit the homepage of Post A Week.

Click to visit the homepage of Post A Week.

 


BFQ Diary #2: Something Old and Something New

Something New: Anticipating Hurricane Matthew

So, there’s this hurricane. Named Matthew. And he might pay a visit to Raleigh in a few days. Scenarios vary, and it’s still quite possible that he’ll veer out over the Atlantic, but the speculation and discussion about his approach is making it hard for me to concentrate on my Boss-Fight Quest. (Said quest being to finish the first draft of a novel within one season, deadline Nov. 30.)

About a month ago — over the Labor Day Weekend, just as I was getting rolling on my draft — Hermine brushed the coast of North Carolina, but it was almost a non-event here in the center of the state. In Raleigh we got a lot of steady rain for about two and a half days. It was good writing weather.

At her strongest, Hermine was a Category 1 hurricane, but she had been downgraded to a “post tropical storm” by the time she tickled the Carolinas on her way north. (I don’t mean to minimize. The Outer Banks took some damage, but even that wasn’t too bad according to the news.)

Hurricane Matthew appears to be a different kind of beast. He intensified from a Cat 1 to a Cat 5 hurricane in just 24 hours. Now he’s settled down to a Cat 4 and is ravaging the Caribbean. He’s expected to weaken to a Cat 2 before Friday night or Saturday, when he will arrive in or near my state. The TV meteorologists are in their glory. The governor (boo-hiss, for other reasons) has declared a State of Emergency for Central and Eastern NC.  It’s all making me … ansty. It’s hard to relax and drop down into my work. Hell, it’s hard to sit in a chair.

Okay, that’s an understatement; let me try again: If I had a visible meter on my forehead, its indicator needle would be frantically sweeping back and forth across the dial, from “nervous*” to “thrilled.**

To be clear, those theoretical meter labels should be translated thusly:

  • * Ohhell we could lose power, and windows could shatter, and Very Important Plans could be disrupted, and we could run out of bread, and …
  • ** Ohmygod this could be the most awe-inspiring storm I’ve ever frolicked in!!

A few minutes ago, I opted to make a quick visit to the store, even though my daughter and I will go on our regularly scheduled grocery shopping trip tomorrow. I needed to find out if a run on milk and bread and bottled water has begun yet. It has not. All the shelves and cases are well-stocked. The atmosphere is calm. Everything is normal. I bought bread … and an unneeded gallon of chocolate milk. (I don’t buy bottled water, because the tap water here is fine, but I figure having a spare empty gallon jug around sometime on Friday won’t be a bad thing.)

The trip helped. A little. At least it relieved enough of my antsiness so that I can sit here now, to a write this BFQ Diary entry.

Something Old: This week’s photo prompt is ‘NOSTALGIA’

Nostalgia for me right now is more like déjà vu than like reminiscing. It’s being pleasantly surprised when a new experience arouses familiar emotions, emotions that were once inspired by something very different.

Here in NC there are not as many natural bodies of water present in daily life as there were in MN. (Land of 10,000 Lakes and the Mississippi and the pond my old apartment overlooked.) I know North Carolina has lakes and rivers too, but they aren’t yet within my personal driving territory. What I have now is the Atlantic Ocean. As spectacular as the sea is, it’s only a rare treat for me, because it’s a three-hour drive away.

I’ve been missing water badly.

This week, I went to a local park. There’s a bit of water there, in the form of a small drainage pond fed by some culverts, but, even though it’s pretty enough, it just hasn’t been inspiring the same feelings I had while gazing into the waters in MN.

2016-07-08-great-blue-heron-at-library-park

Still, I’ve gone back to the park several times. And each time I’ve noticed this magnificent rock that lies just off the boardwalk that winds through the dense wood.

my-rock

This time, I finally decided to kick off my shoes and clamber up.  (Yes, I’m in a skirt; luckily there was no one around to flash.)

the-rock-on

Which was fun, because I like boulders too. Then I turned around to see the view from my new vantage point.
rocks-view

At that moment the sun peeked out from behind intermittent clouds and the breeze picked up, making the leaves flutter and the shadows dance. That’s when my nostalgia hit. The peace and joy I felt was just as good as it used to be when I was sitting on a bank overlooking the Mississippi. Maybe even better, because now I know I’m really home.

EDIT: As I wandered the nostalgia responses, I found a reference to this song, which I’d entirely forgotten:

Talk about nostalgia! As a 10 year old, I spent a lot of time pouring over my sister’s collection of 45s from her youth. I remember listening to this one over and over while I was babysitting my nephew; he loved it when I’d pick him up and wildly whirl him around the room in my arms. And now I have tears in my eyes … ah, nostalgia.

~***~

Find all my photographic projects at Haunting Photos (there’s also a link in the blog header.)

Click to visit the homepage of Post A Week.

Click to visit the homepage of Post A Week.

Here are links to some of my favorite entries for the NOSTALGIA prompt  from others:

(I’ll add more as I have time to browse the entries, so feel free to check back.)

Missing Mongolia | If you Only Stay Little | Just look at that bread! | 1963, captured beautifully. | A sheep queen. | Dreams of Childhood | Dad’s Tools |