Wishing all our readers a wonderful holiday season!
Purrs to all of you!
One comes off even less sane when you report weekly on your Cat Convos. Fortunately, I provide a translation service for those who are not fluent in Cat. Our sub-dialect is Bengal.
Kuri: Have you heard this one?
Me: Which one of what?
I continue down the hall with three cats running and leaping around me. Sometimes they get excited when I leave the computer.
Kuri: Why did the cat join the Red Cross?
Hiyu: Because he wanted to be a first-aid kit.
Loki: That was too easy. How about “What’s a cat’s favorite button on the TV remote?
Hiyu: You shouldn’t make fun of us.
Me: I only answered the question.
Loki: Hiyu’s right. We like to be smarter than you. You shouldn’t answer our questions correctly.
Me: Did you know there is a French proverb that says “The dog may be wonderful prose, but only the cat is poetry.”?
Kuri: I like poetry.
Loki: I have one! I have one! How many cats can you put in an empty box?
Me: How many?
Loki: One. After that the box isn’t empty.
Kuri: Good job, Loki! That was clever!
Me: Sometimes all three of you fill a box.
Kuri: I can explain: once one of us in the box, it’s no longer empty. Get it?
Hiyu: Knock. Knock.
Me: Who’s there?
Hiyu: Maybe I’ll tell you, maybe I won’t.
Me: Really? Can’t we just play?
YES! They all scream and scramble towards the box forts.
The first play session of the day then begins.
Hiyu takes a graceful leap plucking the feather stick out of the air. Kuri charges in the moment the feather stick touches the floor, but he is blindsided and bowled over by Loki who’s also trying to grab the feather.
I distract them from the beleaguered feather with red laser dot. Once we’re done, they’ll be ready for their naps and I can once again write in peace.
Writers are known as solitary and elusive, but they exist among us. You’ve probably seen one or two of them without even realizing it.
While a secluded ivory tower without any distractions or restrictions on their time haunts their dreams, most writers live out in the social sphere. Many are happily disguised as normal “non-writer” people.
These writers among us, who work and play next to us, also go to parties, play sports, watch television, and sometimes even own animals other than cats (or owls).
Overall most keep up a good façade that hides their inner nature. Most writers don’t want you to know how much they study you. They mine their daily social interactions looking for nervous ticks, rhythms of speech and the archetypes into which you fit. The world, outside of the ivory tower they crave, is their playground.
Another secret (& I know I must be breaking some secret code in telling you this) is that writers congregate. They join critique groups, writing clubs, support groups and type furiously at speed writing tables.
Even more than that, writers by the hundreds will go to writing conventions. They seek each other out, springboard off of each other’s energy and somehow bring a little more magic into the world.
I’ve already picked the Pacific Northwest Writers Conference http://www.pnwa.org/ for my 2018 venture into the crowds of inspiring fellow authors. Will see any of you there?
I’m closing out this week at the Seattle Stand Down. Below in blue is the site description of the event.
The Seattle Stand Down is committed to assisting military veterans and their families in every aspect of their transition from military to civilian life; whether they just became a veteran or have been one for a long time.
The Seattle Stand Down provides a place where veterans can have “one stop” access to various community and Veterans Affairs (federal, state and county) social services, focusing primarily on those veterans and families that are either homeless or at-risk of becoming homeless.
Keeping with the spirit of “Never Leave a Fallen Comrade Behind”, the all volunteer leadership team is determined to do just that. In the fight to end veteran homelessness, the leaders of the Seattle Stand Down are determined to “give a hand up, not a hand out” and to bring every veteran in the Seattle area that is homeless or at-risk of homelessness safely “home.”
Volunteer Opportunities: http://theseattlestanddown.org/index.html
Cryptozoology is one of my favorite parts of being a fantasy writer. I’m always exploring myths and legends around exotic creatures that may or may not exist.
It is also described in (IMHO) the best site on cryptozoology: http://www.newanimal.org/ by Jamie Hall.
“Cryptozoology is the study of animals and other creatures that have not yet been accepted by science as real. In other words, it is monster-hunting. Cryptozoologists look for creatures like sea serpents and the yeti, hoping to gather enough evidence to prove that these beings exist. They also look for more commonplace animals, such as the ivory-billed woodpecker, the giant vampire bat, the inflatable hedgehog and the pygmy elephant. Creatures that are under investigation by cryptozoologists are called cryptids.”
There are many dedicated people that devote their time, and in some cases their careers, to finding these elusive animals.
Unfortunately cryptozoology is plagued by hoaxes, and pseudoscientists even though there have been cases of cryptids being discovered and handed off to the field of zoology.
Do I believe in most of these myths and monsters? Not really, but I love the ideas of them. I love their mythic symbolism and messages and I really enjoy all the “what if” moments that come from exploring them.
I will also be the first to celebrate if any of them are found.
Cryptozoologists are not ghost hunters or devotees of the supernatural. To once again quote Jamie Hall http://www.newanimal.org/:
“Cryptozoologists are a specialized branch of monster hunters. Since their ultimate goal is to discover either new species of animal or new subspecies, the science of cryptozoology is rooted in biology. The more a creature shows evidence of being supernatural, the less likely it is that cryptozoologists would be interested in it. Not many cryptozoologists investigate the strangest things like ghostly demon cats, Mothman or werewolves. Ghost hunts are left to the paranormal investigators and a few fringe cryptozoologists.”
Some of my favorites from the cryptozoological zoo that inspire me and my writing are: Dragons, Kraken (giant squids have now been found), Sasquatch and Yeti, Fairies, Living Dinosaurs, and Thunderbirds. See http://www.newanimal.org/ for a complete list of the diversity of creatures.
Another outstanding list of the creatures of cryptozoology and the facts known about the animals can be found at http://www.unmuseum.org/lostw.htm where descriptions of such animals as Nessie of Loch Ness, snakes as long as railroad cars, and their crypto alumni list reside.
The crypto alumni are large animals that have been discovered in the last century.
What are your favorite cryptids? What creatures of myth, legend, and rumor call out to you?
Favorites will move to the head of the pack for future blog posts.
May you all find your unicorns, fairies and friendly dragons.
Me: You guys sound like a herd of elephants.
Loki: You said I need more exercise.
Hiyu: I DO NOT sound like an elephant. It’s the twins, not me.
Me: You guys are making me dizzy with all this gallivanting about.
Hiyu: We certainly aren’t gallivanting. That means wandering aimlessly.
Kuri: Yeah, we’re running full speed, cornering fast, testing our speed and reflexes.
Me: Dare I ask why?
Kuri: We’re on a hunt for the tree.
Loki: We know it has to be here somewhere.
Me: We don’t have a tree yet.
Kuri: The Christmas boxes have been here a week.
Hiyu: We’re going to keep playing Cat Conspiracy Theory until it’s up.
Me: I thought you guys were having a blast playing The Floor Is Lava.
Loki: It helps having different stacks of boxes everywhere, but Hiyu still wins.
Me: Why do you guys want a tree? You aren’t allowed to touch it.
Loki: We like to lurk around the edges. That’s not really touching it.
Kuri: I like the smell of a tree in the house. Especially now that The Hill got rid of all its houseplants.
Me: I decided you three were more than enough work. The houseplants all went to good homes.
Loki: I miss them.
Kuri: She gave them away because you ate them.
Loki: I only took a few nibbles.
Me: You’ll get a tree next week.
Kuri: Why do we have to wait so long?
Loki: You hid it, we’re going to find it.
Hiyu: What’s the point of unpacking the ornaments if you don’t have a tree to hang them on?
Me: We’re going to share the good fortune we have as much as possible. We’ve gathered too much of the detritus of living in our consumer culture. We’re going to be giving a lot of things to charities, including all these excess ornaments.
Loki: Are you going to give away our toys?
Hiyu: Are you going to get rid of my perching places? What about my hiding places?
Me: Don’t worry. You guys will always have a surplus of everything, however that doesn’t mean we can’t share with those who do not have as much.
Kuri: They can have my old jingle balls, but not our catnip.
Loki: Did you give away our tree?”
Me: I told you it’s coming next week. I suggest you ask our readers where they think we should donate all of this stuff.
Kuri: Okay. Hey Readers, what are good places to donate our ornaments and toys and all the other stuff we’re going to give away?
Hiyu: Question asked. Now back to Cat Conspiracy Theory. Ready, set, go!
Me: We would love to hear your suggestions of best places to donate.
The Hill is back meandering again. For those of you who are new, Rainbow Hill Meanders darts around with glee as the hill roams through the diversity of life, mythology, cultures and eclectic odds and ends.
It’s been a long and exhilarating journey these last few months, but that is what brings me to today’s subject.
Writers are told to “write what they know.” I’ll be the first to admit compared to everything I want to know, I’m fairly ignorant.
The other adage is “write from your experience”, and I would add that there are so many things in life to experience, where will I find the time to experience all of it?
With a few caveats, I can agree with both pieces of advice.
It’s not easy to write about the ocean without knowing the taste of salt on your lips. Sure we can imagine the setting, but the details are in the sea breeze, in the force of the wind bringing sand against your skin and the air filled with the crash of waves and the call of birds.
I could perhaps write forever about the beach from so many experiences in so many climates. There are movements caught in the periphery of vision, and the smell of the sea life on each wave rolling in. All beaches smell a little different, sound a little different and all of them can surprise you with something new.
There are so many great experiences to try, bask in, absorb and feel. There are so many things to learn and find and revel in the knowledge of. There is so much life that we can’t ever experience all of it, but we can expand our experiences by embracing each other whom we meet, by bridging the gap and exchanging our experiences, our triumphs, our failures, and our moments of wonder.
Back to writing.
As a writer you read everything in your genre or subject. Mostly as a writer you need to write. Writing is the ultimate goal. So where do all of these writing adages take me?
We all struggle with work/life balance. Writers add on read/learn/experience/explore and then write. Sometimes this is a daunting commandment. Other times it is the richest gift life has given me.
I’ve tried many methods over the years. This meandering blog is one of my favorites. After all, being a writer encompasses the love of sharing with others. We share our stories, our imaginations, our experiences and our dreams.
If I can share through words the tickle of a crab scuttling sideways across your hand and leaving a small trail of abandoned sand behind then I have shared with you. When I read, it is the other writer sharing back. If I can share a lively detail of dodging a tornado with friends then they can share their own lively tales back.
And back to the writer’s paradox. There are all those hours and connections that enrich us beyond measure, but then there is the solitary art of going into the flow, of coalescing all of richness into a story to share with others.
My wish is that all of the writers out there forever enrich us with their words, their art and the dedication of what is mostly a solitary endeavor. My wish is also that they may enjoy the world and people around them in equal balance.
May tomorrow always bring new discoveries.
What do you think the best strategies are for balancing writing and experience? Life and the work it takes to share our passions? I would love to hear your advice.
I am passionate about mythology, all of it, from the lightest to the darkest tales. This new Monday feature will be delving into even the dustiest corners of myth from around the world.
You can also, periodically, join me in my favorite mythological party games.
Quick! Choose a pantheon, any pantheon, and name the top ten deities.
Or pick a universal archetype and name as many of them from the entire world. For example: The deity of death and/or the underworld.
Mythology, Fairy Tale, Tall Tale, Fable, Cryptozoology: the lines around the definitions of these subjects are murky, sometimes invisible, and often overlap.
Mythology: a body of stories associated with a culture, institution or person. In the ages past, it meant classical Greek and Roman mythologies. Thankfully all societies and cultures are now included.
Fairy Tale: Once, literally, a fanciful story about fairies. Now it includes stories of fairies, other fantastical beings, and magic.
Tall Tale: Improbable or fanciful story. Usually a little newer than the older fairy tales.
Fable: A story about mythical or supernatural beings or events, often with a moral lesson.
Cryptozoology: A study of magical creatures from griffins and dragons to Yetis and gnomes.
Cryptozoology is my favorite and I’ll be sharing my own modern day bestiary.
You’re invited to follow me into a journey of the psyche and the richness of culture throughout the world.
I’d love to have you along on my journey and if there is any creature or myth you’re curious about, send me a comment or email and I’ll get to the bottom of the story.
Crash! Bang! Thud!
Me: What’s going on in there?
Hiyu: We’re doing an inspection and you aren’t passing.
Loki: Relax, you’re mostly passing.
Kuri: Where do you keep the crockpot and all the big kitchen appliances?
Hiyu: We’re doing a CERT Preparedness Inspection.
Loki: Remember, we formed our own type of CERT. We are now a Cat Emergency Response Team.
Hiyu: And you can’t help others until you take care of yourself.
Loki: Yeah, the mantra is “you’re number one”, then “what about you?” If you can’t take care of yourself, you can’t take care of others.
Kuri: Found them. All heavy appliances on the bottom shelf where they can’t fall on your head. Good for you.
Me: You guys still aren’t allowed in the cupboards.
Kuri: Fine, I’ll get on them. Is that better?
Me: What makes you guys think it’s okay to destroy the kitchen?
Hiyu: Official business. We’re pretending to be an earthquake.
Loki: I like practicing opening things anyway.
Kuri: Who knew we would be so good at mayhem and mischief?
Hiyu: I did.
Me: You knock those dishes to the floor and there will be no laser tag for a week.
Kuri: We’re done with the kitchen anyway. Loki and I are going to throw our weight around and see how much furniture we can knock down.
Me: You’re getting a time out.
Loki: Does that mean you don’t have all the furniture attached to the walls? What about these bookshelves?
Me: We’re not getting rid of the books.
Loki: You aren’t going to stop us from making sure you’re earthquake ready.
Hiyu: I HAVE A BRILLIANT IDEA! You can rent us out as CERT Earthquake Inspectors. If we can destroy a house, then you’re in trouble if a big earthquake comes.
Me; (carrying three large, squirming cats in my arms): Enjoy the playroom.
Hiyu: Wait! At least run our previous post about how we created the Cat Emergency Response Team. Our readers will want to know.
Loki: Yeah, someone might have missed it.
Me: Fine. I’ll put the original post at the bottom of this one. Happy?
Kuri: May we come out now?
Me: Not yet. Run off some of that energy and then you can sit on my legs while I get some computer work done. Right now, I’m wishing all of our readers an easier time in their preparedness preparations.
As promised, the original post:
Hiyu: You’re a CERT.
Me: Yes, and…
Kuri: We’ve decided we want to be CERT.
Me: You want to be a part of a Citizen Emergency Response Team?
Loki: Something like that.
Me: You guys aren’t exactly citizens and you don’t have opposable thumbs or…
Hiyu: We know all that.
Kuri: Yeah, we want to form our own CERT.
Loki: It’s brilliant and we can help other cats.
Kuri: Even dogs. We could help dogs.
Me: Let me explain a little bit about CERT.
Loki: We’re going to make our own CERT.
Hiyu: Yes, we’ve figured it all out.
Kuri: We’re going to be a Cat Emergency Response Team.
Me: Cat Emergency Response?
Kuri: I’m going to educate the public about having emergency rations & toys for all of their companions.
Loki: And I’m going to help with post-disaster mental health. I’m good at purring.
Hiyu: You can make little first aid packs for us.
Me: I’m not sure.
Kuri: We can help with search and rescue.
Hiyu: I can get to high places and I’m small enough to get into little places.
Me: That’s quite a dream you guys have there.
Hiyu: If it’s important to you then it’s important to us.
Kuri: You know how much we like to help. I even have an outfit for it. I can do security detail.
Me: You know I’ve got you guys covered. Your Emergency Go Crate is well stocked with food, water and toys. Your pictures, descriptions and up-to-date vaccination records are also there.
Loki: Why do we need more than toys and food.
Me: In case we have to evacuate. Human shelters only allow service animals and if I need to get you boarding then they need all of your records.
Kuri: I’m not going to be boarded. I’m going to be in the thick of it.
Hiyu: That’s why we’re forming our own Cat Emergency Team. We want to be part of the solution.
Me: My hope is that if there is a problem, you guys will take care of the house and the rest of the family while I’m out helping with recovery.
Hiyu: What if we agree to help birds?
Kuri: Or dogs or reptiles or–
Loki: Fish. I like to watch fish.
Me: I appreciate that you guys want to help.
Hiyu: So it’s settled. We’re your own Cat Emergency Response Team.
Me: I love you guys.
Hiyu: I can purr louder.
Kuri: Not as loud as I can.
Loki, Kuri and Hiyu: Purr, purr, PURR.
Me: May all you readers out there be safe and have a plan.