How to make plotting your short story fun with Jason L. Blair’s Full Deck Roleplaying: Setting & Characters

I’ve been talking a lot about poetry lately, but I’m also participating in The Writer’s Games. The challenge to write a short story to a prompt each weekend started two weeks ago. I’ll be getting a new prompt this evening.

As I’ve mentioned in the past, I have found many fun plotting games and devices over the years:

story plotting is fun

Yesterday, I happened upon a new one. Writer and game designer Jason L. Blair did a guest post on Chuck Wendig’s TerribleMinds introducing his new tabletop RPG (role playing game) Full Deck Roleplaying.

I downloaded the Playtest PDF to see what he was talking about and enjoyed that the game is played with a regular deck of playing cards, so I could play along right away.

As I began to read the instructions, I instantly knew this wasn’t only a game, but my kind of writing tool: simple, fun, and full of beautiful illustrations!

The game rules set up categories for scene and character creation based on the four suits: spades, hearts, diamonds or clubs. I’m excited to get started, so I’m going to start drawing cards to see what I’m working with. I found a brand new, unopened deck of bicycle fire cards in the cupboard, so that’s fun. It took me a while to break them in to shuffle well.

As I read through the game play again, I was inspired to try a real test run of the game. To do that, I needed some friends to play with, so to have some much needed fun today (since my internet has been so slow as to be useless for two days now), I decided to create a photography tableau of friends playing the game and run through a scenario.

ready friends

Here are my friends:

Teddy has lived with me since before I was a Swedish exchange student. He has traveled the world with me and is a great travel companion: We never bicker, probably because he doesn’t mind letting me lead, and we like the same things.

Miss Blue and I met in New Orleans. We met at the hat shop I worked at in the French Quarter. She always liked my designs the best. We went for drinks when I got off of work one day and became fast friends. She can be a bit self-centered and is always borrowing my clothes without asking. I get over it quickly though because she looks good in them and she’s a warm fuzzy in my life.

I met Luchinda in San Antonio. She has a very vibrant, spicy personality. Being so passionate, she can also be quick to anger. She and I have a great time, in small doses.

Woody was introduced to me by my artist friend, E. Spencer Matthews III. Woody’s an old fashioned kind of guy who always looks a bit haunted, but he doesn’t like to talk about it. I think he plans on cheating; just look at his deck of cards. He and Luchinda are a fun couple, very lively, great energy, at least, when they’re not fighting.

I thought Levi might join us. He seemed interested when I was setting up the table, but he doesn’t like my friends. He’s playing kitty in a drum right now. Maybe he’ll join us later. If he does, he can play my character while I take pictures.

Miss Blue has printed out game booklets with the rules and player sheets for everyone and will play as the dealer. When she set out a deck of FLORIDA playing cards as the challenge deck, we all laughed.

“I bet there are some unimaginable challenges in there,” I said.

“I hope there won’t be any gator wrestling,” said Teddy with a little shiver.

“I’m up for any kind of wrestling challenge,” said Luchinda.

Woody stared at the Florida deck with a haunted look. I wondered if he had experienced some Florida challenges he would rather not remember.

Miss Blue starts the game by drawing the setting cards.

the setting

Setting

Time: Jack of Spades = Past

Theme: 7 of diamonds = Sci-Fi

Trope: King of Clubs = Conspiracy

“Well that’s just Roswell,” Luchinda blurts out sounding disappointed.

“Or kinda Stargate,” I say.

“What’s wrong with Roswell?” You loved the museum, if I remember correctly,” Woody says with a sly smile.

Luchinda blushes and giggles.

What do you think, Teddy?” I ask. “What setting do you think the cards tell us to have?”

Teddy takes a sip from his candy cane shot glass and says, “The past doesn’t have to be long ago past. It can be last week or a year ago. What if the conspiracy is Bio-weapons and we are trying to find the horrible labs where they are experimenting with the viruses and stop the pandemic before it happens?”

Everyone, other than Teddy, moans.

Miss Blue pats his paw. “Teddy Dear, we’re playing this to escape the pandemic, pretend it’s not happening for a few hours. Lets try something more fantastical.”

“I know, ” she says, “let’s play that all those ideas in the fifties and sixties of space-age colonies and things were true, but they were built on another planet because what really happened is they discovered a wormhole and found abandoned human futuristic buildings and dwellings. They sold these places to the super-rich and kept it secret. They were so happy and secretive, they didn’t have children and the secret died out. We discovered some clues to how to find and activate the wormhole. What you think?”

“Yeah, and there’s a cabal trying to stop us,” says Teddy.

“Sounds good to me,” says Luchinda. “I’ll wrestle the entire cabal of selfish bad guys so we can live happily ever after. Won’t I honey?” she says to Woody, pushing out her full lower lip.

“I’m in,” says Woody. “What do we do next?”

Miss Blue says, “Now, you each get to draw cards from your own decks to create your characters. Shuffle, if you want, then turn over your top card. That will be your character’s focus.”

Woody's asking Luchinda if she shuffled her cards because she has drawn three Jacks in a row

Character

Focus: Teddy and I both got spades which is Wisdom, makes sense, Woody got a heart which is empathy, not sure about that. I guess it’s a character not him– but Luchinda drew a club which means strength, a little on the nose, so now I’m wondering about Woody.

Motivation: This time I matched with Woody: We are both motivated by honor. I mean, our characters are, I mean, we drew clubs. Teddy got a heart which is Love and Luchinda drew a diamond which is money. Woody couldn’t stifle a chuckle at that. Luchinda knocked his hat off. He left it off. I like his bald head.

Light:We each got a different suit which should be good for game play: I got clubs, Woody diamonds, Luchinda hearts, Teddy spades. So my good is that I’m talented, Woody is Affluent (I don’t think that’s true, but he is secretive), Luchinda is Generous (that made everyone laugh, I mean, she is in spirit) and Teddy is Perceptive which everyone knows is true.

Darkness: As for our dark sides, Woody and I are both obsessed, Luchinda is violent (really, it’s like her character is just her), and Teddy is greedy.

So now we get to state three things about our character’s first impression and name them.

Final Details

We chat for a while then Miss Blue gets our attention and says, “Okay, so tell us the name of your character and three things we would notice upon first impression. Woody, why don’t you start.

Woody loosens his tie slightly and says, “His name is Ottis Caldwell, he’s an art historian who is also an activist. His cause is human equality and thinks everyone should have access to space travel, not just the super-rich. Three things that people notice about him right away, are the stains and paints on him because he is always cleaning art or making art. He often smells of turpentine. And he drives a fancy sports car that seems incongruous with his beliefs and activities, but belonged to his father and he tends to it obsessively.”

Everyone  claps, “Maria, tell us about your character,” Miss Blue says.

I look at my notes and feel nervous for some reason. “Dr. Estelle Jetland is a professor of Physics at the Florida Institute of Technology and often consults and works with NASA. She is fascinated with wormholes. She often seems like she’s not listening when you talk to her, but her eyes shine and her whole body appears to vibrate when she gets excited by an idea. People are often surprised that a physics professor has such a beautiful singing voice and can play so many instruments. When she becomes interested in something, she will obsessively research it until she has read everything there is to find on the subject. Teddy is her post doc assistant.

Teddy clears his throat. “Uh, yes. My character is an astrophysicist named Dr. Björn Bernstein. He is doing his post doc with Dr. Jetland at Florida Tech. People don’t really notice him because he always has his head in his work, but what they do notice is he’s quiet, but when he does speak–”

“Boring,” Lucinda interrupts. “I’m a bad ass mercenary named Natalia Bash. First off, I’m gorgeous, tall and lean, but second, every bit of me is muscle. Third, I’m gruff, and confident and nobody messes with me. Right. Where’s my leather jacket? There. Now, let’s play!”

choosing our characters

What color is your portal? Change it with online paint chips.

I opened a portal

I opened a portal (2020)                 bokeh photograph by Maria L. Berg

Yesterday I started a new Coursera course: Songwriting:Writing the Lyrics with Pat Pattison through Berklee College of Music. One of the first lessons conceptualized a song as three boxes, stacked with the smallest on top. The top box fitting inside the middle box and both fitting in the bottom box. He used this imagery as the build and progression of the song.

I liked how he used “the boxes” and thought it would be a good way to approach a poem, so I thought I would take a look at what was going on at #dVerse Poets Pub to inspire some words to put in my boxes.

I felt like the #dVersepoetics prompt presented by HA: About Portals, was perfect for my poem. I talked a bit about portals and doorways while I was Excavating my mind. The prompt inspired me to open a portal in the side of the house and capture some photographs of the dimensions on the other side.

Where we can see the virus

Where We Can See The Virus (2020)    bokeh photograph by Maria L. Berg

Where there are tiny dinosaurs in the trees

Where There Are Tiny Dinosaurs In Trees (2020) bokeh photograph by Maria L. Berg

I thought I would combine my portal ideas with Linda L. Krushke’s Paint Chip Poetry Prompt. I was looking for interesting color names a couple weeks ago for a poem, but didn’t find what I was imagining. The paint chip poetry prompt got me thinking and I searched again. Sherwin-Williams color families is exactly what I was looking for, so many creative color names with history and symbolism and oddity. It’s great. I can also explore Behr’s colors.

Armed with great inspiration, I lost all energy and interest 🙂 But I came back to it this morning, so I’ll call that a win.

The poem

Portals to here

Doors block and stop
when closed and locked hold
secrets and mysteries, create
yearning and discomfort, force

vocal expression out of context
the imagination runs rabid,
but when the key is found
and the door creaks, cracked

upon its hinges, it becomes
but a frame, lines and angles
to accentuate or break
the nouns within

Portals are but separators,
organizations to define
yours from mine from ours,
space from time, earthly from divine

find the vibration to pass
through the membrane,
concentrate, believe, transform
pass through to here

How long will it take to
notice the subtle differences
What color is your portal now?
Is it the drab aloe vera of the desert house

where I shaved my head
for the first time, or is it marine
like the flap of my tent I call the hurricane
that accompanies me on all my travels

did you walk through the door
that glowed like a sunset behind
the intricate carving of the head of Medusa
that I continued to visit every day in Venice

or is your portal no color at all
a carved opening in a cliff dwelling
showing the complete eclipse
where you look down through infinity, trapped

Monday Quadrille – Mr. Fix-it

Since I finished my short story draft for the Writer’s Games and need to let it sit a bit before the final edit, I thought I would wander over to the dVerse Poets Pub where it’s Monday Quadrille day. Today’s word to put into my 44 word poem is “fix.”

tools of physical labor

Mr. Fix-it

He has always been Mr. Fix-it
he can fix anything
every motor, structure, even nature
bends to his will eventually

But this time admit
he can’t fix this
the right part isn’t online
WD40 won’t loosen this screw
no spray will discourage this scourge

Excavating the Mind Round 2: The poem, the sequential mass

Amazing headlines and a burlap sack

 
I read across the yellowing paper under the burlap sack “Attraction Dear Reader Israel-Syria River Fastest Gun JFK To Head”

across from these headlines the fuzzy blue face admires,
casually aware of thumb tacks
ironic placement comes to light,
reminding me of cyclical efforts to tirelessly beckon sleep
and the weight that killing germs has taken on, so quickly changing focus
of mortal fears and intentions

Is the sky half full or empty when the clouds part only on my right?
wet makes the world reflective
I missed the camellia’s dance on the wind that must have caressed it
with strong gusts to deposit it so far from its bush.
Here, alone in loveliness, swirls of gaudy pink and white,
showing off its golden sex, it punctuates the pavement
But I can imagine the rhythm which lingers
in the metronomic drips of the accumulated leftover rain
microscopic twirlers within the droplets, like the camellia
her shocking cotton-candy petals betray her; she wants to fit in.
The relationship falters when she blooms; her strength and beauty overwhelm.
In a world of gigantic rhododendrons, this flower became a tree.

squatting down to see his world
new perspective’s surprises unveil
a small bit of crumpled foil on the walk so out of place like drugged teens
the follower staggers, attempting to communicate released control
he leads to places I can’t follow
and only pops his head out when I’m too slow
A canyon created, mysterious geological event.
Moss and detritus of trees collect on and in his new surfaces.
from here I see rot and damage near the base
but sometimes rot fuels new life, hope to feed a future
new points of view open whole new worlds, untouchable mysteries
he rears up, pounces on the unseen, again and again

Accumulating colors into the big box of crayons with the sharpener,
crayons juxtaposed with Miracle Gro Shake and Feed tell the story
of my nephew’s attention,
the hand drawn labels, his symbols of language
renaming my vegetables to be
adding the stove to the picture induces my own childhood
melting crayons between waxed paper to grow layers of color
to scratch away rainbow scenes of Halloween witches and jack-o-lanterns
trick-or-treating through the black layer of night

Joyful memories collect in a glass jar of buttons,
my precious gift from my mother who knows me so well,
a history of someone else’s sewing life, leftover closures,
one or more than needed for a loved one’s shirt, dress or coat,
or that one article of clothing wanted but too dear to afford,
replicated by a skilled hand over weeks or months,
this jar of time and intimate design found its way to a sink
next to a vacuum for cleaning a computer that,
at this angle, looks like a robot’s foot also by a sink,
a sink that dripped so it is turned off,
a useless sink, except for its shadow, swan-like, gliding to the jar,
to inspect the colorful contents, to peck and pry the lid,
to crave one button so entirely that it must pluck it in its beak
and taste its story only to enjoy the taste
of that story’s longing so thoroughly that it glides
down its throat and sticks there, choking and gurgling

Music, the skeleton key to memory, to emotion, to the subconscious,
enhancing the flavors of attention and mood
This decorative, vintage key I wear around my neck, the one
that opened our practice room in the old hotel that burned
or the small, recognizable key I called “the key to my heart” with a sly smirk
Music tempers all these keys, opens their doors with new light
flooding each room, perching on different objects each time
a blue note, turned orange by the days, alights a prism of shadows
the crooner’s microphone croons alone, a symbol of passions
warm vibrations again to come
I bob and sway to children’s songs of other lands
in the same way I move to your jazz variations
with joy of place and sound, with wonder and understanding,
I have no choice but to dance in my seat,
putting weight in my pelvis and shoulders, knowing my gut and my breast

I want to play, I search for toys and find
tiny soldiers hiding among the stones of the hearth
I want adventure and wander among the cinders inside the fireplace
goslings arrive as if to accentuate my childishness, so fluffy
this time the geese, now parents, don’t linger for photographic evidence
from the best side

Music holds history like a jar of buttons. A sound, the design of an age,
revealing tools, technologies, politics and fads
all revealed in only the first few notes of a needle on vinyl,
reminding me of a very different world view.
My innocent, naive openness, my rosy oneness
fueled by false advertising and deceptive equivalencies.
Her voice influences the lighting. His piano changes how I see.
The saxophone transports me through time,
then when the needle stops, I stop. I can’t go on with this manipulation.
I need silence, to rest and reflect. To clean up my mess.
Two lifetimes later, I remember everything
was in gelatin and the water tasted like iron,
but I can’t forget the man begging me for my ticket to the buffet

fresh goslings

Happy Reading and Writing!

Excavating the Mind Round 2: Taming through Framing

photograph of a raked garden plot

Garden Potential (2020) photo by Maria L. Berg

Yesterday, I missed the live broadcast of Rattle Magazine’s weekly critique video, but I watched it after. It was very informative. I found it fascinating how little of the original draft may be the real poem, the gold nuggets that can then be mined.

I’m going to watch more of the critique videos before I post my poem tomorrow.

This morning, I enjoyed the interview with Charles Harper Webb and his powerful poem “Prayer for the Man Who Mugged My Father, 72.” I also loved his poem, “Down the Bayou,” a raucous adventure of the imagination.

I’m enjoying that many of these poets are also performing musicians.

Thoughts for framing today’s drafts

As I mentioned in my last post, I am reading Ordinary Genius: A Guide for the Poet Within by Kim Addonizio. In chapter 25 “the poem’s progress” I found some exercises I’m going to try as I’m drafting my poem today. I was especially drawn to the first exercise that asks me to think about some truths I currently hold. Her first example is, “People are inherently good.” An old friend and I recently debated this idea.

The exercise proposes writing three poems based on the truth I currently hold: The first in support of that truth; the second disproving the statements of the first; and the third arguing for and against.

I am also drawn to the sixth exercise in which I open the poem with a specific question and write two poems: one in which I come to a conclusion, and one in which I don’t.

These challenges appeal to me as artistic frames in which to approach this week’s observations. Looks like I have work to do, so many poems to draft.

I hope you will join me tomorrow to read this week’s poem.

Happy Reading and Writing!

Excavating the Mind Round 2 Day 5: Observing with American Sentences

trees in the zoo

Trees in the Zoo

  • Neighborhood trees are in cages; I throw meat at them, but they don’t move.

I am working on a week long photography and poetry challenge inspired by a prompt from Poets & Writers called Excavating the Mind.

Today’s Enrichment and Time Engulfer

This morning, I was excited to see that one of my library digital holds came in, so today I get to explore Ordinary Genius: A Guide for the Poet Within by Kim Addonizio.

Here she is talking about the book:

Her first prompt in the book is “american sentences,” Allen Ginsberg’s take on the haiku, a sentence of seventeen syllables. He introduced them in his book Cosmopolitan Greetings. If you would like more information, Paul E. Nelson provides a PDF called American Sentences Workshop. I thought it was fun that he talked about juxtaposition creating tension.

Chapter 17 is “three observations.” I skipped to that chapter to see how Ms. Addonizio approaches her observations and translates them into poetry. She says that when she’s trying to use up some time when waiting, she tells herself to look for three things that are “striking or unusual” and make a note of them.  I like the idea of combining these two exercises. I will attempt to find three striking and unusual things to observe and create american sentences to describe my observations.

Day 5 notes and observations

Poets are people who notice what they notice – Allen Ginsberg

With that in mind, Levi and I set out to notice three striking or unusual things. We stumbled upon the first unusual things right away. Levi pointed out a flower that had fallen, but I focused on a small piece of crumpled foil in a place it had no business. The mystery foil led me to some worrying thoughts and my first american sentences.

  • This foil whispers secrets of teens doing drugs in the night, left behind
  • A small bit of crumpled foil on the walk so out of place like drugged teens

For the next unusual thing, we looked slightly beyond our usual trek around the house and ventured past the end of the driveway. We found this oddly broken and separated rock.

  • This rock, solid and strong through aeons, not cracked, nor broken, but apart.
  • A canyon created, mysterious geological event.
  • Moss and detritus of trees collect on and in your new surfaces.

Our final striking thing was a shocking pink giant rhododendron mingling with the trees.

  • Her shocking cotton candy petals betray her; she wants to fit in.
  • The relationship falters when she blooms; her strength and beauty overwhelm.
  • In a world of gigantic rhododendrons, this flower became tree.

There you have it, the last day of the second round of pictures and observations. I’m glad I repeated the exercise for a second week, so many different and unique observations. Tomorrow the drafts and on Sunday a new poem.

Happy Reading and Writing!

Excavating the Mind Round 2 Day 4: Music’s Influence

music to influence observations

I am working on a week long photography and poetry challenge inspired by a prompt from Poets & Writers called Excavating the Mind.

Today’s Enrichment and Time Evaporator

Nature Photography

This morning I found some great nature photography posts to enjoy:

CAS Big Picture Natural World Photography Competition

Underwater Photographer of the year 2020

and for laughs

12 Funny Wild Animal Pictures: A Comedy Wildlife Photography Award Preview

Poetry

I headed back to the Rattle Poetry Youtube Channel because I enjoyed it so much yesterday and found this wonderful poem by William Trowbridge “Oldguy Superhero, Counterterrorist.” It made me laugh.

Day 4 notes and observations

Last night I watched Jericho Brown, this year’s Pulitzer-Prize winner, interviewed by Alphonso David, president of HRC Human Rights Campaign. It included so much great information. I especially enjoyed this great quote:

Poetry is the genre of investigation and discovery – Jericho Brown

So let’s get to investigating and discovering.

I thought I would use Visuwords again to create today’s frame. I let it provide the original word which turned out to be tonal. One of the word associations was music. When I double clicked on music, I broke the program! The screen filled with words incredibly quickly then the mass of words and lines danced back and forth across the screen and never stopped. This, in itself, brought to mind how music is a universe, a broad framework that flavors every observation.

Since it’s another rainy morning and I’ll be observing inside, I decided to select a variety of records from my eclectic collection (four albums I have not listened to yet on the new record player) to spice up my observations. I also played with some different lighting: a full spectrum bulb on a stand with a shadow box and Prolite Electronix RTL 30 as a spotlight.

First influence: Anna Moffo – Heroines From Great French Operas (1975)

Anna Moffo

Her voice put me in the mood for more romantic lighting, so I grabbed those thumbtacks I observed in juxtaposition and put one in a previous hole I found in the wall then stung some blue lights and turned off all the others. I enjoyed how the blue reflected on the album cover and matched the glow of the display of the record player.

The spotlight on the plain wall made me want to make shadow puppets. Because the light I used was made of many small lights, It created an interesting effect.

 

Since I was playing, I decided to put on KLAPP och KLANG (1969), a Swedish language record of children’s songs, as the next influence.

Klapp och Klang

I instantly found myself bobbing side to side in my seat and snapping my fingers to the music. I took down the blue lights and turned on all the others. I was drawn to some tiny figures that have been on the hearth since before I moved in. Then I felt like exploring for more toys.

I just looked out the window and two geese swam by with their brand new fluffy babies, so I quickly changed my lens and ran out to capture a couple picks of goslings.

They swam away quickly this time, so back to it. Next up we have Ahmad Jamal- All Of You (1961). This light piano-led jazz has me moving in the same way as the children’s songs: bobbing and snapping.

Ahmad Jamal

Notes:

  • music makes me contradictory: I want to sit contemplatively, but I have to move
  • the mood of the music changes my lighting preferences
  • an object, like a certain microphone, can symbolize the person who uses it
  • the roll of the sleeve on my jean jacket has been preserved through all space and time like an ancient artifact in a museum

Today’s final selection is Alla Pugacheva in Stockholm (1985). This is amazing. A Russian pop star, singing in English, recorded in Sweden and yet, so distinctly ’80s. Oh that saxophone! I remembered that I still have the jean jacket with the pins on it that I got in Sweden and Leningrad.

 

That was fun. I really enjoyed how the music influenced what I observed and how I observed it. Still one more day to go, but I can see how this week’s poem will be very different from last week’s.

It’s Open Link Night over at dVerse Poet’s Pub. Head over and share your favorite poem you wrote this week and read and comment on all the other great works.

Now to play with Kari McElroy’s Musical Alphabet Coloring Pages and explore the music of all the artists she has drawn.

Happy Reading and Writing!

Excavating the Mind Round 2 Day 3: Framing my observations with word association

I am working on a week long photography and poetry challenge inspired by a prompt from Poets & Writers called Excavating the Mind.

Rattle scheduleToday’s Enrichment and Time Eraser

This morning I got an email from Rattle magazine telling me about the videos they are creating on youtube. I enjoyed listening to Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer who posts a poem every day on her website A Hundred Falling Veils. Not only is she a poet with twelve published books and a new book coming out in the next few weeks, she is also a linguist who gave a TED talk called The Art of Changing Metaphors.

“Don’t think of an elephant!” Now you’re thinking about an elephant. Her ideas on framing inspired me to explore a frame for today’s observations.

Yesterday, Trish Hopkinson wrote a post that caught my eye about word association tools. I decided to try out Visuwords with my frame for today’s observations, inspired by my first look out the window “Wet.” Once I figured out that double clicking on a word expanded the associations, and I could move the clusters around, I had a lot of fun. Here’s what I came up with for the word “wet”:

Wet word association visuwords

 

Armed with inspiration, a frame, and some great words, I headed out to observe my world.

Day 3 notes and observations

To my right, blue sky peeks through. To my left, dark clouds roil.

I enjoy how one lovely camellia, far from its bush, punctuates the pavement.

The drips create a metronome.

Notes:

  • a sky half full or empty?
  • surfaces shine with a wet gloss
  • the gloss enhances textures
  • the air is full of rhythmic drips
  • tapping time with invisible dancers
  • or microscopic dancers within the droplets
  • wet makes the world reflective

There you have it, the third day of the second round of pictures and observations

Happy Reading and Writing!

Excavating the Mind Round 2 Day 2: Odd Juxtapositions Come to Light

an odd collection

I am working on a week long photography and poetry challenge inspired by a prompt from Poets & Writers called Excavating the Mind.

Day 2 notes and observations

The last time I took pictures in the house, I made a quick note about juxtaposition. I wrote, “I find how objects end up together in space intriguing.” I have never been a stickler for putting things in some designated rightful place. And during quarantine, I have enjoyed pulling things out of the closets. Thus, my home is full of interesting object placement, creating juxtapositions of objects that could create wonder. I thought I might play with artificial lighting while exploring the house, observing my odd juxtapositions.

*Note: None of the objects in these photographs have been moved, arranged or organized in any way. I am observing. This is how I found them.

I started out in the closet to get my clip lights. Levi joined me, but stepped through the looking glass. I didn’t realize until later, that he was sucked into the bass drum. I continued my exploration and observations alone.

I immediately began noticing strange juxtapositions right there in the closet. On one shelf, a small burlap sack rests atop an old newspaper with fascinating headlines. On the shelf on the other side of the closet, a blue fuzzy head buddies up with a container of thumb tacks.

After these initial observations of naturally occurring unusual juxtapositions, I dove into exploring subtle changes with lighting of one odd juxtaposition at a time. I started with some orange lenses I bought a couple years ago for using with my computer before bed. They are supposed to help me sleep. I find it ironic that they ended up hanging out with my books. The lighting changes: room light, no room light one clip light, no room light two clip lights.

Next, a bottle of hand sanitizer and some two pound weights on top of my bookshelf

I left my room and found some interesting juxtapositions on the counter of the kitchenette.

Notes:

  • observing the same things with different lighting from different angles turned my mess into a series of still lifes
  • clutter disappears when not paid attention too, but comes alive under observation
  • groupings of objects tell a story
  • observing how and where I leave things is the true excavation of my mind
  • blur and shadow add suspense to a still life
  • the mini-vac from that angle looks like a dismembered robot foot

I really enjoyed the shadow of the faucet in that last picture of the button jar.

There you have it, the second day of the second round of pictures and observations

Happy Reading and Writing!

Excavating the Mind Round 2 Day 1: Cat’s Eye View

I am working on a week long photography and poetry challenge inspired by a prompt from Poets & Writers called Excavating the Mind.

Day 1 notes and observations

Today, I thought it would be fun to let Levi be the leader in our morning game of follow the leader. I attempted to let him lead me and see the world from his point of view which entailed many squats, sitting, kneeling and lying on the ground, so I also got a nice workout. First, we observed Max then the bases of trees.

From there, Levi led me into my garden plot that I need to tend to. I was excited to see squash starts in my compost.

squash starts

Levi squeezed through the steps and under the porch. I could not follow, but took some pictures.

Notes:

  • Levi does not understand that he’s the leader, he keeps stopping and waiting for me to go somewhere
  • He also keeps walking up to me when I’m trying to take his picture from a distance
  • there are plant starts in my compost. Yay squash!
  • there’s a whole world under the porch
  • kitty is pouncing on something I can’t see in the grass

Trying to observe the world from Levi’s point of view helped me pay attention to things I might not have seen otherwise, like the plant starts in my compost, the individual rocks that make up the old fireplace, the little piles of dried leaves on the steps, and the lowest branch over the water. I think it’s supposed to rain for the next few days. I look forward to whatever creative ways of observing will come tomorrow.

the bottom branch

There you have it, the first day of the second round of pictures and observations.

Happy Reading and Writing!