#Writober Day 29: #SoCS Surprise Halloween Element

Happy Jack by Maria L. Berg 2022

I’m so excited to share that I am now a published photographer!! One of my photographs is in the latest issue of Wrongdoing Magazine. You can view it online (pages 98-99).

Stream of Consciousness Saturday (SoCS)

Today’s prompt for some stream of consciousness writing is “element.” Here’s an excerpt from this morning’s journal pages:

These days everything is an element of novel prep: story broken into characters, settings, plot points, broken into their elements: physical, psychological, sociological. My life, each day broken into its elements, sleep, work, play broken into their elements, trying to gear everything toward novel writing, to organize to efficiency and motivation.I’ve seen a periodic table of writing tropes, I wonder if there’s a periodic table of novel writing. How would I organize it? Like the periodic table of elements has metals, metalloids, and gases: my table would have story elements, writer’s life elements, and what else? Or maybe it needs for categories like the four elements: earth, air, fire, and water. What am I thinking? I don’t have time to be making some silly periodic table of novel writing, I still need to develop my characters.

Tourmaline .’s Halloween Challenge

Today’s prompt is Pumpkin. I didn’t get a pumpkin this year, but I did grow some adorable tiny acorn squash in my garden. They are delicious. I bake them with a tiny bit of olive oil and fresh herbs. I thought I would have some fun attempting to carve one this morning.

I am so happy with how my tiny Jack-o-Lantern squash turned out. I put some color-changing fairy lights inside and this is now my favorite Halloween decoration!

Pumpkin Envy by Maria L. Berg 2022
Fairy Scary by Maria L. Berg 2022

OctPoWriMo

Death News by Maria L. Berg 2022

Today’s prompt is about writer’s block, and the challenges of birthing something new. Bianca mentions blackout poetry, and I decided that would be fun since I’m having a crafty morning.

Death News

When it comes,
timid and predictable,
It’s been watching the world.
You don’t survive
when it comes
nobody does

View—for the night has fallen

Switch on
in the early evening
You will see
I know scared,
ponderously slow,
ferocious, and seeking
to survive

View—for the night has fallen

Many are the figurative,
especially those
under the bus tomorrow
who are pretty and
have totally collapsed
that, of course, is no accident
I swaggered into a hotshot;
they carried me out in a body bag.

Writober Flash Fiction

Today’s inspirational image is “Shhh” by Gary Bedell. This somehow manages to take the monster in the closet to a new level. So creepy. Here’s an excerpt from “Clown Closet:”

As I reached for the handle to pull the closet open, he slid around my waist, clinging to my pink terrycloth robe like a security blanket. He had never been a clingy kid, not a thumb sucker or a blankie or teddy needer; this felt like a strange reversal to babyish behavior. My mind was searching through all the development books I studied while he was in the womb. Everything had gone so smoothly so far, I had forgotten most of it. ” Reese, what happened? What’s wrong?”
I yanked both doors open all the way as quickly as I could, imagining this was like yanking off a band-aid.  I paused for a moment taking in his box of toys on the floor, the lasso flopping out of the box, from his short-lived cowboy faze, the broken model plane from the dangerous dizzying glue faze, some strange stuffed animals—gifts that were never played with. His clothes all neatly hung across the rack looked in order at eye level, and on the upper shelf his collection of board games that we keep trying to play as a family when his dad has a free half-hour after dinner, which is almost never.
“Look, Reese, honestly, there’s nothing out of place. Everything is as it should be.”
Reese pushed me forward so my chest was touching the clothing on the hangers. I now knew what it felt like to be a human shield. He pushed around me to the right . The pause made me think he was examining up and down, every possible section of wall, then he pushed around to the other side. 
Certain that he must have been convinced, I said, “So what do you want to wear today? We’ve got to get a move on or you won’t have time for any cartoons.”  But when I tried to step back so he could see his clothes too, I felt resistance. “Reesey, come on. Let go of my robe.”
“Mommy, stay still. Don’t move. And don’t look up.”
I looked at the games. There was Twister, Chutes and Ladders. Nothing to be afraid of.
“I said, don’t look up,” he whisper hissed. “Mom? I’m feeling pretty sick. I don’t think I should go to school today.”
“Honey, if that were true, you would have said you weren’t feeling well when I first came in. There’s no such thing as sudden-sick.”
“Sick has to start some time. There’s always a start.”

#SoCS: Clearly Relieved

Relief by Maria L. Berg 2022

Relief

I’m excited for a little relief today. I’ve had stomach pain the last couple days, so alleviation, ease, or deliverance through the removal of pain, distress, oppression, etc. is greatly appreciated. A rain-free day with some sun is also something affording a pleasing change, as from monotony: release.

While thinking about visually creating relief, bas-relief came to mind. Bas-Relief is a sculpture technique in which the shapes only rise slightly from the flat surface of the background. In this case relief means the distance of the carving; bas-relief is low relief or a short distance, close to the surface compared to high relief. Coins are a good example of bas-relief images.

Because I finally have some relief from the rain and clouds, I can play with all my new transformer filters on the lake. The images I create using the glints of lights on the lake are like bas-relief in a way as the shapes stay connected to the water’s surface.

Relieved by Maria L. Berg 2022

Stream of Consciousness Saturday

Today’s prompt is “clear.” Here’s an excerpt from this morning’s journal:

A clear blue sky. Finally. A faint half-moon lingers just above the all firs behind the house across the lake. Today’s mission is clear: to plant. I looked at the seeds I have, the herbs my sister gave me for my birthday, the vegetable seeds left from last year: lettuce, spinach, cabbage, radishes, and beans are all going to find homes in the soil today. Here I go.

Clearly, I did not expect pulling that dead plant out of the bed and putting my sister’s little birthday flower in its place would be so difficult. The dirt was hard as concrete and full of rocks. The wayward grass did NOT want to come out. I hope that little flower lives after all that effort. I’m glad it’s supposed to be nice tomorrow too because my nieces are here, and now I clearly have other things to do.

Maria L. Berg 2022

The Poem

Brief Relief

And when I finally find relief
release from pain and mind left clear
blue sky cloudless and half-moon near,

I hope the moment isn’t brief
the sun set free is quick to sear
and blinds all thought to steer or veer

Since time is such a greedy thief
a heart remembers cupid’s spear
a pain that aches renewing fear,

relying on our group belief
of control and measured hours: we’re
among our peers existing here

to smear the days with its mischief
the half-moon leers then disappears
leaving a trail of relief’s tears

And when I finally find relief
I hope the moment isn’t brief
since time is such a greedy thief
relying on our group belief
to smear the days with its mischief.


Release by Maria L. Berg 2022

#SoCS: Sticks and Stones and Words

Fragility by Maria L. Berg 2022

Fragility

The quality or state of being easily broken, shattered, damaged, or destroyed: delicate; brittle; frail: vulnerably delicate, as in appearance: lacking in substance or force; flimsy: in a weakened physical state; slight; tenuous: fragility comes to everything and everyone at one point or another. I think of thin, brittle, sheer tissue; skeletal frames; loose connections, crumbling.

For my images, I thought about how fragile the paper filters I created with paper punch shapes were. I pulled out the roll of paper to make a new one, but then thought about the loosely connected fragility of old lace. I have a collection of old lace trim, and tried placing some over the lens shield. I really like the effect.

A Fragile Connection by Maria L. Berg 2022

Stream of Consciousness Saturday

Today’s prompt is to write about a phrase from childhood. Here’s an excerpt from this morning’s journal:

I thought of discipline first: Just wait ’til your dad gets home, and I’m gonna count to ten, but there has to be some fun phrases from childhood. I thought of Step on a crack . . . ; Tag! you’re it; Jinx! you owe me a coke; but none of those really spoke to me. Then I thought of Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me–a phrase used a lot as a kid that proved not to be true–and I’m rubber and you’re glue; your words bounce off me and stick to you–fun to say, but also not true. The sticks and stones saying goes well with today’s abstract noun “fragility”, and both phrases feel like they would work well in a poem.

Maria L. Berg 2022

The Poem

Human Fragility

Sticks and stones–

so abundant / all around on the ground
quick to hand / broken from a dry branch
weaponized / slung, thrown, whipped, battered, broken
with the slightest aim / anger-fueled force

–may break my bones,
but words–

symbols and sounds / agreed upon to have meaning
combined with malicious intent / to produce hurt in the perceived fragile
shouted and chanted to taunt / because repetition erodes caverns from the cracks
because words evoke emotions that / though we’re told they don’t matter

–can [never] hurt me.

A Fragile Ecosystem by Maria L. Berg 2022

Hunting the Elusive Rest

I found this month’s prompt Rest, Sleep and Hibernation very inspiring, and I’m excited to share my finished multi-media video. I really enjoyed how the stills and video fit with the sounds I collected and arranged. And it was fun to put my poem in the fire. I hope you find this relaxing and restful.

#2021picoftheweek: An Open Book

For Of Maria Antonia’s Photo Challenge #50: An Open Book.

Book Love by Maria L. Berg 2021

I have seen this shot many times, but not tried it. This prompt inspired me to give it a go.

Colorful Book Love by Maria L. Berg 2021

My Consciousness Streams on Day 2: #OctPoWriMo #Writober #SoSC

Though today is Day 2 of OctPoWriMo and Writober, it’s also Stream of Consciousness Saturday, so I thought I would start the day with some thoughts on “inspire/aspire/expire.”

Unedited Stream of Consciousness

At first I thought of the note I made yesterday about surrender: hope/disappointment/death and it fits. After looking up the words and finding the connection to breath, I wanted to move around, inhale, raise, fly, hold, exhale. My original interpretations of each word were far from breath. Inspire as a challenge, guiding to new thoughts, new ideas, excitement. Aspire as something or someone to look up to, something one strives for and wants to be, qualities one wishes to acquire, skills one practices to master. Expire, I thought of death, but like the death card it can be any ending which really means a turn or change. It doesn’t need to be the last breath, but the beginning of the next. breathe/desire/breathe again.

~Maria L. Berg

OctPoWriMo

The prompt from 2018 Day 2 was “Poems and notes to you.” The image is a still from a 1941 Looney Tunes Porky Pig cartoon called Notes To You. I don’t think I made the connection to, or watched the cartoon back then. There are a lot of odd references, and a great ghostly twist at the end.

I’m going to keep “Surrender” as a theme for every day this month. Specifically, sonic surrender. Continuing my stream of consciousness and keeping the prompt in mind, here’s today’s poem:

breathe / desire / breathe again

inspire to acquire
to acquire breath
breath and excitement
breathe delightment
delight in inquiry,
synergy, serendipity,
connections with recollections
memory in emergency
emerging to aspire
arise and pine
in fire’s desire
thirst to soar
so struggle in
ambition’s direction
toward more and more
the apex point
pointing against the sky
eye-popping, intoxicating
impassioned urgency
to fly high not to
expire until ready to
breathe again

Writober

Yesterday’s fun combination of an image and a memory led me to lots of questions and ideas. So today I thought I’d do some research and brainstorming.

Research – First, I wanted to know more about the image if possible, so I looked up the artist and I’m glad I did. On Alex Timmermans’s website he has videos about his liquid plate process, and beautiful photographs in his portfolio. The group of photos that includes one with the boar, is called “Storytelling.” Knowing that he uses taxidermied animals took some of the magic out of the image, but I’ll get over it.

I didn’t find anything specific about Alex Timmermans’s inspiration for the image, so my next area of research turned to the mythology of boars. I found some interesting stuff at Trees for Life. Even a story about Merlin hanging out with a wolf and a wild boar when he gained his powers of prophesy. This site said that boars are guardians of the forest in Princess Mononoke which I have never seen. This idea sounds promising for my story, so I know what I’ll be watching this evening as I brainstorm story ideas.

I finished off my research by taking a look at Dream Meaning. It says dreams with boars are positive dreams that speak to an ability to face challenges to your happiness. It also says that the wild boar symbolizes people who are instinctual, and act on instinct to protect their interests and family. It represents the effort and will to solve your problems. It also means to stay strong.

A couple of the specific boar dreams listed might apply to the image:

  1. “If you hunted a boar and you caught it” : the man with the boar in the image will be lucky and get everything he desires which will make him truly happy.
  2. “When a boar attacked and persecuted you”: This might apply to my wheelbarrow and shovel man. It indicates that someone he cares about will be his enemy. He won’t believe it’s happening, but it’s true. That could be an interesting twist in my story. Something to think about.

How are your stories coming? Have any spooky ideas yet?

September’s Changing Focus Blog Challenge: Reflections

Last month I was excited to find the Changing Focus Blog Challenge, because I’m always looking for ways that my talents and creativity can work together, and a multimedia project around a theme each month felt like just the thing for me. I came up with, and executed, my Pathways response in two weeks. I like it, but it felt like a draft: rushed and rough, And I didn’t realize I didn’t have until the end of the month, so it was late.

So this month, I paid special attention to the end date, and got started right away with an oral poem to music for dVerse Poets Pub.

I thought about reflecting bokeh and tried several shots with the big mirror in the closet, and got some very interesting shots, but that needs a lot more practice.

The lake wasn’t calm enough to get much other than dock shadow. I took a few photographs of reflections in the windows, thinking of setting up scenes inside and doing an inside/outside type reflection.

I wrote more poems about reflections. I found a great site for kids that inspired me to do an acrostic, but that led me to working on a submission for Constellations: A Journal of Poetry and Fiction with the theme Redirections. I love how my work on pathways and reflections had my mind firing for redirections.

After I looked up “reflections” definitions and found “folding back,” I thought my daily inkblots that I started during “Pathways” could continue into this project and I thought about playing with my Rorschach mask, a mask that reacts to temperature change to change its black and white pattern. I couldn’t see through the mask, so the 10sec timed shots were very tough, but I had some fun with it.

However, a couple of minutes of that would take more space and time than my computer or I have; we would all get dizzy; and it seams like something I want to save for a more Halloween inspired piece.

I came up with some melodies in A-flat, chose beautiful chords with my capo on the fourth fret, and yet nothing was coming together. I even started a page in my hardback The Musician’s Notebook: Deluxe Edition, titled it “Reflections in A flat major.” But blank those pages stay. Perfectionism is a curse. Nothing will ever be perfect.

I took my small, ornamental mirror into the bathroom, creating eternal reflections, then I remembered that the large mirror in the office closet wasn’t attached to the wall. It was heavier than I would have liked, but I shoved, slid, carried it into the closet where I was working. I had ideas to film myself moving the mirror while filming to create more and less eternal reflection with my eyes and feet around the mirror: naked to full costume was also an idea through all of these processes.

By this time I was stressing and hitting other deadlines and any one of my ideas would take another month. So this morning, I decided I had to let this reflections project go and do a project every other month and be happy for the inspiration.

But this evening, the world provided. And this panoramic image says it all.

Pathways: a video, music, and poetry project

Update 9/2/2021: After enjoying all the oral poetry for the Poetics prompt this week, I thought the poets of dVerse Poets Pub might enjoy this for Open Link Night. I hope you will check out today’s special guest post from Jacob M. Appel on revision as well.

Here it is! My response to wRightingMyLife’s Changing Focus monthly blogging challenge. The theme was Pathways.

I’ve wanted to try something that combines music, photography, and writing for a while, so this was a great inspiration to give it a try. This first effort was a bit rushed ( I happened upon the challenge halfway through the month), but I had a lot of fun with it and learned a lot.

While putting together the video, I learned how to do some animations with my photographs (haven’t figured out how to use them with my video editing software yet), and learned some techniques for combining motion and still photography.

Recording myself reading my poems was great practice. While practicing, some revisions and edits became obvious.

Writing music to go with the visuals and poetry was very challenging. Many of my ideas just wouldn’t work. I went through days of discarding recordings, but finally came up with the feel of pathways I was going for.

September’s theme is Reflections. I have a lot of reflection to do about my Pathways project. 😉

A Lucky Stream of Consciousness

This year’s Writer’s Games are over. I’m happy to say that one of my stories placed third in its event, so it will be published in the anthology. My first publication this year. Woohoo! This is the first Saturday I’m not working on a story, and am excited to have a Stream of Consciousness Saturday. The theme for today is Luck. Here’s a sample of my stream of consciousness writing on luck in my journal this morning:

“I’m still in disbelief of how unlucky, and lucky, I was yesterday. A simple act of gravity could have been a complete tragedy, but turned out fine. Talk about drama: hot water pouring over a frozen banana in the sink, I step out to get mint, and not wanting bugs to get in, close the sliding door behind me, but the house and gravity conspired, and the hinged bar fell. The door wouldn’t budge. At least I know that little bar does its job keeping people out, but I lock all my doors and windows at all times, so I was screwed. But luck was on my side. I still can’t believe how lucky I felt when the shop door opened. Maybe I wasn’t sure kitty wanted to stay in, so I didn’t lock it after I watered, or if he opened it telepathically, but somehow his recent choice to spend these hot, smoky days in the shop saved me, and the house. It was such a bit of luck, it felt spiritual, supernatural. Luck favors the prepared, but I was not prepared. Once I was back in the house, and had taken many deep breaths, I made the connection that it was Friday the 13th. It had never been a date I paid much attention to before. I wonder if I will take notice and act differently the next time.”

Maria L. Berg

Looking through my WordPress Reader, I lucked into a cluster of Flower of the Day posts: Zombie Flamingos’ black and white response to Cee’s Flower a Day challenge, inspired me to go out and try a black and white flower photo. I love it! And lalalaMonique has a flower a day challenge in which she draws a flower each day. I think I’ll combine all three (though I ignored Cee’s dahlia prompt).

Stumbling upon Cee’s flower-a-day was also lucky because the site has lists of all sorts of challenges. Because I want to focus on recording music on the weekends, I took a look at her list of Music Challenges. I like the blogging challenge idea at wRightingMyLife because it combines writing, photography, and music which is something I want to do. The theme this month is “Pathways.” Luck and pathways go together well.

My overgrown path almost plum-ripe

Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie has something called Lucky Dip which today is a poetry prompt to write a Nonet which is a nine line diminishing syllables poem.

Fickle Luck

When all is shiny and bright as gold
the path ahead clearly unfolds
a gentle ease fills the day
no blockades in the way
birdsong fills the air
not a blister
or ache. We
call it
luck

When all is dark, and hope has run out
everything tried fails, leaving doubt
dare not ask what could go wrong
dread makes the day too long
chainsaws scream a dirge
the next turn will
be worse. We
call it
luck

And talk about lucky! I made the last of my quinoa, not sure what to eat with it, and just before I threw out the bag, I noticed a recipe on the back for Blueberry and Feta Quinoa Salad. And I had all the ingredients (except for cucumber). Delicious!

Fun With Mirrors

The Dverse Poets Pub’s challenge today is to try the Mirrored Refrain form created by Stephanie Repnyek. It looks like a fun challenge of rhyme and repetition. Here goes:

A Needed Rest

Fireflies’ sparks among the murmur,
relief within the monotonous slop,
illuminate the eighth-note rest,
thrust of syncopation, surprise stop.

A small puncture to the drone,
the point of the carving knife presses,
thrust of syncopation, surprise stop.
Illuminate the eighth-note rest.

Spaces of magnetic balance where
attraction and repulsion lock
illuminate the eighth-note rest,
thrust of syncopation, surprise stop.

A skip that jolts the battered heart with
the sharp, invigorating sting of zest,
Thrust of syncopation, surprise stop,
illuminate the eighth-note rest.

The poetry form inspired me to go out and take some fun mirror pictures. I almost melted, but got some nice pictures. Thank you for the inspiration.