Haiku Friday: Spiders

Here’s my haiku for today, on the topic of Spiders:

some people are scared

of spiders, but I like them

hairy legs and all

It’s Haiku Friday again.  For the past twenty years or so, it has been my practice to write one haiku every day. Every Friday I share a haiku here, about whatever topic I happen to choose.  I invite you to write a haiku on this topic too, and share it with me and the readers of this blog.  Just write it in the Comments below.  The only rules are:  1) your haiku must be about the named topic; 2) you must follow the 5-7-5 syllable format; 3) no obscenities or hate (I will delete those).  That’s it.

Tip: Make Your Time Count – You Never Know

This is not merely a tip about writing. It’s about life. It’s tied to writing because it’s about the man who invented the modern printing press. I read about him in The Writers Almanac, which if you don’t subscribe to, you should. (Another tip!)

 

His name was William Bullock, who in 1863 patented the first rotary printing press. This machine self-fed the paper, printed on both sides, and counted its own progress, and this invention meant that newspapers no longer had to rely on one operator feeding individual sheets of paper into the press. It meant that many more newspapers could be printed, they could be sold for less money because of the volume, and more people would read them. In short, William Bullock’s invention revolutionized the newspaper business.

 

Bullock often helped install the first presses. One day he was installing a press for The Philadelphia Press when his foot got caught in the mechanism. His leg was crushed, and a few days later he died during surgery while they amputated his leg.

 

So my tip is this: do what you love, because you never know what will happen next. If what you love is inventing printing presses, spend your time inventing them anyway, even if they kill you.

Compost: What To Do with Internal Critics

I’ve blogged and written many times about my various internal critics. I give them names, physical descriptions, and personalities. This way they become real and cannot live as cowards hidden inside my head. I see they are not my friends and I am able to banish them – maybe not for always, but at least they stay away for a long time and when they do reappear I know how to banish them again.

 

One of my critics I named Ed, a sour and skinny middle aged man who used to be an accountant, a trade he learned while keeping track of my failures and shortcomings. I banished Ed many years ago, but sometimes he zips into my consciousness and when he does I know it is time to pay him a visit.

 

Ed now lives in a retirement home, one of those dreary high-rise apartment blocks that are cheap and have all the green pressed out of them, and where the hallways smell of cabbage. Because I am sorry for Ed in his lonely old age, even though his loneliness is his own fault, I take him flowers when I visit. He will probably throw them away as soon as I leave. Then I sit and talk with him and I let him tell me every single thing that is wrong with every single one of his fellow residents. This is what makes him happy. But when he gets around to criticizing me I rise and tell him I must go now. I pat his thinning hair as I exit. Outside I look back at Ed’s window and see him making notes on our visit, cataloging all the stupid things I said and did, so he will know what to tell me next time.

 

I deserve a medal for visiting that mean old fart, don’t you think?

Haiku Friday: Infinity

Here’s my haiku for today, on the topic of Infinity:

disappear into

that infinity of light

maybe then you’ll know

It’s Haiku Friday again.  For the past twenty years or so, it has been my practice to write one haiku every day. Every Friday I share a haiku here, about whatever topic I happen to choose.  I invite you to write a haiku on this topic too, and share it with me and the readers of this blog.  Just write it in the Comments below.  The only rules are:  1) your haiku must be about the named topic; 2) you must follow the 5-7-5 syllable format; 3) no obscenities or hate (I will delete those).  That’s it.

 

Sharing Word History: Cow Shots

The word vaccination comes from the Latin word vacca, which means cow. Huh? Why would inoculations be named after a cow – do you know? If you don’t, here is why:

 

Inoculations had been used to try and prevent smallpox, which killed millions of people. Doctors  introduced the live smallpox virus under the skin, hoping to create a mild case of smallpox and thus build immunity. This method was somewhat successful, but as you might imagine, it was also risky because sometimes those introduced cases didn’t turn out to be so minor.

 

Then in 1796 a man named Edward Jenner, a doctor, heard a milkmaid brag that she couldn’t catch smallpox because she had already caught cowpox from the cows she milked. Cowpox was related to smallpox, but had only a mild effect on humans. It was Jenner’s idea to inject fluid from cowpox sores into people, instead of live smallpox, and hope it would build immunity to smallpox as well. It worked and Jenner called his method “vaccination” after the Latin word for cow. Jenner published his research at his own expense, and spent the rest of his life promoting the practice of vaccination.

 

All words have a story.

Ghostwriting for a Dog: Beagle Wisdom

Goody Beagle here. My human expects me to give her my ideas and beagle wisdom every other Monday, so she can write them in her blog and enlighten the world. Well, I’m all for enlightening the world, and I do consider myself to be a wise beagle, but some days I just don’t feel like sharing, you know?

I’m way too busy snoozing on my bean bag bed, whenever I can steal it back from The Cat, or digging up Alex’s bones that he is stupid enough to bury in the back yard cuz he hasn’t yet figured out that I can smell bones no matter where he buries them.

Or I might be smelling squirrel trails and neighbor dog poop in the back yard, which is part of my job of patrolling my territory, or watching the crows and the bunnies play on the front lawn – I can only watch because my human won’t let me out to chase or smell them – which I must say is pretty mean of her, especially if she expects me to give her the benefit of my wisdom so she can write her darn blog, which is something I don’t care much about because I don’t read and a blog has no smell.

So here’s my bit of beagle wisdom for today: I don’t think so.

 

Haiku Friday: Holes

Here’s my haiku for today, on the topic of Holes:

lies and betrayals

nibble your soul, bit by bit

‘til you’re full of holes

It’s Haiku Friday again.  For the past twenty years or so, it has been my practice to write one haiku every day. Every Friday I share a haiku here, about whatever topic I happen to choose.  I invite you to write a haiku on this topic too, and share it with me and the readers of this blog.  Just write it in the Comments below.  The only rules are:  1) your haiku must be about the named topic; 2) you must follow the 5-7-5 syllable format; 3) no obscenities or hate (I will delete those).  That’s it.

Tip: Another Shake Up

Here’s another tip I use to shake up my writing, again courtesy of Natalie Goldberg. Take a line of poetry – any poem you want, and use that first line as the first line in a paragraph, and springboard from it. Again, don’t overthink, don’t pause, just scribble whatever stuff comes up for you.

 

Here’s what I wrote when doing this exercise, using the line “I am a wumberlog, you see” by John Lennon, from his book “A Spaniard in the Works.” My paragraph is a little weird, but then so was John Lennon.

 

I am a wumberlog, you see, and a wumberlog can see what you cannot, so you see I am not a wumberlog, but if I was, you could not see it. A wumberlog lives in the dense rain forest of the Olympia Peninsula where even the sun seems wet and the ferns wrap damp fronds around your ankles as you pass by the trilliums and bleeding hearts. The wumberlog hides underneath rotting fallen logs and inside the cast-off skins of snakes. Don’t think I’ll tell you what a wumberlog looks like, because I won’t. If you knew you’d tell others and then they’d all come and we’d have chaos here in the forest – not the ordinary forest chaos of death and worms and rain, but the dry, sharp dusty chaos that swirls around metal and other things made by men. We’d have girders and beams and nails and men with thick boots and even thicker heads calling out “Over here, Fred!” and “Watch out, Bob!” as they build their ugly metal cages to sit on the floor of the forest so they can show off the wumberlog habitat and maybe catch a young wumberlog or two, those too inexperienced to hide. And then the scientists would come with their probes and their measurements and their invasive theories and they’d breed more wumberlogs in captivity – well you get the picture, don’t you? Now go away.

 

Go ahead, try this exercise. See what your mind throws up. You’ll probably be surprised. I was.

 

Compost: How Much Art is Enough?

Some writers, musicians, and artists are incredibly prolific during their lifetime. But what about the one-time wonders or those who die young? Margaret Mitchell wrote only one book, but that book was Gone With the Wind, and people are still reading it, 80 years later. Maybe they’ll be reading it 800 years later, who knows. Still … Mitchell died in her late forties, but surely she had enough time to crank out a sequel, right? Why didn’t she?

What if all you do is just one incredibly beautiful thing during your lifetime – does that mean you have lived a successful life? I think it does. If Janis Joplin had only sung one song and that song was Summertime, wouldn’t that justify her short existence? I think it does – art is like that. Sometimes just one thing is enough. Maybe that’s one reason Joplin checked out so early – how could she top Summertime?

These are the things I remind myself of when my internal critics try to tell me that I need to write more, and more, and more, because whatever I have done so far is not enough. I do not have to be a Shakespeare or a Danielle Steele.

Haiku Friday: The Worst

Here’s my haiku for today, on the topic of The Worst:

gotta is no good

shoulda is no better, but

coulda is the worst

It’s Haiku Friday again.  For the past twenty years or so, it has been my practice to write one haiku every day. Every Friday I share a haiku here, about whatever topic I happen to choose.  I invite you to write a haiku on this topic too, and share it with me and the readers of this blog.  Just write it in the Comments below.  The only rules are:  1) your haiku must be about the named topic; 2) you must follow the 5-7-5 syllable format; 3) no obscenities or hate (I will delete those).  That’s it.