Ghostwriting for a Dog: Buen Perro

waggy AlexAlex Terrgi here. Before I came to live with my human here in rainy Seattle, when I was a puppy and a very young dog, I lived in a warmer place called Los Angeles. Until one day I got lost on the streets and got hungrier and hungrier until a man got me and put me in a cage and then I was put in a truck and sent to Seattle to a place called The Humane Society and my now-human came and took me away with her.

When I was in Los Angeles I was not called a good dog. Instead I was called a buen perro or buen chico, and when my people wanted me to come they said “veni” and when they wanted me to stay where I was they said “sientate” and when they took me places they said “vamos.” It took me a while to figure out what I was supposed to do when I moved in with my now-human because she did not use any of those sounds.

But finally I got used to her sounds and forgot the other kind – until the other day when a friend of my human came to visit us and when she came in the door she smiled at me and said, “buen perro”! I was happy to hear these good sounds again so I jumped up on her and licked her hand, and she said “Tranquilo” so I got a little quieter and she smiled again and said “buen chico.”

Then she told my human that I was a bilingual dog because I understood something called “Spanish” and my human said, “What a smart dog!”

I am, you know.

Haiku Friday: Really

haiku pic 1Here’s my haiku for today, on the topic of Really:

 

writing sets you free

to know who you really are

what you really want

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.

Serial Fiction: Grandma’s Masks Installment #30

dragonfliesWelcome back to Grandma’s Masks. If you missed last week’s installment, click the Serial Fiction Tab above. Today we rejoin the woman stuck in the mud and two crown-wearing dragonflies hovering in front of her.

 

“What are you doing here?” said the blue dragonfly crossly, turning on the green dragonfly. “I saw it first.”

“I don’t think so,” returned the green dragonfly. “I’ve been watching it stumble around for ever so long. It’s a new kind of tree.”

“Tree be damned,” said blue dragonfly. “Look at its root planted in my stream. It’s obviously a new kind of kelp, and as the Queen of the Dragonflies I’m claiming it for my own.”

“Queen, shmeen,” snapped green dragonfly. “I’m the King of the Dragonflies and I say it’s a tree growing on my land, and I’m claiming it for my own.”

“Kelp!”

“Tree!”

The woman had been trying to get a word in for some time, but the dragonflies were arguing so fiercely and so loudly that they had not heard her. Finally she yelled, “Wait a minute!” at the top of her lungs.

“What do you want?” snarled the Queen.

“I’m not a kelp or a tree,” said the woman. “I’m a human.”

“Who asked you?” growled the King.

And they went back to shouting at each other.

“It’s a kelp! Think how beautiful it will look, with those long filaments on its head floating in the current. The fish can play hide and seek in the strands.”

“It’s a tree! Those filaments are great material for bird nests – birds will come from miles around just to pluck them.”

“Kelp!”

“Tree!”

“I’m human!” wailed the woman as loud as she could.

“We can’t discuss this here,” said the Queen. “This kelp is making too much noise. Let’s fly to my castle and talk about it there.” She pointed her left wing toward a blue castle on a rock in the middle of the stream.

“You’re right about this tree being too loud,” said the King. “But I’m not flying over your water with all those sneaky fish trying to gulp me down for dinner. Let’s go to my castle instead,” and he pointed his wing at a green castle perched on top of the tallest fir tree in the woods. 

“You must be nuts if you think I’m flying into your woods with all those greedy birds hiding in the nasty leaves,” huffed the Queen.

 

So who’s right? Is the woman a kelp or a tree? Do the dragonflies take her to the Queen’s castle in the river or the King’s castle in the forest? And what about those bees? When do they show up? Come back next Wednesday and find out.

Compost: Why I Ghost

I wrote a short ebook titled 10 Reasons to Be a Ghost, and 10 Tips on How to Do It. It was fun to write and it’s easy to read. Here is one of my favorite reasons I’m a happy ghost – it’s reason #6 in the book.

Reason #6: You will become very good at listening.

Ask any psychologist – the best way to develop a relationship with someone is to learn how to really listen. Listen to not only what is said, but how it’s said, why it’s said, and even what is not said. Listen to the spaces and the pauses and the silences between you. Listen for the hidden emotions and the secrets, and learn how to ask the questions that will release those secrets. For a ghostwriter, knowing how to really listen is a necessary skill, and the more you ghostwrite, the better your listening skills will become.

This will not only help your ghostwriting ability, but you might find that your own personal relationships improve mightily.

For the other 9 reasons to be a ghostwriter and the 10 helpful tips on how to become a good one, you can buy this book on Smashwords for 99¢, or it’s included (along with other ebooks, articles and exercises) when you take my online class “Learn to Ghost.”

Haiku Friday: Humans

zen gardenHere’s my haiku for today, on the topic of Humans:

 

if you know humans

you know the truths you’ve been told

might likely be lies

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.

Serial Fiction: Grandma’s Masks Installment #29

dragonfliesWelcome back to Grandma’s Masks. Today Emma begins reading Lucy the story of dragonflies and bees.

 

Dragonflies and Bees

How to Know Your Place

 

Once long ago, or maybe only yesterday, a woman owned a bit of prosperous land. She liked to keep tabs on her property, so she often went out to walk her acres, just to make sure the orchards were producing fruit and the bushes were producing berries and the streams were full of fish and the woods were full of birds.

One spring morning she walked along her favorite path through the green woods to a rushing stream, where blue and pink wildflowers grew in profusion along the banks. They made a pleasing bouquet when captured in a china vase on her kitchen table.

Standing on the bank picking the flowers, she saw that most of the blue flowers were growing in a clump of reeds just beyond her reach. The bouquet would not look right if it contained only pink flowers, so she took off her shoe and sock, and stuck her left foot into the stream as she stretched to pick the blue ones.

Slurp, suck, shlurp, her foot sank into the muddy stream bottom. Down her foot went until the water reached the middle of her left thigh, and her dress floated on the current. Her other foot was still on the firm ground of the bank, and she tried and tried to pull herself out of the stream. But alas, her left foot wouldn’t budge. She forgot all about the blue wildflowers while she struggled, with one foot in the water and the other on land. She was in a very uncomfortable position indeed.

She was just about to open her mouth to call for help, when a large blue dragonfly flew over the stream and hovered in front of her face. The dragonfly had shimmery blue wings and a bright blue face. A sharp blue flame-like light shone from each pane of its many-faceted eyes. On its head was a golden crown set with sapphires.

Before she could even comment on the incongruity of a dragonfly wearing a golden crown, another dragonfly joined the first, flying in from the direction of the woods. This dragonfly had wings of soft spring green, and a deep green face with green lights dancing in its eyes. It was wearing a golden crown encrusted with emeralds.

 

Okay, dragonflies wearing crowns and a woman stuck in the mud. Sounds like anything could happen … come back next Wednesday and find out.

Ghostwriting for a Dog: The Standoff

cat and bunnyAlex Terrgi here. The other morning I was in the kitchen watching my human scrambling an egg, and hoping it was for me even though I knew it wasn’t, when through the sliding glass door to the outside deck both me and the human saw The Cat coming across the deck with a dead bunny in her mouth. She was heading straight for the cat door so she could bring the bunny inside the house and dismember it.

Leaving the egg to scramble itself, the human jumped to her feet and ran – yes, actually ran – to the sliding glass door, yanked it open and shrieked “get out get out get out!” I tried to run around her, but she blocked me inside the house and then she picked up the deck broom and waved it at The Cat. The Cat tried to feint left around her, but the human foiled her with the broom and The Cat lost her grip on the bunny, dropping it a short distance away from the human and retreating out of reach of the broom.

There they stood, glaring at each other, with the dead bunny lying on the deck between them. They were in a standoff. The human was afraid to move to get something to pick up the bunny (she didn’t want to touch the dead bunny with her hands – humans are weird that way) because The Cat was waiting, alert for her and her broom to move out of range so she could make a quick grab for the bunny and take it somewhere else to wait until the human was gone and she could bring the bunny in the house and tear it into little bloody pieces.

Then the human saw a planter pot with no plant, just dirt, not too far away if she bent sideways and stretched … so she did, and dragged the pot toward her and put it, and its dirt, on top of the bunny, so The Cat couldn’t get to it and take it away. Then the human went inside to deal with the now-burning eggs, while The Cat stayed on the deck and curled her body around the planter pot. Just in case the bunny woke up from the dead and tried to make a dash for freedom.

As soon as the human went into the kitchen, I went through the dog/cat door onto the deck and smelled the pot, the dirt, and the bunny underneath. The Cat tried to hit me on my nose but I jumped back just in time. The Cat glared at me and nudged closer to the pot. I don’t like The Cat, but I understand how she felt. After all, she is old and fat now and it had been a long time since she had caught something as big as a bunny. Even though it must have been a very stupid bunny.

I hoped the human would leave the decomposing bunny on the deck, even if it was underneath a pile of dirt and a planter pot, because the smell was rich and getting richer by the minute. It’s so seldom that my life with humans includes such an interesting smell. But no such luck. After she had another cup of coffee, the human got a dustpan and used it and the broom to remove the bunny (and most of the dirt) to the garbage can in the garage.

And unfortunately I think the chances of The Cat catching another bunny aren’t very good. She’s too old and there can’t be many bunnies as stupid as this one.

Haiku Friday: Cats

haiku pic 2Here’s my haiku for today, on the topic of Cats:

 

if you have a cat

you’ll learn what It’s all about –

It’s about your cat

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.

 

Serial Fiction: Grandma’s Masks Installment #28

mask wall 1Welcome back to Grandma’s Masks. If you missed last week, just click on the Serial Fiction tab above. Today we rejoin Emma as she muses about men – this time the men in Lucy’s life.

Emma:

Now Lucy, she has the opposite problem. Too many men, most of them attractive, high-energy, successful and bright. I think they see her – her height, her deep voice, and her air of having her shit together – as a great challenge. She flirts with all of them, but the one she’s hooked up with is a guy who’s around forty – Lucy likes older men – and a museum director in New Mexico, where Lucy has spent her last two summers working on some archaeological dig. He’s an art lover, so you’d think I’d like him, but I don’t.  He’s too sure of himself. Surer even than Lucy, which is probably why she’s gaga about him. He’s taller than her too. His name is James, and you can bet no one has ever called him Jim. I know I’m being unfair, but he’s so sure of himself, he makes me want to puke.

I loved Grandma, but I worry that I might be like her, one of those solitary loners who really does want to be left alone, like Greta Garbo. Funny how that one line Garbo uttered about a hundred years ago still resonates. As if a woman wanting to be left alone is so absolutely strange that men still have to comment on it.

But feminist musings aside, do I want to be left alone? Jeez, I don’t know. Grandma liked to be left alone, but she lived inside her head, which was teeming with noise, confusion, color, movement, passion and life. She created all these strange elaborate worlds where no one was alone. No wonder she needed peace. 

Suddenly I remember another conversation we once had, back when I was about fifteen and anguishing over not fitting in at school. “I don’t belong anywhere,” I wept.

“I do,” Grandma said. “I belong in my own head.”

“Huh?” I said, with fifteen-year-old scorn.

“When you belong to yourself, no one owns you,” added Grandma. “It’s good to know where you belong, but be careful not to get belonging confused with owning. It’s not always easy to tell the difference, but it’s something all women must know. Because if you don’t, you might be destroyed.”

Belonging and ownership were some of Grandma’s favorite themes, showing up over and over in her work. There’s a mask story about this, what is it? Dragonfly, I think.

Yes, Dragonflies and Bees.  I look on the wall for their masks, and there they are. How handy, she hung them up side by side. The Dragonfly’s body is green on the right side, blue on the left, with a blue and a green wing to match. The eyes are made of tiny pieces of shiny foil paper – green or blue, depending on the side – arranged like a mosaic in a spiral pattern. The wings are shimmery gauze that Grandma painted with darker blue and green spirals with tiny sparkly gold flecks. 

The Bee mask is plural; not just one bee but a swarm; a bunch of pudgy little golden blobs that look more like small, naked, fat fairies than bees. Fuzzy gold hair covers their bodies like haloes, and out of the fuzz on their rear ends peeks their stingers, made from rose thorns. And tiny feathery wings that could not possibly help them fly. But then, the same is true of real bees, isn’t it? And they fly anyway.

I know what story I will tell next.

 

Come back next Wednesday for the beginning of Grandma’s story about Dragonflies and Bees. I promise that you will like it – insects have such interesting personalities.

Compost: Fame or Immortality?

ShakespeareWriters write to be read by others. Those writers who say they write only for themselves are either lying or deluded. Some of us dream of being famous – we want our words to be lionized, admired, complimented, and rewarded with money or power. Some of us instead dream of being immortal – we want our words to be read and remembered after we are dead. (Okay we might want the lionization, compliments, money and power too – but they are secondary.)

There are very few writers who get both fame and immortality. Shakespeare was merely a ripple in the London theatrical pond when he was alive, but now his words are quoted in every language and country in the world, and those writers more famous than him during his time are now identified primarily as “contemporaries of Shakespeare.” When was the last time you quoted Christopher Marlowe or Thomas Kyd?

And consider the case of Herman Melville, the author of Moby Dick. Here’s what The Writer’s Almanac (www.writersalmanac.publicradio.org ) had to say about him: “Melville became consumed with writing Moby-Dick. When he finished the novel he wrote to Hawthorne (to whom he also dedicated the book), “I have written a wicked book and feel as spotless as the lamb.” He thought it was his best book yet. But when Moby-Dick came out in 1851, the public did not agree. It was too psychological. His American publisher only printed a few thousand copies, and most of those never even sold. After his next novel, Pierre (1852), got terrible reviews, publishers stopped wanting to publish Melville’s work. The manuscript of his final work, Billy Budd, was found in his desk after he died, by which time he had become so obscure that The New York Times called him “Henry Melville” in his obituary.”

I think of Herman (not Henry) Melville every time I dream about having the lionization, compliments, money and power of fame. And I remember that I really prefer immortality. It’s good to know why you do what you do.