Youngblood Blog

Writing weblog, local, topical, personal, spiritual

End of an Era—or Just the Beginning

MOVING INTO 21st CENTURY REALTIME CORNER FOR IWSGers or
If your [writerly] past calls, don’t answer

Picasso's fragile crystal 20x20 ft curtain "le tricorne" greeted Four Seasons' diners until sold for a queen's ransom

Picasso’s fragile crystal 20×20 ft curtain “le tricorne” greeted Four Seasons’ diners until sold for a queen’s ransom

The Four Seasons—New York’s world-famed dining emporium-par-excellence at 52nd Street and Park Avenue changed the face of Midtown dining, as did Mies van der Rohe’s magnificent Seagram building, built in 1958, with panache and display more suited to High Empire. The building’s frontage made ‘scandalous’ display of a grand plaza and fountain on Park Avenue’s precious real estate frontage.

Mies van der Rohe's 1958 Seagram Building of 35 stories, with the Four Seasons on its mezzanine floor

Mies van der Rohe’s 1958 Seagram Building of 35 stories, with the Four Seasons on its mezzanine floor

The Seagram Building quickly became an icon of the growing power of the corporation, that defining institution of the twentieth century. In a bold and innovative move, the architect chose to set the tower back from the property line to create a forecourt plaza and fountain on Park Avenue which revolutionized Uptown architecture.

Mies van der Rohe, an adoptive American from the European Bauhaus school of architecture which enlivened German and British design after the drudgery of two wars, completed the building with his own interior design—lobby, elevators, individual furniture, lighting and trademark leather chairs on every office floor, asking his assistant Philip Johnson—architect on the contemporaneous Guggenheim Museum two blocks away, to go wild in creating the restaurant.

Craig Claiborne, then food editor of The Times, reviewed the Four Seasons two months after its July 29, 1958 opening.

“Both in décor and in menu, it is spectacular, modern and audacious, perhaps the most exciting restaurant to open in New York within the last two decades.”
Craig Claiborne

Even Mr Claiborne was impressed by the Park.Ave. Lobster Mousse and Salmon belly flown in from the River Spey!

The Four Seasons cost $4.5 million to open, nearly $40 million in today’s dollars. The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, which opened the same year, cost $3 million. The restaurant closed with an auction of its valuable Jackson Pollock and Joan Miró art last week, 58 years after the day it opened.

Go, wondrous creature, mount where Science guides
Go, measure Earth, weigh air and state the tides
Instruct the planets in what orbs to run
Correct old Time and regulate the Sun
Alexander Pope 1733


OPULENCE OF NATURE—Do We Need Another Wake-up Call?

Expounding on the luxurious nature of that past era makes the mouth water. Those candlelight dinners were nightly celebrated by Wall Street and Washington’s Great & Good, with the world’s foremost champagne on hand, Black Forest Gâteau with genuine cherries imported from, yes, Germany’s SchwarzWald—changes of napkins, matches and décor to reflect each season: green for spring, red for summer, brown for fall, white for winter. We would be hard-pressed to find such opulence now in a public place. Even downstairs, at the Brasserie, the eggs Benedict were to die for.

But such opulence does—or did—still exist until recent years.

The Miners’ Canary

Klamath river salmon no longer on menu at August Salmon Festival

Klamath river salmon no longer on menu at August Salmon Festival

Take the situation in Nature, for example—northern California to be specific: ten years ago all the rivers ran approximately the same course, feeding fish, humans and trees without discrimination or interruption.

Abrupt change, they say, doesn’t happen overnight. But, tell that to the tribal residents and neighbors on paucity-running Klamath, restricted water-hours-Trinity, or the not-so-wild-and-scenic Smith rivers. The Hoopa Trinity statement by Tribal Chief Ryan Jackson says it all:

[This warning is] not just a miner’s canary—it is the tsunami siren notifying North Coast communities of impending environmental catastrophe and cultural devastation
Ryan Jackson, Hoopa Valley Tribal Chair, Trinity River Watershed

Endangered Species Act law suit by Hoopa Tribe of Trinity County initiated by the Elders because symptoms displayed in the famed Trinity River bed show signs of decay and death. The Tribe’s warning to authorities in neglect is that river disease is killing not just the food supply, but the planet’s lifeblood.

Somewhere in this song of great traditions there is an Era-ending note. It may sound slightly off-key. It may not sound terribly writerly to those of my cohorts and colleagues under the tutelage of our Grand-Chef Alex.

But I guess we have to admit it’s here—now—and we’re going to have to deal with it.
Thanks for listening.
©2016 Marian Youngblood

August 3, 2016 Posted by | art, authors, blogging, culture, traditions, writing | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Independence—Brexit for Insecure Writers

MONTHLY INSECURE WRITERS’ SUPPORT GROUP CORNER or
INTERDEPENDENCE sans Frontières

Frightened by our own mammoth mistakes…Didyathinkhesaurus...

Frightened by our own mammoth mistakes…Didyathinkhesaurus…

While Hillary manfully balances the ecological banner, and another more theatrical farce plays out before a world audience, American political fever—no longer showing fervor—appears to influence others around the globe. I speak not just of political change in Australia, South Africa and last week’s headliner, Great Britain, but of an intangible feeling of unrest which now pervades all media-related communications.

Would we [Insecure] writers be surprised if the world at large is responding to the written word? It’s what we do. It’s our job to do it well. Journalists the world over are, after all, insecure writers like us.

Bringing out the Beast...

Bringing out the Beast…

But is battening down the hatches always the answer in a global storm?
Isn’t it more enlightened to swallow hard, grab the wheel and head for port?
Or, even higher, head for the negotiating table——

Twelve other nations within Euroland have made near-fascist or strongly anti-democratic statements. Several with near-Eastern borders make it clear they’re shutting up shop on the neighbors.

Eleven states tried to leave or exit the American Union, which caused America’s bloodiest war, 1861-1865, but those states failed and were forced back into the Union.

“Imagine the absurdity of the EU trying to wage a war to force Great Britain back into the Union”
Christopher H.Helton, Economist

Independence or Interdependence Without Borders

Political suicide or flower arranging for dummies

Political suicide or flower arranging for dummies


You’re the kind of person you meet at certain dismal dull affairs.
Center of a crowd, talking much too loud running up and down the stairs.
Well, it seems to me that you have seen too much in too few years.
And though you’ve tried you just can’t hide your eyes are edged with tears.

You better stop, look around,
Here it comes, here it comes, here it comes, here it comes.
Here comes your nineteenth nervous breakdown
©1968 Rolling Stones

Anxiety used to be something we relegated to the ‘having an attack’ pile—deal with next Tuesday. Now everybody’s catching it.

The Ultimate in national barriers—Hadrian's Wall—between Scotland and England—still stands

The Ultimate in national barriers—Hadrian’s Wall—between Scotland and England—still stands

A little historical background may be helpful in this post-Roman world: after all, it was their historians who came up with Brexit in the first place, when A.D.5th Century Brits tried to break away or hid successfully out of reach behind Hadrian’s Wall. The Holy Roman Empire muddled through the Dark Ages, at a time when Pictish art and astronomy in independent rebel nation of (present) NE Scotland were leading the field.

The American Union of states lasted over two hundred and forty years. The Eurobloc will be lucky if it exists for fifty, because of its “historical absurdity”.

Roman historian Livy (Titus Livius, d. A.D.17) said:

While the Greeks war among themselves in their city states, us [Romans] stand united by law and custom

Economists are already pouncing on the pound, buying it back at a thirty-year low in the very heart of troubled London City Stock Exchange. Historians may be looking wildly at Britain’s adoptive Roman law, finance and order for answers to the future. Perhaps the FTSE knows…

The FTSE carries on.
So then should we.
Carry on.
Thanks to my fellow IWSGers and Alex for listening.
©2016 Marian Youngblood

July 6, 2016 Posted by | authors, blogging, culture, environment, history, writing | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Seasonal Music and Whalesong to Ease IWSG Pain

MONTHLY INSECURE WRITERS’ SUPPORT GROUP CORNER

Migrating gray whales sometimes learn notes from humpbacks on their shared journey

Migrating gray whales sometimes learn notes from humpbacks on their shared jpurney

Rockin’ in the Ole Town Tonight
If—as the Zen Buddhists and String Theory Physicists say—all is vibration—then a full schedule of outdoor music festivals in natural surroundings, weekend after weekend throughput June and July should place Northern California and Humboldt County in particular in good graces with the gods.

Harry Belafonte kicks off Willits, CA series of summer  live music festivals —solstice 2016

Harry Belafonte kicks off Willits, CA series of summer live music festivals —solstice 2016

Headlining the Kate Wolf Music Festival June 23 – 26, 2016 at Black Oak Ranch, Laytonville, CA is veteran crooner Harry Belafonte. Contemporary of Frank Sinatra, Sidney Poitier and Nat Cole, his voice and repertoire have captivated audiences for a minimum of five decades, and still he pleases. Only for reason of age and fame does Belafonte NOT join the revelers who overnight in gay abandon within Black Oak’s leafy canopy, their campground, tents, sleeping bags, makeshift awnings a-go-go all part of the madness of the onset of summer.

Blending Cultures through Music
Free camping goes with ticket purchase at Mateel Community’s 32nd Reggae on the River August 4th-7th in Humboldt County’s renowned French’s Camp, near Garbeville. While international headliners like James Taylor whiz through on a whirlwind tour.

I may be forgiven by my fellow IWSGers—and our faithful Cap’n.Alex—for mentioning only once the fact that, because summer of 2016 is forecast to outstrip 2015 in temperatures and arid conditions, by Lammas and the balmy days of August—Summer’s End—the renowned desert happening of Burning Man may appropriately celebrate burning humans—in the music world, as well as in the ‘real world’.

Camping under the stars to Music has filled summer festivals since Woodstock

Camping under the stars to Music has filled summer festivals since Woodstock

Meanwhile, we writers seem to find a space—rearranging our own personal hell—in order to focus on what we do most of the time—stringing words together.

Does Going Through Hell Help us Write Better?
Quoting our group’s enlightened captain:

Many writers have been through some crisis in their life. Maybe it was a bad childhood, a divorce, drugs, alcohol, illness—the list is endless. It’s left scars and many seem to draw upon their difficult experiences to write great stories.
Alex J. Cavanaugh, author and blogger

Some of us are more fatalistic than others. I can’t seem to shake the feeling that my responsibility lies not just in writing; but somehow in blending into the written fabric some encouragement to my fellow scribes that we will get through this coming crisis. By that I mean us IWSGers: I can’t be quite so optimistic about the human race in general.

So it’s really a good thing to listen to the drumbeat of summertime—let go those old cold winter reins, shake a leg, kick up a jig or two and enjoy the music.

It can’t hurt, can it?
©2016 Marian Youngblood

June 1, 2016 Posted by | authors, belief, blogging, calendar customs, culture, energy, festivals, music, nature, writing | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Beating the Same Drum—for our Earthly Home

MONTHLY INSECURE WRITERS’ SUPPORT GROUP CORNER
Optimism as an Excuse for Delaying

Dr. Suess predicted our human dilemma in finding a balance with Nature

Dr. Suess predicted our human dilemma in finding a balance with Nature


“If we try to ‘save everything,’ we risk saving nothing of consequence. We’re already spread too thin, and losing ground every day”
Corporate ‘optimism’ of Dan Ashe, Director U.S. Fish & Game/Wildlife Service

One of the most facile excuses we have heard recently for the U.S. Government’s NOT upholding the Endangered Species Act.

Created in 1973 as Richard Nixon’s sole claim to humanitarianism on his exit from office, the Endangered Species Act is about to expire. And big business—along with its allies in the huntin’-shootin’-fishin’ aka “sports” community are just going to let it happen.

Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Dan Ashe told a small Defenders of Wildlife group that he sees a “giant clash” between those who favor conservation and those who favor economic development; he believes that conservationists “must accept a world with fewer wolves, salmon, and spotted owls.” The Director of the U.S. agency fully responsible for protecting the nation’s biodiversity went on to say that, in the name of compromise, we must accept “a world with less biodiversity.”

We already live in a world with “fewer wolves, salmon and spotted owls!” Humans used to be able to live in balance with nature, as part of nature. We’ve allowed ourselves to behave in ways that suggest we are above nature—where we have the right to decide which species deserve to survive.

During the current Obama Administration, anti-conservationists have launched no fewer than 100 attacks on the Endangered Species Act. Often hidden, attached as riders to must-pass legislation such as authorization bills for U.S. Dept. of Defense, appropriations bills for Dept. of Interior and other Federal agencies, nearly half of the bills prohibit protection of individual species, such as the grey wolf or the Northern long-eared bat.

The Endangered Species Act is also being dismantled from within. At critical leadership positions, U.S. Administration has chosen individuals uncommitted to preserving biodiversity.

Optimism as an Excuse for Decimating World Resources
It starts at the top. The Director of the Fish and Wildlife Agency, it appears, has the view, that we must live with less biodiversity. He states—

Clearfelling is illegal in CA, but Federal agencies turn a blind eye where conflict of business interests occur

Clearfelling is illegal in CA, but Federal agencies turn a blind eye where conflict of business interests occur


“Hellen Keller once said, ‘Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.’ The Fish and Wildlife Service, and the work we do, will continue to embody that spirit.

“That’s why we’re working hard to ensure that our organization is fit and capable to meet the challenges in front of us. And why we’re building and strengthening partnership-driven conservation efforts across the nation.”
Dan Ashe, Director, U.S. Federal Fish & Wildlife Agency

Helen Keller’s sentiments are laudable, but she was blind. So, it seems, are certain ‘partnerships’ chosen by U.S. government agencies to represent endangered creatures, once protected. Now no more.

Logging companies, careless in their custodianship of irreplaceable first-growth forest, are hungry to pick up scraps from the contested Klamath River watershed sell-off, in the wind-down to dam removal in 2020.

Green Diamond (so-called) Resource Company is one of these ‘custodians’. Touting in its conservation literature to hikers its success in saving the endangered California Spotted Owl from extinction merely two years ago, it is now implementing clear-felling in the bird’s target habitat of Humboldt County at the very moment its representative Endangered Species Act is becoming null and void.

California's Spotted Owl, survivors of forest fires, but  now unprotected—sweeties!

California’s Spotted Owl, survivors of forest fires, but now unprotected—sweeties!

In continuing to allow economic gain to dictate our future action—or inaction in the case of the Endangered Species Act—we the people appear to condone our political/business leaders’ attitude.

Is it not time to stop this blindness? Instead, to use our combined intelligence/compassion and search for a future where we may begin to see the Earth—our only home—recover?

Apologies to my fellow IWSGers—under our Space-Cap’n.Alex‘s superb guidance—along with his co-hosts—if I seem to bang on incessantly at the same drum. But we writers have always known we had finite resources—worked our way to make the best use of them—as the plight of the planet is dear to us, too. It is our only home. There is no Planet-B.

So, Dan Ashe and his fellow sportsman Neal Ewald notwithstanding, we need all the help we can get from the writers, creative people, those with a voice.

Thanks for listening and if you feel motivated, be my guest and speak up for us all.
And Happy Bealltainn!
©2016 Marian Youngblood

May 4, 2016 Posted by | authors, birds, blogging, culture, environment, nature, weather, writing | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fishing for Compliments—or a Living

INSECURE WRITERS’ MONTHLY SHARING CORNER or
EMPATHIZING with the UNSUNG aka Fishermen

Crescent City, CA marina April 2016 without boats, photo courtesy Tom Lesher F/V Jumping Jack

Crescent City, CA marina April 2016 without boats, photo courtesy Tom Lesher F/V Jumping Jack


Crab Fisherman’s Lament 1991-1992 & 2015-2016
‘Twas the night before Christmas and all through the hall
all the fishermen sat at the Conference Call.
Their boats, they were nestled all snug in the Bay,
in hopes that tomorrow would be opening day.
Bud with his checkbook and Vince with his pen
were just sitting down—they had done it again.
They had to come up with some new kind of story
“Well you know guys we’ve got way too much inventory.
“The most we could possibly pay you’s a buck.
“If you want more than that, well, you’re just out of luck.”

In all of the ports there arose such a clatter
people jumped out of bed to see what was the matter.
“All right guys, calm down now, you’ve vented your spleen.
Perhaps we could gove you a dollar fifteen.”
“Enough of this bullshit—we’ve had it to here—
“We’re not goin’ fishing, we’re not setting the gear.”

Crab cemetery—dying to get in

Crab cemetery—dying to get in

So we tied up the boats, put away all the bait,
and we all settled down for a long season’s wait.
In Fort Bragg and Eureka, ‘Come hell or bad weather’
Crescent City and Brookings ‘We’re stickin’ together’
And even in Trinidad, Port Orford, too.
But we just didn’t count on that bad Newport crew—
“We’re not sittin’ around, nah, we’re setting the gear,
“The rest of you go stick a squid in your ear.”
Well, the wind it was calm, and the ocean was placid,
But then came those fatal words: domoic acid.
For some weird sort of chemical found in the guts,
They’re closing the season. Those guys must be nuts.”

We ranted and raved, but ’twas to no avail
‘cos the Feds and the bureaucrats always prevail.
After twenty-some odd days, we finally did go.
And over both shoulders some crabs we did throw.
But there weren’t too many—at a pretty poor price.
For a lot of us Holidays weren’t all that nice.

Well you knew things got screwed up. Now you know the reason.
So ‘tight lines’ to all—and maybe next season.
Tim Harkins F/V Maria Concetta, Trinidad, CA

Empty Marinas, Oceangoing on Hold

Rancho Chualar cropcircle December 30th, 2013, highlights the 1. 9. 2. and π 3.14159265359 ad infinitum

Rancho Chualar cropcircle December 30th, 2013, highlights the 1. 9. 2. and π 3.14159265359 ad infinitum

Pacific coastal fishing has been on hold since December last year. Ports in California and Oregon—Pacific Northwest—are hurting. Empty marinas everywhere—as in Crescent City photo, top. Bureacratic delay in decisions has affected a little-known segment of the food-provider chain—fishing boat captains and their crew—with their wives, families, dependents.

Government procrastination is only one aspect. Final pay-out—if any—of compensation to the fishing fleet is mostly eaten up in overwintering expenses, without income. Crew members are not covered by Fish & Game authority or Federal handouts. Generosity to deck hands depends solely on captains who have themselves reached near-crisis point.

In an election year, farmers with drought problems—e.g. Salinas CA last year—Chualar Crop Circle at left—and misfortunes of our Pacific hands-on fishing fleet in small coastal ports—may seem like small potatoes. Not high priority television news.

Business, Balance Sheets and the Biosphere
Tonight, however, and for two more evenings in the run-up to Earth Day and Earth WeekApril 20— Humboldt State university-influenced Arcata Playhouse will feature a presentation and film screening by EPIC of TREE-SIT: THE ART OF RESISTANCE followed by discussion with HSU environmentalists who may have found a way forward amid conflict with business, balance sheets and the Biosphere.

Survival of the human race may not be on our minds as writers who document or fantasize our way on to people’s reading list. But previous reminders by our ocean, our farming hinterland, our rising temperatures—80ºF today in NoCal—have been persistent—witness 2015 as hottest year on record.

And there’s more to come. I’m sure even our fearless leader, Alex, and his sci-fi acolytes would find a way to squeeze our plight into readable form, so we can pull out the stops together—even while we struggle with April A-to-Z challenge, we writers might make a difference.

It’s what it’s all about, isn’t it? Getting through this together.
©2016 Marian Youngblood

April 6, 2016 Posted by | culture, environment, ocean, seasonal, traditions, weather, writing | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Oster Toaster—Our Weather Woes Won’t Disappear

MONTHLY INSECURE WRITERS CATCH-UP CORNER or
Even Scatty Writers Plan Ahead

“I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by”
Douglas Adams

Stepping out of the Pool—Plan Ahead

Stepping out of the Pool—Plan Ahead

With a whole *two month* chunk already bitten out of my twelve month schedule, planning ahead doesn’t always do the trick for me. But in a group of writers, where advice and help are freely given and nobody (hopefully) takes offense—our Insecure Writers Support Group I was thinking of specifically—there seems no place to cower in fear. We’re all encouraged to step up to the plate and at least try. With the third month of my year already begun, I’d better think of something.

Insecure Writers stick to the Grand Plan
Insecure Writers Support Group now has its own website, thanks to our Ninja Cap’n Alex who is always ahead of the game—comes of being constantly immersed in “future speak” and (successful) Space trilogies, ahem.

Stepping out of the Pool— into the Next Phase—Plan Ahead

Stepping out of the Pool— into the Next Phase—Plan Ahead

While 2016 may bring major change to us all—February has already broken historical temperature records worldwide—it’s sometimes comforting to believe we might all already be on a trajectory which could end on one of Alex’s famed remote star systems.
First we have the cyclical calendar anomaly—leap year adding a mandatory day to February or we’d all land back in the Middle Ages.

Southern city guarded by angels—Rio de Janeiro hosts 2016 Olympic Games

Southern city guarded by angels—Rio de Janeiro hosts 2016 Olympic Games

Then there is the four-year culmination of super-athletes preparing for Olympic Games in Hispanic Heaven—Rio de Janeiro. You thought the Super Bowl was huge, set for the first time in the brand new Levi stadium, south of San Francisco. Brazil will pull out all the stops for August. They’ve already had a mammoth Carnival—their Fat Tuesday equivalent of Mardi Gras. This year they’re speaking of its continuing right through Easter—the German Oster of my title.

Meantime loads of attention will be focused next week—particularly in sea-level-rising Indonesia—where they will have an uninterrupted total solar eclipse March 9th, that will effectively black out the entire Pacific Ocean—for a moment of cosmic time—four minutes totality at zenith. Sadly it reaches mainland U.S. at dusk, and therefore we miss it. But writers in Alaska will be fortunate to see it as partial.
.
Only by cosmic accident do we hear that Alaska is importing snow for its famous dog-sled Iditarod race

The Irish Input
Amid all these cosmic happenings, does it seem a little tame of me to mention the second annual Dublin Writers’ Conference June 24-26, 2016? Judging by last year’s sell-out crowd—it has some kind of Irish spell it casts on us pen-wielders, because when we get together, all kinds of literary explosions are possible. My rationale for bringing up the June date now is that many U.S. IWSGer travelers make plans for Europe months ahead of time when airline deals can still be made. Just sayin’.

St Patrick’s Day, March 17th, will be here in two weeks to remind us!

Dublin was home to James Joyce and still holds the treasured Book of Kells at Trinity College.

Meantime the plethora of Space movies which began with Ridley Scott’s The Martian, continues in remakes—don’t you adore Superman vs. Batman?—and as yet unreleased alien adventures even Mr Spock might show emotion for.

March came in like a Lion in my part of the world. Weather patterns influenced by a strong El Niño produced the hottest February since historical records began.

Climate will no doubt be the focus for 2016, if we can all think simple earth thoughts in between our rages and/or love affair with our Muse. Whichever takes root in our consciousness, I suspect we IWSGers will still find a bolt hole here—along with a phalanx of other Insecure companions.

May we survive the Ides of March, the heat of Equinox and the onset of an early spring with typical writerly calm. It is, after all, our metier, our trade, and it should remind us that, even if/when our world changes beyond recognition, our Muse, our inner writerly urge will still be there to pick up the pieces…

…And put them down on the next available sheet of paper😉 No wonder writers alone understand writers. How boring we can seem to the rest of humanity.

All the more reason to keep it coming.
©2016 Marian Youngblood

March 2, 2016 Posted by | authors, blogging, calendar customs, festivals, fiction, Muse, publishing, weather, writing | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

When Reality Looms Too Large, Dive into Fantasy

MONTHLY INSECURE WRITERS’ SHARE-A-THON CORNER

WHEN YOU RUN OUT OF AVENUES OF ESCAPE, Don’t Panic*

Don't Panic

Don’t Panic

—the greatest motto in the galaxy— featured in the adventures of Douglas Adams’s Arthur Dent, the last human to hitch a ride off Earth, moments before it was destroyed—to make way for an interstellar bypass.
*Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, 1979.

…the answer to Life, the Universe and Everything...

…the answer to Life, the Universe and Everything…

I think our revered leader, Alex Cavanaugh, would agree:
Fantasy—reading it or writing it—fills a certain hole in our psyche, a niche in our comfort zone. It gives us a reason to keep on going, even when the real world seems to have gone awry.

Groundhog Day and the 2016 Monkey Year
The Groundhog knows best. He—and the oriental Monkey who shares his calendar start date—figure if humans have generated global warming a.k.a. climate crisis and he sees his shadow on February 2nd—too much sun too soon—no wonder he goes back in his hole for another six weeks.

What the Monkey does is a whole ‘nuther story!

Metal Monkeys possesses character traits like curiosity, mischievousness, and cleverness. Forever playful, Monkeys are the masters of the practical joke.

And disguise.
For us as a culture, as this year unfolds, traits to prepare for—expect the unexpected.

Finding our Own Space
Forget the Primaries, Climate Crisis Summit, our involvement/warring with so many other countries, somewhere in there we are trying as individuals and collectively to halt our mad rush toward planet instability. Somewhere in the madness, we writers are supposed to find a place of calm—a refuge—usually littered with piles of loose papers and junk—but a haven nonetheless—where we can sit down, (metaphorically) put our feet up, drag the keyboard closer——

Insecure_Cover——And write.

Many of us have previously admitted to being recluses—Myers-Briggs psychic make-up, above.
For me to allow the creative flow to come through, I have to have my filing system (kind-of) manageable and I crave a space where I won’t be barged in on by the (real) world.

Says a lot for our partners/spouses/spice that they put with us, doesn’t it?

I should have had more respect for the Groundhog. His timing was superb.

Happy New Writing Ideas, IWSGers.
Keep it coming.
©2016 Marian Youngblood

February 3, 2016 Posted by | ancient rites, authors, blogging, calendar customs, culture, fantasy, fiction, publishing, traditions, writing | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Drawing Breath—Speaking up for Lungs of the Planet

MONTHLY INSECURE WRITERS’ ENCLAVE—
IWSGers Speak up for the Planet

Thanks 2Alex for getting on our case—writing-wise

Thanks 2Alex for getting on our case—writing-wise

Happy New Year to all Insecure Writers! And to the world at large.
Mostly, thanks to our prolific host and Ninja Cap’n, Alex, for allowing us crazies free rein on his excellent forum. It opens writerly doors, and allows us to vent, when things go wrong. May we all survive—nay, plunge into—this year and follow our dreams.

Sore Patch hidden by powerful local  'Resource company' under umbrella of social conscience offer to 'open woodland to public'

Sore Patch hidden by powerful local ‘Resource company’ under umbrella of social conscience offer to ‘open woodland to public’

2015 saw many changes in awareness of common responsibility for our country’s finite resources, both nation-wide and internationally, bringing accord which would have been impossible a decade ago. Politicians are—with careful research—actually clearing desks, allocating reserve funds to deal with the atmosphere-environment.

It is no longer an ‘issue’. Climate has become real time—Western nations’ new goal—to do good by the planet, our only home.

But don’t hold your breath.

Rattle in Seattle as Farewell to Old Ways
West Coast shakes over New Year ranged from Mag.4.7 in Seattle through M.6.2 Nevada/Utah border, to M.4.1 off Ferndale, CA. Judging by whale movement—on late migration south delayed by warm northern waters—quakes and movement are happening on the coastal plate, where the Gorda fault fissures to join its subterranean sisters under (human habitat) the land. Several landslides along the coastal Scenic Drive route north of the Eel and Mad Rivers—in Humboldt County—have made travel ‘difficult’—official sources.

Once again we realize our Earth Mama is shaking her feathers—a little ruffled by now with all the oil extraction and fossil burning we’ve been up to.

Seattle, Nevada, Baja Mexico echo New Year Mediterranean quakes

Seattle, Nevada, Baja Mexico echo New Year Mediterranean quakes

Lieber kleiner blauer Stern [Pale Blue Dot auf Deutsch]
Menschen habt ihn endlich gern
Tut ihm nun nichts mehr zu Leide
Nicht den Bergen, nicht der Heide
Nicht den Wiesen, Mooren, Flüssen
Nicht den Wäldern, Vögeln, Fischen
Liebt den kleinen blauen Stern
Pflegt und schütz ihn
Habt ihn gern
courtesy M.Asgardh

Snakes, ants, beetles, redwoods and humans—we all travel the Milky Way together and share the planet’s blessings
John Muir, founder of Sierra Club

Volcanoes, dormant since the dinosaurs, generating lightning storms in Nevada-Utah

Volcanoes, dormant since the dinosaurs, generating lightning storms in Nevada-Utah


Latest round of seismic unrest included quakes in Oklahoma, causing power outages, and widespread flooding damage in Mississippi basin.

In Pacific NW, several dormant volcanoes shook over New Year, alongside multiple larger (Richter Mag.4.2 or more) earthquakes rippling along faults extending N-S along West coast United States. Authorities remain vigilant, with such heavy movement currently underway.
If Mama is shaking us, what is it we’ve done to get her so annoyed?

Well, let’s take breathable air, for a start—yes, we decimated Earth’s fossil trees—so, what are we doing about it?

Headwaters Forest—Tragedy of 1990s

Trying to measure up to 1000-year Old Growth Redwoods is harder work than forestry companies imagined

“Standing among these ancient trees, a thousand years old perhaps, I am humbled by how long it takes to restore these forests. As I take one last look up into the stratosphere of canopy before heading back into the glaring light of second-growth, I wonder at the rôle of restoration in recreating the beauty I see before me. I think it will be a very long time before our forest will be what it once was”
David LaFever, Bureau Land Management Ecologist, after 2001 restoration attempt

Headwaters Forest was purchased in 1999 by State and Federal government agencies, and put under permanent protection. Clear-felling practice was legally reduced to a 20-40-acre maximum.

The logging industry finally sat up and paid attention. Its own resource was decimated; salmon runs and ecosystems had suffered in a mindless race for economic gain, with only table scraps left, in the view of Humboldt State University forest scientist Steve Sillett. ‘The challenge now is to improve management on the 95% of redwood landscape (felled) that is just starting into regrowth.’

Old Growth Sequoia Groves
Old-growth redwood forests are structurally diverse, with a range of tree sizes, reiterated tree trunks—high tree and stand biomass—and with complex canopies. Headwaters old-growth is characterized by a mixture of redwood (Sequoia sempervirens, 50-70% of overstory) and Douglas Fir (Pseudotsuga Menziesii, 30-47%) with a density of 70-80 trees per acre. Conversely, unthinned second-growth stands are dominated by Douglas Fir (60-80%), with density of over a thousand trees per acre.

Sequoia sempervirens, redwoods as big as a Boeing 707

Growing trees like a crop of grain is no longer the enlightened view. Scientists from HSU have discovered that the older the redwood, the harder and more disease-resistant is the wood, and the tougher its ability to withstand weathering, damage. That there is more life-support value in one 1000-year old Sequoia, than in a thousand 10-year olds.

Forestry attitudes are changing too. Heavy Caterpillar earthmoving tractors, that caused such erosion—skid trails—with consequent pollution to streams and spawning pools, are being replaced by smaller, lighter shovel loaders on tracks that leave the forest floor intact. State law now enforces a mandatory buffer zone of trees now, along streams and rivers.

Finally the salmon and other native fish are returning.

Forestry business mantra is that they are ‘on target to create new forests’ (in one hundred years), like the ones protected in the Redwoods National and State Parks, begun by President Teddy Roosevelt in 1875-92. He and John Muir should by now roaring with delighted laughter in their (redwood) coffins.

At the time Headwaters was established in 1999, 60% of the area had been logged. In some areas, forests were only beginning to regrow from clear-cut harvests of the 1980s and 1990s. Inheriting unnatural second-growth forests dominated by Douglas Fir, Bureau of Land Management (BLM) began restoration thinning in 2004. Goal of restoration was to accelerate forest development towards old-growth conditions, and restore a more natural species mix to each area—by cutting Douglas Fir and leaving Redwood and other less common species. From 2004 to 2013, BLM thinned 1,600 acres—approximately 21% of Headwaters Forest Reserve.

Thinning Understory in Attempt to Mimic Old Growth
In 2014, BLM began a second round of thinning with an idea of introducing more ‘spatial complexity’, to mimic conditions found in old-growth forests within Headwaters. BLM workers created a mosaic of tree density across second-growth stands, by building off recent restoration work completed in Redwood National and State Parks. They also completed their research project in partnership with Humboldt State University. Their report, published 2013: “Modeling Young Stand Development towards the Old-growth Reference Condition in Evergreen Mixed-Conifer Stands at Headwaters Forest Reserve, California”.

‘This study helped us understand the conditions in old-growth stands and allowed us to model trajectories towards old-growth under various restoration scenarios’
BLM ecologist D.laFever

Life without trees—lack of breathable air—would be a scenario more appropriate to Star Trek, CassaStar, or in our sci-fi leader*, Alex’s new ‘geek stuff’. But we breathe on, thanks to the lungs of the planet—threatened, decimated—broken but unbowed.
*If Alex can branch out into short stories—’geek stuff’—I can face the bureaucracy with a little non-fiction of my own—lol. Thanks, Alex and fellow IWSGers for listening.
Happy Epiphany!
©2016 Marian Youngblood

January 6, 2016 Posted by | authors, birds, blogging, consciousness, culture, earth changes, energy, environment, fiction, nature, rain, seasonal, seismic, trees, volcanic, weather, writing | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Below the Parapet*—Writers’ Safety Zone When All Around Are Losing Theirs

MONTHLY INSECURE WRITERS’ SAFETY ZONE orInsecure_Cover
What I Should’ve Done B4 All This Holiday Madness—IWSG CatchUp Corner

*parapet, ‘protecting the breast’—from Latin
pectus-i (m) breast, chest
paries-etis (m) wall, rampart, bulwark

All of us have in our veins the exact same percentage of salt in our blood that exists in the ocean, and, therefore, we have salt in our blood, in our sweat, in our tears. We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea, whether it is to sail or to watch, we are going back from whence we came.
~John F. Kennedy, Newport speech before America’s Cup Races, September 1962

Trouble of the World

Fracking in Oklahoma or spontaneous cracking on Tex-Mex border—it's all the same to Mother Earth

Fracking in Oklahoma or spontaneous cracking on Tex-Mex border—it’s all the same to Mother Earth

‘There is so much going on–so much that could make a person just want to run away.
‘Our lives on this Earth are relatively short, so we shouldn’t get too overwhelmed by all the troubles we face while here’
Arlee Bird

Thank you, wise ole Bird, Arlee, for putting some of our anxiety into perspective. We writers tend to be head-down anyway—well below parapet level—and it takes some “venting” by a fellow scribe—wot knowzzz—to keep a calm ‘sough’. That was good old Rabbie Burns‘s word for the windchill factor
“November chill blaws loud wi’ angry sough

We might also try looking at the way our world appears to be fighting back, after all the trouble and toil we’ve levied at her.

Some of my generation believe we still have a chance to right the ‘wrongs’ we initiated. Our attitude to confronting our errors—from nuclear power to trashing earth’s resources—has made us cautious, nay, appreciative of finding the best in what’s left. This (antiquated?) belief may not go down well with the Millennials—a generation who inherited our mistakes, but who prefer to smile and slide on through—but, as even they know, this is the only home we’ve got. So why not pull together on a few issues?

Robert F Kennedy jr. confronts climate control last weekend in New York city

Robert F Kennedy jr. confronts climate control last weekend in New York city

Weather—the great Leveler
While December traditionally finds a way of leveling—wind, rain, hail and snow being not particularly creature-friendly—it can be a gift of time for us scribblers. Above or below the parapet, we can wield a computer (or ice-pick) to hack out a story. No pun intended. Sometimes that’s just what we have to do.

So to all my fellow moaning Minnies in our tight little IWSG corner, keeping head down can be a VERY GOOD THING.

We may have to leave the concept of climate control for another season—when life begins anew and buds start to bud again…and we catch a whiff of w-a-r-m
But meantime, why not allow our ever-fertile Muse to raise her head above the bulwarks. We might be surprised by her dexterity.

p.s. Ninja Cap’n: my preference is for Dragons

“When a dragon offers you a helmet and a parachute, put them on. “

Unknown

©2015 Marian Youngblood

December 2, 2015 Posted by | authors, blogging, consciousness, fiction, publishing, seasonal, weather, winter, writing | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Getting Back on the Horse—Insecure Writers Are Survivors

REFLECTIONS IN THE AFTERMATH OF AFTERLIFEInsecure_Cover

Monthly Insecure Writers’ Reassurance Corner

or
Is there Life for Writers—aka IWSGers—After Hallowe’en & Before Onset of the Festive Season?

Subterranean rumblings from Yellowstone's sub chamber don't deflect Old Faithful from his regular spout, courtesy National Parks Service

Subterranean rumblings from Yellowstone’s sub chamber don’t deflect Old Faithful from his regular spout, courtesy National Parks Service


For centuries humans have dreamed of inner worlds. Numerous writers, inspired themselves, have embedded the idea in our human subconscious. Those—like Tarzan’s creator Edgar Rice Burroughs (At the Earth’s Core, 1914), Edgar Allen Poe (The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket, 1838) and, most famously, Jules Verne’s 1864 novel A Journey to the Centre of the Earth have been adapted for film, and are an integral part of our now Culture. They continue to inspire our own Inner Search.

Many of us IWSGers are voracious readers—even expanding our horizons beyond the beloved sci-fi kingdom of our Dear Ninja Leader, Alex—into the realm of the…b.e.y.o.n.d.

Losing the human form brings the freedom to remember your self.
Losing the human form is like a spiral.
It gives you the freedom to remember.
This, in turn, makes you even freer.
Don Juan

www.cartoonstock.com-cartoonview.asp?catref=wmi100811

A [spiritual] Warrior knows that he is waiting.
He knows also what he is waiting for.

And so while he waits, he feasts his eyes upon the world.
The ultimate accomplishment of a Warrior is joy.
Carlos Castaneda The Eagle’s Gift

I recall reading every one of the Castaneda series—Don Juan’s wisdom in small snacks—from Journey to Ixtlan through The Eagle’s Gift, and never once seeing a resolution to the cycle. It’s probably a good technique for retaining one’s readership! But recent love-hate guru Dallas Thompson—given his modesty of transmission and innocence of presentation—gets to the (spiritual) point in one book.

Dallas Thompson’s The Cosmic Manuscript lit a few media fires when it first came out in 2002. Since then, it has relaxed into a semi-oblivion of those who have read and those who refuse to read him.

Today I see butterflies dancing by my window, playing in the sunlight,
lilies in my garden, stars shining so bright in the sky, as I learn to usher
the Cosmic water. Meditation has helped me calm my mind and get in touch with the wonder of Celestial Creation – the colors, the light, the peace and the love. And I feel beautiful, I feel transformed as the darkness recedes. I do not really understand it all yet, but the discovery is so exciting. I feel like a new born baby – struggling to breathe, kicking, screaming – and yet so happy to be alive and play in the light. In your words like a celestial butterfly learning to fly, and dance to Eternities Tone

Earth's polar vortex, according to several famed fantasy authors, pulls on our Solar generator for power

Earth’s polar vortex, according to several famed fantasy authors, pulls on our Solar generator for power


According to several meditation enthusiasts, Zen Buddhists, and Tibetan mystics, all these fancy accoutrements are useful for Life on Earth.

“If you have attained noble titles at your University, and have not in the process built a relationship with your Spirit, you are not complete”
Sufi wisdom

Essentially we’re in for a shock when we show up at the Pearly Gates and they ask us if we’re ready to transfer to the Other Side. If you and your Spirit aren’t one by then, it will come as a bit of a surprise that your triple Ph.D. won’t wash.

Like a BoyScout: Be Prepared—or
How to Make Your Chosen Comfort Zone Comforting

For that eventuality, Dallas has a solution—prepare ahead of time! Get with the spiritual program before you need your arsenal of warrior gear.

We are all in spiritual flight in our Inner Worlds

We are all in spiritual flight in our Inner Worlds

Thompson is writer-recluse—we IWSGers know ALL ’bout that—keeping his (sorry, proverbial) light under a bushel in SoCal. He prefers not to be interviewed. Following initial best-seller status of his 2002 Manuscript, he attracted major Media attention to hype a near-death experience. His NDE, combined with an earlier gift of a “Speaking Stone” by a Hawaiian Kahuna, gave simple steps to everyday enlightenment, lovingly laid out for all who wish to imbibe. He promises inner joy, focus, and gentle guidance along a sometimes painful path.

Postscript for IWSGers—Sharing Insecurities Can Brighten Your Day😉
Bottom line—According to the Cosmic Script, the more you share, the more comes your way. Or
The Better it Gets, the Better it Gets. Apply pressure on the Arm of the Muse, and she may grant us a ‘festive’ audience.

After all, when the Year starts winding down—when the clocks fall back—we writers know we have to hit the keyboard.

In other words—another deadline awaits.

Thanks for listening, fellow scribes~~~ Arlee Bird, Alex, Hart et al. beloved IWSGers.
Keep on writing.
©2015 Marian Youngblood

November 4, 2015 Posted by | authors, blogging, calendar customs, culture, fantasy, festivals, fiction, publishing, seasonal, writing | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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