Riddles of nature captivate me. One that has been with me forever is sand. The breaking down of mountains, the creation of shores, beaches, and the action of the ocean.
I remember when I was in my thirties walking along the beach explaining my awe at the connectivity of life to a fellow roamer. The process of building up mountains and islands popping out above the oceans. The reverse process of erosion to sand. Standing on the beach as the waves washed away the sand with the tide, I let my toes act as a sieve, filtering the larger pebbles from the grains.
Sand is central to our civilization—used in so many ways. Think of high-rises, homes, foundations, roads. I wrote of the sand black market in Puerto Rico’s complicated development as a background story line in River of Angels.
Riddle: What is hard enough to protect us, but shatters with ease?
These grains of sand are the central ingredients used in making glass. The answer contains yet another riddle. Glass moves from solid sand when heated at high temperatures to a liquid, which when cooled becomes an amorphous entity of cooled molten, a cross between a solid and a liquid. Transformed with a different inner structure.
Think about being two things at once, Strong and flexible, solid and transparent, durable and fragile.
I identify with this description. I’m a tom boy at heart, love living in the county with the quiet, but enjoy the thrill of the city. I hate shopping, yet I love nice things and to look pretty. I’m strict on issues of accountability, but I’m a mush ball when it comes to issues of the heart. I’ve weathered physical storms, loss, illness, divorce, and have shoulders that can withstand burdens. My shell is not solid, pain seeps through, yet I don’t collapse.
There is order and randomness within me and I value both in my life.
A friend of mine is a glass blower, yet another riddle within riddles. Unlike the glasses we drink from which are put into a mold or the glass window from which we view the world, flattened and cut, blown glass is an art form.
The breath of life—is blown through a pipe, rotated within the glob of molten glass. Twirled with colors added, that lighten and strengthen the shapes, a sense of whimsy perfection creates beauty.
Mastering the heat, the strength, creativity, and fragility makes the riddle a miracle.
My friend, Shelly, is a world renown artist, not quite five feet tall, lives a quiet life down the road from me, and is big deal. She gifted us a sphere of blown glass.
Perhaps this gift is a metaphor of the world that is both rugged and fragile, beautiful, and often harsh. The inside is fluid, the outside solid. Shelly drew from within her creativity, random whimsy, and with discipline spun art. You can see her other work at https://muzylowski.com/
Nature’s riddles are everywhere. I only have to keep my eyes open to see.
The Magic of Words
Thanks to Wordsmith.org and A.Word.A.Day with Anu Garg, I have received for the last twelve years in my in-box a “word” with pronunciation, meaning, etymology, and usage. I must confess that the words eek into my brain and sometimes into my stories. Here are two words that struck me as noteworthy:
MEANING: verb tr., intr.: 1. To convert or change into bone.2. To make or become rigid in thinking, attitudes, habits, etc.
MEANING: noun: 1. Lump or a large amount of something. 2. Mouth. 3. Sailor.
ETYMOLOGY: For 1: Probably from Middle French gobe/goube (mouthful, lump). Earliest documented use: 1382. For 2: Probably from Irish and/or Scottish Gaelic gob (beak, mouth). Earliest documented use: 1568.
For 3: Probably from gobshite (a worthless person), from gob (lump) + shite (feces). Earliest documented use: 1910.
My Usage: My fear was that if I took in the gobs of information without verifying, that all would be just a lump, ossifying into hard attitudes. I didn’t want to close my mind with one-way thinking.
Pitched and sloped
My hearts helix
Turns the axis
Of love around
A spiral of time
Spun with abandon
Right and Left
Object of intention
Viewed with perception
Over the years, I’ve distilled my giving down to two main causes: Health and education. Without either a person doesn’t thrive.
Most pressing is the devastation of Australia’s bush country and the pain inflicted on the people and animals. From what I understand they don’t need food or clothing as the distribution is too difficult to manage. Tthey need financial donations. Help where you can.
My former home, Puerto Rico, yet again faces challenges. The earthquakes have rocked the island for three weeks. Fear resounds and the devastation has reached all areas of the island. Electricity has been affected again and many of my friends are living outside of their homes. When I lived there, I experienced the hurricanes. But below the surface lies a huge fault line.
Writing and Reading World
I look back to see what occurred in the past month. The Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association (PNBA) requested I write an essay that will be featured in the Northwest Book Lovers Organization, Northwest Voices. https://nwbooklovers.org/category/nw-voices/ It should be posted in February, in time for my book release of Founding Stones.
I started a short story about an older woman, thinking of her mother, and the mysteries left undiscovered. I was inspired by my own genealogy search. We think we know so much, but as we look back at memories, we realize there is more to the repeated stories. These are our interpretations of events or in some cases partial stories fed to us. The versions may be inaccurate or hold a different reality. The working title for the story is Sizing Up.
I wrote down ideas for my next novel, so far untitled, but the inspirations are flowing.
The Library Book, written by Susan Orlean, still sits on my nightstand. Susan authored the Orchid Thief. The history of the fire and the work of all book lovers is engaging. I’m readying slow, to absorb it all.
A quick read that is satisfying for historical romance mystery readers is Michelle Cox’s A Ring of Truth. This follows Cox’s first novel, A Girl Like You, and is part of the Henrietta and Inspector Howard series. I skimmed more than I read, as the clues and thoughts didn’t demand deep thought. This is less mystery and more romance.
Spring is when the launch of Founding Stones begins. You’ll find me at Village Books on March 22, 2020 at 4:00PM and at Chevalier’s Books in Los Angeles on April 6, 2020 at 7:00 PM. Sometime later I’ll be at Page2Books in Burien, WA.
Inspiring thoughts from others, that move me to action. Here are thoughts that caught my eye.
Bad weather always looks worse through a window. -Tom Lehrer, singer-songwriter and mathematician (b. 9 Apr 1928)
Sit down and put down everything that comes into your head and then you’re a writer. But an author is one who can judge his own stuff’s worth, without pity, and destroy most of it. -Colette, author (28 Jan 1873-1954)