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Our Recent Posts

Poetry Month Random Haiku

Cheryl's Flotsam & Jetsam - Wed, 04/16/2014 - 15:32

I wanted to write a few haiku but didn’t have anything in mind so, using the Creative Random Word Generator, I got these three words: fare, mud, and rash, and wrote these three haiku:

without any coins
I can’t ride the bus today:
exact fare only

 

underfoot we crush
blades of grass into the mud
building a shortcut

 

suddenly, red welts
in patches across her skin
the rash, a warning

 

 

Photos from Flickr by me (bus stop & puddle) and Tim Sheerman-Chase (infected by the alien virus). Like these? Check out my Haiku Miscellany and Coffee Haiku books.

If Video killed the Radio Star, what is killing the mall?

Cheryl's Flotsam & Jetsam - Mon, 04/07/2014 - 19:40

I sometimes think our generation both created and now is destroying the shopping mall. I mean, I know they pre-date GenX, but check this quote:

“Teen retail stores are down a full 31 percent according to Bloomberg. Unless teenagers now feel a collective urge to put down their smart phones and do something as heavily nostalgic as shopping in a mall — which, by the way, is intensely 1985 — it might be irreversible.”

The rest of Hepburn’s Is this the Death of Retail? has good points… but I keep coming back to the way Regan’s America convinced a generation to “hang out at the mall” — it was intense, focused, consumer behavior and exactly what “the economy” needed.

I completely blame that mid-80s era for my obsession with tech, gadgets, consumer culture, and general accumulation of goods. The Boomers were at the forefront but we were caught in the wake, buying music, movies, overpriced designer denim, and whatever it took to look like our favourite pop stars.

Then cries started about the middle class dying — wages weren’t increasing in line with the cost of living so we were buying less. But I think it started before then. I think all that STUFF became overwhelming. We were stuck in houses full of things we had nowhere to put. We all felt trapped and spent the last part of the 20th century obsessing over simplifying, downsizing, and focusing on our spiritual and emotional well being. There was a shift from tourism to travel — people wanted experiences rather than souvenirs.

And in the middle of it all there was terrorism that made people want to stay indoors, a financial meltdown that disposed with many households’ disposable income, and the internet that gave everyone the means to do things from their living room that used to be done at the mall. The battle cry of, “customers want convenience” launched thousands of online marketplaces selling everything that could be shipped from warehouse to doorstep, cutting prices by cutting out the sales floor.

And who is doing most of the shopping online? People my age and just slightly younger. The latter part of GenX who shopped as a leisure activity in the 80s, making the Mall into a destination, is now shopping online.

We’ve watched chain after chain fall as consumers turn to online purchasing — using the storefront to kick the tires then letting someone else carry the packages to their door. I think malls can still survive, with a greater emphasis on service and variety, but the margins are already razor thin and only truly flexible and remarkable retail outlets are going to make the next cut. The dinosaurs will become extinct as they fail to adapt.

 

 

 

To My Body

Cheryl's Flotsam & Jetsam - Fri, 04/04/2014 - 02:46

to my body, that works so hard to lift, contain
and transport all that makes me
me
every thought and emotion that lives inside this flesh and
there is a lot of flesh
bones, sinew, ligaments, and untoned muscle
but it holds true.

a toast, in thanks, for being there through thick and thin
mostly thick
and even when aching and broken and damaged
still holding me tight.

an apology for playing favourites
a bad habit I admit but
I never was too fond of my Hobbity toes
or rough elbows that never fail to get in my way

I don’t always pay attention to where you are
but you remind me
with bruises and scrapes
and that one shattered ankle
now mended by medicine, science and time.

I thank you for the curves
and even the rolls
and the cellulite that some clever marketer willed into existence
all proof that famine and ill health
have yet to find me.

if middle is an age, I am there now
and parts of you have begun to decay
still guided by shorter lifespans of my ancestors
but I have chosen the extended warranty
through the pharmacy
and that seems to be agreeing with you.

so if I grumble offhandedly, forgive me
I am truly thankful for the years of unquestioned service
and while I do sometimes consider
subtle adjustments
you are my body, and I will never trade you in for a new model.

 

http://www.cheryl.dewolfe.bc.ca/flotsam/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/To-My-Body.m4a

If the player doesn’t work in your browser, download: To My Body

Photo, © Shawn DeWolfe. Thank you to hubby for taking the photo that accompanies this piece. It was edited only to adjust the colour to compensate for the lack of natural light and cropped to focus on the subject.

April is Poetry Month

Cheryl's Flotsam & Jetsam - Tue, 04/01/2014 - 19:35

Poetry, like art, tends to be extremely personal. Either you like it or you don’t — and sometimes there’s no way to explain what it is that you like or dislike and even if it has aspects or characteristics that you enjoy the subject may take it out of the running — or the reverse may be true!

For me, a poem should do 5 things:

  1. It should be accessible — if I have to define most of the words (with the exception of nonsense poetry), I will lose interest.
  2. It should have a rhythm — not necessarily iambic pentameter but a flow that I can feel when it is read aloud.
  3. It should suggest or project an image — I am a big fan of descriptive poetry; I don’t believe it always has to mean or represent something else.
  4. It should provoke an emotion — ideally something strong like lust, fear, revulsion, or joy but even the smaller players are welcome.
  5. I should be brief —  it need not be as small as haiku, but nor should it ramble on for pages.

Some of my favourite poems, in no particular order, include:

I intend to both read and write some poetry this month and encourage you, my friends and readers to do the same.

 

The Perils of Disorganization

Cheryl's Flotsam & Jetsam - Fri, 03/28/2014 - 23:54

There are a few things I am not very good at — scratch that; there are a few tasks I suck at. today I hit an intersection of some of those things and it caused me anxiety, stress, frustration, and a lot of self-directed anger that all ended up spilling over and making both my day and Shawn’s day unpleasant.

Filing papers, tracking financial things, and dealing with government agencies are all things I actively avoid at all turns. Today I couldn’t put off any longer what I had been delaying but it meant I had to do all these things I hate (because I suck at them) one after the other.

First, I had to find a bunch of statements among a stack of unsorted statements, bills, receipts, and other paperwork, so I spent a chunk of time sorting. Then I had to figure out how much GST one of the companies had collected and paid in the last year and the first quarter of this year which meant some spreadsheet entry. Then I had to file online with the Canada Revenue Agency. Shudder.

It was frustrating but going OK until I was done the online filing when I realized I had posted financials from one company under another company’s number. When I tried to fix it, I was shunted through a digital maze and eventually offered a “service not available” notice.

I took it as a sign from the universe to walk away from the computer and we went for lunch.

I still have to finish filing and I still have to sort out the mess with the CRA. Lunch made things temporarily better, but I feel like a heel. I tell myself time and again, it is ridiculously short-sighted to put off filing. Every time this happens, I vow to stop the behavior.

Yes, I know “if you do a little bit every day — or if you do it as soon as you get the mail — it won’t seem so tedious and overwhelming” but I’m sure you’ll agree that knowing the right way to do something is not the same as doing things the right way.

So, this weekend, I will file. After that, I will try — yet again — to stay on top of the pile but I would much prefer to be able to hire someone to do it for me.

Cover Conundrum

Cheryl's Flotsam & Jetsam - Sat, 03/22/2014 - 23:36

In my last post, I gave you a peek of the cover I’d designed for SmoothieJune: reviews, recipes, and reflections on a month of smoothies. Even though I like it overall, I’m not completely sold on it as a final design.

I had a peek at my competition — bestselling smoothie books — and there’s two dominant colors among the bestsellers: spring greens and deep pink hues. The good news is there is not a single smiling face to be seen, so my general design is sound.

The question is, do I pick one of my pink smoothies and try to blend in (pardon the pun!) or tweak my current cover and stand out? I certainly had a number of bright smoothies that I’ve already photographed but I wonder if I need to make a fresh one and pose it specifically for the cover? I made a nice blueberry-green smoothie the other day and took some photos out in the sun; I may see if one of those will work better than the muted Chai Smoothie photo I’d chosen already.

I also read a great article on designing covers — Shawn and I already knew the tips listed in The Five Secrets to a Killer Ebook Cover, but Karen Eckstein presents them well at the Future of Ink. I also found an article by Joanna Penn at The Creative Penn about changing her cover after she’d already published her book. I’ve always been hesitant about doing that because of all the marketing and branding that one has to tie into things — but for her, it had a positive impact on sales, so it’s worth noting that I don’t have to stick with the cover I design if it turns out not to be working. Check out Book Marketing: On Changing Book Covers to see her justification for the change and the process she went through. It’s worth reading the comments on this one too.

I found both articles as I slid down the rabbit hole of the Digital Publishing group on Google+. I was hoping to find feedback on how best to manage the images inside my book but got distracted by the many other useful articles and discussions.

I’m still a few of weeks out from my ideal publication date, and maybe a week to make a decision on the cover so I can send out my early-reader copies.

Bingewriting

Cheryl's Flotsam & Jetsam - Thu, 03/20/2014 - 03:55

So following my rabbit dream post, and on the heels of two friends asking me about smoothies, I decided to gather all my smoothiejune posts, tidy them up, and add some new content — information as well as new recipes.

I wrote for most of Sunday, some of Monday and wrapped it up last night — about 12,000 words total. I also spent time Monday designing the cover. I still have to manage all the photos (resize them to be Kindle-friendly), get the manuscript edited (it’s in the hands of my editor already!), and follow the other steps as outlined in Those DeWolfes’ “5 Things You Must do Before Publishing Your eBook” — the toughest of those is going to be generating some buzz among potential audiences.

However, it feels really good to have just pushed through and done something that has been in my head and on my to-do list for about a year — I had originally planned to release the book a year after my smoothiejune experiment.

Now that has led to a cascade of other thoughts, ideas, and plans. One of my other plans will be to create an ebook version of Shawn’s “Impress the World Before 11 AM” brunch cookbook. It really deserves wider distribution than the pricey print-on-demand versions he originally created at Lulu (which are still available, but I think I will make the new one a revised edition and put it on both Smashwords and Kindle). I’m aiming to get that done before I go back to work next week (on a whim, I took an extra four days vacation since I felt productive).

In addition to that, I have work to do for our car site, Where Can I Buy A Car Online (long name, useful site!) — I’ve been helping to edit and schedule content plus, I have to file the tax paperwork (not something I’m looking forward to).

When all that is done, I can get on to the next book. But which one? Eeenie… meenie… miney… mo….

Dreaming of Rabbits

Cheryl's Flotsam & Jetsam - Sun, 03/16/2014 - 19:37

For the past week, I’ve had several dreams involving rabbits. I try not to put much thought into dreams but with the same imagery showing up repeatedly, it’s hard not to at least consider whether my subconscious is telling me something.

In one, we had gone to a shelter to adopt a dog but were talked into taking home a large black rabbit. After I had fed it some lettuce, I returned to find it had shredded the lettuce and was wearing it like scalloped armor. When I brushed the lettuce armor off, the rabbit had changed from black to white.

In another, I had discovered a rabbit warren in the front bed and was trying to gather up all the little rabbits but they kept jumping out of the basket and returning to the warren every time I turned around. These rabbits were all light brown.

A third found me searching for cages so that I could adopt out the baby rabbits I’d found plus the baby-baby bunnies — tiny things with big anime eyes. I was putting two rabbits in each cage but there were many more rabbits than cages so I was looking for alternatives. Bunnies ranged from brown to white to spotted or speckled.

When I look up dream interpretation and rabbits, most of the standard interpretations are consistent: general good luck, overcoming obstacles, and fast thinking. Other interpretations speak to fear, change, and prosperity. Yet more interpretations, most of which rely on mythologies and legends, link rabbits to rebirth, self-sacrifice, persecution, fertility, and sexuality. In short, rabbits can indicate damned near anything.

Most interpretations ask the dreamer to consider the colour of the rabbit with white normally indicating good luck or positive outcomes and black the opposite.

I also know that from Alice in Wonderland to Donnie Darko, rabbits tend to act as dream guides, but these particular rabbits weren’t giving me any direction.

Sooooooo, what gives, brain?

If I look to what I think about before I drift off to sleep, lately it has mostly been a lot of writing ideas — story fragments and article or blog post subjects — and just general thoughts about how to better track, schedule, and complete all the many writing ideas and goals I have.

Even though the meaning here still seems inconclusive, I am choosing to interpret the rabbits in a positive light. The fact that there were multiple rabbits in two of the dreams and that in the first the rabbit changed from black to white — negative to positive — I believe that my subconscious is telling me I will be successful in my writing and prosper, assuming I can find enough cages (i.e. get it written).

Which means I should stop thinking about it and go get it done.

 

 

 

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